DSLR vs Mirrorless Cameras in 2023: Which is the Better Choice?

DSLR vs Mirrorless Cameras in 2023: Which is the Better Choice?

In the world of photography, the debate of DSLR vs mirrorless cameras has been ongoing for years. As we enter 2023, it’s time to take a fresh look at these two popular camera types and determine which is the better choice for photographers. In this comprehensive comparison, we’ll delve into the key differences between DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, and explore the pros and cons of each to help you make an informed decision when it comes to choosing your next camera.

Also Check: 2023 Best DSLR Vlogging Camera for High-Quality Content

Key Differences

One of the key differences of DSLR vs Mirrorless cameras is the autofocus system. Mirrorless cameras use a single autofocus system that works for both rear screen and viewfinder shooting, while DSLRs require two separate systems. DSLRs use dedicated ‘phase detect’ autofocus sensors that are located behind the mirror in the camera’s base.

When taking a photo, the mirror flips up and the AF sensor becomes unavailable. While this wasn’t an issue in the past, with the rise of live view shooting using the rear screen, DSLRs had to switch to autofocus systems that use the image formed on the sensor itself. This means that DSLRs have different autofocus systems for viewfinder and live view shooting.

AUTOFOCUS

Autofocus
Autofocus – Photo Credit: Adorama.com

However, mirrorless cameras have caught up with DSLRs in terms of autofocus speed and performance, and often surpass them in terms of frame coverage and tracking features.

Gone are the days when fast-moving sports and action photography demanded a DSLR. Mirrorless cameras have come a long way and are now capable of delivering exceptional results in these scenarios. In fact, the latest Sony A7 IV is a testament to this, boasting a hybrid on-sensor autofocus system that outperforms the separate phase-detect AF systems found in DSLRs.

This technology has evolved to the point where even DSLR enthusiasts would have to admit that their beloved phase-detect AF systems are no match for the latest mirrorless camera technology. With the ability to capture fast-moving action with ease, mirrorless cameras are becoming increasingly popular among sports and action photographers.

SIZE OF DSLR VS MIRRORLESS

When it comes to size, mirrorless systems have a significant advantage over DSLRs, offering the same image quality and sensor size in a much smaller body. However, achieving a compact design often comes with trade-offs, such as reduced battery life and handling of larger lenses.

Additionally, many mirrorless cameras have small grips and controls that may not be comfortable for users with larger hands, and virtual buttons on touchscreens may be too small to operate effectively. While some pro photographers may still prefer the larger size and balance of DSLRs, the trend towards smaller and more portable mirrorless cameras is undeniable.

LENSES

Lenses
Lenses – Photo Credit: dpreview.com

When it comes to lens choice, DSLRs have the advantage of being supported for decades, with a vast selection of native and third-party options to choose from. However, the development of new DSLR lenses has slowed down, with manufacturers such as Canon and Nikon putting most of their efforts into mirrorless lenses. The wider mirrorless lens mounts and shorter back-focus distances have given lens designers a blank slate, resulting in many new mirrorless lenses outperforming older DSLR equivalents.

Sony, Panasonic, and Canon have developed an impressive range of lenses for their mirrorless cameras, with adapters available for using existing DSLR lenses on new mirrorless bodies. Fujifilm and Olympus have also developed their own native lens systems, bringing them on par with other mirrorless brands. Check out our lists of the best lenses for each brand to explore your options further.

VIEWFINDERS

Viewfinders
Viewfinders – Photo Credit: digital-photography-school.com

Mirrorless cameras use electronic viewfinders (EVFs) which have improved significantly in recent years. High-resolution EVFs offer clarity that approaches that of optical viewfinders. Although they can suffer from lag, this is less of an issue now thanks to faster refresh rates, and manufacturers are focusing on eliminating the blackout effect during continuous shooting.

EVFs are particularly beneficial in low light conditions, as they provide a clear view of the scene and have zoom functions for precise manual focusing. They also allow photographers to use vintage manual lenses in stopped-down mode, which is not possible with a DSLR viewfinder.

While some photographers still prefer the optical viewfinder, it is worth noting that the image can be viewed in playback mode anyway. Overall, mirrorless camera EVFs have come a long way and offer many advantages over traditional optical viewfinders.

VIDEO CAPTURING

If you’re interested in video capture, mirrorless cameras have a significant advantage over DSLRs. Mirrorless cameras are better suited to the continuous ‘live view’ required for video, and camera makers are concentrating their video capture technologies on mirrorless models. This is where you’ll find the best video features and performance.

However, it’s worth noting that DSLRs can shoot video too. Many modern DSLRs offer 4K video capture and are excellent for video, such as the Nikon D5, D850, and Canon EOS 5D IV. In fact, the Nikon D780 is as effective for video as any mirrorless camera.

That said, if you’re looking for advanced features such as 6K and 8K capture, raw or 10-bit video, high frame rates, and more, mirrorless cameras are the way to go. They’re where all the development work is going. Check out our guide to the best filmmaking cameras and the best hybrid cameras for more information.

BATTERY LIFE

When it comes to battery life, DSLRs outperform mirrorless cameras by a significant margin. The entry-level Nikon D3500 DSLR, for example, can capture up to 1,550 images on a single charge, while the best pro DSLRs can capture almost 4000 frames per charge. In contrast, the norm for mirrorless cameras is around 350-400 frames per charge, with some models offering even less.

Mirrorless cameras are more battery-dependent than DSLRs as their LCD display or electronic viewfinder is on all the time. Moreover, their small size means they have smaller batteries with limited capacity. However, many mirrorless cameras now offer to charge through their USB ports, making them convenient for traveling. Some DSLRs are also starting to offer this feature.

Although spare batteries can be purchased for both camera types, the battery life of mirrorless cameras is still an area where DSLRs outperform them. The Sony A7R III ushered in an extended battery life of 650 shots, while the Canon EOS RP can only manage 250 shots. Nonetheless, mirrorless camera manufacturers are continuously improving battery technology to keep up with the demands of photographers.

Some Recommendations for DSLR and Mirrorless cameras

DSLRPrice check from Amazon
Nikon D3500View Price
Nikon D850View Price
Canon EOS 250DView Price
Canon EOS 6D Mark IIView Price
MirrorlessPrice check from Amazon
Nikon Z50View Price
Fujifilm X-T5View Price
Sony A7R IVView Price
Panasonic Lumix S5IIView Price

Choosing a DSLR vs Mirrorless Camera

When choosing between a DSLR and mirrorless camera, there are several factors to consider, including autofocus, size, lenses, viewfinders, video capturing, battery life, and price as we’ve mentioned above.

DSLRs and mirrorless cameras have their pros and cons. DSLRs are great for beginners, with optical viewfinders, plenty of external controls, and long battery life. They also tend to be cheaper than mirrorless cameras with viewfinders. Mirrorless cameras, on the other hand, are smaller and more adaptable, making them perfect for social media influencers, bloggers, and videographers.

They also lead the way in video development and are a great choice for professionals in that field. Despite their modern look, mirrorless cameras can also offer a retro feel. When choosing between the two, it’s important to consider your needs and budget.

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