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5 Best Mirrorless Cameras for Beginners (Under $500 and Under $1000)

5 Best Mirrorless Cameras for Beginners (2024)


Smartphone cameras are amazing, but they still have a long way to go to achieve the top quality level.

(Especially for specific genres, like portrait photography.)

In the past we’ve created a buying guide on amateur cameras, mostly consisting of DSLRs, but in 2024, mirrorless offer more functionality and better image and video quality than their DSLR counterparts.

So, if you’re a photographer, videographer, or a social media influencer looking for the best entry-level mirrorless camera under $500 and under $1000, then this post is for you.

Here’s a table that’ll give you a quick look of my roundup and the reasons to buy the product. For further details, simply click ‘review>’ in respective row.



Reasons to Get It

1. Canon R100

Budget entry-level mirrorless  (under $500)

  • Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus

  • built for excellent mobility

  • 6.5 fps burst rate shooting

  • camera body under $500

2. Sony ZV-E10

Incredible choice for videography!

  • best for hybrid shooters

  • 3-capsule microphone

  • accurate face & eye AF

  • great battery life

3. Nikon Z30

Budget-friendly mirrorless for content creators

  • price tag under $800

  • crisp 4K video resolution

  • articulated touchscreen

  • all Z lenses compatibility

4. Canon R50

Best compact vlogging camera (under $1000)

  • advanced A+ assist

  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF II

  • 12 fps continuous shooting

  • variangle touchscreen LCD

5. Sony a6400

Best mirrorless camera under $1000 this year

  • great photo & video quality

  • 11 fps continuous shooting

  • versatile capabilities

  • under $1000 (with a lens)

So, what is the best affordable mirrorless camera for beginners?

Let’s start with the best cheap mirrorless camera (under $500) in 2024, the newly released Canon EOS R100.

1. Canon EOS R100

Best Budget Mirrorless Camera 2024 (Under $500)

Type: SLR-style mirrorless | Weight: 356 g (0.78 lb) | Resolution: 24 MP | Sensor size: APS-C (22.3 x 14.9 mm) | LCD screen: Fixed, 3″ | Touchscreen: No | Weather-sealed: No | ISO: Auto, 100-25600

Canon EOS R100 RF-S18-45mm F4.5-6.3 is STM Lens Kit

Reasons to Buy:

  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF
  • continuous shooting up to 6.5 fps
  • newest release yet affordable
  • RF lens compatibility
  • lightest camera body in EOS R series
  • offers a 2 lens kit under $1000

Reasons to Avoid:

  • not touchscreen
  • not the fastest AF in video
  • 4K only with a crop

Canon EOS R100 is one of the newest and hottest releases in summer 2023. 

It is an entry-level camera, the youngest model in the EOS R mirrorless family.

It has an APS-C format sensor with a resolution of 24.1 megapixels, which is enough to try your hand at creative shooting and get a very high-quality result.

Without a doubt, this model has a number of compromises.

For example, it is not touchscreen, and 4K video can only be shot with a crop and not the fastest contrast autofocus.

However there are strong advantages as well.

In this mirrorless baby there’s a modern autofocus with face/eye/head/people recognition feature, continuous shooting up to 6.5 frames/s, and it is compatible with the most modern RF lenses.

And most importantly – the price, which allows you to fit two kit lenses into the purchase budget. A camera body with 2 kit lenses costs under $900.

This is a great bang for your buck, especially considering it’s a brand new product.

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2. Sony ZV-E10

Versatile Workhorse for Vloggers (Under $800)

Type: Rangefinder-style mirrorless | Weight: 343 g | Resolution: 24 MP | Sensor size: APS-C (23.5 x 15.6 mm) | LCD screen: Fully articulated | Touch screen: Yes | Weather-sealed: No | ISO: Auto, 100-32000 (expands to 50-51200)

Sony Alpha ZV-E10 - APS-C Interchangeable Lens Mirrorless Vlog Camera Kit - Black

Reasons to Buy:

  • excellent quality of still images
  • optimized for vlogging/video shooting
  • three-capsule microphone
  • 4K video at 30 fps
  • face and eye accurate tracking AF system
  • pretty great battery life

Reasons to Avoid:

  • no viewfinder
  • no 4K at 60 fps available
  • no mode dial
  • suspended orders due to chip shortage

The Sony ZV-E10 is a very nice little camera that doesn’t technically unlock any new features and even forgo some features that photographers would love to have, but it’s pretty good for beginner vloggers.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s also great for still images, but it’s fully optimized for those who like to vlog or videoshoot.

