buying guide to a mirrorless camera - faq

FAQ – Guide to buying a mirrorless camera

buying guide to a mirrorless camera - faq 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.

^^ Taken with a mirrorless, using the 50 f/1.8 lens. The compression is beautiful. See more images on this post. Proof that a mirrorless camera is just as good as a DSLR.

There are two types of mirrorless cameras

  1. With interchangeable lenses
  2. With a permanent lens attached

A mirrorless is NOT the same as a point and shoot camera. If you’re looking for an excellent point and shoot, I recommend the Canon G7 X Powershot. Photo example here.

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!

buying guide to a mirrorless camera - faq^^ Interchangeable lenses, lightweight and provides more creativity. Great for the seasoned photographer who wants a 35mm, and 50mm while traveling.

buying guide to a mirrorless camera - faq^^ 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)

buying guide to a mirrorless camera - faq

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

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.

Further reading:

What are your thoughts about mirrorless cameras? If you have questions, please leave them below and I’ll try my best to answer them!

Diana Elizabeth is an author, photographer, and obsessive antique shopper. You can typically find her in the garden wrist deep in dirt, at a local estate sale or planning her next epic party. She continues to blog weekly.

10 Comments

  • Trish

    Thank you for this information, Diana! I could really smack myself. A little over a year ago, I bought a new DSLR camera. The salesman talked me into the Sony mirrorless and I took it home, only to take it back. The pictures were incredible but I had never heard of one and thought I got swindled. lol! I ended up buying a Nikon D610 and have a love/hate R/L with it. For everyday pics and Blog pictures, which lens do you recommend. I have a 50mm lens but it is from my previous Nikon and is not full frame.
    Trish
    Habibi House

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Trish! I’m so glad you are here. I’m a bit confused, a DSLR is different than a mirrorless. I’ll assume you bought a Sony mirrorless. You didn’t like the Sony mirrorless even though it took great images? Can you tell me why you don’t love the Nikon D610? Fore every day pics I would choose the 35mm lens, it’s a wide angle and pretty universal to get enough outfit photos and also you can move closer. Since your camera isn’t full frame, your 50mm lens might be somewhat equivalent to an 85mm lens which is very close up and portrait :) Try the 35mm, it might be more like a true 50mm. Otherwise, perhaps save the money and go back to a lightweight mirrorless! I have a point and shoot, mirrorless and DSLR all for different needs, but all images are on my blog! Let me know if you have more questions! xx

  • Rebecca

    I’ve been a nikon shooter forever but am seriously looking at the Sony to save weight. Is this a good deal on Amazon? https://amzn.to/2DnFSFd

  • Gary

    Just bought the Canon G7 X Powershot and I am loving it! Such a great camera for anyone looking for something more compact.

  • Michele Wang

    Awesome, thank you so much for the tips!

  • Michele Wang

    This post couldn’t be more timely for me! With all the recent traveling and “once in a lifetime” moments I’ve been having, I decided it was time for me to upgrade from my iPhone to a “real” camera. My Creative Director at work told me to look into mirrorless cameras since that’s what he uses and thought it’d be a good fit for what I want to use it for, which is mostly for traveling and everyday kind of shots for Instagram and my blog. I was wondering if you had a recommendation between the Sony a6000 and the Sony a6300? Also, do you have a recommendation for a local camera shop in the Phoenix area or do you recommend just purchasing online or at a big box retailer? Thank you for this post!

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Michele! I’m so glad this post came in handy for you! I would say you may as well go for the a6300, it’s the newest one. See this explanation: http://www.trustedreviews.com/opinions/sony-a6300-vs-a6000 // Just like models, I’m about the latest if you’re going to drop that amount of money. I have the Fujifilm X100T which I’ve used 3 times at most and owned it only for 1 month before I heard the newest model is coming out in March so now I have to have that one! :) As for local Phoenix store, Tempe Camera is good and Foto Forum (but call both to see if they have it in stock and their pricing). I like to support local and it sounds like you do too, but sometimes if it’s cheaper online and I don’t have to leave my house, that works well for me. You may want to buy the lenses at Tempe Camera though I went there before a trip and bought two lenses and I was glad they had them in stock!

  • Don

    Great write up Diana! I picked up a X100 as a walk around camera years ago an waited until Fuji released their 56mm f/1.2 to bite the bullet an get an X-T1 to go along with it. My walk around lens of course, is their 35mm f/2 WR. Going mirrorless was for me like spending good $ on all these new Tupperware pistols coming from Smith’s and Sig’s, but neither move was as bad as I’d feared at all. Oh, battery life for sure suffers with mirrorless but I feel like the small/ light form factor makes it a no brainer.

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Don! I had a sentence in there about battery life but I took it out but now I just added it back, because it’s a really good point! :) I just bought the Fuji X100T and of course the X100F is coming out so I need to sell it!

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