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What is a mirrorless camera?

Whether you’re looking to invest in your first camera or upgrade your DSLR, you’ve probably encountered the term “mirrorless” during your search.

Mirrorless cameras have taken the photography world by storm these past few years, quickly catching up to DSLRs and even overtaking them in many instances. 

But,what exactly is a mirrorless camera and what are the benefits of picking one up? 

What is a mirrorless camera? 

The clue is in the name. A mirrorless camera is a camera that doesn’t use a reflex mirror to capture images. 

Instead of using mirrors for reflecting its image onto an optical viewfinder the way that a DSLR does, mirrorless cameras use electronic viewfinders – or EVFs – to display images digitally. 

This makes them smaller, more lightweight and often faster than DSLRs, while still offering many of the same features and image quality found on the more traditional cameras.

Of course, there are many camera types that don’t rely on mirrors, including compact cameras and smartphones. However, the term mirrorless camera refers specifically to those with interchangeable lens systems. 

What are the benefits of using a mirrorless camera? 

There are a number of benefits to opting for a mirrorless camera over a DSLR. 

For one, mirrorless cameras are able to be smaller and more lightweight, making them generally easier to pack into your bag and travel with, as well as to use for extended periods of time without putting as much strain on your arms. 

Autofocus is often faster on mirrorless cameras and many cameras offer both mechanical and electronic shutters for quieter shooting and more frames per second when photographing fast-moving subjects, like cars and wildlife.

Video quality is often superior on mirrorless cameras, with many offering resolutions of 4K or even 8K. Meanwhile, the electronic viewfinder can offer additional features like focus peaking to highlight the sharpest parts of an image, making it easier to frame shots through the viewfinder.

Compared to compact cameras and smartphones, mirrorless cameras are often more advanced both in their image resolution and features, and offer interchangeable lenses for better flexibility.

What are the drawbacks of using a mirrorless camera?

While mirrorless cameras have seen huge advances over the last few years, there are still a number of areas in which they fall short.

Viewfinder resolution is also something you’ll need to be aware of as this can be hit-and-miss on cheaper mirrorless models. This can be especially apparent when shooting in low light. 

Battery life is another drawback. Mirrorless cameras generally have shorter battery lives than DSLRs due to the higher number of electronic features. This means you might need to factor in an extra battery or more charging breaks.

Finally, opting for a mirrorless camera might mean starting up your lens collection again, which can be a pain if you’re a long-time DSLR user.

For a more in-depth comparison of mirrorless cameras vs DSLRs, head over to our versus article to learn more.

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