The 6 Best Mirrorless Cameras for Beginner Photographers

best mirrorless cameras including sony alpha a7 III, canon eos rp, and nikon z7
best mirrorless cameras including sony alpha a7 III, canon eos rp, and nikon z7
Sony/Canon/Nikon

Mirrorless cameras are a more professional option beyond basic point-and-shoot cameras, as they take much better photos and allow you to swap out and shoot with a big variety of lenses. And because mirrorless cameras lack a bulky mirror inside, they are lighter and more portable than DSLR cameras. That said, they’re also a little pricier, but if you’re wanting to go mirrorless, these are some of the best options you can currently get your hands on.

What to Look for in a Mirrorless Camera

Mirrorless cameras are a huge investment and there are a ton of options to choose from. So, how do you narrow down your search and find the camera that’s right for you? Here’s everything you need to consider when searching for your perfect mirrorless camera:

  • Price: This is one of the biggest factors to consider when choosing a mirrorless camera because they’re expensive. Even if you go with a budget option, like the Canon EOS M50, you’ll still be spending well over $500. There are other options, like Sony’s Alpha A7 III and Nikon’s Z7, that are over $2,000. How much you spend will ultimately depend on your budget, but you should also consider the type of photography or videography you want to do and how frequently you think you’ll use the camera. Also, if you’re a beginner photographer and still unsure whether you’ll stick with it long term, you might not want to go all-in on a mirrorless camera and an array of lenses and accessories.
  • Lenses: When you purchase a mirrorless camera, you’ll want to read carefully to figure out whether you’re buying just the body of the camera or a package deal, usually called a “kit,” with the body and a lens or two. If you’ve only purchased digital cameras in the past, everything you need to start taking pictures comes in a single package. With mirrorless cameras, that’s not always true; you often have to make multiple purchases to get everything you need for your camera. And once you have a couple of base lenses in your collection, you’ll probably end up buying a few more to be able to achieve different focal lengths and styles.
  • Ease of Use: If you’re a budding photographer or videographer, the last thing you want in a new mirrorless camera is for it to be difficult to use. Sure, there’s going to be a learning curve with any new device, but it shouldn’t be so difficult that it makes you want to give up before you have a chance to fall in love with the hobby. Additionally, ensure the camera you’re looking at has all of the features you need, like Eye Auto Focus, 4K video capability, a headphone jack, a screen that can flip, etc.
  • Mirrorless Camera Formats: There are four main mirrorless camera formats—Micro Four Thirds, APS-C, full-frame, and medium—but the two you’ll see most frequently are APS-C and full-frame. Each format is named as such because of its sensor size. Cameras with smaller sensors, like APS-C sensors, are more lightweight and portable. Cameras with larger sensors, like full-frame sensors, are heavier and more expensive but can produce higher-quality images.

Best Overall: Canon EOS RP

Canon - EOS RP Mirrorless 4K Video Camera (Body Only)
Canon

Pros

  • Great ISO range
  • Great specs for mid-range price
  • Awesome for vlogging

Cons

  • Lackluster battery life
  • No NFC tech

For most people just beginning their foray into mirrorless cameras, the Canon EOS RP is going to be your best bet. The body by itself is fairly pricey and you’ll have to purchase lenses separately, but it’s worth it; the EOS RP accepts both EF/EF-S and RF lenses.

Inside, there’s a 26.2 full-frame CMOS sensor that can shoot up to 5 frames per second and a DIGIC 8 image processor. It has 4K video capability at 30 frames per second and a screen that flips out and makes it easy to record front-facing content. So if you’re looking for a camera to vlog with, this one is perfect!

It has a native ISO range of 100-40,000, though with the right lens, this range can be expanded up to 102,400. A higher ISO range translates to more light that’s able to be picked up by your camera in photos and videos. Plus it’s a lightweight and compact camera, so it’s easy to take with you while walking around town or travelling on a road trip.

This camera has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, making it easy to transfer your images to your smartphone or use remote shooting via the Canon Camera Connect app (Android/iOS). The memory slot can accept a slew of formats, including SD, SDHC, and SDXC. On a full battery charge, you can expect to get about 270 images.

