Buyer’s Guide: Best Mirrorless Cameras on a Mid-range Budget ($1,200 – $1,700)
Are you shopping for a new camera? It’s a very exciting process and one that rewards those who “shop around.” In this post, we compare features and reviews of affordable mirrorless cameras. We distill the essence to save you time.
We look at a range of cameras appropriate for the prosumer market, which is pros, consumers and everyone in between, hence “prosumer.” We set about this task and asked “how much camera do you need?” For most we think an APS-C or micro four thirds camera will be absolutely perfect.
Mirrorless cameras are notable in that they represent a true step up from point and shoot / compact cameras and they have interchangeable lens abilities. You can use the versatile kit lenses or swap out for a super wide fisheye, pancake 50 mm or long reach telephoto zoom lens. All our picks here come up with kit lens for instant satisfaction but if you click through our links you’ll also see the Amazon sales of body-only variants. Please read on.
How much camera or lens do you need?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay
We have chosen to focus on the ideal beginner-intermediate package of a) camera body and b) kit lens. This assumes you do not have an existing stable of lenses. If you already own a bevy of Nikon glass (lenses) for example, then buying a Nikon camera makes sense.
At the low end we have cameras around $1,300 and the high end $1.700. That’s a significant budget bump but most of the cameras at the high end have a better feature set or are newer. That said, many of these cameras can capture high-quality images. You are often getting a superb camera for half the price you’d pay for the “pro” version.
You are reading a hand-crafted summary of some of the best budget to mid-range mirrorless cameras on the market, with a handy number of summaries and notes from DP Review, Photo Focus and other sites.
Trust us for gathering and synthesizing the most important details, to save you time. If you want to read more follow the links to the original sources.
If you appreciate our work please consider buying a camera through an affiliate link. Cheers and enjoy your photography. 😀
Chart / Camera, Rating, Price, Features
|CAMERA||RATING||PRICE||FEATURES, PROS / CONS|
|Sony A6400||DP Review (link)||Buy at Amazon|
$1349 CAD with
16-50 mm kit lens
|Great AF (auto focus)|
Con: No IBIS in-body image stabilization (found in A6500)
|DP Review (link)||Buy at Amazon|
$1499 with XC 15-45 mm kit lens
|Black and silver retro styling|
Great AF and video capability
High-speed video at 240fps
Con: not weather sealed
|Panasonic Lumix DC G9||DP Review (link)||Buy at Amazon|
$1700 with 24-120 mm kit lens
Dual SD slots
Fantastic video quality
Con: large size like DSLR
|Nikon Z50||DP Review (link)||Buy at Amazon|
Nikon Z 50 16-50 mm kit lens
|Affordable mirrorless from Nikon|
touchscreen with tilt
Z-mount lenses widely available
|Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV||DP Review (link)||Buy at Amazon $1150 with Zukor 14-42 mm kit lens||Great price for entry-level mirrorless shooter with 20 MP|
Bonus: it has a flash
|Canon EOS R10||DP Review (link)||Buy at Amazon $1329 with 18-45 mm kit lens||Solid camera with Canon quality and standard features like 24 MP and 4k video|
Resembles “Rebel” line
Please keep in mind the kit lens on APS-C sensor has a crop factor of 1.5X (Nikon and Sony) or 1.6X Canon). so 16-50 mm = 24-100 mm (full frame equivalent). Micro four thirds has 2X crop (Lumix, Olympus) so 12-60 mm = 24-120 mm (full frame equivalent).
What are Interchangeable Lens Mirrorless Cameras?
Interchangeable lens cameras employ a removable lens system, allowing the photographer to switch up their lens as they change subjects or conditions. They are sometimes called ILC cameras for short. Most cameras used by professionals and serious amateurs allow for swapping of lenses. Rather than swap out a variety of prime lenses some photographers opt to shoot with a zoom lens that can reach a variety of wide and long focal lengths (such as 28-70 mm).
Interchangeable lens cameras have removable lenses. This is a Nikon camera body without a lens.
Image courtesy Nikon
What are the best mirrorless cameras when you want pro quality but you’re on a budget?
That’s a really interesting question. Of course some will argue there’s no such thing as a pro / budget camera, that this is an oxymoron. However articles such as this from Pro Focus state:
“There’s a myth out there that states that you cannot be a professional photographer unless you own and use a full-frame camera. Quite honestly, we’re tired of hearing such drivel. Being a pro has nothing to do with the gear you use. It’s how you use it, and boy can you get some work done with APS-C cameras.”
The magazine points out that APS-C cameras used to be targeted at prosumers, that is to say consumers with pro aspirations. But that is no longer the case as plenty of pros may reach regularly for APS-C models, because “They offer weather sealing, most offer IBIS, they have incredible autofocus systems and they’re reliable.”
