You are looking for the best mirrorless camera for beginners because your kid just announced that they want to be a photographer. You want to be a supportive parent, but looking at cameras online just caused your brain to spring a sprocket. If researching cameras has been putting a damper on your mood, we understand.
All the features, specifications, technical this and that can be overwhelming. Opting for a mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera (ILC) will cost less than going with a Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera. An ILC will afford many of the same quality features you would expect in professional equipment without the higher cost. Starting with the best mirrorless camera for beginners, helps a new photographer grow without a substantial initial cash outlay.
What Is a Mirrorless Camera?
The basic premise of a mirrorless camera is that it doesn't use a mirror. Simple, right? The old film version point-and-click cameras were the first mirrorless cameras. Most often, though, the term is now used to describe a digital interchangeable lens camera (ILC). That means that the image you see on the digital screen on the back of the camera or through an electronic viewfinder is what you will see on the final photograph.
ILCs differ from Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras in that the DLSR cameras still use mirrors and have a much thicker body profile. DSLR cameras still employ a mirrored viewfinder in addition to the Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) screen. While both have interchangeable lenses, the best mirrorless camera for beginners will generally be less expensive and much easier to operate than the DSLR cameras.
Why choose a mirrorless camera for a beginning photographer?
These cameras are simple to operate and take excellent photographs. The best mirrorless camera for beginners will offer many of the same perks as a DSLR camera without the associated cost for equipment. Their slim profile makes them easy to carry.
Memory card storage increases the length of time between necessary photo uploads. They allow the user to easily transfer images to photo software or directly to developing kiosks for prints. Some cameras include wifi and Bluetooth that enables the user to send pictures directly to some printers.
Key features on the best mirrorless camera for beginners
A mirrorless camera is an excellent choice for a beginning photographer. No matter what brand or model you select, you can expect superior image quality, the ability to record video, and options for expanding the camera capability with interchangeable lenses.
Superior image quality
Ease of use
The single best feature is the ease of use of these small, often professional-grade cameras. Many veteran photographers shift to a smaller, mirrorless camera for traveling, or to catch quick candid shots when lugging a full DSLR set-up isn't feasible.
General price range for the best mirrorless camera for beginners
While some simple cameras are available for a very low price, you do tend to end up with a lower level and probably poorly functioning piece of equipment. Because everyone appreciates getting a good deal, we considered price while researching.
The lowest price on our selected cameras was in the range of $380 to $430, while the most expensive ones came in between $580 and $680 or more. As you peruse the individual models, the general pricing will differ based on many factors. The highest price does not necessarily mean that it is the best camera featured.
How We Reviewed
After an exhaustive online search, we read every review we could find. We narrowed our list to seven of the best mirrorless camera for beginners that are currently available. From there we examined price, availability, and ease of use. Finally, we looked at what customers were saying about each model of camera. The experiences of current owners heavily influenced our findings.
Our Selections for the Best Mirrorless Camera for Beginners
While our best mirrorless camera for beginners list is in no particular order, they are alphabetical because that just happened.
- Dual Pixel CMOS AF for fast, accurate autofocus that helps you get the photo you want right as the moment happens
- 24.1 Megapixel APS C CMOS sensor and the DIGIC 8 Image Processor delivers incredible color, clear details, and stunning range
- Vari angle Touchscreen LCD has a flexible tilt range ideal for high angle and low angle shooting, and reviewing your photos
- Built in high resolution electronic viewfinder features approximately 2,360,000 dots to see high amounts of detail when capturing
- Automatically transfer your files to your compatible device for easy backup and online uploading with automatic image transfer.Aspect Ratio:3:2
This camera arrives packed with features. Grabbing that perfect photo is easy with the built-in electronic viewfinder or using the vari-angle LCD touchscreen. The 24.1 megapixel CMOS sensor ensures consistent excellent image quality.
This camera can use a variety of image storage options including SD, SDHC, and SDXC memory cards. The rechargeable battery can take hundreds of photos per charge or record from 80 to 120 minutes of video footage. The Canon EOS M50 ships with the standard EF-M 15-45mm lens. With the addition of a mount adapter (EF-EOS M), the camera can accept the Canon EF and EF-S lenses.
