The Ultimate Guide to Canon Cameras: Mirrorless vs DSLR and More

Canon has long been a household name in photography, with a diverse lineup of cameras to suit all types of users. From professional full-frame DSLRs to beginner-friendly point-and-shoot models, Canon’s imaging expertise shines through in its product offerings.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll be exploring Canon’s current camera models, comparing mirrorless vs DSLR, breaking down their specs and features, and providing recommendations to help you find the perfect Canon camera for your needs and budget.

An Overview of Canon’s Current Camera Lineup

Canon divides its consumer camera models into three main categories:

  • Point-and-Shoot: Compact, portable cameras ideal for casual users. Examples include the PowerShot ELPH and IXUS lines.
  • Mirrorless: Lightweight cameras with interchangeable lenses and no optical viewfinder. Canon’s EOS M and EOS R lines are mirrorless.
  • DSLR: Digital single lens reflex cameras with interchangeable lenses and an optical viewfinder. Canon’s EOS Rebel and EOS ## lines are DSLRs.

Within these categories are cameras ranging from budget-friendly starters to professional-grade models used by working photographers. Key differences come down to factors like:

  • Sensor size: Physical size of the image sensor. Larger sensors generally produce better image quality.
  • Megapixels: Camera resolution determining how much detail it can capture. More megapixels equal higher potential image quality.
  • Lens options: Availability of different Canon-compatible lenses to attach to the camera. Wider selection provides more creativity.
  • Video capabilities: Options for shooting video like 4K resolution and external microphone support.
  • Connectivity: Ways to transfer images like WiFi and Bluetooth support.
  • Weather sealing: Protection against dust and moisture, especially important for outdoor photography.
  • FPS burst shooting: Speed at which the camera can continuously capture images per second, good for action shots.
  • ISO range: Light sensitivity settings that allow shooting in low light conditions. Wider ISO range provides more flexibility.

We’ll explore how these specs compare further in the mirrorless vs DSLR section below. First let’s overview Canon’s key offerings in each of their three camera categories.

Canon Point-and-Shoot Cameras

Canon’s Powershot and IXUS point-and-shoot lines prioritize portability, ease of use and approachable pricing. They appeal especially to casual photographers and beginners looking for a capable but straightforward compact camera.

Some of Canon’s latest and most popular point-and-shoot options include:

Canon PowerShot ELPH 180

  • 20MP 1/2.3″ CCD sensor
  • 8x optical zoom
  • 720p HD video
  • WiFi and NFC connectivity
  • Affordable sub-$150 price point

Canon PowerShot ELPH 190 IS

  • 20MP 1/2.3” CCD sensor
  • 10x optical zoom
  • 1080p full HD video
  • WiFi, NFC and Bluetooth connectivity
  • Ultra-slim pocketable form factor

Canon IXUS 185

  • 20MP 1/2.3″ CCD sensor
  • 8x optical zoom
  • 720p HD video
  • Smart Auto mode picks optimal settings
  • Slip-proof grip makes handling secure

Canon IXUS 285

  • 20MP 1/2.3” CCD sensor
  • 12x optical zoom
  • 1080p full HD video
  • Built-in WiFi and NFC
  • Great balance of quality, zoom and portability

While image quality from the small sensors can’t match Canon’s more advanced models, the point-and-shoots compensate with generous zoom ranges in compact bodies, making them great for travel when you want to travel light. WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity make it easy to share photos on the go directly from the camera to a smartphone.

Overall, Canon’s point-and-shoot lineup hits the sweet spot of simplicity and portability while still providing great value at affordable price points. They are powerful pocket cameras for casual shooting.

Canon Mirrorless Cameras

Moving up from point-and-shoots, mirrorless cameras cater to photography enthusiasts and pros looking for lighter weight along with more advanced capabilities and image quality. Canon has two mirrorless lines – the APS-C sensor EOS M series and full frame EOS R series.

Key Canon EOS M mirrorless options include:

Canon EOS M50

  • 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF with eye detection
  • Vari-angle touchscreen LCD
  • 4K 24p video and YouTube live streaming
  • Great range of EF-M lenses available

Canon EOS M6 Mark II

  • 32MP APS-C CMOS sensor
  • Fast 14fps continuous shooting
  • Tilting touchscreen LCD
  • Uncropped 4K 30p video
  • Compact rangefinder-style body

Canon EOS M200

  • 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor
  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Intuitive touchscreen interface
  • 4K 24p video and vertical video support
  • Variety of color options available

The EOS M cameras are extremely compact and portable while still delivering excellent image quality. They are a great step up from point-and-shoots in terms of sensor size, image quality and camera controls while maintaining an unintimidating form factor.

