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Ultimate Guide: 7 Best Mirrorless Cameras Under $1000

This Ultimate Guide gives an in-depth look at my favorite mirrorless camera + kit lens combinations under $1000.

If you’re in a hurry and just want to find out what the best mirrorless camera under $1000 is, then I’d recommend the following!

Buying a new mirrorless camera can be exciting and daunting at the same time. 

I understand.

There are so many different mirrorless cameras on the market, it may be difficult to know where to start.

The good news is that because of innovations in the camera market, there is a huge variety of very high-quality mirrorless cameras at affordable prices.

Most importantly what you have to remember when picking out a camera is that everyone’s needs are different. What might be a smart camera investment for one person might not make sense for you and vice versa.

I think what’s missing in other similar articles about mirrorless cameras in this price range is that they don’t set strict requirements on must-have features that make sense for cameras in this budget. So, after taking some time to think through the must haves, here are the criteria each camera meets in this article.

Criteria for Mirrorless Cameras in this Article:

  • Under $1000 with kit lens
  • A wide selection of lenses
  • Good Autofocus
  • Easy Upgrade Path
  • Minimum 4k Video

Although there are many other features that I could have included, I think these criteria are the minimum you should expect from a camera under $1000.

Why Trust Me?

As with all of the Ultimate Guides I create, I have poured countless hours of research into this article to make sure I give you as much information as possible to help you make the best decision.

I have seen way too many camera articles that either don’t cover everything you need to know or they’re not updated frequently. Camera technology changes quickly, so to have the best information, you need the most updated information. Additionally, most of these websites are not about photography, so it’s hard to say if they have your best interest in mind.

In my opinion, to truly understand what makes a good mirrorless camera, you need to have used them day in and day out in a variety of different situations.

I’ve been a professional travel photographer since 2018 and have been lucky enough to work on projects all over the world with brands such as Alaska Airlines, Kayak.com, Prague Tourism, Visa, Airbnb, and many more. If you’re curious to see the full list of companies we’ve worked with, just head over to our Work With Us page

The first camera I ever bought was the Sony Alpha NEX 3 and also used the Sony a6500 professionally for a couple of years before upgrading to a full-frame mirrorless camera. So, I have a lot of experience with mirrorless cameras and still remember what it was like when I first started with one. 

From these past experiences, I think I’m in a good position to help you find the best mirrorless camera under $1000.

Most importantly, I’m just a message away. So, if you have any questions, just leave a comment below, email me at tom@witandfolly.co, or send me a DM on Instagram @tom.shu.

P.S. I answer every question that is sent

Reviews of the 7 Best Mirrorless Cameras Under $1000

After countless hours of research, here are my 7 favorite mirrorless cameras + kit lens combinations that are under $1000. Again, just as a reminder, all of the mirrorless cameras in this article have met the following criteria:

Criteria for Cameras in this Article:

  • Under $1000 with kit lens
  • A wide selection of lenses
  • Good autofocus
  • Easy upgrade path
  • Minimum 4k Video

Notes From The Field: I’m under the general assumption that you would like to stick to the lowest budget mirrorless camera possible. Because of this, if there was a choice between two similar mirrorless cameras from the same brand, I only decided to include one of the camera models. For example, I chose to include the cheaper Fujifilm X-T200 over the more expensive Fujfilm X-T30. The one exception I made was with the Sony a6400 vs Sony a6100. Since these two Sony Alpha cameras are almost identical with the exception of 3 minor differences, I included a comparison as I thought it would be helpful. The cameras are sorted by the brand and are not in any particular order.

1. Fujifilm X-T200

The Fujifilm X-T200 is one of the best value all around mirrorless cameras in this article and separates itself from the competition with no additional crop factor when you’re shooting 4k video, an APS-C size sensor, Fujifilm’s Film Simulation modes, and a bright responsive fully articulating touchscreen. 

It uses the Fujifilm X Mount so you have a wide selection of lenses in a variety of different focal lengths made specifically for Fujifilm X Series cameras. Add in its fast and accurate autofocus performance, above-average performance in low lighting conditions and you have a photography and videography powerhouse.

In terms of competition, the this camera holds its own against the other mirrorless cameras in this article. When compared to the Panasonic and Olympus cameras the most obvious advantage is the sensor size difference as the this camera uses an APS-C size sensor vs the Micro Four Thirds Sensor in the Panasonic and Olympus cameras.

