Photography / Buying Guide

Mirrorless Cameras: A Buying Guide

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Mirrorless cameras have been on the market for a decade, but they have really begun to make waves in the past few years. Most serious photographers would have certainly been shooting with a DSLR camera just a few years ago, but now many have traded in their DSLRs for the smaller and lighter form factors that mirrorless cameras provide. Not only are mirrorless cameras usually lighter and smaller than their DSLR counterparts, but they’re quieter, as well. With no mirror to slap up and down, street photographers, as well as wedding and theater photographers can now shoot virtually unnoticed.

Choosing a mirrorless camera can be a daunting task with lots of options, from sensor size, to video capabilities, to lens systems, and more. We will cover them all, and give you the information you need. Buying your new camera should be an exciting experience, so let this guide help you make an informed decision.

Lens Systems      

What differentiates mirrorless cameras from other compact cameras is the fact that they have interchangeable lenses. This makes a world of difference, and if you’ve never had an interchangeable-lens camera, you will be quite surprised by how it will change your photography.

Compact point-and-shoot cameras have a built-in lens that typically gives you an optical zoom with a variable aperture and small sensor. What this means is that while you might have the ability to shoot both wide and telephoto zoom lengths, you don’t have as much control over selective focus or shallow-depth-of-field techniques. Selective focus, often accentuated by pronounced bokeh, is one of the first things that people notice about photos taken with larger sensor, interchangeable-lens cameras, because now you have the option to shoot with a long zoom lens with an f/2.8 aperture, or a prime portrait lens with an f/1.4 aperture.

 

Sample shots were taken with a GH4 and SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 25mm T0.95 lens.

A good thing about mirrorless cameras is that because there is no mirror inside the camera in front of the sensor, their design allows for a very short focal flange distance, or the distance between the lens mount and the plane of the sensor. Because of this short distance, lenses that have a large focal flange length can be used on mirrorless cameras when you have a compatible adapter.  This means that, in addition to a wide selection of mirrorless-dedicated lenses, most SLR lenses can also fit onto your mirrorless camera as well.  This is important to know if you have a bunch of old lenses lying around or are making the switch from a DSLR to mirrorless; chances are there are adapters to fit your lenses to your new camera. Of course, you should always check compatibility before making any purchases.

While using older “legacy” lenses on a mirrorless camera is a great benefit, every pro has a con and, in most cases, the downside in this situation is that the adapters usually do not allow for autofocus capabilities, and sometimes do not transfer any electronic signals at all, so aperture must also be set manually. This can be a drawback for some photographers, but for videographers who normally change aperture and focus manually, this isn’t a drawback at all. 

Maybe you don’t have any lenses from other cameras, or you want to sell them all and forget about adapters. In that case, there is certainly no shortage of great lenses designed specifically for mirrorless cameras. Due to increasing attention to mirrorless systems, manufacturers have invested a great deal into providing a wide variety of lenses, from fast prime lenses to wide-to-tele zoom lenses. Whatever you are looking for in a lens, chances are you can find it in a mirrorless line.

Sensor Size

Different mirrorless cameras come with various-sized sensors, and this is where things can get a little confusing. To make things simple, think of a full-frame DSLR camera as having the largest sized sensor, and a point-and-shoot as the smallest sized sensor. Most mirrorless cameras fall somewhere in the middle, packing an APS-C sensor, which is common in consumer DSLR cameras, or a Micro Four Thirds sensor, which falls between an APS-C sensor and a point-and-shoot. While they are the minority, there are now a few cameras that do have a full-frame sensor, and there will probably be more to come in the future.

Micro Four Thirds cameras feature a 17.3 x 13mm sensor, and are most commonly made by Panasonic and Olympus. Both manufacturers use the same mount, as part of the Micro Four Thirds standard, so lenses are interchangeable between brands. Olympus usually utilizes in-camera stabilization, while Panasonic tends to have their stabilization in the lenses. However, Panasonic has recently begun to utilize in-body image stabilization in some models, as well.

A little bit smaller than the Micro Four Thirds sensors are the Nikon 1 (CX format) and Pentax Q series cameras, which use sensors closer to the size of point-and-shoot cameras—1" for the Nikon 1, 1/1.7" or 1/2.3" for Pentax Q—allowing these lines to be much more compact than other mirrorless cameras.  

A significant reason that some people like mirrorless cameras is that they are smaller and lighter than DSLRs, and a lot of that has to do with the smaller sensor size. While a smaller and lighter camera is great for some, it, too, has a drawback. Generally speaking, larger sensors perform better in lower light, and produce less image noise in photos taken with higher ISO sensitivities. If low-light photography is important to you, you might want to consider one of the full-frame mirrorless cameras, or at least one with an APS-C sized sensor. If you are more concerned with a smaller camera size, and don’t require the best in low-light performance, a Micro Four Thirds camera might be a good fit for you. This is not to say that cameras with smaller sensors are not suitable for low-light shooting, rather, it is one of the main benefits of a larger sensor size.

