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Five Awesome Mirrorless Cameras Under $500

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Great mirrorless cameras for travel photography have become more and more affordable lately. Here are some amazing interchangeable-lens mirrorless cameras under $500 to get you started on your photographic journey.

If you’re just getting started at looking into mirrorless cameras, it’s a good idea to read up on the advantages and disadvantages of mirrorless cameras.

Be in it for the long haul

Before we get started, it’s important to consider the system as a whole, not just the camera. How many lenses are available for the camera system? Are the lenses good? The camera is only as good as the lens, so make sure the lenses are good! This is a great reason for buying a more affordable camera body so that you can spend more money on the lenses. Every system on this list has outstanding lenses available.

It’s also worth noting that you won’t find any full-frame sensor cameras on this list. As of now, you’re not going to find any full-frame cameras for this price. But don’t let the kind folks on YouTube and Internet forums lead you in the wrong direction.

Yes, full-frame sensor cameras are more technically capable than micro four-thirds and APS-C sensor cameras. It’s just physics.

But as far as creativity and making great travel photos is concerned, it just doesn’t matter! You can read more on this post about Full Frame vs APS-C; the same principles apply for micro four-thirds cameras.

Buy what you can afford now and start learning the art of photography.


Micro Four-Thirds Mirrorless Cameras Under $500

A Micro Four-Thirds sensor is slightly smaller than an APS-C sensor. As a result, the resolution is typically lower than those on APS-C cameras – both of these cameras listed have a megapixel count of 16MP. But that’s still more than adequate for digital presentation and prints up to 36″ on the long edge. The small sensor also reduces the size, weight, and price of the camera.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II (KIT)

om-d e-m10ii
om-d e-m10ii

Get started with mirrorless cameras for under $500 with this kit that includes a 14-42mm lens (equivalent to 24-70mm).

The OM-D E-M10 line of cameras is one of the most popular micro four-thirds mirrorless cameras. It’s favored by documentary photographers and photojournalists for its ease of use, great color renditions, solid feel, and small profile.

Olympus has always made great lenses and great cameras and continue the tradition here. In fact, the lens selection for this camera is insane because the mount is compatible with other manufacturers.

Pros of the OM-D E-M10 II

  • Great ergonomics and feel
  • Easy & quick autofocus
  • Wonderful image quality
  • Built-in sensor stabilization
  • Tilting touchscreen adds to ease-of-use

Cons of the OM-D E-M10 II

  • Uses an older sensor
  • No weather sealing
  • Menu system gives some photographers problems
  • Not too strong for movies

You can also get the successor to this camera, the Mark III version camera body only for under $500.


Panasonic Lumix G7 (kit $497)

panasonic g7
panasonic g7

The Panasonic Lumix G7 is another micro four-thirds mirrorless camera kit for under $500, this one popular with both still photographers and videographers.

The G7 is incredibly capable given its small size and small price tag, especially since Panasonic labels this an “entry-level camera.” In this small camera, you get great low-light performance, fast autofocus and tracking, and wonderful image quality.

It also features beautiful 4K video recording capability, including a 4K photo stills mode, where you can create a fast succession of JPEG photos using the 4K video system.

If you want to stay in the Panasonic system because you’re considering getting serious about video also, the G7 is a great place to start.

Pros of the Panasonic G7

  • Excellent feel and grip despite small size
  • Great image quality
  • Fast autofocus & tracking
  • Stunning 4K capability for the price
  • External controls will make advanced photographers happy

Cons of the Panasonic G7

  • No weather sealing
  • “Plasticky” feel due to plastic body
  • Burst capability leaves room for improvement
  • Short battery life

APS-C Mirrorless Cameras Under $500

APS-C sensor cameras have a larger sensor than the above cameras, and all of these APS-C cameras have a resolution of 24MP. Still more than enough for presentation on the web and prints slightly larger than 36 inches.

