There has been a lot of talk and interest in mirrorless cameras lately as photography technology continues to develop. So what’s the difference compared to a mirrored camera and which one is better? Simply put, the differences aren’t drastic and there are strengths and weaknesses to having a mirrored or mirrorless camera. Here is some more info to help you decide which one fits your needs.
The Main Difference
Before we dive into any specifics, the main difference between the two types of cameras is the way the mirror gets exposed to light. Mirrored DSLRs have a physical curtain that opens and closes in order let light into the camera to capture the image, however, a mirrorless camera doesn’t have this physical curtain as their exposure of light to the camera mirror is digitally controlled. Check out the video below of a slow-motion clip of a Canon 5D MKII’s curtain exposing the mirror.
Other Physical Differences
When we look at the bigger picture, there are 3 other major differences besides the shutter mechanism in the camera body. Mounts and lens are different on mirrorless cameras, even within the same brand. On top of that, mirrorless cameras use electronic viewfinders (a digital representation of what your camera sees) instead of an optical viewfinder (a representation of what your camera sees by using mirrors and prisms). Lastly, there is a big difference in the weight of the camera. Mirrorless cameras are generally a lot lighter and more compact; making it a lot easier to carry and put onto different tripods/gimbals/stands/cranes.
Which type of camera has the best picture quality?
To make things a little easier, I’m going to compare the Canon EOS M5, a APS-C crop sensor mirrorless camera, with the Canon t7i to show you similarities and differences between the two types of camera bodies. The picture quality between both cameras are very similar; when looking at the specs, we see a lot of similarities – 24.2 Megapixel, 100 – 25,600 ISO Range, similar focus point range (49 focus points (Canon M5) vs 45 focus points (Canon t7i). Many of the new mirrorless cameras have amazing picture quality and allow you to really push your ISO higher than you would on a mirrored DSLR.
Before you decide which type of camera body you need, you’ll have to think about what type of photographer you are, or want to be. If you plan on playing around with video, mirrorless may be the way to go because most mirrorless cameras allow for a higher frame rate per second which could be really helpful to creating sharper motion in your videos; 60fps @ 1080p (Canon M5) vs 30fps @ 1080p (Canon t6i). A mirrored DSLR has been around for longer and there are a lot of more lenses & accessories you can buy for them. This would give you the flexibility you need as a new photographer, or an experienced one who likes using a number of different lenses.
All in all, it depends on the type of photographer you want to be and what fits your needs the most! Keep in mind what Ansel Adam once said:
The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.
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