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DSLR or mirrorless: which should be your next camera?

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You might not need a giant camera to take awesome photos

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So you want to step up from your smartphone camera, and you've heard that point-and-shoots are dead. You need a serious DSLR, right? Well, maybe not. Mirrorless cameras — smaller, lighter models that can offer the same image quality as a DSLR — are a growing segment of the market, and they may just be right for you.

A mirrorless camera is like an SLR without a mirror

What's a mirrorless camera? Well, it's like an SLR, but without the mirror that reflects light to the optical viewfinder, letting you see what the lens sees. This means that the bodies are able to be much smaller and lighter than a DSLR, while keeping the same all-important sensor size. The trade-off with mirrorless cameras is that you'll be using a screen to frame your shot (like a smartphone or compact camera), or an electronic viewfinder (which is a tiny display that you view through magnifying optics). Some people like this, some people don't. Mirrorless cameras also tend to be a little slower with autofocus, though they're catching up.

But which kind should you buy? I've put together this guide based on my experience using a whole bunch of cameras, and I think it'll help most people decide. But if you're happily shooting sports with your Fujifilm X-T1 or don't have a problem lugging a Nikon D4S up mountains, that's cool too — this is just my personal advice.