DSLR vs. Mirrorless Cameras: Which Is Better for You? (Archive)

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kenn7

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Missed a huge point. From what a recall..when shooting video a DSLR has a limited length of time before the chip overheats and stops shooting.This could be anywhere from 12 minutes to 30 minutes. Mirrorless cameras such as the Panasonic GH3 have no time limit for video except the size of storage and battery life. So if you are shooting something that is long format the mirrorless cameras are better for video.
 

bjornlo

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A few mistakes.

Image quality = DSLRs. Look at dxoMark for comparisons of what the sensors can do, The larger sensors have lower ISO noise, better dynamic range, better color information, and so on. Image quality then should be DSLR = Excellent Mirrorless = very good

Stabilization. While having in camera stabilization is handy and in theory pushes down the price slightly on the lenses. In testing the stabilization from the newest lenses vs. the newest in-body has the lenses with a 1-2 stop advantage which is a very large margin. Stabilization DSLRs = Excellent, Mirrorless=ok.

Video. On DSLRs it is simply 'bad' for most users. The problem is that while most DSLRs focus lighting fast in still images they are bad at video autofocus. This is fine if you are a video-pro since you will be using a very different technique and have a very different skillset. The fastest video focus on a DSLR is the new Canon 70d, but it still sucks. The AF for mirrorless in video is quite good. It will easily track movement without every other second being out of focus (like a DSLR will). Video DSLR = poor, Mirrorless = Excellent.
Lenses. The important of lens selection can not really be overstated and your article glosses over it. Lens selection DSLR = Excellent, Mirrorless = poor.
Resolution. There are DSLRs with considerably better resolution then the very old Canon you selected. For example the Nikon d3200 cam be had for $500 to 550. It has an even larger image quality advantage over the Olympus then the Canon.
I am not anti-mirrorless. I own both types and they fill very different roles. Casual snaps vs best image qualty. 1 is for picnics or similar the other for memorable occasions or other times I want more then a m4/2 can deliver.
 

bujuki

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@bjornlo : "Sony's recent introduction of mirrorless cameras with a full-frame sensor, the A7 and A7R, could be an important step in closing the quality gap, even for high-performance cameras."

That's why they're draw.

As for the image stabilization, Olympus E-M5 and E-M1 have 5-axises in-body IS. Thats should be excellent, not just ok.


However, if mirrorless can use DSLR lenses and not vice versa, why are they inferior in the lens category?
 

bujuki

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IMO I still prefer mirrorless over DSLR for their much better size & weight. I hardly find myself in need of extremely high quality photography, mirrorless can deliver 90% of the situation. In one vacation I borrowed my friend's DSLR (Canon EOS 400D) with a lens and I think it's quite a bother compared to bringing a mirrorless with its lenses. Less weight also means lighter accessories (eg. tripod/monopod).
 

warezme

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The article assumes mirrorless cameras use smaller sensors but make up for it in software processing. Not all mirrorless cameras use small sensors. The Canon EOS M uses the same APSC size sensor as the entire EOS lineup except for the full frame models. Also, while some mirrorless cameras are tied to a small selection of lenses the M with the adapter does not change the focal length of the lenses attached unlike those like the Nikon mirrorless. So your option for lenses is pretty much limited to your wallet. I think mirrorless will eventually become huge competition for DSLR, just not quite yet.
 

warezme

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The article assumes mirrorless cameras use smaller sensors but make up for it in software processing. Not all mirrorless cameras use small sensors. The Canon EOS M uses the same APSC size sensor as the entire EOS lineup except for the full frame models. Also, while some mirrorless cameras are tied to a small selection of lenses the M with the adapter does not change the focal length of the lenses attached unlike those like the Nikon mirrorless. So your option for lenses is pretty much limited to your wallet. I think mirrorless will eventually become huge competition for DSLR, just not quite yet.
 