This camera received consistently high reviews, grabbing 4.6 out of 5 stars at B&H Photo-Video-Pro Audio. Best Buy customers rated it at 4.7 out of 5 stars. Amazon customers were a bit harsher, only rating 4.2 out of 5 stars. On the Canon website, customers are very pleased, rating the camera and accessories at 4.8 out of 5 stars.
Positive comments over-powered the few negative reviews for this camera. From an advanced amateur on the Canon website, this camera "will work for everyone." On Amazon, the comments echoed many of the same sentiments, with users stating that the M50 was one of the best mirrorless cameras available.
This camera kit is available at Amazon, Best Buy, B&H Photo-Video-Pro Audio, and on the Canon website. All 4 retail locations offer the set between $580 and $680.
- 24.2 Megapixel APS-C size sensor with Color Reproduction technology refined over 80 years. Artistic expression are made easy with the x-t100 with film Simulation and advanced filter modes
- Featuring super-fast autofocus and a variety of automatic functions, including an evolved SR+ auto mode which is capable of subject recognition together with conventional scene recognition
- Compatible with existing XF/xc Lens lineup of 26 Fujinon high quality lenses which cover focal lengths from 15mm to 1200mm (35mm equivalent)
- Features three-way tilting LCD monitor with a high resolution and high magnification (0.62x) electronic viewfinder, along with a powerful battery capable of 430 frames per charge
- Bluetooth low energy technology allows for quick and seamless image transfer.Shutter type:Focal Plane Shutter
Another camera loaded with features right out of the box, the FUJIFILM X-T100 offers 80 years of experience in a tiny package. The camera has super-fast autofocus and boasts many other automatic functions. Bluetooth facilitates quick image transfer directly from the camera to other devices.
The battery can last through more than 400 photos. With memory card compatibility including SD, SDHC, SDXC, you won't run out of storage room. The LCD monitor tilts 3 ways, including a feature that allows 180 degrees tilt for perfect selfies. The electronic viewfinder allows picture taking in bright sunlight. The lens mount is compatible with 26 Fujinon lenses in the XF/xc line.
The FUJIFILM X-T100 is online for purchase at Amazon, Best Buy, and B&H Photo-Video-Pro Audio. The price ranges from $480 to $580.
At Amazon, 82 percent of the customers submitted 5-star reviews, with an overall rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars. The one negative comment on Amazon focused on the small size of the camera being uncomfortable to hold. The 2 reviews at B&H were a 3-star and a 4-star rating out of a possible 5 stars. Best Buy was showing zero customers reviews but offers an expert rating of 3.7 out of 5 stars. The camera is relatively new to the shelves, so the lack of customer reviews is not surprising.
- In body 5 axis image stabilization for blur free stills and smooth 4K video
- 16 Megapixel Live MOS Sensor and TruePic VIII Image Processor
- 4K 30P video plus HD 120 frames per second high speed video
- Timeless, easy to use body design;Compact & lightweight with 2 dials, arrow pad and Shortcut button
- 3.0 inch tilting LCD monitor with intuitive touch screen operation and touch AF one step shutter release
This model from Olympus has all the bells and whistles. This lightweight rig rivals professional cameras, and the 16.1 megapixels Live MOS sensor takes excellent photos. With image stabilization, pictures and videos will come out great.
Uploading and sharing is a snap with built-in wifi. Auto mode instantly adjusts the focus to grab perfect images, locking in on your subject and correcting for lighting. A touchscreen LCD menu makes selecting functions easy. In-camera editing allows the user to connect video clips and add background music without the need for external software.
While reviewers on the Olympus offered an overall rating of 4.0 out of 5 stars, one customer complained that the hinge on the battery compartment is detachable and pops off. On Amazon, customers gave this camera an overall rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars. Positive comments ranged from the ease of use to the excellent image quality. At BestBuy, the rating was 4.4 out of 5 stars with raves offered about the video quality.
