Why mirrorless over dslr?

Started Jul 14, 2013 | Discussions
(unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 3,860
Why mirrorless over dslr?

Or, vice versa? Please educate me. State the benefits/cons of both ONLY if you have used both types to compare. Thanks!

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KCK14 Contributing Member • Posts: 690
Re: Why mirrorless over dslr?

I have Nikon D90 and Olympus E-p3 and Om-D.  Nikon easiest to use. Olympus cameras easier to carry.  Results similar.  A newer DSLR than the D90 would be superior.

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tkbslc Forum Pro • Posts: 12,683

Mirrorless = size and fast wide primes

DSLR = pure performance

Ron AKA Veteran Member • Posts: 4,875
Re: Why mirrorless over dslr?

Ubilam wrote:

Or, vice versa? Please educate me. State the benefits/cons of both ONLY if you have used both types to compare. Thanks.

I may not be qualified to answer because I have only owned a film type camera with a mirror. However, take this as a theoretical old timers opinion (whether your want it or not ;-))

In the film days in my opinion a mirror was the only way to go. It pretty much showed you exactly what you were going to get in the frame. However it was pure optical, and your film was pure chemical. So beyond the crop preview what showed up on the film was dependent on many, many factors and you really did not know what you have until the film was developed.

Now with digital things have improved a lot. You can see ahead of time much more than just the crop. Again what a print looks like compared to an electronic screen is another issue, but at least they are reasonably close.

I'm assuming a mirror dslr works like the old film type and you have a pure optical viewfinder? If so, I'm sure it will look nice to the eye (if the lens is fast and does not stop down when composing), but just like the old film type it can be misleading. From what I recall what you saw in the pure optical TTL viewfinder was never matched with what you got on the film (for a variety of reasons). I think technology has progressed and you are better to look at an electronic image if you want a realistic preview of what is coming.

So for those reasons I don't know why one would want to have a mechanical mirror and all the associated limitations (despite the fact I'm a mechanical engineer and would love to design it). With modern electronic technology you can view what you are going to get and then capture the image with nothing moving. You can even take video and capture an image in the middle of the video without messing up the video.

To me a mirrorless digital camera has all the advantages of both the old rangefinder (purity) and the SLR (flexibility).

Just my outdated, and probably inaccurate thoughts...

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Cailean Gallimore Veteran Member • Posts: 6,083
Re: Why mirrorless over dslr?

Neither is 'better' than the other - it depends on what you are doing with them. For example, if you want to shoot sports or moving subjects, a DSLR is a better choice because of the phase-detection auto focus they use, and the availability of lenses suitable for the task.

On the other hand, as an example, if you want to be able to use a vast number if manual lenses, mirrorless is better.

It's not about which is better - it's about which is more suited to a particular application.

Rexgig0 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,400
Re: Why mirrorless over dslr? Quite simple, really...

It is quite simple. When packing the camera bag, larger, heavier items are placed at the bottom of the bag. Lighter, smaller items, well-padded, of course, are placed in the top portion of the bag, "over" the DSLR. So, yes, "mirrorless over DSLR" is the better way.

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tray48 Regular Member • Posts: 207
Re: Why mirrorless over dslr?

I have both a Nikon D7000 dslr and a mirror-less Olympus OMD-EM5. I have used both extensively but find each have advantages for specific uses. Both have great image quality and are very good in low light Also there is a wide range of lenses available for both cameras. Specifically for me, the D7000 for me is great for macro, portraits, and night photography, especially when I need to focus manually or want a narrow depth of field. My OMD is a wonderful travel camera, light weight, and unobtrusive. I got it specifically because I wanted a lightweight high image quality camera to take on a recent trip to China and Tibet. It worked fine on the trip along with a 12-50 mm lens, and I found I could carry it around my neck all day without getting fatigued. Something I could never do with D7000 and my 18-200 VR. Of course the OMD ergonomics are not the same as the D7000, and it is more menu driven. But that is to be expected in a smaller body with less room for dedicated buttons and a compromise I was willing to make to get a smaller lighter camera. However, I did get the add on grip, and with it the OMD handles really well.

Both cameras have their place and optimum uses. You have to decide what features are most important and where you can make compromises. For me, when traveling, weight, size, and image quality are most important and I use the OMD. In other situations, such as portraits, macro photography, and night photography, the D7000 is my choice.

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TrapperJohn Forum Pro • Posts: 16,488
Size and weight

Even with the best mirrorless setups, you do lose some lens choices over an APS DSLR.

But, you don't lose that much.

