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 65 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 best mirrorless cameras for beginners, and the best cameras.
Of the interchangeable lens cameras we've tested, the best mirrorless camera under $1,000 is the Sony α6400. This APS-C model has a relatively compact and lightweight body that makes it easy to slip into a bag or take on the go. It feels well-built and comfortable to use, and it has a screen that can tilt and flip out to help you shoot at different angles or flip up to face you when taking selfies or vlogging.
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 a portable design, making it one of the best mirrorless cameras for travel.
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 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 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 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.
If you're looking for an interchangeable lens vlogging camera, the best mirrorless camera under $1,000 that we've tested is the Panasonic LUMIX G100. This Micro Four Thirds model is aimed at vloggers and has a very small, portable design that makes it easy to vlog on the go. It also comes with a fully articulated screen that you can flip around to face you, and the screen is more than bright enough to overcome glare in sunny conditions.
When you flip the screen around, the camera also enters into 'Self Shot' mode, which automatically enables face, eye, and audio tracking and sets a 3s timer for recording. It also lets you access vlogging-oriented settings like filters and background options, a 'Soft Skin' effect, and more. While its low-light capability and video quality are limited by its smaller sensor, the camera delivers incredible video quality when shooting in brighter lighting conditions.
That said, its autofocus system can struggle to track moving faces, though it's notably better at tracking moving objects. It also has disappointing battery performance since its tested battery life in video is just okay, and you can't use it while it's charging. That said, battery performance can vary with settings and usage habits. All in all, this is a great option for vloggers that offers a lot of value for its price.
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.
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.
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.