Best Entry-Level Mirrorless Cameras – 2021 Guide

Andy
| Last Updated: January 4, 2021

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Mirrorless cameras have many of the advantages of larger DSLRs, such as great image quality but are much more compact, making them easier for amateurs and professionals alike to hold.

There is a wide range on the market that is also highly affordable.

There is something for every photographer. 

Comparison Chart of the Best Entry Level Mirrorless Cameras

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Battery life of up to 360 photos
  • Enhanced auto focus ability
  • Shoulder strap included
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  • Able to transfer images to phone or smart device
  • Offers precision auto focus
  • Ideal for low and high-angle shots
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  • Best for the Money
  • Uses convenient 180-degree tilting LCD screen
  • Makes use of a zoom lever
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  • Has a useful silent mode
  • Stabilization results in better quality photos
  • Well-suited to 'burst shooting'
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  • Comes with handy rechargeable battery
  • Uses 24MP APS-C sensor
  • Recording is done in HD
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Can You Find a Top-Quality Mirrorless Camera That’s Affordable?

Cheap mirrorless cameras will still take excellent pictures, and it's one of the most important secrets within the camera market – the longer a camera has been around, the cheaper it gets!

Some cameras are cheap because they’ve been built right down to a price, but fairly often, they’re cheap because a more modern model has come along, and therefore, the maker is keeping the old one on sale at a lower cost. It could also be that the camera has such an honest set of features, there's been no need to upgrade or replace it for years.

How to Choose Your First Mirrorless Camera

Choosing a mirrorless camera is often a scary job with many variables to consider, ranging from sensor size to video capabilities, to lens systems and more. However, we have covered each of these variables and provided you with the knowledge that your first mirrorless camera's purchase will require.

Lens System

What separates mirrorless cameras from other compact cameras are the unquestionable fact they require interchangeable lenses. This makes all the difference in the world, and if you've never had an interchangeable lens camera, you're going to be quite shocked by how your image can change.

Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera

Sensor Size

Various mirrorless cameras support sensors of varying sizes, and this is often where things can get complicated. If you want a large sensor, find a full-frame DSLR camera and a point-and-shoot model for a small sensor.

Many mirrorless cameras fall into the middle somewhere, packing an APS-C sensor typically used in consumer DSLR cameras, or a Micro Four Thirds sensor that falls between an APS-C sensor and a point-and-shoot.

Viewfinders

Viewfinders are another thing to consider, particularly if you turn from a DSLR or any other camera which had an optical TTL (through-the-lens) viewfinder. A TTL viewfinder implies that the view is near or very close to what the lens sees.

Since there's no mirror by default to direct the lens view to the viewfinder, many mirrorless cameras use an electronic viewfinder or EVF.

Quick Take - Best Entry-Level Mirrorless Cameras

Before we dive into our review, here are the best entry-level mirrorless cameras:

  1. Sony Alpha a6000
  2. Canon EOS M50
  3. Sony NEX-3NL/B

Review of the Best Entry-Level Mirrorless Cameras

There are various types and brands of mirrorless cameras available on the market, and it can be exhausting to pick one among them all. Hence, we have made a list of top offerings on the market. 

Best Overall:
Sony Alpha a6000

Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera 24.3MP SLR Camera with 3.0-Inch LCD (Black) w/16-50mm Power Zoom Lens

PROS

  • Has an incredibly fast auto-focus
  • 11.1fps burst shooting with tracking focus
  • Image quality is amazingly high, ISO quality
  • Features a very high-resolution 24-megapixel sensor
  • Comes with a tilting rear display, in-body flash, and multi-function hot shoe

CONS

  • Startup is slow
  • Excessively sensitive eye sensor
  • Customers have observed that the EVF lags in very dim light

What Recent Buyers Report

Generally, people love the thought of a compact, smaller, and light-weight camera as compared to the hefty DSLRs. Most of the people that have bought this model loved the results and liked the thought of getting a more portable camera. Furthermore, they were also impressed by its fast auto-focus and shooting speed.

Why it Stands Out to Us

With its 24-megapixel sensor, fast auto-focus system, and high-speed constant shooting, it can generally keep up with fast-moving subjects. More importantly, it is a solid general-use camera that delivers on various fronts, making it one among the simplest mirrorless cameras you'll ever buy, especially for beginners.

Who Will Use This Most

It is targeted at professionals, experienced users, and enthusiasts. If you propose to shoot video also as stills, this is often the camera to shop for during this class. If your focus is only stilling, things are a little less clear-cut, and therefore, the decision should probably come right down to lenses.

Bottom Line

The a6000 brings the new improvements to Sony's technology and improved JPEG processing to a highly customizable, reasonably-priced mid-range device. Its standout features are its robust, unmatched video controls, and continuous auto-focus output at such an affordable price. The versatile yet optically average power zoom makes this kit very capable and compact.