Because of the bigger sensor, you will get a better low light performance and more resolution to work with which will give you more detail and will be helpful if you ever decide to crop into your photos.

Other than its sensor size, one of the biggest advantages of the Fujifilm X-T200 is its large, bright fully articulating touchscreen. With the touch screen, you’re able to easily access different settings and modes whether that’s for photography or when video recording.

On the photography side, it features a 24.2-megapixel sensor that can capture images at up to 8 frames per second (FPS). It uses a hybrid 425 AF point phase-detect and contrast-detect system that is similar to what you find in the industry-leading Sony cameras (although it’s not as good). Through the touch screen, you’re also able to access features such as the Portrait Enhancer (for skin smoothening) or Depth Control (to change the depth of field in the image), which can be useful.

When it comes to video, the camera isn’t bad either. Yes, it’s not as powerful as the Panasonic cameras or Sony a6400 in terms of its video features, but it still gives you a flexible set of video options to create a beautiful video. For video, it can record in UHD 4k video and the best part is that there’s no additional 4k crop in either 24 FPS or 30 FPS as you see with the Sony a6400 (1.2x 4k video crop in 30 FPS).  

For slow-motion, the X-T200 can also record in 1080p at up to 120 FPS, which is better than the 96 FPS found in the Panasonic GH4 or the 60 FPS found in the Panasonic G85.

Additionally, as with all other Fujifilm cameras, you get access to its popular film simulation modes. This is a great cinematic feature to have as it will give you the ability to simulate 11 different classic film looks from Fujifilm film stock such as Provia, Velvia, and Classic Chrome without the need to apply presets or LUTs to your footage.  

As with all cameras, there are some downsides to this camera The 2 biggest negatives with this camera are:

  • It only has electronic stabilization versus the 5 axis stabilization in the Panasonic and Olympus cameras
  • 15-minute video recording limit when shooting in 4k video

Notes From The Field: If you like what you see with the Fujifilm X-T200 and plan to focus on video, the Fujifilm X-T30 might be worth considering. It has a flat F-Log picture profile, an even higher DCI 4k resolution, and the ability to externally record 10-bit 4:2:2 video which is a definite plus in the video department. With that said, at its current price point, the Sony a6400 is slightly more attractive as it has a better screen design, no 4k video recording limit, and slightly better autofocus performance.

PROS

  • Very good value for the price with a variety of different photography and videography modes and an APS-C size sensor.
  • There are a variety of different lenses made specifically for the Fujifilm X Mount. The upgrade path is also easy as you can use the same lenses on the more advanced Fujifilm X Series pro cameras.
  • 4k video and up to 120 FPS in 1080p.
  • Access to Fujifilm’s popular film simulation mode which gives you the ability to simulate 11 classic film looks based on Fujifilm film stock.
  • Autofocus system performance is very good.
  • Good ISO performance. Only the Sony cameras in this article have better low light performance. 
  • No additional crop when shooting in 4k 24 FPS or 30 FPS versus the additional 1.2x crop on the Sony cameras when shooting in 4k 30 FPS.
  • A fully articulating flip screen with touch functionality makes it a lot easier to see what you’re shooting from all different angles.
  • Has a headphone jack to monitor audio through the included USB-C adapter and a microphone input through a standard 3.5mm port.

CONS

  • A lack of built-in 5 axis stabilization like the Panasonic and Olympus cameras, however, it does have 2 different types of electronic stabilization.
  • There is a 15-minute video recording limit when shooting 4k video.
  • No option to shoot in a flat picture profile which will make coloring your video harder in post-production if you plan to create films.
  • The 120 FPS is shot and processed in-camera so you don’t have as much flexibility with the footage if you plan to edit videos.
  • When using digital stabilization, there is an additional crop factor to consider depending on what stabilization mode you choose.
  • The battery life is only ok.
  • No weather sealing.

2. Fujifilm X-A7

This camera is a simplified version of the Fujifilm X-T200 and is made for people who want an upgrade from a smartphone but are not yet 100% comfortable with a camera. It has all the features you would expect from a modern APS-C sensor camera, but with simplified touchscreen controls that make it operate more like a smartphone than a camera.

Even though this camera is more “simplified”, the X-A7 is no joke and can create beautiful images and videos as it uses the same sensor as the Fujifilm X-T200.

