by IR Staff

posted Thursday, March 17, 2022 at 5:00 PM EDT


A while back, we put together a list of camera recommendations that hit a price point of under $1000. That's a very popular price bracket, with cameras offering a good balance of image quality, performance and affordability. These cameras, therefore, tend to lean more towards the entry-level and intermediate-level range. There are often compromises in terms of overall features, both inside and out, and lower performance specs to achieve that lower price point.

However, serious enthusiasts and hobbyist photographers tend to look for cameras with more features, better performance, and additional bells and whistles -- though there's still a need to keep the price in check. Therefore, cameras that we're considering "enthusiast-level" tend to retail for somewhere around the $2000 mark. These higher-end cameras usually offer a more comprehensive array of features, such as high-resolution sensors, advanced AF features with sophisticated subject tracking modes, 4K video recording, weather-sealed construction, and a plethora of physical controls, to name a few.

In this article, we're going to provide recommendations for excellent enthusiast-class mirrorless cameras from several manufacturers. However, we're also breaking up our list of suggestions into two categories. The first one will focus on enthusiast mirrorless cameras priced under $2000, which is a popular price ceiling that many camera buyers are likely to limit themselves. However, when assessing the field of potential cameras to recommend, we noticed that several options are *just above* that $2000 mark, and it would be a shame to leave them out. Therefore, we have a second list of recommendations with a few remaining options priced a bit higher than $2000 but still within this same general "Enthusiast Mirrorless" territory.

If you're in the market for upgrading your camera, whether you're someone ready to move up beyond their entry-level camera or you're a seasoned hobbyist looking to upgrade your kit, let our new recommendation list guide you in your purchasing decisions.

Best Enthusiast Mirrorless Cameras Under $2000

Fuji X-T4


The Fujifilm X-T4 is amazing on multiple fronts by being both an all-around fantastic camera and an excellent value. The X-T4 hits all the high points of a remarkably versatile enthusiast-level camera: excellent image quality, performance, AF, physical design, and features. What really shocked us, though, was its price. At just $1700, the X-T4 is a lot of camera for the money!

Fuji X-T4 - by William Brawley

The 26.1MP X-Trans sensor provides the Fuji X-T4 with fantastic image quality performance, with print quality even rivaling that of some full-frame cameras. The X-T4, overall, captures brilliant photos at a wide range of ISOs and lighting conditions, and the wonderful built-in Fuji Film Simulations help make images look great straight out of the camera. The faster processor and versatile AF system give the X-T4 the performance chops needed for all sorts of subjects, both stationary and fast-moving. Thanks to the Fuji X-T4's stylish exterior, the camera doesn't just perform well, it also looks great, too. 

Estimated Street Price: $1699 - Check current prices at B&H or Amazon
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Nikon Z6 II


From a visual standpoint, the second-generation Nikon Z6 II doesn't look much different from the original. And indeed, the design is essentially the same. But that is a great thing. The Z6 II feels great in the hand. The camera combines classic and comfortable Nikon design, with excellent controls, good grip and a durable, weather-sealed construction. All qualities that we love to see in an enthusiast-class camera. Under the hood, the Z6 II gains a second image processor, which improves AF performance, burst shooting speeds, and better video features, including 4K 60p.

Nikon Z6 II - by Jeremy Gray

Whether you're a still photographer or a video creator, the Nikon Z6 II is a versatile camera that's designed to appeal to many types of subjects. The 24MP full-frame sensor captures fantastic images, and the improvements in performance help the Z6 II capture moving subjects better than before.

Estimated Street Price: $1996.95 - Check current prices at B&H or Amazon
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Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III


Olympus's -- or rather, OM Digital Solutions's -- OM-D E-M1 Mark III is a supremely compact yet full-featured and high-performance mirrorless camera. Thanks to its smaller Four Thirds sensor, the E-M1 III body is lightweight and compact and the lenses that go along with it are also much smaller and lighter than equivalent lenses for larger-sensor camera systems. Combined with some amazingly robust weather-sealing, the Olympus E-M1 III makes for an excellent travel and adventure-focused mirrorless camera, as well as a great birding and wildlife camera.

