Mirrorless cameras are the fastest-growing segment of the market with good reason: They have many of the benefits of larger DSLRs (such as great image quality) but are far more compact, making them easier for amateurs and professionals alike to carry. And, you'll find a wide selection in the models now in the market, with prices ranging from around $500-600 up to $4,500. So, there's a mirrorless camera to suit almost every photographer.
The mirrorless camera we'd recommend for most people is the Sony a6000, which costs just under $550 with a lens, yet shoots at a blazing-fast 11 fps, takes great pictures in all conditions, and has a compact body. More advanced photographers might prefer its successor, the Sony a6300 ($900), which takes even better photos in low light, and can record video in 4K. If you want to wait—and splurge a bit more—Sony has also unveiled the a6500 ($1,400), which also has 5-axis image stabilization. Regardless of which one you choose, you should check out our guide for taking great pictures with Sony's line of A6000 cameras.
If you prefer mirrorless cameras not made by Sony, check out Olympus' OM-D E-M5 Mark II, which at $899, is a great camera for both stills and video. (Or consider its successor, the OM-D E-M5 Mark III.) Some of the OM-D E-M5 Mark II's most noteworthy features include 5-axis image stabilization, a sturdy weather-resistant body, and a super high-resolution 40-MP mode.
Latest News and Updates (September 2018)
- Nikon has announced its first full-frame mirrorless cameras, the 45.7MP Nikon Z7 and the 24.5MP Nikon Z6, which will both include a full-frame (or Nikon FX–format) CMOS sensor. Each camera has a high-quality OLED electronic viewfinder (3,690k dots), a 5-axis sensor-based image stabilization system, a hot-shoe for external flashes, and a 3.2-inch touch-sensitive swiveling LCD (2,100k dots). The Z7’s sensitivity range is ISO 64–25,600 (expandable to 32-102400); the Z6’s sensitivity range is ISO 100–51,200, expandable to ISO 50-204,800. Each can shoot 4K HD-resolution video at 30 frames per second and will have built-in Wi-Fi for connecting to mobile devices. Unlike most consumer models, though, each model will store photos and video on XQD-memory cards, instead of SD memory cards. And like all mirrorless cameras, these models can shoot RAW as well as JPEG, TIFF, and a combination of JPEG and RAW. The Nikon Z7 will be available September 27 for $3,399 (body only) or $3999 with the 24-70mm f/4 S kit lens. The Nikon Z6, available in late November, will cost $1,995 (body only) or $2,599 with the 24-70mm f/4 S kit lens.
- Canon also launched a full-frame mirrorless camera system: The EOS R includes a 30.3-MP CMOS sensor, Canon’s DIGIC 8 image processor, shooting speeds of up to 8.0 frames per second, 4K UHD video up to 30fps (and the ability to record in 10-bit 4:2:2 with an external recorder), Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS Auto Focus with 5,655 manually selectable AF points, a built-in EVF (3.69 million dots), a swiveling touchscreen LCD, and a dot-matrix LCD panel. The ISO range runs from ISO 100 to ISO 40,000, and is expandable to ISO 102,400. It also has built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The Canon EOS R will be available in October for $2,299 (body only) and as a kit with the new RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM lens for $3,399. Here's how the EOS R compares to the Nikon Z6 and Z7.
- Fujifilm's X-T3 ($1,499 body only, available September 20), is the successor to the X-T2, but while it has a very similar design, the X-T3 has a new 26.1MP X-Trans backside illuminated CMOS sensor, a new quad core processor, 425 phase detect autofocus points that provide 99 percent coverage, a lower base ISO of 160, and support for 4K/60 fps video.
Four Tips For Choosing a Mirrorless Camera
In today's diverse marketplace, choosing a mirrorless model is too expensive to be an impulse purchase. To make sure you end up with the right camera, here are four tips to help you decide which is best for you.
Try out your mirrorless model before your buy.
Decide what features are important to you.
Are you interested in buying a mirrorless camera that can capture bursts of photos with the fastest possible frame rate? Or maybe you're looking for a model that offers stunning image quality with a high megapixel count? Or perhaps you want a model that has a touchscreen LCD that lets you snap images right from the display? Do your research on the camera manufacturer's product pages on the web to get in-depth information on these and other features, and then prioritize which features are most important to you.
Be skeptical of sales staff.
Although you might get lucky, it's hard to rely on in-store help, particularly at a large, retail consumer electronics stores. Oftentimes, the sales staff will either not understand the technology or features, or they'll purposely try to push certain cameras based on features like a high-megapixel count, which is not the only factor in determining a mirrorless camera's quality.
Skip extended warranties.
There continues to be fierce competition in the mirrorless camera market, which is good news for consumers. Such competition drives camera manufacturers to continually produce and improve their products, which in many cases means it's very likely the mirrorless model you buy will be very reliable for years to come. So, it may not be worth it to buy an extended warranty for your mirrorless camera.
How to Choose a Lens for your Mirrorless Camera
One of the most important qualities that mirrorless and DSLRs share is that they accept interchangeable lenses, which can dramatically improve image quality and bring your photography to a new level. But there are scores of lenses to choose from, which can be confusing. To help you get better acquainted with this important camera accessory, here's a quick rundown of types of interchangeable lenses that are available for your mirrorless camera:
Standard zoom lenses: It's the lens that most people who buy an entry-level SLR or mirrorless model as a kit know first. Mirrorless kits generally come with a 14-42mm lens. They typically include a small amount of zoom (3x), and are often inexpensive, but not the highest quality. However, in the past several years, the quality of these kit lenses has improved.
Prime lenses: You can save money by choosing a prime or non-zoom lens. They offer excellent quality, and are often much more affordable. If you need to zoom, just use your feet and walk closer to your subject!
Telephoto zoom lenses: If you shoot a lot of sports or other types of events, consider these powerful zooms, which can bring you closer to the action and provide features to capture images with shallow depth-of-field. They can be a bit heavy and bulky, but most manufacturers have been inventing new lenses that are smaller and more compact, but are still high quality. The 70mm-200mm is a good example of this type of lens.
Wide-angle lenses: If you're traveling, this type of lens, such as a 16-35mm zoom, can be very valuable, since it allows you to capture different types of wide-angle shots. Want to shoot a group portrait? Set the zoom lens towards the 35mm end of the range, which will avoid distortion at the edges of the image. Or if you want to capture a broad, sweeping landscape, use the lower end of the zoom, nearer to the 16mm end. However, these lenses can be pricey.
Macro or Close-up lenses: If you're looking to capture close-up shots of small objects, you'll want a good quality macro lens, which come in a variety of focal lengths, such as 50mm and 100mm. Be sure to do your research to be sure the lens you want has macro capabilities.
Specialty lenses: One of the most notable specialty lenses in this category is the ultra-wide fisheye lens, which some photographers love for the exceptionally distorted point of view. Other types include tilt-shift and soft-focus lenses.
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