It is compact, has a 4K video, an excellent autofocus system, and a vari-angle touchscreen which allows for easy selfie photography as well.

The AF in this mirrorless has a real-time tracking mode and a function of tracking people’s eyes and faces which is a common thing among most modern cameras.

It can also record 4K video at 30 frames/s with support from various professional settings (including S-Log3).

Now, even though there is a lack of stabilization and a noticeable rolling shutter, overall the ZV-E10 is seen as a workhorse for vloggers and videographers.

Best of all, you get pretty good value for money.

Note: Sony suspended orders for now due to chip shortage, and it might not be widely available in every (online) store.

So if you’re a beginner vlogger and this product is something you’re interested in, then you better hurry up! Click on the button below to check the available deals today.

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3. Nikon Z30

Affordable Mirrorless for Vlogging (Under $800)

Type: Rangefinder-style mirrorless | Weight: 405 g (0.89 lb) | Resolution: 21 MP | Sensor size: APS-C (23.5 x 15.6 mm) | LCD screen: Fully articulated, 3″ | Touchscreen: Yes | Weather-sealed: Yes | ISO: Auto, 100-51200 (expands to 204,800)

Nikon Z 30 APS-C 20.9MP 4K Video Mirrorless Digital Vlogging Camera

Reasons to Buy:

  • crisp 4K resolution and low light performance
  • fully articulated LCD touch screen
  • easy live streaming over USB-C or HDMI
  • pro-grade video quality
  • compatible with all Nikon Z lenses
  • some environmental sealing

Reasons to Avoid:

  • can overheat after 30 mins of recording in 4K
  • no viewfinder
  • fairly short battery life
  • not a solid face/eye tracking focus in video

The Nikon Z 30 is very similar in concept and even specifications to the Sony ZV-E10.

This is also a camera created for vlogging purposes.

It can take high-quality photos, but the ergonomics and controls are largely designed for video shooting:

  • fully articulated screen for selfies,
  • built-in stereo for mic,
  • no limit on the length of the video, and,
  • USB power supply.

Video can be recorded up to 4K at 30 fps. Unlike Sony ZV-E10, there’s no cropping on 4K which will help a little when doing post production.

The possibility of still photography will be limited only by the lack of an electronic viewfinder, which is important in bright sunlight conditions.

Otherwise, the camera does a great job with the image quality, and the set of buttons corresponds to the classic cameras of the brand.

APS-C format sensor with a 21 megapixels resolution has proven itself well in Nikon cameras. The maximum continuous shooting speed is a solid 11 fps (which is more than the one we’ve seen in Sony ZV-E10).

And most importantly, the rising content creators and vloggers will love its very attractive price for Nikon Z30 kit package.

(However, if you wish to have more still photography and are able to pay a little more for better capabilities, then consider the Nikon Z50 kit instead.)

Find the Best Deal

4. Canon EOS R50

Perfect Compact Mirrorless for Beginners (Under $1000)

Type: SLR-style mirrorless | Weight: 375 g (0.83 lb) | Resolution: 24 MP | Sensor size: APS-C (22.3 x 14.9 mm) | LCD screen: Fully articulated, 3″ | Touchscreen: Yes | Weather-sealed: No | ISO: 100-32000

Canon EOS R50 Mirrorless Vlogging Camera (Black) w/RF-S18-45mm

Reasons to Buy:

  • super easy to use
  • compact size and weight
  • crisp video and beautiful images
  • highly responsive autofocus system
  • 12 fps continuous shooting

Reasons to Avoid:

  • no in-body image stabilization
  • may not work with Canon app
  • low battery life (keep spares handy)

This camera costs a little more than the R100 model we mentioned earlier.

And for about the same amount of money that you’d pay for R100 with 2 kit lenses, you get the Canon R50 kit with only one lens.

While it may seem like the sensors are similar, the R50 model has a 24MP APS-C sensor, the advanced DIGIC X processor, and a more modern Dual Pixel CMOS AF II autofocus system that suggests that we have a better quality version here.

Oh, and there is no longer a strange compromise regarding the screen. The EOS R50 model does have a fully articulated touch screen.

The burst rate of this camera is much higher than that of the R100: up to 15 frames with an electronic shutter and up to 12 with a mechanical shutter.