Olympus E-M1 III - by William Brawley

The camera's 20MP Four Thirds sensor captures excellent quality images with lots of fine detail, especially at lower ISOs. Further, the E-M1 III's image stabilization is one of the best we've seen, which not only lets you shoot with slower shutter speeds much more easily but makes handheld video shooting great, as well. The AF system is responsive with excellent speed and tracking capabilities, too. All in all, if you want a rugged, go-anywhere enthusiast mirrorless camera, the E-M1 III is a fantastic choice, especially if size, weight and durability are important qualities.

Estimated Street Price: $1499 - Check current prices at B&H or Amazon
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Panasonic S5


Panasonic burst into the full-frame mirrorless market with two large, pro-oriented models, the S1R and S1. While great, these cameras are expensive and rather large, but Panasonic soon brought out a small, lighter and more affordable model, the Lumix S5. The S5 uses the same 24MP full-frame sensor as in the pricier S1, and with that, it captures wonderfully sharp and vibrant images. The built-in image stabilization system, in addition to providing steadier handheld shooting, also allows for a 96MP high-res photo too for times when you want even more incredible detail. Much like with other Panasonic Lumix cameras, the S5 is also a powerful video camera, as well. It offers an excellent array of high-end video features, including 4K up to 60p recording with unlimited recording times.

Panasonic S5 - by Dave Pardue

All in all, the Lumix S5 is surprisingly feature-rich. It has built-in IBIS, High-Res Shot mode, unlimited 4K 30p video, 4K 60p video, 10-bit video recording, weather-sealed construction and more. Plus, with a price tag under $2000 body-only, this Lumix full-frame camera has "enthusiast" written all over it.

Estimated Street Price: $1697.99 - Check current prices at B&H or Amazon
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Sony A7 III


Although an A7 Mark IV successor model was just released towards the end of 2021, the Sony A7 III is still for sale -- and still offers an incredible array of features and performance for a great enthusiast-oriented price point. The A7 III sports a sharp 24MP BSI full-frame sensor paired with some additional processing hardware that helps increase the overall performance and improves image processing. The image quality performance is excellent across a wide range of ISOs and shooting situations and the dynamic range is extremely flexible.

Sony A7 III - by Mike Tomkins

The hybrid autofocusing system gets a major overhaul from earlier models, offering an amazing 693 on-sensor phase-detection pixels covering nearly the entire sensor area. Combined with excellent Eye-AF (as well as Real-Time Eye-AF tracking with recent firmware updates), the A7 III is both versatile and capable for all sorts of subjects. Other great features include built-in image stabilization, 4K 30p video recording, dual card slots, and excellent battery life. The A7 III is an incredible package, and if you're curious about moving into the world of full-frame, this is a great place to start!

Estimated Street Price: $1998 - Check current prices at B&H or Amazon
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Sony a6600


Perhaps you're not interested in a full-frame camera system? Maybe you want to keep things particularly lightweight and portable? And maybe you want to save even more money but still get a high-quality and high-performance camera? The Sony A6600 might just fit the bill here. The A6600 is Sony's flagship APS-C E-mount mirrorless camera, and it offers a whole of features in a tiny package.

Sony A6600 - by Jeremy Gray

The camera's 24MP sensor and fast processor give it impressive image quality performance at a wide range of ISO settings. There's also 5-axis body-based image stabilization, 14-bit RAW file support and 4K 30p video recording. The fast Bionz X image processor and improved LSI (which we first saw in the flagship A9 camera) allows for up to 11fps burst shooting and support for Real-Time Tracking and Real-time Eye AF focusing.

Overall, there's a heck of a lot of camera here for just a $1400 body-only price point. What's more, you can even get this as a kit with a versatile 18-135mm zoom lens for under $2000, as well!

