If you’re shopping for a mirrorless camera, you’ve come to the right place! Mirrorless is the most exciting development in cameras since the birth of digital photography, and on this page I’ll highlight my favourite models! Mirrorless cameras can pack the quality, control and flexibility of a DSLR with their large sensors, exposure adjustment and interchangeable lenses, but by dispensing with the mirror, have the potential to be smaller, lighter, quieter and faster. Since they use their main imaging sensor for focusing, they also have the potential to track and focus subjects right into the corners while also exploiting face and sometimes even eye-detection. With 100% electronic composition, you’ll also be able to use a viewfinder for everything you’d see on the screen, including playing images, assisting focus, previewing effects, white balance and colour adjustments, as well as filming and playing movies, and even navigating menus – all much easier in bright conditions than using the screen, not to mention more comfortable for those who are longer-sighted.
The best mirrorless cameras have also banished performance issues of early models and now boast viewfinders with large, detailed images, not to mention focusing and burst shooting capabilities that most DSLRs can only dream of. Compared to a DSLR there’s inevitably greater power consumption, so batteries won’t last as long, but the latest models are certainly catching-up. For me, mirrorless cameras are more compelling than DSLRs in almost every category and price-point, and I personally made the switch ten years ago when Panasonic and Olympus launched Micro Four Thirds, later supplementing my collection with Fujifilm and Sony gear. Here are my recommendations!
Like DSLRs, most manufacturers have developed their own mirrorless system with a lens mount that’s not compatible with rival systems. There’s Sony’s e-mount which is designed for APS-C or full-frame bodies. There’s Fujifilm’s X-mount, designed for APS-C sensors. Canon has EF-M for APS-C bodies and RF for full-frame. Nikon has the Z-mount for full-frame. The exceptions are Panasonic and Olympus who both share the same Micro Four Thirds mount which is designed for Four thirds sensors which are a little smaller than APS-C; this also allows them to share lenses. I’ll be recommending a mix of all formats in each category.Support Cameralabs when you check prices at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, eBay or Wex. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!
Best budget mirrorless cameras
Mirrorless cameras start around the $400 price, for which you’ll get a camera with an APSC or Four Thirds sensor, a basic kit zoom lens and manual control; most will also have wifi to connect to your phone, but at this price you won’t generally get a viewfinder, so you’ll be composing with your screen only. One of the cheapest budget mirrorless cameras worth having is the Canon EOS M100 which sports a 24 Megapixel APS-C sensor, confident focusing, Wifi and a tilting touchscreen which can tilt-up to face you – not only is it a solid all-rounder, but it’s also an ideal entry-point for vlogging; see my Canon EOS M100 review for more details.
Priced a little higher is the Panasonic Lumix GX800 / GX850 which may have a slightly smaller and lower resolution 16 Megapixel Four thirds sensor and focusing that’s less confident for action, but it’s the cheapest camera with 4k video (and Panasonic’s clever 4k Photo modes) if that appeals to you. The Micro Four Thirds lens mount also has access to a wide range of lenses; see my Panasonic Lumix GX800 / GX850 review for more details.
Priced a little higher still is the Fujifilm X-T100 which packs a 24 Megapixel APS-C sensor with good autofocus, a touchscreen which angles-out to face you, as well as being one of the cheapest models you’ll find with a built-in viewfinder and a microphone input (albeit one which will need an adapter plug for most microphones. As a Fujifilm X camera, you’ll also enjoy their lovely photo processing as well as access to a wide selection of native lenses; see my Fujifilm X-T100 review for more details!
Most budget cameras aren’t great for fast action photography, but an exception is the Sony A6000 which may now be three generations old, but can handle sports, action or simply active kids and pets better than anything else for the money – and it also sports a 24 Megapixel APS-C sensor and a viewfinder. Look out for good discounts.
Best Mid-range mirrorless cameras
The mid-range category, starting at around $700, is where things start to get more interesting as they normally include a viewfinder and a microphone input which can greatly improve your audio quality for movies. One of my favourite mid-range mirrorless cameras is the Canon EOS M50 which packs a 24 Megapixel APS-C sensor with great autofocus, a fully-articulated touchscreen, built-in viewfinder, Wifi and microphone input into a very compact body – again a great all-rounder that’s ideal for vlogging, although think of its video as being 1080 only as its 4k mode is too cropped to be useful; see my Canon EOS M50 review for more details.
If you like the retro-aesthetic, also consider the Olympus OMD EM10 III, an attractively-styled body with a slightly smaller 16 Megapixel Four Thirds sensor. The resolution and focusing may not be as good as others in this category but it does have excellent built-in stabilisation that works with any lens as well as access to the broad Micro Four Thirds lens catalogue – as an older model, look out for discounts. Also consider the Panasonic Lumix G80 / G85, again with the 16 Megapixel Four Thirds sensor, but a fully-articulated screen, viewfinder and 4k video; see my Olympus OMD EM10 III review for more details.
