The best beginner mirrorless camera for 2023
Editor’s note: April 2023
This year we saw Canon launch the EOS R10 and EOS R7, two beginner-friendly models that are both in our list below. But it seems the camera giant won’t be stopping there with its APS-C lineup – according to Canon Rumors (opens in new tab), it’s prepping a Canon EOS R8 (or possibly EOS R9) to sit in between the two.
There aren’t any rumored specs for that camera yet, but this is potentially good news for Canon fans who’ll be on the hunt for an entry-level mirrorless camera in 2023. Our only real criticism of the EOS R10 and EOS R10 is that they currently lack native lenses, with only two RF-S options available for those cameras.
The arrival of a third camera would surely signal Canon’s renewed commitment to APS-C cameras and the arrival of more lenses that are both compact and affordable enough to be good matches for beginner-friendly cameras like the EOS R10.
Mark Wilson, Cameras Editor
Whether you’re upgrading from a smartphone or just starting out, the best beginner mirrorless cameras make it easy to improve your photography. Proving that you don’t need pro tools to shoot impressive images, these entry-level models make photography accessible for all. What’s more, the top options offer enough performance for you to grow into, too.
In an ideal world, you would try the best beginner mirrorless cameras before choosing one. That’s not a realistic option for most people, which is why we’ve put in countless hours on your behalf: we’ve extensively tested the top entry level mirrorless cameras and ranked our favorites in the list below. There are options to suit a range of budgets and requirements, each assessed against objective criteria.
We think the best mirrorless camera for most beginners right now is the Canon EOS R10. Styled like a compact DSLR, it’s an impressively versatile entry level option that’s also the best camera for beginners overall. Decent burst speeds help it keep up with speeding subjects, as do modern subject-detecting autofocus powers. We also like its accessible controls and handling.
That said, the EOS R10 isn’t the cheapest mirrorless camera for learners. If your budget is tighter, we highly recommend the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV – one of the best mirrorless cameras you can buy. A Micro Four Thirds model with a compact design and capable stills sensor, its computational shooting modes help beginners get creative, while in-body image stabilization is superb for handheld photography.
From affordable stills cameras to all-rounders fit for beginners, there’s something in the list below for ever preference. Whatever your expectations, our expert guide is designed to help you find the best beginner mirrorless camera for you. To help you choose, we’ve shared some top buying tips at the bottom of the page.
The best beginner mirrorless camera for 2023
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Striking a great balance between accessibility and performance, we think the Canon EOS R10 is a fantastic entry-level camera to learn and improve with. Compact yet comfy in the hand, its dual control dials and dedicated AF joystick made it easy to try different techniques in testing. The articulating touchscreen also feels like a natural switch from smartphone shooting.
Its 24.2MP sensor isn’t cutting-edge, but modern autofocus skills and Canon’s punchy Digic X processor make it an adaptable camera to grow into. During our review, AF tracking proved both intuitive and impressively reliable for a beginner camera. Burst shooting rates of 15fps also make it a good choice if you want to try action photography.
Handheld options are limited after dark by the absence of in-body image stabilization, but the EOS R10 otherwise holds up well against APS-C rivals, producing clean, detailed stills with pleasant colors. Its video skills give it some hybrid versatility, too. While there’s no flat color profile, it can record uncropped 4K/30p footage by oversampling from the sensor’s 6K resolution. All that’s really missing is a wide choice of native lenses, a situation that should hopefully improve soon.
While it isn’t radically cheaper than its Canon EOS R10 and Fujifilm X-T30 II rivals, the OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is a little more affordable for beginners. And because it has a smaller Four Thirds sensor than those APS-C cameras, it’s an even more compact package when combined with the hundreds of lenses you can pair with it.
Video shooters should look elsewhere, because it lacks both a microphone port and a USB-C connection. But for budding photographers, it offers a lot. There’s an ergonomic grip that feels comfortable in the hand, plus an approachable button layout and handy flip-down touchscreen. We also found it to be the most photo-centric camera at its price point, delivering great stills during our tests.
