Mirrorless VS DSLR Cameras – 10 Key Differences

Are you in the market for a digital camera, and you are trying to compare Mirrorless vs DSLR cameras?

If you are looking for a quick answer on which digital camera to choose, the answer is very simple. 

If you are looking for a digital camera for your profession or thinking about becoming a professional photographer and want a digital camera to shoot the most amazing images for your skill, then you need to buy a DSLR camera.

If you are a photographer looking for an alternative to a DSLR because of its weight and size, but still wants to capture amazing images, then you need to buy a mirrorless camera.

But with so many digital cameras on the market today, choosing the right digital camera for yourself is getting harder to pick from. 

In this post, I will break down Mirrorless vs DSLR cameras and the key differences between each type of camera, so it will be easier for you to pick the right camera for you in the future.

Mirrorless VS DSLR Cameras - 10 Key Differences-2

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If you are wondering what the differences are between a mirrorless vs DSLR camera is, we have to start at what the names stand for.

According to Wikipedia.com – DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) In the reflex design, light travels through the lens and then to a mirror that alternates to send the image to either a prism, which shows the image in the viewfinder or the image sensor when the shutter release button is pressed. 

The viewfinder of a DSLR presents an image that will not differ substantially from what is captured by the camera’s sensor but presents it as a direct optical view through the lens, rather than being captured by the camera’s image sensor and displayed by a digital screen.

According to Wikipedia.com – A mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera (MILC), frequently simply a mirrorless camera features a single, removable lens and uses a digital display system rather than an optical viewfinder. 

The word “mirrorless” indicates that the camera does not have a reflex mirror or optical viewfinder like a conventional digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR), but an electronic viewfinder that displays what the camera image sensor sees.

The word “mirrorless” indicates that the camera does not have a reflex mirror or optical viewfinder like a conventional digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR), but an electronic viewfinder that displays what the camera image sensor sees.

Many mirrorless cameras retain a mechanical shutter. Like a DSLR, an interchangeable-lens mirrorless camera accepts any of a series of interchangeable lenses compatible with the lens mount of that camera.

DSLRs have been around for years in the photography world. They have been the workhorse in the professional camera industry because they can capture astonishing image quality picture after picture.

But since mirrorless cameras have come into the camera market by getting rid of the conventional mirror in DSLR camera, this has lead to a positive change to the camera world.

One big plus is that a mirrorless camera doesn’t need an overcomplicated viewfinder or heavy mirror that reflects light to capture a photo so the camera is lighter and smaller than a DSLR.

DSLRs have been around for years in the photography world. They have been the workhorse in the professional camera industry because they can capture astonishing image quality picture after picture.

But since mirrorless cameras have come into the camera market by getting rid of the conventional mirror in DSLR camera, this has lead to a positive change to the camera world.

One big plus is that a mirrorless camera doesn’t need an overcomplicated viewfinder or heavy mirror that reflects light to capture a photo so the camera is lighter and smaller than a DSLR.

A second big plus is with features like autofocus, it can be accomplished via the sensor itself, which leads to quicker read times.

Plus with mirrorless cameras on the market today featuring full-frame sensors, it’s tough to figure out if a picture was taken on a Mirrorless vs DSLR camera.

But, there have to be pros and cons between the types of cameras right? 

If there wasn’t then, why would many photographers be confused about which one to buy?

That’s why I give you below the pros and cons of Mirrorless vs DSLR cameras to make your decision better when you are ready to buy your next digital camera. 

Size and weight

Mirrorless VS DSLR Cameras - 10 Key Differences
  • Mirrorless Cameras: Most Mirrorless cameras are smaller and lighter compared to DSLRs, but when you add lenses to the camera they can often time be comparable in weight.
  • DSLR Cameras: DSLR cameras tend to be larger and heavier in relation to mirrorless cameras. But, they can handle heavier lenses like telephoto lenses with ease.

