Last updated on May 24th, 2021
In a world where everything is becoming smaller, lighter, and faster, mirrorless cameras have become the name of the game. Many DSLRs are considered outdated and bulky. Consequently, the best camera manufacturers, like Canon and Nikon, have started focusing on their mirrorless lineup.
With a significant advantage in portability, video features, and quick autofocus, mirrorless cameras — especially the intermediate level ones – offer more value. As a result, the umbrella of mirrorless cameras under $1000 is a rather crowded category in 2021. This list will help you make the right choice.
- 24MP full-frame image sensor
- 4K UHD video recording
- dual SD card slots
- 273 point autofocus system
- optional NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR lens
- 24MP APS-C image sensor
- 4K video up to 30 fps
- retro-style body
- film simulation color profiles
- HDR video mode
- digital image stabilization
- 24MP full-frame image sensor
- 4K UHD video recording
- dual SD card slots
- 273 point autofocus system
- optional NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR lens
If you need to know what to research before investing in a mirrorless camera, then take a look at our camera guide for beginners. Though mirrorless cameras aren’t always lighter than DSLRs, they’re sure smaller in volume. They’re perfect for hikers and carry-on only travelers who need to squeeze in extra stuff such as books about travel or a laptop for photography.
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12 Best Mirrorless Cameras Under $1000
1. Fujifilm X-E4
Looking at the Fujifilm X-E4, one would be fooled into thinking that it’s a basic point-and-shoot camera. Packed with Fuji’s new APS-C CMOS 4 sensor, the camera offers a resolution of 26 MP in a body that looks gorgeous and can fit into your pocket.
Given the excellent sensor and Fujifilm’s renowned color profiles like Acros and Classic Chrome, you will be more than happy with the JPEGs.
If shooting in RAW, the image quality only improves. The rangefinder-esque looks, a responsive touchscreen LCD, and a good battery life make the shooting experience more enjoyable.
For videographers, the Fuji X-E4 offers 4K video up to 30 fps, with an option of recording 10-bit files if using a micro-HDMI cable. The only significant flaw with the X-E4 is its autofocus tracking abilities. Although single-point mode and zone focusing work well, fast-moving subjects like your pets and children may pose a challenge. Also, the camera lacks weather sealing, image stabilization, and a lot of customizable buttons.
If you are in the market for a highly compact camera with excellent image quality that can take good photos on ‘Auto’ mode, you don’t need to look further than the X-E4.
2. Canon EOS M50 Mark II
The Canon M50 Mark II is a popular choice for vloggers and photographers looking for a simple, user-friendly experience. The M50 II features a 24 MP APS-C sensor, a DIGIC 8 processor, and an enhanced Dual Pixel AF system.
You should consider this camera for the Dual Pixel, as it gives you steady subject tracking and focus pulls by easily reaching the articulating rear LCD. It is faster than the phase-detect AF of the viewfinder and allows the camera to work like a smartphone. The M50 Mark II will appeal to Youtubers and vloggers with direct live streaming.
Although there is 4K video, it comes with compromises. You cannot use Dual Pixel AF here, and there’s an x1.5 crop. Also missing from the camera is weather sealing and image stabilization. In contrast, the 1080p video mode is impeccable, and you can record slow-mo videos with 120 fps. The image quality is great, although boosting shadows brings in some noise.
Designed with Canon’s Dual Pixel AF, unique colors, and a shooting speed of around 7 fps in a mirrorless body, the EOS M50 II is an excellent choice for photography enthusiasts and Youtubers. It will preserve space while hiking or traveling and deliver image quality close to more expensive models.
3. Fujifilm X-S10
Without the usual PASM dial, Fuji cameras required you to adjust the dedicated aperture and shutter dials to move from aperture-priority to shutter-priority to manual mode. The 2020-launched X-S10 changes that, and also offers the much-awaited in-body stabilization, fully articulating screen, and a chunky, comfortable grip.
