Best Mirrorless Cameras
First and foremost, what exactly is a mirrorless camera? You may have heard of this style without ever knowing what it was. In the simplest of explanations, this is a camera that forgoes the addition of a reflex mirror (hence the name) and allows the imaging sensor to be exposed to light at all times. What this means for you is this style will not have an optical viewfinder and will simply provide you with a digital preview of your image (either via an electronic viewfinder or a rear LCD screen). Oftentimes, users will prefer mirrorless cameras as they are typically lighter and more compact than their DSLR counterparts. Check out our comparison guide of best mirrorless cameras.
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It is smaller and lighter than the D750
Designed with extensive weather sealing
There are 273 on-sensor autofocus points
OUR TOP PICKS FOR THE BEST MIRRORLESS CAMERAS
1. NIKON Z6
It is smaller and lighter than the D750
Designed with extensive weather sealing
There are 273 on-sensor autofocus points
The battery life is not that great
Even though the Nikon Z6 is not far and away from the best model on the market (as others do come close to matching its quality), it got the edge over the rest of the pack by mere inches.Read more
Being the top model on this list, you better believe that the Z6 can hold its own when it comes to its performance. Let’s just say this device produces images that are spectacularly sharp.
This shoots video that is equivalent to 6K by shooting 4K video at 30 full frames per second in full frame. As with the images, the Z6 creates stunning videos and movies.
In addition to the advanced electronic viewfinder, this is designed with an autofocus system that covers 90 percent of the frame both horizontally and vertically (and provides 273 autofocus points).
What is nice is you definitely do not need to baby this bad boy as it is extensively sealed for protection against both dust and moisture. Granted you do not slam it down on concrete, you should be just fine.
Ease of Use
To allow for quick adjustments, there is a new customizable menu that appears inside the viewfinder. Additionally, all the buttons and dials are comfortably placed.
For those of you who are not messing around, the Z6 is the way to go. Yes, there are other highly suitable options on the market but boy, this one is almost too good to pass up.
2. PANASONIC LUMIX G9
Sports a rugged and splashproof design
Can shoot 4K video at 60p
Built with both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
The focus knob is a bit stiff
If you are not impressed with the Lumix G9 then you may need to have your eyes checked. Arguably most astounding is the stunning 4K video that it can shoot at a full 60 frames per second (which you do not see very often).Read more
With the combination of the 20.3-megapixel resolution and the 5-axis dual image stabilization system, the Lumix G9 is going to produce sharp and stellar imagery.
As was mentioned, this is capable of shooting 4K video at a full 60 frames per second which is incredibly impressive. Of course, it can also shoot Full HD at 180 frames per second.
The OLED viewfinder sports a massive resolution and this camera can also be connected via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Oh, and the burst mode takes lighting fast images.
In addition to the fact that the magnesium alloy housing is going to withstand heavy use, this is also sealed against the weather and freezeproof down to -10 degrees.
Ease of Use
Overall, this will be easily adaptable to most users. However, the knob that allows you to adjust the focus mode is quite stiff and can be hard to change.
Goodness, this is an incredible design. Whether you want to point to the impressive video capabilities or the unbelievable build, it is hard to deny the greatness of the Lumix G9.
3. FUJIFILM GFX 50R
It is equipped with dual memory card slots
Produces stunning images
Powered via an X-Processor Pro processing engine
It is not ideal for action sports
The video recording is good but not amazing
What you need to understand about the GFX 50R is it is a medium format camera which means it is not optimized with a fast autofocus system. Then again, it produces completely breathtaking images.Read more
Out of all the models on this list, this probably delivers the most awe-inspiring imagery. This is thanks to the 51.4-megapixel sensor and the X-Processor Pro image processing engine.
No, this can’t shoot 4K video but it can deliver Full HD content. Of course, the frame rate is still only 29.97p (which is pretty limited for Full HD video).
Back to what was mentioned earlier, this is a medium format camera and is not ideal for lighting fast autofocus tracking. However, this is equipped with an organic OLED electronic viewfinder for precise focusing.