Like the Fujifilm X-T200, this camera is also an X Series camera so it uses the same Fujifilm X Mount. This means you have the same wide selection of lenses in a variety of different focal lengths made specifically for Fujifilm X Series cameras. 

As the saying goes, “good glass is what makes the biggest difference”. So, if you’re intrigued by the simpler operations of the Fujifilm X-A7, you can still “upgrade” the camera, through better lenses.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the operations of the camera. 

One of the big downsides of this is that it doesn’t have a built-in viewfinder. This means you’ll have to rely on the touchscreen for both composing your shots and controlling the settings. On bright sunny days this could be an issue as the screen could get washed out by the bright light..

With that said, you still do get 3 different command dials on the top plate of the camera and a joystick on the right side of the camera to help you with focus and for navigating the camera’s menus. 

Since you’ll be spending most of your time operating the camera through its touchscreen, here are just some of the settings you can adjust:

  • Portrait Enhancement: allows you to select the portrait enhancement level to smooth out your subject’s skin.
  • Depth Control: gives you the ability to quickly defocus the background instead of relying on your aperture setting.
  • Touch Photography: similar to using a smartphone, you can use touch controls to select the focus area and to take the photo.
  • Touch Zoom: If this setting is turned on, you can pinch to zoom to operate the digital zoom of the camera.
  • Film Simulation Preview: Gives you the ability to preview what the application of the film simulation will look like by swiping the preview left and right.

Other than the physical operational controls, the tech behind the camera is pretty impressive too.

For photography, the camera uses a 24.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor that can capture up to 6 frames per second. It uses the same accurate hybrid 425 AF points phase-detect and contrast-detect autofocus system found in the Fujifilm X-T200.

This will be fast enough for most situations, but if you will be shooting wildlife or sports, the faster performance of the Sony mirrorless cameras and the bigger buffer would be a better fit.

For video, it has nearly the same features as the more advanced Fujifilm X-T200. For video, it can also record in UHD 4k video at up to 30 FPS, and just like the X-T200 there is no additional 4K crop in either 24 FPS or 30 FPS.  

With that said, for slow-motion, the X-A7 can only record in 1080p at up to 60 FPS versus the 120 FPS found in the X-T200. So, if having a 120 FPS slow motion is important to you, the Fujifilm X-T200 or one of the Sony mirrorless cameras would be the better choice. 

As this camera is so similar to the X-T200, it suffers from the same downsides of no . The 2 biggest negatives with this camera are:

  • It only has electronic stabilization versus the 5 axis stabilization in the Panasonic and Olympus cameras
  • 15-minute video recording limit when shooting in 4K

PROS

  • Very good value for the price with a variety of different photography and videography modes and an APS-C size sensor.
  • There are a variety of different lenses made specifically for the Fujifilm X Mount. The upgrade path is also easy as you can use the same lenses on the more advanced Fujifilm X-T4.
  • 4k Video at up to 30 FPS.
  • Access to Fujifilm’s popular film simulation mode which gives you the ability to simulate 11 classic film looks based on Fujifilm film stock.
  • Autofocus system performance is very good.
  • No additional crop when shooting in 4k video in 24 FPS or 30 FPS versus the additional 1.2x crop on the Sony mirrorless cameras when shooting in 4k 30 FPS.
  • An articulating flip screen with touch functionality makes it a lot easier to see what you’re shooting from all different angles.
  • Has a headphone input to monitor audio through the included USB-C adapter and a microphone input through a standard 3.5mm port.
  • A fun choice of 4 different colors to choose from.

CONS

  • No viewfinder which could make it difficult to compose your shot in certain environments.
  • A lack of built-in 5 axis stabilization like the Panasonic or Olympus cameras, however, it does have electronic stabilization.
  • There is a 15-minute video recording limit when shooting in 4k.
  • No option to shoot in a flat picture profile which will make coloring your video harder in post-production if you plan to create films.
  • The 60 FPS is shot and processed in-camera so you don’t have as much flexibility with the footage if you plan to edit videos.
  • When using digital stabilization, there is an additional crop factor to consider.
  • The battery life is only ok.
  • No weather sealing.

3. Sony a6400

The Sony a6400 is an APS-C sized sensor photography and videography powerhouse. 

One of the best parts about Sony a6400 and the Sony mirrorless camera lineup is that Sony has a huge ecosystem of E Mount cameras. This means that you’ll easily be able to use the same lenses if you ever plan to upgrade to a more advanced Sony full-frame camera like the Sony a7 III or Sony a9.

