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7 Reasons to Avoid a New Mirrorless Camera Today

Reasons to avoid mirrorless camera

7 Reasons to Avoid a New Mirrorless Camera Today

Mirrorless cameras have taken the market by storm. Many have gone so far as to say that DSLRs are dead. Many videographers are also eschewing traditional camcorders in favor of the crisp video that mirrorless cameras can provide. However, are mirrorless cameras really an adequate replacement for every other camera? While some would argue they are, we’re here to give you seven reasons to avoid a new mirrorless camera today. 

Background on Mirrorless Cameras

A mirrorless camera is exactly what it sounds like — a camera without a mirror mechanism. For decades the SLR (single-lens reflex) camera would use a mirror to reflect the image that was about to be captured into the optical viewer. This allowed the photographer to see the frame before snapping the picture. When digital technology overtook the majority of the photography market, the DSLR or digital single-lens reflex camera was introduced. 

The DSLR had a stranglehold on the photography market, and thanks to the addition of video capabilities, it even started penetrating the film/video market. Eventually, the mirrorless camera was invented. This technology replaced the optical viewer with a digital one, which allowed the same functionality as the DSLR without the cumbersome mirror mechanism. Mirrorless advancements meant that cameras could now be a lot more compact. The same quality at half the size? Mirrorless was set up for a takeover. 

Reasons to Avoid a Mirrorless Camera

Looking at the market trends might lead one to believe there are no drawbacks to buying a mirrorless camera, but that isn’t entirely true. Here are a few downsides to buying a mirrorless camera. 

DSLR-camera
DSLR cameras generally have an optical viewfinder.

Lenses Are Expensive

If you have never purchased an interchangeable lens camera before, you may not be aware that lenses come with an extremely high price tag. It’s not uncommon for a professional-grade lens to cost more than the camera body itself. The only benefit of lenses is that they will more than likely outlive the camera. Lenses are a serious investment, meant for serious photographers and videographers to use from camera to camera for the remainder of their careers. If you are not a professional, you may want to consider a camera that has a fixed lens. Typically, these will be zooms with a side focal range and will be suitable for most basic purposes. 

Digital Isn’t Always an Upgrade

A digital optical viewer allows for a smaller body, but it also has some key drawbacks. Mirrorless cameras notoriously have a shorter battery life and the optical viewer is part of the reason. A DSLR uses the light entering the camera and a mirror to let you see the image. The digital optical viewer requires electricity to display the image and this is a drain on the battery. Furthermore, some photographers have claimed that the digital optical display is harder on the eyes, especially over an extended shooting day. 

Mirrorless Lens Choices Are Limited

Mirrorless hasn’t completely conquered the camera market yet. As such, the choices of accessories and lenses are limited in comparison to the DSLR, which has dominated the market for decades. This can be a problem if a mirrorless camera has a full frame vs. a crop sensor. It’s also a problem when it comes to autofocus features. If a lens isn’t compatible with a camera model, the autofocus will be unusable, even if you purchase an adaptor for the threading. 

Exposed Sensor

Another issue with mirrorless cameras is that the lens sits right on top of the digital sensor. That leaves the delicate sensor completely exposed when you are changing lenses. This may not seem like a big deal, and may not be if you are shooting in studio conditions. However, if you are a nature or even wedding photographer, the exposure to dust and other floating particles may seriously disrupt your camera’s functionality. This isn’t a worry if you use a fixed-lens camera. Even a DSLR has a mirror mechanism as an extra level of protection for your sensor.

Smaller Isn’t Always Better

Another common complaint amongst long-time photographers is that the diminutive bodies of mirrorless cameras aren’t as ergonomic. They often feel too small in a photographer’s hand, or too unbalanced when connected to a large or telephoto lens. Professionals also could run into the smaller size reflecting on their legitimacy. Some clients won’t know anything about mirrorless vs. DSLR. All they will see is the photographer that they are paying a handsome fee, holding a camera that isn’t much bigger than their smartphone. This may lead said clients to wonder why they are paying you at all. 

mirrorless-camera
Mirrorless cameras have smaller bodies and are not as ergonomic as DSLRs.

Focusing Issues

This issue circles back to two things we’ve already addressed: autofocusing and the digital optical viewer. If you buy a new mirrorless camera and use an older DSLR lens, the autofocus feature may not work, even if you purchase an adaptor. Also, there are photographers who have reported having trouble focusing with the digital optical viewer. They claim since it is brighter than the mirrored optical viewer, the extra light can cause overcompensation and result in soft focus. Although this is anecdotal and you personally may not have focusing issues at all. It is worth being aware of before spending a lot of money on a mirrorless camera.