This can handle the elements thanks to its weather and dust-resistant design. Oh, and the housing is also made out of magnesium alloy for ultimate protection.
Ease of Use
Though this will still take some time to get accustomed to, each component, dial, and the button has been strategically designed to offer convenience to the user.
Yes, you will need to shell out some money for this one. Granted you know what you are getting with a medium format model, you will utterly adore the GFX 50R.
4. FUJIFILM X-T3
Features 16 film simulation modes
Designed with the fourth generation X Series sensor
It supports 4K video at 60p
The menu settings are not intuitive at all
If there is one thing to know about Fujifilm, they do not produce cheap cameras. Their X-T3 is a perfect example and produces stellar images and stunning 4K video.Read more
The X-3 is noteworthy for featuring a newly-developed (at the time) back-illuminated X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor. Oh, and this also sports a 26.1-megapixel sensor.
When it comes to shooting video, the X-T3 is special. It is actually the first mirrorless model, in fact, with an APS-C or larger sensor to shoot 4K video at 60 frames per second.
Looking past the 16 different film simulation modes (which are impressive), the X-T3 is also equipped with blackout-free burst shooting and a 3.69 million dot OLED viewfinder.
Do not worry about the elements or babying this device as it is built to withstand just about anything. It is both weather-sealed and also protected with a magnesium alloy housing.
Ease of Use
This device is confusing to control so let’s just get it out there. The menu system is not intuitive and there are loads of dials to wrap your head around.
Look, at first, you may feel overwhelmed with the X-T3 but give it some time as it is an ultra-impressive design. It is capable of just about anything.
5. SONY A7R III
The processing engine is elite
It comes with a bunch of accessories
The shooting capabilities are incredible
The touchscreen only works for focusing
For the price, it should be weatherproof
It was only a matter of time before Sony made an appearance on this list and while there a7R III is so close to flawless, there are a few tiny hiccups that must be addressed.Read more
First off, the back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor is going to collect more light. Secondly, this is designed with an updated BIONZ X processing engine for enhanced processing speeds.
If you are someone who needs 4K video in their life then you will be pleased with the a7R III.
In addition to the doubled autofocus tracking effectiveness of this camera, it also boasts a continuous shooting mode that can capture subjects at up to 10 frames per second.
For whatever reason, the build quality here is not the best. It is certainly not bad, per se, but it is not weatherproof so be careful with inclement weather conditions.
Ease of Use
The touchscreen will only work when you are focusing so you will still need to operate through the menu system with the dials and buttons (which can be a pain at times).
Do you see now? The a7R III is such a great device that is hampered a bit by some limitations. For just about everyone, however, it will still be an excellent option.
6. CANON EOS R
You can use any EF/EF-S lens you want
The build quality is top notch
The autofocus system allows a maximum of 143 areas when selected
The autofocus needs to be more responsive
There is no in-camera image stabilization
Do you want to talk about a mirrorless camera that is oh so close to being regarded amongst the absolute elite? The EOS R still secured a spot on this list so it is not as if it is poorly designed, however.Read more
Even though the image quality is impressive here (with a powerful DIGIC 8 image processor at the helm), one of the features that would have put this over the top is in-camera stabilization.
Not only can you record Full HD video at 60 frames per second, but you can also sacrifice the frame rate a little bit to record in 4K (the frame rate is 30p).
One really nice feature about the EOS R is the autofocus system which has a maximum of 143 available areas when automatically selected. Also, this system allows ultra-fast focusing speeds of 0.05 seconds.
Looking past the fact that this is not sealed for protection against the weather, the overall build quality is superb.
Ease of Use
On the positive end of things, the menu system for the EOS R is well-designed. However, the touchscreen is not as responsive and sensitive as it should be (which can make operation more of a hassle).
If you are someone who feels that this price should justify in-camera stabilization then you are not the only one. But, do not let that overshadow how great this device really is.
