The question of whether you should get a mirrorless camera or a DSLR used to be a simple one. If you were a pro – or thinking of becoming one, or wanted a camera that produce the absolute best possible quality images you could imagine – you got a DSLR. If you were a consumer more concerned with weight over image quality, a mirrorless camera was for you.
Like we say, simpler times. These days, you’ve got a harder choice to make. There are bargain-basement DSLRs out there and there are monumentally expensive mirrorless cameras at the high end. How are you supposed to choose?
The difference between the two types of camera is in the name. DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex, and means that once light has passed through the lens, it hits a mirror angled at 45 degrees. The light shoots straight up and into a viewfinder that, when you hold your eye to it, shows you precisely what the lens is seeing at that moment.
It’s a true optical path, with no digital processing in between. When you take a photograph, the angled mirror swings out of the way, revealing an image sensor behind it – it’s why DSLRs make that oh-so-satisfying ‘ker-chunk’ noise.
A mirrorless camera, unsurprisingly, doesn’t have a mirror. Instead, light goes through the lens, straight onto the sensor, where it is processed and, almost simultaneously, displayed either on the monitor on the back of the camera or on a very small monitor – an Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) on the top. When you push the…