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What is a Translucent Mirror on a Digital Camera?

What is a Translucent Mirror on a Digital Camera? It’s not a mirrorless digital camera, don’t get these two confused. The translucent mirror in a camera body is an immovable mirror that simultaneously directs light to the phase detection autofocus sensor and the camera’s sensor. Since the translucent mirror is stationary, it enables continuous high-speed shooting and constantly focuses on a subject. You should always consider this when looking for the best digital camera.


  • A translucent mirror in a digital camera is a semi-transparent mirror that allows light to simultaneously get to the image sensor and the separate phase-detection autofocus sensor.
  • The translucent mirror is immovable, helping the photographer to capture action shots at a faster speed.
  • The translucent mirror technology helps a camera operate quietly without blurs because there is no mirror movement.

Why is Translucent Mirror Technology Important? 

There are no mirror shakes in SLT (Single Lens Translucent) cameras because the mirrors are not flipping up and down. The most notable advantage of using translucent mirror technology is in movie shooting. When shooting using a conventional DSLR camera, you have to focus on the subject as it moves because the mirror is up. But with SLT cameras, you can autofocus while recording the subject. To discover more about focusing through an EVF, you should find out what is an electronic viewfinder in a digital camera.

If you are a beginner photographer, you do not have to guess the focusing options when using an SLT camera; the device will take care of it. Knowing what a non-digital camera is can help you learn how classic cameras focus. It is also important to note that translucent mirror technology is great for sports photography because you can shoot at 12FPS, speeds uncommon to DSLRs. 

Insider Tip

A camera with translucent mirror technology can shoot action videos at 10FPS with continuous focusing.

Advantages of SLTs Over DSLRs

Here are some of the advantages of using an SLT camera.

Super-Fast Continuous Shooting Mode

SLTs can shoot between 10FPS and 12FPS, numbers almost twice the shooting speeds of most DSLRs. Thus, this type of mirror is specifically helpful in action photography and videography.

Less Noise and Fewer Vibrations

Since there is no mirror movement, SLTs are not noisy, making them ideal for events that require silent shooting. These cameras also have fewer vibrations, making them ideal as a digital still camera. So, instead of using “mirror lockup” when shooting landscape photography, you can minimize vibrations and improve image sharpness with an SLT camera.

Continuous Auto Focus HD Movie Shooting

The design of the SLT camera allows more light to reach the autofocus sensor continuously. This feature allows the camera to autofocus even when recording videos. In DSLRs, there is no continuous autofocusing because the mirror is flipping. 

More Compact Body Size Camera

SLTs do not need a prism mechanism or a mirror mechanism which is key in the DSLR optical viewfinder. So, if you want a less bulky camera, pick an SLT option. The aspect ratio won’t be anything to worry about, as it’ll be a standard 4:3 or 3:2 on most digital cameras.

You Get What You See

The single image you see in the SLT camera is what you get as the final output. This is because the exposure compensation, white balance, and other settings you picked are applied directly to the image on the viewfinder. This setup is important if you primarily shoot in JPEG and desire to get the correct white balance and other settings in the first take.


Since SLT cameras are not good in low-light conditions, ensure that you adjust the ISO setting and the shutter speed to compensate, or you will not be happy with the shots you take.

Disadvantages of SLTs Over DSLRs

Before you settle on an SLT, you may want to compare waterproof digital cameras first. That said, here are the downsides of using an SLT camera instead of a traditional DSLR.

Experience a Drop in Brightness

Part of the light is directed away from the imaging sensor, causing a drop in the image brightness. In the end, it can result in slower shutter speeds, leading to image blur.

Shows the Last Image When Using High-Speed Burst Mode

If you use the burst mode feature (pressing the shutter button for a long time to film a series of pictures), the EVF will show the last image and not the scene in front of you. This is a concern if you plan on taking lots of fast action takes.

STAT: The Sony Alpha a99’s Tru-Finder electronic viewfinder features 100% field of view, a 2,359K-dot resolution, and a wide 31.9° viewing angle. (source)

Slower Refresh Rates

EVFs have low refresh rates in low light conditions, resulting in jerky images. Consider the low refresh rate if you plan on shooting a lot in low-light conditions.


What type of mirror can I find in a camera?

Convex mirrors. They offer wider fields of view than other mirrors such as concave or plane mirrors common in CCTV and security cameras.

Are mirrorless cameras as good as DSLRs?

Mirrorless cameras are lighter, faster, more compact, and better for HD video recording than DSLRs. But these benefits come at the cost of fewer accessories and lenses.

Why are SLT cameras good for action shooting?

The SLT technology reduces the amount of time it takes to record a photo. Moreover, it reduces the likelihood of blurry photos since there are no camera shakes.

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