When we look around us and observe which camera photographers are shooting with, we can pretty much find that all the camera brands and models are represented. This tells us that every photographer had certain specific criteria in mind as he or she made a purchase decision. Quick question: How do you choose? Do you choose based on features on paper? Do you choose based strictly on your budget? Or, as one person I know, he is always asking me to “tell me which one is the best, money is not a factor?” We want to show you a better criteria.
As long-time readers of Photoxels know, we have always insisted that you should stop trying to find and buy the best camera. Instead, you need to choose the one that is best for you — at your current abilities, budget and interest.
Ability: There is no point in choosing a camera that is way beyond your ability to use it properly; in fact, it may frustrate you and discourage you from further pursuing your hobby. And, no, you are not going to necessarily get better pictures with a more expensive camera — if you do not know how to use it.
Budget: True, we all have a budget to live within. However, we could also wait a bit and save up longer to get the camera that is just right for us.
Interests: And, based on your interest, one camera and lens combination may serve you better than another combination. For example, you would want to buy a certain prime lens with fast aperture for portrait work or a fast telephoto zoom for sports photography. An extra wide-angle lens and a sturdy tripod may serve you better for landscape photography.
So, take all these factors into consideration as you read up on the mirrorless cameras below. To help you out, we have divided them into four main groups: entry-level (for those who mainly “point-and-shoot” but want the option to be able to change lenses and explore further), serious / advanced (for those who want to take up photography seriously and need a more advanced camera), enthusiast / expert (for those who are expert at using any camera model as well as in post-processing) and Pro.
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A SYSTEM CAMERA
A mirrorless camera is often referred to as a Compact System Camera (CSC), emphasis on the word System. That’s because, like DSLRs (Digital Single Lens Reflex), a mirrorless camera accepts interchangeable lenses, external flashes and other accessories that give it flexibility and extend its usefulness.
Therefore, in selecting a mirrorless camera, you may want to give some thought to which system you want to standardize on. Professionals do that all the time since once they start spending thousands of dollars on camera bodies, lenses and accessories, they do not want to switch to a different camera system. Not only would it be financially prohibitive, but they would need to relearn how to shoot with a different camera, and the lenses and accessories for one camera brand are more often than not incompatible with other camera brands. Some camera systems are also more complete than others. For example, if astrophotography is your turf, find a camera system with accessories that make it easy for you to shoot through a telescope with your camera.
Don’t fret if you are new to all of this. If you are selecting an entry-level mirrorless camera and do not intend to invest heavily in lenses and accessories, you may afford to be brand-insensitive. With time, experience and use of the different camera brands, you slowly get a better feel for which system you definitely prefer. So, don’t go asking which is the best camera system. They each have their strengths as well as quirks. So, if you want to make a choice that will make you happy, be patient, try them and see for yourself. Once you decide to invest in lenses (which can be much more expensive than the camera body), you then need to carefully decide to standardize on one camera system.
A mirrorless camera does not have a mirror and so it also does not need a prism/optical viewfinder. It can therefore locate its high resolution EVF (electronic viewfinder) anywhere it wants, resulting in some of the beautiful retro styling with a clean flat top.
However, since most people still tend to equate a high-level camera with the tell-tale DSLR viewfinder hump, mirrorless camera manufacturers have therefore continued to locate the EVF on some of their flagship mirrorless cameras at the center top with a hump that mimics the DSLR viewfinder hump. Sometimes, lack of space or ergonomic design will dictate that the EVF should be at that central top location. But we tell you all of that to tell you this: don’t judge a mirrorless camera simply by the presence or absence of the viewfinder hump.
HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE
Here are some of the best mirrorless cameras you can buy, listed in alphabetical order. This is by no means an exhaustive list and we will add and remove from the list as new models appear and old models are retired. As you read about the various models, remember not to get too hung up with finding “the best camera”; instead, find “the camera that is best for you.”
Remember also that today’s mirrorless cameras have many useful and practical features that cameras of old did not have, such as in-body image stabilization, face detection, eye detection, etc. etc. These are great to have but if the camera you have set your heart on does not have one or more of these features, it does not mean it’s not a good choice. It only means that you need to develop more as a photographer, learning to anticipate action, pre-focus, etc. Just because your camera has some technological feature does not a good photographer make you.
When you’ve identified a camera that you would like to learn more about, click on the manufacturer links to read more about the specifications. (For some of the cameras, we’ve added some of our own thoughts.) Note that there might be typos; firmware upgrades will add or change certain features; and not all countries include the same accessories in the box. So, do some careful research before you make a final purchase decision.
If you are purchasing your first mirrorless camera, we recommend that you also purchase it together with the kit lens (one is usually offered). The kit lens is usually of good enough quality and costs much cheaper when bought as a kit together with the camera than if you bought it separately.
Lastly, if you do decide to purchase from one of our sponsors by clicking on one of the links below each camera, remember that it won’t not cost you one cent more — and we get a referral fee if you make a purchase to help support this site. Since there are always deals going on, clicking on the links will show you the latest price and will allow you to take advantage of any existing deals. We thank you beforehand for your support!
|BRAND||PRO||ENTHUSIAST (EXPERT)||SERIOUS (ADVANCED)||ENTRY-LEVEL|
|Canon||EOS R||EOS M6||EOS M50
Do not get too hung up if you find your camera listed under the “wrong” column in the table above. In fact, as new models come out with even better features, cameras may shift from one column to a lower one. But it does not mean that your camera is now less able to take great pictures. For example, cameras listed under the expert column are also extensively used by professional photographers, so those two columns could be viewed as one. We, however, have a feeling that many cameras specifically targeted at pros will be coming out in the very near future.
I. ENTRY-LEVEL MIRRORLESS
II. SERIOUS (ADVANCED) MIRRORLESS
III. ENTHUSIAST (EXPERT) MIRRORLESS
IV. PRO MIRRORLESS