What should your next camera be? DSLR vs Mirrorless

One of the questions we get most often here at Creatively Squared is ‘what type of camera should I get?” There are hundreds of cameras and lenses to choose from on the market today and two of the most popular formats for professionals and amateurs alike are DSLR and Mirrorless. So how do you know which one is right for you? The aim of this blog is not to tell you which type of camera is better than the other, it’s about finding one that works with your style (and budget!) and helps you capture the photographs you want. We are going to break down the basics for you and show you some visual examples to help you decide.

What is a DSLR Camera?

The most popular choice for professional photographers, DSLRs use the same design as the original 35mm film cameras or SLR. Inside a DLS camera the light is reflected onto the lens via a mirror and up into the viewfinder for you to preview your shot. When you take the photo the mirror flips up and the shutter opens allowing the light to hit the sensor and capture your image.

What is a Mirrorless Camera?

Mirrorless cameras are a smaller, cheaper option in the market that still offers some high quality specs and interchangeable lenses. With a mirrorless camera the light passes through the lens and directly onto the image sensor. This captures a preview of the image you are taking to display on the rear screen and some models also offer a screen behind an electronic viewfinder that you can put your eye up to like a traditional camera.

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Which one is right for you?

Consider a DSLR if:

  • You want more options and add ons, choosing a DSLR gives you access to a number of lenses from many manufacturers.
  • You need a camera that performs better in low light
  • You have a bigger budget to invest in equipment
  • You need a camera with a longer battery life - No power is used at all if you hold the camera up and look through the viewfinder which makes it possible to get up to a thousand pictures or more on a single battery charge

Consider a mirrorless if:

  • You need something more portable for travel or spontaneous photography
  • You like to shoot video
  • You need to take rapid shots - the simpler mechanics of mirrorless cameras allow them to shoot more photos per second, at higher shutter speeds.
  • You need a more affordable option
  • You want to see a preview on screen - a mirrorless camera allows you to see the shot you are taking more accurately and any adjustments you make to the exposure etc will be represented on screen prior to taking the photo.

Do you really NEED a new camera?

With advancements in smartphone technology and more megapixels than you know what do with, one could argue that you don’t really need to invest in a fancy camera with interchangeable lenses. If photography is just a hobby for you then the camera in your pocket could do the job just fine. In fact, even some of the professionals amongst us shoot on their smartphones - a few of the stylists work with us at Creatively Squared shoot client work on their phones! Taking a great photo really comes down to your skills in composition, lighting and editing - having a fancy rig and lens isn’t going to make much of a difference without mastering those other techniques first.


Have you got a camera that you want to use more often? Why not start with our blog post "Manual Photography Tips: How to get yo' ass off auto" by Photographer Leah Ladson


So what does everyone else use?

We have rounded up a few creative gurus from our community and asked them about their equipment and here’s how it stacks up.

Team DSLR

 Amy Shamblen - Canon EOS 550D  See more from Amy at  amyshamblen

Amy Shamblen - Canon EOS 550D
See more from Amy at amyshamblen

 Tarnya Harper - Nikon D300  See more from Tarnya at  one.little.harper

Tarnya Harper - Nikon D300
See more from Tarnya at one.little.harper

 Dani Barrois - Pentax K3 See more from Dnai at  danibarrois

Dani Barrois - Pentax K3
See more from Dnai at danibarrois

 Marisa Young - Canon EOS 550D  See more from Marisa at  marisa.young

Marisa Young - Canon EOS 550D
See more from Marisa at marisa.young


Team Mirrorless

 Melinda Lee - Sony A5000 See more from Melinda at  m3linda_lee

Melinda Lee - Sony A5000
See more from Melinda at m3linda_lee

 Christall Lowe - Lumix Gx7 See more from Christall at  christall.lowe

Christall Lowe - Lumix Gx7
See more from Christall at christall.lowe

 Caroline Pears - Olympus OM-D See more from Caroline at  pears39

Caroline Pears - Olympus OM-D
See more from Caroline at pears39

 Karen Baker - Fujifilm X-T1 See more from Karen at  karenbakercreative

Karen Baker - Fujifilm X-T1
See more from Karen at karenbakercreative


 

Team Smartphone

 Jodi Burnham - See more of Jodi's photos on Instagram at  jodianne_

Jodi Burnham - See more of Jodi's photos on Instagram at jodianne_

 Bettina Brent - Seem more of Bettina's photos on Instagram at  bettina_brent

Bettina Brent - Seem more of Bettina's photos on Instagram at bettina_brent

 Gina Gooi - See more of Gina's photos on Instagram at  _hello_g_

Gina Gooi - See more of Gina's photos on Instagram at _hello_g_

 Natasha Seager - See more of Natasha's photos on Instagram at  natashainthecity

Natasha Seager - See more of Natasha's photos on Instagram at natashainthecity

Remember - cameras don’t take pictures - you do!

From looking at these examples alone it is easy to see that you can get great results no matter what type of equipment you use. Before you go rushing out to buy a new camera why not take the time to invest in developing your creativity and technical skills first. You might find that the resulting improvements in your photography negate the need for fancy equipment that may be only marginally better than what you already have.