DNA sequencing technology has proven very valuable for analysing the microbiota of poorly accessible ecosystems such as hydrothermal vents. Using a combination of amplicon and shotgun sequencing of small-subunit rRNA and its gene, we examined the composition and diversity of microbial communities from the recently discovered Jan Mayen vent field, located on Mohn's Ridge in the Norwegian-Greenland Sea. The communities were dominated by the epsilonproteobacterial genera Sulfurimonas and Sulfurovum. These are mesophiles involved in sulphur metabolism and typically found in vent fluid mixing zones. Composition and diversity predictions differed systematically between extracted DNA and RNA samples as well as between amplicon and shotgun sequencing. These differences were more substantial than those between two biological replicates. Amplicon vs. shotgun sequencing differences could be explained to a large extent by bias introduced during PCR, caused by preferential primer–template annealing, while DNA vs. RNA differences were thought to be caused by differences between the activity levels of taxa. Further, predicted diversity from RNA samples was consistently lower than that from DNA. In summary, this study illustrates how different methods can provide complementary ecological insights.