Notes From The Field: Just in case you plan to upgrade in the future. Although you will be able to use Sony APS-C lenses on the Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras, there will be a vignette as the full-frame sensor is larger than the APS-C lens. With that said, there is a dedicated APS-C mode in all Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras which will enable you to use APS-C lenses without the vignette. Another way to plan for an upgrade within the Sony ecosystem is to invest in a full-frame Sony lens. All full-frame Sony E Mount lenses will work on its APS-C sensor cameras.

Compared to the competition, the biggest advantage of the Sony mirrorless cameras is their powerful, fast, and smart autofocus (AF) system which makes it extremely easy to nail focus on all your shots. As the a6400 is a newer model of Sony cameras, it comes with the latest autofocus technology that is the same as what you find in Sony’s premium full-frame cameras. The Sony a6400 uses the classic Sony hybrid AF system of 425 phase-detect and contrast-detect points and includes its most advanced autofocus tracking technology for both photography and video. 

As part of the camera’s autofocus system, you’ll also find an industry leading real-time eye autofocus feature when taking photos. Unfortunately, video eye autofocus is only available in the Sony a6600 and above.

However, the lack of video eye autofocus isn’t that big of a deal as the real-time subject tracking is already extremely good. Just to give you an idea of how powerful autofocus is in Sony mirrorless cameras, you’re able to change the face/eye autofocus priority setting to either human or animal which other cameras in this price point don’t have.

On the photography side, this camera features a 24.2MP Exmor CMOS sensor and BIONZ X image processor that can shoot up to 11 FPS while using autofocus tracking. Add in it’s JPEG buffer of 116 frames and RAW buffer of 46 frames (source: theverge.com) and you have one of the best cameras for aspiring wildlife or sports photographers.

For video, the Sony a6400 is no joke either. It can shoot in 4k video up to 30 FPS and in 1080p up to 120 FPS. It also offers a full selection of picture profiles such as HLG (HDR), S-Log2, and S-Log3 which will give you more dynamic range and make it easier for you to color grade your footage in post-production if you plan to get into videography.

There are of course downsides to this camera too. It’s a bummer that this camera still uses the notoriously bad Sony NP-FW50 battery so the battery life isn’t the best. Its LCD screen is also hard to see in bright light, and it doesn’t have any type of built-in stabilization like what you find with the other cameras in this article.

PROS

  • APS-C size sensor camera with a great ISO range. It’s easily one of the best low light performing cameras you can find in this price range.
  • Excellent AF system. Plus, it’s a newer Sony camera so you get the latest autofocus technology including real-time autofocus tracking for both photography and video.
  • The Sony E Mount ecosystem is one of the best and makes upgrading to a more advanced full-frame or APS-C sensor camera easy.
  • Up to 120 FPS shooting speed at 1080p, which is one of the best in this article.
  • Full selection of picture profiles including HLG (HDR), S-Log2, and S-Log3, which will give you a greater dynamic range when shooting video (if you need it).
  • Has a standard 3.5mm microphone input.
  • No 4k video recording limit.
  • Weather-sealed for moisture and dust.
  • Crispy UHD 4K video.

CONS

  • The most expensive camera in this article.
  • No built-in stabilization versus the built-in 5 axis stabilization in the Olympus and Panasonic cameras or the electronic stabilization in the Fujifilm cameras.
  • There is an additional crop when shooting 4k video.
  • Still uses the Sony NP-FW50 battery which isn’t the best.
  • No headphone jack.
  • It’s hard to use the LCD screen under a bright sun and it only flips up.

4. Sony a6100

The Sony a6100 is very similar to the Sony a6400 so I’m not going to go into too much detail about this camera. 

What’s important to understand is that if you like what you see with the Sony a6400 and want to save a little extra money, the Sony a6100 could be a good choice. 

It has a less durable build and no flat picture profile options in video mode. However, it uses the same sensor as the Sony a6400 and you get the same great autofocus system, which means the picture and video quality will be pretty much the same.

In case you’re debating between either the Sony a6100 or the Sony a6400, here are the main differences between the two cameras when it comes to features and specs.

