Mirrorless cameras are something of an emerging technology in the field of photography, so you may be wondering whether they are the right choice for property photography.

DSLR cameras are currently the industry standard for professional real estate photography, so let’s compare them with mirrorless cameras and see what they both have to offer.

canon dslr camera
Canon DSLR camera
sony mirrorless camera
Sony mirrorless camera

What’s the difference between DSLR and mirrorless cameras?

Until hearing the phrase “mirrorless camera”, you might not have been aware that modern digital cameras use mirrors.

Just like traditional 35mm cameras, a mirror inside the DSLR camera reflects the light entering the lens through a prism and into the viewfinder so you can preview the shot. Pressing the shutter button opens the shutter and flips the mirror up, allowing light from the lens to fall on the image sensor, which captures the picture.

Mirrorless cameras cut out the middleman, and light from the lens shines directly onto the image sensor. This provides a preview of the image on the digital display screen.

Mechanism on a DSLR vs mirrorless camera
Mechanism on a DSLR vs mirrorless camera

Size and weight

DSLRs are often quite big and heavy, as they need to contain the prism and mirror setup. The simpler design of mirrorless cameras allows them to be more compact.

If you’re traveling between properties or carrying additional kit like lenses and spare batteries, mirrorless cameras offer great flexibility.

Battery life

DSLRs generally offer better battery life, as they can be used without the LCD screen. Mirrorless cameras rely on the screen and/or the electronic viewfinder to preview images, both of which use a lot of power.

However, if you tend to use the LCD display on your DSLR, you won’t see much difference in battery life, and both types of camera use removable batteries, so you can always bring spares.

Image quality

It used to be the case that mirrorless cameras offered lower quality images, but developments in camera technology mean that they are now on par with their DSLR counterparts.

Manufacturers are now able to produce more sensitive chips, and some mirrorless cameras even use the same APS-C sensors that are found in the majority of DSLR cameras.

Both types of camera offer great image quality, but if you choose a mirrorless camera, be careful to purchase a newer model to ensure the best results.

Shooting speed

While both types of cameras are able to shoot at fast shutter speeds, mirrorless cameras have the edge here. The simpler mechanism used by mirrorless cameras makes it quicker to shoot images one after another, as the camera has less to do for each shot.

Mirrorless cameras also have the option to use an electronic shutter rather than a mechanical one. This means that, instead of a shutter physically lifting to expose the image, you set how long the sensor reads the light. This again allows for fast shooting speeds.

Lenses and accessories

There is a wide range of lenses and accessories available for DSLR cameras, but there is much less on the market for mirrorless models. However, more and more options are becoming available as the popularity of mirrorless cameras rises.

While the array of DSLR lens choices is useful for professional photographers or those looking to capture close-up or quick-moving subjects, a high-quality wide-angle lens is all you really need for property photography. This means that the mirrorless options aren’t as restrictive as they seem, and having fewer choices is sometimes much easier.

What’s best for property photography?

It’s hard to say definitively one way or the other here, as mirrorless cameras are still the new kid on the block. While the options are currently a little limited, their portability makes them a great choice for taking around to the various properties on your portfolio, and they still offer excellent image quality if you’re able to buy a newer model.

No matter what camera you use, check out our Ultimate Guide to Property Photography to make sure you get off to the best start. If your images require any editing, Elements Property’s Image Enhancement service will perfect your property photography shots.

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Alex Stretton