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 50 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 Nikon Z 50. It's a well-built APS-C camera, and while it's not the smallest mirrorless camera out there, it's lightweight and feels very comfortable to use. Its menu system is very well laid out and includes a guide mode to walk novice users through core settings. It doesn't have a fully articulated screen, but its screen can tilt and flip up 180 degrees to face you for vlogs or selfies.
It delivers impressive overall image quality, with good dynamic range and noise handling capability, and photos that look very sharp at higher ISO levels. Its video quality is good overall in 4k, although it's noticeably worse in FHD and looks disappointing when recording in low light. The camera's autofocus system is decent at tracking moving subjects for photography, but it really excels when recording video, doing a great job of tracking objects and faces in 4k and FHD. It also shoots at up to 120 fps in FHD, which is great for generating slow-motion footage.
Unfortunately, it lacks in-body image stabilization, though its electronic stabilization combined with the optical stabilization of the Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR lens do an excellent job of smoothing out camera shake. Its battery life is also mediocre, although this can vary with settings and usage habits, and you can't use it while charging. Still, this entry-level sibling to the more advanced full-frame Nikon Z 6 is a solid choice for beginners looking to get their hands on a mirrorless camera.
If you'd prefer a beginner mirrorless camera with even better image quality, check out the Fujifilm X-T200. Its autofocus system doesn't perform as reliably as that of the Nikon Z 50, and it lacks a guide mode for new users, but it has superior image quality, with incredible noise handling capability even at higher ISO levels. It's also more compact than the Nikon, making it more suited to travel, and has a fully articulated screen. Its overall video quality is good, and it performs better in low light than the Nikon, but there's very strong rolling shutter effect when panning sideways. It also does a poor job of smoothing out camera shake in both 4k and FHD.
Overall, the Nikon is a better camera for beginners thanks to its user-friendly menu system and superior autofocus and image stabilization, but the Fujifilm is a great alternative if image quality is a priority.
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.
Jul 30, 2021: Replaced the Canon EOS M50 with the Nikon Z 50 and moved the Canon to Notable Mentions.
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.