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The 6 Best Mirrorless Cameras For Beginners - Spring 2023 Reviews

Best Mirrorless Cameras For Beginners

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. What matters most is to use whatever's available to you, so you can start shooting and get a handle on the fundamentals of what makes a good photo.

Thankfully, we've done some of the work of narrowing down your options. We've bought and tested over 80 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.

  1. Best Mirrorless Camera For Beginners

    The Nikon Z 50 is the best entry-level mirrorless camera we've tested, with plenty of features that even more advanced users can take advantage of. It's a very well-built camera with a weather-sealed magnesium alloy body that gives you more peace of mind when shooting in the rain or snow. It has a large high-res viewfinder and feels super comfortable to shoot with. Photos look amazing straight out of the camera thanks to Nikon's excellent color science and a sensor that does well in low light and preserves a fairly wide range of detail in high-contrast scenes.

    That said, it doesn't have the most reliable autofocus. It isn't bad, but its tracking isn't the quickest or most accurate compared to the similarly-priced Sony α6400. The Sony is a great alternative, although its menu system is a lot less accessible to beginners, and its ergonomics leave a lot to be desired compared to the Nikon. Ultimately, the Nikon is a well-rounded camera that can easily grow with you as your skill level improves.

    See our review

  2. Best Mid-Range Mirrorless Camera For Beginners

    If you don't want to spend as much, consider the Sony α6100, the entry-level model in Sony's current lineup of APS-C cameras. It's very similar to the Sony α6400 mentioned above. However, unlike that model or the Nikon Z 50, it has a lower-resolution viewfinder and a more plasticky build with no weather-sealing. Despite these hardware differences, this is still a great option for those getting started with photography. It uses the same high-resolution sensor as more expensive models in Sony's APS-C lineup and has the same highly effective autofocus system that Sony cameras are known for.

    It's also a great option if you do a lot of traveling since it's portable and has a very good battery life compared to most other entry-level mirrorless cameras. That said, its menu system is fairly convoluted and hard to navigate, which is especially annoying given the limited number of command dials. If you don't mind some of its design quirks, this is a great camera to start photography with.

    See our review

  3. Best Budget Mirrorless Camera For Beginners

    The best budget model we've tested is the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV. Unlike the other picks on our list, this camera uses a Micro Four Thirds sensor, so there's a bit of a trade-off in low-light capability, but it's a great-value option for beginners on a tighter budget. The upside of that smaller sensor is that you also get a highly portable camera with small and relatively affordable lenses to match. Lens selection for the MFT system is also vast, making it easy to upgrade as you go.

    Did we mention this is also one of the only cameras at this price point to feature in-body image stabilization? That means not only smoother handheld footage while vlogging, for instance, but stable photos at slower shutter speeds, which is great when there's less light to work with. That said, its autofocus system isn't the most reliable. For a more effective AF system, you can try the Canon EOS M50 Mark II, which also uses a larger APS-C sensor. Just be aware that lens options are more limited for Canon's EF-M mount.

    See our review

  4. Best Beginner Mirrorless Camera For Video

    If you're looking 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 the Sony α6100 mentioned above but is geared more toward video shooters. For one, it has an updated internal microphone, complete with a detachable windscreen to reduce ambient noise, as well as 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 for vloggers, like 'Product Showcase', which automatically switches focus to any object held up to the lens. Overall, if you're looking for a lightweight video camera that won't break the bank, this one's hard to beat.

    See our review

  5. Best Portable Mirrorless Camera For Beginners

    If portability is your biggest concern, the Fujifilm X-T30 II is a fantastic little camera for the price. Though it's a bit taller than the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV, it's comparable in portability and has a larger APS-C sensor. Even if they aren't as accessible to novice users, dedicated exposure dials make it super easy to adjust settings on the fly once you get a handle on them, and the camera feels well-built, to boot.

    Image quality is excellent right out of the box, and it comes with film simulation profiles that let you play around with the look of your photos in-camera. Unfortunately, its autofocus isn't as consistent as the Nikon Z 50, and naturally, its compact size means you won't get those nice ergonomics. But if you're looking for a small and lightweight camera that's both fun to shoot with and delivers when it comes to image quality, this is one of the best options for the price.

    See our review

  6. Best Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera For Beginners

    While crop sensor cameras offer beginners the best balance of price and performance, a full-frame camera gives you roughly an additional stop of low-light capability and makes it easier to create bokeh. While these advantages may be lost on you until you've gotten a handle on the basics, the entry-level Canon EOS RP is a good option for beginners who are set on jumping right into full frame or know they'll need the extra low-light advantage. It's pricier than the Nikon Z 50, and you'll also be paying more for lenses, but it'll give you full-frame image quality at about as low a price as you can get, short of buying secondhand.

    The RP is relatively light and portable compared to other full-frame options, and its simple button layout is designed to be as accessible as possible to newcomers, although more advanced manual shooters might find the relative lack of control dials limiting. That said, it's very comfortable to use and has a large viewfinder and a fully articulated touchscreen. While it can take high-resolution photos with less noise in low light, it lags behind many of our APS-C picks in battery life, burst rate, and dynamic range. Only consider it if you need that added low-light performance or if you've already got some full-frame lenses.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Fujifilm X-S10: The Fujifilm X-S10 is an excellent APS-C camera and one of the few in its price range to feature in-body image stabilization. However, it's more expensive than the Nikon Z 50, has a smaller viewfinder, and has a less reliable autofocus system. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Apr 20, 2023: Added the Sony ZV-E10 as the 'Best Beginner Mirrorless Camera For Video', removed the Fujifilm X-T200 from Notable Mentions, and added the Fujifilm X-S10 to Notable Mentions.

  2. Feb 17, 2023: Replaced the Canon EOS M50 Mark II with the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV as the 'Best Budget Mirrorless Camera For Beginners' and added the Fujifilm X-T30 II as the 'Best Portable Mirrorless Camera For Beginners'. Also removed the Fujifilm X-E4 from Notable Mentions.

  3. Dec 19, 2022: Removed the Canon EOS M50 from Notable Mentions due to limited availability.

  4. Oct 28, 2022: Reviewed article for clarity and readability.

  5. Aug 22, 2022: Restructured article and adjusted picks to better align with user needs and expectations.

All Reviews

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.