In our recommendations you may not find all of the above in each camera, for example the Sony A6400 is weather sealed but does not have IBIS. So you may opt for the edition called A6500 which does have in body stabilization, but at a significant price hike (see next section). All of the cameras in our list will have reasonably fast autofocus, be reliable and produce generously sized images (20 MP or more).
Tip: Get Previous Year’s Model for Steeper Discounts
The price difference between the newest model and one that is a few years old can be pretty significant. You can get virtually the same camera and save yourself hundreds of dollars in the process.
If we look at the Sony example, the three-year old A6400, which was released in 2019 costs $1349 (Body and kit lens) in Canada, while the newest model, the A6600 is $1,898 CAD for BODY ONLY at the moment. That’s a $500 difference and with the older model you get the kit lens which is amazing.
Still, newer models offer some significant improvements so do your research. Make sure you understand the main features and pros and cons of each camera and each iteration.
Mirrorless vs DSLR
Why go mirrorless beyond the fact that the newest cameras being marketed are in this category? Aside from the opportunity to catch a discount on new products in the marketplace, the reasons for considering mirrorless are two fold. It’s the best new tech out there and it’s generally smaller and lighter than the traditional DSLR. Mirrorless bodies and lenses tend to be lighter than their DSLR counterparts.
DSLRs are a dying breed. They are still awesome cameras but many manufacturers, including Nikon, are not making them anymore. They are being replaced by mirrorless cameras which often have better features. For example the Canon EOS R10, which we discuss here is similar to the Canon Rebel line which were vert popular cameras. If you feel comfortable with a DSLR you will also like mirrorless (probably even more!).
Having said that there are still some relatively small DSLR cameras out there that won’t break the bank, such as the Canon EOS REBEL SL3 which is as small as some of the cameras on our list and much cheaper. It is only marginally bigger than the Sony A6400 (however it’s performance may be lower than many or the cameras on our list).
5 Best Mirrorless Cameras on a Budget – Capable with some Caveats
For the purposes of this article we’ll stick to the medium side of the pricing tables. This means camera bodies between $1000 and $1500. Ideally the body and kit lens maxes out at $2,000. There is no need for most people to spend more than that on a camera.
The. majority of the cameras we look at tend to feature APS-C sized sensors but a few including Lumix and Olympus have even smaller micro four thirds sensors. The most immediate implications are potential for lesser quality night photography images (unless using a tripod) and smaller megapixel images (usually in the 20 MP to 25 MP region).
Features you should consider
- price (older models may be cheaper)
- image and sensor size (megapixels and APS-C vs micro four thirds)
- autofocus capability (kind of AF, performance)
- ergonomics and handling / buttons, dials, size
- special features (stabilization, dual card slots, weather sealing)
- video capability
If you read reviews and watch video reviews there are some standard talking points that go beyond price and megapixel size. One topic is AF or autofocus and whether it is fast, consistent and can detect things like faces (commonly required) and animals (less common). Also keep in mind the idea of handling and ergonomics. Some mirrorless cameras are relatively small and light but do you prefer a large grip? Are there plenty of dials and buttons to keep features handy? Also consider aspects people often overlook like the benefit of a built in flash, weather proofing, or dual card slots.
Some cameras feature things like IBIS otherwise known as in body image stabilization which can really help with still photos and video. We also believe the benefits of a high rating for video performance make your purchase more future proof because many stills shooters may find themselves shooting video as part of their work as the media landscape requires this for many creative projects. Cameras such as the Lumix G9 may have the best video features in this mid-range camera category.
If you want to consider cameras with stills and video quality find out if they have ports such as microphone input and headphone jack output in addition to the now standard must haves such as 4k at 60 fps. A bonus would be 4:2:2 colour quality at 10-bit internal (rather than HDMI recording) but that is a little unusual (except for the Lumix G9).
Brands and camera models we will look at include:
- Sony A6400
- Fujifilm XT-30 II
- Canon EOS R10
- Nikon Z50
- Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV
- Lumix G9
Keep in mind these cameras are not listed in order of preference. All are worthy of your time and consideration.
Buy from Amazon – $1349 CAD with 16-50 mm kit lens
Many people love this camera. I know that local photographer Kurt Wang recommends the A6 series cameras to people starting off with photography. It’s very popular and for good reason.
In summaries the folks at DP Review say: “The a6400 is easily one of the most capable cameras at its price point.” They continue: “The Sony a6400 officially replaces the older a6300: it uses the same sensor but comes with some subtle enhancements aside from the impressive autofocus capabilities. It arrives in an increasingly crowded field, though, with cameras like the X-T30 from Fujifilm and the EOS M50 from Canon being similarly priced and with similar sized sensors”
However for video the comment is that “the a6400 is pitched as a vlogging camera, but it has some video capture shortcomings.” Keep in mind if video is your second choice and stills is your primary activity this should not prevent you from buying this model.