Sample shots were taken with a GH4 and SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 25mm T0.95 lens.

Viewfinders

Viewfinders are another thing to take into consideration, particularly if you’re switching from a DSLR or other type of camera that has an optical TTL (through-the-lens) viewfinder. A TTL viewfinder means that what you are seeing is exactly (or very close to) what the lens is seeing. Since, by design, there is no mirror to direct the view of the lens to the viewfinder, many mirrorless cameras utilize an electronic viewfinder, or EVF.

There are, of course, benefits and disadvantages to the EVF, just as there are for an optical viewfinder. One thing that can be distracting is that touch of lag time between the moment that something is actually moving and the time that you see it in the EVF. As technology improves, this lag time is becoming shorter and shorter and, in some cameras, is already imperceptible.

Another disadvantage is that an EVF eats away at your battery power, just as using your LCD screen would. This is minimal, and usually not a huge concern, but just another thing to take into consideration.

As for advantages, there are quite a few, the first of which is focus peaking, which has become a desirable asset when comparing cameras for video or manual-focus uses. Focus peaking is a real-time focusing aid that highlights edges of contrast within the frame with a colored line, which helps to avail a more objective system of determining critical sharpness when focusing manually.

Focus Peaking

The other main advantage an EVF has is its ability to give an accurate depiction of any exposure, color balance, or other camera-setting adjustments prior to shooting. Whereas an OVF simply displays the subject as it is, an EVF gives you a closer representation of the final image.

Autofocus

DSLR cameras use what is called phase detection to focus on a subject, while mirrorless cameras use contrast detection. Phase detection takes advantage of the mirror in a DSLR camera to divide the incoming light into pairs of images, compares them, and then quickly focuses the lens on the subject.

Mirrorless cameras, on the other hand, use contrast detection to measure the contrast between pixels on the sensor until it detects enough contrast to find that the image is in focus. The downside of this focusing method is that it is slower, and more difficult to use in low light. It is also less effective when trying to focus on moving objects.

The good news for mirrorless shooters is that many newer cameras are now using a hybrid focusing method that combines phase- and contrast-detection methods. This is another consideration to weigh before choosing your camera. If fast autofocus, especially in low light, is important to you, you should consider a camera with a hybrid autofocus system.

Video

Video recording is one area where mirrorless cameras and DSLR cameras are pretty much neck and neck, when it comes to quality. Of course, mirrorless cameras are going to offer video shooters more flexibility with lenses than DSLR cameras, but both systems offer cameras that can shoot full HD, and some cameras can also now shoot 4K.

Get the most out of 4K video recording by connecting your mirrorless camera to a 4K recorder/monitor.

"If you’re making the move up from point-and-shoot cameras to a mirrorless, then the video quality is going to be leaps and bounds better than what you’re used to."

What mirrorless cameras improve upon, compared to many DSLRs, is the way they shoot, not necessarily what they can shoot. Because mirrorless cameras focus with continuous contrast-detection, you can more easily focus, and maintain focus, on moving subjects in your frame. DSLRs also utilize contrast-detection focusing when recording movies, or when working in live view, but since it is the inherent technology within a mirrorless camera, it is often more refined and responsive.

If you’re making the move up from point-and-shoot cameras to a mirrorless, then the video quality is going to be leaps and bounds better than what you’re used to. For one thing, you will be able to control the depth of field via the aperture, and also manually focus your shot. This gives you greater creative control, not to mention much higher-quality files.

The smaller size of mirrorless cameras means that the camera’s light weight allows for longer shooting with less fatigue than shooting video handheld with a DSLR camera.

If you are a serious videographer and want professional video capabilities, you might consider a mirrorless camera that records video in a high-quality format, such as AVCHD or XAVC S, and one with which you can use external microphones, headphones, video monitors, and recorders.

Wireless Functionality

The wireless capabilities that have been included in many of the mirrorless cameras on the market are truly incredible. Most cameras with Wi-Fi also have a partner app for either iOS or Android that allow you to control the camera from a smartphone or tablet.

NFC allows cameras to “bump” each other, or another smart device, to share photos.

These apps range from basic live view and shutter control, to full control over shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and other settings that you would normally need to adjust on the camera.

Some cameras enable you to transfer images directly to a smart device from your camera, or even right to your favorite social media sites. Another great Wi-Fi function is Near Field Communication, or NFC, which allows cameras to tap-to-connect with one another or a smart device, to share photos. This is especially helpful when you’re with friends and you want to share photos without having to remember to email them later.