Most Mirrorless cameras on the market today are often lighter and smaller in size in relation to DSLR cameras. But, with the camera smaller and lighter, it also means that the function buttons are smaller. 

This is great for users with smaller hands, but if you larger hands it tends to be a little cumbersome.

But, if you are a camera user with larger hands, you may find a DSLR is easier to navigate with the larger function buttons on the camera. 

That’s why companies like Panasonic with its LUMIX GH5 and Olympus with its Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II built their mirrorless cameras with a micro four-thirds sensor format compared to the full-frame sensor format of the Sony and Canon

What the micro for thirds sensor means to the normal camera user, is that the lenses for these cameras are smaller and lighter compared to the full-frame lenses. 

This just gives the photographer a more condensed camera system.

**For More Information On Camera Sensor Are And What They Do Click Here.**

But, if you are a user with larger hands and like the idea of a mirrorless camera by the end of this post, the Sony A7iii and Canon EOS R5 are competing with the size of a DSLR because of the amazing features these companies have added to its mirrorless cameras.

Mirrorless vs DSLR cameras – If you are thinking a DSLR is the way to go for your photography needs at the end of this post, the good news is that Nikon’s D3500 and Canon’s EOS Rebel T7 are incredibly light compared to many other DSLR’s on the market today without sacrificing the image quality or the types of lenses you can attach to them.


  • DSLR Cameras: Pretty much all popular DSLRs on the market today regardless of the price have full manual controls.
  • Mirrorless Cameras: This type of camera competes with the controls of the DSLR, and often pushes the limits in features compared to some DSLRs.

Mirrorless and DSLR cameras have features and controls that are pretty much on par with each other. All of them feature full manual control over exposures and focusing. 

Plus, the ability to shoot raw files as well as JPEGS, allowing the camera user to capture the best images possible.

The only feature that some photographers may or may not like in terms of Mirrorless vs DSLR cameras is the DSLRs come with viewfinders while mirrorless cameras oftentimes don’t.

But apart from this difference, both types of cameras capture amazing quality photographs and have similar controls and features. Plus, with most mirrorless cameras, you can use DSLR lenses if you are switching over from a DSLR to a mirrorless camera. 

Side note: Some mirrorless cameras will need a lens adaptor which is sold separately to fit DSLR lenses. Check your camera manufacturer beforehand when purchasing lenses. 

***If you are looking for an amazing selection of lenses, then check out the B&H Photo/Video.***

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Mirrorless VS DSLR Cameras - 10 Key Differences
  • DSLR:  Canon and Nikon produce a large lens range for every project. 
  • Mirrorless: Lens are still developing, but many choices are now coming on to the market daily. 

If you are looking for a camera that will be able to have the widest choice of lenses out there, then you should think about buying a Canon DSLR (Canon’s EOS Rebel T7) or a Nikon DSLR(Nikon’s D3500). 

Both companies have been around in the camera market for years, they both have built up an impressive assortment of lenses that will make any photographer go crazy with excitement.

While Mirrorless cameras have been on the market for less time than DSLRs, lens choices have been limited for a while, but they are slowly coming around and peaking at the right time. are, however, certainly gaining ground. 

If you looking for a mirrorless camera with the widest selection of lenses, then you should go for either the Olympus or the Panasonic mirrorless cameras as both cameras use the same micro four-thirds lens mount.

***If you are looking for an amazing selection of lenses, then check out the B&H Photo/Video.***

Shooting Speeds

  • DSLR: Since Mirrorless cameras have entered the digital camera market, DSLRs are no longer the fastest camera on the marketplace today.
  • Mirrorless: Since the mirrorless camera design makes it so much easier for fast pace shooting, the fast burst speeds of the mirrorless cameras are light years ahead of DSLR cameras. 

There will be times when you want the fastest camera with a great continuous shooting mode to capture amazing action shots. 

That’s why mirrorless cameras have the advantage of the DSLR because of its mirrorless design, there are fewer moving parts that allow the camera to shoot quickly on the fly. 

