The best mirrorless camera in 2019: we pick the best compact system cameras

Best mirrorless camera
(Image credit: Oatawa/Getty Images)

The best mirrorless cameras offer interchangeable lenses, just like DSLRs, but they’re smaller and lighter with more advanced viewing, focusing and video features. 

If you're serious about photography, sooner or later you'll want to move up to an interchangeable lens camera. Once, that meant getting a big and bulky DSLR, but now you can choose from a whole range of smaller, lighter and sometimes even more powerful mirrorless models.

The argument still rages over which is best, DSLR vs mirrorless, but for a lot of people mirrorless cameras offer the perfect combination of size, features and performance. But choosing the right one is tricky. There are so many on the market, at so many different prices that it's difficult to decide.

There's more innovation in the mirrorless camera market than any other, with new models like the tiny but powerful Fujifilm X-T30, the Sony A6400 for vlogging enthusiasts and the high-speed Olympus OM-D E-M1X for sports photography enthusiasts and professionals looking to save a little weight and a whole lot of money!

What kind of mirrorless camera do you need?

If you're just starting out in photography and looking for the best camera for beginners, a mirrorless camera is ideal. It gives you the constant 'live view' you might be used to from a compact camera or a smartphone, often with touchscreen control and sometimes with a flip-over/under screen for selfies.

Or, if you're an enthusiast looking to upgrade from an older or more basic DSLR, you'll find the latest mid-range mirrorless cameras can match or beat the best DSLRs for features and performance. 

Some of the best cameras for professionals are now mirrorless, too, and the ground-breaking Sony A9 has impressed professional sports and action photographers.

Video has become increasingly important thanks to the rise of influencers and vloggers, and many of the best cameras for vlogging are mirrorless. Pro photographers, meanwhile, are increasingly being asked by clients to shoot both video and stills.

So we start off our list with cameras which we think are the best all-round choice for keen photographers right now. But we also list mirrorless cameras for people just looking for the best cheap camera deal, or a low-cost entry-level camera for beginners.

We also list mirrorless cameras for photographers who are a whole lot more serious about their photography and they're ready to move up to some of the latest and most powerful models and perhaps even turn professional. Mirrorless cameras are definitely not just for amateurs, and we wind up our list with our pick of the best pro mirrorless cameras you can get right now.

Whichever mirrorless camera you go for, we all like a cheap camera deal, right? So check out our price boxes for each camera, which pull the best prices from the best retailers, live every day.

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1. Nikon Z 6

A brilliant full frame mirrorless camera that gives you a lot for your money

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame CMOS | Megapixels: 24.5MP | Lens mount: Nikon Z | Monitor: EVF, 3,690k dots, 100% coverage | Continuous shooting speed: 12fps | Viewfinder: EVF | Max video resolution: 4K UHD at 30p | User level: Enthusiast/Professional

Superb high-ISO quality
Full frame 4K video
Build quality and handling
Average buffer capacity

We love the Nikon Z 6. Some might see it as a poor relation to the more expensive 45.7 megapixel Nikon Z 7, but the Z 6 has the same amazing build quality, in-body stabilisation and controls and it's far more versatile. The Z 6 has a wider ISO range, full frame (no crop) 4K video and an even faster 12fps continuous shooting frame rate. Nikon claims up to 5 stops of shake compensation from the in-body image stabilisation system, while the build quality is superb, with a magnesium alloy body and extensive weather sealing, and a 200,000-shot shutter life. When you factor in its more affordable price tag, we think the Z 6 is the best mirrorless camera you can buy right now – the native Z-mount lens range is steadily increasing, but you can use any current Nikon DSLR lens right now via Nikon's FTZ lens adaptor.

Read more: Nikon Z6 review

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2. Fujifilm X-T3

The Z6 is great, but Fujifilm’s state of the art APS-C camera is cheaper

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: : 26.1MP | Lens mount: Fujifilm X mount | Monitor: : EVF, 3,690k dots, 100% coverage | Continuous shooting speed: : 11fps | Viewfinder: : EVF | Max video resolution: : 4K | User level: : Enthusiast

26.1 megapixel sensor
4K video at 60fps
Super-sophisticated AF
Needs a bigger buffer

OK, we’d have loved a bigger buffer depth for its burst mode and in-body stabilisation would have been good. But, at this price and with this functionality, the X-T3 is a fantastic option for enthusiasts and pros alike. First, you get a superb 26.1MP sensor for faster focusing, improved subject tracking and increased autofocus sensitivity (down to -3EV). Second, the X-T3 can capture 10-bit 4K video at up to 60p with 4:2:0 colour sampling - which is exceptional for a stills/video crossover camera. One of the best things about the camera for us is that it feels like you’re shooting on an old-school DSLR with all the benefits of cutting-edge camera technology.

