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 and 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 40 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.
The Sony α6400 is the best mirrorless camera for under $1,000 that we've tested. This compact APS-C camera offers a very versatile overall performance, with a well-built, portable design that makes it easy to take with you on the go. It comes with a flip-out screen for vlogging and taking selfies and inputs for videography accessories like microphones.
Image quality is impressive, so your photos are sharp, detailed, and mostly free of visual noise, even at high ISO levels. Its photo autofocus system has an incredible performance, too, so you can track moving subjects like racing cars or running wildlife and keep them in focus for your shot. It can also record video in both 4k and FHD, offering great video quality in both formats, as well as an amazing video autofocus system for when you want to record fast-moving subjects.
Unfortunately, this camera can struggle to smooth out camera shake if you record in 4k, so it may not be ideal for recording video while running or walking. It also lacks an input for headphones, which can be disappointing for videographers who want to monitor their audio while they record. It offers a good performance for most uses and can please many different types of photographers.
If you're looking to spend less on a versatile mirrorless camera, take a look at the Sony α6100. It has a lower resolution electronic viewfinder than the Sony α6400 and feels less well-built, but it still offers similarly impressive image quality and excellent autofocus performance in photography and video. The camera itself is also quite comfortable to operate despite its compact size, with well-spaced controls, balanced weight distribution when using its kit lens, and a generously sized textured handgrip. Depending on your choice of settings and usage habits, it should also last long enough on a single charge to last you throughout a day of use. Unfortunately, like the a6400, it lacks in-body image stabilization and has a hard time reducing camera shake in 4k, making it hard to record stable handheld videos in that resolution.
Get the a6400 if you want a camera with superior build quality and a significantly sharper viewfinder, but take a look at the a6100 if you're looking to save some money but don't want to sacrifice image quality or autofocus performance.
The best mirrorless camera for 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 comfortable to use, and its menu system is very easy to navigate. You can even use the Guide Mode feature to walk you through the camera's features.
It comes with a fully articulated screen that can help you take pictures from many angles. Image quality is very good, even in dimly-lit environments, and it offers an effective and consistent photo autofocus system that can track fast-moving subjects. It's even Bluetooth and Wi-Fi compatible, so you can share your photos to your phone to post them on social media.
Unfortunately, though this camera can record in both 4k and FHD, video quality in both formats is middling, especially in low-light settings. It records in 4k with a crop, too, and its video autofocus system offers a poor performance in this format. That said, its autofocus system performs a bit better in FHD, which is nice.
The best mirrorless camera under $1,000 with a portable design that we've tested is the Canon EOS M200. This mirrorless crop-sensor camera has a compact design that makes it easy to slip into a pocket or a bag. It also has a flip-out touchscreen that's quite sharp and bright enough to be easily seen even under direct sunlight.
Image quality is very good out-of-the-box, with a wide dynamic range and relatively low levels of noise even when shooting at moderate ISO levels. Its autofocus system does a great job of maintaining focus on subjects in photography and FHD video. The camera's menu system is also highly intuitive and features a built-in guide mode to explain core features to novice users.
Unfortunately, it lacks a defined handgrip, making it a little hard to maintain a secure grip on the camera body. It can record in 4k, but its capabilities in this regard are quite limited, with a frame rate limited to only 24 fps, middling video stabilization performance, and poor autofocus performance. Still, its compact size, intuitive menu system, and very good image quality help make it one of the best mirrorless cameras for beginners that we've tested.
Jun 01, 2021: Verified that all main picks are still in stock and represent the best choice for their given category.
May 11, 2021: No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.
Apr 20, 2021: No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.
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.