[Review] The Best Midrange Mirrorless Camera

After 70 hours of research and testing over three years, including real-world shooting with a handful of the top contenders, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 II is what we recommend for most people looking for a high-performing mirrorless camera system without breaking the bank. The E-M10 II locks focus on subjects quickly, is compatible with more than 70 lenses, and has built-in image stabilization that works with every lens.

This Micro Four Thirds camera can’t equal the best cameras with physically larger APS-C sensors when it comes to critical image quality, but it comes reasonably close if you’re shooting in good light. And no APS-C rival comes in a camera/lens package as compact as the E-M10 II. The camera’s retro-style controls, paired with a touchscreen and an exhaustive set of customization options, make the E-M10 II one of the better handling cameras in its class.

Our pick

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II with 14-42mm EZ Lens

The Olympus E-M10 II offers fast focus, built-in image stabilization, and access to a wide range of compact, high-quality lenses. It delivers great-looking images in a conveniently small and light package.

The E-M10 II not only takes great pictures, it is fast to acquire focus, locking onto subjects almost instantly with none of the wobble or focus-hunting we’ve often seen in older mirrorless cameras. Even when lower light levels force the AF (autofocus) system to slow a bit, its accuracy remains reliable, giving you confidence after every shutter press that you captured a sharp, crisp image. A robust image-stabilization system lets you get sharp handheld shots at shutter speeds up to five stops slower than you would with no stabilization. And because Olympus houses its image-stabilization system inside the camera itself—many camera makers build it into lenses—it’s available no matter which lens you use. And as a Micro Four Thirds camera, the E-M10 II is compatible with more than 70 lenses, ensuring that you can expand your system as your photographic needs grow.

Upgrade pick

Fujifilm X-T20

Bulkier and more expensive than our main pick, the Fujifilm X-T20 has a higher-resolution and physically larger APS-C sensor that offers some of the best low-light image quality you’ll find in a mirrorless camera.

The Fujifilm X-T20 is a bulkier and significantly more expensive option than our main pick. For the extra size and cash, however, you get some of the best image quality of any mirrorless camera under $2,000, particularly when shooting at night or indoors under low light. Its hybrid AF system is not only fast, but much better at locking focus on moving subjects in the central portion of the frame than our top pick. You can also capture 4K video that, though lagging well behind the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85 in features and image quality, is more than adequate for general use like school recitals and vacation travelogues. The X-T20’s clearly identifiable dials and buttons are arranged in a logical, retro-style layout that invites you to pick up the camera and start shooting without a trip to the user’s manual.

The X-T20 is available in two distinct kit-lens bundles. We’re recommending you spend the extra money for the higher-end model of the two, because it includes the excellent XF 18-55mm f/2.8–4.0 R LM OIS zoom lens. This lens lets in more light than any kit lens offered by Fuji’s rivals and delivers sharper images from corner to corner as well. The lens has a very impressive image-stabilization system that lets you shoot handheld at shutter speeds as long as one second and still get a usably sharp image.

The X-T20 will take up more space in your camera bag than our top pick, a difference that will only grow as you invest in more lenses, as Fujifilm lenses are physically larger than the equivalent Micro Four Third lenses. But if class-leading image quality is your primary goal or you regularly shoot in moderate to low light, you can’t do much better than the X-T20.

Also great

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85

The Panasonic G85 is a very capable DSLR-style stills camera that offers 4K video capture, an articulated screen, weather-sealing, and an external microphone input for movie shooting.

With its bulbous, DSLR-style shape, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85 isn’t as compact as our main picks. But it shines in the video-shooting department. It captures broadcast-quality 4K video and lets you easily pull still images from that footage, as well. On-screen focus and exposure aids help you verify that your video is sharp and properly exposed. The fully articulated touch-sensitive rear screen lets you comfortably monitor the action even with the camera in an awkward position, and the microphone input lets you use external mics to capture top-quality audio. If you plan to take video almost as often as you shoot stills, the G85 offers the most satisfying combination of affordability and functionality in its class.