For professionals seeking maximum image quality, Canon also offers the EOS R series – its first full frame mirrorless lineup:

Canon EOS R

  • 30MP full frame CMOS sensor
  • Sophisticated Dual Pixel CMOS AF system
  • Fully articulating LCD touchscreen
  • Robust weather sealed body
  • Extensive lens lineup including EF/EF-S adapter support

Canon EOS Ra

  • 30MP full frame CMOS sensor optimized for astrophotography
  • Enhanced IR transmission and Hydrogen-alpha emissions sensitivity
  • Built-in intervalometer and bulb timer
  • Same body and system as EOS R
  • Ideal for capturing vivid nightscapes and celestial objects

Canon EOS RP

  • 26MP full frame CMOS sensor
  • Compact, super lightweight body
  • Fully articulating touchscreen LCD
  • Focus peaking and guided menus for beginners
  • Great entry point into the EOS R system

The EOS R series packs the image quality benefits of a full frame sensor into a slim mirrorless body. This powerful combination makes them compelling for professionals who need performance without bulk.

Now that we’ve compared Canon’s point-and-shoot, APS-C and full frame mirrorless lineups, let’s see how their DSLR cameras fit into the picture.

Canon DSLR Cameras

The EOS Rebel series offers a diverse selection of DSLR cameras with APS-C sensors, while the EOS ##D lineup represents Canon’s flagship full frame DSLR models aimed at professionals.

Here is an overview of some of Canon’s latest and most popular DSLR options across the price spectrum:

Canon EOS Rebel T8i

  • 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor
  • 45 cross-type autofocus points
  • 7fps continuous shooting
  • 4K 24p video
  • Fully articulating touchscreen LCD

Canon EOS 90D

  • 32MP APS-C CMOS sensor
  • 45 cross-type AF points
  • 10fps continuous shooting
  • Uncropped 4K 30p video
  • Weather resistant body

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

  • 30MP full frame CMOS sensor
  • Advanced 61-point AF system
  • 7fps continuous shooting
  • 4K 30p video with Canon Log
  • Rugged, go-anywhere pro build

Canon EOS-1D X Mark III

  • 20MP full frame CMOS sensor
  • 191-point phase detection AF
  • 16fps mechanical shutter
  • 5.5K RAW video internal recording
  • Professional flagship model

From high-end enthusiast models like the 90D to specialist pro models like the 1D X Mark III, Canon DSLRs deliver impressive stills and video performance. The optical viewfinders and phase detection autofocus systems provide a responsive shooting experience. And the extensive EF lens selection allows for great creativity.

Now let’s directly compare Canon’s mirrorless and DSLR options and see how they stack up.

Canon Mirrorless vs DSLR Cameras Compared

While both types of cameras have their merits, mirrorless models have been gaining ground in popularity in recent years. Here’s an overview of how Canon’s mirrorless and DSLR cameras compare:

Size and Weight

  • Mirrorless advantage: Eliminating the mirror mechanism allows mirrorless cameras to be more compact and lightweight. This grants them better portability.

Image Quality

  • Tie: Both camera types offer equivalent sensors and image quality. Larger full frame sensors outperform smaller APS-C sensors regardless of mirrorless or DSLR.

Lens Options

  • DSLR advantage: Canon’s expansive EF/EF-S DSLR lens selection currently provides more variety than the RF lenses for mirrorless.

Autofocus Performance

  • Tie: Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF for mirrorless matches or exceeds the AF speed and accuracy of its DSLRs for stills shooting. Video AF performance favors mirrorless.

Viewfinder and LCD

  • Tie: Optical viewfinders of DSLRs are lag-free for tracking action. Mirrorless EVFs offer benefits like previewing exposure. Both types offer high resolution LCDs.

Continuous Shooting Speed

  • DSLR advantage: Canon’s top end DSLRs currently have faster mechanical burst shooting speeds than its mirrorless cameras.

Video Capabilities

  • Mirrorless advantage: Mirrorless offer more robust video features like 4K/60p, 10-bit internal recording and uncropped fields of view.

Battery Life

  • DSLR advantage: The optical viewfinder means DSLRs aren’t powering an LCD/EVF at all times, resulting in significantly better battery life.


  • Tie: There is broad overlap in pricing between mirrorless and DSLR at both entry-level and pro grade tiers.

So in summary, while both types have their performance perks, mirrorless models offer comparable quality and features in more compact and portable bodies. This combination of power and portability gives mirrorless cameras an edge for many users.

Now let’s move from comparing body types and take a broader look at how Canon camera models differ across budgets.

Comparing Entry-Level Intermediate and Pro Canon Cameras

Canon produces cameras spanning a wide range of skill levels and price points. Understanding the differences can help you pick the right camera tier for your needs. Here is an overview of Canon entry-level, intermediate and pro camera classes:


Entry-level models represent the most affordable end of Canon’s camera offerings. They appeal especially to beginners and casual shooters.

Key Features:

  • Beginner friendly handling and interface
  • Full auto and scene modes
  • Built-in flash
  • Smaller sensors – typically APS-C or smaller
  • Lower resolution – typically under 24MP
  • Basic autofocus – around 9 AF points
  • HD or 4K video at lower frame rates
  • Lower maximum ISOs – often 6400 or 12800
  • More plastic construction
  • No weather sealing

Example Models:

  • Canon EOS Rebel T7
  • Canon EOS M50
  • Canon EOS RP
  • Canon PowerShot ELPH 180


A step up from entry-level, intermediate models add more controls, improved features and better construction for enthusiast photographers.