Still not convinced and what a Sony full frame camera? Then get the Sony Alpha A7iv , the favourite of many pros and amateurs alike. However it will set you back at $3398 at Amazon (with kit lens).
Sony has a well deserved reputation for building excellent cameras with best in class lenses (but their glass is also expensive which may be a drawback for some). Sony has the A7 and A6 camera lines and both are well respected. A7 body retails for $2500 which puts it out of contention in this case. So that’s why we look at the excellent A6400.
Alternative 1: Sony Alpha A7 iii
Buy from Amazon – $2499 (body)
Alternative 2 – Sony Alpha A7 iv
buy from Amazon – $3398 (with 28-70mm kit lens)
Fujifilm X-T30 II
Buy at Amazon -$1499 with XC 15-45 mm kit lens (silver or black)
Fujifilm is renowned for their colour science and stylish cameras with amazing feature sets. has a tasty offering here with the XT-30 II which improves upon the performance of the XT-30. This is a truly light and easy handling camera. Furthermore, these classy cameras have a black or silver look with retro styling so you get a beautiful camera as well as a performance beast.
One feature you might not realize is so handy is the built-in flash which is truly a pro feature here, missing from some other mirrorless cameras. Bonus: Video is solid with this camera as for example one can take full HD high-speed movies at 240fps.
DP Review wrote of the first edition: “The Fujifilm X-T30 provides many of the features found in the higher-end X-T3, including its 26.1MP X-Trans sensor and X-Processor 4 Quad Core-CPU. It offers a hybrid AF system with 425 points across the entire frame, and boasts faster face detection compared to its X-T20 predecessor.”
They continue: “The X-T30 is an altogether smaller and lighter camera than the X-T3 (383 g / 13.5 oz compared to 539 g / 19 oz) and offers a smaller, lower-resolution viewfinder. A 3″ 1.04M-dot touchscreen tilts on one axis, and a single card slot is offered. Burst shooting with continuous AF tops out at 20 fps (8 fps with mechanical shutter) and a lower native ISO of 160 is offered.”
They also said “face detection being a weak point. Video is a real highlight, in terms of both quality and controls, and offers features previously found on more expensive cameras.” Now face detection may not matter if your subject is still , so bear that in mind but search videos that discuss the camera’s AF system. Great video performance is a must these days and this camera has it.
If you absolutely had to have weather sealing you could consider upgrading to the X-T3 model, $1899 (body only) at Amazon.
Panasonic Lumix DC G9
Buy at Amazon – $1700 with 24-120 mm kit lens
This is a lovely camera. I can speak to that honestly because I own this camera. It’s top-rated for stills, with fast burst and face/animal detection along with superb best in class video features (including mic input and headphone jack). It’s not as tiny as other mirrorless cameras but I love the large grip and endless dials and buttons. It’s also weather sealed and has dual high speed sd card slots along with a fully articulating screen.
DP Review writes: “The Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 is a speed-oriented Micro Four Thirds camera. It features a 20.3MP CMOS sensor, in-body image stabilization capable of up to 6.5 stops of shake reduction and an updated version of the company’s Depth from Defocus AF system.” They praise the “fully articulating touchscreen display and very large and high resolution electronic viewfinder.”
The continue: “The Panasonic G9 is one of the most well-balanced Micro Four Thirds camera to date. Capable of super fast burst speeds, with reliable AF as well as good-looking 4K, this camera can easily handle double duty. It offers outstanding image stabilization, great image quality and tons of customization all packed in a reasonably lightweight, weather-sealed body.”
They have few criticisms but do write anyone serious about sports or action photography should seek out a camera with a different auto focus system such as phase detect AF. I did a quick experiment with my someone running toward the camera and found enough frames out of 20 shots had the face in sharp enough focus for my needs.
Buy at Amazon – $1249 with 16-50 mm kit lens
The Nikon z50 is a fine camera. Before buying my Lumix G9 I gave it plenty of consideration. Cheaper than the Z5 full frame and packing some goodies, it is a solid option for those on a budget who might have familiarity with the stalwart Nikon brand.
I personally think the compatibility with all the other Nikon Z-mount lenses is an absolute bonus, particularly if you already own Nikon large-diameter Z-mount system glass or want to buy from the huge second hand market. There’s also the FTZ adapter to allow the camera to work with other lenses from a such as F-mount with auto-focus enabled.
