Entry-Level Mirrorless Camera Roundup (2013)
Which camera should I buy?
The truth about this class is that all of these cameras take perfectly good pictures in good light, and the differences in high ISO image quality (overall) are relatively small - with all the cameras with APS-C and Four Thirds sensors performing similarly. The gaps between cameras become even narrower if you don't plan on swapping the lens or making large prints. Determining which camera is right for you comes down to how you plan to use it, what your handling preferences are and how important things like integrated Wi-Fi or an accessory port are.
Best entry-level mirrorless camera: Fujifilm X-M1
Picking the most expensive in the class as the best all-around option seems unimaginative, but the Fujifilm X-M1 gets so much right it deserves the credit. It turns out excellent JPEGs with very little noise until the highest sensitivities, so beginners who aren't likely to want to shoot Raw will get good results straight from the camera. It's happy to shoot in full auto, and for those who want to eventually learn the ins and outs of exposure, offers more external controls than the rest of the class. The inclusion of Wi-Fi and a good quality kit lens are more good reasons to pick up the X-M1. If cost is a concern, the X-A1 offers most of the X-M1's benefits for a little less cash.
Best small mirrorless camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1
If your priority is camera that you can carry with you at all times then the GM1 is the stand-out choice - nothing else in this class offers anything like the same balance of large sensor image quality with genuine pocketability. It's not cheap, but it is both pretty and well built, so you know what you've paid for. Down-sizing the battery to keep the body small yields a predictable penalty, and it's not a camera for constant settings changes, but it's an awful lot of camera in a small space, with the option to quickly transfer images to your smartphone.
Best family point-and-shoot: Nikon 1 J3
The wild card in this class is the Nikon 1 J3 (and to an extent, the Nikon 1 S1, though we prefer the J3 for a variety of reasons including a wider kit lens). Its very fast auto focus, tracking focus capability and fast burst rate make it a good pick for moving targets (like kids and pets). its smaller sensor means the J3 turns in slightly poorer high ISO images than most of its peers, but this may be an acceptable trade-off to someone looking for an easy-to-use camera that will help improve all your family snaps.