Best Bargain Mirrorless Cameras
Good cameras can be expensive. However, you can get into photography without spending a ton of money. One of the best ways to find great value in the camera market is to buy a camera that is a generation or two old. Typically, these cameras are still extremely capable machines, and better than any new camera you could buy at the same price. While they sometimes lack the newest bells and whistles, this trade-off allows you to pick up a serious camera at a bargain price.
Some of today's best bargains are mirrorless cameras. With larger sensors than point and shoots, they can take very high-quality photos without adding the bulk of a full-on digital SLR. Often, they don't cost much more than point and shoots, either. A good point-and-shoot will run you between $300 and $400. For about the same money, you can pick up an earlier generation mirrorless camera that will create higher-quality images than any point-and-shoot.
This shootout will be less of a typical shootout since what constitutes a "budget" mirrorless camera depends on current prices. The cameras being evaluated have all been out for a few years, but what is available may change rapidly based on that manufacturer's own update schedule.
First Place: Olympus PEN E-PL1
$300 w/ lens, 12.3 MP (more specs)
Second Place: Samsung NX10
$350 w/ lens, 14.6 MP (more specs)
Third Place: Olympus E-PL2
$400 w/ lens, 12.3 MP (more specs)
In This Shootout:
Olympus PEN E-PL1
The Olympus PEN E-PL1 is a fantastic bargain in mirrorless cameras
The Samsung NX10's viewfinder and large sensor make it a steal at $350
Olympus PEN E-PL2
The Olympus PEN E-PL2 has some additional features over the E-PL1, but costs more
Buyer's Advice and Conclusion
What we've learned from looking at cheap mirrorless cameras