Olympus cameras have long gone big on beginner-friendly software modes, pioneering some of the computational techniques that would later be built on by smartphones. It’s the same here, with an ‘Advanced Photo’ mode steering you through techniques like long exposures, while the in-body image stabilization system – borrowed from the flagship E-M1 – is superb. It might not grab headlines, but the Mark IV is still a great first camera for beginners.
This compact full-frame camera is arguably the best entry-level mirrorless camera Nikon has yet produced. Its a full-featured snapper for the beginner or hobbyist, with excellent image quality, a great design for ease of use and one that’s capable of handling several different subjects without any hiccups.
Sure, its burst rate of 4.5fps doesn’t stack up against some of the competition and its 4K video suffers from a significant crop, but despite that we can’t recommend the Z5 highly enough for anyone looking to start their photography journey or just looking for a really capable camera that’s an excellent all-rounder.
We love its very capable autofocus system, which comes with a fast and intuitive Eye AF on for those beautiful portraits you’d like to shoot. There are some high-end features as well like it’s super high-res viewfinder and touch, weather-sealed body. And, while it looks similar to the Z6 and Z7 bodies, it comes with a 24-50mm kit lens that’s designed to retract when not in use, making it a great walkaround or travel camera. The only reason we’ve got this Nikon lower down our list is the price tag – it’s expensive when compared to some of the other entry-level cameras out there, full frame or otherwise.
Fujifilm’s original X-T30 was already an excellent everyday camera. Its successor doesn’t dramatically change the recipe. However, we think it does just enough to sweeten the deal.
Using an identical chassis to its predecessor, the X-T30 II likewise balances performance with relatively compact proportions. Adopting the same classic retro styling, we felt it was lovely to look at and fantastic to handle. The rear LCD is now sharper, although we still found ourselves wishing for a fully articulating screen, rather than a panel that only tilts.
With the same sensor and 425-point AF system as the original X-T30, we found that the second edition similarly captures bags of detail and beautifully rich tones. A new algorithm more accurately tracks moving targets. It’s not perfect, but it performed pretty well in testing when subjects moved predictably. Focus point sensitivity has also been improved, and we found that the X-T30 II did a solid job picking out fine details in low lighting.
So if you’re shopping for the best beginner mirrorless camera, the Fujifilm X-T30 II is a mid-range all-rounder that’s well worth considering. But not if you already own the X-T30.
The Sony ZV-E10 is more than just a gap-filler in Sony’s lineup. While it is a logical addition, servicing a need that was previously underserved, it’s also a powerful video camera in its own right. Vlogging-focused, it boasts an articulating screen, boosted mics, and a compact body that’s portable and easy to handle when you’re shooting while moving.
Of course, it takes impressive photos as well. We tested it with a variety of lenses in a varying scenes, and it delivered a rich shot with impressive depth, detail, and contrast without fail. So, it’s just as capable as a stills camera, if you’re looking to just use one body for all your shooting needs.
It isn’t perfect, mind you. It does sadly produce significant rolling shutter when you’re panning and has no 4K capture at 60p (though, to be fair, this isn’t common at the price either). However, its image noise is well-controlled, it delivers three degrees of SteadyShot electronic stabilization, and its autofocus impresses, especially in terms of object-tracking and face recognition.
By borrowing a handful of key features from the flagship X-T4 and shoehorning them into a smaller, cheaper body, Fujifilm has made one of the best mirrorless cameras for beginners. Pairing Fujifilm’s proven 26.1MP APS-C sensor with an X Processor 4 and in-body image stabilization, it serves as a proper all-rounder.
In testing, stills quality proved identical to the X-T4, while the quality and flexibility of 4K video was up there with the best. The inclusion of IBIS is also a real bonus in such a small camera, giving the X-S10 a genuine edge when shooting handheld.
We found the only real weakness to be autofocus performance. It’s still impressive in most scenarios, but our testing revealed subject-tracking to be less advanced than the system used on cameras like the Sony A6600.