The body of the X-S10 is more DSLR-like and looks less ‘vintage’ than other Fuji models. But that’s not a bad thing, because the camera is quite ergonomic and almost all the buttons are customizable. Even the build quality is excellent, although not weather-sealed well.
The 26 MP CMOS 4 sensor, 4K video, 8 fps shooting speed are all standard features nowadays. However, Fuji sensors provide slightly better colors and dynamic range. Including the rotating touch LCD and 5-stop image stabilization makes it an excellent travel camera. All your lenses will be stabilized with this.
The 425-point hybrid AF is the only weak spot of the X-S10. While it will work fine in daylight and for slow subjects and landscapes, the tracking is not reliable in tougher conditions. Despite this, the Fuji X-S10 is a rugged camera that can do a little bit of everything and meet the needs of (almost) every photographer.
4. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV
The Olympus EM10 Mark IV is an entry-level mirrorless camera, and although its feature list is not extensive, its price is affordable. At first glance, the small 20 MP micro four-thirds sensor with 121-point contrast-detect autofocus does not seem impressive. The AF tracking is not as reliable as the hybrid systems other cameras offer, and you will probably end up using the central point mode for the best results. There is also no weather sealing.
The standout feature of the E-M10 is its in-body stabilization and a fully articulating touchscreen LCD. Olympus has a wide range of lenses, and not worrying about which ones are stabilized will be great. The camera has a shooting speed of 15 fps and even offers 4K video up to 30 fps along with Full HD at 120 fps, although there are no mic inputs.
The E-M10 Mark IV makes sense if you are looking for an inexpensive upgrade from your smartphone camera or a backup for your main body. It is small, portable, stabilized, and a good family camera, as long as you don’t require the best-in-class image quality or lots of customizable buttons.
5. Nikon Z5
It’s hard to imagine that buying a Nikon full-frame mirrorless camera below $1000 is possible, but the Nikon Z5 has fulfilled those dreams. The Z5 packs a 24 MP full-frame sensor, weather sealing, 273 AF points, and 5 stops in-body image stabilization.
The camera is designed as a complete stills-photography package, and the image quality and the autofocus system are some of the best you’ll find in a mirrorless camera body. Dynamic range is excellent, and even at ISOs like 1600, you won’t see much noise. Additionally, Nikon’s 3D tracking and face detection work wonderfully, and fast-moving subjects won’t be a big deal for the Z5.
The only tiny downside of the Z5 is in the video segment. Although 4K is possible, it comes with a massive x1.7 crop and significant rolling shutter. Further, the AF during video can sometimes seem jittery and slightly abruptly move from one subject to another. Moreover, the Z5’s shooting speed is at a low 4.5 fps.
If you don’t have videography or high-speed action shooting on your list, the Z5 mirrorless is the best choice for under $1000. You will not get a more ergonomic, stabilized, full-frame, weather-sealed body in this class.
6. Panasonic Lumix DC-G100
Panasonic is known for its video features, and unsurprisingly, the Lumix DC-G100 is made for vloggers looking for their first inexpensive camera.
One of the smallest mirrorless cameras on this list, the G100 comes with a 20 MP micro four-thirds sensor, a bright articulating touch LCD, and 4K video up to 30 fps with 8-bit color depth, along with WiFi and Bluetooth.
Image quality is not the best, although it’s sufficient for general travel photography and casual vacations. Panasonic’s trademarked DFD autofocus system is contrast-detect. It won’t give exceptional results, but again it’ll be sufficient for general users. There’s a ‘post focus’ mode that lets you select the focus point after taking the photo.
The DC-G100 is designed for beginner videographers, but there are a few limitations. The 4K is cropped, and there’s a 10-minute record limit. Also, there is no headphone jack or optical image stabilization. The camera’s main strength is the rotating LCD, a Nokia-designed audio system, built-in V-Log, and a 3.5 mm mic input — all great for video.
