A friend recently asked me if he could get a good camera for his wife as a Christmas gift. With plenty of great mirrorless cameras for beginners under his budget of $1000, it could take quite some time to sort through the piles of options.
It seems that most people new to cameras get stuck on the wrong questions and features; knowing how you plan to use your camera is an important place to start. There are several types of cameras to consider and they all excel for different reasons. In this article, I’ll help you focus on mirrorless cameras for beginners around $1,000 for photography and video.
Quick Comparison: Best Mirrorless Cameras in 2021 for Beginners
|Canon M50 Mark II||Beginner +||Beginner +||Vloggers, Enthusiasts||Low|
|Sony A6400||Beginner to professional||Beginner to professional||Everyone||Mid|
|Nikon Z50||Beginner +||Beginner +||Hobbyist, Vloggers +||Mid|
|Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk III||Beginner +||Beginner to professional||Vloggers, Content Creators||Mid|
|Fujifilm X-S10||Beginner +||Beginner +||Everyone||Mid|
|Canon EOS M6 Mk II||Beginner +, Pros need lens adapter||Beginner to professional||Videographers +, Photographers||Mid|
Why should I get a mirrorless camera?
For beginners, mirrorless cameras offer a what-you-see-is-what-you-get experience. Meaning that whether you are using the viewfinder (if it’s got one), or the screen on the back, you’ll see in real time how the shutter speed, ISO, aperture, white balance, and other settings will affect the general outcome of your photos and videos. This gives beginners an incredible tool to understand quickly how the various settings work while seeing results in real time.
Mirrorless cameras make one of the best choices for beginners, intermediate, and some professionals. They tend to be light weight and smaller in comparison to dslr cameras making them ideal on the go. I’ve used my mirrorless cameras professionally for weddings and commercial work, as well as travel, home videos, night photography, timelapse videos, and much more.
What should I consider in a mirrorless camera?
I compiled this list of mirrorless cameras based on features that I believe to be important for anyone getting started in photography or videography, as well as a few extras that I thought would help me with my work. Features I’m considering are the camera’s ability to work in low light, sensor size and quality, camera size and shape (ergonomics), battery life, lens compatibility, budget, and it’s additional video capabilities.
It’s important to keep it super simple when beginning any new endeavor. You can dive in as deep as you’d like into the technicalities and techniques; however for me, it only “clicks” once I have a camera in my hands. Practice makes progress and you’ll get better as you see your own images and videos. So, without further ado, I present 6 of the best mirrorless cameras for beginners:
Your Budget Buddy: Canon EOS M50 Mark II
Anyone getting started as a vlogger or content creator will get a full line of features from the Canon M50 Mark II.
This camera is lightweight and portable. It’s comfortable to hold, but could be a bit small for larger hands. It’s image quality is good for a lower budget camera that stays fairly noise-free, making it good in low light environments.
With a fully articulating touchscreen, the EOS M5 Mark II makes a perfect vlogging and selfie camera for beginners. It can be used as a webcam and it’s YouTube live feature will help boost the quality of your live streams. Additionally, it also allows for vertical video capture for social media.
For video, it can shoot in 4k, but suffers from bad crop factor. Additionally, it struggles with rolling shutter which makes your videos a bit wonky when panning.
Lenses are limited for the Canon M50 Mark II due to it’s Canon EF-M mount. Using a lens adapter will reduce that limit and unlock use of Canon’s arsenal of lenses. For any beginning creators looking for a well rounded, budget friendly camera, this camera boasts plenty of features. Although it’s fairly limited in it’s video capabilities (particularly in 4K), it still gives vloggers plenty of features to create with.
A Powerful Pal: Sony a6400
The Sony a6400 is a fantastic camera for anyone looking to travel, capture weddings, interviews, live events, conferences, and more. There are tons of features for both photographers and videographers.
The a6400 can spit images out at 11fps and will keep you from ever missing a single shot. Between its incredibly fast and reliable autofocus and its smooth face and object tracking, you’ll be sure to end up with sharp shots every time. It feels good in the hands and has a hefty frame that will provide years of use.
There are a loads of luscious features to like about this camera. The Sony a6400 makes a great camera for pros and serious photo shooters as well as videographers. It captures 4k video that carries the detail of 6k. This camera has no video record limits, which means you can press record and leave it until your battery or memory run out. This is invaluable for weddings and events that require longer record times. This camera is also great in low light (You could easily shoot at 20,000 ISO with no significant noise).
On the flip side, it’s flip up screen blocks the mic when flipped. That’s a lot of flips! This can be fixed by spending a little extra on an external mic. Unfortunately there is no headphone jack to check volume when using a mic. It also has no in camera stabilization, making it a bit shaky if you don’t have a stabilized lens. It’s battery life has been improved from the a6300, but still has catching up to do. Lastly, it only comes with a usb to charge the battery in-camera.
The Sony a6400 is a great fast camera for beginners and pros looking to do photography. It’s 14 bit RAW codec will give you tons of flexibility in the editing room. On the go videographers will like it for its focus and tracking capabilities, low-light magic, durability, 4k quality, slow-motion action, and no record time limits. For beginners, the Sony menus are not as user friendly as their rivals.
(Vloggers and creators looking for this camera in a more creator-friendly body, consider the Sony ZV-10. It’s similar to the a6400, but has physical features that more suit content creators).
