Mirrorless cameras are the new hot item in consumer photography gear. Many consumers love the image quality of a DSLR, but their big and bulky body can become an inconvenience at times. The mirrorless camera systems solve this problem by offering the same image quality in a smaller package.
Quick Overview: 3 Best Mirrorless Cameras Under 500 Dollars
|Sony NEX-5TL with 16-50mm Lens||Fujifilm X-A1 Kit With 16-50mm Lens||Samsung NX300 with 18-55mm Lens|
|Resolution||16.1 MP||16.3 MP||20.3 MP|
|Continuous Shooting Speed||10||5.6||8.6|
|Video Resolution||1920 x 1080||1920 x 1080||1920 x 1080, 1280 x 720, 640 x 480, 320 x 240|
|Sensor||APS HD, CMOS||CMOS||CMOS|
|Memory Cards||SD/ SDHC/SDXC, Memory Stick Pro Duo/ Pro-HG Duo||SD / SDHC / SDXC||SD / SDHC / SDXC|
|Battery||Lithium-Ion NPFW5||Lithium-Ion NP-W126||Lithium-Ion BP1130|
Introduction: Why Choose A Mirrorless Camera?
The smaller size, lighter weight, cheaper price (sometimes), relatively identical power and image quality are the main reasons why you should consider purchasing a mirrorless camera instead of a DSLR. Even for the professional market, there are a growing number of professional photographers who are using mirrorless cameras systems for their work.
The increase in available mirrorless cameras, lenses and accessories definitely adds to the appeal of buying a mirrorless camera. For example the Canon EOS M, although the camera itself is far from the best mirrorless camera under 500 dollars, it is compatible with all EF and EF-S lenses. This means that the small initial investment you make in a mirrorless camera has the potential to upgrade to a full-fledged professional-grade photography system.
The mirrorless camera (with interchangeable lens capabilities) offers great versatility, power and image quality in a smaller and more convenient package. These benefits can also potentially come at a cheaper price too, which is why you should take the mirrorless camera into serious consideration when out shopping for a new camera.
What To Look For In A Mirrorless Camera
The first and most important feature to look for in a mirrorless camera is whether it has interchangeable lens capabilities or not. Price doesn’t always reflect if a mirrorless camera has this function or not. For example the Fujifilm X100S is priced at over $1,000 but it comes with a 23mm lens which you cannot replace. Yet a Fujifilm X-A1, which is priced under $500 has interchangeable lens capabilities. A camera which gives you the ability to switch out lenses can grow with you as you develop your skills as a photographer.
Another really important feature is whether or not it has a viewfinder. The inclusion of a viewfinder on a mirrorless camera usually bumps up the price a fair amount. However, for the average consumer it might not be a big deal if they don’t have a viewfinder, since they are probably comfortable with handling a point and shoot type camera. But if you are a long-time DSLR user you might find it awkward to take photos without having a viewfinder.
There are two types of viewfinders that are built into mirrorless cameras. The EVF (electronic viewfinder) and OVF (optic viewfinder). The OVF is identical to the viewfinders that you would use on a normal DSLR, but an EVF is quite different. The EVF displays what the sensor sees, so you know exactly what your image will look like. Different camera settings will change what you see through the EVF but not on the OVF. Most mirrorless cameras that come with a viewfinder are of the EVF variant.
Aside from these two main features, the other features and options are very similar to DSLR cameras. It might be a good idea to look into the current and upcoming lens releases if you are planning to upgrade your mirrorless camera system. Other than that, it’s down to personal preference.
Best Mirrorless Camera Under 500 Dollars: 3 Reviews
The Sony NEX-5TL is the first in our line-up for the best mirrorless camera under 500 dollars. Sony have a very solid foothold in the mirrorless camera market and offer top-of-the-line products for consumers of all needs and budgets. The Sony NEX-5TL with 16-50mm zoom lens is a great mirrorless camera kit retailing at $399.99.
The design of the NEX-5TL is sleek and small, able to fit in a purse or small bag. It’s small enough that it could possibly fit in your pockets too. For such a small camera it packs a lot of features and power. The 16.1 MP sensor and Hybrid AF (auto-focus) makes shooting with this camera a breeze. You’ll never have to worry about missing the shot because the auto-focus system should be quick enough to capture any moment and the 16.1 MP sensor is more than enough to produce wonderful images.
The flip screen reaches a full 180 degrees allowing for super-easy selfies. And should you ever need it, the NEX-5TL can shoot at 10fps continuous shooting, which is quite fast. However, the lack of in-built flash and no external battery charger can cause some inconveniences. The NEX-5TL does have a flash, but it comes as an attachment.
- Extremely small and light
- Great value for money
- No compromise in image quality
- Relatively fast auto-focus
- Ability to connect to other devices with Wi-Fi
- No in-built flash
- No external battery charger
Fujifilm’s X-A1 is the entry-level model in the Fujifilm X-series camera systems. That’s not to say that the X-A1 is a bad camera, in fact that is very far from the truth. The Fujifilm X-A1 is capable of capturing beautiful images and with the expanding library of superb Fujifilm lenses, the X-A1 has a lot of upgradability.
As with most cameras within the Fujifilm X-series, the X-A1 combines new-age technology with traditional styling. Designed to mimic older camera bodies, the X-A1 looks quite nice but still has all the bells and whistles of a modern-day digital camera. The main downside to this camera is the sensor. In place of the signature X-Trans CMOS sensor (used in other X-series cameras) is a slightly inferior APS-C CMOS image sensor. The difference in image quality is miniscule, but it might be more noticeable in certain settings or low light situations.
- High build quality
- Great camera body design
- Very little noise at high ISO levels
- Outstanding image quality
- Uses a slightly inferior image sensor than other cameras in the Fujifilm X-series
The Samsung NX300 sports a 20.3 MP CMOS sensor, which is the highest amount of megapixels in our best mirrorless camera under 500 dollars list. Combined with a fast Hybrid Auto-focus system, the Samsung NX300 takes sharp and splendid photos. Many users also praise the 18-55mm kit lens included in the package and note that it is capable of producing very sharp images.
The Samsung NX300 uses a APS-C sized sensor, which is bigger than the standard Micro Four Thirds systems commonly used in other mirrorless cameras. By opting to use a APS-C size sensor, the NX300 is able to match the image quality of DSLRs.
- Great image quality, very close to DSLR standards
- Connect to other devices easily through in-built Wi-Fi
- The included kit lens is very good
- The NX300 is Samsung’s best small mirrorless camera currently on offer
- No in-built flash, the flash comes as an attachment
- Slightly more expensive than the other cameras in our list
Video: DSLR vs Mirrorless
Still not sure if you want a Mirrorless camera or a DSLR? The guys from DigitalRev TV also make a good comparison between these two camera types:
We hope this article has helped you find the best mirrorless camera under 500 dollars. Check out these articles if you want more information:
- Still not convinced after watching the video? Tom’s guide has also written a good article to help you decide.
- Want to learn about all the pro’s and con’s of mirrorless cameras? Check out this helpful post by digital photo secrets.