bjornlo

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@bujuki
The a7/a7r are interesting but again it is about lenses, ergonomics and controls not just how nice a sensor you slap in a very small body. More to the point the article seems to have had a price cap of 550 including kit lens. The a7 will be some significant multiple of that. And still it uses the E mount not the alpha mount despite the name they use not the well established alpha lenses (and the old minolta ones) but a small sub-set of the e-mount lenses (FE). Also while the a7 is a nice toy as a package it will give up the singular advantage (other then video AF) that most Mirrorless cameas have which is size. Because while the body is smaller physics dictates that the lenses will be the same size as full-frame Canon and Nikon offerings. Meaning that instead of saving size and weight in your kit you end up with a camera which is not a good size for most of the lenses (assuming they make enough FE lenses to matter). A 70-200 f/2.8 does not vary much in size and weight without major compromises in image quality.

Thats why they are NOT a draw.

As for image stabilization, I have used the OM-D E-M5 and I am a big fan. But AF is not at DSLR levels particularly with focus tracking... it was a bit of a surprise and what kept me from getting it. Well that and it really was more of a competitor to mid-level DSLRs then a good compliment to my full-frame. Still I admire it. But image stabilization is not as good as on a DSLR. For openers it shuts off in contineous use. As I recall actual stabilziation provided was in the 3+ stops range which is probably the best thus far in mirrorless and on par with older in lens performance. But once you go over 200mm even older lenses will out perform in camera due to the amount of distance the sensor would have to wiggle would start to apporach or exceed the physical space available (according to Canon).
Also in lens stabilizes the viewfinder not just the final image. Using a long lens on a small body without being able to stabilize the view is difficult. I tried to use a Sigma 50-500 on a Olympus E-P3 and it was basically impossible to get a tight focus on anything even a mono-pod was not enough. With a Nikon d90 and the Canon 500d (the only DSLRs I have tried the same lens on as I used to own both) it was very easy to get tight frames in good focus.

And while I would personally take the E-M5 or the even pricier E-M1 over the Canon or Olympus being compared (or over the entry level Nikon I brought up) both of those Oly cameras are several times as expensive.. in the 1000-1400 range for body only.

Mirrorless will probably eventually be in everything.

The camera which tempts me the most right now is a impractical mirrorless. A Panasonic GH3 for video. Weather sealed. Not the biggest lens selection, but enough given that I would use it as a secondary body and almost exclusively for video. Btw, Panasonic is both mirrorless and still uses in lens stabilization I part for the reasons laid out above but also because in video in camera stabilization has prone suspectible to overheating.
 

bjornlo

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@bujuki also forgot to mention it. Before you go and claim that mirrorless can use both their lenses as well as everyone elses you should try some of the adapters out there. I found them slow and frustrating.
 

seancaptain

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Wow. Great to see such informed comments on this piece! (I was the editor on it.) Please keep one thing in mind - we meant this as an introductory piece so didn't go super deep into nuances of the two technologies. Also, since this is likely best for first-time buyers of either technology, we stuck with entry-level cameras (while mentioning some other options).

The wealth of opinions and examples you all provide indicates, I think, how much this category is in flux. This article might look different in 1-2 months (and we will update it as we get our hands on the flood of new DSLR and especially mirrorless cameras announced in the past few weeks).

Stay tuned. And keep the comments coming. Your expert input helps us write better articles for our readers. - Sean Captain
 

bjornlo

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@seancaptain
I get who the audience is which is why I suggested another entry level body in the same price range not some wallet busting professional thing. But I stand by my original statements that several of the points you make are wrong (image quality, stabilization), understated (lens selection) or completely missing the point (video specifications without consideration of video performance).
 