This equipment can be purchased online at B&H Photo-Video-Pro Audio, Amazon, Olympus, and BestBuy. Prices at all retail outlets are pretty uniform. The body assembly, without the lens, ranges from $480 to $530. With the lens, the price ranges from $580 to $630.
- Kit contains the E-PL9 camera, 14-42mm EZ Lens, Pen camera case, Special camera strap, and 16GB SD card
- TruePic VIII Image Processor
- 3" 180 Degree Flip down touch screen
- In-body 3-axis image stabilization
- 4K video & still image capture from 4K video
Discontinued by some retailers, the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL8 is still available on Amazon and the Olympus site. The pricing on the PL8 is currently ranging between $380 and $430, while the PL9 lists between $680 and $730.
Buyers on the Olympus site rate this camera at 4.7 out of 5 stars, with comments of "great value in a small package" and "Very happy with this little beauty." On Amazon, the majority of reviewers had positive comments. Negative comments ranged from a flimsy and poorly designed battery cover to dissatisfaction with the lack of a viewfinder.
The PEN Lite E-PL8 is a simple version of a mirrorless camera. Bright days might pose a challenge due to the lack of an electronic viewfinder. The body is very compact but includes in-body stabilizers for steady focus. This little powerhouse can shoot 8.5 frames per second. With built-in wifi, uploading and sharing are easy.
- FINE DETAIL PERFORMANCE: 16 megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor with no low pass filter resulting in a near 10 percent boost in fine detail resolving power over existing 16 megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensors
- MIRRORLESS INTERCHANGEABLE LENS CAMERA KIT: With two super compact lenses 12 32mm F3.5 5.6 and 45 150mm F4.0 5.6, shoot lighter and faster with the modern hybrid photography performance of a mirrorless camera and nearly half the bulk of most DSLRs
- CLASS LEADING DUAL IMAGE STABILIZATION: In body 5 axis dual image stabilization works in both photo and motion picture recording-including 4K video-to produce clear handheld shots even in low light conditions. Battery AC Adaptor (Input 110 240V AC) (Included, connect with USB cable). Battery life (CIPA standard) Approx. 290 images (rear monitor), 270 images (LVF) with H FS12032
- LIVE VIEWFINDER AND TILTING LCD DISPLAY: Integrated eye level electronic viewfinder (2764K dots) and rear touch enabled 3 inch LCD display (1040K dots) provides 80 degrees of up tilt and 45 degrees of down tilt to maximize viewing. Recording media-(Compatible with UHS-I UHS Speed Class 3 standard SDHC / SDXC Memory Cards). Direct Print-PictBridge compatible
- 4K VIDEO CAPTURE: 4K QFHD video recording (3840 x 2160), plus exclusive LUMIX 4K PHOTO and 4K Post Focus allows you to record photos up to 30fps and set your desired focus points after the photo has been taken.Minimum Aperture:F22
This favorite little camera is on backorder from Panasonic but is currently available from Amazon and B&H Photo-Video-Pro Audio. Pricing is standard among all retailers, ranging from $520 to $590.
This Panasonic model offers the LUMIX DFD focusing system, providing rapid focus adjustment and accurate photos. The touchscreen LCD easily flips up for selfies. Included software contains 22 filter effects. This model uses Micro 4/3 lenses which adds a lot of versatility to the small-bodied, lightweight design.
The worst reviews we found were one user who couldn't get the wifi to function and another who said the camera was too small for his hands. The majority of commenters across several sites gave glowing reviews and loved this ILC.
- INCREDIBLE DETAIL: Shoot high speed subjects at up to 10fps with continuous, accurate AF/AE tracking
- OPTIMAL LIGHT: A back illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor with gapless on chip lens collects more light. Operating Temperature: 32 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit / 0 to 40 degrees Celsius
- FASTER IMAGE PROCESSING: An updated BIONZ X processing engine boosts processing speeds up to 1.8x
- STUNNING HD VIDEO: Sony Alpha 7R 3 mirror less cameras record clear 4K video for editing and viewing
- BUNDLE INCLUDES: Power cord, charger, cable protector, shoulder strap, body/shoe caps, eyepiece cup.Metering Type:1200 zone evaluative metering
With 179 autofocus points, this little powerhouse is fast. The 24-megapixel APS-C sensor captures beautiful high-resolution images. The body assembly is compatible with Sony E-mount lenses. Built-in wifi allows sharing directly from the camera. The LCD screen tilts a full 180 degrees for perfect selfies.