AF aside, the X-S10 takes a more pared-back control approach than most Fujifilm cameras. We felt the absence of a d-pad made it slightly tricky to toggle through menus. That said, we still think the functional layout, generous grip and retro good looks make the X-S10 an accessible and compelling option for hobbyists.
The EOS R7 is a little pricier than its beginner-friendly stablemate, the EOS R10 (see no.1 above). But it also brings a lengthy list of improvements that’ll give you more room to grow into, including in-body image stabilization, a better viewfinder, a larger buffer for burst shooting, weather-sealing and uncropped 4K/60p video. If you like to shoot moving subjects or video, it’s likely the better choice – as long as you can justify its slightly more mid-range price tag.
While you can’t expect full-frame performance from the EOS R7, we found that its smaller APS-C was capable of producing excellent images in a range of conditions. Importantly for beginners and solo filmmakers, its Dual Pixel CMOS AF II autofocus was particularly impressive during our time with the camera: besides intelligent subject tracking, face and eye-detection were capable of locking onto animals rapidly, reliably and with impressive accuracy.
Action shooters will also appreciate its speedy continuous frame rates for capturing action – up to 15fps with the mechanical shutter, or 30fps if you switch to electronic. The only real downside? A lack of native RF-S lenses. Only two are currently available, and safari photographers may find the 18-150mm telephoto doesn’t quite get them close enough.
It’s a close call between the Nikon Z fc and the Nikon Z50 for a place in this list, but think this gloriously retro model just edges it. Both cameras are based on the same photographic engine and fans of DSLR-style deep grips will likely prefer the Z50, but we found the Z fc’s style and useful dials to be better for beginners who have just picked up the hobby or are just starting to expand their photography skills.
The Z fc is a fine all-rounder thanks to its 20.9MP APS-C sensor and hybrid autofocus system. It can also shoot 4K/30p video and has a vari-angle touchscreen to help you shoot from different angles, including front-on to the camera.
The only real downsides we’ve found here are a lack of weather-sealing and relatively limited collection of native lenses. That said, there are now an increasing number of third-party lenses from the likes of Viltrox, and those physical controls are ideal for anyone who wants to get up to speed with the exposure triangle.
The Lumix GX9 from Panasonic represents excellent value for money. Its small size and weight not only make it ideal for those new to an interchangeable lens camera, but it’s also well-suited for travel photography, too. The great feature set includes a built-in viewfinder, plus 5-axis dual image stabilization.
It proved to be a very capable entry-level mirrorless camera during our tests as well. It was able to shoot up to 9fps on burst mode and achieve pleasingly sharp shots at 1/8 sec thanks to its image stabilization.
One of our favorite features of all Panasonic cameras is the 4K Video and 4K Photo Modes. You can use the latter to extract stills from a movie to in order to freeze the perfect moment. As standard, the GX9 comes with a 12-32mm lens, which is a good optic to get you started with. Further good news is that there are dozens of different lenses available in the Micro Four Thirds mount, so this is a camera you can truly grow with.
The OM System OM-5 may not be a massive upgrade from the E-M5 Mark III, but it’s still among the best mirrorless cameras for beginners in the mid-range market. It boasts a skill set even premium bodies want, including a brilliant in-body stabilization and solid weatherproofing. That’s not to mention, a great lens line-up that’s readily available and at its disposal.
Users with smaller hands will appreciate just how compact it is, and while that size isn’t great for bigger lenses that put it out of balance, we found it to be divine with smaller ones. We also found that OM System has also done a remarkable job of getting a lot of very handy physical controls fit on such a small body.
Performance-wise, its stabilization has proven remarkable, whether that has something to do with the smaller sensor size and mass, or the algorithms used, while its Pro Capture mode, which can capture still images at 30fps with a 14-shot pre-capture buffer to allow for your reaction time, is impressive.
Sony’s A6000 was one of the most popular mirrorless models of the past few years, and while you can still buy it, the brand has refreshed it in the shape of the A6100. That brings a whole set of new features to Sony’s entry-level offering, including improved video features which now include 4K.
