Mirrorless cameras, just like any other DSLR, can be notoriously expensive. However, as the market is being more and more saturated, camera manufacturers saw the need to produce models that would be more affordable both for professionals and beginners. Though there are some tradeoffs to reach the ideal price bracket, there are still great mirrorless cameras under $1000 that can deliver wondrous features.
The Fujifilm X-S10 is one of the best mirrorless cameras under $1000 that we can confidently recommend. It has a 26.1MP APS-C X-Trans BSI CMOS 4 sensor that can assure you of quality stills and video at all times. It also brags 6 stops IBIS which most cameras at this price point can’t offer.
On the other hand, if you are after the size of the sensor, the EOS RP might be the best option. It is a full-frame mirrorless unit which means you can always guarantee better image quality. Also, it boasts Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF which is one of its biggest highlights.
There are, nonetheless, other noteworthy choices on the market. While you can’t always find full-frame units at such a low price as EOS RP, you can expect to encounter a lot of APS-C sensors in this section. This includes some entries from Fujifilm, Olympus, Nikon, Panasonic, and Sony.
On the other hand, while big sensors at such an affordable price can be truly enticing, they are not the only thing you should check on while looking for a reliable mirrorless camera. So, to guide us in this review, SolidSmack Photography Expert Evangeline Summers joined us. Here, we focused on all the other important factors to assure you’ll get the best experience and value out of your camera. After personally comparing and testing the units, we underscored their best strengths and weaknesses you should be aware of. Let’s start…
1. Fujifilm X-S10
4K at 30fps
Fujifilm took a step forward in embracing the new trends with the creation of X-S10. One thing that proves it is the PASM dial controls that will attract individuals who are already used to the PASM features of Canon, Nikon, and Sony. According to Summers, though it might sound a bit of a concern to those who are still in love with the manual dials, it is actually a “great benefit for beginners” as it is easier to control.
It also has an awesome 3” 1.04m dots vari-angle touchscreen where you can shoot your uncropped 4K videos at 30p with ease. With an external recorder, you can even up your game and record 10-bit 4:2:2 videos.
As for the performance, according to Summers, it won’t disappoint. Besides the fast hybrid contrast/phase AF system, there are also the 6 stops IBIS and a decent burst shooting capability at 8fps with the mechanical shutter. It can also reach up to 20 fps electronic shutter and 30fps under the 1.29X crop option.
Further, X-S10 promises the color that Fujifilm is known for! It can produce rich colors with the right settings. The dynamic range, on the other hand, is impressive that details won’t be a problem at all even in complex lighting conditions. With that, you can still expect an image quality that can equate to the performance of X-T4 that we all used to (and still) love!
2. Canon EOS RP
4K at 25p
Canon EOS RP doesn’t have all the advanced bells and whistles since it is meant to be an entry-level unit. Nonetheless, it offers all the necessary features you need.
It has the new Digic 8 processor while its full-frame sensor and ISO 100-40,000 range are the same as what EOS 6D Mark II. The 26.2 MP sensor gets proper distribution of the 4,779 manually selectable Dual Pixel CMOS AF points which are divided into 143 zones under auto AF.
“Even in low-light conditions, the AF system of EOS RP can perform with vigor and sufficient speed. The precision is flawless and this is something of a treasure for its price. On the other hand, its Servo AF now offers Face Tracking (with Eye AF). It does an impressive job at following the face of the subject anywhere in the frame. This, however, is only applicable for a single subject. Its performance with other individuals in the background is another thing,” said Summers.
Canon also added the Focus Bracketing function which will allow users to have a better depth of field in their shots. Though this process can’t be performed by the camera itself, it is still a nice option to have.
3. Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III
C4K, 4K UHD at 30p
If you don’t mind the size of the sensor and you’re after a more compact body, OM-D E-M5 Mark III is a good choice. It retained a lot of important features from its predecessor such as the RAW support, face detection focus, Focus Bracketing, Focus Stacking, and more. Nonetheless, when it comes to other major features, you get overwhelming improvements.
“Olympus did a great job at producing the successor of E-M5 Mark III,” Summers said. “All the updates are aimed at the improvement of the camera’s performance which explains you get higher resolutions now such as the 20 MP sensor compared to the 16 MP of Mark II. There are also huge updates such as the Pixel Shift High-Resolution Mode which now comes at 80.0 MP in the tripod and 50 MP in the handheld position.”
Further, compared to the 10fps of Olympus OM-D E-M5 II, its burst mode has also improved dramatically which is now at 30fps with Pro Capture mode and 10fps with the mechanical shutter. On the other hand, you get better image stabilization which bumps up from 5.5EV to 6.5EV.