7. SONY ALPHA A6000
It is a super compact model
The LCD display can be tilted
Powered via a new BIONZ X image processor
Overheating has been an issue for some users
The shutter is quite noisy
Look, not everyone can afford some of these options and that is fair. Thankfully, there are budget options that can more than deliver the goods and the a6000 is a great example of such.Read more
Sony’s BIONZ X image processor powers their a6000 and it helps to provide fantastic processing capabilities to deliver enhanced imagery.
No, this can’t shoot 4K video but it is more than capable in the video recording field. This is because it can still handle 1080p content at either 24 or 60 frames per second.
The good outweighs the bad here that is for sure. The burst mode can capture objects at 11 frames per second and the OLED electronic viewfinder is incredible. However, the shutter sound is pretty darn loud.
Okay, so the build quality is really nice on the a6000 and it is even designed with an anti-dust system. With that said, a couple of users have experienced issues of overheating.
Ease of Use
Every model in the world will take some time to get accustomed to but Sony designed their a6000 control layout to be as convenient as possible when you are shooting.
Leave it to Sony to develop an impressive, affordable mirrorless camera. The moral of the story with the a6000 is you really can’t go wrong with a Sony- branded device.
8. PANASONIC LUMIX G7
It is smaller and lighter than other models
The construction is pretty good
Features a next-generation processor
The autofocus is not good when you are shooting video
There is no in-body stabilization
When you look at the specifications, the Lumix G7 is limited to some regard. But, not all of you out there require top-notch technologies and this is still a great camera.Read more
The Lumix G7 can certainly hold its own in the performance department with its next-generation intelligent image processor. However, there is no in-body stabilization which is a bit of a letdown.
Let’s get to the good news; this can shoot 4K video at 30 frames per second. Yet, recording video on the Lumix G7 can be a pain because of the slow autofocus. Oftentimes, the background becomes distorted for much too long.
There are three unique video modes that you can mess around with as well as a well-designed OLED viewfinder. Additionally, both the autofocus and the shutter noise are kept to a minimum.
In spite of the fact that this is made with some plastic materials and lacks weather sealing, the build quality is still quite good overall.
Ease of Use
One of the benefits of “cheaper” cameras is they are sometimes less complicated to operate. The Lumix G7 will take some time to get used to but is rather intuitive in its design.
The Lumix G7 is not exactly the Lumix G9 but it also does not need to be. It is really good in its own right and will be a suitable option for most of you.
9. OLYMPUS OM-D E-M10
It can shoot RAW footage
Designed with 5-axis stabilization
Features several built-in modes
The build quality could be better
It is more complicated than it needs to be
For all you video lovers out there who require nothing less than full 4K video, you will be disappointed with the video resolution. Then again, this is designed with 5-axis image stabilization which is awesome.Read more
The combination of the TruePic VII image processor, 16.1-megapixel sensor and 5-axis image stabilization produce electrifying photos that are sure to “wow” you.
With a peak video resolution of 1080p (which is Full HD), the videos this can create are far from bad. But, the resolution is not 4K.
First off, the burst mode on this device is capable of capturing up to 8.5 frames per second. Also, the autofocus system is insanely fast to ensure you will not a moment of the action.
Let’s just say that the construction could be improved. One of the most common complaints, in fact, is that the battery compartment door is junk. Oh, and this is also not water or shock-resistant.
Ease of Use
The LCD monitor allows for nice viewing angles and the controls are thoughtfully placed. However, the software still makes for complicated operation.
For a camera at this price range, it is hard not to be impressed. Just remember that you need to be somewhat cautious with this as it is not meant to withstand much abuse.
10. CANON EOS M10
Sports built-in Wi-Fi and NFC
Images can easily be adjusted
It is very compact
Not the best video specifications
The autofocus speed is pretty slow
For those of you who just want to get your feet wet with this technology but do not want to spend a fortune, consider the EOS M10.Read more
The DIGIC 6 image processor and 18-megapixel sensor manage to capture images in sharp and heavy detail.
Overall, the EOS M10 is limited in its video capabilities. Then again, some of you will still be satisfied with the video that is captured in 1080p at 30 frames per second.
