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DSLR vs. Mirrorless

Nitin Sacheti , Nov 02, 2012; 12:35 p.m.

DSLR vs. mirrorless. What do you think of mirrorless cameras? Are they comparable to DSLRs? Are the prices very different? Seems like you can buy a Sony mirrorless for cheaper than a DSLR but not sure about the quality. Also, generally, when thinking about that, does brand matter? If I find a good Sony or Panasonic or Samsung camera, is that as good as a Nikon or Canon. Also for Nikon, Canon, is one brand necessarily better than another?
Thanks, I appreciate your (plural!) insight


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Wouter Willemse , Nov 02, 2012; 01:23 p.m.

Nitin, this is an overly wide question, to be honest; the answers are going to be all over the place probably. Both mirrorless and DSLRs have their specific pros and cons. And part is personal preference too, some people will lean one way, some the other. Same goes for brands. And ultimately, all those personal preferences will teach you little, as they may not apply to your situation at all.

So, if you want useful answers for your situation: what kind of photography do you do most, what specific features are you looking for in a camera, have you tried any of these cameras in a shop to see how they fit your idea of how a camera should work, and how they fit your hands, and most of all: how much can you spend?

Michael R. Freeman , Nov 02, 2012; 01:53 p.m.

For each specific photographer, doing a specific type of photography, requiring a specific set of camera capabilities, there will be a specific type of camera made by a specific manufacturer that will best fit their needs. For photographer A that may be a Panasonic mirrorless camera. For photographer B it will be a Nikon DX format DSLR. For photographer C it will be a "full frame" Canon DSLR. For A, B and C the choice may well be decided in the end by ergonomics, not technical capabilities.

In other words there is no type or brand that is necessarily "better" than competing products. Each has their pros and cons. Your questions are really too broad to get any kind of meaningful or useful consensus.

Philip Wilson , Nov 02, 2012; 02:01 p.m.

It depends on what you want to do. For versatility, range of capabilities and handling it is hard to beat a full frame DSLR such as a Canon 1D or Nikon D4. If you shoot action sports, wildlife or low light the DSLR is the way to go. If you want small size and weight the mirrorless bodies have an advantage. It is hard to go wrong with Canon or Nikon in DSLRs as they have the best ranges and the most lens choices. For Mirrorless Sony, Panasonic and Olympus seem to lead the way. Without more information this is a difficult question to ask but I must assume you are a fairly inexperienced user due to the question you asked. MY suggestion is that you describe a bit more about yourself, your experience, your budget and what you want to shoot and people can be more helpful.

Mukul Dube , Nov 02, 2012; 02:03 p.m.

The different brands compete with one another and, for that reason, are pretty similar in quality and features. You would do well to make a list of the kinds of photography you want to do and then look at the various options to determine which of them will meet your needs.

Leslie Cheung , Nov 02, 2012; 02:43 p.m.


Mark Amos , Nov 02, 2012; 02:44 p.m.

I would think that a good and helpful overview answer to the question could be achieved in a couple pages of text. Obviously there are going to be some extreme opinions, but most would agree with the level headed responses already given here, but I would imagine more insight could be provided with a longer but still objective response. Doesn't photo.net have something like that for this common beginner question?
A friend came to my house recently with an even broader question: "I've been using this little digital camera I bought from someone for $50, but I'd like something better. What do you (me) recommend." (Fortunately I had plenty of examples on hand for a little clinic on cameras since the 1950s ;)

Ariel S , Nov 02, 2012; 03:36 p.m.

First, learn to search please. Heck, here is a thread 2 posts down from yours, started to discuss this very thing!


Second, there is no right answer. You need to look at the lens lineup, the pros and cons of each system, and choose your intended subjects, and that will answer your question for you. The quality of mirrorless is good, but if you need a pro-style body that allows for very quick settings changes, or following focus for moving quick moving subjects like sports, then they still can't compare to DSLRs. Overall, brand does not matter. Sony, Nikon, Canon, and Pentax all make good DSLRs, and Panasonic, Olympus, Samsung, and Sony all make good mirrorless cameras. The only caveat I have is that Sony has a larger sensor, same size as APS DSLRs, while Olympus/Panasonic are "only" micro 4/3. Also, Samsung looks the best on paper, with impressive primes, but they just aren't making that final push to make their cameras really legendary. When looking at the Samsung NX on paper, it looks the best, but using it, the Sony NEX starts to pull ahead. Once Sony gets more lenses, I think it will be better for them. Overall, this topic has been beaten to death online, so your best bet right now is not to post questions, it's simply to search. Use this website, use google, use dpreview, photography on the net, etc. So many resources, because this question has been posed about 235,723,918,351 times already, as you'd expect.

Geoff Francis , Nov 05, 2012; 11:32 p.m.

You cant go too wrong with a basic entry level dslr from Canon, Nikon or Sony. Best way to answer this question is get a basic dslr and kit lens and as you develop your interest you will be able to work out for yourself what your needs and wants are.
I've used mirroless, APS-C and FF dslrs. If I were starting all over agin I would start with a basic dslr.

H. P. , Nov 07, 2012; 04:26 a.m.

I use DSLRs, mirrorless and compact. Anyone who states that any type is better than any other is sadly deluded.

For a beginner, any camera will do very well, while they discover what they want to do and how they want to do it.

If you are on a tight budget, get the cheapest secondhand camera you can find and play with that until you have formed your own opinions.

Beware of anyone who has definite opinions on "the best camera". Their views are almost certainly wrong.

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