Although they’ve only been “a thing” for just over a decade, the best mirrorless cameras have outright ousted DSLRs as the photographer and photographer of choice for enthusiasts.
The key to their appeal is that they offer the flexibility and performance of a DSLR in a (generally speaking) more compact package. That’s because while mirrorless cameras have large sensors and interchangeable lenses, just like a DSLR, they don’t need to accommodate the bulky mirror and pentaprism you’ll find in the optical viewfinder setup of any camera. a DSLR. It is for this reason that mirrorless cameras are also called compact system cameras or CSCs.
Although they all have this one thing in common, there are big differences in price, specs, features, and performance. This guide features our favorite models across the category: entry-level, high-end, video-centric, stills-centric, and general-purpose. If you’re shopping for a mirrorless camera and feeling a bit overwhelmed by the breadth of choice, start here.
Video, photos – or both?
Some cameras here excel at video, others are masterful with stills, and one or two are versatile and flexible. Think carefully about your needs before you buy.
Select your sensor
From medium format to micro four thirds, mirrorless camera sensors vary wildly in size. A larger sensor usually means a larger, heavier camera (and often a higher asking price), but can also give you more detail, improved low-light performance, and the ability to shoot with depth of weaker field.
The goal is more
Mirrorless cameras support interchangeable lenses, but manufacturers tend to use their own systems. Before choosing a camera, think about the range of lenses on offer and how they may (or may not) suit your needs.
Mirrorless cameras are starting to be quite affordable, but prices skyrocket exponentially for high-end and even mid-range models. So consider whether a slight increase in shooting speed or the ability to record 8K video rather than 4K is really vital before you shell out the big bucks.
Our pick of the best mirrorless cameras to buy today
The flagship of Fujifilm’s retro-inspired X Series range, the X-T4 is a true all-rounder in the mold of Ian Botham (and thankfully devoid of Beefy’s dodgy politics and dress sense). Able to produce richly colored and sharp stills at a rapid 15 fps (30 fps with crop), it will also capture beautiful 4K video at up to 60 fps. It’s also built like a tank, making it a heavy side for vlogging and the like – but with its battery life and reasonable price, we’re happy to put up with a bit of arm pain.
Canon EOS R6
Arguably the world’s leading DSLR maker, Canon was slow to establish itself mirrorless, but now the company has caught up to upstart rivals like Sony, Panasonic and Fujifilm with stellar models like the EOS R6. . Featuring a 20.1MP full-frame sensor and near-DSLR design (albeit smaller and lighter), this is a fast, well-equipped all-rounder that’s equally comfortable capturing 4K footage only for taking sharp photos in low light. It’s a bit more expensive than its closest rivals, and long video shooting sessions can cause overheating, but we like its nimble autofocus and in-body stabilization.
Panasonic Lumix GH5 Mark II
The first GH5 was a landmark mirrorless camera, being the first 4K all-rounder that didn’t seem to compromise significantly on video or stills. This 2021 update isn’t a huge leap forward over the original model, but for its price it’s still a brilliantly versatile camera. Vloggers will love its wide range of video options (including wireless live streaming – a first on a mirrorless camera), in-body stabilization, and lightweight, weatherproof construction. The slightly sluggish AF performance and small sensor make stills performance rather than heavenly, but this is still an incredibly flexible camera.
Sony A7S III
Don’t let its ‘low’ 12.1-megapixel resolution fool you: the Sony A7S III is arguably the best mirrorless choice for filmmakers on the market. Capable of capturing 4K footage at up to 120 fps, outputting pristine 16-bit RAW footage to an external recorder via HDMI, and recording in a dizzying variety of profiles, speeds and resolutions, it delivers video with a range dynamics and beautiful details. Real-time AF and state-of-the-art in-body stabilization add even more heft to its video credentials, and the full-frame sensor’s excellent sensitivity makes it a dazzling low-light performer for both stills and video.
Fujifilm has achieved something special by fitting a massive 102MP medium format sensor into such a compact camera. With fast autofocus and in-body stabilization, the GFX100S is as close to a point-and-shoot medium format camera as the world has ever seen, though it’s still big compared to mirrorless standards — not to mention a scary price tag. And yet, when you see the gorgeous bokeh, wide dynamic range, and razor-sharp detail its huge images deliver, you could be right on the phone with the bank manager. A superb, pro-grade camera that’s surprisingly easy to live with.
The first model in Nikon’s Z mount range to feature an APS-C sensor, the Z50 is aimed primarily at newcomers to the world of interchangeable lens photography. With its affordable price, lightweight plastic build, and comfortable handling, it’s an ideal first “proper” camera for those looking to hone their skills. The 20.9MP sensor isn’t stabilized or particularly high-res, but can capture engaging stills and 4K video, while pairing the Z50 body with Nikon’s 16-50mm pancake zoom lens allows for a compact and travel-friendly configuration.
Another killer entry-level APS-C model, the a6100 is shabby even by mirrorless standards, and its video (4K at 30fps or 1080p at 120fps is available) and photo performance are quite good. They’re backed by a superb hybrid AF setup that impresses with its speed, tracking and recognition capabilities, although the lack of in-body image stabilization for the 24.2MP sensor is disappointing (if not unexpected on a model cheaper). Be warned, vloggers and selfie fans: the tilting screen isn’t capable of facing forward, so self-shooting can be tricky.
Blackmagic 6K Pro Pocket Cinema Camera
Let’s get that out of the way quickly: when it comes to taking photos, the PCC6K Pro is only marginally better than a turnip. But who cares ? Blackmagic delivered an aspiring cinematographer’s dream, made for film. Lightweight and with a huge 5-inch screen, it can shoot lossless 12-bit RAW or ProRes footage at 6K resolution and 13 stops of dynamic range and works with Canon’s hugely popular EF mount, which means there are hundreds of lenses you can try. This is not for beginners, beware: without IBIS or AF tracking, only seasoned video warriors should apply.