Choosing Your Mirrorless Camera

By now you should be able to make an informed decision about buying your next camera. Keep in mind the main points we discussed. If image size and quality, especially in low light, is important to you, choose a camera with either an APS-C or full-frame sensor. However, if you’re looking for a compact camera that offers more control and options than a point-and-shoot, choose one of the cameras with a smaller sensor.

Most mirrorless cameras will fall into one of three categories: consumer, prosumer, and professional. This doesn’t mean that a professional camera will guarantee professional-looking photos, rather, that it is built with the capabilities that professionals need and want.

Consumer

Entry-level consumer mirrorless cameras are a great starting point for someone looking to make a move from point-and-shoot cameras to something with a little more flexibility and control. Often, entry-level mirrorless cameras are a replacement for consumers who are using an entry-level DSLR and like the interchangeable-lens feature, but want something that is lighter and smaller. These cameras usually offer an LCD to compose your photos instead of an electronic viewfinder. Consumer-level mirrorless cameras typically have a smaller sensor, allowing for a smaller and lighter body size, while sacrificing a little bit of image quality.

Prosumer

In between consumer and pro cameras are “prosumer” cameras. In the world of mirrorless cameras, prosumer-level cameras will probably be most comfortable for photographers making the move from a DSLR to a mirrorless model. Prosumer cameras have a slightly smaller body size than professional-level cameras, while offering more control and better image quality than consumer cameras.

Another thing that makes prosumer mirrorless cameras appealing is that many of them have an electronic viewfinder, as well as the LCD screen on the back of the camera. This makes the transition to mirrorless much easier if you are accustomed to looking through an optical viewfinder. With both an EVF and an LCD screen, problems with viewing your composition in bright light are minimized.

Professional-Level Cameras

If the highest-quality video and imagery is what you seek from a mirrorless camera, a professional-level camera will deliver what you need. These cameras straddle all formats, including Micro Four Thirds, APS-C, and full-frame and also tend to feature larger, more durable bodies that are often weather sealed. Additionally, they are characterized by faster processors, which aid autofocus performance and buffering when shooting large files or burst sequences. These cameras are also ideal for shooting professional videos, thanks to their support for external monitors, headphones, and microphones, as well as external video recorders.

These are the cameras that you will want to consider if you are an advanced hobbyist or professional who is used to the feel and performance of a professional DSLR camera. They offer the most creative control through their inclusion of fully manual adjustment capabilities and support for interface customization. Additionally, professional-grade cameras are usually the preferred choice when working in adverse situations, such as extreme low lighting or fast-action situations, due to their expanded imaging capabilities, sensitivity, and refined focusing performance.

After you choose your preferred sensor size or system type, think about what kind of lenses you might already own, or what types of lenses exist for the various cameras you are considering. Some manufacturers have a wider line of lenses for their mirrorless cameras than others, and this might be important to you if you like options.

Key Features to Consider:

Sensor size
Form factor
Lens mount
Viewfinder
Video capabilities
Wi-Fi
Hot shoe
Battery grip

Once you have narrowed down the larger, important aspects of choosing your camera, take a look at what features are important to you. Do you need HD or 4K video? Maybe you are a social-media guru and really like the ability to share photos online directly from your camera.

Another consideration is the accessories that are available for the various cameras. If you use an external flash, you’re going to want to make sure compatible flashes are available, and that the camera has a hot shoe to which one can be attached. Other accessories that might be important are battery grips, cases, remote controls, and apps―just to name a few.

You should now be prepared to choose the mirrorless camera that best suits your needs. Of course, if you have any questions, feel free to stop by the B&H SuperStore in New York, speak with a sales professional on the telephone at 1-800-606-6969 or contact us online for a Live Chat.

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Hi, I have always liked fotography and as I am heading to South East Asia soon I'd like to buy my first camera. It will be a backpacking trip and therefeore I am looking for a lightweight camera (mirrorless seems the best option as I'd like to be able to switch lenses). But the mirrorless offer is huge and I can't decide myself between a APS-C or m4/3 system. I would like my camera to respect some conditions: - Approx. 1000€ budget for the camera + the kit lense and maybe an extra fixed lense for low light pictures
- I will mainly take pictures but I am interested in video (So 4K is welcome)
- Weather sealed (resistant)
- In-body stabilization. Not sure how important it really is?

I've mostly been hesitating between the Panasonic Lumix G85 which matches all the conditions I want but  maybe is too bulky? and the Sony a6300 which is APSC but has no stabilization and has bulkier lenses.

Can someone help me to choose between APSC and m4/3 ? Is there really a gap between these 2 systems for someone like me? Knowing that I am a beginner (I won't print my pictures) and that I want to be able to evolve with my system without having to buy a new camera soon? Thank you in advance for your help.

Also this Discussion should have a way of editing one's typos after posting!

