If you're looking to pick up a new camera with not just more resolution, but better optics, a more capable image sensor and lots of versatile features, then you really want to consider a mirrorless camera. 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. They're great if you're looking to step up from a smartphone or point-and-shoot, as well as those looking for something that's smaller than a DSLR, but still produces quality images.
The mirrorless camera we'd recommend for beginners is the Sony a6000, which costs just under $650 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 (April 2018)
Blackmagic, a manufacturer of professional-grade, full-size camcorders, is introducing the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K ($1,295). This “mirrorless” digital camera, with a large 4/3rds image sensor, may meet the needs of those looking for a step up in video quality. It shoots in 4K at 60 fps, in 10-bit (ProRes) or 12-bit RAW, and it can record large RAW files over USB-C to an external storage device. Other specs includes a top ISO of 25,600 ISO and 13 stops of dynamic range, for great low-light performance; slots for SD, UHS-II, and CFast memory cards, and a large 5-inch LCD touchscreen. It does have a button to shoot still photos, but the focus here is on video. While classified as mirrorless (compatible with Micro 4/3rds lenses), it comes with an MFT mount, which, according to the company, is “extremely flexible and allows for different lens adapters so customers can also use PL, C, EF and other types of lenses from manufacturers such as Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Leica and even Panavision.” However, such adapters generally come with compromises, such as fewer autofocus options. Blackmagic's camera will be available in September.
Olympus has introduced a new mirrorless camera, the PEN E-PL9 ($599.99 for body-only and $699.99 with kit lens), targeted at entry-level photographers and those wanting to step-up from a point-and-shoot or smartphone camera. It features a 16-MP Micro Four Thirds Live MOS sensor, a 3-inch swiveling touchscreen LCD, body-based 3-axis image stabilization, 4K HD-resolution video, and built-in Wi-Fi, and can shoot burst of photos up to 8.6 frames per second. The more expensive camera kit will include with a 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ lens, which is also an electric-powered zoom lens.
- The Canon EOS M50 is a step up from the lower-priced EOS M100, but includes a number of important features not available on the M100, including a high-quality electronic viewfinder, a fully articulating touchscreen, a hot shoe for an external flash, and 4K-resolution video capture (although at just 24 frames per second). It comes with a 24.1-megapixel APS-C-sized CMOS sensor and features Canon’s latest processor, the Digic 8, which allows it to fire off 10 frames per second (or 7.4 in servo AF mode) in burst mode and HD-video capture at 120 fps (at 1280 x 720) for slow-motion video.
The M50 also includes Wi-Fi (which adds a nifty auto-transfer feature), dual-sensing image stabilization (which integrates mechanical body-based IS with optical, lens-based IS for its M-series lenses), and a new CR3 RAW file format. The EOS M50 will be available this April and sold in three configurations: Body only for $779.99; with the EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens for $899.99; and with two lenses (in black only)—EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM and the EF-M 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM—for $1,249.00.
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.
Be skeptical of sales staff.
Skip extended warranties.
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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