Create a table for this:

FeatureSony a6100Sony a6400
Viewfinder Resolution1.4 Million Dots2.4 Million Dots
Body MaterialPlastic and not weather sealedMagnesium Alloy that is sealed against dust and moisture
Picture ProfilesNone availableFull selection including S-Log

PROS

  • A cheaper version of the Sony a6400 which uses the same sensor and features the same great AF system.
  • APS-C size sensor camera with a great ISO range. It’s easily one of the best low light cameras you can find in this price range.
  • Excellent autofocus with the hybrid 425 point AF phase-detect and contrast-detect autofocus system. Plus, it’s a newer Sony camera so you get the latest autofocus technology.
  • The Sony E Mount ecosystem is one of the best and makes upgrading to a more advanced full-frame or APS-C sensor camera easy.
  • Up to 120 FPS shooting speed at 1080p, which is one of the best in this article.
  • Has a standard 3.5mm microphone input.
  • No 4k video recording limit.
  • Crispy UHD 4K video.

CONS

  • No built-in stabilization versus the built-in 5 axis stabilization in the Olympus and Panasonic cameras or the electronic stabilization in the Fujifilm cameras.
  • There is an additional crop when shooting in 4K.
  • Still uses the Sony NP-FW50 battery which isn’t the best.
  • No headphone jack.
  • It’s hard to use the LCD screen under a bright sun and it only flips up.
  • No flat picture profiles which will give you less flexibility if you plan to get into filmmaking.
  • Plastic build and no weather sealing of any kind.

5. Panasonic Lumix G85

The Panasonic Lumix G85 is a Micro Four Thirds sensor camera that is known to be one of the best all-around value cameras for both photography and videography. As with any Micro Four-Thirds camera, one of its advantages is that it can work with any Micro Four Thirds lens from different camera manufacturers. 

This gives you a huge range of lens options at different price points from Micro Four Thirds lens manufacturers such as Olympus, Panasonic, Rokinon, Sigma, and much more. 

Notes From The Field: Even though the camera will work with all Micro Four Thirds lenses, certain features such as autofocus will only work with Panasonic lenses.

For photography, the Panasonic Lumix G85 features a 16 megapixel MOS sensor that can capture up to 10 frames per second when using single-shot autofocus or up to 6 frames per second in continuous autofocus mode. This will be fast enough for most situations, but if your focus is on wildlife or sports photography, the faster performance of the Sony cameras would be a better fit.

On the video side, the Panasonic Lumix G85 can shoot in UHD 4k at up to 30 frames per second (FPS) and similar to the Sony a6400 it doesn’t have a 4k video recording limit. It also has a good selection of color profiles to choose from which will make it easier for you if you ever get into color grading and video editing. 

However, for slow-motion it can only go up to 60 FPS in 1080p. So if capturing slow-motion footage is important to you, the Sony cameras (which can shoot in 1080p up to 120 FPS) or the Panasonic Lumix GH4 (which can shoot in 1080p up to 96 FPS in its variable frame rate mode) might be a better fit. 

To give you a clearer picture of how this camera compares to the competition, let’s compare the Panasonic Lumix G85 to the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV as it’s also a highly rated Micro Four Thirds camera from another manufacturer. 

When looking at the Olympus cameras vs the Panasonic G85, the biggest difference you’ll notice is in build quality and design. The Panasonic G85 has a larger DSLR style form factor. This larger size allows the Panasonic to have an articulating screen that will make it much easier to compose your shot from all angles when compared to the 180° tiltable screen from Olympus. Additionally, the Panasonic G85 is fully weather-sealed, so it’s much better suited for a variety of different weather conditions versus the plastic build of the Olympus. 

Both cameras have above average 5-axis in-body stabilization and the ability to capture beautiful images and videos in up to 4k resolution. With that said, when it comes to video, the Panasonic G85 is the clear winner as it has a built-in microphone input in addition to its selection of different color profiles. Having both these features will allow you to more easily capture usable video footage in a variety of different situations. 

As with all Micro Four Thirds cameras, there are clear downsides when you compare them to their APS-C sensor counterparts. The APS-C sensor Sony and Fujifilm cameras will give you better low light performance, more dynamic range, and will give you the most detail. The Sony and Fujifilm cameras also feature newer and better AF system technologies, but that’s unrelated to the sensor size.

Overall, the Panasonic Lumix G85 is a great all-around choice for those of you who will be focused on videography with its articulating screen, no 4k video recording limit, high-quality 4k footage, and a nice selection of color profiles.

However, if you’re more of a hybrid shooter or will be focusing on photography, the Sony or Fujifilm cameras are probably the better bet as they have the larger APS-C size sensors.