Also, according to Summers, the increase in the number of focus points (from 81 to 127 points) further affects its performance.
“It uses the phase-detection AF and cross-type points that cover most of the sensor area, making the autofocus very accurate. Though it can’t be compared to the AF system of Canon, it is responsive and fast enough to keep pace with the movement of the subject. You can also enjoy it using the touch-shutter function of its screen which will give you fast results,” Summers said.
4. Nikon Z50
4K UHD at 30p
Nikon Z50 is probably one of the best competitions of EOS RP in this category due to its generous offering of features. Compared to EOS RP, it has a higher burst rate which comes at 11fps which is aided by autofocus tracking. For its price and size, it is a brilliant detail to show how powerful and fast it is.
“The stills it can produce are great and vibrant, with shades and tones that are extremely realistic,” said Summers. “The dynamic range is also overwhelming that you can compare it to other higher models of the brand.”
Further, Z50 also offers uncropped 4K videos which further makes it a better choice over others. You also get a slow-motion option when shooting in Full HD. This proves how an excellent performer it is both in the photography and videography sections.
The build is also one of the best things it can offer to you. It has an ergonomic build that allows a solid hold despite being smaller than Z6 II and Z7 II. The genius placement of buttons also allows ease of access to the buttons of the unit. Another good thing about it is that Z50 features a 180-degree tilting 1.04 million-dot touchscreen LCD. This allows users to easily frame themselves for self-portraits or for vlogging purposes.
5. Fujifilm X-T200
4K UHD at 30p
Beginners would love Fujifilm X-T200 not just for its affordability but so as for its simplified layout and controls. The X-T200 is also just as flattering as Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III when it comes to the number of updated features you’ll get.
“Compared to its predecessor, X-T200 includes a lot of things X-T100 lacks such as the UHS card support, head port, webcam function, and eye-tracking focus,” Summers started. “Moreover, the focus points are improved from 91 to 425 points, the burst shooting is now at 8fps from 6fps, and the AE bracketing range is elevated from the previous ±3 EV to ±5 EV. Even the LCD gets a big change from 3" with 1.040k dots to 3.5” with 2.780k dots. And thanks to its vari-angle capability, delivering shots at the most awkward positions and angles can be done with ease.”
Further, thanks to lots of updates given to this new model, a better quality of stills and videos can be expected. The details will not fail you and you even have the choice for a dynamic range expansion. On the other hand, the colors that are rendered can appear natural and rich.
On the contrary, while you get digital video stabilization, it is still a bit disappointing that Fujifilm still doesn’t give us in-body image stabilization in X-T200. This, however, explains the compact body.
Best Mirrorless Cameras Under $1000 - Buyer's Guide
Getting a big sensor under $1000 can be a tough search. Yet, it is still possible just like in the case of EOS RP. Getting a big sensor can greatly affect the performance of the camera. However, the sensor size isn’t the only factor that will determine the quality of stills and videos.
Just like the sensor, getting an in-body image stabilization can be hard at this price point. Though you can still execute your shots, a camera with an IBIS assures a better quality of photos whether you are using a tripod or holding the camera. Also, it means you won’t have to spend more on the additional purchase of a lens with a stabilization feature.
Getting all the best features of a mirrorless camera at this price point is almost impossible. This includes the high burst rate and a reliable AF system. Having the said features will not just help in the speed and efficiency of the camera, but it will also help the mirrorless to be as effective as other high-end units.
Just because you need something affordable, it doesn’t mean you need to settle with the model lacking this feature. This is important especially if you intend to use the camera mostly for outdoor projects.
Seeing a mirrorless camera under $1000 can be alluring. Yet, make sure you get all the features and functions you’re looking for in a mirrorless unit to assure you are getting your money’s worth.
Best Mirrorless Cameras Under $1000 - FAQs
The difference between a mirrorless camera and a DSLR lies in how they project the image. A DSLR camera uses a mirror that reflects or bounces the light it gains to the optical viewfinder. On the other hand, a mirrorless camera doesn’t have the same mirror but instead directly uses the sensor to project images on the LCD or viewfinder.
The million-dot unit affects the quality of images on the viewfinder. So, it is advisable not to go lower than 2.36 million dots and get at least 3.69 million dots or higher.
A mirrorless camera has its own advantages that set it apart from a DSLR such as being more compact, lightweight, and better in video performance. Nonetheless, it also has some disadvantages where DSLR excels.