You also now get a touch-sensitive screen and advanced autofocus options which include the very well-performing Eye AF (for both humans and animals). Settling on continuous AF with the ‘Tracking: Expand Flexible Spot’ focus area during our tests, we actually forgot that it’s an entry-level mirrorless camera because of how fast, intuitive, and spot-on its autofocusing is.
An extensive range of different lenses are available for Sony’s mount, so it’s also a system you can be confident when investing in. As it stands, the A6100 is one of the most expensive models on this list – but the good news is that if you’re happy with older tech, the A6000 is still very much available, and right now is a veritable bargain.
Most of the cameras in this list are predominantly aimed at photographers, but if your mainly looking for a streaming or vlogging workhorse, then you should definitely consider the GH5 Mark II. It’s a unique mirrorless camera with built-in wireless live-streaming powers that have just been boosted to 4K resolution, thanks to a firmware update. So if you’re looking for a YouTube or Twitch camera, it’s one of the best choices around.
Despite being a Micro Four Thirds, we found that it can hold its own pretty well in most situations, including some low light ones. That’s likely due to its in-body image stabilization system, which has been slightly improved over that of the GH5, and its large extended ISO range of 100 to 25600.
Because it’s based on the excellent GH5, the Mark II’s video talents are strong – you get the option of recording 10-bit 4:2:2 footage internally or externally to a monitor, plus a wide range of frame-rate options and even anamorphic video resolutions. If you’re looking to get into color grading, there’s also Panasonic flat V-Log profile that gives you 12 stops of dynamic range. Throw in impressive in-body image stabilization (IBIS) and a weatherproof body, and you have a fine all-rounder for all levels of video shooter.
How to choose the best beginner mirrorless camera
Just because something is ‘cheap’, that doesn’t necessarily mean it represents value for money. If you find you quickly outgrow it and need to upgrade very soon, then you’ll end up spending even more money. Some of the cameras here might seem expensive to somebody buying their first camera, but we will have recommended them as something that should last you for many years to come.
If you view your photography hobby as an investment, it will pay huge dividends if you can invest as much as you possibly can when you first get started. Inexpensive cameras can still do a good job, but when cutting back on price inevitably means that features and controls are missing – so ask yourself if the saving is worth missing out on something you think you’ll need.
For example, the cheapest mirrorless cameras don’t usually have viewfinders, but these can be invaluable for shooting in bright light, when the screen on the back can easily suffer from glare and reflections, so we’d always recommend stretching to a camera with a viewfinder if you can.
Mirrorless cameras usually ship with either an APS-C or a slightly smaller Micro Four Thirds Sensor. Both represent a significant step up in resolution and image quality when compared to the small sensors found in a smartphone or compact camera, and the larger size means they also serve up superior low-light performance.
The importance of other features will depend on your shooting style. Those looking to try out vlogging will welcome the excellent video specs of several cameras above, while in-body image stabilization will be a useful addition for those looking to shoot hand-held.
|If you need…||Pick this camera||Launch price|
|The best range of lenses||Fujifilm X-T30 II||$899 / £749 / AU$1,585|
|The best autofocus system||Canon EOS R10||$979 / £899 / AU$1,499|
|The best video features||Sony ZV-E10||$700 / £680 / AU$1,249|
|A full-frame camera||Nikon Z5||$1,699 / £1,719 / AU$3,099 (with kit lens)|
|Classic, retro looks||Nikon Z fc||$959 / £899 / AU$1,499|
|A small, affordable camera||Panasonic Lumix GX9||$999 (with kit lens) / £699 / AU$1,399 (with kit lens)|
You might want a camera that can shoot 4K, and not all of them can. Although it’s becoming more common, it’s still a somewhat new area for entry-level mirrorless cameras, and they don’t all do it (though they do all offer regular 1920 x 1080 Full HD).
Check out the specs of the rear screens, too. The size and resolution are not so important since they’re all quite similar these days, but a touchscreen display will make the camera feel more like a phone, making the transition to using a “proper” camera a little easier since you’ll already be used to tapping, swiping and so on.
