Mirrorless vs DSLR: A non-zealot’s approach

In my first post, I jumped right into the thick of the mirrorless vs DSLR camera debate. I showed the thought-process that led me to buy a mirrorless camera instead of a DSLR, even though my original plan was to get a DSLR. I shared that post so you could see if you agreed with the steps of the journey. But because that experience was my focus, I just sort of browsed over the key reasons that led me to my purchase.

In this series, I want to make up for that and give a more complete comparison of both types of cameras.

Top 10 reasons to buy a DSLR camera.

10.  You want more custom buttons – Larger bodies on DSLRs give more room for buttons, especially blank buttons. Changing settings you use often can be a pain, but it’s lessened when you can program lots of quick shortcuts onto these buttons.

9.  You want to scope out photos without turning the camera on – Using an optical viewfinder, you can take your lens cap off and scout that image without ever turning on your camera. This will save battery and is something you can’t do on mirrorless cameras.

8. You want to see the exact image the lens sees – Because the mirror system just reflects the image in the lens through to the viewfinder, you can be 100% sure that what you see is what the lens sees. No need to rely on software to correctly guess the colors and depths of field.

7.  You want better image stabilization – Mirrorless cameras are making large strides in image stabilization, but the weight and lens options on DSLRs do seem to give them an overall edge in reducing “shaky hands.”

6. You want better ergonomics – While DSLRs are bulkier, many photographers prefer the ergonomics of a larger grip and heftier body. Fact: you can wrap more of your hands around DSLRs.

5.  You want to shoot lots of photos at night/low-light – Because of the mirrors and lack of image processing software requirements, you will get more consistent performance on DSLRs while shooting at high ISOs in low light situations.

4.  You want to shoot lots of fast action – In the end, DSLRs autofocus using by natural phase detection with its mirrors, which conducts an image at the speed of light, and does not require that much software. If you are trying to shoot athlete, or a dancer, or a fast animal, harnessing the speed of light is your friend.

3.  You want maximum lens options – DSLR cameras have been the go to photography tool for decades now, and every major manufacturer of DSLRs has a repertoire of hundreds of lens options. This type of choice just doesn’t exist for mirrorless systems yet. Say what you will about lens mounts, but native lenses are better.

2.  You want long battery life – DSLR batteries are larger. Many DSLRs will allow to take almost a thousand shots before needing a charge. This could be a days’ worth of shooting on just one battery. The average mirrorless battery will only give you about 300 shots, which in that example is just 3-4 hours of shooting.

1.  You already have a DSLR + lots of lenses + lots of kit – Camera equipment is expensive, not very interchangeable and it can take years of investment to build a set. If you have already spent tons of money on Canon gear or Nikon gear, then stick with it! As Matt Granger points out, the mirrorless revolution is not join or die. There is no reason to ditch thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment just to experience mirrorless.

Part II of Mirrorless vs DSLR Tomorrow!