An excellent clear, no nonsense guide for those like myself, who was once an "enthusiast" level film camera photographer ( Pentax Z-1),  who got sidetracked into using (albeit good quality) compact cameras and then lost their way in (dare I say it) smart phone photograhy. Now wanting to get serious about photograp[hy again, I see mirrorless DSLR as the way ahead and now face a steep learning curve towards my npurchase decision.

I recently got into photography as a hobby and am looking to purchase a mirrorless camera.  Because I'm not a serious photographer, I was looking into more affordable cameras such as Sony a5100, a6000.  I really like the 180 flip of the a5100 but have read that the a6000 is better in functionality.  Is there a huge difference between the two?  The prices are similar and since I don't know too much about cameras, I'd love some feedback/opinion/recommendations. Thank you!

The a6000 will have the edge on the a5100 in terms or dynamic range and color depth.  The a6000 will also be faster and has a view finder.  While it would be hard to go wrong with either, I would lean towards the a6000.

I am a serious photographer using a full frame Canon 6D, but as I get older it is harder to carry around all day when I travel (which is when I do much of my photography).  I'm thinking of adding a mirrorless camera to take on trips, but I can't sort out all the information to select one.  I care about weight, including an all around high quality lens, and the ability to adjust as I do on my DSLR.  I don't care about video at all, and prince is not a very important concern since.  I will be in NYC in a few weeks and hope to pick up a camera after having the ability to hold several options, but I'm hoping you can narrow the field and direct me to a good choice. 

Hi - I didn't get any answer to my question.  Can you help please?

If you would like to use your current lenses, your best bet would be to go with one of the Canon mirrorless cameras and the Canon EF-M Lens Adapter Kit for Canon EF / EF-S Lenses.  You might look at the Canon EOS M5 Mirrorless Digital Camera.  It would weight significantly less than your current 6D, and allows for full manual exposure control with intuitive controls.  It would be a solid mirrorless option, and with the adapter you would still be able to use your great Canon lenses. 

Hi B&H,

Great Article! I am starting to look at a first real camera and am under the impression for what I am going to use it for, a mirorless is better than a DSLR. That being said, would you reccomend an a6000 or an M3 body over one another? Everyone that I have talked to would say to get a mid-range body and nicer lenses. Would you agree? Lastly, would you suggest a "Best value" setup for either one? I've been looking at nicer lense than the stock, unless you would reccomend.

Thanks!

Alex

Between the a6000 and the Canon M3, I would lean towards the a6000.  I find the a6000 to be a better camera all around.  It has the better overall image quality, low light performance, and autofocus.  As for lenses, if you are just starting out, going with one of the lens kits isn’t a bad idea.  You can then add lenses to your kit as you move forward in your photography and get a better feeling for what you need for want you want to shoot.  The Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 16-50mm and 55-210mm Lenses would be a solid option for starting out.

Hi B&H!

I have been looking at the Canon EOS M5 which I love the build quality on, I love the new AF touchscreen and the more mechanical feel to it when taking photos than my previous Sony camera. The only thing I miss is 120 fps video in 1080p. I dont really care about 4K, but slow motion is a big weak spot for me and since this will be my only camera I would like to feature everything I want - which is: easy to use manual settings, easy to use focus, 1080p 120 fps and about the size of the M5 (can do with slightly bigger aswell, don't want it to be too small) and EVF.

Is there another camera that matches the M5 in most aspects but also has 120 fps?

Thank you!

 The Sony a6500 would have pretty much every feature that you are looking for, including the 120fps at 1080.  Though, if you have already had a Sony mirrorless camera and did not like the feel, I don’t know that you would like the feel of the a6500 any better.  Unfortunately, there aren’t any mirrorless options quite like the M5 that sill also have 1080 at 120fps. 

I own  a Nikon D7000 and a Nikon D610 with a variety of Nikon & Tamron lenses.

Looking to switch to mirrorless because I just can't deal with the weight.

However, I do not want to give up the quality I get from these camera/lens combinations.

Suggestions??

If you don’t mind waiting a bit for the camera, you might look at the Fujifilm X-T2.  Fujifilm makes some fantastic mirrorless cameras, and the X-T2 looks to be an amazing little camera.  It would be considerably smaller and lighter weight than your Nikon cameras, with fantastic image quality and lens options. 

Hi B&H,

I'm just starting photography as a hobby, and I would like to buy a mirrorless camera for starter. Do you have any recommendation for me?

Thank you!