Time Limit for Video

This one is specifically for the video function, but it is still a concern. Most mirrorless cameras have a time limit on video recording. Usually, they can only do continuous recording under thirty minutes. If you try to film for longer than that, it will automatically shut down. That isn’t always a problem but if you need to capture a long video in real-time, say a wedding, play, or sports game, it becomes a problem. 

Certainly, you can just hit record and do another 29 minutes, but with the price of a mirrorless camera, you shouldn’t have to. Although, it should be noted that DSLRs have the same issue. It has to do with tariffs and “video cameras” being taxed at a different scale than “photography cameras” but that isn’t really here nor there. The main point is, that if you will be recording a lot of events, consider skipping the mirrorless camera in favor of a true video camera.

Flat lay composition with camera and video production equipment on brown wooden background
It would be better to purchase a video camera than a mirrorless camera if you record a lot of events.

Alternatives to a Mirrorless Camera

At this point, you may be thinking about exploring your options. Well, the good news is that there are plenty of great alternatives to a mirrorless camera. Whether you are worried about lenses, video time limits, or any number of the things listed here (or some that aren’t) the solution to your problem most likely already exists on the market. 

Point and Shoot

If you want to avoid lens issues, there are several great compact cameras today that will help you avoid the issue altogether. Many models come with a fixed lens and almost all of them are user-friendly, meaning you won’t need a formal education to get professional results. Better still, these cameras are typically very portable so they’re ideal for vloggers and travel photographers.

Great Point and Shoot Camera
Panasonic LUMIX ZS100 4K Digital Camera
$547.99
  • 1-inch 20.1MP MOS sensor
  • 4K video capture
  • F2.8-5.9 aperture
  • Hybrid O.I.S.
  • 3-inch LCD
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
01/31/2024 12:16 pm GMT

DSLRs

Compact cameras may not be an option if you are a professional photographer. Not just because of image quality, but also because of how it appears to potential clients. In that case, you may want to consider getting a good old-fashioned DSLR. Be aware that some of the major camera manufacturers have stopped producing DSLRs and most have stopped investing R&D into them. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a good DSLR for purchase.

High Image Quality DSLR
Canon DSLR Camera [EOS 90D]
$1,599.00
  • 32.5MP CMOS (APS-C) sensor
  • 4K UHD 30p/ Full HD 120p video recording
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth
  • DIGIC 8 image processor
  • 3-inch LCD touchscreen
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
01/31/2024 12:41 pm GMT

Camcorders

If you are more concerned about video, maybe you should consider a camcorder. Buying a camera specifically designed for video has obvious advantages in terms of quality, but you can also avoid those annoying time limits. Also, shooting professional video on a mirrorless often requires purchasing an extensive number of accessories like mounts, lenses, and a follow focus. With a camcorder, you won’t need to make any of those additional purchases.

Crisp 4K UHD Video
Canon VIXIA HF G70 Camcorder
$1,099.00
  • 4K sensor and DIGIC DV6 image processor
  • Stream HD video directly from your camera to your computer
  • 20x optical zoom
  • Advanced image stabilization technology
  • Adjustable focusing and hybrid AF system
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
01/31/2024 12:41 pm GMT

Reasons You May Still Want a Mirrorless Camera

Perhaps you’ve gotten this far and still decided that a mirrorless camera is the right choice for you, and that’s okay. There are always advantages and disadvantages to every new technological breakthrough. There are just as many justifiable reasons to buy a mirrorless camera today, such as the ability to grow into new tech that the current R&D will produce. Major camera manufacturers are currently doing research on AI and how it can impact autofocus. Developments may very well require the purchase of a whole new camera, or they may be just a software update away. Everyone has different needs, therefore everyone should make different choices on what equipment to purchase. If a mirrorless camera is the right investment for you, go for it.

Wrapping Up

The market is skewing mirrorless for many reasons, but one big reason is that the major camera manufacturers are pushing the technology. With DSLR tech hitting something of a wall, how do you get people to buy a new camera? Well, get them to switch to mirrorless, of course. Much of the hype is manufactured in order to drive sales. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t get a mirrorless camera if you’re in the market for a new camera, this is just to point out what is partially driving the market trends. Now that you know, you can make the right decision for yourself. 