Who should buy this

If you’ve gotten serious enough about photography to know what aperture and shutter speed mean (or are ready to learn), and want the option to choose lenses suited for specific types of shooting, buying a mirrorless camera is a great way to get pro-level image quality without the weight and bulk of a DSLR. A mirrorless camera omits the mechanical optical system that directs light from the camera’s lens to an optical viewfinder. This reduces the camera’s size and the eliminates “shutter blackout”—that split second when a DSLR’s mirror flips up, blocking your view of your subject at the critical moment you’re capturing your image.

In this guide we’re looking at the middle tier of mirrorless cameras in terms of features and price. These models let you swap lenses and they take much better pictures in a wider variety of lighting situations than any beginner point-and-shoot camera. An electronic viewfinder (EVF) means you can still shoot holding the camera to your eye like the pros. And for times when that becomes impractical (like shooting with the camera above your head or below your waist), these models have rear screens you can tilt and swivel.

A mirrorless camera will focus much more quickly and reliably than an entry-level point-and-shoot, so you won’t miss that perfect moment.

Should you upgrade?

If you already own a mirrorless camera, you should probably resist the urge to upgrade unless there’s a specific feature you’re sorely missing, like an EVF, flip-out screen, or 4K video. Mirrorless cameras have only been widely available since about 2009, and though current models focus faster and deliver cleaner low-light images than those early ones, overall image quality remains reasonably consistent. All of them can take great-looking pictures. If your current mirrorless camera is only three to four years old, keep it. Investing in a new lens will do much more to improve your photography.

How we picked

This is one of three guides we have for mirrorless cameras, which says a lot about the wide range of features and prices these cameras now encompass. Our entry-level guide features models in the $500 to $600 range, best for those who shoot in full auto mode, don’t need a viewfinder, and want the smallest interchangeable-lens camera they can find. Contenders in our high-end mirrorless guide start at about $1,500. They’re built to withstand pro-level abuse, and can fire off many more consecutive shots at their fastest burst rate. Some cater to video specialists with 4K capture combined with mic and headphone inputs.

We brought in our top three contenders for some real-world shooting. From left to right: Fujifilm X-T10, Olympus OM-D E-M10 II, and the Fujifilm X-T20.

In researching this guide, we looked for cameras offering substantial upgrades from the beginner mirrorless models but still generally costing around $1,000 or less. We started with more than 20 candidates, but after poring over spec sheets, we were able to quickly whittle that list to those that have:

  • An EVF so you can hold the camera to your face, minimizing blurry photos caused by camera shake. You’ll also appreciate it on bright sunny days when glare makes viewing the rear screen difficult.
  • External control dials that let you change common settings without diving into the camera menu.
  • A tilting or rotating rear screen so you can shoot comfortably even with the camera in a awkward position.
  • A hot shoe so you can add an external flash for professionally lit photos.
  • A burst rate fast enough to keep up with busy kids and pets.

We ended up with just a handful of models that warranted a closer look. We brought in our top contenders, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II with 14-42mm EZ LensFujifilm X-T10, and Fujifilm X-T20 for some real-world shooting and testing. For details about which models we dismissed and why, see our competition section.

Our pick

Our pick

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II with 14-42mm EZ Lens

The Olympus E-M10 II offers fast focus, built-in image stabilization, and access to a wide range of compact, high-quality lenses. It delivers great-looking images in a conveniently small and light package.

The Micro Four Thirds Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II with 14-42mm EZ Lens is the camera we recommend for most people looking for a mirrorless camera with semiprofessional features that won’t put a major dent in your wallet. In addition to taking great-looking pictures with pleasing color, contrast, and detail, the E-M10 II offers a bright, crisp viewfinder, fast focus, and a large image buffer for continuous shooting. It’s compatible with any of the 70-plus lenses available for the Micro Four Thirds system, and has built-in image-stabilization that works with any of those lenses. The E-M10 II has a well-designed set of controls that lets you change settings quickly and easily.

