The world of mirrorless cameras has expanded in recent years to cater to a wide variety of buyers, from veteran users to novice shooters who are just moving on from their phone cameras or a point-and-shoot. While buying a camera that currently outstrips your skills and knowledge as a photographer is tempting and could prompt you to improve upon your capabilities, it can also be helpful to start with something more inexpensive to familiarize yourself with manufacturer-specific quirks and ergonomics as well as their selection of lenses before doling out a lot of money.
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 for beginners. You can also look at our recommendations for the best mirrorless cameras and the best mirrorless cameras under $1,000. If you're looking for a traditional DSLR camera instead, you can also take a look at our list of recommendations for the best DSLR cameras for beginners.
The best mirrorless camera for beginners that we've tested is the Canon EOS M50. It's an accessible entry point to mirrorless cameras, with a lightweight and portable design that feels comfortable to use, making it one of the best mirrorless cameras for travel as well. It also has a fully-articulated screen and a very intuitive menu system, including a guide mode to walk new users through all its various settings and features.
It uses an APS-C sensor with a wide ISO range, which gives you a ton of flexibility to shoot in all kinds of lighting conditions, from sunny outdoors to very low light settings. Image quality is good with minimal noise at higher ISO levels and great dynamic range. While it doesn't have in-body stabilization, it does an excellent job of reducing camera shake with its Canon EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM kit lens. Finally, it has good autofocus performance with particular success at tracking the faces of moving subjects.
Unfortunately, its video features are more limited. While it can shoot video in 4k, the quality is sub-par, and it can only shoot 4k video at 24 fps with a significant crop. The autofocus performance is also poor. That said, it's better overall in FHD, with a more reliable autofocus system, especially when it comes to face tracking, and it can shoot up to 60 fps without a crop. All things considered, its user-friendly interface and portable design make it one of the best mirrorless cameras for beginners that we've tested.
If you'd prefer something with even better image quality, check out the Fujifilm X-T200. It doesn't feel as robust or comfortable to use as the Canon EOS M50, but it delivers sharper photos with less visual noise, even when shooting in low light or using higher ISO levels. Unlike the Canon, it doesn't have a guide mode, but its menu system is still easy to navigate once you get used to it. It also has a larger brighter screen so you can more easily see what you've captured. Unfortunately, its battery isn't likely to last a full day of shooting, although we don't currently test battery life in photos and this depends on settings and usage habits. On the upside, you can charge it over USB-C, which is convenient. It also has superb image stabilization, so you can capture sharp images without a tripod.
Go with the Canon if you want the best mirrorless camera for beginners, with a more user-friendly menu and better build quality, but if you prioritize image quality, the Fujifilm is a great alternative.
The Canon EOS M200 is the best mirrorless camera for beginners with a portable design that we've tested. This APS-C camera has a compact, lightweight design that makes it easy to bring with you on the go. Also, its menu system is simple to navigate, and there's even a Guide Mode feature available to explain its functions to new users.
Thanks to its flip-out screen, you can use this camera to take pictures at lots of different angles, and it's also suitable for taking selfies. It offers very good image quality, and its impressive photo autofocus system helps to track fast-moving for a clear image. It also has good 4k video quality, although it records with a pretty significant 1.57x crop.
Unfortunately, while this camera offers more frame rate options when recording in FHD, its video quality isn't as impressive, especially in low-light settings. It also doesn't come with inputs for headphones or a microphone, which can be disappointing for aspiring videographers who want to monitor their audio levels while recording. That said, if you're looking for an easy-to-use camera with a portable design, it's a solid choice.
The best mirrorless camera for beginners for video that we've tested is the Sony α6400. This compact APS-C camera offers a very versatile overall performance, and it offers impressive video quality while recording in both 4k and FHD. It also has an amazing video autofocus system that can help track fast-moving subjects like athletes.
This well-built camera has a compact, portable design that's very comfortable to use, and its flip-out screen makes it suitable for vlogging. It even has an input for a stereo microphone, which can be handy if you want to get clear dialogue in your videos. It's also suitable for still photography, thanks to its great image quality and incredible photo autofocus performance.
Unfortunately, this camera doesn't offer a headphone jack to help you monitor audio levels while you record. Also, though its menu system is decently easy to use, it can be difficult to find more complex settings. That said, there's a Guide Mode to help explain its features, and you can also remap the menus and controls based on your preferences.
Jun 02, 2021: Verified accuracy of picks and updated text for clarity.
May 12, 2021: No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.
Apr 21, 2021: Ensured that all main picks are still in stick and represent the best choice for their given category.
Mar 31, 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 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 US).
If you'd 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.