Read more: Fujifilm X-T3 review

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3. Sony A6000

This powerful, classic APS-C model is a bargain at today's discounted prices

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 24.3MP | Lens mount: Sony E | Monitor: 3-inch tilting, 921,600 dots | Continuous shooting speed: 11fps | Viewfinder: Electronic | Max video resolution: 1080p | User level: Beginner/enthusiast

Superb AF system
11fps burst shooting with C-AF
No 4K video
No touchscreen

It may have been launched way back in 2014, and upstaged by the Sony A6500 and Sony A6400 since then, but the much cheaper 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. Its age doesn’t hurt its performance, but it’s knocked its price right down to rock bottom!

Read more: The best Sony cameras in 2019

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4. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III

It's cute and small, but this Olympus is a lot more powerful than it looks

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Micro Four Thirds | Megapixels: 16.1MP | Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds | Screen: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 1,037,000 dots | Viewfinder: Electronic | Max burst speed: 8.6fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Beginner/enthusiast

4K video recording
Great image stabilisation
16.1MP beaten by competition
Not a huge change from Mark II

Not many cameras walk away with a full five stars upon being reviewed, but the O-MD E-M10 Mark III very much deserves its maximum score. With a similar form to the Mark II (still on sale) but with a better processing engine, 4K video and a superior autofocus system on the inside, the camera looks small and cute but is actually a real pocket powerhouse. It has Olympus’s excellent five-axis image stabilisation system, a 2.36million dot OLED viewfinder and tilting rear LCD. The only criticism we have is that its 16.1MP sensor isn’t quite the latest generation, but this isn’t a significant issue for everyone and, as a MFT model, the camera provides access to a raft of Micro Four Thirds lenses from both Olympus and Panasonic, as well as many further capable options from the likes of Samyang, Sigma and even Voigtländer.

Read more: Olympus OM-D E-M10 III review

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5. Fujifilm X-T30

The diminutive X-T30 comes with a class-leading 26.1MP APS-C sensor

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 26.1MP | Lens mount: Fujifilm X | Screen: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots | Viewfinder: Electronic | Continuous shooting speed: 30fps (electronic shutter, 1.25x crop), 8fpt (mechanical shutter) | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast

Small size
26.1MP X-Trans sensor
Powerful AF and video
No in-body stabilisation

With the X-T3 (above), Fujifilm brought out the highest resolution APS-C sensor currently on the market and one of the most highly-sophisticated autofocus systems, and now this technology as filtered down to its smaller, cheaper, lighter sibling, the X-T30. The old X-T20 was one of our favourite cameras for the way it combined a compact body, affordable price and powerful photographic tools and we love the new X-T30 even more. It's small, portable and easy to use, but with 4K video and its external shutter speed and aperture controls, it's a great buy for both video fans and regular stills photographers. The X-T3's video features are just that little bit better, though, and some might find the X-T30's body just a little TOO small.

Read more: Fujifilm X-T30 review

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6. Canon EOS RP

The cheapest and smallest full frame mirrorless camera you can buy

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame | Megapixels: 26.2MP | Lens mount: Canon RF | Screen: 3in articulating touchscreen, 1,040,800 dots | Viewfinder: Electronic | Max burst speed: 5fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast

Size and weight
Very competitive pricing
Fully-articulating screen
Feels too small for its lenses

Canon is wasting no time in getting its new mirrorless EOS R system off the ground. Just a few months after announcing the EOS R (above), it’s come up with this smaller, cheaper EOS RP model. 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 a fully-articulating rear screen. The best news is the extremely aggressive pricing, which makes the EOS RP the cheapest current full-frame camera on the market (Sony is still selling older versions of its A7-series cameras for less, however.)

Read more: Canon EOS RP review

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7. Fujifilm GFX 50R

The camera to buy when quality matters more than anything else

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Medium format | Megapixels: 51.4MP | Lens mount: Fujifilm G Mount | Screen: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen, 2,360,000 dots | Viewfinder: Electronic | Max burst speed: 3fps | Max video resolution: Full HD | User level: Professional

Brilliant image quality
AF accuracy
Max flash sync speed
AF system is slow

The GFX 50R is like a ‘rangefinder’ style version of the Fujifilm GFX 50S medium format camera. With a sensor 67% larger even than full frame, the GFX 50R’s 51.4 million pixels have room to breathe and produce not just super-high resolution, but superb dynamic range and noise control too. Compared to a full-frame or smaller mirrorless camera, the GFX 50R is a bit of a lump to use, but many will appreciate the way it slows down your photography and will definitely love the depth and quality of this camera’s images. The GFX 50R is the cheapest medium format digital camera to date, and not that much more than a top mirrorless full-frame camera.

