If you're looking to buy a new camera this holiday season, for friends, family, or yourself, you'll find the widest selection in the mirrorless camera market. You could almost says there's a mirrorless model to suit almost every photographers, with prices ranging from around $500-600 up to $4,500. 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 Mirrorless Camera News
This year, camera manufacturers have made a full-court press in producing a vast array of mirrorless models, at many price points.
- At the high end, you'll find Sony's pair of powerful but pricey 24MP A9, $4,500 (body only) and 42MP A7R III, $3,500 (body only), to the slightly more affordable, although still expensive 20MP Panasonic Lumix G9, $1,700 (body only).
Non-professional photographers have quite a few new consumer-targeted mirrorless models to choose from:
- The 24MP Fujifilm X-E3, available for $899 (body only), $1,299.95 with the XF18-55mm lens, and $1,149.95 with the XF23mm F2 R WR lens.
- The 16MP Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III, available for $649 (body only) and $799.99 with an M.Zuiko 14–42mm EZ lens.
- The 24MP Canon EOS M100 mirrorless camera, for $599.99 with the EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens and as a two-kit lens, which adds the EF-M 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM to the 15-45mm lens, for $949.99.
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. Advanced mirrorless cameras come in different form factors, sizes, and types. In order to really know if a particular mirrorless camera is the right model for you, make sure you actually pick it up, hold it in your hands, and try it out in a store. Or borrow a model from a friend. That way, you'll get a sense of how the controls respond to your touch, how heavy it is, and if it really feels good in your hands.
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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