Which Camera Should I get? Mirrorless VS DSLR (SLT) – Full Frame VS APS-C – Everything Else VS Your Budget

I want to make this guide as complete as possible. If I did a mistake or forgot something (or if you have any other suggestion) then please leave a comment below and I will include it!

Before starting this post, and as I explain on the bottom of the article, try as good as you can, to not spend all your budget on only the camera! Check out My Gear page to see in what you need to invest after buying the body (you don’t need everything of course, but some basics are essential).

There is NO perfect camera out there and many serve a specific purpose. But one has to admit that there exist a few all-round wonders. Also, I’m more of a mirrorless camera guy, but no worries, I have also included some DSLR suggestions. There is one extremely important thing I’d like to tell you before this guide starts off. Almost every recent (interchangeable lens) camera is good enough for everybody! (Even most pros, if they would admit it). The problem is that many of us are nerds and geeks that hang around forums, Dxomark and similar sites, having sever G.A.S. issues (Gear Acquisition Syndrome).

Trey Ratcliff would say that we use the logical part (the left side) of our brain too much in photography. Instead we should use the other half and have fun and be creative. Well, all this is well said, but I have problems applying all this myself I must say ;D
Well, let’s roll…

ALL-ROUND CAMERA
Here is my suggestion:
Sony A6000 (Adorama)

This is the perfect camera for almost every shooting situation. It’s even a decent wildlife/sports camera in combination with the SEL55210 or with an A-mount SAL70300G using the LE-EA4 adapter.

Pros:
Fast AF, 11 frames per second (while continuously focusing in-between frames, which is rather new in the mirrorless camera world), Light, Small, Cheap, APS-C sensor size with a great quality (or quantum efficiency if you will), High dynamic range

Cons:
Phase detection AF not as good and accurate as on bigger DSLRs (like the A77 II for instance), no big telephoto lenses available for very long distances.

In MY opinion there is no mirrorless camera which currently rivals the A6000, especially in terms of versatility and bang-for-the-buck-edness. The micro four thirds system lacks image quality and high ISO capability because of its sensor size. Other camera sensors are not far off but the camera bodies lack crucial functions or as-good AFs. There is also no camera that can outperform the A6000 at that price range, all that while being small and light. And last but not least, there are some DSLR cameras which are just as good as the A6000 but they are more expensive, heavier and bulkier. I once had such heavy and bulky gear and what did I do with it? Well, I left it at home more and more frequently because the camera itself plus lenses and random gear were a pain in the a** to handle and carry.

If you’re more of a DSLR person then consider these very capable cameras:
Nikon D5300
Nikon D7100

WILDLIFE/SPORTS:
You can get decent wildlife and sport shots with a micro four thirds or Sony mirrorless system. If decent is enough for you then get an EM-1 with a Panasonic 100-300mm or an Sony A6000 with a 55-210mm and this extender (which makes it 535mm effective focal length).

But if decent is not enough for you, then I suggest:
Sony A77 II
Canon 70D (Wildlife)
Nikon 7100
Canon 7D
 (Sports)

The difference to their mirrorless counterparts are the lens choices. One example…On micro four thirds, the Panasonic 100-300 is no match to a good mid-telephoto zoom lens to let’s say a SAL70300G.
The other difference is the sensor size, when you compare it to MFT (micro four thirds). Larger sensors (often) generally  means better image quality.
One last difference is the AF performance. Even if on paper an A6000 is as fast and even has more AF points than a DSLR, then that does not mean that the AF performance is just as good.

You’re better off having 1 well-built and capable car engine with let’s say 600 horse power, than having 4 engines that come out a Peugeot 206. Meaning, yes there’s many phase detection AF points on the A6000, but they’re just not as good as the ones on current DSLRs.

FULL FRAME VS APS-C:
Quickly said…
Full frame: Better quality and ISO performance
APS-C: Often (but not always) for sports and wildlife

Full frame suggestion for everything but wildlife:
Sony A7

Full frame for landscape:
Sony A7r
Nikon D800E

APS-C suggestion for sports/wildlife (animals shooting):
Sony A77 II
Canon 70D (Wildlife)
Nikon 7100
Canon 7D
 (Sports)

OTHER MIRRORLESS SUGGESTIONS:
Fuji got some great portable cameras if you (like me) love the rendition of the X-Trans sensor.

OTHER DSLR SUGGESTIONS:
The very popular Canon 550D (Rebel T3i)
What would a blog post be without mentioning the Pentax K-3

IF YOU DON’T CARE ABOUT SPECIFIC SHOOTING STYLES BUT YOU CARE ABOUT THE MONEY IN YOUR POCKET:
Try to get these cameras (even used), with their respective kit lenses:
Sony NEX 3n
Canon 550D (Rebel T3i)
Nikon 3200
Olympus E-PL 5

ALSO:
Don’t do it like me and spend all your budget into the camera body! The lenses are just as important as the body, and they should remain your lenses for some time, while you (maybe) change or upgrade compatible bodies later. Also leave some cash for other accessories and software! Check out My Gear page to see that you need to invest in many more things after buying the camera body (you don’t need everything of course, but some basics are essential).
Choose one system and stick with it. They are all good! The grass is always greener in the other camp, yes…but don’t fall for your own human flaws and just stick to your brand 😉 Invest in lenses and occasionally change or upgrade bodies. Lenses will remain top notch for a very long time, compared to camera bodies. Some of the best lenses ever are really old. Like the Canon 400mm 5.6 which has 20 years now.

Thanks for reading. Now feel free to comment below and ask away, if you got any question!

Useful links:
Tony’s Buying Guide
Chase’s Forget Every Cam Guide
Flickr Camera Explorer

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