Though this Micro Four Thirds camera suffers from an overly complicated menu system and doesn’t quite reach the image-quality heights of its larger-sensor rivals, it offers a combination of compact size, great handling, and strong performance that is hard to beat in its price range. It delivers great-looking images with a minimum of fuss and will take up less space in your camera bag than almost any other mirrorless camera with a viewfinder. If portability is your top priority, you should know that Olympus has multiple versions of 14-42mm kit lenses. In addition to the standard kit lens shown in this guide, there’s also an EZ lens bundle that is even more compact.

In this contrasty, side-lit scene, the E-M10 II’s autoexposure system did a good job of balancing highlight and shadow detail.

The first thing you notice when shooting with the E-M10 II is how fast it focuses on static subjects. Half-press the shutter and you get the satisfying AF beep almost instantly. (You can disable the sound if you like.) Both indoors and out, in all but very dim light, we struggled to find a subject the camera couldn’t quickly lock focus on with its 28-84mm–equivalent kit lens.

In good light with high-contrast subjects, any mirrorless camera will lock focus quickly. But in typical home indoor lighting, the Olympus focused faster than earlier-generation models like the Fuji X-T10 and Sony a6000, by a clear margin. Though the Fujifilm and Sony AF systems sometimes resorted to the dreaded focus hunt—where the lens mechanism wobbles forward and back blindly trying to grab focus—the E-M10 II always nailed focus on the first attempt. Just as important, its focus was unfailingly accurate. In reviewing roughly 300 images shot with the camera, not a single picture was blurry because of focus error.

The EM10 II’s AF system is not only fast but accurate. In our testing we didn’t encounter a single misfocused shot.

The E-M10 II is a Micro Four Thirds camera and thus compatible with just over 70 lenses, giving you a much wider choice than cameras from Fuji or Sony. If you do outgrow the kit lens, you can choose from a vast array of high-quality optics, from an 18mm-equivalent fisheye lens up to a 600mm-equivalent telephoto zoom lens.

Even better: Because the E-M10 II’s image-stabilization system is built into the camera body, stabilization works with each of those lenses. Other camera makers like Canon, Nikon, and Fujifilm put their image-stabilization systems inside their lenses. With lens-based stabilization, the image appears stabilized in the viewfinder, and some argue that the stabilization can be more accurate than sensor-based in-body image stabilization. The downside is that stabilized lenses tend to cost more.

The E-M10 II’s sensor-based image stabilization corrects for camera shake along five axes of movement. The general rule of thumb for handheld shooting is that for sharp images, you should use a shutter-speed denominator equal to or faster than the lens’ equivalent focal length. If your lens is set to a 50mm-equivalent focal length, for example, your shutter speed should be 1/50 second or faster. With the E-M10 II, using careful technique, we were able to get usably sharp images shooting handheld at shutter speeds five stops slower than this 1/focal length standard. That’s a great result. Fuji’s excellent kit lens easily matched this performance, but E-M10 II owners will get this benefit no matter which lens they use

In this 100 percent crop, you can see that even at a shutter speed five stops slower than the 1/focal length standard, the E-M10 II’s image-stabilization system produces a reasonably sharp image.

The E-M10 II sports a high-resolution OLED viewfinder. It’s not the best one we’ve used (the panel on the high-end Fujifilm X-T2 is better), but it is near the top of the class for cameras in this price range. The camera’s three-inch rear-tilting touchscreen lets you move the AF point simply by touching the screen. You can also enable an AF targeting pad feature that lets you look through the EVF while changing focus points by dragging your finger across the rear screen. This is a good (and often faster) alternative to the traditional method of pressing the four-way controller, although you can still choose that method.