Not all beginners need it, but why not? It’s always there should you want to shoot sports or fast-running animals.

Among other advantages, we note a full-fledged 4K uncropped video, with phase detection autofocus, up to 30 frames/s, without a 30-minute limit and with the ability to connect an external microphone.

So for quality video, the EOS R50 would be a better choice than the R100.

All in all:

It’s one of those little cameras that’ll make your photography and videography simple, fun, and convenient. What else can you ask for as a newbie?

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5. Sony A6400 (Under $1000)

Best Mirrorless Camera Under $1000 for Photos and Videos

Type: Rangefinder-style mirrorless | Weight: 403 g (0.89 lb) | Resolution: 24 MP | Sensor size: APS-C (23.5 x 15.6 mm) | LCD screen: Tilting, 3″ | Touchscreen: Yes | Weather-sealed: Yes | ISO: Auto, 100-32000 (expands to 102800)

Sony Alpha a6400 Mirrorless Camera: Compact APS-C Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with Real-Time Eye Auto Focus, 4K Video, Flip Screen & 16-50mm Lens - E Mount Compatible Cameras - ILCE-6400L/B

Reasons to Buy:

  • excellent tracking AF system
  • wide dynamic range
  • continuous shooting up to 11 fps with AF
  • uncropped 4K video at 30 fps
  • S-Log and HLG support
  • dust and moisture protection

Reasons to Avoid:

  • doesn’t support UHS-II memory card
  • no headphone output
  • battery life isn’t good in the cold

If you want a truly versatile and advanced device for both photos and videos, then this mirrorless camera under $1000 is for you.

And hey, I know that it’s not a brand new model.

But Sony was so far ahead of its time with this model that people don’t dare to call the A6400 obsolete.

Besides, the capabilities of the camera expanded as new firmware was released.

For example, autofocus on the eyes of animals has been added to the usual recognition of faces and eyes of people. 4K can be recorded uncropped at up to 30fps using professional profiles such as S-Log3.

And in terms of photography, it has a burst rate of up to 11 frames per second.

In general, this model turned out to be very versatile.

No one can say with certainty if the a6400 was primarily created for stills or videos. That’s why it’s one of the best affordable cameras for hybrid shooters.

The control is finely tuned to your preferences, whether you’re a videographer or photographer.

There are many programmable buttons and alternative settings. The touch interface will help with the selection of the autofocus point both when looking at the display and when working with the viewfinder.


Having so many extra settings and additional features can be confusing if you’re a total beginner.

Therefore, this model is for you if you have a strong desire to learn and practice shooting, and continuously step up your game. This is definitely a camera for your growth.

It still makes sense to buy the kit version, so that in the future, using the example of the lens included in the kit, you can choose a more expensive glass for yourself.

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DSLR vs Mirrorless for Beginners?

Here are some of the commonly asked questions from budding photographers:

  • Should I start with mirrorless camera?
  • Are mirrorless cameras better?
  • Should a beginner go for DSLR or mirrorless?

When you are just starting a photography journey, it’s easy to face analysis paralysis with so many options and camera types on the market today.

However, the answer is simple.

In this day and age, if you’re a beginner, mirrorless cameras are often a better choice.

Mirrorless cameras are simple to use, more compact, offer a better functionality and capabilities in terms of photos and videos, and usually are well priced compared to their DSLR counterparts.

Oh, also today the lenses are mainly created for mirrorless systems.

By the way, you can submit your email below to get a Creative Photography Cookbook for 80% OFF.

Should You Buy Kit or Body Only?

A very important issue when buying a first camera is the package.

Traditionally, a camera can be bought without a lens (body only) or with a so-called kit lens.

In the first case, it is assumed that you already have the glass or you will purchase it separately, knowing exactly which lens model you need and for which purpose.

In all other cases, you should buy the kit option.

This means that together with the camera body, you will receive an inexpensive entry-level lens that will allow you to take the first steps in creativity and understand where to go next in terms of choosing glass.

At a minimum, a kit lens will tell you which focal lengths are convenient for you to work with and which are not, what aperture is enough for your tasks, and so forth.

Based on this knowledge, and not on the abstract advice of other people, you can choose the best lens for your next purchase.

After all, the fact that mirrorless cameras come with the possibility for interchangeable lenses is one of its advantages that you can use.

Now, we’d like to hear from YOU:

  • What is the best starter mirrorless camera for 2024 in your opinion?
  • Do you have experience using any of the products mentioned in this list?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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