A mirrorless camera on a white background

What is a Mirrorless Camera?

As the name suggests, mirrorless cameras capture frames without the use of a mirror in the camera body. This is different to DSLR cameras, which use a mirror to reflect incoming light from the shutter onto the the image sensor. Mirrorless cameras let incoming light hit the image sensor directly, resulting in a faster image capturing process.

Mirrorless cameras are going to be the successor to the DSLR as they are more compact due to having no bulky mirror box. Additionally, the lens sits closer to the light sensor, allowing for a superior image quality.

Diagram outlining the difference between DSLRs and mirrorless cameras

For beginner camera enthusiasts, mirrorless cameras are often better as they are not only more compact, but they also have relatively simple controls. Additionally, mirrorless cameras are more likely to have to have a touchscreen than a similarly priced DSLR, making them more accessible and easy to use for the majority of beginners.

Pros and Cons of Mirrorless Cameras vs DLSR


Mirrorless DSLR
Compact & light weight Sturdier
Faster and more accurate photosGood for fast moving objects
Good for taking videosGood for low light situations


Shorter battery life Slow autofocus
Limited lens options compared to DSLRLarge range of lens options
Side-by-side view of a DSLR and a mirrorless camera

When to Use Mirrorless Cameras

As stated previously, mirrorless camera should be used to shoot videos as many mirrorless camera models are made to shoot up to 4k, while some (such as the Canon EOS R5) can shoot in 8k. Additionally, mirrorless cameras generally do not have manual shutters. As a result, mirrorless cameras can take pictures without making much of a sound. This would be very beneficial in live events such as weddings or speeches where one must be as unobtrusive as possible.

Impact of Mirrorless Cameras on the Photography Industry

  • The compact size and versatility of mirrorless cameras have made them a preferred choice for travel, street, and documentary photographers, enabling them to capture moments with ease.
  • Professional photographers are increasingly adopting mirrorless cameras for their reliability, fast performance, and high-quality image output, leading to a shift away from traditional DSLRs.
  • Mirrorless cameras have encouraged competition among manufacturers, resulting in a wider range of options for consumers, from entry-level models to high-end, professional-grade cameras.


In conclusion, mirrorless cameras offer a compact and versatile alternative to DSLRs, with superior image quality and simple controls appealing to both beginners and professionals. Their impact on the photography industry continues to grow, driving innovation and expanding options for photographers.

If you’re interesting in trying out a mirrorless camera for yourself, reach out to mediaservices@american.edu and request to borrow an Olympus mirrorless camera from our collection.

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