Hi Icechoco - 

The black Sony Alpha a5000 Mirrorless Digital Camera is a versatile and compact mirrorless camera that features a 20.1 megapixel APS-C-sized Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor and BIONZ X image processor to produce high-resolution still images and Full HD movies with marked low-light quality and sensitivity to ISO 16000. The image processor contributes greatly to minimizing overall noise levels and also affords a wealth of speed throughout the camera for recording up to 3.5 fps

Hi, I'm confused of such choice. I photograph mainly portraits and fashion. I want to go to of the mirrorless, but not at all, I can't choose. Not even from a large selection of lenses. I watched already a Hasselblad, but this one has slow focus. Can you help me?

Hey B&H!

Thanks for the great article. It helped me understand sensor sizes and how that might impact shooting. I'm still debating between the Sony a6500 and the Panesonic LUMIX G85 as an upgrade from my Nikon D3300. Any advice you could give?

I'm a filmmaker who also takes a significant amount of still photos. I'm used to, and enjoy the more bulky DSLR feel and where the viewfinder is placed in the G85 (easier for photos). However, I can't help but think of what the ASPC senor might do for me since I rarely use a ton of professional lighting as I'm mostly in run and gun vlog/doc style shooting. 

This camera will eventually become a B-Cam for a 2 camera set up. Hoping to purchase a Sony a7sII or GH5 in the future based on what brand I buy now.

Many thanks,

Cecelia

Between the two, I would lean towards the a6500.  It would be the better option for video, as would the a7S II in the future.  The a6500 would be better in low light and has a flat picture profile option for video.   I find the Sony system in general to have the advantage for both photo and video.

Hi

I have a Nikon D80 with a kit lens and a fast Sigma prime. Recently the mechanics oh the D80 body locked up. While I do intend to replace the D80 body, I'm also considering something more portable. I like the LX100, but I'd be willing to carry a little more than what it weighs. Ideally, I'd like a large sensor and a fast lens in a very portable package. 

If you are looking for a point and shoot, and don’t mind a prime lens, you might look at the Fujifilm X70 Digital Camera.  It is slightly more compact than the LX100 while having an APS-C size sensor and a lovely wide 18.5mm f/2.8 Lens (28mm Equiv.).  Fujifilm has been making some fantastic high end point and shoot cameras, and this one would be no exception.

Hi,

My partner and I are looking for a mirrorless camera for our upcoming honeymoon to Japan, we have not owned a mirrorless camera before so unsure where to start.

We have looked at the Sony A6000, Olympus E-M10 Mark II and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX80. Can you advice which would be the best one?

Many thanks

While there are more lens options for the Olympus and Panasonic cameras, I would likely lean towards the a6000.  It’s a great little camera, extremely user friendly, while also have fantastic image quality/low light performance.  I also find that the autofocus system is fairly fast and accurate.  All-in-all, I think that the a6000 would be a fantastic option for a mirrorless camera for a holiday or honeymoon. 

Thank you very much, Christina!

Hi B+H!

I'm having a hard time narrowing my search for a non-DSLR camera. I have done hours of research and watched too many YouTube videos. I'm overwhelmed and need your help please. This will be my main camera (aside from my iPhone 5s lol) I will be using the camera to vlog, shoot 2-person interviews and pics + video for YouTube + other social media platforms like Instagram. My budget is $700 or less. I've considered the Canon (G7x Mark II, G5x), Sony (A5100, Rx100 series, A600, A6300, LX series), Nikon (DL 24-85) and Panasonic (zs100, LX100, LX10, Fz300). While I like to picture quality of Sony -  I eliminated all Sony cameras because of the reliability and overheating issues they have had. While some firmware updates have helped some of the models - I need a very relaible camera and cannot risk the camera shutting off randomly on me. I like Panasonic image qulaity as well but have noticed some serious issues with the image stabilization and auto focus. Because I will be doing a considerable amount of moving around in the vlogs, I need video that is crisp, clear and stable for my viewers. I've heard some amazing things about the Nikon DL 24-85 but noticed it's been delayed and may or may not be available in Jan 2017. I want to start shooting as soon as possible but if the Nikon is worth it, I may wait. The Canon g7x Mark II is a high consideration but I don't Love the image quality and just because something is popular doesn't mean it's what's best for me. While I know most of these cameras do not have a mic input, I would like it to have decent/usable on-board sound just in case I am out vlogging and may/may not have an addition mic source. Some of the cameras I'm considering have interchangable lenses - I'm cool with that but it's not a requirement for me as long as the lens on the camera is good and can zoom close and wide for what I'm using it for. I've narrowed it down to these four: Canon g7x Mark II, Panasonic zs100, Panasonic LX100, Panasonic LX10, Nikon DL 24-85 - Please let me know which one I should get or if there is a different one I haven't mentioned that you would recommend.

Key NEEDS: Compact (small size), Good Image Stabilization, Great Auto Focus, Awesome in Low Light, Wifi, Good On Board Sound, Ideally have 4k video - Under $700

Thank u + Greatly Appreciated!