Key Features:

  • Larger sensors – APS-C or full frame
  • Higher resolution – 24MP to 32MP
  • Advanced autofocus – 45+ AF points with tracking
  • Faster burst shooting – 7-10fps continuous
  • 4K video up to 30fps
  • Clean high ISO support up to 25600
  • Partial weather sealing on some models
  • More durable construction

Example Models:

  • Canon EOS 90D
  • Canon EOS M6 Mark II
  • Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Canon EOS R


Pro level cameras provide Canon’s top performance for specialists and working photographers.

Key Features:

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  • Robust build quality with full weather sealing
  • Large high MP full frame sensors
  • Blazing fast continuous shooting – 10fps+
  • Sophisticated AF systems – 150+ AF points
  • Dual card slots for backup
  • High end video features like 4K/60p
  • Clean high ISOs up to 102400
  • Extensive accessory system support

Example Models:

  • Canon EOS-1D X Mark III
  • Canon EOS R3
  • Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
  • Canon EOS R5

Understanding these tiers helps set expectations about features and pricing. Entry-level models offer an affordable starting point while pro cameras provide the best performance for those who need it. We’ll wrap up next with some camera recommendations across these levels.

With so many models to choose from, here are our recommended best Canon cameras based on budget and experience level:

Best Entry-Level Canon Cameras

  • Canon EOS Rebel T7 – Our top pick for beginners thanks to its intuitive interface, capable performance and extremely affordable price point.
  • Canon EOS M50 – A strong mirrorless option for starters with its easy handling, compact size and ample features for the price.
  • Canon PowerShot ELPH 190 IS – A great point-and-shoot for casual shooting with its slim body, 10x optical zoom and wireless connectivity.

Best Intermediate Canon Cameras

  • Canon EOS 90D – Our favorite mid-range model for enthusiasts with its robust DSLR build, fast 10fps drive speed and excellent 32MP APS-C image quality.
  • Canon EOS RP – A compact and capable full frame mirrorless camera at an attractive price point.
  • Canon EOS M6 Mark II – A speedy mirrorless pick with 14fps bursts, uncropped 4K video and a portable form factor.

Best Professional Canon Cameras

  • Canon EOS R5 – Canon’s top mirrorless camera with exceptional 45MP stills, 8K video and next-gen stabilization.
  • Canon EOS-1D X Mark III – The pinnacle of Canon DSLRs brings tremendous speed, rugged build quality and impressive multimedia capabilities.
  • Canon EOS 5D Mark IV – A refined, classic full frame DSLR with robust professional performance and output.

Along with your own needs and budget, considering these recommendations can make choosing the right Canon camera much easier. And any of these models will allow you to capture amazing images and video.


Canon’s diverse camera selection provides options for all types of photographers. Comparing factors like sensor sizes, design types, feature sets and price points helps identify the ideal model based on your budget and needs.

Mirrorless cameras offer excellent quality and features in compact bodies. But Canon DSLRs maintain advantages for optical viewfinders and battery life. There is significant overlap in image quality and performance between the two designs.

Moving up from entry-level to intermediate and professional models provides more controls, features and handling refinements. But beginner level cameras offer a remarkably capable imaging experience considering their affordable price point.

Hopefully this guide has provided you with a helpful overview of Canon’s camera lineup. Now equipped with the key comparisons and recommendations, you can find the perfect Canon camera to bring your photography visions to life.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main differences between a Canon mirrorless camera and a Canon DSLR?

The main differences are that mirrorless cameras have an electronic viewfinder instead of an optical viewfinder and lack the mirror and optical prism mechanism of a DSLR. This allows mirrorless cameras to be more compact, portable and quieter, while DSLRs tend to have better battery life and optical viewfinders better for tracking action.

Does a Canon mirrorless or DSLR produce better image quality?

Image quality depends largely on sensor size, not mirrorless vs DSLR design. Both types offer equivalent APS-C and full frame sensors. So a full frame DSLR will have better image quality than an APS-C mirrorless camera. Within the same sensor format, image quality differences are minor.

What are the advantages of a Canon full frame camera over an APS-C model?

Full frame cameras have larger sensors that provide improved light gathering capabilities and depth of field control. This translates to better low light performance, shallower depth of field potential, and improved dynamic range. Downsides are larger size, weight and price.

Is a Canon DSLR or mirrorless camera better for video shooting?

Canon mirrorless cameras generally excel for video shooting thanks to features like 4K/60p, uncropped fields of view when shooting 4K, and Dual Pixel AF which provides smooth autofocus during video recording. Many serious video shooters now prefer mirrorless over DSLRs.

What Canon DSLR is a good starter model for a beginner photographer?

The Canon EOS Rebel T7 is an excellent entry-level starter DSLR providing strong image quality from its 24MP APS-C sensor and a range of features to learn on, all at an extremely affordable sub-$500 price point. It’s our top recommended starter Canon DSLR.

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