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12 Best Entry Level Mirrorless Compact System Cameras For Beginners In 2021

Here are the best entry-level mirrorless compact system cameras (CSCs) that ePHOTOzine has reviewed to date that are easy to use and can be used with a wide range of interchangeable lenses.

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Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV

 

If you're looking for a camera for a beginner or for someone who wants to change from a reasonably priced DSLR to a camera with similar power that's smaller in size but still isn't too expensive then an entry-level mirrorless compact system camera (CSC) would be a good choice. 

A mirrorless compact system camera (CSC) lets you change lenses and most of them also use a DSLR sized sensor so you still get DSLR image quality without the bulk of a DSLR camera body. With a rapid refresh cycle, there are a number of new cameras introduced each year, with many offering innovative new features as well. 

The best cameras for beginners, we think, have both automatic modes as well as access to full manual controls which the cameras in this top list have. As mentioned, you'll also have access to a wide range of lenses for all budgets, too.  

To help you make a more informed decision about your purchase, we've put together this top list which highlights the best entry-level Mirrorless Compact System Cameras currently available that ePHOTOzine has put to the test in our reviews. You may think some are expensive in compression to entry-level DSLRs, for example, but they are less expensive than a lot of other CSC cameras currently on the market and as a result, are the best options for those with less money to spend. 

Please Note: If you don't see your favourite camera on this list it's either because we've not reviewed it or it's simply not scored high enough.

 

Best Entry-Level Mirrorless Compact System Cameras:

 

1. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II 

Olympus OMD EM10 MarkII (15)

The 16 megapixel Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II is the entry-level Olympus OM-D model, yet features the same 16-megapixel sensor as the E-M5 Mark II, as well as 5-axis image stabilisation, and built-in Wi-Fi, at a competitive price. There is a large, high-resolution electronic viewfinder (2.36m dots), ISO100 to ISO25600, 8.5fps continuous shooting and built-in Wi-Fi. Although the camera is not weather-sealed, it does have a tilting touch-screen and uses Micro Four Thirds lenses

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2. Panasonic Lumix GX9 

Panasonic Lumix GX9

 

The Panasonic Lumix GX9 delivers great image quality, and can easily be taken with you everywhere you go. It has a compact camera body, a tilting screen, EVF and continuous shooting speed has been improved to 9fps. In-camera 5-axis image stabilisation can be used in combination with lens-based image stabilisation when using Panasonic lenses and there's a built-in flash, which was missing from the GX8. 

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3. Olympus PEN Lite E-PL8 

Olympus PEN E PL8 White (12)

The 16 megapixel Olympus PEN E-PL8 features a tilting 3inch selfie screen, 3-axis in-camera image stabilisation, and records FullHD video. The ISO range is ISO100 to ISO25600, and the camera features built-in Wi-Fi, 8.5fps continuous shooting, and a metal camera body. The E-PL8 uses Micro Four Thirds lenses. It's also worth looking at the previous version, while it's still available, the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL7.

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4. Olympus PEN E-PL9 

Olympus PEN E-PL9

 

The Olympus PEN E-PL9 continues to deliver the same high image quality of other Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras, giving excellent colour reproduction and great JPEG images straight from the camera. Noise performance is good, although doesn't quite match the performance of some APS-C cameras. The E-PL9 is now a more complete camera than any previous Olympus PEN camera, with the built-in pop-up flash a great addition. 4K video makes it competitive with the Panasonic Lumix cameras, and combined with built-in 3-axis IS, this is better than most other entry-level mirrorless cameras and will make your video look better than non-stabilised cameras.

The Olympus PEN E-PL9 is likely to be a popular camera, particularly thanks to the 3-axis image stabilisation system, and 4K video recording. The biggest competition is the E-M10 Mark III, with a built-in electronic viewfinder, the Panasonic Lumix GX80, and the Sony Alpha A6000, which both also feature a built-in electronic viewfinder. The updates to the user interface is a very welcome addition, however, the more advanced menus could still do with a refresh. The E-PL9 solves most of the complaints we had regarding the E-PL8, with a built-in flash, built-in automatic panoramic mode, as well as new, easier to use modes. As part of the Micro Four Thirds system, it also has access to the widest range of lenses available for a mirrorless system.