Unfortunately, we do not have an ETA for the Nikon DL24-85 f/1.8-2.8 Digital Camera at this time.   I wouldn’t be able to say when we might see the camera in stock.  While not on your list, you might look at the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 Digital Camera.  It would have HYBRID O.I.S. 5-Axis Image Stabilization, fast autofocus, and solid 4K video recording.  It also has an input for an external mic, which will be useful if you will be doing interviews and vlogging.  None of these cameras have excellent built-in mics, so the ability to use an external mic will be extremely beneficial in capturing quality audio. 

Need the best mirrorless camera that will hold up to the elements. I am an ultrarunner and need something that is waterproof and "cold-proof" down to 10-15F. Any suggestions for the outdoors man or woman?

Hi Ronald -

With a world's first full-frame 42.4-megapixel Exmor R back-illuminated structure CMOS sensor, the Alpha a7R II Mirrorless Digital Camera from Sony is prepared to take mirrorless imaging to another level. This sensor design both improves low-light operation and speeds up data throughout, enabling fast high-resolution stills and UHD 4K video recording. Working with the BIONZ X image processor, these images can be produced at sensitivities up to ISO 102,400 and at a continuous 5 fps shooting rate. Five-axis SteadyShot INSIDE image stabilization has also been implemented, compensating for vertical, horizontal, pitch, yaw, and roll movements.

Speed has received a major boost with a 40% increase in speed over its predecessor. The AF system received its own massive upgrade with the use of 399 phase-detect points and 25 contrast-detect points for a speedy Fast Hybrid AF system which will offer extremely accurate tracking. The phase-detection points even extend to A-mount lenses when used with the LA-EA1 and LA-EA3 adapter.

Designed to last, the updated magnesium alloy body has improved weather sealing and a robust lens mount for working with large lenses. Also, the shutter has a reduced-vibration design, cutting down shutter vibrations by about 50%. Also, it now uses an electronic front curtain shutter and is rated for 500,000 cycles. Silent shooting is also available for a quiet shooting experience when needed.   Use SONY's GM series lenses as they are also dust- and moisture-sealed, to permit working in inclement weather conditions, 

Hi B&H team!!

We are thinking of buying a lens for work. We have a Black Magic Production Camera. So I want a lens that is good enough for 4K footage. We also need a fast lens, bc a lot of times at conferences the lighting can be unpredictable. and lastly we need a good zoom or telephoto so I can get good shots of the speakers onstage even though i'm not that close.

Do you have any recs?

Hi Chris -

     Should I asume your camera accepts EF mount lenses?  Are you looking for one fast, zoom lens. Or two lenses - one prime and one zoom.

     The EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM Lens from Canon lens is a wide-angle prime lens that provides sharp imaging and impressive performance at all settings. Its wide maximum aperture of f/1.4 allows for effective low-light photography and its circular aperture and narrow depth of field provide pleasing background blur. It is ideal for photojournalists, landscape and event photographers, and anyone who enjoys taking images from a wider perspective.

This version "II" improves greatly over its predecessor with the addition of two high-precision aspherical elements, which correct aberration including curvature of field and distortion. Chromatic aberration common in wide-angle shooting is also reduced by the inclusion of two UD lenses, which ensure optimum image quality and corner-to-corner detail. The lens elements have anti-reflective SWC (Sub-Wavelength Coating) that minimizes ghosting and flaring across the lens surface, regardless of the angle with which light enters.

The EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM lens features Canon's near-silent Ultra Sonic Motor (USM), which provides fast auto-focusing with full-time manual override. The floating internal focus system also helps maintain image quality throughout the focal range. As an L-series lens, it is designed to withstand the demands of professional usage and features Canon's advanced weather and dust sealing.

The EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens from Canon improves upon its predecessor, one of the most acclaimed lenses in the Canon EF line, with superior performance, increased speed and optical quality.

This lens construction consists of one fluorite and five ultra-low dispersion optical elements which help deliver the sharpness and reduced aberrations. The IS II Optical Image Stabilizer provides up to 4 stops of correction at all focal lengths and features two modes for stabilization of still objects and while panning to follow moving subjects. An ultrasonic focusing motor provides fast, smooth and silent autofocus action.

This lens has a minimum focusing distance of 3.9' (1.2m) at all zoom settings so you can shoot close to your subject even in smaller spaces. Like all Canon L-series lenses, this telephoto zoom is dust and moisture resistant and designed to keep on going even in the most challenging of environments.

Hi,

I'm wondering if you might be able to help me narrow down my search for a mirrorless camera. This will be my first. I used my iphone 6s camera on a recent trip to Europe and fell in love with photography and want to expand my range. From what I've read, the Sony a6000 (that I can get with a 2 lens kit) seems like a good option to get the most bang for my buck, but I want something that I can grow into and am concerned this might not be the best option. I also wonder whether not having the touchscreen will slow me down.

