DSLR vs mirrorless camera: Which is better for a beginner?

Let’s discuss the ins and outs of DSLR vs Mirrorless cameras to make an informed decision.

DSLR vs mirrorless camera: Which is better for a beginner?

The debate DSLR versus mirrorless camera debate has been a constant point of tussle ever since they arrived in markets years ago. While most photographers are switching to mirrorless cameras, DSLR cameras have still held their own and are being produced and sold in sizeable numbers as well.

The decision of which one to buy is often confusing. To make an informed decision, it would perhaps be prudent for us to understand just how the two differ and which one may be best suited to our needs.

The key differences

The core difference between a DSLR and a mirrorless camera is the presence of an in-built mirror. A DSLR camera uses a mirror to reflect an optical image into the viewfinder. When you click the button to capture the image, a mirror flips up so that image can then pass to the back of the camera where the sensor is exposed to the image.

ALSO READ: What is a DSLR camera and is it for you?

However, a mirrorless camera works differently. It produces an electronic image that is viewed on the back screen or in an electronic viewfinder using the “live view” recorded by the Camera sensor itself. No mirror mechanism exists in the Mirrorless Camera. Mirrorless Cameras are compact, easy to handle, and lightweight.

Optical Viewfinder vs Electronic Viewfinder

Where a DSLR uses an optical viewfinder to show exactly what the camera will capture, a mirrorless camera offers a digital preview of the image on screen. Hence it is also known as an electronic viewfinder (EVF).

The latest EVFs offer high-resolution clarity. However, they can still suffer from a lag – a short delay between what the camera sees and what the screen shows. Hence it is not a good choice for action or sports photography. Two underrated benefits of EVFs -  better visibility of the shot in low light and zoom functions for precise manual focusing.

Many photographers still prefer the ‘naked eye’ view of an optical viewfinder over a digital one  as it’s much easier to follow a fast-moving subject.  Another advantage is the “always on” feature. This allows you to raise a DSLR camera to your eye even while it is off, and still be able to frame a shot!

Image stabilisation

Both DSLR and mirrorless cameras have image stabilisation as a feature. Wondering how image stabilization works? The camera sensor measures the camera movement. To make the image more stabilised, the camera slightly moves either the part of the lens or sensor in the opposite direction to balance it out.

Most DSLR and mirrorless cameras are limited to the lens-shift method. Only a very few mirrorless cameras can move both- lens as well as sensors. These mirrorless models win over the image stabilization of DSLR cameras. In case you’re a beginner, both work just fine.


Compared to mirrorless cameras, DSLRs offer more flexibility and features for a slightly lower price. Mirrorless cameras are a little more expensive, making DSLRs ideal for beginners.

Battery life

DSLRs offer longer battery life as compared to mirrorless cameras, as they can shoot without having to provide a live view on the screen or an electronic viewfinder, both of which consume a significant amount of power.

Construction and maintenance

DSLR camera bodies are generally larger and more durable than mirrorless cameras. The larger body allows more room for a thicker chassis which helps with better shock absorption. Another advantage of a larger body is that it offers better grip. So the chances of you dropping the camera reduce drastically.

Cleaning the sensor is another aspect of maintenance to think about. Compared to DSLRs, mirrorless cameras’ sensors are significantly more exposed, which means that they collect more dust and need to be cleaned more frequently.

ALSO READ: A guide to mirrorless cameras

DSLR vs Mirrorless Camera

Personal preference plays a big role in the decision of which one to buy. Mirrorless xameras are lighter and more compact; they are also faster and better for video, but they are also expensive. On the other hand DSLRs have a wider selection of lenses, better optical viewfinders, and much better battery life.

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