Read more: Fujifilm GFX 50R review

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8. Nikon Z 7

Nikon’s top-of-the-range full-frame mirrorless camera is superb

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame CMOS | Megapixels: 45.7MP | Lens mount: Nikon Z | Monitor: EVF, 3,690k dots, 100% coverage | Continuous shooting speed: 9fps | Viewfinder: EVF | Max video resolution: 4K UHD at 30p | User level: Enthusiast/Professional

Great handling
Superb viewfinder
45.5 million pixels
Single XQD card slot

The Nikon Z7 is an instant classic. It’s a superb (and superbly made) mirrorless camera, boasting a massive 45.7MP full frame CMOS, 493-point hybrid phase/contrast autofocus, 4K UHD at 30p and in-camera image stabilisation system (IBIS).  Interestingly, the Z7 is a lot like its chief mirrorless rival, the Sony A7 series, in looks and is much smaller than the Nikon D850, the DSLR whose technology it largely shares. Nikon is still developing its range of native Z-mount lenses, but the Z7 ships with an FTZ adaptor which allows the use of any current Nikon DSLR lenses without restriction, so migrating from a Nikon DSLR to a Nikon Z couldn’t be easier.

Read more: Nikon Z7 review

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9. Sony A7R III

So close to the Nikon Z 7 that even we can’t decide between them

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame CMOS | Megapixels: 42.4MP | Lens mount: Sony FE | Screen: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 1,440,000 dots | Viewfinder: Electronic | Continuous shooting speed: 10fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast/professional

42.4 megapixel resolution
10fps continuous shooting
4K video capabilities
Unbalanced with bigger lenses

On paper, the Sony A7R III looks all but unbeatable. It’s barely larger than an old-fashioned film SLR and way more compact than current DSLRs, and yet it packs in a superbly sharp 42.4 megapixel full frame sensor. In the past you had to choose between resolution and continuous shooting speed in a pro camera, but the A7R III turns this on its head by offering both. To top it off, it has excellent 4K video capture, in-body image-stabilisation and is backed up by a steadily-growing range of consumer-level and premium quality G Master lenses. Our only criticism is that the body is just that little bit too small for a lot of external controls, and bigger lenses leave it feeling front-heavy.

Read more: Sony A7R III review

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10. Canon EOS R

Canon’s top mirrorless camera blends specs and price rather well

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame CMOS | Megapixels: 30.3MP | Lens mount: Canon RF | Monitor: EVF, 3.69m dots, 100% coverage | Continuous shooting speed: 8fps | Viewfinder: EVF | Max video resolution: 4K UHD at 29.97p | User level: Enthusiast/Professional

Great customisation
Dual Pixel AF
No in-body image stabilisation
Cropped 4K video

Canon has bucked the trend of having separate pro and enthusiast bodies - it is instead pitching the EOS R squarely in the middle. And that’s no bad thing. The Canon EOS R offers a full-frame 30.3MP CMOS sensor, which is on the same level as the EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR. The two sensors share a lot but the biggest difference is that the EOS R features a more advanced phase-difference detection system using the 1D X Mark II’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF, and this delivers an amazing 5,655 focus points. The Canon EOS R is a great mirrorless camera but there are one or two niggles, notably its heavily cropped 4K video mode, lack of in-body stabilisation and its single memory card slot.

Read more: Canon EOS R review

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11. Sony Alpha A7 III

It’s the entry-point to Sony’s full-frame system but really rather good

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Exmor R CMOS | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Sony FE | Monitor: XGA OLED type, 2,359,296 dots | Continuous shooting speed: 10fps | Viewfinder: 3in tilting touchscreen, 921,600 dots | Max video resolution: 4K UHD at 30/24fps | User level: Enthusiast

Superbly sophisticated AF system
4K video features
10fps burst shooting
Doesn’t win the MP battle

The Sony A7 III doesn’t really put a foot wrong. Its specs actually belittle its price - you are getting a huge amount of camera prowess here for what is a decent price. Granted, its handling and control layout aren’t the best we have ever tried but its autofocus and continuous shooting performance, not to mention its 4K video capabilities are second to none. Okay, there is that 24MP resolution might put a few people off, given we have been spoiled with higher megapixel alternatives but pixels aren’t everything and this camera is a fantastic mix of performance, image quality and price.