Priced a little higher is the Fujifilm X-T20, a classy-looking retro-styled model with a 24 Megapixel APS-C sensor, good autofocus, a built-in viewfinder and Wifi; there’s also a mic input although you’ll need an adapter for it to work with popular models. The screen won’t flip to face you, but you do get Fujifilm’s lovely photo processing, as well as access to a decent selection of native lenses – it’s a great choice for someone who wants to start building a serious system without breaking the bank; see my Fujifilm X-T20 review for more details.
Best high-end mirrorless cameras
Beyond $1000 you’ve entered the high-end category where cameras with Four Thirds or APS-C sensors become tougher and faster, targeting sports and action, or at least very active kids and pets. Video features become better too with less cropped footage and higher frame rates. You’ll also begin to see older models with larger full-frame sensors, discounted to clear stocks – indeed if you desire full-frame but can’t afford the latest models, keep an eye on the often-discounted, but still very respectable, Sony A7 II.
One of the best new models at the cheaper end of this category is the Sony A6500 which has a 24 Megapixel APS-C sensor with excellent autofocus and fast burst shooting, built-in stabilisation, great quality 4k video, a built-in viewfinder and a tilting touchscreen. The screen won’t face forward for vlogging, but for action and video, it’s a great choice for the money. See my Sony A6500 review for more details!
For a little more you could get the Panasonic Lumix G9, which may have a slightly smaller 20 Megapixel Four Thirds sensor, but manages to deliver similar quality at all but the highest sensitivities. The focusing isn’t quite as confident as the Sony, but it sports a bunch of modes which can capture action before you fully depress the shutter, not to mention a fully-articulated screen, built-in stabilisation, twin card slots, an enormous viewfinder image and 4k up to 60p – indeed it’s the cheapest camera to offer 4k 60p, making it a tempting choice for film-makers who can’t stretch to the GH5, or who like having the greater photo capabilities. See my Lumix G9 review for more details.
Next up is the Panasonic Lumix GH5, costing a little more than the G9, but delivering more professional video capabilities to high-end film-makers. It’s arguably the best pro video camera at its price point. At around the same price is the Olympus OMD EM1 II, another camera with a 20 Megapixel Four Thirds sensor and fully-articulated screen, but this time with more confident autofocusing for sports and wildlife. While the video isn’t quite as good as the Panasonics at this price, the EM1 II still captures very respectable footage and also has the best built-in stabilisation around.
Also in a similar price range is the Fujifilm X-T3, another compact and retro-styled body with an APS-C sensor and Fujifilm’s renowned image processing, but this time coupled with the company’s best autofocusing and video capabilities yet, including confident focus across the entire frame and 4k up to 60p. If you love the style but don’t need the improved video and focus though, keep an eye on the price of the previous Fujifilm X-T2, discounted now that the newer X-T3 is available. Both have twin card slots too. See my Fujifilm X-T3 review for more details.
Next it’s a leap to the $2000 mark which opens-up the full-frame market. By far the strongest camera at this price point is the Sony A7 III, which packs a 24 Megapixel full-frame sensor with excellent autofocus, built-in stabilisation, fast burst shooting, great quality 4k video, eye-detection, twin card slots, decent battery life and a tilting touchscreen. It’s simply unbeatable at this price, and Sony’s range of full-frame lenses keeps getting broader; see my Sony A7 III review for more details. Note if you have an existing collection of Nikon F-mount lenses, you may prefer the Nikon Z6 which, for the same money, also has a 24 Megapixel full-frame sensor, decent 4k and built-in stabilisation. It may lack the ultimate feature-set of the Sony, but it will focus adapted Nikon DSLR lenses better.
For a little more than the A7 III, there’s the Canon EOS R, this time with a 30 Megapixel full-frame sensor and the only model in its peer group with a fully-articulated touchscreen. Sadly the 4k video is heavily cropped and there’s also some unusual controls you’ll love or hate, but like the Nikon Z cameras, it does a sterling job autofocusing older DSLR lenses. So if you have an existing collection of EF lenses and want the best autofocus from them, then the EOS R is your best bet (although bear in mind EF lenses also adapt quite successfully to Sony bodies too). See my Canon EOS R review for more details.
Beyond here we hit the $3000-plus mark with full-frame models like the Sony A7r III and Nikon Z7 which both capture stills with over 40 Megapixel resolution, plus are packed with other features I’ve detailed in my reviews – see my Sony A7r III review and Nikon Z7 review for more details. Like the A7 III and Z6 below them, the A7r III will out-perform, or at least out-feature, the Z7, but owners of existing Nikon DSLR lenses will prefer the Z7 for better compatibility with F-mount lenses via an adapter.
Finally a very respectful nod to the Sony A9 which may be priced above all the models above, but out-performs professional sports DSLRs costing comfortably more. If you want a glimpse of the future with a camera that shoots silently at up to 20fps with supremely confident autofocus, zero viewfinder blackout and minimal distortion from the electronic shutter, the A9 is the camera for you. See my Sony A9 review for more details.Support Cameralabs when you check prices at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, eBay or Wex. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!