So you want to get into photography and are looking for a decent camera that you can build a system around?
A few years ago that was easy question to answer – you had to buy a DSLR. But then in 2009 Olympus launched its first mirrorless camera, the Pen E-P1, and everything changed.
Like DSLRs, mirrorless cameras (also known as CSCs or compact system cameras) allow you to change lenses, but as the name might suggest, the don’t feature a complex mirror system like DSLRs do.
This means that they can in principle be smaller, lighter and mechanically simpler. They can also just like super-sized compact cameras to use, whereas DSLRs are a bit of a jump from a regular compact.
Enthusiasts and pros, however, have taken a bit of convincing on the merits of mirrorless cameras. With no mirror, there’s no optical viewfinder, with models either relying on the rear screen or featuring electronic viewfinders, while there have been concerns over image quality, features and handling.
Perhaps most importantly, compared to established DSLR systems, the lens ranges of these mirrorless systems isn’t as extensive.
With a raft of new mirrorless cameras and growing lens ranges, have mirrorless cameras done enough to be genuine DSLR rivals or, more to the point, are they already better? To help you decide, here are the key differences and what they mean for everyday photography.