PROS

  • Amazing in-body stabilization. Image stabilization is up to 5-stops if you use a native lens with image stabilization.
  • Solid design with a camera body that’s fully weather-sealed and a fully articulating screen.
  • The memory card slot is on the side of the camera which makes it a lot easier to change if you have the camera on a gimbal or tripod.
  • 4k UHD video and up to 60 FPS at 1080p.
  • Has a standard microphone input.
  • The 4k live crop feature allows you to pan, tilt, or zoom in to a video clip all without moving the camera. In most cameras, you would only be able to do this using video editing software.
  • Since it is a Micro Four Thirds, there is a wide variety of lenses available from Panasonic, Olympus, Sigma, Tamron, and many more.

CONS

  • Better autofocus system than the Panasonic GH4. However, it’s still not as good as the hybrid phase-detect and contrast-detect autofocus system found in the Sony and Fujifilm cameras.
  • No headphone jack.
  • No variable frame rate option like the GH4, so you don’t have as much flexibility with different slow motion frame rates to shoot in.
  • The sensor is Micro Four Thirds, so it doesn’t have as good low light performance or dynamic range when compared to the APS-C sensor cameras. Although, it’s slightly better than the GH4.
  • Better as a video camera so if you’re a hybrid shooter or photographer, the Sony or Fujifilm cameras offer a better value.

6. Panasonic GH4

I wanted to throw this camera in the mix in case you have aspirations of becoming a videographer and are looking for a camera with more professional video features. 

The Panasonic GH4 is one of the most popular Micro Four Thirds video specific cameras that has ever been released. Although it’s an older camera now, it’s still an awesome camera to start with if your main focus will be on filmmaking.

Before we get into its video capabilities, it’s first worth bringing up its two big negatives when compared to the Panasonic G85. Most importantly, If you think either of these downsides will impact how you make videos or photos, then the Panasonic G85 is the better option as it’s a newer camera, is in the same price range, and still has very good video features.

Negatives of the Panasonic GH4 Versus Panasonic G85

Lack of Image Stabilization: 
The Panasonic GH4 doesn’t have built-in image stabilization versus the industry-leading 5-axis image stabilization that you find in the Panasonic G85.

You can mitigate this issue by using a lens with optical image stabilization. However, if you’re more of a run and gun type of shooter and don’t use a tripod often, you will probably benefit from the image stabilization found in the G85.

Autofocus Performance:
The autofocus system performance of Panasonic’s Depth From Defocus (DFD) in newer Panasonic cameras still cannot compare to Sony and Fujifilm hybrid contrast and phase-detect autofocus system.

Since the Panasonic GH4 is an older camera, the autofocus system is even worse off than the Panasonic G85. You can get around this by using manual focus in combination with the Single Shot Focus mode, but if you tend to rely on autofocus and want to say with Panasonic, you would be better off with the Panasonic G85.

Notes From The Field: Again, if AF system performance is the most important factor in your decision (for example if you plan to focus on sports or wildlife photography/videography), the Sony cameras are the best choice.

If you can get over these downsides, you will find some incredibly powerful video features that you would normally only find in much more expensive professional tier cameras. On the video side, you’ll find a wide selection of different frame rates and resolutions to choose from which include (source: bandh.com): 

  • Cinema quality DCI 4k at 24 FPS (100 Mbps)
  • UHD 4k at 23.976p/24.00p/25p/29.97 FPS (100 Mbps). The Panasonic G85 only has 24 and 29.97 FPS options.
  • Full HD 1080p at 23.976p/24.00p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p (up to 200 Mpbs)
  • Variable frame rate mode that gives you the ability to shoot in slow motion up to 96 FPS in 1080p

Additionally, what’s nice about the GH4 is that you also have the flexibility to select different bit rates to shoot in when shooting in Full HD 1080p. Having this level of customization will give you more freedom in selecting the best video settings depending on your situation when compared to any other camera in this price range. 

Other than the flexible 4k and 1080p video options, the camera also has 8 different customizable picture profiles, a fully articulating screen, above-average battery life, and the ability to output 10-bit 4:2:2 video over HDMI to an external recorder.

A Note On Bit Depth and Bit Rate: I’m not going to get into all technicalities of bit depth, but on a basic level, bit depth is the possible number of variations in shades of colors that make up an image. With an 8-bit bit depth, you can have a possible 256 shades of red, 256 shades of blue, and 256 shades of green. This gives you a potential 16,777,216 total colors in an image.

