Last Updated on September 12, 2021
With traveling back on the agenda, now is as good a time as any to re-evaluate your photography equipment. And, if you don’t already have a camera, maybe now is a good time to weigh up your options.
Today’s travel photographers are faced with the difficult task of choosing between the DSLR cameras they’re so accustomed to and modern mirrorless cameras. Each has its own set of pros and cons, which we’ve decided to outline below, so you can make your own mind up.
DSLR stands for digital single lens reflex. In a DSLR, light passes through the lens, hitting a mirror mechanism inside the camera body. The light then bounces from the mirror to a prism, which reflects the image on the camera’s viewfinder. Thus, the user can see exactly what the lens is seeing.
With mirrorless cameras, the light that hits the lens goes straight to an image sensor. What the lens sees is then reflected through an electronic viewfinder, where you can preview image settings like exposure, brightness, saturation, and contrast.
When it comes to the technical differences, the biggest edge mirrorless cameras have over DSLRs is that their electronic viewfinders let you know whether you nailed your exposure even before you’ve taken the shot. For example, if you make your shutter speed settings faster, the electronic viewfinder will immediately show you whether your image is as dark as you were aiming for. With DSLRs, this process is a lot more complicated as it usually involves a bit of trail and error to get everything right. So when you’re on a hectic trip and constantly zipping from one site to another, you might appreciate having a mirrorless camera over a DSLR.
Size and Weight
Because mirrorless cameras lack the optical viewfinder and mirror mechanism that come with DSLRs, they are much lighter and smaller. Their portability makes them the ideal option for traveling, especially if you prefer to go backpacking and don’t have the luxury of traveling with heavy baggage.
Choosing the Right Lens
If you want to improve the quality of your photography, you can use additional camera lenses to produce better images and take more complex shots. Here is where DSLR cameras have the advantage. DSLRs have been around for longer, so the market is already pretty saturated with lenses designed specifically for DSLR camera models.
However, lens adapters are available for photographers who want to use their stock of DSLR lenses on mirrorless cameras. For instance, adapters work well with many of Nikon’s DSLR camera bodies and F mount lenses. Meanwhile, you can use vintage lenses on Fujifilm mirrorless cameras with adapters compatible with X-mount bodies.
DSLRs have better battery life than mirrorless cameras. Because DSLRs don’t have as many electronic components as mirrorless cameras, they require a lot less power. Entry-level mirrorless cameras can last for about 300 shots, while the average entry-level DSLR camera can last about 400. When you’re traveling and have limited access to electricity, a longer battery life is certainly a major advantage.
When it comes to DSLR cameras, Canon and Nikon dominate the market. Prices can range from $500 to $6,000, depending on the level and quality of the model. One popular option is the Nikon D750, which costs $1,200 and has a photo resolution of 24MP. Another high-rated model is the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, which can be bought for $2,700 and shoots at a maximum image resolution of 30MP.
On the other hand, the brands known for their high-quality mirrorless cameras include Fujifilm, Olympus, and Sony. When it comes to price, mirrorless cameras seem to have the edge, as entry-level cameras are pretty affordable at $600, while more serious models can cost anywhere between $1,800 and $2,200. One of the best mirrorless cameras for travel photographers is the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III, which is a lightweight model with built-in stabilization and accurate autofocus systems.
The era of the DSLR for travel photography isn’t over yet, especially when they tend to have superior battery life and lots of useful accessories to choose from. But when it comes to backpacking, mirrorless cameras provide consumers more convenience, as developments in electronic viewfinder technology help to save time, money, and space. You can also check our blog for more travel photography tips.