DSLR vs. Mirrorless Cameras : Which Is Better for You?

When you get serious about photography, you face a choice: Do you buy a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera or a mirrorless camera? You can get great photos with either, but each has its pros and cons.

DSLRs use the same design as the 35mm film cameras of days gone by. A mirror inside the camera body reflects the light coming in through the lens up to a prism (or additional mirrors) and into the viewfinder for you to preview your shot. When you press the shutter button, the mirror flips up, a shutter opens and the light falls onto the image sensor, which captures the final image. We’ll go through the features and capabilities with our top DSLR pick, the $446 Nikon D3300.

In a mirrorless camera, light passes through the lens and right onto the image sensor, which captures a preview of the image to display on the rear screen. Some models also offer a second screen inside an electronic viewfinder (EVF) that you can put your eye to. Our example of a mirrorless camera, one of our favorites, is Sony’s $598 Alpha a5100.

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