On the other hand, with a 10-bit bit depth, you can have a possible 1,024 shades of red, 1,024 shades of blue, and 1,024 shades of green in an image. This gives you a potential of 1,073,741,824 total colors in an image, so the difference between 8-bit and 10-bit is very significant.

As for Bit Rate, on a basic level, a higher bit rate gives you better overall quality video as more data is being processed. The downside is that the file size is much larger, making it more difficult to store, upload, and send.

On the photography side, the Panasonic GH4 is also a capable camera. Although, if you’ll be focusing on photography or are a hybrid shooter and want to stay in the Panasonic ecosystem, the Panasonic G85 is a better choice because of its image stabilization and slightly improved autofocus.

PROS

  • An incredible selection of different frame rates and bit-rates to choose from.
  • Cinema quality 4k DCI video and the flexibility to shoot 60 FPS in 1080p at 100 Mbps.
  • Solid design with a camera body that has full weather sealing and a fully articulating screen.
  • Battery life is above average when compared to the other cameras in this article.
  • The memory card slot is on the side of the camera which makes it a lot easier to change if you have the camera on a gimbal or tripod.
  • A full selection of picture profiles to choose from which will make it easier to color grade your footage in post-production.
  • HDMI output allows you to record directly to an external recorder at a 4:2:2 sampling rate (professional standard), which is a nice option to have for a video camera.
  • Has a headphone input and microphone input.

CONS

  • The sensor is Micro Four Thirds, so it doesn’t have as good low light performance or dynamic range when compared to the APS-C sensor cameras. 
  • The autofocus system is the worst in this article.
  • Slow-motion only goes to 96 FPS compared to 120 FPS on the Sony a6400, Sony a6100, and Fujifilm X-T200.
  • It’s best as a video camera so if you’re a hybrid shooter or photographer, the Sony or Fujifilm cameras offer a better package.

7. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is a Micro Four Thirds sensor camera like the Panasonic G85 and Panasonic GH4 that is geared more towards photography than videography. So, if you plan to focus on video or are more of a hybrid shooter, the Sony, Fujifilmfilm, or Panasonic will be a better fit. 

The big deal breaker with this camera for video is that it doesn’t have a microphone jack. You might not need an external microphone jack right away, but eventually, as you grow as a videographer, you’ll come to see the importance of recording good quality audio. Yes, you can get around this by recording sound externally to a recorder. However, to avoid the extra trouble, it’s probably just easier to go with another camera altogether.

If you can get over the audio recording limitation of this camera and only plan to shoot video casually, this camera might still work for a hybrid or video focused shooter. It produces good quality 4k footage, has incredibly stable 5-axis in-body image stabilization, and a responsive contrast-based autofocus system. So, it’s more than capable of producing cinematic looking footage.

Photography is where the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV really shines. This camera takes many of its features from the pro model Olympus EM-1 Mark III and EM-1X. This means you get a photography camera with fast and smart autofocus performance, the same 5-axis image stabilization that you find on the video side, and unique photography modes only found in Olympus cameras.

On the technical side, the camera has a 20.3 megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor that can shoot at up to 8.7 FPS in continuous burst mode. It uses a 121-point contrast-detection autofocus system and carries over the same continuous autofocus technology from the pro-level E-M1 and face and eye detection from the pro model E-M1 MarkIII series. Again, this will be fast enough in most situations, but if fast autofocus is important to you, the autofocus systems found in the Sony cameras will be better.

Out of the different photography modes that’s in the camera, I think it’s worth spending a little extra time on the Advanced Photo Mode (AP Mode) as it’s one of the main advantages of this camera compared to the others in this article.

In the Advanced Photo Mode, the camera will assist you and make it easier to capture complex shot types such as light trails, long exposure, or HDR even if you don’t know what you’re doing. 

Here is just a brief overview of my 4 favorite shooting options that are in the Advanced Photo Mode. If you want to learn more about what other features are found in the AP Mode, here is a link to the Olympus page:

Live Composite: 
The Live Composite mode is a great tool for capturing light trails such as star trails, car light trails, or fireworks. Essentially, it’s an advanced bulb mode that creates a composite image out of multiple frames shot at the shutter speed and duration you set. What’s cool about this mode, is that the composite image is created “live” so you can see the preview being created on screen. 

