Which is the best mirrorless camera right now? Well there are probably a dozen answers depending on what you like to shoot or film, how much experience you have and how much you want to spend! To make choosing a mirrorless camera simpler, we have split this guide into sections:
All-rounders: These are mirrorless cameras versatile enough to tackle almost any job, from vlogging to photography, weddings to sports. They're more affordable than the pro cameras, and more advanced than beginner models. They would make a great upgrade for enthusiasts or a powerful tool for beginners eager to learn more advanced techniques.
Cheap and simple: These mirrorless cameras that won't break your budget, and will provide a good platform for learning the about photography. This type of camera also tends to be light and portable, so if you like to travel, they are a good bet.
For pros: Professional mirrorless cameras are where the most exciting developments in imaging are happening, with models like the Canon EOS R5 and Sony A1 – or even the jaw-dropping new Nikon Z9. These cameras are powerful, but also big, heavy and expensive!
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Best mirrorless cameras: sensor size
Sensor size is a big factor choosing a mirrorless camera. The bigger the sensor, the better the quality. However, bigger sensors mean heavier cameras and lenses, and of course higher prices. In the end, it's all about choosing the right combination of size, quality and cost for what you want to do. Here's a little more detail about each format:
• Micro Four Thirds is the smallest sensor format, but that doesn't mean you should count these cameras out – the image quality is surprisingly close to that of larger APS-C cameras. The Panasonic Lumix G100 is designed specifically for novice vloggers but is also a great stills camera, while the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is one of our favorite small cameras.
• APS-C cameras are popular with enthusiasts, as they provide a good balance between quality and affordability, with a sensor roughly twice the size of the one in Micro Four Thirds cameras. It includes mirrorless cameras like the Fujifilm X-S10 and the Nikon Z50, which offer good resolution – typically 24-26MP – and 4K video features good enough for semi-professional video.
• Full frame mirrorless cameras have sensors the same size as 35mm film negatives, which is about twice the size of APS-C. As you might expect, this gives them better quality, but also bigger and more expensive. However, they aren't out of reach for amateurs and enthusiasts the way they once were, with affordable full-frame options starting to appear on the market The Nikon Z5 and Panasonic Lumix S5 are especially good value.
• Medium format cameras have sensors even larger than full frame. They're generally for slightly more specialist applications where you really need the pixels, and while they were once prohibitively expensive, these days we're seeing more 'affordable' (sort of) models appearing on the market. We've been seriously impressed by the 100MP Fujifilm GFX 100S, and also the new Fujifilm GFX 50S II, which is cheaper than some full frame cameras.
Now that's all taken care of, let's get to the best mirrorless cameras you can buy right now!
The best mirrorless cameras in 2021
If you're an enthusiast looking to upgrade from an older or more basic camera, you'll find the latest mid-range mirrorless models can match or beat the best DSLRs for features and performance. Video has become increasingly important thanks to the rise of influencers and vloggers, and many of the best cameras for vlogging are in this category. These mirrorless cameras which are powerful and versatile but also within reach for non-professionals.
The Fujifilm X-S10 doesn't have the external exposure controls of the higher-level X-series cameras, but that's the only thing we can find to complain about, and it's clear this is no 'amateur' camera. as its build quality and handling stand out straight away. The swap to a conventional mode dial might disappoint Fujifilm fans, but the excellent finish, build quality and handling and the inclusion of IBIS (in-body stabilisation) gives this camera a very broad appeal, especially in this price sector, to produce perhaps the best combination of performance, quality and value in the APS-C mirrorless camera market right now. It even has a vari-angle rear screen, which is another reason why we rate this new camera above our previous favorite, the X-T30.
Read more: Fujifilm X-S10 review
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 III is an exceptional and worthy successor to the highly regarded Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. It uses Olympus's latest 20.4 megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor, and while this might put some people off – these sensors are smaller than APS-C – the image quality is very close to APS-C standards, and it allows Olympus cameras and lenses to be especially small and portable. (There are also plenty of APS-C and full frame cameras with 20-megapixel sensors.) This new camera's abilities are amazing, including excellent 5.5EV in body stabilization, an amazing 30fps Pro Capture mode with 14-shot pre-buffering, C4K and 4K UHD video, Live Composite and Live Bulb modes and more. No other mirrorless camera has this blend of features, performance and compactness.