Runner-up:
Canon EOS M50

Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless Vlogging Camera Kit with EF-M 15-45mm Lens, Black

PROS

  • Fantastic battery life
  • The auto-focus is pretty good
  • Features a silent shutter mode 
  • Colors are very nice, and the video is 4k 
  • With the big LCD screen, the menus are very easy to navigate through

CONS

  • Doesn’t have a supporting strap
  • Image quality might break up upon editing
  • Silent shutter mode is not a drive mode option

What Recent Buyers Report

The results of this device are amazing. The landscape, as well as portrait shots, are great with the dimensions and weight this small. People love this mirrorless camera, especially thanks to their compact design and simple use. Furthermore, all customers are a huge fan of its battery life.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is the first Canon camera, which will automatically send photos to your smartphone after each shot and, therefore, the first M-series to supply 4K videos too. It is also the first camera by Canon to incorporate the novel CR3-Raw format, which has an efficient compression option called C-Raw.

Who Will Use This Most

We find this model to be ideal for beginners while it can also be used by professionals, and every one of them will have their own way of using it. Professionals are targeted with the addition of the 4k video, whereas beginner photographers also buy this product for the convenience of use that it provides.

Bottom Line

The M50 is the very first camera by Canon to incorporate the Digic-8 processor and, therefore, the only model that is not professional, yet supports 4K video capture. Moreover, it comes with an improved version of the Dual Pixel AF system, an innovative Raw format, as well as improved wireless functionality. Furthermore, it is highly affordable, making it accessible to people on a budget.

Best for the Money:
Sony NEX-3NL/B

Sony NEX-3NL/B Mirrorless Digital Camera Kit (Black)

PROS

  • Has an in-built flash
  • Features the APS-C image sensor
  • Offers a high ISO certified performance
  • Camera features a large 180° tilting LCD
  • One of the most affordable entry-level cameras

CONS

  • No EVF or expansion options
  • Sensor has a low resolution of 14.0MP
  • LCD that comes with the camera is not that sharp

What Recent Buyers Report

The image sensor provides amazing results, and therefore, the tilting LCD also makes it very easy to use and handy. Moreover, the compact size makes this camera very portable and effective for beginners. For the worth of this camera, it does a tremendous job, and all customers love it.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The fact that a 14.6-megapixel Exmor APS HD CMOS is followed by this model and it stands out. This mirrorless e-mount model includes a high-resolution tilting screen, fast continuous shooting, and captures HD images. It also sports a slightly bigger plastic body. And yet, it's one of the best-priced mirrorless cameras on the market.

Who Will Use This Most

The NEX-3NL/B targets beginner and professional photographers. It provides you with a high-resolution result. It is simple to use and features a very compact design like all mirrorless cameras, which makes it a superb choice for beginners to travel with. Professionals can dive into the amazing features of this device, like the APS-C Image Sensor.

Bottom Line

Sony is the first to follow a system built from the ground up for the 'point and shoot' crowd. The primary two NEX models are nothing if not innovative, and Sony should receive praise for showing the industry just how small it's possible to form a camera with an APS-C sized sensor while also being highly affordable.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II Mirrorless Camera with 14-42mm II R Lens (Black)

PROS

  • Compact and very easy to use
  • Features a sharp, out-sized EVF
  • Tilting touchscreen for easy and flexible use
  • Comes with a 5-axis stabilization system and a built-in flash
  • 8.6fps constant shooting is one of the most distinguished features 

CONS

  • Power button on this tool is wacky
  • Precise tracking feature involves a relatively slower burst rate
  • Lacks a mic input so recording an interview with this could be a hustle

What Recent Buyers Report

Users love the range of lenses that you can select for this OM-D Mark II. They also love how it is so portable. It is compact and straightforward to hold, which is one of the various concerns of beginner photographers and videographers, and it caters to it beautifully.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This model comes with trendy, vintage-inspired styling, outstanding ergonomics, built-in EVFs, and top-notch features. It also has a beautiful lightweight body that features a 5-axis stabilization mechanism. It also features an out-sized, sharp EVF, and outstanding integration of Wi-Fi. In fact, the firing rate is unmatched.

Who Will Use This Most

Due to the no mic input, this camera is targeted mainly at photographers. The no mic issue makes it of limited use to videographers. However, beginner photographers will find the integrated EVF amazing to use and can be amazed by its results.

Bottom Line

To sum it up, it is a solid entry into the OM-D line. It is also a fine choice when it comes to checking out a mirrorless camera. Its strengths consist of an out-sized, sharp EVF, a superb Wi-Fi implementation, and 5-axis image stabilization. But its video features are a touch behind the days. It doesn’t have a mic input, which limits its usefulness for videographers.

