Mirrorless cameras can be a great choice for many photographers. Unlike traditional DSLRs, they tend to be smaller and lighter, with fast and precise autofocus systems and high continuous shooting speeds. Even if you're shopping for a mirrorless camera on a budget, you don't have to sacrifice quality. With so many models on the market, you can find something that best suits your needs without breaking the bank.
However, it's important to recognize that overall performance can vary depending on the lens you use. The lens affects the amount of light that enters the camera, so it also plays a role in an image's depth of field as well as the autofocus and stabilization performance. Also, lenses can add a bit of weight to your camera, which can impact their portability. We currently test our cameras with its standard kit lens, so for the sake of consistency, this article will focus on cameras that retail for under $1,000 with their kit lens included.
We've tested over 20 cameras, and below you'll find our recommendations for the best mirrorless cameras under $1,000. You can also take a look at our recommendations for the best mirrorless cameras overall.
The Sony α6400 is the best mirrorless camera under $1,000 that we've tested. This compact APS-C camera offers a very versatile overall performance, and thanks to its impressive image quality, it takes detailed, sharp photos. It's well-built, portable, and comfortable to use, and its flip-out screen can be flipped up to be used as a selfie screen, which is nice.
Thanks to its incredible photo autofocus system, this camera can track moving subjects and keep them in focus, which is useful for photographers who want to capture clear images of fast-moving athletes or running wildlife. It's also a solid choice for shooting video, as video quality in both 4k and FHD is impressive, even in low-light settings. It also comes with a range of videography inputs, so you can plug in a microphone to improve audio quality.
Unfortunately, this camera doesn't come with an input for headphones, which can be disappointing for videographers who want to monitor audio quality while they record. Also, its video stabilization performance in 4k is poor, so it can't really smooth out camera shake if you record while walking or running. That said, its video stabilization performance in FHD is much better, which is handy for vloggers.
If you're looking for a cheaper mirrorless camera, consider the Sony α6100 instead. It isn't as well-built as the Sony α6400, and it has a lower-resolution viewfinder and a less impressive video quality in FHD, but it still offers well-rounded overall performance at a slightly more affordable price. This camera is portable, well-built, and comfortable to use, and it also comes with a flip-out screen. Photographers can appreciate its impressive image quality, and its excellent photo autofocus performance means that it can track moving subjects and keep them in focus. Its video quality in 4k is good, but unfortunately, it doesn't perform as well while recording in FHD.
If you want a better-built camera that's better for recording in FHD, check out the α6400. If you're looking to save some money, the α6100 is still a pretty versatile pick.
The best mirrorless camera under $1,000 for beginners that we've tested is the Canon EOS M50. This compact APS-C model is one of the more affordable cameras we've tested, so aspiring photographers don't have to invest a lot of money up-front to get a pretty versatile camera. It's pretty easy to use thanks to its touchscreen interface, which can be used to access photo and video options, change the focus points of your shot, or even navigate its menu. There's also a guide mode to walk you through its features.
It takes pictures with good image quality, and its autofocus system does a good job tracking moving subjects and keeping them in focus, so you can take clear pictures at sporting events or while tracking animals. Its in-camera HDR mode helps capture more detail in high-contrast settings, like a city skyline shot at night. It even has a fully-articulated screen so you can see yourself while you record, which is handy for vloggers.
Unfortunately, while it can record video in both 4k and FHD, it offers a middling video quality in both formats. Its video autofocus really struggles to track moving subjects in 4k, and its video stabilization feature incurs a pretty high crop, resulting in an overall reduction in field of view. However, if you're looking for a simple, easy-to-use camera for photography, it's a solid choice.
The best mirrorless camera under $1,000 with a portable design that we've tested is the Canon EOS M200. This APS-C model is very lightweight and portable, even with its kit lens attached, making it easy to bring with you on-the-go. It even comes with a flip-out screen that can be pivoted upward to face you while you record, which is handy if you like vlogging.
It offers great image quality, so your photos are sharp and mostly free of visual noise. Its impressive photo autofocus system can help you track moving subjects and keep them in focus, which is useful if you're taking pictures of wildlife. It also offers great 4k video quality, but it can struggle to smooth out camera shake if you record while walking or running.
Unfortunately, while the lack of a dedicated hand grip helps make it more compact, it also means that you need to use two hands to operate it, which can be inconvenient for some users. It also doesn't have a viewfinder, so you have to compose your shot using the screen itself. However, if you want a small, lightweight camera that can easily fit in a bag, it's a solid choice.
Mar 30, 2021: No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best mirrorless cameras under $1,000 for most people to buy, according to their needs. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability (no cameras that are difficult to find or almost out of stock in the US).
If you would like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our reviews for interchangeable-lens mirrorless cameras under $1,000. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There is no single perfect camera. Personal taste, preference, and shooting habits will matter more in your selection.