Another Great Option: Sony Alpha A6400

Sony Alpha a6400 Mirrorless Camera body only
Sony

Pros

  • Great ISO range
  • Great for new vloggers or photographers
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • Slight learning curve
  • Menus can be a bit messy

If you’re not a Canon fan, Sony’s Alpha A6400 is another great mirrorless camera that has a 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor with up to 11 frames captured per second during continuous shooting. For just the body, you’ll be spending a hair under $1000; an additional lens will cost you extra.

With real-time Auto Focus and Eye AF features, it’s easy for your photos and videos to come out looking professional even if you’re not the most skilled as a beginner. The Alpha A6400 has a native ISO range of 100-32,000, but can be expanded up to 102,400. This wide ISO range helps capture brilliant photos and videos in low-light conditions, like when the sun is almost gone for the day.

If you’re looking for a vlogging camera, this is another great option. You can record in 4K at 24 frames per second or in 1080p at 120 frames per second. You can easily see yourself with the 180-degree tiltable 3-inch LCD touchscreen. The video recording differences between Sony’s A6400 and Canon’s EOS RP are minimal, but you’ll get a slightly longer battery life with the Sony A6400 and it’s a little lighter too.

You can use any E-mount series lenses with this camera. Then, you can download Imaging Edge (Android/iOS) to take advantage of and remote control of your camera and file transfer via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or NFC tech. On a full battery charge, you can expect about 350 to 400 images, depending on whether you’re using just the viewfinder or the LCD screen.

Another Great Option

Sony Alpha A6400

This is another mirrorless camera that’s great for anyone wanting to get into vlogging or just start taking professional-looking photos.

Best Budget: Canon EOS M50

Canon - EOS M50 Mirrorless Camera body plus EF-M 15-45mm f3.5-6.3 IS STM Zoom Lens
Canon

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Comes with camera body and a lens
  • Great for filming videos

Cons

  • Not-so-great battery life
  • Lower ISO range

For someone on a budget, Canon’s EOS M50 is an amazing pick. For a low price, you not only get the body but you also get the EF-M 15-45mm zoom lens. If you’re looking for a mirrorless camera for simple vlogs and the occasional photo shoot, or if you just don’t want to spend a lot of money, this one is perfect.

Inside, there’s a 24.1MP APS-C CMOS sensor and a DIGIC 8 Image Processor that work together to give you high-resolution photos whether you’re taking a still photo or catching something mid-action. You can shoot up to 10 frames per second at the 24.1MP resolution to get the perfect photo.

The EF-M 15-45mm lens can capture wide-angle photos, telephoto zoom, and has a built-in optical image stabilizer that’ll help your shot stay steady even if your hand doesn’t. The Canon EOS M50 also has an ISO range of 100-25,600, allowing you to capture quite a bit of light in your photos even when there’s not much light around, like just before the sun comes up.

And if you’re more into recording videos than taking photos, you’ll be happy to know this camera records in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second. You can easily tilt or rotate the viewfinder to film front-facing content on the 3-inch LCD touchscreen. And even if you or your video subjects are moving while recording, the camera’s Auto Focus feature will stay locked onto the main target.

There’s built-in Wi-Fi, NFC, and Bluetooth connectivity so you can transfer files directly to your smartphone using the Camera Connect app (Android/iOS). It’s compatible with EF-M, EF-S, and EF lenses. To use EF-S or EF lenses, however, you’ll need to purchase a mount adapter separately. And depending on how you use it, you can expect to get up to 200-300 shots out of each full battery charge.

Best Premium: Sony Alpha A7 III

Sony a7 III ILCE7M3B Full-Frame Mirrorless body only
Sony

Pros

  • Impressive image processing engine and sensor
  • Huge ISO range
  • Long battery life

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not the best option for vlogging

Sony’s Alpha A7 III costs quite a bit and you only get the body for the price; lenses will cost you extra. But for that extra money, you can capture awesome photos with a snazzy BIONZ X image processing engine and a 24.2MP Exmor R CMOS full-frame sensor with a back-illuminated structure. Using back-illumination with a sensor improves the camera’s performance in low-light conditions.