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5. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV 

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is a compact, lightweight mirrorless camera with a vast array of features and abilities. There's very little to limit you in your pursuit for great photography. The handling of the camera is particularly good as well, with a well-thought-out handgrip, and dual command dials making it easy and quick to change settings. There is also a huge range of lenses available, with additional lenses still due to be released in the future.

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6. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III 

Olympus OM D E M10 Mark III (12)

The 16 megapixel Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is the third entry-level Olympus OM-D model and features the same 16-megapixel sensor as the E-M5 Mark II, as well as 5-axis image stabilisation, built-in Wi-Fi, and 4K video recording at a competitive price. There is a large high-resolution electronic viewfinder (2.36m dots), ISO100 to ISO25600, 8.6fps continuous shooting and is designed to be easier to use. Although the camera is not weather-sealed, it does have a tilting touch-screen and uses Micro Four Thirds lenses

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7. Canon EOS M50 

Canon EOS M50

The Canon EOS M50 offers a compact, DSLR styled mirrorless camera, with an updated 24mp APS-C CMOS sensor, which gives excellent image quality, with the same excellent colour reproduction that you get with Canon EOS DSLRs. You also get high-speed continuous shooting, 143 focus points, and a high-resolution electronic viewfinder. It's also one of the cheapest Canon cameras to record 4K video, and the side mic socket will make it appealing for those who want to record video.

If you want to use Canon EF lenses, with an adapter, on a smaller camera body, or want to use one of the EF-M lenses, then the Canon EOS M50 is a compact option with great levels of performance, and is an enjoyable camera to use. It's just frustrating that in order to get the best from the camera you have to use the EOS-EF-M adapter, due to the lack of native Canon EF-M lenses available.

It would be nice to see Canon introduce new lenses more often than they have, as the last new lens was announced in September 2016. Considering the EOS M system has been around since 2012, and there are still only 7 Canon EF-M lenses available says a lot. Consider Sony's FE mount camera system, released in 2013, now has 24 Sony FE mount lenses, Fujifilm has 28 lenses for their system, Olympus offers 28 lenses, and Panasonic offers 37 lenses, it's unfortunate that a camera as good as the M50 doesn't also benefit from such a wide choice of lenses (without having to rely on an adapter).  

If you're going to buy a mirrorless camera system, which gives you the ability to change lenses when needed and think about what lenses you'd buy for the camera, the Canon EOS M50 comes up short. Which is a real shame, as the Canon EOS M50 is the best value for money out of all of the Canon EOS M cameras, is great fun to use, and is capable of taking some excellent shots. Perhaps we'll see the lens range increase in future, and if it does, then the Canon EOS M50 could be a real winner.

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8. Olympus PEN E-PL10  

Olympus PEN E-PL10

 

Like the E-PL9, the E-PL10 delivers great image quality, excellent colour reproduction, rapid focus and continuous shooting speeds, and has good noise performance. There's a built-in pop-up flash, 4K video recording, and with built-in 3-axis IS, videos have a good level of image stabilisation, making even handheld videos look great.

The Olympus PEN E-PL10 like the E-PL9 is a great little camera, and that's the biggest issue currently, the E-PL10 is so similar to the E-PL9, that the higher price of the E-PL10 makes it difficult to justify.

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9. Panasonic Lumix G100 

Panasonic Lumix G100

 

Despite being designed as the "perfect vloggers" camera, we were more impressed by the camera's still photo ability. It consistently produced images that look great, with good detail, accurate focus, and great colour. The camera also gives a great shooting experience, thanks to a high-quality, high-resolution screen, and high-resolution and large electronic viewfinder. Handling is good, with a good rubber grip and there's a good number of external controls. For those looking for a compact mirrorless camera, with access to a vast array of relatively compact lenses, then the Panasonic Lumix G100 makes a great camera.

