Mirrorless DSLR vs Point and Shoot?

Mar 21, 2012
Missoula, MT
I have been using a Panasonic Lumix point & shoot for years, and it has been a great little camera. I love the size, and the Leica lens has been really nice. I now have quite a bit of dust inside the lens though, which I can't clean, so I'm in the market for a new camera. I'm wondering if this would be a good time to step up to a nicer camera.

I don't know a whole lot about DSLR's, other than that they have larger sensors than P&S models and have interchangable lenses. So I'm a total newbie in this area. I like taking nice pictures when hiking, hunting, fishing etc and playing with different settings, but don't see myself getting super into photography as a full time hobby. I never wanted to go the DSLR route before because of the size, but with mirrorless models like the Sony NEX and Nikon 1 on the market, that may no longer be an issue.

So my question is how much of a difference would I notice between one of these mirrorless models compared to a nicer point & shoot? As a DSLR dummie, what exactly are the benefits over a P&S? For someone who is more of a casual photographer but is willing to learn to more about photography, is it worth the jump in price?


Apr 23, 2012
The important thing to remember is that sensor size determines image quality more than megapixel count. The latest generation of mirrorless cameras (whether the Sony NEX or Panasonic/Olympus Micro 4/3) will produce photos of similar quality to crop sensor (APS-C) digital SLRs. To explain this better, a full frame digital SLR (think upper end, $2k+ for a body alone) has a sensor equivalent to a 35mm frame of film (36x24mm) and lenses mounted on it will have a 1:1 conversion. The next size of common sensor is Advanced Photo System-Classic (APS-C) which has a sensor that is approximately 40% (~23x15mm) the size of a full frame which results in a 1.6:1 conversion for lenses, so a 100mm lens on an APS-C body captures what a 160mm lens would on a full frame.

Mirrorless Four Thirds cameras have 17.x13mm sensors and a 2:1 conversion, so a 100mm lens on an Four Thirds body captures what a 200mm lens would on a full frame.

Point and shoot sensors are significantly smaller than Four Thirds sensors, ranging from 5.76 x 4.29mm to 7.6 x 5.7mm.

Four thirds systems allow you to change lenses which provides more versatility than a point and shoot, but this comes at a financial and weight cost.

What you need to decide is whether you are more focused on the size and weight of the camera or on image/video quality, and whether the additional cost and weight of a Four Thirds system is offset by its added quality and versatility.


Apr 29, 2012
Yerington Nv.
I have a Canon S95 that works very well. This is a near the top of line point/shoot camera. It is small enough to put in a pocket and I keep mine with me alot. It will shoot RAW and has most all the features of the bigger DSLR cameras. Of course Canon keeps up-grading their cameras and now it is a S100 with even more bells and whistles. This is a great little camera worth considering.