Mirrorless cameras are the future of photography. The best mirrorless cameras are faster, lighter, smaller, and boast more features than their DSLR ancestors. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the Nikon Z and Canon EOS R announcements. The two biggest names in camera and lens manufacturing each designed a new lens mount that will, as their systems develop, produce the best lenses in the history of those companies.
We live in exciting photo-times. But, if you’re new to photography, looking to swap out a DSLR, or a smartphone shooter who needs to pick up your first interchangeable lens camera, the choices may seem endless. Fret not, friends. First, we’re about to share with your our picks for Best Mirrorless Cameras (for Beginners), but also please know that, in 2018, it’s extremely difficult to purchase a bad camera. In fact, most mirrorless cameras flaunt a bevy of excellent features like 4K video capability, fast autofocus, and sensor sizes ranging from Micro Four Thirds all the way up to Full-Frame. That said, every camera comes with, at least, one or two compromises in form and function.
If you’re a beginner photographer, however, we recommend starting with an entry-level or intermediate mirrorless body, which these days also come with notable features that are more than enough to start you off. Here are our top picks for you.
Best Overall: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III
For about $100 less than the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III, however, check out the two-lens bundle of the Panasonic Lumix GX85, which boasts similar features like 4K video recording and 5-axis image stabilization.
It’s also got a burst mode of 8 fps, 22 still image creative filters, and 17 video creative filters. Face and Eye Detection help you ensure that your subjects are in focus. And there are plenty of photo modes like time lapse, multiple exposures, and stop animation. The Lumix GX85 also forgoes an optical low pass filter, giving images more detail and punch. Talk about getting your money’s worth!
Mind you, it isn’t exactly the most amazing investment. Its electronic viewfinder isn’t great, and over-processed JPEGs at the highest ISOs aren’t attractive. However, if you’re only starting out in photography and you’re on the budget, this is definitely a great starter camera. (Plus, it’s pocket-sized.) And, much like the Olympus cameras, the GX85 is compatible with all Micro Four Thirds lenses from Panasonic and Olympus. So, in a way, if you start with this camera, you’re investing in two excellent glass ecosystems for the price of one.
Best for a Splurge: Sony a6500
Plus, these days, Sony features are hard to beat hard to beat. What are we talking about? Note the a6500’s 425-point phase detection AF system, making its autofocus extra fast for action shots. There’s also compatibility with Sony’s amazing line of E-mount lenses including the G Master series. Don’t forget 5-axis in-body image stabilization. For digital content creators, you can shoot 4K movies or slow-motion in Full HD. And, of course, the a6500 manages noise at higher ISO levels quite nicely, besting its Micro Four Thirds competition.
Best APS-C on a Budget: Fujifilm X-T20
While the X-T20 doesn’t have the autofocus speed or dynamic range of the Sony cameras, it produces fantastic images. It also boasts 325 AF points as well as Eye Detection, 4K video capability, and a burst mode of 8fps. More than enough for a beginner photographer.
It also boasts Fuji’s X-Trans CMOS III sensor & X-Processor Pro for great image quality and color reproduction, excellent handling, a decent battery life at 350 shots, and compatibility with Fuji’s X-mount lenses. Of course, this being Fuji, you get a nice collection of Film Simulation modes (yum!).
Best All-Around Full-Frame: Sony a7 III
If you aspire to shoot video alongside still photos, consider investing in the mind-blowing Sony a7 III. This full-frame camera doesn’t fool around and is $2000 well spent with its 4K HDR recording, 120fps HD slow-motion recording, up to 10fps continuous shooting, 693 phase-detection AF points out of the flagship a9, and a 24.2-megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor. It’s also got an AF joystick for quick focus area adjustments, great image stabilization, and a 14-stop dynamic range. Not to mention compatibility with Sony’s E-mount lenses.
Is that more than a beginner photographer would need? That depends. It’s not as easy to learn as the E-M10 Mark III. But once you figure out the menus and features, you’ll already be shooting on a pro-quality camera.