When it comes to digital photography and video cameras as a whole, technology is continuing to amaze us each year. Not quite long ago were we trying to find the best handheld camcorder or small point-and-shoot camera to take with us on our vacations, and now even our smartphones trump those specifications. Today we take a look at a relatively new style of technology that’s becoming more popular each year. Since they’re a bit expensive nowadays, we took the time to find the best mirrorless cameras under $500 to help keep your budget safe. Let’s see what we found.
What is a mirrorless camera?
A mirrorless camera is a new type of digital camera that didn’t even have a proper title to them until a few years ago. They are interchangeable lens cameras that lack the mirror and optical viewfinder technology the popular DSLR cameras have. Although similar to this, they instead have a through-the-lens optical viewfinder and use their main sensor for focus (as opposed to DSLRs which have a separate AF module). This offers some super high quality photography and video. There are more pros and cons to both, which is listed in more depth in this Why Should I Buy a Mirrorless Camera? article.
Although DSLR cameras are still the champion in terms of camera popularity, mirrorless cameras are starting to make their way into the market slowly but surely. They won’t outrank DSLR cameras for quite some time and although it may eventually happen, continue to be a bit more rare since they’re more expensive and less of them exist (we did put a few of them in our best video camera for filming sports article). Although typically expensive, in this article we were able to find the best mirrorless cameras for under $500 — which is best depends on a few factors listed below.
How to pick the best mirrorless camera under $500
- Exact budget – There’s a bit of a price range when it comes to mirrorless cameras under 500 dollars, so keep in mind a model that goes for nearly a few hundred won’t have the same specs as those right at under $500. How much money do you have to spend on your new camera? Just keep in mind these models were priced at under $500 at the time this article was written, but double-check the websites provided to see the current mark.
- Video? Although the standard for many cameras nowadays, regardless if they’re DSLR or mirrorless, typically have video capabilities. If you aren’t sure yet, we’d say grab one that comes with video anyway just in case. There are some great DSLR cameras for video out there, but mirrorless cameras have some high qualities models as well. You can also check out best mirrorless cameras for video if that’s what you’re most concerned about, although not many of those are under $500 that are found in here.
- Needed accessories? When it comes to factoring your budget, don’t forget to include additional camera accessories you may need (now and the future) — some popular additives include tripods, different lenses (those can get super costly, but most of these come with one already), microphones, Wi-Fi functions and more. What about photography software for some post-production editing?
- Extra specs\features – Wi-Fi function, special high-quality sensors, noise reduction, low-light advancements touch screen, etc. — these are just a few of the cool features some of these mirrorless cameras under $500 offer, and we highlight each picked model’s extra features. Which ones peak your interest?
The best mirrorless cameras under $500
Sony alpha a5000
This is by far one of the best mirrorless cameras under $500 and the user reviews don’t lie. The Alpha series by Sony tops the market when it comes to mirrorless cameras right now, and this one brings the flexibility and power we all love. It is among the lightest digital cameras with an interchangeable lens with its sleek size. The built-in Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor is a remarkable one considering the price that has the elements needed for some pretty high-class images with top sensitivity, noise, unsurpassed details and a dynamic range. The BIONZ X is an image processing engine that offers great results with the latest Sony processing engine that has some advanced tech, including truer color rending, hyper reaction details, better noise reduction and high-speed processing. The high sensitivity of ISO lets the user capture images in low light without any flash or clear freeze with fast-moving action, and it minimizes the noise while at the same time maximizing the details. If you wanted an immediate answer for the best mirrorless camera under $500, grab this and don’t look back. It comes in a few different colors for good measure.
Here’s another one of the best mirrorless cameras under $500, and although not as powerful as the previously listed a5000, comes with some decent specs and features at slightly cheaper price if you wanted to save some money. This camera helps the user capture some amazing details from its powerful 20.3 MP APS-C sensor. We really like the vintage design with an elegant leather-like finish. It takes perfect selfies if you’re into that and it has 3 flip-up displays with a wink shot. It makes sharing the images easy and wireless using the NFC or Wi-Fi connectivity. The 20.3 MP APS-C CMOS sensor is up there in terms of quality and it gives the images incredible details with super clear color. It is the perfect option for a beautiful and focused photo with noise free images even when it is in low light. You also of course get full HD video recording (1080/30p). The camera gives a new meaning to the aesthetic of the premium vintage design for a very affordable price.
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This is another cool vintage style model used by the modern social shooter that comes in just under our under $500 budget mark. You have 16 megapixels with a Live MOS Sensor, 3-axis image stabilization, 8 fps sequential shooting, a decently numbered 81-point selectable autofocus and full HD 1080p video. The monitor tilts 180 degrees and is touch-screen and the processor is pretty high-quality with a TruePic VII Image Processor. It has the built-in Olympus OI share app, Wi-Fi capability and you may edit and also post the shots all at once. You can download the opening selfie-centric touch screen with the inventive creative tools, such as the Art Filters with photo story layouts or the built-in HDR. It is the perfect choice for photographers who are learning the art of photography and want one of the highest rated Olympus mirrorless cameras under 500 dollars — it definitely rivals the Sony a5000 and we’d pick whichever one is priced cheaper at the moment.
This camera feels good and dependable in the hands, and it brings out the beauty of each scene with its large 20.1 MP Exmor with APS-C CMOS sensor and ISO 16000 sensitivity. If you were interested in the previously listed Sony a5000 but felt it was priced a bit too high, check this one out since it’s just below it in their Alpha series of mirrorless cameras. It has their BIONZ processor built-in as well. This camera is able to capture low light photos with its wide ISO that ensures low noise. The high-resolution makes sure that it delivers detailed and sharp images and the large sensor gives it some great sensitivity. Its capable of offering a secure and dependable grip. To to mention this one also gives us 1080p HD video, it also has a built-in flash for a bit of light to brighten up the scene. Grab this one if you wanted an Alpha mirrorless camera for a very affordable price.
Samsung NX Mini
Last but not least, we have a different option by Samsung to take into consideration when shopping for a mirrorless camera under $500. Despite it’s size, this one has a 20.5 MP BSI CMOS sensor that delivers high quality images and intricate colors with some very clear resolution. It is stylish, slim and impressively light, so if you were seeking for a highly portable mirrorless cam this is a great one to grab. The LCD is touch-screen and as seen in the photo, has a nifty flip function. You can share photos at once with friends and family, and it has built-in NFC or Wi-Fi. It is an impressive camera because of the advanced technology which Samsung has included in it not only for the price but size. It has a responsive touchscreen and it has quick and useful controls. It comes with one-touch video recording and USB charging. Not too shabby being priced under 500 bucks.