The battle between DSLR and mirrorless cameras is one that may never truly end. Loyalists are found in heaps on both sides and have very strong arguments as to why they prefer one or the other type of camera for their needs.
However, many sports photographers still maintain that DSLRs are better than mirrorless cameras for capturing fast action reliably. Let’s take a look at some of the major differences between the two kinds so you can decide which one you prefer.
The first and foremost reason why sports photographers prefer shooting with DSLRs is the faster autofocus. Mirrorless cameras have really caught up in recent years but there aren’t enough of them yet to overthrow DSLRs as the autofocus champions.
However, mirrorless cameras do make it easier to autofocus more reliably in some situations when you’re using live view on the LCD screen. This is where many DSLRs start to slow down.
If DSLRs have their fast autofocus going for them, mirrorless ones have their lighter weight and convenience as a feather in their cap. Mirrorless cameras are much smaller and easier to carry than competing DSLRs, which means it is much easier for photographers to move around when taking photos of sporting events.
DSLRs have optical viewfinders, which reflect the scene in front of the camera exactly as the human eye would see it. Mirrorless cameras have electronic viewfinders, which show the scene as it is going to be captured with the camera settings at the time. Both have their pros and cons, of course. Optical viewfinders are great in daylight but fail in darker scenes, and they have no overlays on them to help you take a shot quickly. Electronic viewfinders are great for nailing the exposure and focus right from the viewfinder but can look very noisy at night and their quality varies from camera to camera.
Mirrorless cameras have really made strides when it comes to improving the speed of continuous shooting. The recently announced Sony alpha 9 can shoot up to 20 frames per second without any blackout. This means you can essentially playback your photos and end up with a 20fps video file. That is fast and makes cameras like this one great for sports photography.
Whether you choose a DSLR or a mirrorless camera for sports photography depends on your preferences. If you want the best autofocus, the widest range of lenses, and an optical viewfinder, then go for a DSLR. If on the other hand, you would rather have a smaller camera to carry, an EVF for an accurate portrayal of your settings, and crazy fast shooting speeds, then a mirrorless camera might be more suited to you.