Sony Alpha a6000 (BODY)

sony a6000
Sony a6000

The Sony a6000 is still in the game after six years. This was my first mirrorless camera and I absolutely loved it – it got me hooked on mirrorless cameras! The way it has held its price is proof that it’s a wonderful camera.

This is one of the few quality APS-C mirrorless cameras under $500 and if you buy it new you’re only going to get the camera body for that price. But you may be able to find a refurbished kit including a lens for that pricepoint. A new kit with a lens is available for just over $500.

The Sony a6000 can focus fast, but it’s quite slow compared to its successors. Still, the focus is fast enough, and when coupled with the speedy processor, can track and record a burst of photos at a blazing 11 frames per second. Image quality is outstanding and this camera has great low-light capability.

The only thing I didn’t like about the a6000 was the disorganized menu system, and the small size led to hand cramps if I held it too long. I solved that with a hand clutch.

Pros of the Sony a6000

  • Small size and weight
  • Excellent image quality
  • Outstanding lens selection
  • Fast processor
  • Low-light sensitivity
  • Great video

Cons of the Sony a6000

  • Might be too small for some people to hold comfortably
  • Short battery life
  • No weather sealing
  • Confusing menu

Fujifilm X-T100 (BODY)

XT-100 Flash
x-t100

I’ve been a member of the Fujifilm family for a couple of years now and am having a blast with their cameras. The ergonomics and film simulations have helped me fall in love with photography again, as these cameras are more about the experience than the technology (though the technology rocks too).

The X-T200 was recently released, dropping the price of the X-T100. This SLR-type camera, with the viewfinder on top center, is the most basic of its kind from Fujifilm. But you still get the best of why people love this brand.

If you have a feeling that you might be drawn towards the Fujifilm X system, this is the best mirrorless camera under $500 to use as a springboard. It feels great in your hand, the controls are simple, and it makes photography fun. It’s lacking a lot of features found in the higher-end models, but you’ll be able to make great photographs and get into photography with this camera.

Like the Sony a6000, you’ll only get the camera body for under $500, but you may be able to find some used or refurbished deals in a kit.

Pros of the Fujifilm X-T100

  • Great ergonomics
  • Small size & weight makes it perfect for travel
  • Amazing Electronic Viewfinder
  • Fast hybrid autofocus system, in good light
  • Built-in flash

Cons of the Fujifilm X-T100

  • Low light performance, particularly image quality and focus, leaves more to be desired
  • No weather sealing
  • Touchscreen is a bit clunky
  • Not the best camera for video

Canon EOS M6 (KIT)

canon eos m6
eos m6

If you need to get an APS-C mirrorless camera and lens for under $500, then take a look at the Canon EOS M6. The kit comes with an 18-150mm lens, equivalent to 27-240mm.

I’ve gotta be honest, on paper, I wasn’t too keen on the Canon EOS M system. Until I started teaching students who were using this and the EOS M50. They’re actually very easy to use, output excellent image quality, and have great lenses to go along with them. They’re definitely “entry-level” mirrorless cameras, but the M6 is the place to start if you want into the Canon system.

The EOS M6 features technology found on some of their higher-end mirrorless cameras, including a “dual pixel” sensor that helps ensure sharp focus, digital image stabilization, and an advanced processor for great dynamic range and speed.

One of the things that helps keep the price of this camera low is the lack of an electronic viewfinder – you’re stuck composing images by looking at the LCD screen. This may or may not be a dealbreaker for you.

Pros of the Canon EOS M6

  • Small size
  • Digital image stabilization
  • Images out of the camera are great
  • Accurate color renditions
  • Solid-feeling build quality
  • Easy to learn and use

Cons of the Canon EOS M6

  • Low light performance is sluggish
  • Not the movie machine the a6000 is
  • Form may be too small for some people to comfortably hold for a long time
  • No weather sealing

There are, of course, several mirrorless cameras just a touch over $500. But if you’re looking to stay under $500, these are the five cameras you’ll want to consider.