Nikon Z50: Hobbyists and Vloggers
The Nikon Z50 is a fantastic beginner camera for anyone wanting to learn photography and videography. Small and compact, you’ll be carrying this camera everywhere you go. It’s fast for photographers at 11fps and will handle all the needs of on the go vloggers not needing 4k.
The Nikon Z50 is simple to use, comfortable to handle, and easy to learn on. If you’re a photographer or videographer wanting a compact carry to keep you shooting, then the Z50 will give you all the features you need.
It allows for electronic stabilization in videos only, but struggles when moving around. It also has a significant crop when you try to shoot in 4k, meaning that you lose some of your image. It’s kit lens is nice for beginners, but can only go to f6.3 (won’t cut it in low light) when used at it’s widest angle. It uses z mount lenses and could utilize all nikon lenses with an adapter, giving the user more options.
Enthusiasts and vloggers will find this to be a great camera for most of their needs. It’s great for shooting jpeg images and shines in full HD video modes. With it’s slow motion ability, you’ll be shooting more B roll than you could ever use. This camera performs well in low light and has a good autofocus for photography.
Overall, the design is extremely user friendly in ergonomics and menu design. This camera feels really nice in the hands and would be a comfortable fit for those switching from a dslr. It’s battery life is better than many mirrorless cameras.
With it’s compact size, great autofocus, good HD video, and fast capture speeds, the Nikon Z50 is the perfect mirrorless camera for beginners.
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III: Content Creators, Enthusiasts, and Beyond
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III is a mouthful to try and say, but it’s really cool. It’s a mirrorless four thirds camera, making it somewhat unique to the mirrorless world of cameras. As with most mirrorless cameras, it is lightweight and great for those on the move.
The built in stabilization is impressive and it could be argued that Olympus currently has the best built in stabilization on the market. Its Phase-Detect autofocus helps you focus quickly for fast action and smoothly refocus videos.
The face detection and tracking works really well. Vloggers rejoice! You will love the Vari-angle touchscreen that makes it easy to see your face at all times and change settings on the fly. It can capture images at a super fast 30fps for sports and action shots.
The E-MD Mark 3 is rugged and weather sealed: possibly one of the most weather proofed cameras on the market. The ergonomics feel good even for bigger hands.
Even though it can only capture 16MP images, it’s Hi Res shot mode allows you to take a series of 8 images over a one second period and merge them into a mega photo at 80MP!
Now, it won’t make you a better creator, but this sleek camera also comes in silver giving it a really nice vintage feel. People will come up to you and ask “are you shooting film?” and you’ll wink and answer, “No, it’s digital.”
Considering the side hinged fully articulated touch screen, combined with built in stabilization, auto focus, and microphone input make it very attractive to vloggers and content creators.
FUJIFILM X-S10: Nostalgic Feel of Fujifilm
The Fujifilm X-S10 serves as another great transition from DSLR cameras. It’s dials, buttons, and menus are fully customizable to suit your shooting style. It holds its own for sports and action at 8fps and can be pushed to a blazing fast 30fps in sports mode.
The X-S10 will feel comfortable in most peoples hands, but could be uncomfortable for bigger hands when using larger lenses. It’s in body image stabilizer (IBIS) makes it ideal for unstable capture, but it could see some problems keeping up when walking.
It has a great autofocus and eye detection for faster shooting. As a unique option from Fujifilm, the X-S10 offers a full array of Fujifilm simulation profiles to give you all the nostalgic feelings of capturing on Fuji.
On the downside, the battery is acceptable, but not ideal. It has the ability to capture really slow motion at 240fps, but leaves you with sub par slo-mo.
For most getting started, the Fujifilm X-S10 will supply you with the complete package and will certainly make most video shooters very happy. This would make an excellent mirrorless camera for beginners!
Canon EOS M6 Mark II: Big Sensor
The Canon EOS M6 Mark II is a powerful compact and light weight mirrorless camera with one of the highest resolution aps-c sensors on the market. At 32.5MP and super fast 14fps image capture, this camera will keep up with all of your ideas.
For videographers, this camera is sweet. The EOS M6 Mark 2 has a flip out touchscreen that makes it great for on the go shooting and vlogging. It’s the first Canon camera to capture 4K video without cropping and sizing it down. The face and eye tracking are very reliable and you can capture slow motion video in high definition. Additionally, the EOS M6 Mark 2 can be used as an amazing web cam.
There are several features that may get irritating to some. As with many mirrorless cameras, the EOS M6 Mark 2 does not have a great battery life, but it offers on-the-go usb-c charging. It uses an EF-M mount for lenses which limits access to Canon’s entire library of lenses. To side step this, you can pick up a lens adapter for the rest of Canon’s lenses.
Pro side note: EF-M lenses don’t do the 32MP justice and will require a lens adapter.
I’ve captured professionally with mirrorless cameras for 6 years now. I’m confident that any of the cameras in this review will give you plenty to brag to the photographer or videographer about at your next friend’s wedding, while still fulfilling your dreams as a creator.
The mirrorless cameras for beginners found in this guide offer plenty of features and flexibility to learn and grow from. If used correctly, you may even find yourself making money with your new mirrorless camera for beginners! Be sure to look at Looxcie’s content ideas for inspiration once you’ve got your new mirrorless camera.