Read more: Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III review
While Nikon has done a solid job with filling out the very upper end of its Z range of full frame mirrorless cameras with the flagship Z7 II, and even found room for a cheeky APS-C offering with the Z50, it was arguably lacking an entry-level gateway to full frame. That has come in the form of the Nikon Z5, a stylish little shooter that offers full-frame features at an attractive price. With twin card slots and 4K UHD video it takes a few cues from professional bodies, though you won't be burst-shooting at anything higher than 4.5fps. Still, with full weather-sealing, five-stop image stabilisation and a spectacular electronic viewfinder, anyone making their first jump to full frame is going to find themselves absolutely spoiled for features. What we like most about this camera is its keen pricing – well below the Nikon Z6 II – and its neat retracting kit lens.
Read more: Nikon Z5 review
The original Lumix S1 and S1R are impressive and powerful cameras... but big. Panasonic has taken this on board and somehow (we're still not sure how) came out with the Lumix S5, a camera that offers basically all the same imaging power as the hefty 24-megapixel Lumix S1, but in a body weighing about 300g less. It's also something of a spiritual successor to the video-oriented GH line, with best-in-class video specs. It shoots 4K/60p 10-Bit 4:2:0 video, and in terms of dynamic range, on paper only the pro-level Sony A7S III can lay any claim to matching or beating it. The colour science is finely optimised for a beautiful image. Stills shooters can also make use of 6K Photo mode for effective 30fps burst shooting, ensuring they never miss a moment. As hybrid full frame cameras go, this will be extremely tough to beat.
Read more: Panasonic Lumix S5 review
There's no sign yet of a replacement for Fujifilm's pro-orientated X-H1, so that means the X-T4 is now the flagship model in Fujifilm's X-mount camera range. Its predecessor, the X-T3, was a tough act to follow, with high-speed continuous shooting, advanced autofocus and class-leading 4K video capabilities, but the Fujifilm X-T4 takes things up another notch. Practically everything we wanted in the X-T3 is here, including in-body stabilization, a vari-angle touchscreen display and better battery life. We still want more (of course), including better buffer depth in continuous shooting mode, but that would just be the icing on the cake. The X-T4 isn't just a terrific stills camera, of course. It also has cutting edge 4K video performance, with 60p 10-bit internal recording. It's just a shame Fujifilm dropped the headphone socket (you'll need an adaptor now). The only thing stopping this camera climbing higher in our list is its price, which has stayed high and is only a notch below that of some very good full frame rivals.
Read more: Fujifilm X-T4 review
The Nikon Z fc is, without a doubt, one of the coolest-looking mirrorless cameras around right now. It's a retro-styled mirrorless machine with dial-based controls, and it's a joy to handle, to use, and to be seen using. Internally, it's basically the same deal as the Nikon Z50, with the same APS-C sensor and processor and many of the same specs. A few extra features like a built-in flash have been shaved off, and it is more expensive than the Z50, so if you don't care about aesthetics then Nikon's other DX-format camera is the smarter choice. But if you're the sort of person who can't resist the siren song of the best retro cameras, the Nikon Z fc will be right up your alley. The only thing we've got against it – and it is a pretty major thing, to be honest, is that there are still only two Nikon Z DX lenses to go with it. However, many photographers just want a kit lens and no more, so for them it's not a problem.
• Read more: Nikon Z fc review
Just a few months after announcing the EOS R, Canon came up with this smaller, cheaper EOS RP model. We were a bit lukewarm at first because the specs looked unadventurous, but since then Canon has steadily built up its RF lens range and the price of the EOS RP has dropped below that of many APS-C models. At today's prices, we reckon the EOS RP's cute styling, small size and vari-angle screen make it a great value buy.
