Mirrorless cameras have steadily been gaining on their bulkier DSLR cousins for ages now. However, many would be photographers have looked down on these types of cameras because of their excessive price tag. Thankfully, like all technology, mirrorless camera prices have been steadily decreasing. These cheaper and more portable cameras offer a unique opportunity of making professional photography more accessible to novices.
This article will outline the differences between the two main types of cameras out on the market today - DSLR and Mirrorless. Then there will be a brief synopsis on what companies to look out for, our best mirrorless camera picks, and finally a buying guide. Get ready to capture beautifully wrought images with the best mirrorless cameras under $500!
Different Types of Cameras
Digital Single Lens Reflex or DSLR cameras use a mirror, making them larger than the newer mirrorless variety. What happens is that light hits the lens, bounces into the viewer. When a user clicks down on the shutter button, the mirror moves and the light hits the actual sensor on the camera. This entire process is incredibly old, yet has been shown to be reliable over the years. DSLRs are known for pioneering removable lenses, dust filters, along with a plethora of different angle and zoom features.
As the name suggests this type of camera doesn’t use mirrors, but rather digital technology. Mirrorless cameras have been plagued with poor digital screens and high prices making them the black sheep of the camera market. That is until recently. With breakthroughs in processor and screen technology many of the mirrorless cameras easily compete with their DSLR counterparts. Often too they come chock full of image processors that help render crystal clear images. This is in addition to many of the key features that DSLR cameras have.
The world of mirrorless cameras has plenty of different corporations, conglomerates, and organizations. Electronics in general is dominated by Japanese multinationals, and this brief list is no exception. By no means inclusive to all, this is nonetheless some of the biggest names in the Mirrorless camera market today.
Sony is a Japanese multinational conglomerate known for its wide array of different consumer electronics. Originally called Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo KK, Sony has been in business since 1946. Whether it is television, video games, or cameras, Sony is always near the top when it comes to quality. When it comes to cameras they bring the wide range of experience to the table to give you a mirrorless camera with exceptional features at an affordable rate.
Another Japanese multinational, this company boasts a founding all the way back to 1918. Being nearly a hundred years old, Panasonic is one of the largest electronics producers on the planet. Being called the Matsushita corporation until 2008, the company finally decided to sync their national and international names together. Panasonic brings the considerable knowledge of nearly a century of existence to the table when designing their cameras.
Few names can match the prestige of the Canon name when it comes to cameras. This Japanese multinational is so synonymous with cameras, that it is hard to imagine how the camera market would be what it is today without it. Founded in 1937, Canon has made plenty of innovations in cameras, camcorders, printers, and computers that other companies replicate. Internal image stabilization and eye controlled AF are just a couple features that the Canon Company has pioneered.
In 1934 Fuji Photo Film Co. was created as the first Japanese producers of films and photography. After the second world war Fujifilm diversified and became the massive Japanese multinational we see today. While they started out with cameras, they now have their fingers in medical imaging, cosmetics, and printers to name a few. While they often play second fiddle to the likes of Canon when it comes to brand recognition, don’t think this means for a moment it’s from a lack of craftsmanship.
Founded on July 25, 1917; the 100 year old company boasts the oldest on this list. This Japanese multinational specialized in optical lenses, many of which were used with the first Canon cameras. During the second World War Nikon produced plenty of binoculars and bomb sights for the Japanese war effort. Since then they have converted back to consumer electronics diversifying in a wide range of different electronics markets.
The Olympus Corporation is a Japanese multinational that was founded in 1919. In 1959 they made their mark on the camera market with their innovation of a half-frame format, which allowed for cameras to be more portable and compact. After a corruption scandal in 2012 hurt company stock, Olympus rebounded by making cameras and equipment that rivals that of even Nikon and Canon’s bestsellers.
Best Mirrorless Cameras
Combing through thousands of Amazon reviews, we have discovered what we find the best mirrorless cameras under $500. These cameras surpass expectations in terms of quality and features, without breaking the bank.
With a 18-55mm lens and a 58mm high definition wide angle lens included, there won’t be a shot you’ll mist with this Canon camera. Easily one of the best deals today, this bundle includes a couple of class 10 flash memory cards, a photo video tripod, and a large gadget bag. For extra longevity there is also a LCD screen protector attached, along with a three piece cleaning kit to keep everything picture perfect. If shooting pictures isn’t your thing don’t fear, the Rebel T6 has Full HD 1080p video recording that works in sync with the powerful image processor. This bundle also includes a auto power save flash, UV filter, and memory card wallet. A perfect kit for those wanting to break into photography because of its excellent craftsmanship and affordable price. Customers rave that this products come with absolutely everything you need to start taking artistic pictures.
