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DSLR or Mirrorless Cameras?

Updated: Jan 7

When I was 16 I took a photography class in high school. Everything was shot on film and we used a dark room to develop and enlarge photos. I had a love hate relationship with my old Minolta 35mm film camera because I had to take the roll of film to Walgreens and wait an hour to get the film developed and printed on 4x6 pictures.

Some photos turned out great and some were horrible, but that was the fun and mystery about shooting with film. You needed to know your camera settings to anticipate what you were going to get back from the store. If you messed up the exposure you were out of luck.

Fast forward to today and now I've been using mirrorless cameras for a few years. I've shot with Sony and Canon but I prefer the color of the Canon and usability of the menu when shooting run and gun events. When mirrorless cameras first came out I was pretty skeptical of how good they were, then things started getting really good.

An interesting fact about mirrorless cameras is that they don't use a mirror mechanism, which is a key component in traditional DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) cameras. In a mirrorless camera, light passes directly through the camera's lens to the image sensor, which then displays a digital preview of the image on the camera's electronic viewfinder or LCD screen. It takes hundreds of pictures a second. Depending on the camera, some viewfinders are better than others but for the most part, Canon and Sony have amazing viewfinders that work almost perfectly. Not as good as a traditional SLR (Single Lens Reflex) but pretty good in terms of digital info on the screen.

The absence of a mirror mechanism makes mirrorless cameras generally more compact and lighter than DSLRs. Additionally, because there is no mirror flipping up and down, mirrorless cameras can offer features like continuous live autofocus during video recording and high-speed shooting without blackout between frames. 20-40 FPS (frames per second) is kind of the norm now which is insane considering a film camera shoots only about 2-3 per second back in the day.

If you are on the fence about switching over to a mirrorless camera from a DSLR, let me give you a few benefits if you dont already know them. If you do want to stick with your 5DMK IV, no prob. Thats still an excellent quality camera.

1. Faster Auto Focus

Mirrorless cameras often employ on-sensor phase-detection autofocus, leading to faster and more accurate autofocus in many situations. You are able to pin point the eyes of your subject and lock focus to get 99% of shots in perfect focus. This is particularly beneficial for capturing fast-moving subjects. No more 30 or 65 point focus points. The entire sensor is basically able to focus, making mirrorless cameras a popular choice for sports and wildlife photography.

2. In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS)

While some DSLRs have lens-based image stabilization, many mirrorless cameras incorporate in-body image stabilization. IBIS helps reduce the effects of camera shake, providing greater flexibility when using non-stabilized lenses and improving the chances of capturing sharp images in low-light conditions. I've used this in standard mode and also enhanced mode for a little smoother motion in video. Either way, when shooting in low light, IBIS is amazing to use for at least one extra stop of correction.

3. Silent Shooting

Since mirrorless cameras don't have a mirror mechanism that needs to flip up and down, they can offer silent shooting modes. This is advantageous in situations where the noise of a shutter click might be disruptive, such as during a quiet performance, during a live event where a speaker is talking or when shooting in a wildlife setting. The click of the shutter can be a deterrent when people are concentrating and focusing on speaking. Here is a shot of Jay Shetty at a live virtual event. There are no people in person at this event, only virtual. Since it is pretty quiet in the studio, having a loud shutter clicking constantly can be distracting. Having a silent shutter is much better for everyone.

4. Adaptability with Lenses

Many mirrorless camera systems offer adapters that allow you to use DSLR lenses with the mirrorless body but I would refrain from this since all DSLR lenses are made for older DSLR cameras. This doesnt mean they arent sharp but if you can sell your old lens and buy a new one, that is the best way to go for features and focus.

This can be a significant benefit for photographers who have invested in a collection of DSLR lenses and want to move to a mirrorless system without immediately replacing their entire lens kit. The quality though of new mirrorless lenses are at least equal to or better than those of the older DSLR's. Still, you can use them.

5. Wild Card

One feature not often talked about that I personally enjoy is the improvement of the body as a whole. Mirrorless cameras are a little more compact and can offer tons of amazing features not found in any other camera system. New lenses, auto focus, video modes, IBIS are just a few benefits to moving up to mirrorless, but just owning one makes the joy of shooting and creating art so much better. Here is a shot of a behind the scenes photo at a live event of Allison and Lisa. The dials and controls make it quick and easy to change to get the shot! Plus the low light quality is outstanding.

What do you think? Are you a believer yet on image quality and features? Let me know what is a good/bad thing about the new mirrorless cameras vs DSLR or even film.

Thinking back to my high school class, the capture of light on film is the purest form of photography and will always be since the mid 1800's. Digital just makes it faster and more predictable.

Written by: Mark Sachet

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