DP Review wrote: “The Nikon Z50 is a compact mirrorless camera with an APS-C sensor (known as DX-format in Nikon-speak) that uses the company’s Z-mount. It uses a 20.9MP BSI CMOS sensor (derived from the D500’s) with on-sensor phase detection, but not in-body image stabilization like the full-frame Z6 and Z7. The lightweight Z50 has a touchscreen that tilts downward and a 2.36M-dot OLED viewfinder. It supports face and eye detection, and the Z50 can shoot continuously at 11 fps with continuous AF. The camera can record 4K/30p video, albeit with a 1.5x crop. It has numerous special effects that can be used for both stills and video. The Z50’s connectivity includes Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.”
So there you go. Though the LCD doesn’t offer full swivel it has a 180° tilting monitor which makes selfie shooting or vlogging easy. The plethora of Z-mount lenses is a bonus and this Nikon product is very affordable and worthy of consideration at the low end of our budget.
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV
Buy from Amazon – $999 with kit lens (silver)
This entry-level camera is undeniably stylish. Aside from the epically long naming schemes the company uses, the micro four thirds cameras like the OM-D E-M10 Mark IV are solid mirrorless cameras that tick many boxes. h with black or silver options and it has retro styling and tons of dials to make life easier. It even has a pop up flash which is a cool feature.
DP Review writes: “The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is the entry-level model in the company’s DSLR-style lineup of Micro Four Thirds cameras (the PEN models, such as the E-PL10, are rangefinder-style). It’s a step up from the beginner-focused E-PL series, offering more controls, better build quality and a broader feature set. It sports a 20MP Four Thirds sensor, in-body image stabilization, flip-down touchscreen with a simple interface and 4K video capture.”
In their conclusion the DP Review staff says: “The Olympus E-M10 IV has a lot going for it: It’s affordable, very compact and lightweight, and pairs nicely with its similarly compact and light 14-42mm kit lens. And it offers pretty good image quality overall, as well as making a noticeable step forward from its predecessor in terms both of its detail-gathering capabilities and high ISO noise levels.
Some more experienced photographers will, however, find it a bit limiting both due to its lack of customizability, and the way some features like exposure bracketing are sequestered in the semi-guided AP (Advanced Photo) mode, where they’re can’t be combined with non-AP mode features like priority-mode exposure. But for its target customer, it provides both a good breadth of capabilities and plenty of room to grow, while offering enough hand-holding to make even relatively complex features approachable.”
We think beginner and intermediate photographers will make out fine with this camera, and along with the Fujifilm model we recommend it for those looking for style in addition to a solid mirrorless camera experience. Of course retro silver may not be for everyone so consider the black version too!
Canon EOS R10
Buy on Amazon – $1329 with kit lens
Canon has a number of cameras in budget mirrorless category but we thought this model EOS R10 hot the sweet spot with capability at a mid-range price point. This camera reminds me of the old Canon Rebel DSLR line. It has a lot of good reviews and it seems the AF aka auto focus system is great for faces and eye-tracking.
At the moment there is one drawback which is there are only two native “RF-mount lenses and they are both kit lenses but you can use adapters to make all Canon glass accessible. One nice feature is the built-in pop up flash and the “True HDR video as 10-bit ‘PQ’ footage” which could lend itself to good colour quality in the video capture. Though not high quality the R10 has a 3.0″ fully-articulated rear touchscreen. I love flipping out a fully articulated screen for when I stand up and reach high or get low and crouch and set the camera near the ground.
DP Review pointed out that this is an admirable replacement for cameras in the venerable Rebel line and said “The R10 certainly has a few spec points in its favor: it’s the only model in its class to offer 4K/60 capture (though there’s a significant crop and the footage is a touch soft), and the only one that can shoot at an impressive 15 fps using its mechanical shutter. The buffer isn’t huge, so it’s not going to be your first choice for sports, but for brief moments of action, it’ll be a stronger offering than you can currently get from Fujifilm, Nikon or Sony.”
Described by Canon as a vlogging camera, 24.2 MP and and 60 p / 4K video, we think we agree that this is perfect for beginners and general content creators.
Buy from Amazon and support our site
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Sony A6400 – Buy at Amazon $1349 CAD with 16-50 mm kit lens
Fujifilm XT-30 II – Buy at Amazon $1499 with XC 15-45 mm kit lens
Panasonic Lumix DC G9 – Buy at Amazon – $1700 with 24-120 mm kit lens
Nikon Z50 – Buy at Amazon $1249 with Nikon Z 50 16-50 mm kit lens
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV – Buy at Amazon $1150 with Zukor 14-42 mm kit lens
Canon EOS R10 – Buy at Amazon $1329 with 18-45 mm kit lens
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