Read more: Sony A7 III review

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12. Sony A6400

Brilliant for vloggers, the A6400 has 4K video and front-facing screen

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Sony E | Screen: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 921,000 dots | Viewfinder: Electronic | Continuous shooting speed: 11fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Beginner/enthusiast

Image quality and resolution
4K video performance
Sophisticated autofocus
Cramped and dated layout

Not so long ago, any camera with a 180-degree front-facing screen was instantly dismissed as a ‘selfie’ camera, but the rise of blogging, vlogging and Instagram has brought video to the fore, and the A6400’s front-facing screen sets it apart from many of its rivals and makes it a powerful and desirable tool for single-handed video shooters who need to talk directly to the camera. Unfortunately, brilliant as the A6400 is for video and vlogging, the design, controls and viewing system have not moved on from the original A6000 design, which was good in its day but is now looking very dated. The A6400 is great for video, then, but less convincing as an all-round stills camera.

Read more: Sony A6400 review

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13. Sony A9

This high-speed sports specialist meets pro DSLRs head-on

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Sony FE | Screen: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 1,440,000 dots | Viewfinder: Electronic | Max burst speed: 20fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Professional

20fps at 24MP is remarkable
Fast and effective AF
Lag-free electronic viewfinder
Pricer than the A7 range

Where the Sony A7 series is designed for all-round use, the Sony A9 is built purely for speed and professional sports, wildlife and action photography – where its £5,000 price tag is pretty much par for the course. It is, however, one of the most exciting mirrorless models we’ve seen in recent times, and its advantages over equivalent DSLRs arguably make it far better value for money. It houses a 24.2MP full-frame sensor and a 693-point phase-detect AF system that covers around 93% of the frame, together with blackout-free shooting from the electronic viewfinder when shooting at up to 20fps and even 4K video to boot. 

Read more: Sony A9 review

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14. Olympus OM-D E-M1 X

A pro sports camera that’s more affordable and portable than its rivals

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Micro Four Thirds | Megapixels: 20.4MP | Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds | Screen: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,037,000 dots | Viewfinder: Electronic | Max burst speed: 60fps | Max video resolution: 4K

60fps at full resolution - amazing!
Great autofocus performance
Backed up by tasty pro lenses
MFT sensor smaller than rivals

When Panasonic joined the full-frame mirrorless L-Mount Alliance in 2018 it looked as if the Micro Four Thirds format might be left out in the cold, but Panasonic is still committed to this smaller format and Olympus insists it’s still ‘relevant’ – and has launched this highly sophisticated, high-speed sports camera to prove it. It’s true that the sensor is about a quarter the size of those in full-frame mirrorless cameras, but the E-M1X is also smaller, lighter and cheaper, and the same goes for Olympus’s excellent and growing range of pro lenses. 

Read more: Olympus OM-D E-M1X review

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The Panasonic G9 is a brilliantly fast and effective camera that is great for both 4K video and things like fast-action sports and wildlife photography. It’s great in the hand, which means that it offers up a good grip, especially when it is equipped with longer lenses. Its image quality is very good and this is despite it having a smaller MFT sensor. The only issue for us is that when it comes to shooting regular static subjects, there are plenty of rivals that deliver the same quality for not as much money.

Read more: Panasonic Lumix G9 review

15. Panasonic Lumix G9

Panasonic’s brilliant all-rounder gives you pro speed without the price

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Micro Four Thirds sensor | Megapixels: 20.3MP | Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds | Monitor: EVF, 3.68m dots and 1.66x magnification | Continuous shooting speed: 60fps | Viewfinder: EVF | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast

4K UHD video
20/60fps continuous shooting
Good lens choice
Upstaged by the new Lumix S
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16. Fujifilm X-H1

Designed for pros, this mirrorless camera is now quite a bargain

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 24.3MP | Lens mount: Fujifilm X | Screen: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots | Viewfinder: Electronic | Continuous shooting speed: 8fps (up to 14fps) | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast/professional

In-body image stabilisation
Excellent handling
Great 3-axis tilting screen
Upstaged by the newer X-T3

It’s difficult to know where to start with the X-H1. On top of everything that made the X-T2 a winner – from its 24.3MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor and expansive AF options through to its three-axis LCD and multitude of physical controls – Fujifilm has ramped up the feature set to include body-based image stabilisation, a huge top-plate LCD and an even wider selection of options for videographers than before, including both DCI 4K and UHD 4K options. As we found in our review, the combination of the sensor and previously seen X-Processor Pro translate to very reliable image quality, with speedy autofocus and a clear OLED viewfinder to make the user experience as good as it can be. But the more advanced tech in the X-T3 is now making the X-H1 look due for an update (though this does mean that the price of the X-H1 has got a lot more tempting!).

Read more: Fujifilm X-H1 review

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