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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 now go toe-to-toe with DSLRs for features, power and performance, and in many areas they’re superior. Mirrorless cameras are smaller and lighter for travel, and more powerful and responsive for video.

The one big feature they share with DSLRs, though, is interchangeable lenses – and that’s the key to more advanced, more rewarding and – maybe – more profitable photography.

The DSLR vs mirrorless argument looks set to continue for a long time to come. But if you’ve decided that mirrorless is the way to go for you, then you still have to decide what kind of mirrorless camera you want – and we’re here to help.

There's more innovation in the mirrorless camera market than any other, with new models like the tiny but powerful Fujifilm X-T30, affordable full frame mirrorless cameras like the Nikon Z6 that are equally good at photography, video and vlogging,  and there are high-speed models like the Olympus OM-D E-M1X for sports photography enthusiasts and professionals which are both lighter and cheaper than traditional DSLR cameras.

Which mirrorless camera is best for you?

Everyone is different (with different budgets), so we’ve split our guide up into three easy to navigate sections:

All-rounders: 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. Video has become increasingly important thanks to the rise of influencers and vloggers, and many of the best cameras for vlogging are mirrorless cameras in this category. 

Cheap and simple: 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. We’ve picked three candidates that are both affordable and rather good.

Cameras for pros: Some of the best cameras for professionals are now mirrorless, too, and the ground-breaking Sony A9 has certainly impressed professional sports and action photographers, for example, while the brand new 61MP Sony A7R IV sets new standards for resolution. The latest video features mean tha some of the cameras in this category are suitable for full scale video production too.

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.

All rounders

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1. Fujifilm X-T30

The diminutive X-T30 is powerful, affordable and portable

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 (below), Fujifilm has 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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2. Fujifilm X-T3

Fujifilm’s state of the art APS-C flagship is spectacular

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

It's Fujifilm's lucky day, as it bags the first two places in our best all-rounders section. 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. But 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. It is, however, just a little bit expensive right now.

Read more: Fujifilm X-T3 review

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3. 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 one of the best mirrorless cameras you can buy right now – if you can afford it. The native Z-mount lens range is steadily increasing, and 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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4. 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

Cheap and simple

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5. Panasonic Lumix GX80

If size is key, this tiny mirrorless camera and its kit lens are perfect

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Micro Four Thirds | Megapixels: 16MP | Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds | Screen: 3in tilting, touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots | Max burst speed: 8fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Beginner

4K video recording
Electronic viewfinder
Only 16 megapixels
Restricted tilt-screen range

The diminutive GX80 can be adapted to the needs of any user, from the beginner that just wants to rely on the leave-it-to-the-camera Intelligent Auto option, to the photographer that wants complete control over all exposure settings like shutter speed and aperture. You also get 4K video recording capability and Panasonic's speed DFD (Depth From Defocus) autofocus system. 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 travelling or holidays. (If you don't mind a slightly bigger camera in exchange for a larger APS-C sensor, take a look at the Sony A6000, below.) Try to get the GX80 with the retracting 12-32mm 'pancake' lens – this combination is not a whole lot bigger than a compact point and shoot camera.

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6. Sony A6000

This powerful, classic APS-C model is a bargain at today's 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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7. 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 shape 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 an 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
• These are the best cameras for beginners

Cameras for pros

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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 Z 7 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 Z 7 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 Z 7 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 – that and the fact that there's a brand new 61MP Sony A7R IV soon to hit the dealers' shelves. We've tried it and we love it, but we've yet to put it through our full lab tests. In the meantime, we expect the A7R III to stay on, and at reduced prices – so this could be a bargain in the making.

Read more: Sony A7R III review

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10. 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 stiff 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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11. 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. Kitting yourself out with a professional Olympus sports/wildlife kit based around the E-M1X will cost a fraction of any full frame system.

Read more: Olympus OM-D E-M1X review

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12. 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 expensive than a top mirrorless full-frame camera. The extraordinary GFX 100 may have stolen all the headlines, but the GFX 50R is still the camera that makes medium format affordable.

Read more:

Fujifilm GFX 50R review
• These are the best medium format cameras right now
• The best cameras for professionals to buy today

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