Alternatives to Mirrorless Cameras

Point and Shoot Camera
DSLR Camera
Camcorder
  1. Panasonic LUMIX ZS100 4K Digital Camera
    $547.99
    • 1-inch 20.1MP MOS sensor
    • 4K video capture
    • F2.8-5.9 aperture
    • Hybrid O.I.S.
    • 3-inch LCD
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    01/31/2024 12:16 pm GMT
  2. Canon DSLR Camera [EOS 90D]
    $1,599.00
    • 32.5MP CMOS (APS-C) sensor
    • 4K UHD 30p/ Full HD 120p video recording
    • Built-in Wi-Fi
    • Bluetooth
    • DIGIC 8 image processor
    • 3-inch LCD touchscreen
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    01/31/2024 12:41 pm GMT
  3. Canon VIXIA HF G70 Camcorder
    $1,099.00
    • 4K sensor and DIGIC DV6 image processor
    • Stream HD video directly from your camera to your computer
    • 20x optical zoom
    • Advanced image stabilization technology
    • Adjustable focusing and hybrid AF system
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    01/31/2024 12:41 pm GMT

Frequently Asked Questions

Will the major manufacturers ever go back to making DSLRs?

There was a time in the digital revolution when experts speculated that film cameras would go the way of the floppy disk. These days, however, there is a market (albeit a niche one) for analog film cameras. It’s definitely possible that the big manufacturers will add new features to a line of DSLRs and they will rival mirrorless cameras at some point in the future. However, it’s more likely that issues with mirrorless will be addressed and they will become the standard for a long time. 

Should I get a camcorder if I only do scripted content?

If recording time isn’t an issue, you should probably price some mirrorless cameras and even DSLRs. Camcorders are optimized for video and therefore are often a better bet, but most of them have a fixed lens which really limits your versatility. There’s a reason indie filmmakers all jumped on DSLRs. The versatility of lenses really frees up a cinematographer. Also, if you have a tight budget, it’s possible to get a better camera and one lens for the same price you could get a camcorder. You can then add lenses and accessories later as your budget allows. A decent camcorder gives you everything up front, but you also have to pay for it all at once. Mirrorless and DSLR filmmakers know they can build a better rig piece by piece.

Are there any benefits of mirrorless cameras?

Technology is often about gives and takes, and mirrorless cameras are no exception. They have advantages over all the alternatives given above. They are often just as portable as compact cameras but will often have better specs while allowing for the versatility of lenses. The advantages of mirrorless over DSLR are size and adaptability. The advantage over camcorders is similar to compact cameras. Often mirrorless cameras will have better specs than similarly priced camcorders. They also allow for more customization and additions in the future.

What lenses should I invest in today?

Most lenses that you buy now will work well into the future, you just might not be able to use the autofocus feature. If you prefer to manually focus, then you should really only worry about the kind of sensor in your camera. If you have a camera with a cropped sensor, you may have trouble using those lenses on a new camera if you upgrade to a full-frame sensor. Even if your lenses are from a different manufacturer than your camera, you can usually purchase an adaptor (although that will usually render the autofocus useless too). Even modern cameras with full-frame sensors can actually use old analog lenses. Glass is one of the most future-proof investments you can make, just be aware of the autofocus and sensor size issues. 

Will AI technology have an impact on mirrorless cameras in the future?

It’s hard to say, but it seems like it might. Some camera manufacturers are already experimenting with AI and its ability to impact autofocus. As more computerized tools are developed and added, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that all cameras will have to be mirrorless in order to be able to house new computer hardware. We might end up with cameras so advanced that they are as bulky as a DSLR even though they are mirrorless. It’s exciting to think about the possibilities and imagine that the current top-of-the-line cameras are just a stepping stone to truly remarkable machines. Now, if we could only find a way to lift the tariffs so that photography cameras don’t have a video time limit.

How can the smaller size of mirrorless cameras be a disadvantage?

It may seem counterintuitive, but it makes sense if you think about it. There’s a reason phones have gotten bigger in the last decade or so: it simply makes them more comfortable to hold and easier to use. If you’ve ever done text messaging on one of those old-school flip phones, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about. At some point, the convenience of small size reaches its limit and starts to be a hindrance. Not only are bulkier cameras more comfortable to hold, but they also have more room on the body for larger buttons and easier-to-manipulate controls. 

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