Last updated: 03/30/2020

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You may have heard of mirrorless cameras but still don’t understand precisely why they have become so popular. If you don’t know what sets them apart from other video cameras and why you might want to prefer these models over others available on the market, our guide is for you.

MILC (mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera) devices have an electronic viewfinder with interchangeable lenses. As their name indicates, they have no mirrors and pentaprisms and differ from the rest by offering high-quality photos without needing a large camera.

Key Facts

  • Mirrorless cameras provide similar image quality to that of DSLR cameras while being similar in size to compact devices.
  • This camera has different names: mirrorless, MILC, DSLM (digital single-lens mirrorless), or EVIL (electronic viewfinder, interchangeable lens).
  • Throughout our article, we will explain what makes this type of camera different from SLR, compact, and bridge models.

Our Selection: The Best Mirrorless Cameras on the U.S. Market

If you have decided to purchase a mirrorless camera, it is probably because you have already discarded bridge, DSLR, and other compact devices. That being said, you should be aware that there is a wide variety of MILC products with quite different characteristics depending on your photographic desires. We have selected the best model currently available on the market:

Best-Selling Mirrorless Camera

Sony Alpha has established itself as one of the most advanced brands within the mirrorless camera industry. The a6000 particularly stands out for its APS-C CMOS sensor and its 24.3 megapixels. It also features an OLED electronic viewfinder and arguably the world’s fastest autofocus with 179 phase-detection points for greater accuracy. Able to record in Full HD, this mirrorless camera integrates the Wi-Fi function.

Best Mirrorless Camera Kit

Featuring a Four Thirds sensor with 16 megapixels, the Panasonic Lumix G7 is a fantastic option if you want to catch every detail of sports events. The smart high-speed autofocus is designed specifically for this. This mirrorless camera offers great value for money, too; it comes with two lenses for enhanced versatility. Other key functionalities include 4K video recording, a silent shooting mode, and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Best Budget-Friendly Mirrorless Camera

Weighing just over a pound, this Olympus mirrorless camera provides unprecedented mobility so you can move freely and access places you can’t with heavier DSLRs. With a 16-megapixel sensor and a built-in 5-axis image stabilization system, you can take the perfect shot at the right time. With Full HD video recording capacities, this compact model is the most affordable of our selection and a great way to start with mirrorless cameras.

Best Mirrorless Camera with 4K Video

The Canon EOS M50 features an EF-M 15-45 S lens, a touchscreen, and can reach AF speeds similar to those of DSLR models. Its 24.1-megapixel CMOS sensor and DIGIC 8 image processor offer incredible quality and detail. This model combines the best of Canon’s compact DSLRs to deliver high performance and handling in a smaller camera. With 4K video recording and an electronic viewfinder, this is a great option to consider.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Mirrorless Cameras

Mirrorless cameras remain a relatively new product on the market. Photography enthusiasts and professionals have a wide array of options to explore when choosing the most useful camera for their needs. In the following section, we will answer some of the most frequently asked questions to help you make the right purchase.

Mirrorless cameras are gaining in popularity.
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Are mirrorless cameras a fad?

This type of camera appeared on the market over a decade ago, but the popularity they enjoy today has only begun in more recent years. Lately, their number of sales has not stopped increasing. This has led many people to believe that mirrorless cameras were little more than a passing trend.

However, and in spite of the longstanding popularity of DSLR cameras among most photographers, mirrorless models are slowly but steadily winning the race. Their quality, affordability, size, and features are now pushing many photographers to choose them over other cameras.

What does mirrorless actually mean?

What truly makes MILC cameras stand out from the competition is the fact that they do not integrate a mirror. While DSLR models incorporate one inside to reflect the image that enters through the lens before projecting directly into the viewfinder, this system has been removed from mirrorless cameras.

The lack of this element makes MILC devices more compact and manageable, without affecting the quality of the photos. While this does impact the focus quality, it also increases the life cycle and resistance of the cameras, since they no longer require a mechanical shutter system.

Advanced or professional photographers can make great use of mirrorless cameras.
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Why are mirrorless cameras so interesting?

The purchase of this type of camera is recommended for advanced and professional photographers. They allow you to enjoy a sophisticated and modern technical quality comparable to that of DSLR cameras, giving them an edge for most current standard photographers.

If you want to go further and turn photography into a job, mirrorless cameras may be too small for you in some functions. You will need to use an XLR microphone adapter to reach maximum audio quality when recording video, for instance. And the sound quality is naturally a priority with videos.

Why does the size of the sensor matter?

Many people believe that the number of pixels determines the quality of your photo. In reality, there is another aspect even more relevant for this: the size of the sensor. We have listed the most frequently used types in mirrorless cameras in the list below:

  • Full-frame: Its dimensions are similar to that of classic analog films (35 mm). Enhanced quality and details.
  • APS-C: It is small and offers good image quality. The cameras are therefore compact and lightweight.
  • Four Thirds: It is smaller in size than the models above, and compatible with light objectives.