If the EOS R has a lot in common with the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR, then the EOS RP is like a mirrorless version of Canon’s entry-level full-frame EOS 6D Mark II model. With the EOS RP you get a 26.2-megapixel full frame sensor, 4,779-point Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus, 4K video (cropped, admittedly) and that really useful fully-articulating rear screen. The aggressive pricing makes the EOS RP the least expensive full-frame camera on the market that's still a current model – and it's really affordable even with its versatile 24-105mm STM kit lens, too.
Canon has released an updated all-rounder camera in the form of the EOS R6, however it's currently sitting pretty at a much, much higher price than the EOS RP. We're sticking with the EOS RP as our recommendation for now, but that may change as the EOS R6 comes down in price, or the EOS RP starts to get harder to find.
Read more: Canon EOS RP review
Cheap and simple
If you're just starting out in photography and looking for the best camera for beginners, a mirrorless camera is ideal. Like us, you might have noticed that the low-end bargains are thinning out as the makers switch their attention to more profitable enthusiast models. Never mind, though, because we've still found some great-value first-time buys for novices.
The E-M10 series has always been designed for value, but this Mark IV version adds power and sophistication too, with a 20MP sensor, improved in-body image stabilization and a new flip-down and tiltable monitor. Retaining the 4K video and attractive styling that made the Mark III so attractive, the Mark IV is an ideal choice for anyone looking for an entry-level camera that can do pretty much everything. The E-M10 series has long consisted of our favorite pint-sized cameras ever, so we're really pleased that the Mark IV AT LAST got Olympus's latest 20MP sensor. Even better, at today's prices it's one of the cheapest mirrorless models on the market too, which is pretty amazing considering what it can do.
Read more: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV review
People don't just shoot stills any more! For many of us, video is just as important as still images, if not more so, and it's these vloggers and content creators that the Lumix G100 is aimed at. It makes it easy to capture high-quality video and stills with its approachable button layout. Even people uninterested in the technicalities of capturing great-looking videos will be able to get results with this camera. There’s an inherent risk of dumbing things down too much when creating a camera for social media creatives, but Panasonic has avoided that pitfall with the Lumix G100. By giving it a decent viewfinder and “proper camera” ergonomics, Panasonic has given the G100 an edge in a highly competitive market. This is a great camera to start with if you're more interested in vlogging than regular photography and a useful step up from the GX80/85 both on resolution and video features.
Read more: Panasonic Lumix G100 review
The diminutive GX85 (GX80 outside North America) has been around for a while now, but its combination of small size and affordable price makes it a perennial favorite. The GX85 is really easy for novices but has a surprising number of more advanced features for enthusiasts. The built-in electronic viewfinder makes it a great option for using in harsh sunlight or darker conditions, while the tilting screen makes it easy to shoot from ground level. Together with Panasonic's tiny Micro Four Thirds lenses, this makes it a great choice for traveling or holidays. Try to get the GX85 with the retracting 12-32mm 'pancake' lens – this combination is not a whole lot bigger than a compact point and shoot camera.
It may have been launched way back in 2014, and upstaged by the Sony A6100, A6400 and A6600 since then, but the much less expensive Sony A6000 represents an excellent entry-point into the world of mirrorless photography. With a very capable autofocus system that blends 179 phase-detect AF points and 25 contrast-detect points, together with 11fps burst shooting with focus tracking, the camera is a particularly good option for anyone shooting action, although the 24MP APS-C sensor, high-resolution OLED viewfinder, tilting LCD screen and both Wi-Fi and NFC means that it holds masses of appeal for those shooting in other genres. What you don't get is 4K video capability or Sony's latest high-tech Eye-AF subject tracking technologies, but if your main interest is stills photography, this is a serious enthusiasts camera at a cheap beginner camera price. The only reason it's this far down our list right now is that prices have been climbing and some of this older camera's appeal has been lost as a result.
