Cheap mirrorless cameras are a great way to get into photography. You don't always have to buy the latest and best (and most expensive!) cameras on the market. An entry-level mirrorless cameras has all the manual controls you need to learn about photography and capture great images, and if you're prepared to choose an older model over a newer one, or shop amongst cameras that have been on the market a couple of years, you can bag some great bargains.
The longer a camera has been on the market, the more the price tends to fall. Some camera makers have a strategy of keeping older models on sale to tempt users into the system at a bargain price point – Panasonic and Sony in particular. These older models often don't give much away in terms of specs, but are massively cheaper.
Many of these cameras are ideal for vlogging too. 4K video has now become a mainstream technology, so you can expect this even on a cheap mirrorless camera these days. If vlogging is your thing, look out for cameras with flip-out 180-degree screens to make it easier to film yourself and see what you're filming while you do it.
Here’s our list of cheap mirrorless cameras that you can buy right now. We've aimed to put the cameras in rough order of cost, but prices do fluctuate so bear that in mind. The important point to remember though is that we recommend every single model on this list, and any of them would make a great buy for a photographer looking for a bargain (though we go into more detail about which kind of user we think each one is for once we get to the entries).
One more thing. When you're shopping for cheap mirrorless cameras, be sure to check whether the camera is 'body only' or comes with a lens. And if a retailer is offering a 'twin lens' kit, that's often a way to make even greater savings.
The GX80 uses a 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor which sounds a bit weedy compared to the beefier 24MP APS-C sensors used by rivals, but what you lose in sensor size and megapixels, you gain in other areas – notably the built in electronic viewfinder, in-body image stabilisation, 4K video and Panasonic’s ‘4K Photo’ mode, where you can capture 8-megapixel images at 30fps, or shoot first and focus later, using the ‘Post Focus’ mode. We especially like the retracting 12-32mm kit lens usually sold with this camera. Its slim profile makes the camera very pocketable when it’s not in use, and while the effective focal range of 24-64mm isn’t as long as some, it’s an ideal lens for travel and street photography. Given the features you get with this camera, current prices are just plain silly. It's another cheap mirrorless camera that's actually rather good.
The EOS M200 is essentially an evolution of the EOS M100, which we’ve already admitted we don’t like very much, but it is still a brand new mirrorless camera that’s amongst the ten cheapest mirrorless cameras you can buy. The key new features (compared to the EOS M100) are 4K video and improved autofocus, now with Eye AF. The standard kit lens is the 15-45mm retracting zoom, which is a good match for this camera and compact too. The EOS M200 might not appeal to enthusiasts, but its stripped back, super-simple approach could be just the ticket for smartphone upgraders who just want better pictures.
Read more: Canon EOS M200 review
The Lumix G7 was launched in 2015, so it’s a few years old now, and that shows in its styling and its specs. It’s the ideal choice for mirrorless camera buyers who prefer the heft and grippability of a DSLR style body, and it comes with a viewfinder, which is terrific in a mirrorless camera at this price. Bad points? The G7 was launched before Panasonic started including in-body stabilisation in its cameras, so you’re reliant on any optical stabilisation in the lenses. It also has a relatively old 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor, which knocks back the image quality ever so slightly compared to its APS-C sensor rivals. Prices vary a lot, so keep your eyes peeled – we have seen some crazy twin-lens deals on this camera.
The Sony A6000 was not launched as a cheap mirrorless camera, but as a top of the range APS-C model for serious photographers. Sony’s policy right now is to keep older models on sale, however, at prices that just get cheaper and cheaper and cheaper… The fact is that for stills photography, the A6000 range has not moved on that far, making the original A6000 a real steal. The A6300, A6500, A6400, A6100 and A6600 have better autofocus, better video and (probably) better high ISO image processing, but the fundamental camera has changed little (there, we’ve said it). Unfortunately, getting the A6000 means getting the not-very-good Sony 16-50mm PZ lens too, but you can’t have everything.
Read more: Sony A6000 review
Vloggers and creatives more broadly will enjoy the simplicity of the Lumix G100. It makes it easy to capture high-quality video and stills with its approachable button layout. Even people uninterested in the technicalities of capturing great-looking videos will be able to get results with this camera. There’s an inherent risk of dumbing things down too much when creating a camera for social media creatives, but Panasonic has avoided that pitfall with the Lumix G100. By giving it a decent viewfinder and “proper camera” ergonomics, Panasonic has given the G100 an edge in a highly competitive market. This is a great camera to start with if you're more interested in vlogging than regular photography – or both! It's still a relatively new model, but the price has come down and it looks even better value now than when it was launched.
Read more: Panasonic Lumix G100 review
Olympus specifically targeted "step-up" users with its Pen E-PL9, referring to users looking to make their first jump from a smartphone to a "proper" camera. Accordingly, it's incredibly easy to use, with intuitive controls and helpful guide modes to get the novice users familiar with the camera. It doesn't hurt that it looks pretty snazzy as well, and is light enough to slip into a small bag or even a large jacket pocket. There's no viewfinder, but the screen does tilt up and down and even flip around for selfie-shooting and vlogging, and it comes in a useful kit with Olympus's 14-42mm pancake lens. Images from the Pen E-PL9 look great immediately after you hit the button, making it easy and tempting to share them straight away with the built-in Wi-Fi. If you can't get the E-PL9, try the E-PL10 instead – they are practically the same camera.
Read more: Olympus E-PL10 review
On the surface this is a modest upgrade over the original Canon EOS M50, but the additions make it worth picking up over its predecessor. These include improved autofocus (along with eye detection in stills and video), along with big boons for video shooters in the form of clean HDMI out, vertical video recording and the ability to livestream direct to YouTube. Alas, while it's an excellent 1080p camera, it's a poor option for 4K – which loses Dual Pixel AF (left lumbered with contrast detect) and suffers a 1.6x crop. However, it packs a lot of other tech into its compact body, including a great 24.1MP sensor, 10fps shooting, and the fact that it has a viewfinder (which many similarly priced mirrorless cameras lack). This is a cute and easy to use camera that's really rather versatile – and do look out for the original EOS M50, which is almost the same as the new model, but cheaper to buy.
Read more: Canon EOS M50 II review
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV's predecessor, the Mark III, was a great camera with plenty to offer. However, its aging 16MP sensor and contrast AF left room for improvement. Luckily the Mark IV is a great update, with the same 20.3MP sensor as the PEN-F and improved Continuous Autofocus. While some improvements are incremental, the Mark IV brings some interesting new offerings to the table including a zippy 15fps continuous burst mode. We're also a fan of the extra-tiltable screen, which is capable of flipping 180° down to create the perfect selfie screen. And Olympus has thankfully returned silent shooting to manual mode! To save some more money, look out for deals on this camera's predecessor, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III, and if you hunt around you might find some real bargain prices on the older E-M10 Mark II!
Read more: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV review