Digital photography is vast with lots of camera options. Choosing the right camera can be a daunting task, especially if you are a beginner.

The two main contenders for capturing high-quality images are Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras or mirrorless cameras.

These options have their own unique advantages and disadvantages so today, we will find out which camera is the best for beginners.

Person holding a Canon DSLR

DSLR and Mirrorless Camera Overview

Before we get into the conclusion, we must first understand the characteristics of both cameras.

What is a DSLR camera?

DSLR cameras have been the go-to choice for professional photographers for several years. It features a mirror and a pentaprism that allows users to see the scene through the optical viewfinder. 

This is the reason why it is called a "single lens" reflex". This traditional setup provides a direct and real-time view of the subject.

DSLRs are known for their robust construction, extensive lens selection, and excellent battery life. 

What are the advantages of a DSLR camera?

The main advantage of a DSLR camera is the optical viewfinder as it allows for  clear and lag-free preview of the scene. This makes it easier t ocompose shots and track moving subjects.

Moreover, DSLR cameras have a wide range of lenses to choose from. Besides first-party lenses, there are third-party lens manufacturers that have a variety of lenses to choose from.

DSLRs also have large batteries. This is essential if you want to shoot for long hours without changing the batteries every now and then.

Lastly, DSLR cameras have rugged bodies. Higher-end models are made of magnesium alloy and features weather-resistance. It is one of the reasons why is the top choice for outdoor photographers.

What are the disadvantages of a DSLR camera?

DSLR cameras are bulky and heavy. They are less portable and is hard to be discreet with it. It is also cumbersome to carry around.

In addition, DSLR cameras have decent video capabilities, but the features are very limited compared to mirrorless cameras.

Other than that, DSLRs are worth getting if you are a beginner wanting to get into photography.

Fujifilm X-A5 mirrorless camera

What is a Mirrorless camera?

Mirrorless cameras, as the name suggests, do not have a mirror or pentaprism mechanism. Instead, they use an electronic viewfinder (EVF) or the rear LCD screen to display a live preview of the image.

Mirrorless cameras have gained popularity for their compact size, advanced features, and excellent video capabilities.

Camera companies have also focused on releasing mirrorless cameras over the last five years with DSLR innovation slowly falling into shambles.

What are the advantages of a mirrorless camera?

Mirrorless cameras are compact and lightweight. They are significantly smaller and lighter than DSLRs. This makes them easy to carry around - perfect for travel or street photography.

These cameras can also shoot silently due to the absence of a mechanical mirror. This is the main reason why street photographers have switched to mirrorless cameras over DSLRs as it does not disturb a scene.

Another advantage of a mirrorless camera is its advanced autofocus system. These cameras have sophisticated AF systems that will leave DSLRs in the dust.

Companies have also developed ways to lock in focus to the subject and track them automatically.

Mirrorless cameras are a beast when it comes to video recording. Even entry-level cameras can do 4K recording. Higher-end models tend to have image stabilization as well.

Lastly, compatibility and adaptability. There are mirrorless cameras that can use classic film lenses and older DSLR lenses.

This increases the variety of lenses you can use on a mirrorless camera. Moreover, doing so adds a unique characteristic to the images you capture.

What are the disadvantages of a mirrorless camera?

One of the major weaknesses of a mirrorless camera is lens selection. It is growing in the past years but, not yet enough to compete against the massive lens selection of DSLR models.

The good thing though is most companies have covered the commonly used focal ranges. Often called the lens trinity, Sony and the others offer lenses that range from ultrawide to super telephoto lenses already.

However, they are more expensive compared to its DSLR counterparts.

Another disadvantage is the shorter battery life. Since mirrorless cameras are smaller, they cannot house batteries with larger capacities.

Companies are overcoming this problem by introducing neat features such as autoshut off when not in use.

Camera taking a picture of the city

Which is better camera for beginners DSLR or mirrorless?

Now that you know the pros and cons of both cameras. It is time to decide which one is best for beginners.

From a photography standpoint, DSLR cameras are a great choice since they are affordable and the accessories are abundant. 

There are several DSLR options, both new and used, that are great to start with such as the Canon Rebel series or the Nikon D5XXX lineup.

Both DSLR lineups have great features that are essential for photographers such as full manual controls. There are tons of lenses to choose from too.

The best part of going with a DSLR is the abundance of new and used lenses to choose from. This will save you a lot of money especially if you find someone disposing their gear to switch to a mirrorless camera.

On the other hand, if you want to take videos alongside photos, then opting for a mirrorless camera is a wise choice.

Mirrorless camera strike the perfect balance between photography and videography. These cameras offer full manual controls and extensive photography controls without limiting video capabilities.

The good thing about current mirrorless cameras is even the five year old cameras can strike a punch when it comes to image quality.

Brand new entry-level options are no-slouch either. You can pick up a $600 camera and you are good to go for the next five years.

So what is the final answer? As cliche as it sounds, it is up to you. Know your priorities and it will be the deciding factor. Either way, you cannot go wrong with the two options.

Aim Orallo