Read more: Sony A6000 review
Some of the best professional cameras are now mirrorless, too, and the groundbreaking Sony A9 II has certainly impressed professional sports and action photographers, for example, while the 61MP Sony A7R IV sets new standards for resolution. The latest video features mean that some of the cameras in this category are even suitable for full scale video production.
The Sony A1 is everything that Sony says it is. It’s a technological triumph, a camera that really can do everything. Previously, cameras might offer speed, resolution or video capability, but the A1 offers all three, and even beats dedicated sports and video cameras at their own game. However, good as it is, the price is, and will remain, a major obstacle, and its appeal is limited to photographers who need everything it does, not just one or two of those things. Sony has also practically killed two of its other cameras by making this one! The Sony A9 Mark II is a terrific camera for sports, but beaten by the A1, while the Sony A7S Mark III's excellent 4K video capabilities pale against the A1's 8K capture.
Read more: Sony A1 review
As a stills camera, the Canon EOS R5 is simply Canon's finest product ever. It’s the perfect amalgamation of the EOS R’s form, the EOS 5D’s function, and the professional-grade autofocus of the EOS-1D X. If you're a stills or hybrid shooter who flits between photography and videography, it's one of the best cameras you will ever have the pleasure of using. Alas, we can’t recommend the R5 if your primary interest is pure video shooting. Don’t get us wrong, its video is incredible – but having to navigate the overheating restrictions prohibits it from being your A-camera (unless you only shoot 4K 30p, in which case you don’t need this anyway). It's not perfect at everything, but it's so good at so much that it's still a landmark camera. The Sony A1 sneaks ahead on specifications, but the Canon is A LOT cheaper.
Read more: Canon EOS R5 review
The 'R' models in Sony's A7 series cameras are designed first and foremost for resolution – and the Sony A7R Mark IV certainly delivers. The previous A7R Mark III set the standard for a time, but has recently been overtaken (by a small margin) by the Nikon Z7 and Panasonic Lumix S1R. The A7R puts that right – and how – with a record-breaking 61-megapixel sensor that has the highest resolution of any full frame camera. The detail rendition is spectacular, though perhaps not quite as obvious as the bare numbers might suggest, and the Sony's control layout is now starting to feel dated and complicated compared to what Nikon and Panasonic have done with their new models. Nevertheless, with its superb Eye AF, 10fps continuous shooting (yes, with 61MP!) and 4K video, the Sony A7R Mark IV is now the high-resolution professional camera to beat. For a while, it looked like the best mirrorless camera so far, though the hyper-expensive Sony A1 has stolen that crown now.
Read more: Sony A7R Mark IV review
The Z7 II is Nikon's flagship full frame mirrorless camera. All the changes that we’ve seen on the Z7 II compared to the original Z7 are certainly welcome, but we can’t help feeling that Nikon’s played it a bit safe. We’d like to have seen even more of a jump to really make it a serious threat to the likes of the Canon EOS R5 and Alpha A7R IV. But still, the Nikon Z7 II has a lot going for it. It might not have a standout feature that sets it apart from its competitors, but the Nikon Z7 II delivers solidly across the board and is a great mirrorless camera. Nikon's changes – dual processors and dual memory card slots, for example – have made a great camera even better.
Read more: Nikon Z7 II review
Refining a formula that has worked exceptionally well for Fujifilm, the GFX 100s continues to bring medium format to the masses by packing a big sensor into a comparatively small body. On the outside, there's not a lot to distinguish the Fujifilm GFX 100s from full-frame mirrorless camera. But on the inside it's a different story, with a 102MP BSI-CMOS 43.8x32.9mm medium format sensor running the show. The level of detail captured by the camera is simply incredible, as is the dynamic range, and all this pairs beautiful with improved autofocus and in-body image stabilisation. The IBIS isn't quite good enough for on-the-go vlogging or shooting handheld at 1/8sec, but it's still very impressive. This is smaller, lighter and cheaper than any other camera offering 100MP right now. The Fujifilm GFX 100s is an outstanding achievement... and if the price is just a little too much to swallow, take a look at the Fujifilm GFX 50S II.
Read more: Fujifilm GFX 100s review
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