When you look at Canon’s top-of-the-line DLSR, the EOS-1D X Mark II, it can shoot at 14 frames per second, vs a mirrorless camera like the Panasonic Lumix G9 and Sony Alpha A9they both can shoot at an astounding 20fps.

Mirrorless vs DSLR cameras – That’s why mirrorless cameras have the edge over DSLR cameras when it comes to action shots.


  • DSLR: What DSLR cameras were known for, is no longer what set them apart from the rest of the digital cameras out there.
  • Mirrorless: The top mirrorless cameras on the market today feature hybrid contrast- and phase-detect AF systems, which do a better job in focusing compared to DSLRs.

When it comes to capturing the most important moments of your life, like a child’s first step, or a random celebrity walking past you on the street, you want a camera to be able to capture the image fast and focused.

When it comes to autofocus with DSLR cameras, they use a fast and effective “Phase-detection” autofocus module that is below the mirror in the camera’s body. 

What’s great about this module is that it is insanely fast at focusing and tracking objects. Two great DSLR cameras that offer this complex system are the Nikon D850 and Canon EOS-1D X Mark II

The only problem with the “Phase-detection” autofocus module is that it can only be used in non-live mode. 

If you choose to set the camera to live-mode, the mirror inside the camera has to change to set the camera to auto-focus. This just means more moving parts in capturing an image.

But, if you want a camera that offers autofocus all the time, with minimal adjustments on the fly, then you should go with a mirrorless camera.

Most advanced mirrorless cameras have advanced hybrid AF systems that blend contrast-detect with phase-detect AF from the sensor. 

Mirrorless vs DSLR cameras – Mirrorless cameras like the Fujifilm X-T30Panasonic Lumix G9Sony Alpha A7 III, and Olympus OM-D E-M1X are incredibly fast in the speed of picture, but are incredibly accurate or capturing your subjects. 

Video Quality

  • DSLR: Used to be the goto standard for many independent filmmakers looking for an inexpensive camera to shoot great video footage with. The mirrorless cameras came along and ruined it all for DSLRs.
  • Mirrorless: With 4k being the video standard for most videophiles, even the most inexpensive mirrorless cameras produce amazing 4k footage.

Shooting videos are entirely different from capturing images. In order to create video footage with high resolution, your camera has to be able to capture a minimum of HD or full HD.

DSLRs were the first digital cameras to offer professional full HD video shooting, and with the lens choices that many filmmakers had at his/her disposal, these types of cameras were extremely popular for many years.

But, when 4k shooting was introduced with the mirrorless cameras entering the market, DSLRs became a thing of the past for many filmmakers and videophiles.

4K capture is a standard feature on mirrorless cameras, while DSLRs have been late to offer this functionality. 

It’s still tough to find an entry-level DSLR camera that offers 4K video capture, and only the most advanced DSLRs can match the 4k quality that an entry-level mirrorless camera can provide. 

Mirrorless vs DSLR cameras – In terms of mirrorless cameras that are the best for capturing incredible 4k footage that will dazzle any type of audience, I would suggest these popular independent filmmaking standardsLumix GH5sCanon EOS R5Sony Alpha a7r III, and the Nikon Z6.

Related Article: 7 Best Mirrorless Cameras To Consider Buying For Independent Filmmaking – 2021

Image quality

  • DSLR: DSLRs use APS-C or full-frame sensors.
  • Mirrorless: They typically use the same sensors, but there are also smaller formats for even smaller cameras.

If you are trying to find out between the mirrorless vs DSLR camera which one has the best image quality, it’s a draw really.

At the time of writing this post, and by tomorrow it will probably change, the highest resolution for a mirrorless camera is the Fujifilm GFX100 with a 102MP sensor.

A more inexpensive mirrorless camera that is more affordable compared to the Fujifilm GFX100 is the Sony A7R iv at 61MP. While the highest DSLR resolution right now is the Canon EOS 5DS and 5DS R at 51MP.