On a 5-star rating scale, this model earned 4.5 stars at Sony and B&H Photo, and 4.2 stars at Amazon. The most common complaint was an overheating problem after 10 to 25 minutes while recording video. Positive reviews raved about the video and photo quality, direct uploading, and other features. From a professional photographer who bought it as a knockabout - "Wow, wow, wow."
Available for purchase from Sony, Amazon, and B&H Photo-Video-Pro Audio, with a reasonable price ranging from $420 to $480. The Sony α5100 ships with the 16-50mm lens, but there are other lens packages offered with incremental pricing increases.
- 24 MP APS C CMOS sensor and Focus Sensitivity Range :EV 0 to EV 20 (at ISO 100 equivalent with F2.8 lens attached)
- ISO 100 25600 (expandable to 51200). Lens compatibility: Sony E mount lenses
- Hybrid AF with 179 point focal plane phase detection and 25 contrast detect points
- Up to 11 FPS continuous shooting. Battery Life (Still Images): Up to 360 shots.Metering Type:1200-zone evaluative metering
- 3 inch tilting LCD with 921,000 dots.Viewfinder Type:0.39 in type electronic viewfinder (color)
This camera enters the race with a 24.3 megapixel Exmor CMOS sensor. The Sony α6000 comes with a standard 16-50mm lens but accepts other Sony lenses. With adapters, the camera body also supports a variety of different brand lens assemblies, including Canon. With built-in wifi, this camera is ready for travel.
The tilting viewscreen allows easy focusing, and the 179 phase-detection points enable fast and accurate auto-focusing. In continuous shooting mode, this camera can capture 11 frames per second -- the fastest speed available when compared to other ILCs.
Poor reviews for the α6000 unit included complaints of poor quality in low-light photographs, a too-small case, poor battery life, and the failure of the camera to recognize the attached lens. The positive comments countered the battery life by reminding users to place the camera in Airplane Mode to disable the search mode unless connected to wifi. Other supportive comments rated this the best camera in its class.
The overall ratings for this camera on various sites remained among the highest of all the cameras we researched. At Sony and B&H Photo, the α6000 earned 4.6 out 5 stars. Almost 1500 customers at Amazon rated this camera at 4.4 out of 5 stars, and it received 4.7 out of 5 stars at BestBuy. It is fair to say that the positives far out-weighed the negative when looking at user experiences with this system.
Landing in the mid-range when it came to pricing, this unit with the basic lens package includes the 16-50mm lens. At all online retailers, we found the price ranging between $475 and $540. Other lenses are available for an additional cost.
The Best Mirrorless Camera for Beginners
4.2 out of 5.0
4.4 out of 5.0
4.2 out of 5.0
3.7 out of 5.0
4.0 out of 5.0
4.2 out of 5.0
4.4 out of 5.0
After all of our research, we have settled on an overall favorite as the best mirrorless camera for beginners. The Sony α6000 offers the best and most consistent value in all of our rating categories. It falls in the mid-range for pricing but leads the pack in customer ratings and satisfaction, accruing thousands of 4-star and 5-star ratings at several online retailers. With add-on adapters, this camera can accept a wide variety of lenses, Sony and other brands, increasing versatility. Many customers and online review sites stated that this was an excellent camera for a beginning photographer.
Olympus PEN Lite E-PL8 is a well-reviewed camera at a bottom-rack price if you are budget conscious. While still priced relatively high for a base-model camera, you are getting Olympus quality. That quality includes their many years of camera-making expertise.
Best of the best if money is no object
The Canon EOS M50, if spending money is not an issue, is an exceptional camera. The capabilities of this model far surpass the ILCs that we researched. This Canon may not be the greatest on the market, but it's close. For a beginner or an everyday-use camera, it will deliver solid and consistent results.