I'll be using it almost exclusively for stills and want really great quality, with the buffer of a relatively easy to use format. I'll be traveling to Iceland and the UK, so weather resistence is a factor.

Being new, do you think it's more important to take advantage of being able to get more than just the kit lens? My max budget is about $1500 (but I'd like that to get me a lens or two). I'd like to be able to get a good zoom and a wide lens for landscapes.

All the options are so overwhelming. I'd really appreciate the help!

The a6000 is a fantastic little camera, and the two lens kit would be a great option for starting out.  If you don’t think you would miss the touchscreen, the a6000 would be hard to go wrong with.  While it has some amazing auto functions, it’s also very customizable, and I don’t see it being an option you would soon outgrow.  You might look at the “Unleashing the Power of Your Sony A6000” video on the B&H YouTube channel, where Garry Fong give’s a tutorial on the a6000.

As for lenses, you could look at adding the Sony E 10-18mm f/4 OSS Lens to the kit.  It would be a great option for landscapes. 

Hello.  Thank you for the detailed article.  I currently have a D5100 with a kit lens and a 35mm 1.8.  I purchased it a while ago but never really used it until I had a child and started to learn on it.  So my dilemma now is, do I stick with Nikon and maybe get some other lenses and upgrade to a new body later or switch up to mirrorless?  I was looking at the A6000 or A6500 but was told the auto-focusing is slow, and the lenses for sony are very expensive--too expensive to the point of not being practical in buying an A6000 which is less than $500 now (35mm 1.8 for sony is $400).  Could you possible advice on which mirrorless would be good to take around outside with the kid and family as well as just a walk around camera but one that does not have expensive lenses?  Thank you for your help.

If you aren’t specifically looking for a smaller/lighter rig, and are good with the size of the D5100, I would likely stick with the D5100 and invest in some new lenses.  There will be far more options for lenses for the Nikon cameras, which also means being able to find some less expensive options.  If you do find you want to go mirrorless, the Sony system is a solid option.  You could go with the a6000 or a6500.  The a6500 will have the better/faster autofocus system.  As for lenses there are some relatively inexpensive prime lenses for the E-mount cameras.  You could look at the Sigma 30mm f/2.8 DN Lens for Sony E-mount Cameras, Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 Lens,  and Sigma 19mm f/2.8 DN Lens for Sony E-mount Cameras.  These would be among some of the less expensive prime lens options.  Though, I would again stick with the D5100 unless you have and issue with the size.

Hello BH Team!

Really glad I came across this guide on mirrorless camera while researching on google!
I used to own a D5100 w/ 18-55mm kit together with 35mm prime years back, sadly departed it due to its size and weight inconvenience for traveling. As my upcoming trips are getting closer, would be getting my hands on one first before fumbling it during the trip.

I rarely take videos as it takes up too much memory. Often on street, landscape and occasionally portraits, thus size and weight would be my second consideration. First would be costing, I would prefer to start low with a good kit and progress with lens in the future. I have tried few Olympus ones (can't remember the model) but the UI didn't feel quite right for me, always have trouble fumbling it.

Hoping you could share some recommendation from my pointers, open to suggestions :)

 

You might look at the Fujifilm X-T10 with 16-50mm lens.  It has a great form factor and fantastic image quality.  It would be a solid option for travel to use for street, landscape, and portraits.  If you have questions about the camera, or would like another recommendation, you might send our Photo Department an email.  AskPhoto@bhphoto.com

Thank you so much for the review! I am looking to buy a camera and mirrorless seemed the best way to go as I will mostly be using it while I am traveling, so the light weight option appealed to me! I will be taking pictures of landscapes and city shots. I know next to nothing about cameras (but am trying to learn!), so I am sure that anthing would be an upgrade for me! I have read good things about the sony a6000, however it is a bit pricy for my limited budget, so I looked into the older sony a5000 which has mixed reviews. I rarely take videos and when I do I am not very concerend about them, image quality is my biggest priority. I was woundering if it is worth the extra money for the a6000 or if based on my needs the a5000 would suffice. Or if there are other cameras that you would reccomend. Any information is appreachiated!

If you can swing it, I would go with the a6000.  It has noticeably better image quality and low light performance as compared to the a5000.  It will also be significantly faster with a better autofocus system.  The responsiveness of the autofocus system can be the difference between getting the shot or not.

This is a wonderful beginner's guide to mirrorless cameras - thank you for sharing your expertise. I am looking for a camera to be used primarily in travel photos - both landscapes and closer subjects. Prefer a light weight and relatively durable camera that can be carried through long and challenging hikes - water resistance is a plus but not a must. Video is not a critical consideration. I used to own a Nikon 1 J4 that I really loved but was wondering if there are cameras that are similarly light weight but even better quality (+30x zoom still with a smaller, light weight lens). Price: $300-600. Let me know if you have any recommendations.

