10 reasons why mirrorless cameras beat smartphones every time

Smartphones have put a camera into the hands of millions of people. While they’ve made photography more accessible, they can’t compete with dedicated cameras – especially when it comes to shooting in less-than-ideal conditions. In the battle of the mirrorless camera vs. the smartphone, the team at Ted’s Cameras says the camera wins every time. These are the 10 major benefits of the mirrorless camera:

#1 They have a bigger sensor size

The main difference between digital cameras and mobile cameras is the image quality. Mirrorless cameras have superior image quality – and that’s thanks to the sensor size. The high-end mirrorless cameras have incredible image sensors that can capture every little detail in a scene, from highlights to shadows. The sensor in a smartphone is a fraction of the size, which makes it much harder to shoot in dim light and zoom up on your scene without sacrificing quality. Plus, the glare from the screen can make it tricky to shoot in bright sunlight. Smartphones are designed with as many megapixels as the manufacturer can cram in, but they’ll never match up to mirrorless cameras and their larger sensors.     

#2 They perform better in low light

The right lighting can take your photo from good to great. While your smartphone works well in the great outdoors, you’ve probably noticed the grain in your photos when you shoot indoors or after the sun sets. On the other hand, mirrorless cameras can adapt to all lighting conditions, including low light. Along with bigger sensor size, most have image stabilisation built into the body or lens), which steadies the image and reduces the effect of camera shake in low light. Since these stabilisers are on the bulkier side, phone manufacturers install digital stabilisers instead. The quality doesn’t stack up. OIS also ensures your photos are smooth and blur-free, even if you’re shooting fast-moving subjects. 

#3 They have optical zoom lenses

Smartphones don’t have optical zoom lenses. While you can enlarge the subject by pressing on the screen and spreading your fingers apart, this drastically reduces the image quality. It simply enlarges the pixels, and the image often ends up blurred. For that reason, if you’re hoping to capture the smaller details, like facial expressions, we suggest only using a smartphone to snap subjects that are less than 10 metres away. Otherwise, if you want to get close to the action, you have to physically move. Mirrorless cameras have optical zoom lenses. This means the lens actually adjusts to magnify the image before you, as opposed to you doing it digitally. The result is a much clearer, crisper image.

#4 They have a bigger zoom range

If you’re planning on taking close-ups of people or other subjects, you can purchase a mirrorless camera with an extended zoom range. These models are a little heavier, but they offer an optical zoom as high as 30x. This gives you a huge amount of creative control in composing and capturing faraway scenes and subjects. If you prefer a portable, lightweight camera, the smaller mirrorless cameras are capable of 3x to 10x zoom – which is still miles ahead of smartphones. 

#5 They have interchangeable lenses

With all mirrorless cameras, you can switch out the lenses to suit different situations. Frustratingly, many smartphones have fixed-focus lenses, which means they’re limited to a wide angle of around 25mm. When you shoot with a wide-angle all the time, some photos can look out of proportion. Though there are lens kits you can buy for your phone, nothing beats the ability to change lenses on a whim and choose the best focal length. You might pop on a wide-angle lens to open up the scene and shoot landscapes or group photos, and then use a macro lens to pick up the smaller details many photographers miss. A mirrorless camera gives you the flexibility and ability to control the perspective of your photo.

#6 They have less shutter lag

We all know the feeling. You pull out your phone to snap a memorable moment of your kids or pets – and when you scroll through the photos, you’re met with blurriness. Smartphones have come a long way. They have incredible processing power, but they still struggle with autofocus. Depending on the lighting and the phone you have, the shutter lag can range from half a second to a second – which is long enough to miss out on those fleeting scenes. Digital mirrorless cameras have phase and contrast detection sensors, and use both to refine their autofocus and better capture motion. They can quickly fire off multiple shots, leaving you with plenty of sharp pictures to choose from. 

#7 They have a longer battery life

Between apps, calls and messages, smartphones tend to run out of charge by the end of a day. Start using the camera and video functions, and you’ll drain the battery power very quickly. If you’re travelling or sightseeing and relying on the camera, a flat battery can not only be annoying, but inconvenient. The batteries in mirrorless cameras are designed to last longer, and some can go two weeks without needing a charge. You can also pack spare batteries and switch them out as needed, so you can keep shooting without interruptions. On a logical note, bringing a separate camera will free up your phone for other uses – like communication! 

#8 They are more durable

Many high-end mirrorless cameras are weather-sealed, so don’t have to worry about them being damaged by the elements. Some cameras are waterproof and shockproof, too. They can handle any abuse you hurl at them, from dropping them to shooting in heavy rain. Because of that, you can take them places your phone can’t travel. If you’re keen to dabble in underwater photography, look for a mirrorless camera that’s waterproof to at least 15 metres.

#9 They have advanced camera settings

Basically, smartphones are point-and-shoot cameras. You can tweak the exposure and ISO, but that’s about it. Mirrorless cameras are loaded with sophisticated settings, and many offer manual mode. By controlling the settings, you can get creative with things like shutter speed, aperture and white balance, and end up with more artistic photos. Manual mode is also handy if you’re taking action, night or long-distance shots. In this way, mirrorless cameras give you more room to grow and experiment – and that makes you a better photographer in the long run.

#10 They have a larger aperture

Smartphones are getting slimmer and slimmer. To make the camera small enough to fit into the frame, manufacturers replace the mechanical shutter with an electronic shutter, and leave the lens open all the time. As users, we can’t control the aperture. This limits the capability of the camera, especially when you want to capture movement (like water) or shoot long-exposures. Mirrorless cameras have larger apertures, so you can change the size of the lens and decide how much light to let in. Combined with their bigger sensors, this means mirrorless cameras are better for shooting in low light and shallower depths of field. So, if you want to snap eye-catching photos with sharp foregrounds, pick up a mirrorless camera. 

Which mirrorless camera should you buy:

Ted’s recommends these three mirrorless cameras:

Get more value for your money with a mirrorless camera

Smartphone technology is impressive. But with their savvy settings and superior image quality, mirrorless cameras have all the features you need to take your photos to the next level. They’re reasonably priced, too. To compare and shop mirrorless cameras, visit your local Ted’s Cameras store.