This Nikon camera is the creme-de-la-creme when it comes to features and quality. Capture every moment in life with the D3300 and it’s overwhelming 24.2 megapixel photo quality. This ultra-compact camera comes with a 18-55mm lens, allowing you to easily zoom in and out for whatever comes your way. This smart camera is also compatible with other smart devices allowing you to instantly share your photos and videos with a few touches of the button. The high ISO sensitivity and high speed 5 frames per second shooting, allows this camera to even work in low light areas. When it comes to filming, this Nikon camera comes with Full HD 1080p quality that gives wonderfully rich detail and color.
This 20.1 megapixel camera is simple, yet dynamic. The Alpha A5000 comes with a portrait-friendly zoom lever and a 180 degree tilting screen. For lower light shots this camera comes with a built in pop-up flash, along with a 16-50mm power zoom lense. For added versatility the a5000 comes with seventeen different effects that can be applied to movies and photos. Capture picturesque life memories forever with the auto mode. This superior setting allows the camera to optimize to fit the environment and lighting. The anti-motion blur mode ensures you are always getting crystal clear images regardless of movement.
With a 16.3 megapixel APS-C sensor and a powerful image processor, this Fujifilm will shoot right every time. The extended battery life gives you over 400 shots per charge. There is a 180-degree tilting LCD screen that allows for perfect visibility when doing self portraits. As an added bonus this camera has wireless communication functionality allowing you to remotely shot from any of your smart devices. For more versatility the X-A10 has multiple setting for different tonal shots such as the vibrant Velvia and the softer Astia. If this isn’t enough don’t worry, as this Fujifilm camera also has multiple filters like Fisheye, Pop Color, and Soft Focus to name a few.
This Olympus camera has a continuous shooting speed of 8 frames per second, along with 16 megapixel MOS sensor. For added image quality there is the TruePic VI image processor engine that helps beautifully render even darker images. The AF Illuminator and an ISO speed of 25,600 facilitates the best and boldest pictures. The PEN E-PL6 also comes with the ability of Full HD 1080i video recording, along with 12 art filters and effects so you can specialize the shot. This camera also has a built in timer, allowing you to set up your camera as you see fit and have it take a hands free picture.
The Runner’s Up
Here are a few other suggestions that while close, didn’t quite break into the top five. Regardless, any of these choices would be an excellent pick for a mirrorless camera.
There are plenty of features to look out when shopping around for a mirrorless camera, especially when price is a consideration. The most important part of any camera is the picture quality that you are getting. Typically the amount of megapixels is what drives this home, with the a quality mirrorless camera having at least 15, but easily going into the early 20s and beyond. From there it’s good to look at the type of ISO range, the wider the range meaning it’s able to work in higher or lower lighting without a problem. From here there are a hundred little other factors such as image stabilization and image processor. The latter of which should be around 5 frames per second for the clearest and most concise pictures.
When you get that out of the way, take a look at all the available settings, filters, and features available on the camera. If you are someone who is only going to use the camera for family outings, then having a dozen or so filters probably won’t benefit you. However, if you are a more artistic type of photographer, then these filters are necessary. If you think you are going to shoot a lot of videos, then make sure you are getting the industry standard of Full HD 1080p. While less important, the LCD screen should be around 3 inches. Whether or not you want a tilt and move function on said screen is up to you.
Finally there is the camera’s functionality with any addons you might want or need. Name brand products such as Canon, Nikon, Sony, and others have plenty of products to help with whatever your photography goals are. Check out if you need tripods, memory cards, lenses, or whatever else when purchasing your first mirrorless camera. Many cameras are now built with smart technology, allowing them to communicate with your smart devices. By doing so you can easily transfer videos and pictures, along with remotely control your camera as you see fit.
For more information, look at this Sony Mirrorless Camera features - which should give you a comparison when shopping around.
Buying a mirrorless camera need not be a shore when you know what to look for. There are plenty of features that come standard with mirrorless cameras, but it’s best to get your money’s worth when purchasing one. Not that buying one of these devices need to be too expensive either - recent jumps in technological efficiency have greatly reduced the prices of these once unreachable cameras.
When purchasing a camera make sure to look out for off brand counterparts - instead focus on Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus, Fujifilm, and Panasonic. These brands produce the highest quality setups and have the best support. Regardless of your pic, you can’t really lose when it comes to these great mirrorless cameras. With filters, digital zooms, high ISO ratios, incredible amount of megapixels, and removable and attachable lenses, it’s only a matter of time before mirrorless cameras become the market standard. So what are you waiting for? The best mirrorless cameras under $500 are in your grasp!