For a long time, mirrorless cameras played second fiddle to their DSLR cousins. However, over time, they have grown into a distinct category with several advantages over DSLRs. Size is a major benefit: A mirrorless camera will always be smaller than a DSLR of the same capability, because unlike a DSLR, it doesn't need a mirror to reflect an image onto the camera's sensor. The simpler mechanics often allow mirrorless cameras to shoot faster than DSLRs, too.
Size and ability to frame shots on the rear screen make mirrorless models a natural upgrade from smartphone and compact point-and-shoot cameras. Even for advanced shooters, the screen adds the flexibility to frame shots from odd angles and to interact with their subjects instead of hiding behind an eyepiece. Many mirrorless cameras offer electronic viewfinders, as well; the best of them are suitable replacements for optical eyepieces.
Our favorite mirrorless camera for beginners is the Sony a6000, which costs just under $600, 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 ($950), 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 Son'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. Some of its most noteworthy features include 5-axis image stabilization, a sturdy weather-resistant body, and a super high-resolution 40-MP mode.
Here are the top mirrorless cameras for a variety of users, from beginners to pros.
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