In addition to using a back-illuminated sensor, the Alpha A7 III also has an ISO range of 50 to a whopping 204,800. This large ISO maximum enables you to capture detailed photos and videos in areas with really low light, like a picture outside where the only light is coming from the moon and the stars.

With Auto Focus and Auto Exposure features, 693-point phase detection, and the ability to capture 10 frames per second, you’re able to produce some pretty impressive photos. If you’re filming, you’ll be able to capture 8 frames per second. All of these features work with the sensor and the image processing engine to catch moments that you might not have even been able to appreciate with the human eye.

This camera is compatible with any of Sony’s E-mount lenses. And with the boost in price, you also get a pretty impressive battery life. On a full charge, you can get about 600 still images or about 200 minutes of continuous recording. The A7 III has Wi-Fi, NFC, and Bluetooth technology; you can also use Sony’s Imaging Edge mobile app (Android/iOS) with the camera.

Best Premium

Sony Alpha A7 III

Although the Sony Alpha A7 III will cost you more money, you get an impressive image processing engine and imaging sensor that can capture amazing photos.

Best Compact: Sony Alpha A6000

Sony - Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Camera with 16-50mm Retractable Lens
Sony

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Super compact and easily portable
  • Comes with camera body and a lens

Cons

  • Underwhelming battery life
  • Lower ISO range
  • Screen only partially tilts

Despite being a small camera, there’s a lot of tech packed into Sony’s Alpha A6000 that helps produce amazing photos. It’s budget-friendly, with the low price including the camera body and a 16-50mm retractable Power Zoom lens.

There’s a 24.3MP Exmore APS-C CMOS sensor inside that can capture high-res pictures at up to 6000 x 4000 pixels. With burst mode engaged, you can shoot up to 11 frames per second, helping you capture the perfect moment even if it happens in less than a second.

This camera can capture crisp images and videos in low light conditions with an ISO range of 100-25,600 for still photos and 100-12,800 for videos. And with 179-point phase-detection Auto Focus, Eye AF, and optical image stabilization, it’s easy to keep images and videos in focus.

And speaking of videos, Sony’s A6000 can record in 1080p resolution, which isn’t as impressive as 4K video recording, but it’s still decent. You can review photos and videos on the 3-inch color TFT display, but you can only tilt the viewfinder a little bit to see yourself while recording front-facing videos. So if you’re looking for a mirrorless camera to vlog with, you might look for one that allows the viewfinder to be rotated 180 degrees.

There’s built-in Wi-Fi and NFC technology to make file sharing easier. For storing or transferring data, you can use SD, SDHC, SDXC, and MS Pro Duo formats. You can use any Sony E-mount series lens with this camera. And as far as battery life goes, you can expect to get around 300 shots per battery charge.

Best for Nikon Users: Nikon Z7

Nikon Z 7 Mirrorless Digital Camera (Body Only)
Nikon

Pros

  • Impressive 45.7MP sensor
  • Wide ISO range
  • Great companion app

Cons

  • Super expensive
  • Not a great vlogging choice
  • Low battery life

This is another camera that’ll cost you a ton of money for just the body alone, but you’ll be able to tell that you paid for premium quality as soon as you see your photos and videos. Nikon’s Z7 has the most impressive imaging sensor on this list; it comes with a 45.7MP full-frame CMOS sensor and is paired with the EXPEED 6 image processing engine.

The native ISO range is only 64-25,600, but can be expanded with lenses up to 102,400. This high ISO range together with the higher effective megapixels in the sensor play a huge part in the final result of photos and videos. There’s a 493-point phase-detect Auto Focus system that covers most of the image area, helping you keep focused on still and moving images.

When it comes to recording video, the Z7 shines yet again. You can capture video in 4K at nine frames per second. Then, you can easily view what’s in your shot on the 3.2-inch LED touchscreen. There’s also built-in tech to reduce vibration and stabilize shaky hands while taking photos or recording video.

The Nikon Z7 accepts XQD memory cards and has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology that you can take full advantage of using the Nikon SnapBridge app (Android/iOS). You can use any of Nikon’s Z lenses and can take about 330 images per full battery charge.