There won’t be any mirrorless options where you will find lenses that have + 30x zoom.  If you are looking for something relatively compact and light weight with that much zoom, you would likely want to look into a point and shoot rather than a mirrorless camera.  Otherwise, you will be looking at going with several lenses than just one lens.  Also, I don’t know of any mirrorless options on the market that would be as compact and light weight as the Nikon 1 cameras.  If you are interested in contemplating a point and shoot, you might look at the Nikon COOLPIX P900 Digital Camera.  It has an 83X optical zoom lens, and would be fairly light weight.  It isn’t water proof, but you could get a bag/case to protect it from the elements.

Hi Nitzan,

I am also looking for a camera that is lightweight, shoots great image quality and hopefully has a zoom of at least 10 or above. I have been using an Olympus Stylus 1 and that checks most of these boxes. 

Tonight I looked at a Sony Alpha 6000. Very compact and lightweight. It's mirrorless, so I'm guessing that would be a step up from my Olympus. But I believe the zoom is only a 3.

Have you had any luck finding what you're looking for?

Thanks.  TC

I am trying to decide between the Sony A6000 and the Olympus OM-D E-M10 II. I plan to not do much video and my main use case will be for wildlife/landscapes. COuld you recommend which camera is better suited for this as well as a lens to go along with the kit lens? Thanks

It would be hard to go wrong with either of those cameras.  Though, I might lean towards the Olympus simply for lens options.  While Sony has some lovely lenses on the market, they still don’t have the number of lenses as are offered for the micro four thirds mount cameras, especially when it comes to telephoto options.  For wildlife, you will likely want a lens with some range.  You might checkout the Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II Lens to go along with a kit lens.  It would be an excellent option for capturing wildlife shots. 

Looking to buy a mirrorless  camera mostly due to its compact size so it's good for travelling. I'd like something with good zoom and good image quality inside and outside. It'd be nice to have a external microphone jack also but not necessary. Looking for something around 700 or less. The Cheaper the better. It doesn't have to be very advanced as I don't mess around with settings much. What would you recommend? Also I love cameras with the vintage look! ;) 

You might checkout the Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 16-50mm and 55-210mm Lenses (Black).  The two lens kit would give you a bit of range, and the a6000 is a great little mirrorless camera.  It has some excellent auto features, and is capable of taking great photos. 

Hi BH Team,

I have a Nikon D7100 + 17-55mm f2.8 and a set of lenses: 300mm f/4, 70-200mm f/4. After a recent European trip, I felt that the Camera + 18-55mm was too heavy. I have NO intention in replacing my Nikon but I want a very good mirrorless with a prime lens as a travel alternative. Image quality is imperative for me!  I’ve considered the Fuji cameras but I’m totally open for your suggestion. Can you please assist? 

Fujifilm has some excellent mirrorless cameras.  You might look at the Fujifilm X-Pro2 Mirrorless Digital Camera.  It would definitely, be a more compact option compared to your Nikon D7100, and Fujifilm does have some lovely prime lenses.  The X-Pro2 has fantastic image quality, and I am a particular fan of the layout of the film. 

Hello!

To begin with, I'll tell you guys what do I need my camera for.

- The first and main use: movies shot in and outside the house (yes, I do not want a camcorder, but the camera :)) - cooking, unboxing, reviews, talking to the camera while sitting at my desk, traveling, walking around the city, restaurants, etc. I think 1080p 60s or 4K even though it's not really necessary for me. Recording limit as large as possible and preferably starting a new video after reaching this limit, not ending a file and stopping. It is important for me to have a very good focus, so as it doesn't hunt for focus, but it just keeps filming the static scene and more dynamic one equally crystal clear. I would also like a 180' flip-out screen. Lenses - the bigger the maximum aperture, the better.

- Second, also important: high-quality pictures

I reflected on the Canon 70D, but it is just too big and a little too expensive with a nice lens, and I would like something more handy.

Today, I hesitate between Panasonic Lumix G7 and Canon G7X Mark II. Can you advise or suggest something else? As I said, the main concern is great quality video, and secondly great pictures. I'm thinking a good compact or a small mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera with bright lenses.

Can you help? :)

I would lean towards a mirrorless option over a point and shoot.  The ability to switch out lenses will be a big benefit.  The G7 would be a solid option.  You can continue recording without interruption even if the file size exceeds 4 GB, but the motion picture file will be divided and recorded/played back separately.  It would have solid video and still image quality, as well as a vari-angle LCD.  It would fit the bill for what you state you are looking for in a compact form factor. 

Thanks for the response :)

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