Camcorder vs DSLR vs Mirrorless: Which is Best for You?

You need a good camcorder for a variety of purposes, including both indoor and outdoor needs. You might need it to record YouTube vlogs, wedding shoots, filming movies, or to take your favorite friends and family moments, etc. Now the problem is, once you’re out there in the market, you’ll get easily confused at the plenty of available camcorder options and types.

Among many confusing decisions, one of the most important is to decide whether you need to purchase a DSLR, or a camcorder, or a mirrorless camera unit. If you’re a newbie user or an indie video maker, you’ll get so much perplexed at this point. Here we’re to take a closer look at the ins and outs of every type and finally come to the point of which one would be the best buy for you. So, let’s dive in.

Camcorder vs. DSLR vs. Mirrorless Camera


The camcorder is a very popular video recording device. It features a long internal zoom lens. Camcorders are specially built for shooting videos. Almost all of them feature built-in zoom lenses along with swivel-and-tilt capable digital screens. A pro camcorder comes with professional XLR audio input together with a powerful in-built microphone.

Most camcorders will easily fit into your hand, just slightly extending their edges out of your palm. Improvising over the years, camcorders finally emerge with an internal hard drive. Before smartphones being so much available to the users, camcorders were the only option of recording your favorite videos, both of your formal and casual life.


The main purpose of a DSLR camera is to capture still photography. It comes with the feature of interchangeable lenses. Before digital cameras took over the camera industry, DSLR was the viable option for capturing visuals. You can upgrade the standard entry point of the DSLR and convert it to a more powerful lens for your convenience.

There is an internal mirror placed in the camera body known as a reflex. It delivers the image from the lens to the camera sensor and viewfinder. Image coming from the mirror gets flipped up and caught by your eyesight.

Mirrorless Camera

A mirrorless camera is just a special version of SLR. Unlike DSLR, it doesn’t come with any mirror, but the lenses can be swapped very easily. These cameras have a very common acronym; MILC. While using a MILC, you’ll watch the image on its electronic viewfinder or at the main live view screen. MILCs are smaller and lighter than usual DSLRs. They are also gaining increasing popularity among the users in recent times.

The difference between a camcorder and DSLR or a Mirrorless camera


The basic difference between these camera options is the possible level of customization that can be done to the items. Among all of these three, the camcorder is the least flexible and customizable. The camcorder features a single and unchangeable lens with a long focal length and smooth zooming option. There are no in-built ports for XLR sound input in the camcorder. This type also lacks SDI ports to send output videos to other systems. Thus, you would require more time to set up gears or add-ons while customizing the camcorders. There’s no such issue with DSLR and mirrorless cameras.


If you consider the item’s price, DSLRs or mirrorless cameras are much more expensive than the usual camcorder. You’ll easily get a high-end status branded camcorder just below 250 bucks, whereas the cheapest SLRs would cost you more than 400 bucks.

Image/video quality

The image quality of the still photos taken by DSLRs or mirrorless cameras is far better than the camcorders. It’s because SLRs have larger image sensors compared to the camcorders of a similar price range. These sensors are capable of absorbing more light and offering greater image detail along with higher resolutions. That’s why most SLR cameras deliver images of 18 megapixels, whereas the highly rated camcorders can provide around 8 to 10 megapixels.

Audio quality

Unlike the camcorders, most SLRs and mirrorless cameras don’t come with attached headphone sockets and are capable of recording good audio even with an external microphone. You would need to use a separate audio recorder while using these cameras. But, most camcorders come with solid audio settings.


Usually, most camcorders come with autofocus features. There was a time when DSLRs didn’t have such a facility. But, at the current time, due to technological advancement, this problem is gradually being solved. Now, many camcorders feature auto-focusing. You need to check which type of autofocus is used in the live-action mode of the DSLR. Phase detection autofocus would be a good one for capturing your videos. On the other hand, contrast detection autofocus can produce better in and out focusing before the subjects are being locked.

Recording time

Out of this factor, camcorders outnumber both the DSLRs and MILC as they are capable of recording videos over an hour at a single time, sometimes even before the batteries run out. But, SLRs offer a shorter recording time of around just half an hour. It even won’t last long while filming 4k videos.


Considering comfort and convenience, the camcorder is way ahead of DSLRs. Shooting with DSLRs for several minutes makes the users tiring and fatigued. Their weight and shape aren’t users comfortable to hold for a longer period. You won’t get such troubles while using camcorders. Moreover, you can solve this issue using a tripod.

Pros & Cons

Pros of DSLRs

  • Longer run time of batteries.
  • Faster autofocus features.
  • A larger selection of lenses.

Cons of DSLR

  • Relatively bulkier camera units.
  • Less ergonomic designs.
  • Requires additional filters for sunny day shooting.
  • Slow shoot speed.

Pros of Camcorders

  • Reliable and easy-to-use unit.
  • Provides better user ergonomics.
  • Excellent audio & video filters.
  • A big time-saver camcorder option.
  • Limited over-heating problems.

Cons of Camcorders

  • Smaller imaging sensor.
  • Not many models suit better at low-light conditions.
  • Fixed and less flexible lens.

Pros of mirrorless

  • Small, light and compact construction.
  • Very less camera-shake due to no flicking mirror.
  • Solid video mode.
  • Built-in ND filter.

Cons of mirrorless

  • Relatively lower battery life.
  • Electronic viewfinder being less effective at low light conditions.
  • Poor ergonomics.

Final words

All of these cameras come with different features, pros, and cons. You can’t just proclaim a single one as the best. The comfort of usage is a big issue. You also need to consider your budget limit and what to do with the camera. If your first priority is only to shoot video, the camcorder should be your best bet. Again, if you want more flexibility or shoot under low-light conditions, then the mirrorless camera or DSLR would be your top choice. Now, the decision is yours.

Micheal Pfeffer
Hi, This is Micheal Pfeffer. I am a Big fan of Camcorder since my childhood. I have been working Camcorder Industry in last 15 Years that's why i created this blog to share my experiences with You People.