camera shooting

Photography certainly isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think about business video, but several types of business video (like sizzle reels) are typically image-heavy. That’s why having a decent camera comes in handy.

Knowing the difference between the 3 major types of cameras – compact cameras, digital single-lens reflex (DSLR), and mirrorless – is useful if you want to make the right purchase.

Compact Cameras

digital compact camera

Compact cameras are the workhorses of family-friendly photography because they’re cheap and come with a number of useful options like “zoom” levels (which are actually fake). In other words, the main difference between a compact camera and a DSLR camera is that a compact camera has a single fixed lens. Different zoom levels are achieved electronically, so zoomed shots suffer from “digital graininess.”

Compact cameras also use electronic viewfinders, which makes them much more lightweight. If you don’t know what a viewfinder is, see below:

digital camera diagram

As you can see, light from the image does not reach the photographer’s eyes. Instead, photographers see an approximation of the image in question.

Even with this drawback, however, compact cameras are the cheapest of the three options. They sacrifice quality and flexibility for unrivaled portability, which makes them very appealing to people looking for a simple, all-purpose camera.

Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR)

DSLR camera


DSLR cameras use traditional mirror boxes and have large image sensors that allow for extra detail. DSLR cameras are true “single-lens” cameras, but different lenses with varying focal lengths (called prime lenses) can be purchased. Zoom lenses, which include several different focal lengths in one lens, are also available.

The identifying feature of a DSLR camera is its mirrorbox, which makes the viewfinder image congruent with the captured image.
DSLR diagram
As you can see, the mirror in the mirrorbox reflects light into the viewfinder, which makes a DSLR camera more accurate than a compact camera. Through the marvels of modern technology, a tap of a button makes the mirror swivel out of the way once it’s picture-time.
DSLR diagram 2
DSLR cameras are top of the line, but they’re also the most expensive and least portable.

Mirrorless Cameras

Mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras are around the same size and weight as compact cameras, but retain the image quality of entry-level DSLRs.

mirrorless camera diagram

Instead of a mirrorbox, a mirrorless camera utilizes an electronic viewfinder that projects the same image displayed on the sensor into the viewfinder. This makes mirrorless cameras more accurate than compact cameras while also cutting down on bulkiness. With the purchase of an adapter, however, photographers seeking better photo quality can switch between different focal length lenses.

Mirrorless cameras land between compact and DSLR cameras in terms of price, but are more powerful and flexible than compact cameras and slightly less powerful than DSLR cameras.


Even if you are outsourcing all of your video production needs, sometimes it just makes more sense to snap a few pictures for a montage on your own time instead of calling in a photographer. Purchasing the right camera ahead of time can save you lots of money in the long run and turn out to be a great investment.