Mirrorless camera vs. DSLR: Which is better?

Weighing the choice between speed and accessories

Professional photographers have a huge variety of cameras to choose from. By using different types, they have found which models, brands and specifications work for them. For someone who is just starting out or simply looking to buy a good camera, the decision can be confusing.

There are several things that beginning photographers need to keep in mind, most importantly whether a mirrorless camera or a digital single-lens reflex camera is the best choice for them. The choice, however, can come down to personal preference.


Mirrorless cameras tend to be lighter, smaller and faster. DSLRs are heavier but have the advantage of a wider selection of lenses and accessories, and they have a better battery life.

What is a mirrorless camera?

A mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera is commonly known simply as a mirrorless camera. It hasn't been around for as long as DSLR cameras have, as the first commercial model was only released in 2008 (the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1). Depending on the brand and model, the price for a mirrorless camera ranges from less than $500 to more than $4,000.


There are several features that set a mirrorless camera apart from a DSLR camera. The most obvious aspect is that mirrorless cameras weigh less. They also tend to be quieter than DSLR cameras, as they don’t have the moving mirror that DSLR cameras have.

For all the advantages that mirrorless cameras have, there are some drawbacks as well. If you prefer to have a wide variety of lenses available, a DSLR camera might be the better option for you.

Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless Vlogging Camera Camera Kit with EF-M 15-45mm Lens: available at Amazon

Offering a large selection of cameras, Canon provides photographers with both DSLR and mirrorless models. Canon’s best mirrorless camera under $1,000 is the EOS M50. Incorporating the DIGI 8 Image Processor, it features a 24.1 megapixel APS-C sensor, an improved version of the Dual Pixel CMOS Auto-Focus and can capture video content in 4K.

Panasonic Lumix G7 4K Mirrorless Camera: available at Amazon

You’ll get a lot for a great price with this Panasonic, which takes 4K photos and video and gives superb image quality. Special features include the ability to shoot without shutter noise and intelligent auto focusing so you never miss a shot.

Panasonic Lumix GX85 4K Digital Camera: available at Amazon

If you need a compact camera for travel, this model is your best bet for the price. It comes with two compact interchangeable lenses and features dual image stabilization for crystal-clear shots.

Mirrorless camera vs. DSLR: Which is better?

The DSLR camera was commercially available 30 years before a mirrorless equivalent came around. Having three decades of research and technology behind it, the DSLR is a favorite with wildlife and news photographers. Since mirrorless cameras have quickly become popular, there is still some debate as to whether there is a need for DSLR cameras. The average price for a DSLR camera is between $500 and $2,000.

Until the commercial release of mirrorless cameras, DSLR models set the standard for consumer-level photography. While they have several disadvantages, the cameras also have strong points to consider.

Digital single-lens reflex cameras used to be the gold standard in consumer-level photography. As mirrorless cameras have become more advanced, some of the DSLR's features have become less appealing. But as with all products, the choice often comes down to what each photographer prefers.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR: available at Amazon

A staple in the photographic industry, Canon provides some of the best equipment available. The EOS 5D Mark IV is one such example, as it features a 30.4 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor, up to 7 frames per second in burst shooting, a 61-point autofocus system with 41 cross-points for expanded vertical coverage and 12 stops of dynamic range. In terms of video recording, it can capture 4K resolution at 30 or 24 frames per second.

Nikon D780 with AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm Lens: available at Amazon

If you’re serious about photography, this camera, which allows you to take full HD videos, should be on your short list. It lets you create beautiful images, including panoramas, and then instantly share them via your smartphone or tablet. It also includes fun special effects and filters.

Canon EOS 2000D (Rebel T7): available at Amazon

A terrific camera for the price, this model comes with everything you need to get started, including a 50-inch tripod, 64GB memory card, telephoto conversion lens, wide-angle lens, and lens-cleaning products.

Should I get a mirrorless camera or a DSLR camera?

Balancing the DSLR’s availability of additional lenses and better battery life against mirrorless cameras’ lighter weight and smaller size can make the choice between them difficult. Professional photographers may prefer one aspect, while beginning shutterbugs could favor the other.

While the biggest deciding factor will come down to personal preference, there are some technological features that need to be kept in mind. This can complicate weighing the overall merits of one camera system over the other.

Mirrorless cameras will be better suited for photographers who want a lighter camera that can easily sling around their shoulder or neck. Mirrorless cameras are also small enough to fit into a camera bag or backpack without having to buy an expensive case.

But the luxury of smaller size and lighter weight comes with a compromise. Mirrorless camera bodies are usually sold with kit lenses, which is great for first-time or amatuer photographers. But if you want to add something with a bit more power or focus length, you might struggle to find a compatible lens.

DSLR cameras, on the other hand, have an incredibly wide variety of lenses available. This stems from the system’s 30-year history, and manufacturers know that the lenses sell well. Without the electronic viewfinder, the DSLR’s battery life is also better than a mirrorless cameras’.

With that said, there has been a debate whether there is still a need for DSLR cameras. As technology naturally becomes faster, smaller and more powerful, it might just be a matter of time before DSLR cameras are phased out completely.


While the global pandemic caused an economic impact in most industries, the sales of DSLR cameras took an especially big hit, declining by 54% in 2020. In contrast, mirrorless camera sales only fell 34%, and mirrorless cameras outsold DSLRs by over 200,000 units.


Charlie Fripp is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


Latest What to buy


Most Read

Two years. 33,000 dead. Tracing the pandemic’s toll across Illinois and one doctor’s family.5:00 AM
  • Daily horoscope for March 20, 202212:00 AM
  • A permanent Daylight Saving Time would steal away from future generations the chance to complain twice a yearMar 18, 2022