Sony a5100 16-50mm Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3-Inch Flip Up LCD (Black)

PROS

  • Features a built-in Wi-Fi system
  • Comes with an articulating screen
  • 6.0fps continuous shooting speed
  • Has a video resolution of 1920 x 1080
  • Equipped with a 24.0MP high-resolution sensor

CONS

  • Doesn’t come with image stabilization
  • Lacks an external flash shoe which limits its use
  • No built-in viewfinder and no external viewfinder option

What Recent Buyers Report

The Wi-Fi feature and flipping screen feature has made this device popular among beginners and vloggers. The compact and little design makes it very easy for vloggers to hold it around throughout their day. The Wi-Fi feature allows them to form regular updates over social media by directly sending the photographs to their phones.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This model features a 24.0MP APS-C sized CMOS sensor and features the Bionz X processor. You'll shoot at the maximum resolution of 6000 x 4000 pixels with aspect ratios of 3:2 and 16:9. It also features a native ISO range of 100-25600, and it can save files in RAW format, which provides you with a wider room for post-processing.

Who Will Use This Most

This mirrorless camera is targeted mostly at beginners. It provides them with everything they're going to need. However, for professionals, there could be other options. Vloggers also love the thought of the flipping screen because it allows them to view the recording and improvise accordingly.

Bottom Line

The A5100 remains a solid entry-level favorite overall, and it's easy to find out why. While tiny, it features incredible specs, a lower price tag and can generate fantastic pictures. The packaged kit lens yields outstanding results and great bokeh, making it a package you can easily put in your pocket and take wherever you want.

What is the Advantage of a Mirrorless Camera?

For a photographer or a videographer, his camera is his biggest investment, and hence, it is important to carefully evaluate and choose a camera. If this decision is made carefully, then you will get various advantages. These include:

Weight and Size

Mirrorless cameras are very compact and lightweight compared to DSLRs, and this makes them relatively easy to carry around. They are highly portable and less likely to cause any kind of arm, hand, or neck fatigue from long use hours.

Easier Manual Focus

Unlike the past three decades, manual focus is coming back in fashion and is preferred over auto-focus. For this reason, mirrorless cameras win. They have far greater manual focus than any DSLR on the market. It is far more accurate and easier to use.

Low Light Focusing

When it comes to taking pictures at night, a mirrorless camera performs great compared to a DSLR, and hence, it is one of the plus points. A mirrorless camera has a better focus and captures more focused, detailed, and vibrant pictures.

Better Facial Recognition

Mirrorless cameras offer better and faster facial recognition compared to DSLRs. This makes it ideal for photography and videography on the go.

Conclusion

As the world moves forward and progresses, we see innovation and improvement. And in the world of professional cameras, mirrorless cameras just might be it. They are replacing DSLRs through various standout offerings like portability, better focus, better facial recognition, etc. Moreover, they can also be highly affordable.

People Also Ask

Ever since mirrorless cameras have hit the market, tons of individuals are talking about this innovation within the world of cameras. In such cases, people have tons of common questions that each other individual wants to ask. Therefore, here are a number of the FAQs associated with mirrorless cameras:

What is a Mirrorless Camera?

Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras (MILC) are lightweight, interchangeable lens camera systems. Instead of a movable mirror and pentaprism, they use a digital imaging sensor to provide a visual snapshot of what the lens is seeing to the electronic viewfinder (EVF).

The lack of the mirror apparatus that's usually found in DSLRs makes the mirrorless cameras relatively lightweight and smaller.

How Does a Mirrorless Camera Work?

The mirror flips up when you press the shutter button, the shutter opens, and thus the light hits the image sensor which takes the final picture.

Light passes through the lens in the case of a mirrorless camera and straight onto the image sensor, providing a glimpse of the image to be viewed on the optical viewfinder. There are also some models that provide a second screen via an electronic viewfinder (EVF).

Is Mirrorless or DSLR Better For Beginners?

DSLRs' benefits include a wider choice of lenses and improved optical viewfinders. For novices, mirrorless cameras are usually a better choice thanks to their small size and simple controls. Mirrorless cameras are also more likely to possess a touchscreen than a similarly priced DSLR.

Do Professionals Use Mirrorless Cameras?

Many world-renowned photographers have switched to mirrorless. Image quality, today, is all about the lens and sensor (and electronics) combination. The mirror has no role therein. If you would like to offer the mirror a task, it’s the person slapping around and blurring your long exposures.

Can I Use Mirrorless Lens on DSLR?

Yes, you can use a DSLR lens on a mirrorless camera. This enables you to easily hold a mirrorless camera and fit extra gear into your camera bag. With a cheap mechanical adapter, you'll mount just about any DSLR manual lens on a mirrorless camera.

Should I Switch From DSLR to Mirrorless?

Mirrorless cameras include some great features such as eye auto-focus, 20fps burst without any viewfinder blackout, incredible ISO sensitivity and much more. A DSLR is considerably larger than a mirrorless camera. The former is much smaller because a mirrorless camera depends more on circuitry and not optical functions like a DSLR.

However, due to the EVF, battery life suffers on mirrorless cameras. Hence, you should consider the trade-offs and make your decision.

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Andy

Hi, I’m Andy. I’ve been taking pictures for just about as long as I’ve been old enough to hold a camera. I studied photography in community college after high school but was encouraged to follow a career path that was more stable. I do gigs here and there on the side but never took the leap to focus my efforts full-time. When Pam reached out to me through a mutual friend, I jumped on the opportunity to be a writer. Favorite type of photography: macro and street.