Mirrorless cameras are a great option for beginner photographers thanks to their electronic viewfinders, which let you see changes to your image in real time through the viewfinder. With plenty of options at a range of different price brackets and experience levels, making the jump from your smartphone to a dedicated camera has never been easier. Though it might be tempting to dive right into a more advanced model, the good news for those just starting is that any modern mirrorless camera will be more than capable of doing what you need. Get whichever camera is within your budget or easily available, whether new or used, so you can start shooting and get a handle on the fundamentals of what makes a good photo.
We've bought and tested over 95 cameras in our lab, and below, you'll find our recommendations for the best entry-level mirrorless cameras. Most of our picks here are APS-C models, but if you need full-frame image quality and low-light capability, we also have recommendations for the best full-frame mirrorless cameras. If you think you'd prefer an optical viewfinder and the longer battery life that you get with a DSLR, check out our list of the best DSLR cameras for beginners instead. Finally, if you're on a tight budget, we have the best cheap and budget cameras.
While it's pricier for a beginner camera, the Fujifilm X-S10 is one of the best mirrorless cameras for beginners, with plenty to offer for novice and more advanced users. It's a blast to shoot with, with film simulation profiles that make it easy to play around with the look of your photos without having to do any post-processing, and the camera has excellent ergonomics. Plus, it's one of the few cameras at this price point to offer in-body image stabilization, which comes in clutch when shooting at slower shutter speeds or recording handheld videos.
The Nikon Z 50 is another great choice if you want to save money since it comes bundled with a pretty decent kit lens for the same price as the X-S10 camera body alone. It's a little better built, with weather-sealing to keep out moisture and dust. However, it doesn't have in-body image stabilization. Ultimately, you can't go wrong with either of these cameras, but the Fujifilm offers a ton of bang for your buck.
If the Fujifilm X-S10 is out of your price range, a Sony APS-C Alpha camera like the Sony α6400 represents a good middle ground for price and performance. It's showing its age now, with an outdated user interface and ergonomics that leave something to be desired. However, its sensor can capture excellent-quality images, and the camera's autofocus system remains one of the best in its class, even today.
For those who want to save even more money, the Sony α6100 uses the same sensor but has a lower-resolution EVF and a slightly cheaper build. On the flip side, if you like the autofocus and lenses that Sony has, the pricier Sony α6600 also takes that same sensor but puts it in a sturdier body with a bigger battery and in-body image stabilization. Overall, the differences between these three cameras are minor, so each one can be a good choice, depending on your budget.
Those on a tighter budget will love the Canon EOS R50. It's one of the few truly budget cameras on the market right now. It features a high-res APS-C sensor that captures great image quality, 4k video recording at up to 30 fps, and a portable body that makes it easy to take wherever you go. It's also incredibly accessible for those who've only ever used smartphone cameras since it has a robust auto mode that takes much of the guesswork out of photography.
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is another great budget camera, and it's part of the Micro Four Thirds system, so compatible lenses will be more compact. It's also one of the very few cameras at this price point to have in-body image stabilization. However, its autofocus system isn't nearly as reliable as the AF on the Canon.
If you want to get started in video, look no further than the Sony ZV-E10. This budget vlogging camera is the perfect video camera for beginners. It's similar to Sony Alpha cameras like the Sony α6100 mentioned above but is geared more toward vloggers and video shooters. To that end, it has an updated internal microphone, a detachable windscreen to reduce ambient noise, and a fully articulated screen that makes it easy to monitor yourself while recording.
Unfortunately, you don't get a viewfinder here, but the camera is super portable and feels relatively well-built. Battery life is also impressive for a mirrorless camera. Plus, its autofocus system is reliable and accurate, and it even has specialized focus modes, like 'Product Showcase', which is great for product and beauty vloggers, as it automatically switches focus to any object held up in the frame. Overall, if you're looking for a beginner video camera that won't break the bank, this one's hard to beat.
"Cheap" isn't really a word that comes to mind when we think of cameras, but there are options out there that won't cost you a fortune. If you don't want to risk buying a camera from the used market, the Canon EOS R100 is the best mirrorless camera for beginners who want to keep costs down as much as possible.
It's as basic as they come, with no tilt screen, minimal controls, and limited video features. What it does have, though, is a high-resolution APS-C sensor that can capture great images. It's also chock-full of useful auto modes to help beginners get started. More importantly, if you've never used a camera before and this is the only one within your budget, and it gets you out there shooting, it will have given you something that transcends having the latest and greatest camera tech—an entryway into the art of photography.
Aug 16, 2023: Replaced the Nikon Z 50 with the Fujifilm X-S10 as the 'Best Mirrorless Camera For Beginners', replaced the Sony a6100 with the Sony a6400 as the 'Best Mid-Range' pick, and replaced the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV with the Canon EOS R50 as the 'Best Budget' pick. Also, moved the Fujifilm X-T30 II to Notable Mentions.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best mirrorless cameras for beginners 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 U.S.).
If you'd like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our tested mirrorless cameras that retail for under $1,000, arranged in descending order of price. 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.