Best mirrorless camera

Camera & Photo

The image quality of a mirrorless camera has improved significantly over the past decade, closely matching a DSLR camera.

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Which mirrorless camera is best?

When you’re ready to improve your photography skills, you’ll want to start using a dedicated digital camera. Smartphone cameras do a nice job, but a more sophisticated camera provides extra control over the final image and delivers better quality.

Some people who don’t want the bulk of a digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera may turn to a mirrorless camera. Smaller than a DSLR, mirrorless cameras are far more convenient to use for certain photographers. The following guide will help you determine the best mirrorless camera for you and includes our favorite, the Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Camera, which works nicely for all levels of photographers.

What to know before you buy a mirrorless camera

When a photographer makes a decision to purchase a digital camera, he or she often will be deciding between a DSLR or mirrorless model. There are advantages and disadvantages of each kind of camera.

Beyond the smaller size, a mirrorless camera tends to give you more body color choices and style compared to a DSLR. Mirrorless cameras will deliver excellent performance speeds in burst mode, outdoing entry-level DSLRs. Additionally, a mirrorless camera’s autofocus (AF) system will work faster than an entry-level DSLR’s AF system.

With a DSLR, you’re going to receive additional choices in the types of lenses you can use versus a mirrorless camera. DSLRs always ship with a viewfinder, while mirrorless cameras may not. DSLRs tend to deliver better battery life than mirrorless cameras, too.

What to look for in a quality mirrorless camera

Once you’ve chosen to go with a mirrorless camera, here are some terms you need to understand in order to properly compare models.

Image sensor

The primary silicon chip inside the camera body is the image sensor. This chip takes measurements of the light that enters the lens. It then turns these measurements into digital representations that allow a computer to recreate the image on a screen. The physical size of an image sensor plays a key role in the image quality you’ll receive.

Megapixels

Each image sensor can record a certain number of pixels in the photo. Each pixel is a dot in the scene, and 1 megapixel is equal to 1 million pixels. An image sensor that can record at least 20 megapixels (MP) is desirable. But the physical size of the image sensor is more important for image quality versus the number of megapixels it can record.

Interchangeable lens

A mirrorless camera consists of a camera body only. You then can connect different lenses to the mount on the camera body. This gives you the ability to create different styles of photos based on the lens you choose. You often must purchase compatible lenses separately from the mirrorless camera body.

LCD screen

The LCD screen on the back of the camera allows you to frame the scene before you record the photo. It also allows you to review photos you’ve already shot and access the camera’s control menus.

Viewfinder

A viewfinder is a small window that the photographer holds up to his or her eye and uses to frame the scene instead of using the LCD screen. If the mirrorless camera has a viewfinder, it will always be an electronic viewfinder (EVF). The EVF essentially is a tiny display screen.

How much you can expect to spend on a mirrorless camera

Mirrorless cameras vary widely in price. For the camera body only, you could pay anywhere from $300 to $3,000. You’ll also need to buy extra lenses and a memory card.

Mirrorless camera FAQ

Q. Do I have to buy separate lenses for my mirrorless camera?

A. A mirrorless camera uses interchangeable lenses (just like a DSLR camera). You’ll need to either buy a camera that ships with an included lens or purchase a lens separately.

Q. Can I use DSLR lenses with my mirrorless camera?

A. Rarely. A mirrorless camera lens requires a certain type of mount, so it will fit the camera body properly. DSLR lenses use different types of mounts than mirrorless lenses, unless you add an adapter to your mirrorless camera lens mount.

What are the best mirrorless cameras to buy?

Top mirrorless camera

Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Camera

Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Camera

Our take: Delivers excellent image and video quality for the price in all kinds of lighting conditions.

What we like: Has a fast performance level at 11 frames per second in burst mode. This camera’s design is easy to use.

What we dislike: The camera’s firmware may not always recognize the attached lens.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon

Top mirrorless camera for the money

Panasonic LUMIX G7 4K Mirrorless Camera

Panasonic LUMIX G7 4K Mirrorless Camera

Our take: Great price point for a camera that also ships with a kit lens, so you can start using it immediately.

What we like: Delivers better low-light photo quality than you’d expect in this price range. Offers 4K video recording resolution.

What we dislike: Plastic construction of camera body has a flimsy feel.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon

Worth checking out

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II Mirrorless Camera

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II Mirrorless Camera

Our take: Delivers features that will appeal to both beginning and intermediate photographers.

What we like: Offers a reasonable price, especially considering it includes a kit lens. Ships with an electronic viewfinder.

What we dislike: Low-light focusing performance is below average.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon

 

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Kyle Schurman writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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