The DC-G100 is not particularly impressive, but it does well whatever it can actually do. Video quality is great, and if you can work around its limitations, it’s a workable beginner Youtuber’s kit.
7. Fujifilm X-T200
Another excellent alternative for vloggers, the Fujifilm X-T200 combines Fuji’s retro-style body and color profiles with a portable body and a huge rotating touchscreen LCD. The 24 MP sensor and an updated hybrid AF system ensure that the camera delivers image quality equal to the X-T30.
Fujifilm has put a lot of effort into making the T200 a camera for easy content creation. The 3.5-inch LCD utilizes the touch interface beautifully, and there are also three dials on top and lots of customization options for those who prefer a hands-on approach.
The JPEG and RAW image quality from Fuji cameras has always been excellent, and the T200 is no exception. The autofocus system is great, and while it does not match Canon’s Dual Pixel for subject tracking, face detection and zone tracking do the job well enough.
By far, the standout feature of the camera is 4K video. Down-sampled from 6K, the 4K footage is better than the camera’s 1080p quality, although the ‘digital gimbal’ stabilization cannot be used for this. You also have mic and headphone sockets, along with USB charging and WiFi.
Unless you really need subject tracking in video and super-sharp 1080p video, the Fujifilm X-T200 is a stylish, all-rounder package at an affordable price.
8. Sony Alpha a6400
Sony’s Alpha series of mirrorless cameras has been a big hit. The Sony a6400 takes that legacy ahead by giving a 24 MP APS-C sensor with probably the best AF system in a mirrorless camera yet.
The camera has a wide grip and a touch LCD that flips up for selfies, but the buttons are not always easy to hit, the menu is confusing, and there’s no front dial. The a6400 is dust and moisture resistant but not as ergonomic and fun to use as cameras from Canon and Fuji.
Both the JPEG and RAW image quality are excellent, and there’s enough dynamic range to let you boost shadows without much noise. Where the a6400 excels is its autofocusing. Based on Sony’s flagship action camera, the a9, the a6400 has a 425 point phase-and-contrast detect AF with ‘Real Time’ subject tracking and eye detection. It is almost instantaneous and works beautifully.
There’s a significant learning curve, but once you set it up, you’ll never have to touch the AF settings again. The shooting speed of 11 fps makes the camera a great wildlife photography kit.
On the video side, you get 4K/30 fps with a crop and 1080p at 120 fps, and there’s some visible rolling shutter. There is no headphone jack, but there is a mic input and HLG, S-Log2, and S-Log3 profiles for grading.
The Sony a6400 is not a user-friendly camera and more suitable for enthusiasts who will not shy away from the complex settings. But if you need a rugged camera for fast-moving action, you can rely on its class-leading AF and sharp image quality.
9. Nikon Z50
The comparatively older Nikon Z50 was the first APS-C mirrorless camera from Nikon. The 20.9 MP sensor and EXPEED 6 processor are the same as the flagship D500, so image quality — especially in low-light and shooting in RAW — will be among the best in class. The magnesium alloy body is rugged and weather-sealed, weighing just about 350 grams.
The AF module has 209 phase-detect points coupled with a speed of 11 fps. While it works well enough for things like static portraits and landscapes, the face/eye detect feature is available only in Auto area mode. Therefore, if you want to control the AF point manually, you’ll have to give up face detection.
Even the subject tracking is available only in the Auto area mode and is not as accurate as Sony or Canon’s Dual Pixel. AF in video is not close to Dual Pixel, and you’ll see some occasional hunting, but the performance can be made better with a few tweaks.
The touchscreen LCD flips down for vlogging, and there’s a mic input, focus peaking, and zebra warning. The video quality is good in both 4K/30 fps and 1080p/120 fps. Only the low battery life and lack of image stabilization get in the way of what otherwise is a great video tool.
Apart from the lower resolution, which may deter photographers who print their images, the Z50 is a great all-purpose travel and video camera.