Live Time: 
The Live Time mode is a very easy way to capture long exposure photographs. In this mode, you first press the shutter to start the exposure. Then you can watch the preview of the exposure build-up live on screen and when you feel the image has been exposed enough, you can press the shutter again to stop the exposure. 

Typically, to execute a long exposure, you would have to calculate the exposure time based on the aperture, shutter speed, and light available in the scene. Then once the exposure has been started, you wouldn’t be able to see what it looks like until the exposure has been completed. As you can imagine, Live Time makes this entire process much easier.

HDR:
In HDR mode, the camera will take 4 different exposures to capture details in both the shadows and highlights of composition and then combine them into a single image straight in-camera. Most cameras have an HDR mode. However, in most cases, you would have to merge the different images using photo editing software instead of having it created directly in the camera.

Keystone Compensation: 
Keystone Compensation is a powerful tool that allows you to change the perspective of your composition straight in the camera. This would be especially helpful to straighten the lines of a building in an architecture photo or to straighten the lines in a product photo.

With most other cameras, you would have to fix these perspective differences using photo editing software.

PROS

  • Very good autofocus performance from its 121 point contrast-detection system. However, it’s still not as good as the hybrid phase-detect and contrast-detect autofocus system found in the Sony or Fujifilm cameras.
  • Amazing in-body image stabilization. Image stabilization is up to 4.5-stops.
  • A solid set of easy to use photography specific modes such as Advanced Photo Mode, Scene Mode, Advanced Auto Mode, and Art Filters.
  • Same continuous autofocus technology from the pro model E-M1X and face and eye detection from the pro model E-M1 MarkIII.
  • Classic ergonomic design that Olympus is known for with a selection of customizable dials to change camera settings.
  • High-quality UHD 4k video.
  • Weather
  • Since it is a Micro Four Thirds, there is a wide variety of lenses available from Panasonic, Olympus, Sigma, Tamron, and many more.

CONS

  • The lack of headphone or microphone jack and picture profile options make this a photography-focused camera. Because of this, it’s not as flexible for a hybrid shooter as the Sony, Fujifilm, and Panasonic mirrorless cameras.
  • The Olympus only has a 120 FPS slow motion in 720p resolution versus the 1080p resolution found in the Sony and Fujifilm X-T200.
  • The sensor is Micro Four Thirds, so it doesn’t have as good low light performance or dynamic range when compared to the APS-C sensor cameras. 
  • Better autofocus than the Panasonic mirrorless cameras, but it’s still not as good as the hybrid phase-detect and contrast-detect autofocus system found in the Sony and Fujifilm mirrorless cameras.
  • Plastic build and no weather sealing.

Honorable Mentions

  • Fujifilm X-T30: This camera might be worth considering if you like the Fujifilm X-T200, but want a more video-centric camera. It has a flat F-Log picture profile, an even higher DCI 4k video resolution, and the ability to externally record 10-bit 4:2:2 video like the Panasonic GH4 which is a definite plus in the video department.
  • Canon EOS M50: The Canon EOS M50 is still a great camera for photography and shooting video in 1080p especially with Canon’s dual pixel autofocus system, the colors it produces, and its APS-C sensor. However, in 4k video mode, it has a substantial additional crop and its dual-pixel autofocus doesn’t work. Because of these two big negatives, the Sony and Fujifilm mirrorless cameras in this article are a better value.
  • Nikon Z50: the Nikon Z50 is a fantastic mirrorless camera option from Nikon. However, the other mirrorless cameras in this article are a better value considering Nikon’s higher price point and lack of lens selection.
  • Olympus PEN E-PL10: this might be a good fit if you like the OM-D E-M10 Mark IV, but don’t need a viewfinder and want a slightly smaller form factor. The Olympus PEN E-PL10 uses the same sensor as the OM-D E-M10 Mark IV and has the same features so the main difference is in the design and a slightly worse 3-axis image stabilization.

By Tom Shu

Hi! I’m a Washington State-based professional photographer and filmmaker. I quit my corporate job in 2018 to pursue this passion full-time and have been lucky enough to work on projects all over the world with brands such as Visa, Airbnb, and prAna. Here are examples of the work we do in case you're wondering. My goal with all these articles is to help you out, so if you ever have any questions just send me an email at tom@witandfolly.co, DM me at my Instagram @tom.shu or leave a comment on any of the articles!

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