d_kuhn

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Good discussion on this article... it's all about picking the right tool for the job. I tend to go mirrorless for sub-$1000 cameras because in that situation I'm looking for ease of use over image quality/size and flexibility, these are cameras I can loan out to folks in my group and they can get good results without needing a manual. I've got a Nikon J1 with a couple basic lenses that takes decent images (I'd say very good for consumer quality), decent video (same), and is small enough to pack in one of the smallest Pelican cases (size of a small camera bag) with all it's kit. If I need high quality stills and image stabilization I pull out the D800, great pro level still camera with world class lens options(it has what I'd call 'enthusiast' quality video, better than consumer but not even prosumer/5DMark3 quality imo) - but the camera and 8 lenses fill a large roller style case and weigh enough that you need those rollers... It also takes a short course to teach someone how to use it and it's accessories (remote mode speedlight is particularly painful to learn how to use). On the true pro video end I've got a Red Epic that is the most amazing camera I've ever used for video, but I've been learning how to use it for 8 months now and still have farther to go... and travelling with it and all it's kit means a vehicle full of cases (and usually at least one additional human, though it can be operated solo). I don't pull out the Epic if the job only needs a J1... my back can't take the strain. On the sub $1000 front, another factor to consider would be prior hardware... if you've got an old film slr with some nice glass - it'd probably make sense to buy a digital slr with compatible mount (the mirrorless seem to usually have custom mounts), but the mount might be the most important factor for a person in that situation.
 

bujuki

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I'm not a photographer or into deep photography world; my camera (Panasonic GX1) works for documentation for most time. Before I was very interested in buying DSLR because pocket camera just wasn't sufficient especially at night. But then I read Micro-four-thirds had established its way so I decided to give it a try; I must say it's a good choice. Even better when I got myself the Olympus 45 mm, f/1.8 lens; it's cheap, light and had great IQ. What I wanna say mirrorless fits perfectly for someone like me, a semi-professional photographer.


About the image quality I only stated that it was the logic behind the author's article. I always support the theory that mirrorless will never be on par with DSLR simply because of the sensor size - whenever mirrorless have better sensor technology DSLR can produce bigger of it (except patent forbids). A7/A7R are the only contenders to be in the same level with DSLR, but nothing to be concluded before anyone review them.

I think all Panasonic teles have image stabilization. I cannot comment anything whether they're comparable with DSLR lens' IS or not, but it should work very well.

I also never use any converter for DSLR lens, but AFAIK the only major problem is the AF. However because it still can be used I see that as a big advantage.
 

richardbaguley

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Hey all, I am the author of this article. Great to see such informed and reasonable discussion on it! Sean has already covered most of the points I would raise by talking about how this is a general article about the differences between the two types of camera, not about specific models. To answer a few more specific queries:

- We didn't discuss lens adapters because that gets complex quite quickly, and we didn't want to bog the article down with going into the pros and cons. It's a general truth that you can get an adapter to convert pretty much any lens format to any other somewhere, but it is seldom a good way to get the best performance.

- on Image quality for SLR Vs mirorless: I think this falls under the remit of what is good enough. I very much doubt that most users could look at an image shot side by side with an SLR and a mirrorless one and find much, or any, quality difference. Pros are another issue, of course.

- on Image Stabilization: yes, there are lots of different approaches to this problem, and they have varying levels of success. But again, I think that the differences in general terms between SLRs and mirorless cameras are small, and having a dual system is an advantage.

- Video. We didn't discuss the issue of SLR video length because of space, but I think it is overstated. Most people don't shoot more than a minute or two of video at a time, so that won't be an issue. It is for pros, of course, but this article wasn't aimed at then.

Thanks for all the great feedback! We will definitely bear it in mind as we write more in this area!

Richard Baguley
 

matuka

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Any suggestions/help? I have been thinking about getting a nice good quality camera for videos and pictures... I use BOTH about 50/50 (%).

I have looked at Canon 60D with the kit lens. Is that a good purchase? i dont have alot of money to spend on the camera...the price needs to be MAX 60D price.
 

d_kuhn

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Only lens adapter I've tried is the Nikon adapter to mount F-mount lenses on the mirrorless Nikon 1's... and it works great including all the electronics connections.
 

bujuki

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@Richard Baguley:
I can understand your logic about not-consider-using-converter. Even though I think that's an advantage for mirrorless but I kinda "swear" I'm not gonna use them.

Anyway, thanks for the nice article. I look forward to the more thorough one.

Is this a sign that THG will have camera section? b^_^d
 
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