Written by Sanne

Compare a compact camera to a mirrorless camera

At first glance, a compact camera and a mirrorless camera aren't that different. That makes it difficult to decide which one suits you. What are the biggest advantages of both cameras and what type of user do they suit? The most important differences are listed below, so you can find the camera that best suits your needs.

In short

Compact camera Mirrorless camera
Fits your jacket pocket Yes No
Simple menu Yes No
Photograph in low light No Yes
Recording video in 4K No Yes

Size and weight

Size compact camera

Compact camera

The name says it all: a compact camera is compact, so it's also lightweight. You photograph with an integrated lens that you can't change. Perfect for when you only need a camera to take photos at parties and on vacation. These cameras have an optical zoom up to 85x, which is more than enough for those situations. Because the camera is so compact, it often doesn't have a viewfinder. You can see the subjects directly on the screen.

Size mirrorless camera

Mirrorless camera

The performance of a mirrorless camera is often comparable to an SLR camera. This is due to the advanced system. Because of that, a mirrorless camera is a lot bigger and heavier than a compact camera. You can switch the lenses on a mirrorless camera. What lens you choose partly determines the weight. It does give you the possibility to adapt the camera to the usage situation, though. When you take a trip to the mountains, you will probably choose a wide-angle lens, for instance.

Controls

Compact camera controls

Compact camera

The simplest compact cameras have a menu with a small number of options. Because of that, they're often easy to operate. With the automatic option and pre-programmed modes, you can take photos with 1 click. You won't have to think about complicated settings. If you want more options, you can adjust the aperture and shutter speed on most models. Compact cameras in the higher price range will offer more manual setting options.

Mirrorless camera controls

Mirrorless camera

In terms of settings, you do the same with a mirrorless camera as you can with an SLR camera. You can set up the camera just how you want it with the control buttons. You can adjusts the aperture, shutter speed, and light sensitivity. This gives you a lot of creative freedom. Because of these features, a mirrorless camera is suitable for the advanced photographer. In addition, there are also pre-programmed programs on a mirrorless camera, so the novice photographer can also use it.

Sensor

Sensor compact camera

Compact camera

The sensor in your camera affects the quality of your images. The larger the sensor, the more details you photograph. In addition, a large sensor prevents graininess in low-light images. There's no room for a large sensor in a compact camera. The smaller sensors in compact cameras perform less well in the dark. Advanced compact cameras have a CMOS sensor of around 20 megapixel, which provides more color and detail in your images.

Sensor mirrorless camera

Mirrorless camera

Most mirrorless cameras have a Micro Four Thirds sensor or an APS-C sensor. These sensors are a lot bigger than those of compact cameras. A Micro Four Thirds sensor captures enough light to bring more details into the photos, thanks to its size. The APS-C sensor is a bit larger and provides even more details in your images. That's why a mirrorless camera is better suited to take pictures in low-light situations.

Recording

Filming with a compact camera

Compact camera

Use the latest compact cameras to record good-quality videos. Most devices have an HD-ready or Full HD video resolution. HD-ready lets you record videos with a resolution of 1280x720 pixels, which produces a sharp image. Full HD is even more clear and shows an even sharper image with its 1920x1080 pixels. Most compact cameras have a tiltable screen that you can rotate 180 degrees. This, combined with its compactness, makes a compact camera a great vlog camera.

Filming with a mirrorless camera

Mirrorless camera

A number of mirrorless cameras have the option to film in Ultra HD (4K) or 4K Cinema resolution. You can use this to record things in the widescreen aspect ratio you see on a movie theater screen. In other words: your videos are of very good quality. Just like compact cameras, mirrorless cameras often have a tiltable screen. This also makes these cameras suitable for vlogging. The advantage of a mirrorless camera is that you can work with different lenses when recording a video.

In short

If you want more options in terms of usage situation, choose a mirrorless camera. A compact camera is more suitable for the photographer who wants to keep it simple. In addition, compact cameras are suitable for creating vlogs. The image quality is often very high and the compactness of the camera allows you to take it with you in your jacket pocket easily. To record videos of higher quality, choose a mirrorless camera. The same applies to taking quality photos.


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