Mirrorless vs DSLR, Which is Best for Landscape Photography?

I get asked all the time, “Hey Mike, Mirrorless vs DSLR camera, which is best for landscape photography?” That, my friend, is a loaded question and the answer may be different by the time you read this, but I’ll give you my opinion on why at this time I prefer DSLR cameras.  If you own a mirrorless camera, don’t fret, it’s still a great camera and it may be better suited for your type of photography, but let me explain why at this moment I still like DSLRs better.

Full Frame vs. Cropped Sensor

If you’re not sure the difference between a full frame and a cropped sensor camera, I will write an article fully dedicated to it. For now, however, here’s what you need to know.  Full frame cameras are what you want when it comes to landscape photography.  The most important reasons why is because you get a wider image area and your sensors can hold more information. This makes a big difference when printing large format pieces of art or taking sweeping panoramic pictures.

I shoot with full frame cameras. And yes, there are full frame mirrorless cameras. Sony and Leica both have full frame mirrorless systems, but in my opinion they just aren’t there yet. The camera bodies may be slightly smaller and lighter weight, but many of the lenses are actually bigger and heavier than their DSLR counterparts. When you carry multiple lenses around, this tends to make your camera bag heavier with a mirrorless setup.

Lens Options

Secondly, are the lens options available with DSLR cameras. There are many great lens manufacturers that are not Canon or Nikon. Yet, few make lenses for mirrorless cameras, especially full frame mirrorless cameras. For that reason you become stuck using the manufacturer’s brand lenses. Sony and Zeiss make very nice lenses, but they are expensive and a little competition would allow me to spend a bit less on lenses I use less frequently but still want in my quiver.

Battery Life

Then there is the issue of battery life. Since mirrorless cameras don’t have an accurate optical view finder (OVF), they have to use an electronic view finder (EVF).  This can be a good thing, because the view finder actually covers 100% of the frame, whereas OVFs only cover about 95-98%.  However, since they are electronic they use battery, and a lot of it. Battery life on a mirrorless camera is roughly 1/2 to 1/3 of what a traditional DSLR will give you. So you will basically need two to three times the amount of batteries with you as compared with the DSLR.


All this relates only as a comparison between full frame DSLRs and full frame mirrorless cameras. If we were to compare cropped sensor DSLRs with comparable cropped sensor mirrorless cameras, my view would be much more in favor of the mirrorless system. But since I am personally an advocate for full frame cameras, I will stick to a full frame DSLR.

That’s not to say the technology isn’t improving. On the contrary, mirrorless camera makers are making huge strides and the innovations are growing at a substantial rate. It may just be a matter of time before technology catches up and full frame mirrorless cameras become superior in every way when compared to DSLRs, but at the time of this writing, the quality of images coming from full frame DSLRs and the options and advantages that come with them are better than their mirrorless counterparts – in my opinion.  So to answer the original question, “Mirrorless vs DSLR, which is best for landscape photography?”  As of today, the answer is a full frame DSLR.

UPDATE: As I’m writing this, Hasselblad just announced a mirrorless medium format camera. I haven’t had a chance to see one for myself yet, but this could absolutely be a game changer… and a bank breaker…