DSLR VS Mirrorless Cameras


Many cameras are mirrorless, your digital compact camera, even your smartphone uses mirrorless technology. But unlike those cameras, compact system cameras are becoming comparable to DSLRs.

This guide will help you whether you’re thinking of upgrading from your point-and-shoot camera, or you’re just interested in learning how a mirrorless camera differs from your DSLR.

Man using a Mirrorless camera

What is a Mirrorless Camera?

From the name, you may be able to guess what a mirrorless camera is and how it differs from a DSLR. Unlike DSLRs, they don’t have an interior mirror which makes them more compact.

These cameras look like a cross between a compact camera and a DSLR. To explain how mirrorless cameras work, it’s useful to explain how DSLR cameras work.

Digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras have carried on the general design of pre-digital SLRs. The mirror inside the DSLR body reflects light coming through the lens, projecting the image into the viewfinder.

When you press the shutter release, the mirror flips up out of the way allowing the light to hit the image sensor.

In a mirrorless camera, the light hits the image sensor directly and the image sensor provides you with a preview on the LCD screen. Some mirrorless cameras have an electronic viewfinder which uses a second screen to display the image.

Image Quality

Your first question is probably image quality, but while it depends on the camera, mirrorless cameras aren’t struggling to keep up with DSLRs. The camera specifications are similar, with comparable sensors, resolutions and levels of noise.

Size and Weight

DSLR bodies are bigger, and they are usually heavier. Because the mirror mechanism doesn’t need to be accommodated, mirrorless camera bodies can be a smart choice for some.

If you’re looking for a camera to take with you on a trip, a mirrorless camera will save you a little room in your bag.

The lenses for mirrorless cameras are generally comparable in size to DSLR lenses. But with a compact system camera you may find enough room in your camera bag for a bulky lens.

Hiker taking a photo


Many photographers use their DSLRs to shoot video and Compact System Cameras can definitely compete with DSLRs on this front.

Many mirrorless cameras offer 4K video, making it a great option if you can’t decide between a quality camera and a video camera. The ability of mirrorless cameras to shoot 4K video also means you’ll be encouraged to try your hand with continuous shooting.


One of the key qualities to consider is a viewfinder. All DSLRs come with viewfinders, but not all mirrorless cameras have them.

A viewfinder is part of the design of a DSLR, but it isn’t completely necessary in a mirrorless camera. If you generally like to use the LCD screen to compose a shot it may be worth considering a mirrorless camera.

If you have been using Live View mode on your DSLR you may have been using your DSLR as a mirrorless camera anyway. Your choice in viewfinder will depend on how you use your camera and personal taste.

Camera Lens

Autofocus speed

Autofocus in mirrorless cameras used to be slow as it relied only on contrast detection. Keep an eye out for newer compact system cameras that have both contrast and phase detection.

As mirrorless cameras have advanced autofocus, their speeds have become comparable to DSLRs. Autofocus speed is not something that differentiates the two types of cameras any more.


There is a much bigger range for lenses for DSLRs as the market for all types of DSLR lenses is well established. While the market for lenses for mirrorless cameras is still growing, there is sure to a be a lens for you.

For a huge range of compact system cameras & accessories, be sure to check out our online store or head into your local Camera House shop to get more expert advice from our staff.







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