After several days of real-world shooting, we’re confident in saying the E-M10 II is a great-handling camera. It balances in the hand extremely well with its kit zoom lens, has two easy-to-access dials to control exposure settings, and places three Function buttons in easy reach with the camera held in a through-the-viewfinder shooting position. And if there’s anything you don’t like about how the camera operates, the E-M10 II continues Olympus’s long tradition of offering more custom options than any other camera maker. All cameras let you control how soon they go into sleep mode, for example, but Olympus lets you decide if and when the E-M10 II should automatically go into a full power-off state, a battery-saving option for those who regularly forget to switch off the camera manually before putting it away.

The Olympus E-M10 II’s kit lens can zoom to an 84mm-equivalent focal length, perfect for portraits.

The behavior of nearly every button and dial on the camera can be customized. You can create up to four custom banks of camera and shooting settings and switch between them using one of three Function buttons—or even the mode dial. Most users won’t dare venture deep enough into the camera menu to do this, but granular control over camera operation is there for those who want it.

Like all Olympus mirrorless cameras, the E-M10 II offers a number of creative “art filters” you can apply to JPEG images while previewing their effect on the screen or EVF. Most of these can be applied to raw images post-capture as well. Though some are admittedly gimmicky, a few effects, like Pin Hole, Diorama (a tilt-shift simulation), and Monotone (BW) are worth playing around with.

Set the E-M10 II to its Art Filter shooting mode and you can select from 14 different filters, previewing each one’s effect through the viewfinder. Here I used the Pin Hole filter.

Shoot in raw mode and you can apply a filter in-camera after the image is captured. Here I used the E-M10 II’s Monotone filter to create a black-and-white image based on the original raw file.

Though the Olympus’s body dimensions are almost identical to the X-T20’s, specs don’t tell the whole story. One advantage of having a smaller sensor is smaller lenses. With a kit lens mounted, the E-M10 II takes up far less space in a camera bag than our other picks. This difference in bulk only increases as you start to add lenses to your collection. I’ve actually vacationed with a Micro Four Thirds camera and three lenses in a messenger bag designed for an iPad, a feat not possible with the larger-size lenses used for APS-C cameras.

Though the Olympus E-M10 II body (right) shares similar dimensions with the Fujifilm X-T20 (left), its shorter top plate means it handles like a smaller camera. With their kit lenses attached you get an idea of how much more compact Micro Four Thirds systems can be.

The E-M10 II’s built-in Wi-Fi lets you use your iOS or Android smartphone to transfer images and control the camera remotely as well. The setup process is simple: Tap the E-M10 II’s on-screen Wi-Fi icon and a QR code appears on the rear screen. Point your phone’s camera at the code, and the default user/password settings are automatically configured. There’s no manual entry involved. You’ll need to do this only once per device, because that configuration will be stored on your phone. Because my iPhone was already connected to my home network I had to take the additional step of selecting the camera’s SSID in my phone’s Wi-Fi settings menu. Android users can connect directly from the setup screen.

After downloading Olympus’s free Wi-Fi app, you can browse, edit, and geotag camera images from your phone.

Once connected you can use your phone to control a comprehensive set of camera functions. Beyond setting focus and adjusting exposure settings, you can actually switch the camera among PASM, iAuto, art filter, and movie-shooting modes. You can zoom the lens with a fair amount of precision, tap on the screen to set focus, and adjust drive mode, white balance, ISO, shutter speed, aperture, and exposure compensation. In live-view mode, Olympus’s app lets you control any shooting parameter you could reasonably need from your phone.

In live-view mode, Olympus’s app lets you control any shooting parameter you could reasonably need from your phone.

Better images and features but in a bigger package

Upgrade pick

Fujifilm X-T20

Bulkier and more expensive than our main pick, the Fujifilm X-T20 has a higher-resolution and physically larger APS-C sensor that offers some of the best low-light image quality you’ll find in a mirrorless camera.