I have both, but the mirrorless is the one I grab, more often than not. It's the same capability in a much more convenient package.

jtan163 Senior Member • Posts: 2,265
Re: Why mirrorless over dslr?

I have a D7000 and an EM5.

I like and use both.

The D7000 wins for action/sport , timelapse and night work.

To illustrate the night work problem I tried to shoot the super moon, but could not manually focus well, because theEVF blew out the detail on the EM5. That would not be a problem with the D7000.

The D7000 has an intervalomter, the Em5 doesn't so you need to buy an intervalometer for the EM5 if you want ot sue it for timelapse.

The EM5 is awesome for all else and weighs less.

The EM5 gets used more often - I carry it nearly everywhere I go.

I have not probs with EM5 controls except the back function buttons are too small for me to use for back button focus.

I rarely enter the menus, as the Super Control Panel has all the stuff I commonly change.

I don't think you can go wrong for either, depending on what you shoot.

So tell us what you want to shoot and maybe we can get you better answers.

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jcharding Senior Member • Posts: 2,381
Re: Why mirrorless over dslr?

I've used Minolta,Pentax, Sony and Nikon DSLRs, and Fuji and Olympus mirrorless bodies.

In virtually all instances, DSLRs will producer better images. However a lot of the time the differences will be so small as to be nonexistent.

DSLRs have a much larger lens selection. DSLRis will do better for all specialized forms of photography, particularly sports or other action photography, wildlife, and very heavy flash based work. DSLRs are OVF based.

Mirrorless cameras are smaller and much more convenient to use. Many will attempt to minimize those attributes, but depending on you and your style they can be enormous and overwhelming advantages. Mirrorless are usually EVF based.

the question in choosing between the two, IMHO, is whether you have specific needs for the virtually invisible image improvement; whether you need a 400, 500 or 600/4, or title shift lens, or another similar specific lens; whether you care abut the OVF vs EVF debate; or whether you need the substantial improvement in continuous autofocus. If you need one of these or other similar attributes, you should get a DSLR. If you don't, or if you need the size/weight reduction, you should get a mirrorless camera.

it all depends on your needs and styles.

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Mike_PEAT Forum Pro • Posts: 13,309
SLRs have become big, bloated, heavy, oversized behemoths!

I realize in the old days oversized dSLRs were an anoying necessity, due to the size of electronics...but today there's no reason for oversized dSLRs...Olympus has shown it is possible to make NORMAL SIZED dSLRs.  You may say that Olympus uses smaller sensors and mirrors, but the only difference between that and a full frame is te size of the lens opening!

I had no interest in mirrorless, that is until the Olympus E-M5 came along, because it was so much like the SLRs I had used over 20 years of my photographic history not only in styling, but in size...it was the size and feel of the NORMAL SIZED SLRs I was familiar with!

It's funny though that when a NORMAL SIZED camera like the Olympus E-M5 now comes along, people now say it's too small...they've gotten used to BLOATED cameras.

(unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 5,400
Just one person's story

Not anywhere near a pro, just one who loves photography, I had a Nikon D5100 DSLR and three lenses as my last DSLR system. After two or three hours of walking with all of that, my back, hip and knee would talk to me: "You're getting too old for this, man!" I gave the DSLR outfit to my son-in-law (35 yrs. old). I now either carry just a Nikon P7700 (small sensor, nice zoom, articulating LCD, but small sensor) or EOS M with a 22mm prime. Life's good. The results on my monitor after a photo walk or family outing aren't better or worse than before. I'm a lot more comfortable. And frankly, I happen to like that touchscreen! How many others have stories like mine? Apparently the numbers are growing, as a generation in America ages out of lugging bags of gear on our shoulders.

huksywolf Regular Member • Posts: 162
Re: Why mirrorless over dslr?

EVF on "camcorder" is what you see is what you get.

However, it's not true in still photography - EVF likely has to keep the refreshing rate at constant 50fps but you control the shutter speed & aperture & flash which will vastly change the exposure.

Plus for cost and size reason mirrorless will likely have limited lens choices than dSLRs. Though it's suitable for majority of people unless you need the best image quality, sport or shift and tilt lens, macrophotography etc.

tko Forum Pro • Posts: 12,614
trying to increase your post count again?

Why is it that all of your posts are designed to stir up the maximum controversy with the minimum amount of work on your part? Talk about a beaten to death, useless post.

Can't remember ever seeing a post from you on actual photography. Or a photo. Or something technical.

Schools out for the summer I guess.

Just Having Fun Veteran Member • Posts: 3,869
DSLRs stink for video and many other things.

