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 70 cameras, and below you'll find our recommendations for the best interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras under $1,000. For other options, take a look at our recommendations for the best DSLR cameras for beginners, the best compact cameras, and the best cameras.
The best mirrorless camera under $1,000 that we've tested is the Sony α6400. This APS-C model has a relatively compact and lightweight body that makes it easy to slip into a bag and take on the go. It feels well-built and comfortable to use, and it has a screen that can tilt and flip up to help you shoot at different angles or take selfies. There are a couple of different kit lens options you can buy depending on your budget.
Its 24.2-megapixel sensor delivers impressive image quality with excellent dynamic range. It also has good RAW noise handling capability, so you can raise the ISO sensitivity of the sensor when shooting in low light without sacrificing too much quality. Like many Sony models, it also has an amazing autofocus system that can quickly and reliably keep track of moving subjects so that they stay in focus, whether you're taking photos or shooting 4k or FHD video.
That said, the camera lacks in-body image stabilization, so you have to rely on optical stabilization, and it does a poor job smoothing out camera shake in 4k when using its kit lens. Its 4k frame rate options are also limited, though it offers several frame rates in FHD. Overall, this is a well-rounded mirrorless camera with good video features and a relatively compact design, making it one of the best cameras you can buy in this price range.
If you want to save some money on a similar camera, check out the Sony α6100. It's very similar to the Sony α6400 in design, with a rangefinder-style body, textured handgrip, and tilting screen, although it isn't weather-sealed and has a lower-resolution viewfinder. That said, it's slightly cheaper and offers near-identical performance in most areas. It delivers impressive image quality with good noise handling capability at higher ISO levels for low light. It also has an amazing autofocus system that quickly and effectively tracks moving subjects in photos and videos. If you like to shoot video, it offers the same frame rate options and similar video quality. However, it similarly lacks in-body image stabilization and does a poor job reducing camera shake in 4k.
Get the α6400 if you want a weather-sealed body and a higher-resolution EVF, but if you want to save a bit of money and don't mind losing out on those two features, go with the α6100.
The best mirrorless camera under $1,000 that we've tested for beginners is the Nikon Z 50. This entry-level crop-sensor model feels well-built and is very comfortable to use, with a substantial grip suitable for most hand sizes and physical controls that are easy to adjust. It has an intuitive menu system, including a guide mode to walk new users through its core settings and features. It lacks a fully-articulated screen, but its touchscreen can tilt outward or flip up to face you for selfies or vlogging.
Overall, its image quality is impressive. Photos have a good dynamic range and look incredibly sharp even at higher ISO levels. Its noise handling capability is also great, making it well-suited to taking photos in more dimly-lit conditions at moderate and high ISO levels. Its video features are good, although shooting in 4k incurs a slight crop, and its low light video quality is disappointing. Still, it delivers great 4k video quality in brighter conditions, and its autofocus system quickly and reliably tracks moving subjects in either resolution.
Unfortunately, the autofocus is a bit more inconsistent when taking photos. It also lacks in-body image stabilization, although its electronic stabilization feature combined with the optical stabilization of the Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR kit lens does an excellent job of smoothing out camera shake. All in all, this is among the best digital cameras that we've tested for beginners.
The best mirrorless camera under $1,000 that we've tested for vlogging is the Panasonic LUMIX G100. It's a lightweight, portable camera with a Micro Four Thirds sensor, and it's designed with vloggers in mind. To that end, it has a fully articulated touchscreen, textured grip, and dedicated video recording button. It has a built-in microphone with audio tracking that you can set to isolate audio coming from any direction, which is great if you don't have an external microphone.
It delivers superb video quality when shooting in brighter lighting conditions, and it has a 'Self Shot' mode that's automatically enabled when you flip the screen around to face you. This mode turns on audio and face tracking, sets a three-second recording start timer, and gives you access to various filters and vlog-oriented settings in the Fn tab of the camera menu. Its autofocus system supports both face and eye detection, and it does a great job of tracking moving objects in videos, although it's less reliable at tracking moving faces.
Unfortunately, the camera has a disappointing battery life, though battery performance can vary with different settings and usage habits. It lasts a fairly long time when recording video continuously, but it has a short advertised battery life for photos, and you can't use it while it charges via USB. Still, this camera's portability and useful vlogging features make it a good choice for vlogging on a budget.
For those on a tighter budget, we recommend the Canon EOS M50 Mark II. It's one of the best value mirrorless cameras you can buy, so it's a popular choice among vloggers and those buying their first camera. It's comfortable to shoot with and has a highly intuitive menu system as well as a bright, fully articulated touchscreen to help you shoot from different angles or take selfies.
The camera uses a 24.1-megapixel APS-C sensor, delivering good image quality right out of the box. It also has decent noise handling capability, so you can shoot in slightly more dim conditions without introducing too much noise. It has a good autofocus system that does a satisfactory job tracking moving subjects. It can shoot at a fairly quick 9 fps for burst shooting, although it does have a small photo buffer. However, it's quick to empty once you fill it up.
Unfortunately, for those interested in shooting video as well as taking stills, its 4k video features are very limited. It can only record 4k video at 24 fps with a significant 1.5x crop, and its autofocus system does a bad job of keeping moving subjects in focus in this resolution. That said, it can shoot 1080p video at higher frame rates without cropping, and its autofocus is much more reliable. Overall, if you're looking for an entry-level stills or 1080p video camera, this one offers a ton of value for its price.
If you need something more compact, consider the Canon EOS M200. The biggest difference between this camera and the Canon EOS M50 Mark II is their form factor. While it doesn't have a handgrip or a viewfinder, its compact body makes it incredibly portable, so it's a good choice for those who want a smaller camera while still having the option to switch out and use different lenses. It's also a bit cheaper if you want to save even more money. However, it doesn't have a fully articulated screen, though you can still flip its screen up to face you if you need. Aside from the ergonomic differences, the two cameras perform very similarly with image and video quality since they use the same sensor, although it introduces an even more severe crop on 4k video and can't shoot 1080p / 24 fps video.
Get the M50 Mark II if you want a camera with a handgrip and viewfinder, but if portability is your biggest priority, the M200 is a good alternative.
Jan 21, 2022: Added the Canon EOS M50 Mark II as 'Best Budget Mirrorless Camera' with the Canon EOS M200 as 'More Portable Alternative'. Added the Fujifilm X-T30 and the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV to Notable Mentions.
Nov 22, 2021: Checked picks for accuracy and availability; no change to recommendations.
Sep 27, 2021: Added the Panasonic LUMIX G100 as 'Best Mirrorless Vlogging Camera Under $1,000' and added the Nikon Z fc and Fujifilm X-E4 to Notable Mentions.
Jul 30, 2021: Replaced the Canon EOS M50 with the Nikon Z 50. Added the Canon EOS M50 and the Fujifilm X-T30 to Notable Mentions.
Jun 01, 2021: Verified that all main picks are still in stock and represent the best choice for their given category.
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.