Estimated Street Price: $1398 (body-only) - Check current prices at B&H or Amazon
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Best Enthusiast Mirrorless Cameras Under $2500

Canon R6


Announced alongside the higher-end, more expensive EOS R5, the Canon EOS R6 is a more affordable but still a well-rounded full-frame enthusiast mirrorless camera. After reviewing the R6, our field-tester said it might be Canon's best all-around mirrorless camera to date. And now, a couple of years later, that sentiment still rings true. The R6 blends high-tech mirrorless features inside a pleasingly familiar and comfortable Canon EOS camera design, all for an approachable enthusiast price.

Canon R6 - by Jeremy Gray

The sensor inside the R6 isn't the highest-resolution sensor around, even for our list of recommendations here. At 20MP, the R6 is a bit low-res for a modern full-frame camera, but despite that minor drawback, images from this camera look fantastic, with good detail, excellent colors and very good high ISO performance. The R6 also includes Canon's fast Dual Pixel CMOS AF with ~100% coverage and 1053 AF areas, powerful body-based image stabilization, up to 20fps continuous burst shooting, 4K 60p video, eye-tracking AF, dual card slots and an overall great camera design.

At $2499, the EOS R6 is still a bit expensive, but it's still well within what we consider an enthusiast camera, and it's a fantastic one.

Estimated Street Price: $2499 - Check current prices at B&H or Amazon
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OM System OM-1


The latest and greatest "formerly-OM-D-series" camera debuted in February under new branding -- the OM System OM-1 -- and it packs some serious upgrades inside its small, rugged form-factor. Although it uses a new brand name and is *technically* made by a different company now, the OM-1 is by all counts the successor to the Olympus E-M1 Mark III. It shares a similar design, though the ergonomics, controls, the EVF and durability have all been improved. However, under the hood, the OM-1 has a new stacked 20MP Four Thirds sensor and a much faster image processor. Together, the OM-1 offers better image quality performance than before, as well as some incredible performance specs, such as 50fps with continuous focusing or a whopping 120fps with single-shot focus.

OM System OM-1 - by Jeremy Gray

Additionally, the focusing system has been majorly improved with 1,053 on-sensor, cross-type phase-detection points that cover the entire sensor. Focusing speeds are extremely swift, and when you factor in features like face/eye-detection and the intelligent subject detection system we saw in the E-M1X -- which now includes vehicles, trains, planes, birds and animals -- the OM-1 is an extremely versatile, capable, camera for all sorts of subjects. The video side is also very impressive with 4K video up to 60fps, 1080p at 240fps and 12-bit RAW out through HDMI.

All in all, the OM System OM-1 is an incredibly versatile, capable and portable camera that is designed to go anywhere and withstand basically anything. At just $2100, the OM-1 is an amazing enthusiast-level camera (and beyond) that comes in at a really great price.

Estimated Street Price: $2199 - Check current prices at B&H or Amazon
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Sony A7 IV


Lastly, we'd be remiss not to talk about Sony's most recent "basic" full-frame mirrorless camera, the Sony A7 IV. We put "basic" in quotes because when we look at the specs and after we reviewed the camera, the quality and performance of the Sony A7 IV go way beyond what you consider "basic." The camera's new higher-res full-frame sensor, more powerful processor, sophisticated and versatile AF system, and impressive video features all combine to make the A7 Mark IV one of Sony's most versatile cameras ever -- especially when you consider the price point of just $2500.

Sony A7 IV - by William Brawley

The A7 IV's 33-megapixel sensor captures fantastic images with wonderful detail, excellent dynamic range and very good high ISO performance. The camera performs very well in both good and poor lighting. The camera's 10fps max burst rate might be a little on the slow side compared to some competing cameras, but it's a rather minor complaint. The buffer depths are excellent, the AF system is fast and responsive and the Real-time Tracking works like a charm. The Sony A7 IV is a real powerhouse of a camera that works well with a wide range of subject matter.

Estimated Street Price: $2,498 - Check current prices at B&H or Amazon
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• • •

The Best Mirrorless Cameras for Under $1000

The Best Lenses for Your Sony Mirrorless Camera

The Best Lenses for Your Fujifilm X Series Mirrorless Camera

xxxx - by Dave Pardue
xxxxx - by Mike Tomkins