There are some great features present here such as Wi-Fi and NFC capability and a burst mode. Yet, the autofocus speed is quite slow.
Overall, the build of the EOS M10 is not going to blow you away but it is also not cheap.
Ease of Use
In addition to the compact size, the intuitive touchscreen allows for easier menu navigation and operation overall.
Due to the slow autofocus and the general lower specifications of this model, it will not be suitable for all of you. It makes for one heck of a starter mirrorless model, though.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
What makes a camera effective? How about image quality and processing performance?
When it comes to any type of digital camera, their performance is everything. For this section, let’s focus specifically on image quality and processing performance. Back in the day, mirrorless cameras were not as competent when it came to image quality but that has changed with modern technology. As technology has evolved, engineers around the world have been able to produce models with more sensitive chips and models that are able to suppress noise at a much more efficient level. The result has been improved image quality.
However, from model to model, this can differ quite a bit. The best options out there will sport image stabilization. Yet, it is worth noting that you can buy lenses that have image stabilization technology if the camera you buy does not sport in-body stabilization (though these lenses are quite expensive). Either way, image stabilization will account for shaking and general camera movement. Also, you may want to look for options that can save RAW files as the RAW file format will not add any processing to the images. Oh, and as far as the processing engine is concerned, a more advanced version can lend its hand to improved speed, efficiency, and overall performance.
Do not forget about the video capabilities as you never know when you will want to shoot a high-quality video.
In general, mirrorless cameras tend to be better at shooting video than their DSLR counterparts. The main reason why is due to the on-chip focus sensors that these types of models employ. In conjunction with improved autofocus speeds when shooting video, it makes them the generally preferred choice for videos and films. Now, at the same time, this is referring to higher-end models as cheaper options may still struggle a bit when it comes to video recording. Of course, looking past this, there are also some key specifications that you need to look out for.
The first of these specifications is the video resolution. Newer models are adapting the ability to record 4K content and as opposed to Full HD (which is also classified as 1080p), this provides two times the pixel count (4K is 3840 x 2160 pixels and Full HD is 1920 x 1080 pixels). The more pixels a video has, the clearer and sharper the imagery will appear. Moving on, the other specification is the frame rate. This one is simple; the higher the frame rate is in a video, the smoother it will appear and run. Most 4K models will only be able to handle 30 frames per second (also known as 30p) but you will see some with the ability to handle 60 frames per second.
There are actually several features that you can look for but let's focus on the most important.
You could go on and on with some of the features that are implemented in any type of digital camera. But, let’s direct the focus to some of the most vital ones you need to keep in mind. To start, let’s talk about the autofocus system. Mirrorless cameras have come a long way as DSLR models used to overpower them with a technology known as phase detection. Over time, though, mirrorless models have begun to implement both phase and contrast detection sensors. And, all you need to know as the buyer is these sensors completely refine the autofocus system in any model. Basically, what you probably want is an autofocus system that is speedy to enable you to focus in on subjects in the blink of an eye.
Also, although these models do not have optical viewfinders they will often sport electronic viewfinders. Most new models, in fact, will integrate OLED displays for their electronic viewfinders which is a huge improvement over LCD displays. OLED displays, in general, will produce enhanced quality and clarity. And, to wrap this section up, two other features to look for are a burst mode and wireless connectivity. The former (often referred to as continuous shooting mode) is great for taking multiple images in mere seconds and the latter can be ideal when you want to wirelessly transfer your images and videos.
When spending this kind of money, your investment needs to be protected, right?
If you do not want to mess around then you should prioritize models with magnesium alloy housings. This metal is one of the most popular when it comes to electronics such as cameras due to its amazing strength-to-weight ratio. You see, magnesium alloys consist of magnesium and another alloy metal. But, magnesium itself is lighter than a plethora of other metals (such as aluminum, titanium, and steel) while also being incredibly strong. When paired with another metal, such as aluminum, this makes for an amazing housing.
