Photography Cameras –What’s the difference between DSLR and mirror-less DSLR?

Roger Bretayne is the photography expert-in-residence here at SmileWisdom and the tutor of our CPD course in Dental Photography. We asked him to share a little of his photography knowledge for the blog.


Traditionally in dentistry we have used DSLRs, these are the digital equivalents to the old school 35mm SLR cameras from the 1960’s and 70s.

These cameras have a moving mirror that allows the viewfinder to see through the same lens as the camera sensor. The noise this type of camera makes is in part the flipping of the mirror out of the way of the light coming from the lens. These types of cameras are well established and well understood, they are reliable and durable, although the movement of the mirror eventually means they were phased out, as the mechanism is mechanically flipped each time a photo is taken. This is what the actuation count means when people discuss DSLR camera bodies.

There is now a new type of camera body available that is a mirror-less DSLR, these types of cameras have been available for a while now and are slowly growing in popularity. The benefit of a mirror-less camera body is that there is no moving mirror and so they should have no internal mechanical wear like traditional DSLR cameras with mirrors might do. The other big plus point to mirror-less camera bodies is that, because of the lack of the mirror, they are physically smaller than equivalent traditional mirror based DSLRs.

So with the benefits of mirror-less cameras mentioned above why do so many people still use traditional DSLR type cameras, especially professional photographers? The answer is very simple. The lenses for traditional DSLR cameras are just better quality. This is slowly changing, but currently if you want the best image quality possible then you still really need a traditional DSLR camera. However that being said, newer Sony mirror-less full frame bodies are now becoming more and more popular for professional use. The problem is not so much with the camera bodies but with the available lenses for mirror-less cameras.

Annoyingly, from a consumer point of view, lenses for the new smaller mirror-less DSLR cameras tend to be more expensive and not perform quite as well as their equivalents for traditional DSLR cameras. I am sure in the future that we will all be using mirror-less cameras, for now the lens issue is the main drawback of moving across.

dental photography

Would you like to know more about dental photography? We offer training at the BDA for groups who wish to improve their skills and knowledge in this area.

Click here to find out more or give us a call 020 7205 2299.