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What Makes Mirrorless Cameras Better?

January 26, 2024

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Mirrorless Cameras vs. The Rest

What makes mirrorless cameras better? And, for that matter, ARE they better?

Written by Colette Nichol, Solo Filmmaker and Story Strategist

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Mirrorless cameras have revolutionized the world of digital photography and videography. Unlike traditional DSLR cameras that use a mirror mechanism to reflect light into an optical viewfinder, mirrorless cameras eliminate this mirror.

Instead, the light passes directly onto the image sensor, which then displays the image on an electronic viewfinder (EVF) or the camera’s LCD screen. This fundamental change in design brings many advantages.

But, you ask, “What makes these cameras better?”

TIME + MONEY = FUNCTIONALITY

Camera manufacturers are putting more development time and money into their mirrorless cameras than DSLRs.

Why does this matter? Well, you tend to get better features for a reasonable price when you buy a mirrorless. Personally, I will always use mirrorless cameras and DSLRs. I love them both and don’t plan on leaving behind my DSLR just because it’s not as trendy.

But for video work, there’s no denying that you get more features and functionality when shooting on a mirrorless.

I can’t see myself using a DSLR for video work any time soon. But for photography, I still enjoy using a DSLR because nothing compares to looking through an optical viewfinder.

Mirrorless cameras have revolutionized the world of digital photography and videography.
Mirrorless cameras have revolutionized the world of digital photography and videography.

Why Videographers Prefer Mirrorless Cameras

Compact and Lightweight

The absence of the mirror mechanism makes mirrorless cameras significantly smaller and lighter than DSLRs. This compactness is a huge benefit for videographers who often need to shoot in many locations and conditions. That said, there are heavy mirrorless cameras. And, as soon as you add a big lens to your mirrorless, well, it’s not light anymore! And if you’re using a long lens with high quality glass, it WILL be heavy. So, for walkabout shooting, you’ll want a cheaper and lighter lens.

Advanced Video Features

Mirrorless cameras have been at the forefront of incorporating advanced video features. They typically offer better video quality, including 4K, 6K (and even 8K) recording, superior autofocus in video mode, and features like in-body image stabilization (IBIS), which are helpful for capturing smooth, professional-looking footage. I also love the fact that most mirrorless cameras give you focus peaking and zebras at even the lowest priced camera in the line.

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera Is a Mirrorless, Micro Four Thirds Cinema Camera

Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) Advantages

The EVF provides a real-time electronic display of the frame, allowing videographers to see exactly what the sensor captures when looking through the viewfinder. This feature is incredibly useful for assessing exposure, focus, and composition when looking through a viewfinder.

Sometimes if the light is really bright it can be hard to see your frame when looking at LCD. Having EVF takes that problem away. You can look through the viewfinder without dealing with glare issues.

Faster Autofocus and Continuous Shooting

Mirrorless cameras often have faster autofocus systems due to the direct measurement of the image sensor. This is particularly useful in dynamic shooting scenarios common in video production. They also appear to have better continuous autofocus and eye tracking right now. If you compare specs between a DSLR and mirrorless that cost the same, you often get better autofocus (and other) functionality for the same price.

Silent Shooting

The lack of a mirror mechanism allows for quieter operation, an advantage during video recording where camera noise can be disruptive.

Recommended Mirrorless Cameras

  • Entry-Level: Canon EOS M50 Mark II – An excellent choice for beginners, offering great video quality and user-friendly features at an affordable price.
  • Mid-Range: Sony α6700 – Ideal for intermediate users, this camera balances performance and price, offering advanced autofocus capabilities and 4K video recording.
  • High-End: Panasonic Lumix GH5 – A top-tier option for serious videographers, known for its exceptional video quality, robust build, and professional-grade features.
  • High-End: Canon R6 – This is the camera that I own, and I absolutely love it. The colour science is top notch and so is the in-camera stabilization and autofocus. Highly recommend.
Top Pick: Sony a6700 Mirrorless Camera
Best for Content Creators that Do Photography and Video
Sensor: 27 MP, APS-C |  Mount: E  |  Sensor-Shift, 5-Axis Stabilization
Demo Image
 What We Love:
✓ You'll get ALL the specs you need to continue growing your skills and portfolio as a video creator and photographer
✓ Price to value ratio is very high: it's affordable for what you're getting
✓ 11 shots per second means still photographers can capture action moments easily
✓ 5-Axis stabilization in photo and video mode means your stills will be sharper and your video less wobbly even when doing tripod-free shooting
✓ 4:2:2 10-Bit video means beautiful colours and detailed imagery 
✓ Articulating touchscreen helps you easily set up shots even if you're low to the ground or bird's eye view
✓ 4k video at up to 120 fps means you can capture ultra buttery slow motion without a care in the world
✓ 240 fps in 1080p means you can slow down a shot by 1000% and still have smooth motion
✓ Ai recognition technology has improved the autofocus tracking
✓ Comes in at under $1500 with the kit lens
✓ You get 14-stops dynamic range in S-Log3 and S-Gamut3.Cine for filmic footage with tons of detail - important for aspiring cinematographers
Downsides:
✘  Like the Canon R8 some users have complained of overheating which causes the camera to turn off. It only appears to be an issue for users who are shooting continuous video footage for more than 30 minutes at a time with HDMI. This isn't something that would worry me because it's not relevant to cinematography or photography. If you're doing old-school videography and shooting locked off continuously for hours at a time, this won't be the camera for you. But photographers and cinematic shooters won't have a problem.
✘ Sony cameras are often less intuitive to use than Canon cameras, so you'll need to dedicate a few weeks to getting good at using your camera and understanding all the features.
✘ Accessing all the manual exposure controls on the camera requires changing your hand position, which can be inconvenient for some shooters.
✘ The electronic viewfinder isn't premium quality so image previews through your EVF don't allow you to see if you nailed the shot or not.
✘ Some users find the menu system confusing.