But, in terms of the image quality of a digital camera, it does not matter how many MP’s a camera has, but the image quality of the sensor size. 

Full-frame sensors are the largest and offer the best quality, meanwhile cameras with APS-C sensors are comparable and often times cheaper – and you find these types of sensors in both DSLRs and mirrorless cameras.

When you break it down, in terms of the picture quality of the mirrorless vs DSLR camera, it’s a draw. Both take amazing photographs with outstanding image quality.

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Battery life

  • SLR: Can average off a fully charged battery at around 600-800 shots is average, and some Pro DSLRs can do better than that at over 2000+ shots per charge
  • Mirrorless: Can typically shoot around 300-400 shots per charge, while some can push it to manage 600 or 700, but that depends on the battery you are using.

Battery life isn’t what many people think about when choosing a digital camera, but it is important when you are out in the field capturing amazing videos and pictures, and you forget your backup batteries at the hotel.

Many DSLR cameras can push out an average of up to 800 shots per charged battery vs 400 shots with a mirrorless camera.

Why? The reason for this is that DSLR batteries tend to be larger in size compared to batteries in a mirrorless camera, but another reason why DSLR cameras last longer than mirrorless cameras is that is feature-heavy.

You see, mirrorless cameras need more power to operate the electronic viewfinder, take advantage of things like the live view display, in-camera stabilization uses quite a bit of juice in stabilizing the lens, and if you are using continuous autofocus…your camera needs power.

Mirrorless vs DSLR Camera – But, if you buy a few back batteries for your mirrorless camera, then you have nothing to worry about.


  • DSLR: The inexpensive DSLRs on the market may not feature options like a touchscreen or 4k video. 
  • Mirrorless: The inexpensive mirrorless cameras don’t offer the feature of a viewfinder that is the norm with DSLRs. You can find ones that do, but they will be pricer. 

If you are looking for a cheaper digital camera that has enough features to get you the best pictures based on your skill, then a DSLR is still the way to go.

But mirrorless cameras are starting to come down in price to compete with the DSLRs out there.

Let’s look at the Nikon D3500 as it has one of the best APS-C sensors out there, which is enough to steer buyers away from the mirrorless cameras out there, and it’s affordable.  

It’s a good entry-level camera and will give you a bit of room to grow. It’s worth a look, especially if you’re on a tight budget.

But, if for the same price if not cheaper, the Sony Alpha A600 is a great entry-level mirrorless camera that matches the megapixels of the Nikon D3500 (24MP). 

Plus it offers an APS-C sensor and built-in viewfinder. Keep in mind that with the Sony Alpha A600, you will need to purchase a spare battery if you are taking lots of videos or pictures during the day.

Mirrorless vs DSLR Camera – One thing to keep in mind when buying a digital camera regardless if it’s a mirrorless camera or DSLR camera, that the further you improve in your photography skills, the more expensive cameras you will want to buy.

Mirrorless vs DSLR: The Result

Mirrorless VS DSLR Cameras - 10 Key Differences
  • DSLR: Well built, great priced cameras that offer amazing image quality.
  • Mirrorless: Lighter and smaller, and more advanced in the features you expect from digital cameras going forward. 

When it comes to the future of digital cameras, mirrorless cameras are now leading the pack in terms of features going forward. 

They are small and lightweight and have the performance power that will make any videographer and photographer ecstatic. Just be careful of your battery life.

But, a DSLR is still extremely popular with the professional crowd because they are well built and sturdy enough to handle the most powerful lenses out there. Also, the battery life is pretty good.

Mirrorless vs DSLR Camera – I know it’s a tough call, but whichever camera you choose, and if any of the cameras I have mentioned above, you will not be disappointed with them.

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About the author: Trent (IMDB Youtubehas spent 10+ years working on an assortment of film and television projects. He writes about his experiences to help (and amuse) others. If he’s not working, he’s either traveling, reading or writing about travel/film, or planning travel/film projects.

Mirrorless VS DSLR Cameras - 10 Key Differences

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