A buying guide to mirrorless cameras
I’ve been asked about mirrorless cameras ever since they came out years ago and I debuted them on my blog while working with Sony. I’m excited to see the trend move forward because I’m a huge fan of mirrorless for many reasons. Whether you are an entry-level consumer and know zilch about cameras, or you’re a seasoned photographer looking to buy your first mirrorless camera, this post will help you determine which type of mirrorless camera is right for you.
Reasons to buy a mirrorless camera
- Traveling – lightweight body and vanity of lenses, without compromising image quality
- Every day – DSLR quality images on the go, will fit in your purse
Entry-level consumer: If you are a mom asking what kind of camera to get, I would suggest a mirrorless camera body over a DSLR. Truthfully, there is no need for you to own a bulky DSLR unless you plan on starting your career in photography right now. But even if that thought may cross your mind, by the time you get to know your camera you can invest in a relevant DSLR (see my equipment here).
Are you a mom? For further reading, check out my friend Angela’s blog post which talks about different cameras she likes as a mom blogger and why she chooses the cameras she does for certain occasions.
Seasoned photographer: A mirrorless camera is like little Skipper to Barbie – it’s her little sister, just compact. You’ll find you really do not need to take your professional gear with you to get professional quality images – for your blog, or personal trips.
There are two types of mirrorless cameras
- With interchangeable lenses
- With a permanent lens attached
Because there are two different mirrorless cameras, first ask yourself –
- Do you want to change lenses? Professionals, you may want this option for focal length options, similar to using a DSLR. For entry-level consumer, if you aren’t sure, this might be a good option for you to have later down the line until you get familiar with your camera.
- Do you want a single lens? Bloggers or those who are upgrading from a point and shoot may want a single focal lens mirrorless. I am fine with a wide angle as it’s what I primarily use on my blog and while traveling. Some mirrorless do have lens adapters (screw on a lighter lens over it to modify the focal length).
I have both types of mirrorless – one that changes lenses, and one that is a single lens. Both have their pluses and minuses. See this page to see a list of my equipment – professional, travel and studio.
As a Sony Club blogger, (1 of 11 nationally) years ago, I was able to learn the mirrorless cameras as they just came out. I owned the Sony NEX-5R, updated version as of 2017 is the a6300 (cheaper version here). Lenses are great quality, lightweight, interchangeable and very affordable, ranging from $150-$300 each. The video quality is also fantastic!
^^ Interchangeable lenses, lightweight and provides more creativity. Great for the seasoned photographer who wants a 35mm, and 50mm while traveling.
^^ Only one lens, wide angle – ideal for the blogger/photographer who thinks wide angle is the best and doesn’t want to deal with the fuss of switching lenses.
^^ Image from Thailand using the 50 f/1.8 lens by Sony.
Mirrorless camera features
- Lightweight/compact body
- DSLR quality
- Manual mode
- Ability to shoot RAW (for those pros)
- Shoots high def video
- Touch screen (most)
- Flip screen/selfie screen tilt option (some)
- Interchangeable lenses (some)
- Lens adapter (some for those with single focal lens) and also lens adapter to use your DSLR lens (however this defeats the purpose of lightweight if you ask me)
- Affordable ($700–$1200 range)
- Lenses are lightweight, smaller and cheaper than DSLR lenses
- Wi-fi enabled
- Viewfinder (some)
Recommended mirrorless cameras
Every camera company has their point and shoots, mirrorless and DSLR lines. Whether you decide on Olympus, Sony, Canon or Nikon, it probably doesn’t matter which brand (it’s like picking which refrigerator company to buy, each do the same but there are different features and the way it looks). Read CNET reviews, ask other photographers what they’ve tried, or go into the store and look at them.
There are three levels of mirrorless camera (I know it gets even more confusing) and it depends your skill level and needs. Read this article after the post if you really want to understand more.
However, if you need a few ideas just to get you started on your research, here are a few mirrorless cameras I’d suggest you check out:
Mirrorless body with interchangeable lens
- Fujifilm X-T10
- Sony a6300 / Sony a600
- YI M1 4K
- Sony a7 full-frame
- Sony Alpha a7II body only
- Olympus Mark II with 2 lenses
- Canon EOS M3
Mirrorless with one lens
^^ Another shot taken in Ireland with a mirrorless, 16mm f/2.8 lens.
One last thing, make sure you buy a few backup batteries (2 or 3) you can get the on Amazon from third parties and they work just as well and sometimes come with a car charger adapter!
Intro to Photography Class
If you want to learn how to take better photos, get in touch with me! I’ve taught live workshop courses to hundreds of photographers across the world – many have gone on to be incredibly successful full-time photographers. Cost: $125 per hour, minimum 2 hours. With assignment photo feedback and 1 month of support, add $100.
What are your thoughts about mirrorless cameras? If you have questions, please leave them below and I’ll try my best to answer them!