All the mirrorless cameras we’ve chosen for this list are well suited to beginners because of their price, size, ease of use, features or all of those things. You can also take a look at our other buying guides below if you’re still undecided. Otherwise, read on to see the 10 best entry-level mirrorless cameras you can buy right now.
How we test cameras
Buying a camera these days is a big investment, so every camera in this guide has been tested extensively by us. These days, real-world tests are the most revealing way to understand a camera’s performance and character, so we focus heavily on those, along with standardized tests for factors like ISO performance.
To start with, we look at the camera’s design, handling and controls to get a sense of what kind of photographer it’s aimed at and who would most enjoy shooting with it. When we take it out on a shoot, we’ll use it both handheld and on a tripod to get a sense of where its strengths lie, and test its startup speed.
When it comes to performance, we use a formatted UHS-1 card and shoot in both raw and JPEG (if available). For burst shooting tests, we dial in our regular test settings (1/250 sec, ISO 200, continuous AF) and shoot a series of frames in front of a stopwatch to see if it lives up to its claimed speeds. We’ll also look at how quickly the buffers clears and repeat the test for both raw and JPEG files.
In various lighting conditions, we also test the camera’s different autofocus modes (including Face and Eye AF) in single point, area and continuous modes. We also shoot a range of photos of different styles (portrait, landscape, low light, macro/close-up) in raw and JPEG to get a sense of metering and its sensor’s ability to handle noise and resolve fine detail.
If the camera’s raw files are supported by Adobe Camera Raw, we’ll also process some test images to see how we can push areas like shadow recovery. And we’ll also test its ISO performance across the whole range to get a sense of the levels we’d be happy to push the camera to.
Battery life is tested in a real-world fashion, as we use the camera over the course of the day with the screen set to the default settings. Once the battery has reached zero, we’ll then count the number of shots to see how it compares to the camera’s CIPA rating. Finally, we test the camera’s video skills by shooting some test footage at different frame-rates and resolutions, along with its companion app.
We then take everything we’ve learned about the camera and factor in its price to get a sense of the value-for-money it offers, before reaching our final verdict.
What camera should a beginner start with?
That really depends on what you’d like to do. An entry-level mirrorless camera is best if you want to up your photography game for social media or if you want to expand your photography skills.
The beauty of most beginner mirrorless cameras is that they come bundled with a ‘kit’ lens to cover the most common shooting scenarios to get you started and give you enough flexibility to experiment with depth of field.
As you progress, you should be able to expand your shooting setup since these camera bodies are compatible with at least one of that manufacturer’s family of lenses.
Is DSLR or mirrorless better for entry level photographers?
The answer to whether DSLR or mirrorless cameras are better is the subject of much debate. In fact, we’ve dedicated an in-depth guide to the topic. The question is no less divisive for beginner photographers: both formats have plenty to offer for novices. Which is right for you will often come down to a range of factors, with the final decision usually determined by personal preference.
On paper, mirrorless and DSLR cameras share many of the same benefits for beginners. Both formats give learners the option to change lenses, which means you can upgrade to different glass as your creativity grows. Mirrorless and DSLR cameras also come in a range of sizes and styles, with entry level models to suit different budgets. And the best of both genres can produce fantastic stills.
That said, mirrorless and DSLR cameras also differ in several important ways. The main one is that mirrorless cameras don’t use a mirror to direct light onto their sensor. This means they can usually shoot at faster frame rates, which is useful if you’d like to try action photography. It also means they can be made smaller, which allows learners to carry them more readily.
The best beginner DSLR cameras are renowned for their fantastic handling and manual controls, which make them accessible for novices to operate. Then again, some of the best beginner mirrorless camera options in our list above imitate this DSLR styling with ergonomic grips and dials.
DSLR cameras also benefit from optical viewfinders, which give an analogue view of a given scene – something many beginners find intuitive. Mirrorless cameras generally rely on electronic equivalents, the best of which are sharp and basically lag-free. Touchscreens feature on both formats, streamlining the jump up from a smartphone – although they’re more common on entry level mirrorless models.