10. Canon EOS M6 Mark II
The highest resolution camera on this list, the M6 Mark II features a 32.5 MP APS-C sensor in an ultra-compact body, with a detachable electronic viewfinder. The camera also comes with a touchscreen LCD that flips up, Dual Pixel AF, and an incredible speed of 14 fps.
The M6 Mark II is excellent for landscape and travel photographers. It is highly portable, and the high resolution and dynamic range is the camera’s main strength. The Dual Pixel is also incredible and makes the camera’s live view mode really easy to use for beginners, and you get a few extra controls like the MF-AF toggle and a dedicated AF-On button.
However, a few drawbacks are that the viewfinder is a piece that you’ll have to carry separately in your camera bag, and there’s no weather sealing or image stabilization.
The M6 Mark II also works well as a video camera. The 4K is uncropped and comes with Dual Pixel and a mic jack, although using digital stabilization will introduce some crop. The overall quality and focusing mechanism are excellent, but the lack of a headphone jack and an LCD, which gets blocked if you attach the viewfinder on top, makes it only a partial video camera.
For people looking for a high-resolution, compact travel camera that can also shoot great videos, the M6 Mark II is perfect.
11. Sony Alpha a6100
The cheaper and older brother of the a6400, the Sony a6100 is aimed at beginners and contains essentially the same features — a fantastic autofocus system, 4K video, and excellent image quality.
The 24 MP CMOS APS-C sensor captures excellent dynamic range, and Sony has tweaked its processing to improve JPEG colors, something which Canon and Fuji do well. The 425-point hybrid AF is top of the line, and it will be hard to get out-of-focus shots once the camera settings are set as per your needs. But again, Sony’s complex menu and a brick-like body design make the camera less user-friendly.
The inclusion of 4K video at 30 fps and 1080p at 120 fps with 4:2:0 sampling makes the a6400 a good video camera. The screen also flips up for vlogging, and you can plug in a mic, although there’s no headphone jack. With Sony’s AF, you can rest assured that focus pulls and face tracking will be easy.
The specs of the a6100 do not seem mind-blowing in this age of mirrorless cameras, but the camera is highly capable and offers exceptional value at this price point.
12. Canon EOS RP
Unlike the usual EF-S and EF-M mounts of Canon, the EOS RP uses the RF mount and is surprisingly a full-frame mirrorless under $1000. The 26 MP sensor with Dual Pixel has a lot going for it, especially in terms of ergonomics. The RP body is quite compact, and the grip is comfortable; you also have a fully articulating touchscreen LCD.
What makes the camera fun to use is the Dual Pixel AF, making it almost a point-and-shoot. You can simply touch to focus and track subjects, and the 4779 AF points divided into 143 zones support pupil detection.
Unfortunately, the Dual Pixel capabilities are missing in 4K, and shooting at this resolution also introduces a crop of x1.7. Thankfully, vloggers do get both a headphone jack and a mic input.
In terms of image quality, the full-frame sensor provides a lot of details and sharpness, although the Nikon Z5 and Sony full-frame cameras have a slight edge. Action photographers will be disappointed with the 5 fps shooting speed and also the poor battery life.
For people concerned only about the image quality and the shooting experience, the RP will not disappoint. If you can find the right RF mount lens — or choose to use an adapter with Canon’s other lenses — the RP will deliver outstanding overall performance.
Mirrorless cameras come with a few image camera sensor sizes: full-frame, APS-C, and micro four-thirds. Therefore, before taking the plunge, you must understand the specs of the camera and your own photographic needs.
People wanting a fun and lightweight camera should consider the Fujifilm X-T200 and Canon M50 Mark II, while shooters who demand fast AF and the best possible image quality will lean towards the Sony models and entry-level full-frame cameras like the Nikon Z5 and Canon RP.
Ultimately, choosing the right camera will be more about understanding the camera’s limitations than ticking off a list of features.