Common Questions

Why are mirrorless cameras usually smaller and lighter?

They are smaller and lighter because they lack the bulky mirror and optical pentaprism or pentamirror found in DSLRs.

The absence of these components allows mirrorless cameras to have a more compact and streamlined design, making them more portable and convenient for users who prioritize mobility.

What are the benefits of an electronic viewfinder on mirrorless cameras?

Electronic viewfinders (EVFs) on mirrorless cameras offer several benefits, including:

  1. Real-time preview: EVFs provide a live view of the scene with exposure and focus adjustments, allowing you to see exactly how the image will turn out before taking the shot.
  2. Focus aids: EVFs can display focus peaking, zebra patterns, and magnified views to assist with manual focusing.
  3. Overlay information: EVFs can display essential shooting information, such as histograms, levels, and grid lines, directly in the viewfinder.
  4. Customization: You can often customize the appearance and information displayed in the EVF to suit your preferences and shooting needs.

How well do mirrorless cameras work in low light?

Mirrorless cameras can work quite well in low light conditions, especially those equipped with larger sensors and fast lenses.

Their ability to use electronic viewfinders or LCD screens for composing shots allows for easier focusing in low light. Some mirrorless models also have advanced noise reduction and image stabilization technologies, making them suitable for low-light photography.

Are mirrorless cameras better for video than DSLRs?

Mirrorless cameras are often preferred for video due to their compact size, silent shooting, and advanced video recording features.

Many mirrorless models offer 4K video recording, focus peaking, and better live view capabilities. However, DSLRs can still capture high-quality video and are used by professionals in videography, so the choice depends on specific needs and preferences.

Can I use different lenses with mirrorless cameras?

Yes, you can often use different lenses with mirrorless cameras.

Many mirrorless systems offer adapters that allow you to use lenses from other manufacturers or DSLR lenses on your mirrorless camera. However, using adapters may affect autofocus performance and functionality, so it’s essential to research compatibility and potential limitations. But most camera brands have a wide range of mirrorless lenses to choose from as well as 3rd party lenses.

Related Post: Best Lens for Video Hands Down!

Do mirrorless cameras cost more than DSLRs?

The cost of mirrorless cameras compared to DSLRs varies depending on the models and brands.

In recent years, the prices of both types of cameras have become more comparable. Entry-level models for both DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are usually affordable, but high-end models can be more expensive, regardless of the camera type.

What new features might future mirrorless cameras have?

The development of mirrorless cameras continues to evolve, and future models may feature:

  • Improved image sensors with higher resolution and sensitivity.
  • Enhanced autofocus systems with even faster and more accurate tracking.
  • Advances in image stabilization technology.
  • More compact and efficient designs.
  • Enhanced video capabilities, such as higher frame rates and improved codecs.
  • Connectivity options and integration with other devices and platforms.
  • Continued growth in lens options and accessories for mirrorless systems.
Recommended Mirrorless Cameras
Entry-Level
Mid-Range
High-End
High-End
Canon EOS M50 Mark II
Canon EOS M50 Mark II
Sony a6700
Sony α6700
Panasonic Lumix GH5
Panasonic Lumix GH5
Canon R6
Canon R6
Ideal for newcomers, providing superior video clarity and easy-to-use functionalities at a cost-effective price.
A game-changer for filmmakers. Its cutting-edge features set new standards on our ninja table of top mirrorless cameras.
A game-changer in mirrorless technology, offering unmatched image quality & versatility for photography enthusiasts.
This is the camera that I own, and I absolutely love it. The colour science is top notch and so is the in-camera stabilization and autofocus. Highly recommend.

Final Thoughts

Mirrorless cameras have emerged as a superior choice for many videographers due to their compact size, advanced video capabilities, and versatility.

They cater to a wide spectrum of users, from beginners to professionals, offering tools and features that enhance the filmmaking process. As technology continues to evolve, the gap between mirrorless and traditional DSLR cameras in terms of video production is expected to widen further, affirming the status of mirrorless cameras as a pivotal tool in the

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About the Author

Hi! I’m Colette Nichol. I’m a solo filmmaker and story strategist based out of rainy Vancouver, Canada. I’ve been making videos and micro films for small businesses and global brands since 2014.

Plus, I LOVE to help aspiring filmmakers pursue their dreams and start making films. This blog is designed to help you gain the knowledge you need to become a filmmaker.

If you want more, get on the waitlist for the Story Envelope Academy Solo Filmmaking Mentorship Program. It opens up one time per year and is the best way to become a filmmaking or video pro fast!

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