The DSLR camera vs. mirrorless confrontation often sparks intense discussions among photography enthusiasts as they passionately defend the merits and capabilities of their preferred type. Also, when buying a camera, you’ll be asked the question: mirrorless or DSLR? At Skylum, we’re here to discuss the basics and help you get started.

“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”

- Dorothea Lange

As you dive into the world of photography, you’ll begin to question whether or not you should purchase a DSLR camera (digital single-lens reflex) or a mirrorless model. 

They’re both exceptional options — but what’s the difference? The full-frame mirrorless vs. DSLR cameras debate continues to captivate photographers and enthusiasts alike as they weigh the pros and cons of each technology. The Skylum team is here to explain the basics.

Mirrorless vs DSLR: How to Choose the Right Camera for Your Needs | Skylum Blog(2)

And whether you're choosing higher-end mirrorless cameras or DSLR systems, you can't do without a photo editor. You can always find the best software for image editing in our blog, so feel free to follow this link. Let's just say that Luminar Neo AI photo editor is the best option, especially for beginners.

What’s a DSLR Camera?

Mirrorless vs DSLR: How to Choose the Right Camera for Your Needs | Skylum Blog(3)

Before we get into a discussion of the pros and cons of DSLR mirror vs. mirrorless cameras, let's get the basics straight. DSLR cameras are digital cameras that combine the optics of a single-lens reflex camera with a digital imaging sensor. They use the same design as the 35mm film cameras of the past. To break it down a bit further: light passes through the lens and hits a mirror inside of the camera. That mirror then reflects that light up to another mirror and into the viewfinder so you can see your image. As you press click to take your photo, your mirror flips up, your shutter opens and the light hits the digital sensor — which enables you to capture that beautiful end result. 

What’s a Mirrorless Camera?

Mirrorless cameras are generally preferred by photographers who want a compact and lightweight option without compromising on advanced features and image quality. In 2009, Olympus launched its first mirrorless model, the Pen E-P1 — and the world of image capture was forever changed. With such device, light passes right through your lens and onto your image sensor (providing a preview of your shot on the screen). Unlike their DSLR pals, they don’t feature a complex mirror system. They’re smaller, simpler, and lighter. 

So, today's mirrorless cameras offer a versatile shooting experience that combines advanced features such as high-speed continuous mode and customizable settings with the convenience of a compact, lightweight design.

Mirrorless vs DSLR: How to Choose the Right Camera for Your Needs | Skylum Blog(4)

It may still be difficult for you to choose a mirror or mirrorless camera. Especially if you are just starting out. Let’s see how the two types of cameras compare with one another when it comes to the basics. 

DSLR vs. Mirrorless Cameras: Detailed Comparison

The Sizes

One of the main things that appeal to mirrorless device enthusiasts is their size. DSLR camera bodies are larger, as they contain both a mirror and a prism. The mirrorless system has changed the world of photography, offering the benefits of a compact form factor, advanced features, and the versatility to adapt different lenses. Now we are getting very close to the DSLR versus mirrorless discussion. Some photographers say the smallness of the mirrorless models allow them to pack more in their back (like additional lenses) — others say the smallness makes the body difficult to grip and makes the lenses seem too bulky. 

Mirrorless vs DSLR: How to Choose the Right Camera for Your Needs | Skylum Blog(5)

In this case, Panasonic and Olympus cameras are brought front and center. They have a Micro Four Thirds sensor format which is smaller (a trait that some photographers don’t care for). What this means is that the lenses are smaller and lighter and the system is more compact.

Also, the DSLR design incorporates a control layout on the back of the camera, allowing photographers to quickly adjust settings for optimal performance in challenging low-light conditions.

The Lenses 

A DSLR camera offers a wide variety of lenses from a number of different makers — offering everything from inexpensive to pricey. So, what about the DSRL mirrorless vs. mirror camera comparison? Though the options and selection are growing, mirrorless models are a bit more limited with regard to their lenses. 

Mirrorless vs DSLR: How to Choose the Right Camera for Your Needs | Skylum Blog(6)

Cameras like the Olympus PEN series have a wider selection of lenses from different companies because they’ve been around the longest. 

But what if we talk about a topic like full-frame DSLR vs. mirrorless? Which option provides excellent image quality? Because both types can have full-frame sensors, they are able to capture more light and detail.

The Viewfinders 

With a DSLR, your optical viewfinder will show you precisely what your camera will capture. With a mirrorless device, on the other hand, you get a preview of the image on-screen. 

Mirrorless vs DSLR: How to Choose the Right Camera for Your Needs | Skylum Blog(7)

The DSLR’s optical viewfinder is called TTL — through-the-lens, meaning that what you are seeing is close to exactly what your lens is seeing. The mirrorless camera’s viewfinder is called EVF — electronic viewfinder, because there is no mirror to direct the view of the lens to your viewfinder. 

Conclusion: Mirrorless Cameras vs. DSLR

Mirrorless vs DSLR: How to Choose the Right Camera for Your Needs | Skylum Blog(8)

Cameras have been around for centuries, evolving from early pinhole devices to the sophisticated systems we use today, allowing us to capture and preserve moments with unprecedented ease and precision. In the end, the decision to go with the DSLR or the mirrorless camera rests on your own style and needs. We’ve covered the basics in this article, though there are additional things to consider (like video quality, shooting speed, durability, etc.) when you’re looking to make your purchase. 

So, mirrorless camera or DSLR? At the end of the day, both of these cameras will leave you with high-quality photos and a love for creative image capturing. From all of us at Skylum, happy photo-taking!

Experience the Power of Luminar Neo

Once you've figured out all the advantages of digital SLR vs. mirrorless cameras, it's time to choose the best editor. Skylum's Luminar Neo is a revolutionary software that harnesses the power of AI to change the world of automated photo editing forever. With its incredible development, Skylum has placed AI at the core of Luminar Neo, leading to amazing results that are truly awe-inspiring. For example, you can change the sky with just one click! If you use it, it doesn't matter what you choose in the mirrorless versus DSLR competition, as you'll end up with great photos.

Check Out Luminar Neo Now

Discover the remarkable benefits of Luminar Neo through the flexible options of a subscription or lifetime license, allowing you to experience its capabilities firsthand!


What Is the Main Difference between a Mirrorless and a DSLR Type of Camera?

When it comes to DSLR and mirrorless cameras, the main difference is how you frame your subject. DSLRs, such as the EOS series, offer both an optical viewfinder and an LCD screen for composition. In contrast, Canon mirrorless models have an LCD display, but not always a viewfinder.

Which Camera Type Is Better for Beginners: Mirrorless or DSLR?

Beginners often find mirrorless models a better choice because of their compact size and user-friendly controls. The simplicity and convenience of mirrorless digital cameras vs. DSLRs make them an attractive option for those new to photography. Compared to similarly priced DSLRs, these devices are more likely to have a touchscreen, making them reminiscent of smartphone cameras and providing a familiar interface.

Can I Use My Existing Lenses with a DSLR or Mirrorless Camera?

The compatibility of your existing optics with a DSLR or mirrorless device depends on the camera's specific lens mount. In general, lenses designed for the same brand and mount as the camera will be compatible. However, mirrorless camera vs. mirror models often offers greater compatibility through the use of lens adapters.

Mirrorless vs DSLR: How to Choose the Right Camera for Your Needs | Skylum Blog(9)

Experience the power of Luminar Neo

Try free Try free
Mirrorless vs DSLR: How to Choose the Right Camera for Your Needs | Skylum Blog(11)

Advanced yet easy-to-use photo editor

view plans