Try to find a DSLR that autofocuses well during video. This is something important to a soccer mom or typical camera user.

Then there is what Roger C. found and was reported here at DPR, "Phase-detection autofocus (even using still targets and center-point only) wasn’t nearly as accurate as contrast detection."


Everyone agrees the mirror's time is limited.  It is an old mechanical technology that will be complete replaced by newer technology.  No longer will you have to "micro-adjust" every lens.  You will gain super fast "frames per second" shooting.  And in the near future cameras will have electronic shutters removing even more hardware that is prone to break (and adds expense).

For today though DSLRs are fine.  Some like the OVFs and they still are best for fast action...just not for long. 

JulesJ Forum Pro • Posts: 45,503
Re: Why mirrorless over dslr?

I don't know, can't think of any reason myself.

Just Having Fun Veteran Member • Posts: 3,869

jcharding wrote:

DSLRs have a much larger lens selection.

This of course is easily proven false.  Any lens you can use a DSLR, you can also use on many mirrorless cameras.  So while Canon forces you to only use only there latest Canon mount lenses (they really can't use Canon FD lenses anymore), a mirrorless camera lets you use any lens.  I currently use Nikon, Canon, Minolta, Olympus and Panasonic lens on my one mirrorless camera.

What is even funnier is with a camera like the E-M5, all those NON-stabilized DSLR lenses are stabilized.  So in some ways they actually work better on mirrorless. 

pinnacle Senior Member • Posts: 2,542
Personal priorities

The vast improvements in image quality of mirrorless cameras has truly forced this question to be asked. Larger sensor DSLR cameras still have an edge on mirrorless, but even the largest of them is not separated in IQ as much as it used to be. We are now at a point where Micro Four Thirds is competitive in image quality with APS-C sensor bodies. The NX, NEX, and Fuji X systems are quite good but lack the much larger lens selection that is very mature in the Micro Four Thirds world.

Because the image quality is now as close as it is between the DSLR world and the mirrorless offerings new buyers are able to make more of a choice in what the size a nd weight advantages are of mirrorless over the much larger and heavier DSLR systems. And...the difference in size and weight is significant. There is no doubt that the mirrorless bodies are smaller. The differences in less bulky and much lighter lenses means a day trek or even an afternoon photo hike is much more pleasurable because you are not fatigued by a camera or bag strap digging into your shoulder the way a DSLR system does. Lenses that offer the same perspective in a mirrorless system are often less than half the size and weight compared to the DSLR world, especially when comparing them to M43 systems.

There are now many lenses in the mirrorless world that have well developed reputations for excellent image quality. The Olympus 75mm f1.8 doesn't take a back seat to any of  the high end lenses in the DSLR world of comparable perspective. The Panasonic/Leica 25mm DG  f1.4 is very highly regarded.

More than ever before photographers can choose practicality in size and weight and still expect very high image quality from much more compact gear.

Not only is it a good time now to have a reasonable option to choose a mirrorless system over DSLR systems, with the fast paced improvements in sensor technology, the future for compact system cameras is very bright indeed.


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EinsteinsGhost Forum Pro • Posts: 11,977
Re: Why mirrorless over dslr?

Ubilam wrote:

Or, vice versa? Please educate me. State the benefits/cons of both ONLY if you have used both types to compare. Thanks!

I have a DSLT, Sony A55 (technically a DSLR), and a Mirror-less, Sony NEX-3. I use them both, interchangeably.

As for preference, the mirror-less is my choice for manual photography and its versatility enhanced by its body being compact and light (even though, Sony A55 is one of the smallest/lightest DSLR/DSLT body with APS-C sensor out there).

When carrying both (for occasions when I prefer to keep complementing lenses, without having to change quickly), the mirror-less form allows easier packaging into my sling bag than ANY DSLR/DSLT body would.

At this point, I personally feel that from wide angle thru short telephoto (85mm), mirror-less form has a clear advantage. For action, I sometimes choose manual photography when the NEX works great (except that the buffer and burst rate on NEX-3 is rather basic, especially compared to A55). But, it can still function like a DSLR/DSLT for those occasions, with LA-EA2 adapter, which I occasionally use.

And yes, it has also managed to get thru "screening" doors where DSLRs are disallowed.

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tex Veteran Member • Posts: 7,550
has anyone considered that they are not mutually exclusive?

At least, not today, July 14 2013.  Maybe advances in mirrorless will eliminate the vast majority of DSLR's, but i am not holding my breath yet.

Doesn't have to be a zero-sum game.  I have both, use both.

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