If you demand no-compromise image quality even when shooting in low light, need higher image resolution than our main pick delivers, and can stretch your budget, we recommend the more expensive Fujifilm X-T20. Like our top pick, the X-T20 has a retro-style design with old-school dials and switches that make it fast and easy to adjust shooting settings on the fly. Fuji’s X-T20 uses the same 24MP sensor found in the company’s flagship X-T2. It also features a hybrid AF system, which means that in the central area of the image frame the camera can lock and maintain focus on a moving subject much more successfully than its predecessor and our main pick, both of which rely exclusively on the more-limited contrast-based AF technology. The X-T20 features a high-resolution OLED viewfinder that to our eyes feels a bit more lifelike in its reproduction than the one in the E-M10 II and matches our top pick with a tilting touchscreen. It can capture 4K video and its large image buffer lets you shoot more than 20 raw images in a single burst, removing one of the main complaints we, and other reviewers, had with its predecessor, the X-T10.

The Fujifilm X-T20 outperforms its rivals when shooting in low light, delivering cleaner, more detailed images.

Two things keep the X-T20 from being our top pick: price and bulk. At the time of writing the X-T20 is more than twice as expensive as the E-M10 II. And because APS-C lenses are, by necessity, larger than Micro Four Thirds, you’ll carry around a bulkier overall kit in your bag, a difference that will only increase as you add more lenses to your arsenal.

But the X-T20 stands out by giving you cleaner, more detailed images than its rivals. You get lifelike, realistic colors, superb detail, and impressively little image noise up to ISO 6400. And though Fujifilm doesn’t offer the same degree of customization found in our top pick (frankly, no one else does), the upside is that the X-T20 is a much simpler camera to use right out of the box. Even someone with limited camera experience can pick up the X-T20 and start shooting without first diving into the camera manual.

The X-T20’s APS-C sensor is the same size as those found on most DSLRs and has an area 60 percent larger than the Micro Four Thirds sensor on the E-M10 II.

Because a larger sensor is more efficient at capturing light, the camera captures less image noise when shooting in low light. A larger sensor also means you can get a greater amount of background blur when shooting a subject in the foreground. At any given aperture, focal length, and camera-to-subject distance, you’ll get significantly more background blur on the X-T20 when shooting at wide apertures, which lets you more easily separate your subject from objects in the background. To understand more about the role that sensor size plays in light-gathering and image blur, read this very detailed explanation by DPReview.

Sensor size plays a crucial role in determining the amount of background blur possible when shooting at wide apertures. This image was shot with a Micro Four Thirds camera at an 84mm-equivalent focal length and an aperture of f/5.6.

Another factor in the X-T20’s image quality advantage is its kit lens. The camera is available in two lens bundles. To get the most out of the X-T20, we’re recommending the pricier bundle because it includes the excellent XF 18–55mm f/2.8–4.0 R LM OIS zoom lens. It delivers sharper images from corner to corner than the E-M10 II’s kit lens and has wider maximum apertures that let in more light. With more light reaching the sensor, you can shoot at a lower ISO, further reducing image noise, or at a faster shutter speed to avoid blurry images caused by subject movement.

A stills camera for video shooters

Also great

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85

The Panasonic G85 is a very capable DSLR-style stills camera that offers 4K video capture, an articulated screen, weather-sealing, and an external microphone input for movie shooting.

With a bulkier size and heftier weight than our main picks, the 16-megapixel Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85 isn’t a camera you’ll be slipping into a jacket pocket. But the G85 is one of the most video-capable cameras in its class, with specs and features geared toward capturing pro-quality footage with a minimum of fuss.

For starters, it shoots 4K video and lets you easily pull 8-megapixel still images from the footage, essentially turning the DMC-G85 into a 30 fps action camera. On-screen aids such as focus peaking (a visual confirmation of areas in sharp focus) and zebra striping (a visual alert when highlights are overexposed) help ensure that your video is sharp and properly exposed. The fully articulated rear screen allows you to view your framing from a comfortable position, even if the camera is in an awkward location. The screen is also touch sensitive, so you can control focus and exposure while filming without turning physical dials and inadvertently jarring the camera. You’ll also find a 3.5mm microphone input, so you can use an external mic of your choice for top-quality audio.

