/The Best Mirrorless Cameras Under $500

The Best Mirrorless Cameras Under $500

 

Photography is becoming a trendy hobby, and many people are venturing into it for both professional and fun purposes. Regardless of your motivation, having a good set of photography tools should be a priority. The most important of the tools you need to have is a camera. With the advancement in technology, camera producers are coming up with amazing pieces with incredible specifications and features.

One significant step in the production of cameras that given the mighty DSLRs something to think about is the introduction of the mirrorless cameras. These cameras offer great options for amateur photographers while still serving the experienced and professional ones well. The mirrorless cameras are characterized by their portability while still providing most of the functionality obtained from using the old DSLRs. Vloggers have significantly benefited from the invention of the mirrorless cameras as the large ones were really giving them a hard time taking top quality videos while moving up and about.

A mirrorless camera is essentially a small digital camera that has the vital DSLR features. They are amazingly cheap and ideal for photographers who operate on strict budgets. Numerous choices around the $500 price tag can capture amazing shots like never before. We have assessed the mirrorless cameras around and below the $500 mark and find below the best from the rest.

CameraOptical ZoomBatteryWeight 
Fujifilm X-A103x8.7 Watt Hours1.8 poundsCheck Price
Sony Alpha a51003x2 Watt Hours0.62 poundsCheck Price
Samsung NX33002.5x-0.51 poundsCheck Price
Sony NEX-3N3x2 Watt Hours0.59 poundsCheck Price

1. Fujifilm X-A10

 

It is quite surprising to see a Fujifilm producing one of the best mirrorless cameras under $500. Well, this camera simply lives up to the tag, and it is arguably the best in this category. It is the company’s entry level product in the mirrorless cameras. This camera does not use the X Trans color filter as it utilizes the old fashioned Bayer filter. It has several amazing features such as flip up LCD screen and a picture enhancer for selfies.

The X-A10 is quite compact and light with its weight being slightly above ten ounces. It has a double control dial, something that makes it easier to change the exposure settings. Its autofocus ability is quite amazing, but it isn’t there yet as it is expected on an inexpensive camera. Its battery life is quite impressive, and you can take up to over 410 shots for a single full charge. It uses a 16 MP lens, and this clearly indicates that the image and video qualities are great. The images have a lot of color detail, and the noise reduction feature of the video recordings is not that bad. Reducing the quality to 1280 x 720 resolution gives you the option to record at 60fps. The controls are fairly limited as you can only change the aperture, exposure, and microphone level when recording videos.

Available for less than $500, this camera offers amazing features, an above average battery life, and high-quality images. Despite it lacking a touch enabled screen and having its body designed using too much plastic, the X-A10 is still a great camera worth considering.

Pros
  • Built-in WiFi
  • Articulating Screen
  • Selfie Friendly LCD Screen
  • Impressive viewfinder
Cons
  • No 4K video shooting
  • No weather sealing
  • No touchscreen

2. Sony Alpha a5100

Sony’s reputation in the camera production business is well known, and it is expected for them to have a couple of picks in this category. The alpha a5100 is a top performing camera that has a wide variety of amazing features encompassed in its tiny body. This camera is made using the 24.3 MP sensor that is used by its bigger compatriot the Sony a600. This sensor has been widely acclaimed as one of the best when looking at mid-range cameras, and this explains its impressive performance. It has touch screen capabilities, fast and precise autofocus feature and an in built Wi-Fi. This camera is very light and small with the body well designed to offer users the required grip when recording things while in motion. One flaw associated with this camera is the lack of direct controls which may derail a huge percentage of the experienced shooters out there.

The touch enabled LCD screen can be flipped for selfies, and the camera has an additional help button that offers guidance to photographers who aren’t familiar with the basics. It has a small flash that can pop up to help capture images in low light conditions. This camera takes a lot from its bigger compatriot with the AF system in place being one of the best in terms of speed and precision. The autofocus and face detection features work completely well even when recording videos.