As a vlogging camera, we were left fairly disappointed in a number of ways. Electronic image stabilisation struggles, focus is frustrating as the camera's focus drifts from the main subject (and hunts for focus), and the heavy crop gives a soft-looking image. We were left disappointed in the audio quality, despite OZO Audio promising high audio quality. The kit lens gives us a camera that struggles in low-light. For a little bit more, you can get the Panasonic Lumix G90, which features real 5-axis in-body image stabilisation, rather than digital, as well as mic/headphone sockets, and unlimited video recording.

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10. Fujifilm X-T200 

Fujifilm X-T200

The X-T200 updates the X-T100 in a number of useful ways. 4K video recording has been greatly improved, offering 30,25,24fps video recording and a microphone socket has been added to the side. A larger, improved grip has been added to the camera, and there's a new, larger, high-resolution 3.5inch vari-angle touch-screen. Face and eye detection is included and gives good focus performance in most situations.

In terms of value for money, the X-T200 offers a lot, however, alternatives from other companies, such as Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, offer a wider range of lens choices, particularly if you're looking for budget options, and this is something to factor in when looking at the overall cost if you do go for this camera. The majority of lenses available from Fujifilm are not budget options, however, the new XC 35mm f/2.0 is one lens to look at. You could also look at the X-T30, a higher spec camera in many ways, currently available for less than the X-T200.

For wildlife or high-speed sports photography, you will be better served by other Fujifilm X series cameras, such as the X-T30, or X-T3/X-T4 with much faster continuous shooting speeds. But for everything else, the Fujifilm X-T200 makes a compelling all-round camera for general photography. For video the X-T200 delivers good-looking 4K video footage, and the screen is definitely impressive. The vlogger kit is great value for money, for an extra £50, you get a RODE Mic, a JOBY tripod, and a memory card, with the microphone giving a noticeable improvement in audio quality. 

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11. Fujifilm X-A7 

Fujifilm X-A7

 

The Fujifilm X-A7 gives pretty much everything you could want from an entry-level mirrorless camera. There's a 24mp APS-C CMOS sensor, 4K video recording, and usefully a large 3.5inch vari-angle touch-screen. For those interested in the video side of things, there's HDMI out, as well as a microphone socket (albeit a 2.5mm jack - an adapter is provided in the box). For vlogging, the large screen, and face detection focus will also add to the camera's appeal. 

The image quality delivered is very good, and excellent when using prime lenses with the camera. Despite the lack of Fujifilm's X-Trans CMOS sensor, you still get excellent Fujifilm colour reproduction, and a good number of film simulations and options so that you can customise the results to your liking. Dynamic range recorded is good, and again, there are a number of options to improve this. In-camera raw processing makes it quick and easy to correct or change any image you want, and we're a big fan of this being built-in to the camera. 

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12. Canon EOS M200 

Canon EOS M200

 

The Canon EOS M200 is a neat little budget mirrorless camera, with a range of matching budget lenses that make it an easy to use compact system. If you want to access more advanced controls it can be time-consuming (several button presses and menus need to be scrolled through to find the switch between MF and AF), but it's not really designed for advanced shooters, so this can be forgiven. 

For those looking for an easy-to-use, compact, "point-and-shoot" style mirrorless camera, the Canon EOS M200 could be an excellent option, particularly as it's got the same colour reproduction as other Canon EOS cameras and a 24mp APS-C CMOS sensor. We liked shooting with the camera, even though, it's not designed for the traditional photographer, it's simplicity and ease of use makes for a somewhat fun camera to simply use, and not worry too much about. 

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More Money To Spend?

For top premium mirrorless compact system camera (with a viewfinder) options, have a look at our Top Premium CSCs round-up. Don't forget to pick up a bag for your new camera and if you're in need of a new memory card, have a look at our complete guide to memory cards.

 

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