Can I change my camera lens?

You may find it useful to have the possibility of swapping the lens of your mirrorless camera, depending on the type of photography you are working with. One lens will be more appropriate for portraits, while another will allow you to better capture moving details in specific situations. This is the case if you are photographing sporting events, for instance.

For this reason, it is interesting to purchase a camera body with ideal features before opting for the lenses that best suit it. While mirrorless cameras allow you to change them, keep in mind that you do not have access to as wide a variety of lenses as that of DSLR models.

What are the differences between the main types of cameras?

In the following section, we will look at the most popular types of cameras currently on the market, and we will analyze their main features. Recent technological advances have led to the appearance of various models that share similarities but also offer very distinctive features, as you can see in the table below. Let’s compare mirrorless cameras with DSLR, compact, and bridge types:

Mirrorless DSLR Compact Bridge
Size and weight Reduced size and weight Greater size and weight Reduced size and weight Intermediate model between compact and DSLR camera
Advantages  Mechanically more resistant Large image sensor and wide variety of accessories Very affordable Optics with large focal range.
Mirrorless.
Disadvantages Its contrast focusing system is less accurate than that of DSLRs.
Some models do not have a built-in viewfinder.
Fairly expensive Non-interchangeable optics, lower quality performance, and small sensor Fixed optics

Buyer’s Guide

Mirrorless cameras have evolved a lot over the last few years. While high-end models offer most of the advanced features, you have to decide which characteristics your camera needs to integrate. To help you decide the mirrorless camera that is right for you, we have analyzed the most important features they include:

Lenses

As we discussed earlier, the ability to change photographic objectives is one of the features that differentiates this type of camera from other models. If you want to take your photos to a professional level, you will need to pay particular attention to this aspect. The type of photography and the results you are looking for will determine the lens(es) you need.

You may face a decent challenge when you are browsing through the great variety of objectives on the market. Mirrorless cameras are newer products than DSLR models, which is why they offer fewer types of lenses. However, there are still many options available that will make your decision even tougher if you are not familiar with them. Here are three of the most popular lenses:

  • Wide-angle lens: Its focal length measures between 18 and 35 mm.
  • Normal lens: 50-mm focal length.
  • Telephoto lens: From 70 to 135 mm.

The ability to change photographic objectives is one of the features that differentiates this type of camera from other models.
(Source: Ensup: 20952754/ 123rf.com)

Viewfinder

Some of the most basic mirrorless cameras have no electronic viewfinder, with the image simply being projected onto the camera screen. The idea behind this is to offer smaller and more manageable devices without giving up on image quality. This is an excellent option if you were previously a compact camera user.

This isn’t so true for more professional photographers or those who are accustomed to framing by using the electronic viewfinder. If this is your case, dispensing with it may result in being much less comfortable and won’t allow you to produce the photographic results you are after. Don’t overlook this criterion when you are picking your new camera.

Video Recording

More and more users turn to mirrorless cameras for their video projects, whether for YouTube channels or small semi-professional recordings. The image and audio quality are both improving steadily over time, so make sure you consider these technical specs.

In that regard, you will want to pay attention to aspects such as the autofocus system, 4K recording, and the frame rate per second. You should also be interested in the presence of the slow-motion option, external microphone inputs or image stabilization during your selection process.

Wi-Fi

The Wi-Fi feature is becoming increasingly popular in many electronic devices, and it’s no different for mirrorless cameras. The range of a specific model will ultimately determine whether it integrates this functionality or not. The higher the range, the more likely it is that it offers Wi-Fi.

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Did you know that Wi-Fi allows you to transfer photos from your camera to a smartphone or tablet? You can also take shots remotely, or even print photos directly from your camera to a printer.

Shutter Speed

Mirrorless cameras are particularly useful for photographers who need a high shutter speed to take sports or fauna shots, for example. Their mechanism allows them to shoot at a faster speed than DSLR models. Their size also makes them a great option to consider.

In this field, the challenge with DSLRs is that their mirror movement limits the interval between photos. Mirrorless cameras therefore offer much higher burst mode speed. This criterion is not negligible if you are looking to take several photos successively without sacrificing detail quality.

Summary

One thing is certain: mirrorless cameras are here to stay. While the camera industry continues to grow at a frenzied pace, it is essential that you take the time to think about the key technical specs you want in your new camera. These will likely include focus, stabilization, sensor, or shutter speed.

The various names by which these cameras go often confuse many photography enthusiasts. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by their specific meanings, and instead focus on what you want to photograph or record. The concept of your work will ultimately determine the most appropriate model for you.

If you found our guide on mirrorless cameras useful, feel free to share it on your social media. You can also leave us a comment in the section below!

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Why you can trust me?

Brett Holmes Technology Geek
Brett is a keen observer of the latest technology trends and knows his way around the industry because he runs an electronics store. He writes about it in his spare time and wants to help others learn more about the technology industry.