But, to take it a step further, you may want to pursue options that sport weather sealing. Without proper sealing from the weather, mirrorless cameras will be exposed to outdoor elements such as dust, humidity, and moisture. So, if you do not want to work around the weather, you will need a model with extensive weather sealing (as the degree of protection will differ from design to design).
Ease of Use
Digital cameras can get downright confusing but look for models that make it easier.
Even though you may not think about it, one of the reasons this style of camera is a bit easier to use at times than a DSLR is due to its compact nature. Generally speaking, because the mirror inside has been removed, this style tends to be much more compact and less bulky to hold. Over longer periods of time, this will be a welcome sight. But, there are other factors to take into consideration here. For starters, you may want to look for designs that have been optimized with comfortably placed dials and buttons. Ideally, you will be able to easily adjust the settings while shooting and filming.
Also, some systems can be downright complicated to navigate through. Optimally, look for systems that are at least somewhat intuitively designed for easier menu navigation (some models will also allow touchscreen navigation). Overall, though, remember that any option you pick is going to take some time to get used to. This is especially true if you are switching brands or have never owned a digital camera.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
When you look at the effectiveness of this type of device, it really all comes down to the produced image quality and processing performance. As you probably know, higher-end models tend to be a bit more expensive and while the cost is not always indicative of the quality, you will need to spend a decent chunk of money to get premium quality and performance.
Perhaps you are not buying a mirrorless camera to shoot video but if you are (or at least have some interesting in doing so) then you need to find a design that suits your needs. While this type of device is generally excellent for video recording, not all models will be this way. You need to look for specific technologies and also need to keep in mind some important specifications.
Look, if you want the truth, an entire guide could be dedicated to this section. You could break down each individual feature and talk in-depth about it. However, a lot of the features and functions do not need to be prioritized. Yet, there are quite a few that do and that is what this section is going to break down and assess.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Are there any general cons of mirrorless cameras?
Up until now, you may have believed that this device is all sunshine and rainbows. Well, that is not exactly the case as there are some general negatives that persist with this style of image and video capturing device. For starters, mirrorless cameras tend to have limited battery lives when compared to DSLRs. In addition to this, they also have a limited selection of lenses that you can choose from (which is a big one).
q: Are these the future?
It is always pure speculation to proclaim if a certain technology is “the future”. But, many people and fans out there do believe that DSLRs are a dying breed and that mirrorless models will one day be the standard bearer. After all, as you have learned in this guide, the technology has come a long way and another five years from now, it will probably be even more impressive and awe-inspiring.
q: What about noise; are they silent?
Even though it is always going to depend on the model at play, these types of cameras tend to be much quieter than DSLRs. As a matter of fact, when you are running most models in silent mode, the only sound that will be able to be heard is the closing of the aperture. Then again, there are always exceptions so do not assume that all models will be ultra quiet.
q: Can you use different lenses?
As was mentioned earlier, this type of device can be limited in the lenses it is compatible with. But, yes, you can use different lenses with the model you pick. It all comes down to the mount that is used for the option you buy as it will be compatible with certain lenses. Clearly, you will not be able to use any lens you want as it needs to be compatible with the mounts of your device.
q: What exactly is meant by a “full-frame” camera?
There is a lot of terminologies that are associated with this type of technology and while you do not need to memorize all of them, you should be aware of most of them. The term “full-frame” is one of them and has not been documented as of yet. When you see a camera listed as full-frame, it means that it uses a sensor that is the same size as a single frame of a traditional 35-millimeter film. On the contrary, an APS-C sensor is much smaller. In fact, a full-frame sensor produces more than 2.5 times the surface area.
q: Are they good for wildlife photography?
If you know anything about shooting wildlife then you know that the quality of the camera you are using is not necessarily the most important factor. Sure, it is vital but not as much as the speed. Think about it for a second; wildlife is not going to wait and pose for you so you can take a picture of them. As silly as it sounds, it is worth pointing out. And, in spite of several advantages that mirrorless models have over DSLRs, many users still prefer the latter for this type of photography. That is not to say that the former style is slow, though, as it does depend on the specific model that you are talking about.
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