Someone just entering the camera market may find the selection to be a bit dizzying. Barring the type of photography the person wants to shoot, the first question almost always is, “What’s your budget?” Those new to photography may find that DSLRs can be too bulky and expensive, and point-and-shoots are somewhat disappointing, despite their pocketable nature. Often, some fusion of the point-and-shoot and DSLR realms provides the best solution, and there are some great budget mirrorless options. What follows is a list of some of our favorites.
Canon EOS M
Canon’s fairly new to the mirrorless game, but that shouldn’t put them outside the circle worthy of consideration. The EOS M offers 18 MP on an APS-C sensor, the very same sensor that you’d find in the Canon T4i.
The M isn’t limited to the M-mount line of EF lenses. An adapter expands the M’s compatibility to the standard EF and EF-S lenses. Sans lens, the M weighs in at just 9.24 oz, and with a magnesium/aluminum body, you can rest assured that it’s light yet durable.
The M is also capable of recording 1080p video which is a boon for any videographers on a budget.
Pick it up at Amazon.
The Fujifilm X-A1 is the company’s latest entry-level offering in the mirrorless world. With 16.1 MP on an APS-C sensor, the X-A1 delivers exceptional image quality in a fairly stylish package. While it doesn’t have the X-Trans sensor that has earned Fujifilm substantial praise, the X-A1 does well with its APS-C sensor.
Some may find the lack of an EVF to be a bit troublesome, but the tilting LCD is crisp enough that you won’t worry about it.
The colors are on-point, and you’ll find that your work in post is surprisingly minimal. Autofocusing is quick, and you’ll have 49 AF points to choose from, should you be particular about that kind of thing.
With the X-A1, you’ll be entering a family of beautiful glass that will deliver wonderful images. This is a great option for street photographers and students who want to keep cost down and image quality high.
The Olympus EPM2 succeeds the EPM1, and provides superior image quality while maintaining a low profile. With 16 MP on a Micro Four Thirds sensor, the EPM2 is a great entry point to the Olympus ecosystem.
Granted, the EPM2 is not the OMD, nor should it be. The entry level crowd would find the OMD line to be far too daunting. The EPM2 is geared towards those who aren’t tech-savvy and who want beautiful photos.
The EPM2 boasts robust autofocusing that has become a signature feature of Olympus’s cameras. It also has versatile RAW files, and while the professionals may pass over this, those who want to learn digital photography will have a great amount of information to work with in post.
The Pentax Q7 is one of the smallest interchangeable lens cameras we’ve ever reviewed. With a 120 color options, the Q7 has a deceptively toy-like feel, but it is a serious contender in the mirrorless world.
It is true that the lens available for it aren’t as numerous as other companies’ mirrorless systems, but the Q7 is only Pentax’s third entry in the Q series. It is growing slowly but steadily.
With 12.4 MP on a 1/1.7-inch sensor, the Q7 delivers surprisingly versatile RAW files and its JPEGs hardly need any editing when the light is right.
If you’ve got big mitts, you might need to take some time to get used to this very small form factor. It’s so small that you can drop the body in pocket and the lens in another.
This is a great fit for those who want something light, easy, and incredibly customizable.
The Nikon S1 is the most affordable entry point to the Nikon 1 series of cameras, and it comes with few buttons. Mostly everything is accessed via the menu, and if you don’t mind the lack of a mode dial, then this one is worth looking at.
While 10.1 MP is below what the competition offers, the S1 will give you great images. It has a CMOS CX sensor, and while you can shoot RAW, you can’t shoot RAW and JPEG at the same time. Perhaps this an effort to save space on your SD card, but we think this camera’s audience won’t be too concerned with RAW images.
It’s an entry-level camera for an entry-level crowd that wants power in a portable package, and there are good number of options in the 1 series of lenses.
Sony NEX 3N
We admit that this is a photo of the 3N’s predecessor, the 3N, but the form factor hasn’t changed. The 3NL delivers 16.1 MP on an APS-C sensor and has an LCD that can tilt down 180 degrees, which is a major help for the selfie-inclined.
With the 3N, you’ll be afforded a vast amount of lenses including two new options that Zeiss released earlier this year.
The NEX line consistently delivers stellar image quality, and it has solidified Sony’s dominance in the mirrorless market.
You’d do well to stay away from the higher ISOs, and if you can, spring for a better lens than the kit standard. Other than that, the 3NL’s predecessor earned our highest accolade, an Editor’s Choice Award, and we’re sure that the 3NL is no different.
It’s a great camera for hobbyists and those just entering the mirrorless world.
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