Mirrorless – What’s all the fuss?

If you are an avid photographer or just someone looking to buy a new camera, you’ll know there is lots of talk about “mirrorless” cameras.

But, just what is a mirrorless camera anyway?

DSLR cameras use the same basic body design as old style Single Lens Reflex (SLR) film cameras. Light passes through the lens and is reflected up onto the viewfinder viewing screen using a mirror. When the shutter button is pressed, the mirror flips up out of the way so that the light can reach the film or digital sensor at the back of the camera. See the diagram below.

Mirrorless cameras eliminate the mirror, using strictly electronics to allow the photographer to preview the image, either on the back of the camera with the viewing screen or by looking through the viewfinder at an electronically produced image. When the shutter button is pressed, there is no mirror to flip up out of the way.

Both cameras allow you to change lenses, however currently there is a wider range of lenses for DSLR cameras.

So what are the advantages and disadvantages?

  1. Size: A mirrorless camera is typically much smaller and lighter than a DSLR.
  2. Battery Life: Mirrorless cameras constantly feed an image to either an electronic viewfinder or the monitor on the back of the camera. This creates a significant draw on the battery of the camera, so the battery life is typically less good on a Mirrorless camera than a DSLR. In either case, carry at least 1 extra CHARGED battery. None of these cameras work if the battery dies.
  3. Autofocus: Autofocus on a DSLR is performed on the imaging sensor instead of occurring on a separate autofocus sensors. Older mirrorless cameras typically have only contrast autofocus, which works fine, but can take longer to get it perfectly sharp. Some newer mirrorless cameras have phase detect autofocus, which is what is preferred for action and sports.
  4. Stabilisation: Many mirrorless cameras also feature In Body Image Stabilisation, or IBIS. This works with all lenses, regardless if they have optical stabilisation built into the lens. It works by physically shifting the sensor to cope with movement. In a DSLR, the image isn’t stabilised so it is difficult to know what exactly your final image will look like.
  5. Video: Mirrorless cameras are better for video capture

So what’s the difference between a mirrorless and a simple point-and-shoot camera?

They may sound sort of the same but the new mirrorless cameras are much more sophisticated AND allow for interchangeable lenses and larger sensors for better image quality.

If your just looking for a camera to take  a few pictures of family, then you can probably get by with your smartphone. After all, the best camera is always the one you have with you.

If you want to take photography to a higher level, then you might want to look at buying a used DSLR. There are loads of them out there as dedicated advanced amateurs and pros trade up to the latest technology. Buy from a reputable dealer like Henry’s or Vistek.

Ultimately, the quality of images is in the hands of the photographer. A photographer who understands lighting and composition can produce wonderful images with just about any camera.

It’s kinda like going to someones home for dinner and after a fantastic meal you turn to the person who lovingly prepared the food and say “Wow, that was great. You must have really good pots!”


Looking to learn more about your camera and photography?

We offer one-on-one instruction and small group instruction.
Contact Roger at 613-283-2237 for details.


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