Mirrorless cameras are all the rage right now. Compact, portable and built around the same sensors used in DSLRs, mirrorless cameras are capable of fulfilling all your photography wishes.
The main difference between a DSLR and a mirrorless camera is the lack of a mirror, needed to divert light to the viewfinder and show the scene. This makes mirrorless cameras smaller and lighter, giving them faster on-sensor focus and making necessary an EVF – electronic viewfinder, which shows real-time changes to the scene as you change camera settings.
But with so many brands and hundreds of models, it is very difficult to choose the best mirrorless camera that offers the most value. To make your life simpler, here are the 3 best mirrorless cameras for different budgets, which will provide you the best value.
Olympus E-M10 Mark II and Panasonic GX850 – For A Low Budget
The Olympus OMD E-M10 Mark II is a very capable camera at a very budget-friendly price of around $500. The first thing you will notice is that this camera looks like a vintage SLR, without the bulk. At the heart of it lies a 16 MP Micro 4/3rds sensor, with an 81-point contrast detect AF.
One standout feature of the E-M10 Mark II is its 3 inch touch-enabled LCD, which can move up or down for selfies but not fully turn around. The camera also has a Simulated OVF, which mimics optical viewfinders and increases dynamic range of the EVF, giving a more accurate picture of the scene.
I have seen the AF system of this mirrorless work excellently in daylight, especially in Face detect mode, although it falls short when subject tracking. On the video side, the camera can shoot up to 1080/60p and offers zebra warnings and focus peaking, features you will not find easily.
With extra features like 5-axis image stabilization, better EVF, touchscreen, Wi-fi, 3 control dials and the excellent 16 MP sensor, the camera is a very good package for anyone looking for a capable and portable camera for general photography.
My second choice in this category is the amazingly compact Panasonic Lumix GX850. Marketed as the “most affordable 4K Compact camera”, the Panasonic Lumix DC-GX850 features a 16 MP Micro 4/3rds sensor, a flip-up 1040k-LCD screen, Wi-Fi and 4K video. It is available for around $550 with the 12-32 mm kit lens, and comes in 4 different color schemes.
Although the DFD autofocus is great point to point, it does not do very well with moving subjects, especially if the movements are erratic. The little noise that does creep into photos is not a big deal, and nothing that is not found on other mirrorless cameras as well.
Video is of good quality, especially with features like the flippy touchscreen and 4K. But for people looking for more controls and advanced settings, this is not the camera.
The camera’s lack of a dedicated viewfinder, low battery life and lack of manual controls will make you want to upgrade after a few months. But if you are a beginner or a person looking for an easy to use family camera, this will not disappoint.
Sony Alpha a7 II – For A Medium Budget
With a price of around $1500, the full-frame Sony a7 II is a serious camera for a serious photographer. Being a company that is always technologically ahead, the Sony a7 II has many impressive features like in-body 5-axis image stabilization, Wi-fi, S-log2 for video and high-bit-rate XAVC S format with 60p, 30p, and 24p recording options, all at 50 Mbps.
The 24 MP full-frame sensor provides excellent dynamic range and sharp details. The sensor is complemented by an on-sensor phase detect autofocus with 117 phase detect points, along with the usual contrast detect. The only downside is that the coverage is not very good, and you will have to keep your subject in the central portion of the frame.
The one downside of this camera is its bulk. Although it is a mirrorless, the bigger sensor, a better grip and EVF have taken their toll, making the a7 II almost the weight of a flagship DSLR.
Nikon Z7 – For A High Budget
The Nikon Z7 is the most-recent flagship of Nikon, and it can be clearly seen that Nikon went all out on this camera. A relatively compact and portable camera, the Z7 comes with a massive 45.7 MP full-frame CMOS sensor and a very reliable 493-point on-sensor hybrid AF, with a price tag of about $4000 to match.
Apart from the amazing sensor which provides class-leading dynamic range utilizing Nikon’s new Z-mount, the Z7 also comes with in-body 5-stop image stabilization, 4K video, 10-bit HDMI output, a lower ISO of 64 – which can be reduced to ISO 32 – and a high-resolution OLED electronic viewfinder with a touchscreen LCD for easy focus.
There is very little about this camera to find a problem with. The main problem is only the comparatively lower speed of 5.5 fps with Live View updates while shooting. If you aren’t trying to follow action and don’t need live view, the Z7’s ‘High+’ mode can faster. This mode allows full autofocus but locks the exposure settings after taking the first image, shooting at 8 fps in 14-bit Raw or 9fps if you drop down to 12-bit mode.
You can also check out the Canon EOS R full-frame mirrorless camera, and the Sony Alpha a7 III. Apart from these possible alternatives, and maybe the Nikon D850 if you don’t mind a bulkier DSLR with even better AF reliability and speed, the Z7 is probably the one camera for every photographer.