The G85 features the latest version of Panasonic’s relatively new in-camera image-stabilization system (the company had traditionally offered the feature only in its lenses). This welcome move to sensor-based stabilization means the feature is available no matter which lens you use. And if your Panasonic lens does have stabilization, the systems are designed to work in tandem for both stills and video, offering what DPReview found to be 3.5 stops of shake reduction in handheld shots.

The Panasonic G85 is weather-sealed to be dust- and splashproof, something neither the Olympus E-M10 II nor the Fujifilm X-T20 can claim. Though this feature doesn’t mean you can go snorkeling with the camera, it will at least give you a bit more peace of mind if you’re shooting in less-than-perfect conditions.

Because the G85 ditches the low-pass filter from its sensor (increasing sharpness at the risk of moiré-induced artifacts), the image quality is not far behind that of even 20-megapixel Micro Four Thirds cameras. As with our top pick (also a Micro Four Thirds camera), you have a wide selection of more than 70 compatible lenses to choose from.

We like the Olympus E-M10 II and the Fujifilm X-T20 better for stills-only shooters, but if you plan to shoot video on a regular basis, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85 is, at the moment, a more compelling option than the slightly more expensive Panasonic DMC-GX8, a former alternate pick. And its wide selection of lenses makes it a better long-term choice than the Sony a6300 (which we discuss at length in our competition section below).

The competition

For this guide, we primarily looked at camera-and-lens combinations that cost around $1,000 or less. We further narrowed the field by dismissing models such as the Canon EOS M3 and Fujifilm X-A3 that don’t come with built-in viewfinders. If you’ve ever tried to shoot with your smartphone on a bright sunny day, you know how difficult viewing the screen becomes with glare. Having a viewfinder solves that problem.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 was our video-shooting pick in a previous version of this guide. It lacks very little in comparison with our current pick, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85; the video specs and autofocus performance are virtually identical. Unlike the G85, however, the GX8 isn’t available with a kit-lens bundle, making it a more expensive proposition by up to several hundred dollars if you don’t already have a Micro Four Thirds-compatible lens. If you catch one on sale, already own a Micro Four Thirds lens, or simply prefer a more compact rangefinder-style design, we still think the GX8 is a very good choice. But for most folks, we suggest opting for the better value of the G85.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 is a less-expensive version of the company’s DMC-GX8, with inevitable compromises. Noticeably more compact, the GX85 maintains 4K video capability and an 8 fps shooting speed. To keep the price down, however, Panasonic uses a lower-resolution, 16-megapixel sensor (versus 20 megapixels on the GX8) and a lesser-quality and non-tilting EVF. And unlike the GX8, this more-economical model isn’t weather-sealed. Video-centric photographers will be disappointed with the tilting (versus fully articulated) rear screen and the lack of a port for an external microphone. Stills-only shooters will have to settle for a smaller image magnification in the viewfinder, which has a 16:9 ratio; that’s great for video, but it means that a 4:3 still image fills only a portion of the available screen space. The GX85 does introduce a newer, quieter shutter design, and its dual image-stabilization system adds an extra axis of correction to account for camera roll. And because its sensor omits a low-pass filter, the resolution loss compared with the 20-megapixel GX8 is minimal. The lack of a mic socket and a fully articulated screen, however, are significant drawbacks for video shooters, negating the appeal of the GX85’s lower price.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 is a decently specced stills camera that offers 4K video, but it’s been eclipsed by our current video-oriented pick, the DMC-G85, which has a newer-generation sensor, in-camera image stabilization, and a larger buffer for longer shooting bursts.

The Fujifilm X-E2 and its follow-up, the X-E2S, deliver great-looking images, but their rear screens don’t tilt or rotate, a significant liability if you ever need to shoot with the camera above your head (like in a crowd) or below waist level (for photographing toddlers or pets).

