Five to six years ago, if you were looking for a camera that had excellent image quality, the choice was simple: Buy a DSLR. If you want portability, then a compact point & shoot was the way to go.
Since then, the rise of mirrorless cameras has shown that there is a strong market for a relatively compact, interchangeable-lens camera system that can deliver the image quality of their larger DSLR counterparts. From the small-sensor mirrorless cameras like the Pentax Q and Nikon 1 series to the larger APS-C mirrorless cameras like Sony NEX and Fuji X-Pro 1, every major camera company now has at least one version of a mirrorless camera.
So the question is which type of camera is best for beginners, DSLR or mirrorless? DigitalRev has a very good article that explains the pros and cons of both types of camera systems. It is worth the read, especially if you are stepping up from a compact camera to a camera that offers an interchangeable-lens system and larger sensor.
DigitalRev also released a video earlier in the year about DSLR and mirrorless cameras
My take on the two types of camera system is that mirrorless camera systems, particularly with the micro 4/3 system and the NEX system, are becoming so competitive with entry level-DSLR cameras. Other than a slightly lower price and a larger selection of lenses, there is no real reason to buy an entry-level DSLR camera over a mirrorless camera. The only exception is if you are shooting a lot of moving subjects like in sports photography. In this case, the phase-detect AF is still superior to the contrast-detect AF of mirrorless cameras. Nevertheless, the performance gap between two is shrinking quickly.
The Micro 4/3 system, in particular, is the most mature mirrorless system to date. Not only are there a lot of micro 4/3 cameras with great single AF performance, but their image quality are about on-par with entry to mid-range DSLRs. Additionally, the micro 4/3 lens lineup has become comprehensive enough that the majority of photographers can usually find the right lens for them. There are entry-level zoom and telephoto lenses as well as high-end prime and constant aperture zoom lenses available.
Additionally, the relatively small size of mirrorless cameras and lenses means that photographers are more likely to carry them around with them more often. I believe that
Earlier in the year, we released a post about the future of DSLR and mirrorless. It is also a good read if you are contemplating between the two camera systems.
So readers, do you own a DSLR, a mirrorless camera, or both? What is your reason in owning one over the other? If you own both a DSLR and a mirrorless camera, which is your primary camera and why?