Sony Alpha a6000
Sony’s a6000 is a midrange mirrorless camera that offers an excellent feature set, fast continuous performance and top-notch image quality.
Sony Alpha a6300
The best mirrorless camera offers better construction, gorgeous 4K video, and a nice boost in image quality.
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II (M5 MII)
Compact, powerful and weatherproof, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 lets you shoot great photos and videos nearly anywhere.
Mirrorless cameras 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 starting at less than $500. So, there's a mirrorless camera to suit almost every photographer.
The best mirrorless camera for beginners is the Sony a6000, which costs just under $500 with a lens, yet shoots at a fast 11 fps, and takes great pictures in all conditions. More advanced photographers might prefer its successor, the Sony a6300, which takes even better photos in low light, and can record video in 4K. If you want to splurge a bit more, Sony's a6500 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 something not made by Sony, check out Olympus' OM-D E-M5 Mark II, which is the best mirrorless camera for both stills and video. 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. We also like that you can customize nearly all of the E-M5's buttons, making it a truly personal camera.
Make sure you see all of our top picks for DSLRs, mirrorless cameras and more on our best cameras page. And after you start shooting, be sure to check out our roundups of the best digital photo frames and best photo books to get the most out of your mirrorless camera.
Latest News and Updates (July 2019)
- Nikon has released version 2.6 of its SnapBridge app. Available for iOS and Android, improvements include a more intuitive design, the ability to download RAW images (on Wi-Fi-capable cameras only), faster image transfers, and a faster pairing process.
- Olympus has released new firmware for the OM-D E-M1 Mark II; Version 3.0 improves the camera's autofocus, the AF low light limit when an f/1.2 lens is attached is -6.0 EV, and image noise processing when shooting at high ISO has been improved by about 1/3 of a step.
- Canon's EOS RP ($1,299; body only), is the company's second full-frame mirrorless camera, and is about $1,000 less than the EOS R. The EOS RP has a 26.2MP sensor, and can shoot video at a max of 4K/25fps. As part of an introductory promotion, Canon is including a mount adapter (so you can use EF lenses with the RP) and an extension grip at no extra cost.
Best Beginner Mirrorless Camera
The a6000 is an ideal compromise between power and portability. Its autofocus is as good as a DSLR's, and it shoots as fast as DSLRs that cost several times more: a blistering 11 frames per second with continuous autofocus and metering. Electronic viewfinders are a weak point on many mirrorless models, but the a6000's OLED eyepiece is bright and crystal-clear, and doesn't suffer from the stuttering you'll sometimes find on EVFs with lower refresh rates. A DSLR shooter would be comfortable moving over to this eyepiece.
The a6000 shines in low light, and features the ability to capture clean images up to ISO 1600 sensitivity and usable shots in very dim conditions way up to ISO 12,800. On top of that, the a6000 shoots gorgeous full-HD video at up to 60 fps, as well as 24 fps for a cinema look. Clips show fine detail, rich color and buttery-smooth motion rendering, even in low light.
Best Intermediate Mirrorless Camera
While it has the same resolution (24MP) as the a6000, the a6300 has a much improved sensor that improves image quality (especially in low light), but makes focusing much faster, too. It can also shoot video in 4K, and a new mic jack will let budding videographers record better audio.
The a6300 also has a sturdier metal body and a sharper OLED electronic viewfinder that, in addition to the articulating LCD panel, will help you compose the best shot, whatever the angle.
Best Mirrorless Camera for Video
With even cellphones shooting 1080p video up to 60 fps, Olympus had to up its game for video. It certainly did, with an amazing five-axis image-stabilization system in the M5 MII that allows you to capture steady video even while walking around — something unthinkable until now. That video also boasts fine detail and attractive color, with one of the best auto white balance capabilities we've seen for avoiding the typical orangey look during indoor shooting. All these virtues serve the M5 MII equally well for still-photo shooting, too. Its resistance to water means you can shoot under nearly any condition. In addition, the M5 MII's truly tiny dimensions and weight, coupled with a nice selection of compact lenses, make it the most portable high-performance mirrorless camera out there. It's a joy to carry anywhere, and for an entire day.
Best Pro Mirrorless Camera
It's the world's first full-frame mirrorless camera to carry in-body 5-axis image stabilization, but there's more to the Sony A7 II than just steady shooting. This petite, sexy camera fits in most bags, and packs a bunch of customizable buttons and knobs for quick access to your favorite controls. We also loved the bright, clear pictures and relatively low amount of noise (graininess) even at high ISO light sensitivity levels. Thanks to effective wireless capability, you'll be able to beam your shots to your smartphone or computer within seconds.
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.