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I am a beginner to photography buying my first ever camera. I love taking landscapes and am not very interested in portraits etc. Would a mirrorless or DSLR camera have better image quality?

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Until someone can categorically determine whether any image presented to them was shot with a DSLR, mirrorless, or for that matter on film, arguing about image quality between the systems is a moot point.

Much more important are the aesthetic qualities of a photo, such as composition, exposure, colour etc, rather than the technical aspects of the tools used.

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Theree is no real difference in image quality between the two types, since this depends only on the sensor.

The difference is in the handling. Mirrorless cameras are smaller/lighter, and people can prefer the optical viewfinder of the DSLR to an electronic viewfinder.

Finding a good mirrorless camera for 600 pounds is going to be challenging, while they are entry level DSLRs (and plenty of good second hand ones) in that price range.

Also, don't overlook the lens.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ An Olympus OM-D E10 mk III retails for new just < £600 as a body only. I bought mine with a 14-42 kit lens for £350 (it was on sale). Even a used OM-D E5 mk ii or iii can be bought for < £600. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 15:53
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DSLR cameras have a mirror that allows for through-the-lens composition with an optical viewfinder. There is no difference in image quality between DSLR and mirrorless cameras that use the same sensor and processing pipeline with the same lens, lighting equipment, and settings.

The use of different sensors, processing, lenses, lighting, settings, etc can change image quality. So the mirrorless camera from one manufacturer may produce better images than the DSLR of another, and vice versa.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ But often a mirrorless camera will use a different sensor that has special focus elements embedded in it, which can affect the quality in a subtle way. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 21:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ "The use of different sensors, processing, lenses, lighting, settings, etc can change image quality. So the mirrorless camera from one manufacturer may produce better images than the DSLR of another, and vice versa." \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 22:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your first paragraph talked about "use the same sensor". I just wanted to point out a common case where they wouldn't use the same sensor. And I should have been more specific, the mirrorless sensor will be the loser. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 13, 2022 at 0:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Your first paragraph talked about 'use the same sensor'. I just wanted to point out a common case where they wouldn't use the same sensor." – That's what the second paragraph was for. \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Commented Jan 13, 2022 at 4:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ "And I should have been more specific, the mirrorless sensor will be the loser." – Not necessarily. There are lots of mirrorless cameras that can produce better images than (some) DSLRs and vice versa. \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Commented Jan 13, 2022 at 4:06
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First, let's modify the grammar of your question:

In terms of image quality, which camera is better: mirrorless or DSLR?

Now, let's look at some multiple choice answers:

A) Mirrorless
B) DSLR
C) Neither
D) Both
E) Both 'C' and 'D'

The correct answer is 'E'.

Some sensors in MILCs are better than other sensors in some DSLRs.
Some sensors in DSLRs are better than other sensors in some MILCs.
Some sensors in some DSLRs are the same sensors that are in some MILCs.

There are cases where the same image sensors are used in both mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras (MILCs) and DSLRs. Assuming the same lenses are used (Canon's DSLR EF lenses can be used with no loss of functionality on Canon's MILC EOS R cameras with the use of a spacing adapter) on both, the same scenes in the same light are imaged with the same settings (ISO, f-number, and exposure time) using the same camera stabilization techniques and the same image processing pipeline, the image quality of each will be just as identical as if you had used two different copies of the same DSLR model or two different copies of the same MILC model.

Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about all of the things other than DSLR vs. MILC you might want to consider before you buy either one.

First, consider what types of photographs you want to take. The "best" camera/lens combinations for shooting sports and action have a different list of "must have" and "doesn't really matter" features than the "best" camera for imaging the Milky Way. The same is true for many other types of use cases.

Landscape photography can entail a fairly wide range of situations as well. Are you going to be hiking to the top of a 10,000 foot/3,000 meter high mountain to take your landscape photos? Are you going to be taking them from your back yard? Are you going to want very wide angle vistas? Or do you want to frame narrower angles of view to observe details within a landscape? Do you only plan to shoot in perfect weather? Or are you interested in capturing landscapes under all kinds of dramatic weather?

Also equally, if not even more important, to image quality is which lens is better for a particular task. If there's a better lens available that fits one brand of camera but not another, then the lens choice can very well determine which camera you need to buy in order to use that lens.

Next, look at various aspects of different camera/lens combinations and determine which are most important for the way you want to use your camera.

  • Size and weight
  • Handling Speed
  • Cost
  • Sensor size
  • Available lenses for each different lens mount
  • Durability
  • Resistance to dust and weather
  • Ergonomics
  • How loud it is when you take a picture
  • Etc.
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