Difference Between DSLR and Mirrorless Camera | DSLR vs Mirrorless
Here’s the Canon EOS Rebel T100, an 18 megapixel camera released in 2018. You can buy one of these, with a kit lens, for $375 on Amazon.
Also from 2018, still new and fully covered by US warranty, I found the 24 megapixel Canon EOS Rebel T7 at B&H Photo for $479, including kit lens.
While Nikon just discontinued their two lower-end DSLRs, you might find similar deals if you can find one in stock. There’s also a tremendous level of price compression in the consumer DSLR market, yielding even lower prices on refurbished and used gear.
Looking at mirrorless, I’ve go the Canon EOS M200 at $550 with kit lens at B&H or Amazon. I’d personally steer clear of the EOS M System, as it’s consumer-only, no professional gear in this System, and there’s a strong belief Canon will drop this system in favor of the mirrorless EOS R system, though they have not announced that yet.
This month there’s a special running on a Panasonic Lumix GX85 with two kit lenses for just under $600. This is a pretty good deal, and I’m a user of the Micro Four Thirds System, which is great if you want fast, compact cameras and lenses that won’t break the bank.
Yes, of course, you can find $6,000+ DSLRs, and you can find $6,000+ mirrorless system cameras. If you’re comparing a DSLR to a mirrorless model and the mirrorless costs less, much less half the price, it’s probably not very comparable to that DSLR. These days, you can find good used deals on cameras in general, but you have to know what you’re buying.
The one area in which mirrorless have had good pricing has been in the lower-end of full frame cameras. Before Sony came along, an entry-level full-frame DSLR camera from Nikon or Canon usually ran around $2,000. Sony hit that mark early on, but Sony always has a trick they play in cameras: they keep older models on the market for some years after they’re replaced. They always did this with their compact digitals, and so, after the A7 III was released, you could buy the original A7 with lens for just under $1,000. Pretty good, though IMHO, the A7 itself was not a great camera. You can’t really find that deal anymore, though the A7II with lens can be had for $1,600 or so.
You can find a Canon EOS Rp, without lens, for $999. This is one of two cameras, along with the original EOS R, that Canon released at lower-than-expected price points in order to attract existing Canon users looking at mirrorless, who had been flocking to Sony.
And ensure you’re not attaching the “mirrorless” label to other cameras. Sure, there are no mirrors in this Sony RX100, but “mirrorless” in common parlance implies an interchangeable lens camera. This is a compact digital camera, aka a “point and shoot.” This one happens to go for about $1300 new… not exactly half the price of a consumer DSLR.
This is also not a mirrorless camera, despite its lack of a mirror. Cameras like the Sony RX10 are generally called “bridge cameras,” as in “the bridge between point-and-shoot and DSLR/mirrorless.” Bridge cameras generally operate much like a DSLR or mirrorless, but you can’t change the lens, and they’re using smaller sensors than you’ll find in any current system camera. I own one of these, it’s a very good camera, but it’s a step down from a system camera in image quality. Though if you want a single lens that goes from 24mm–600mm (full-frame equivalent), this is your camera. It’s the only bridge camera I’ve used with acceptable quality at full magnification. It’s also a $1,700 camera.
Your average premium smartphone is also not a mirrorless camera, but of course, can be an option for some people. However, a premium smartphone will run $1,000 or so, considerably more than an entry-level DSLR or mirrorless.
A perfectly good reason to buy a mirrorless system camera rather than a DSLR is your faith in the future of DSLRs. Canon and Nikon have both chopped quite a bit of gear from their DSLR lines recently. Canon announced that they will not release another flagship DSLR, ever. Nikon has projected that by 2025, DSLRs will comprise only 4% of their business. Only Pentax sees a long future in DSLRs