It can record up to 6fps which is basically the standard rate compared to its counterparts in the same category. The overall image quality is impressive regardless of your desired output option, and the noise reduction feature works pretty well.

Due to its simplicity and intuitive controls, this pick is ideal for people who are new to photography and casual photographers.

Pros
  • Impressive video capture performance
  • Good image quality and AF speeds
  • Great high ISO performance
Cons
  • No microphone socket
  • Lack of buttons

3. Samsung NX3300

 

This camera from giants Samsung is the other pick in this category. It is a great option for people who want good performance in a small package. The NX3300s performance is impressive as seen from the large image sensor and a high megapixel count for such an inexpensive camera. It has some amazing smart features like an inbuilt Wi-Fi adapter, NFC and the ability to share images directly to social media. Isn’t that amazing for people who want to upload their images to their online pages right away?

The body design of this pick is sleek and beautiful with the metal accents adding up to the amazing look. The image quality is outstanding, and the pictures taken by this camera are almost similar to those captured by mighty DLSRs. All these great features can be owed to the APS-C 20Mp sensor that offers one of the best performance in cameras in this category. The NX3300’s interface is very user-friendly and navigating though it has been made very easy. An efficient power zoom, a responsive flash that pops up and nature clad body add up to all the great features mentioned above.

The NX3300 has very minimal compatibility issues as it can go with most of the Samsung’s NX lenses in the market. One major downside of this camera is that it has no external battery charger and one is forced to charge the battery while it is still in the camera, something that may be an inconvenience for some people. The autofocus feature is great for the image sections but leaves a lot to be desired in the video recording part. Lastly, it is a bit heavy compared to its peers, and you may compromise some level of portability by picking this camera.

Pros
  • Lightweight and convenient for travel
  • Good image quality in daylight
  • Easy to use for beginners
Cons
  • No built-in viewfinder
  • LCD screen does not rotate

4. Sony NEX-3N

Introducing Sony’s second entry in this list, we have the incredible NEX-3N. It is among one of the most expensive cameras under this category, and its price just falls a little bit shy of hitting the $500 mark. This camera is defined by its incredible performance, good looks, and versatility. It has a DSLR sensor in its compact body that can fit in small bags or even in your hand comfortably. This
camera defines the actual balance of form and function.

The most prominent strengths of this camera are its image quality and design. It is simple to use, feels very comfortable on the hands and delivers great images. It has a rapid LCD touch enable screen and an auto framing feature that adjusts every picture accordingly. The impressive performance of this camera is owed to the sensor built in it. This sensor is the same one that Sony uses on their mighty DSLRs known as the EXMOR.

The ultra-fast auto focus feature is worth dying for, and it has two modes which are the phase detection mode for taking random snaps and the contrast detection for enhanced precision and clarity. This camera makes focusing easier with the single zoom button that makes taking portraits a walk in the park. It has a flash for low light conditions and can record full HD videos. The body design is good looking and robust as well since it can survive shocks.

To sum all the good things about this camera, it has a wifi connection ability and a proximity sharing feature that allows you to transfer your image and videos to your cellular devices nearby. The notable downsides associated with this camera include the excessive buttons on the back side of the camera. With the many buttons and the screen taking up the rest of the space, it may be difficult for you to get a good grip on the camera when taking images. Its low light performance is not the best, and you may have to compromise some details when taking shots under these conditions.

Pros
  • High ISO performance
  • Compact zoom lens
  • Built-in flash
  • 180° tilting LCD
Cons
  • No EVF or expansion options
  • Kit lens is poorly designed ergonomically

 

Conclusion

The list above contains the best mirrorless cameras under the $500 price tag. It is evident that spending more than the set tag will get you powerful cameras that can deliver better than the ones here. However, with the mirrorless technology, mid-range cameras can now offer amazing pictures and videos while offering the much-needed portability. There are many camera options in this category, and all you need to do is to assess your specific requirements before determining the best one for you.

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Gary Nguyen is a 24-year-old photographer and writer from Romania. Some of his works have been published in The Guardian, New York Times, Telegraph, and many others. Learn more