Understanding Compact, DSLR and Mirrorless cameras for beginners

A very common but crucial question, which every beginner in photography comes across is – which camera I should go for or which camera is best suited for me? Well, here I explain three major types of digital cameras and their pros and cons.

In case you are looking for video cameras, you can learn about various camera options to start shooting videos in this post by Mayank Kamal.

Compact Camera

Compact camera, also called Point and Shoot camera, is a digital camera designed to perform simple photography operations. Most of the low-end versions of these cameras will not provide you total control on your photographs – technically speaking, one will not be able to adjust focus, aperture, shutter speed and ISO manually. Instead, it comes with different modes to choose from and the camera will adjust the settings for you. These cameras have very small sensors, which results in poorer image quality compared to DSLRs. One may experience a lot of grains, especially while shooting in low light conditions.

Which camera to buy - Point and shoot, DSLR, Mirrorless

Nowadays one advantage these cameras offer is high zoom capacity at low budgets. These are a good option for someone who just wants to test their interest in photography. Smartphone cameras with high-end performance are giving tough competition to these compact cameras. Personally, I will not suggest compact cameras for those who are really serious about photography and would love to do a lot of experiments with photographs.

This collection of videos cover differences between DSLR and Mirrorless cameras in great detail.

Digital Single Lens Reflex Camera (DSLR)

DSLR in handA DSLR camera uses reflex mirror design and digital imaging sensor to capture photographs. DSLR built quality is very impressive, both the outer frame and the lens optics. This makes it a durable equipment capturing crisp and sharper images. DSLRs are equipped with big sensors ensuring high-resolution images and better performance in low light conditions. Interchangeable lens and body help in choosing the right kit as per one’s requirement and budget.

How does a DSLR actually captures a photograph? When you point your DSLR at your subject, the light enters through the lens, it bounces after hitting the reflex mirror inside the body (placed at 45)°, it goes up to a prism assembly over it and finally reaches the viewfinder. It shows exactly the same image through the viewfinder that sensor is going to capture. Once satisfied with your frame when you trigger the shutter, the reflex mirror flips up, allowing the light to enter directly to the sensor which captures the final photograph.

Mirrorless Camera

The mirrorless camera is a digital camera which can be called a hybrid of both DSLR and compact camera. ItMirrorless camera has advantages of both the above-mentioned camera types like advanced sensors, interchangeable lens, light weight and compactness. If you are wondering, why it is called a Mirrorless camera? The answer is that it doesn’t have a mirror in front of the sensor, like in the case of a DSLR. Your smartphone camera is also a good example of Mirrorless camera. In Mirrorless camera, the light enters the camera through the lens and directly reaches the image sensor and the final photograph is captured when you press the trigger.

Mirrorless cameras are equipped with EVF (Electronic View Finder) which electronically projects the image in viewfinder instead of OVF (Optical View Finder) in DSLRs, which uses reflex mirror mechanism. Mirrorless cameras can be seen as future of digital cameras, with all the major camera manufacturers focusing on the rapid development of the Mirrorless camera technology.

To have a quick look at the key differences between a DSLR and Mirrorless camera, here is a table chart.






[one_third]Bulky & heavy [/one_third]

[one_third_last]Smaller & lighter[/one_third_last]

[one_third]PERFORMANCE SPEED[/one_third]

[one_third]Slower w.r.t. to best Mirrorless[/one_third]

[one_third_last]High-speed shooting[/one_third_last]


[one_third]OVF (Optical View Finder)[/one_third]

[one_third_last]EVF ( Electronic View Finder)[/one_third_last]


[one_third]Average 700 Shots[/one_third]

[one_third_last]Average 350 Shots[/one_third_last]


[one_third]Wide choice of lenses[/one_third]

[one_third_last]Narrow choice of lenses[/one_third_last]

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