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 II improves on the original E-M5 in a number of ways, including a newly designed layout, better image stabilization, more video modes, and a rather neat ability to combine a series of shots into one incredibly high-resolution file. Image quality is identical to that of our top pick, and although the E-M5 II uses a lower-quality EVF, it offers weather-sealing, which anyone who shoots in tough conditions will appreciate. It’s currently priced several hundred dollars more than our top pick, however, and we don’t think paying that premium makes sense for most folks.

Released in 2014, the Sony a6000 earned a coveted Gold Award from DPReview and received Editor’s Choice nods from both CNET and PCMag. It’s a fine camera, but more recent rivals have eclipsed it. It falls well short of the Fujifilm X-T20, which delivers cleaner and more detailed nighttime and indoor images.

The Sony a6300 is the much-anticipated follow-up to the a6000. Its 24-megapixel sensor delivers image quality that DPReview deemed in 2016 “as good as any we’ve seen from an APS-C camera of any type, from any manufacturer.” Its new AF system features 425 phase-detection AF points and offers shooting speeds of 11 fps with focus tracking. And its video performance is equally impressive, offering 4K output with 14 stops of dynamic range and slow-motion footage captured at 120 fps. Other than asking for touchscreen capability, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more full-featured camera.

The reason we don’t recommend the a6300 has nothing to do with the camera itself but rather with the limited selection of lenses Sony has developed for its APS-C E-mount models. Of the 31 lenses Sony offers for its E-mount cameras, more than half are meant for its growing line of expensive full-frame E-mount models, such as the Sony a7R II. As of this writing only 15 Sony-branded lenses are designed for APS-C cameras like the a6300. Although you can mount Sony’s full-frame lenses on the a6300, putting a huge lens on a small camera throws away any advantages of portability and makes the package unwieldy to say the least. And most of the lenses that are available for the a6300 were released between 2010 and 2012. Since then, Sony’s creation of APS-C lenses has entirely stalled.

A limited lens selection wouldn’t be such a concern if you were buying a cheap beginner-oriented camera; odds are, you’d never move beyond the kit lens that came bundled with it anyway. But when you’re spending $1,000 or more on a camera, you’ll want to invest in a system that will support your growth as a photographer.

Unfortunately, Sony’s existing APS-C lenses generally fall into one of two camps: affordable but mediocre and excellent but very expensive. For our take on the best lenses to start off with, see our Sony E-mount lens guide. You’ll find some good (if not great) options, but when you’re buying into a camera system, the more choices, the better. And right now Sony owners are at a distinct disadvantage.

In September 2016, Canon dramatically overhauled its M-series mirrorless camera with the release of the Canon EOS M5, but even in spite of what looks like a dramatically improved build and feature set, the small number of lenses means we can’t recommend it. With a more DSLR-like design than the previous M models, the M5 looks for all the world like an even more compressed Canon SL1, with a grip, an EVF, an articulated viewfinder, and plenty of dials and buttons. The M5 will have a 24-megapixel APS-C sensor (either identical, or very similar, to that of the Canon 80D), dual-pixel AF (which should dramatically improve AF speeds), 7 fps shooting with autofocus, a swivel LCD touchscreen on which you can select your focus point even while using the EVF (assuming you don’t hit it with your nose), and Wi-Fi/NFC/BTLE connectivity. The big downside is the notably limited lens selection, unless you use an adapter for Canon’s EF-S mount.

The Fujifilm X-T10 was an alternate pick in a previous version of this guide and is still a capable camera. But it has been surpassed in nearly every way by the follow-up X-T20. The newer camera has much-improved video capture, a higher-resolution sensor (24 megapixels vs. 16 megapixels), a more sophisticated AF system that is noticeably faster to acquire focus and can also maintain focus on moving subjects, an area where the X-T10 struggled mightily. The X-T20 has a much larger image buffer that lets you shoot up to 23 raw images in a single burst (compared with only 8 on the X-T10). Simply put, there’s nothing the X-T10 does that the newer model can’t do at least as well or better, and it sacrifices none of the ease of operation and handling we liked so much with the X-T10.

(Photos by Amadou Diallo.)


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