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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 camera depends on what kind of user you are, so we've split our guide into sections for all rounders for enthusiasts, cheap and simple cameras for beginners and high-end mirrorless cameras for professionals – and there are some great cameras in all three groups.

We've added in two brand new cameras – the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III, a camera that's really impressed us for its features, its performance, its speed and its price, and the amazing 61MP Sony A7R Mark IV, which has the highest resolution yet in a full frame camera.

Read more: Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III hands on review

The fact is that mirrorless cameras now go toe-to-toe with DSLRs for features, power and performance, and in many areas they’re superior. Compact system cameras (as they are also known) are smaller and lighter for travel, and more powerful and responsive for video.

The mirrorless camera market is really hotting up right now and there are a lot of new models entering the market. As well as the A7R Mark IV, Sony has released new A6100 and A6600 APS-C mirrorless cameras, though these are essentially newer variants on its existing A6000 series cameras. We'll bring you full reviews as soon as we get production samples in for lab testing and then add them to this list of the best mirrorless cameras – if they deserve it! Sony has also upgraded its professional sports camera and brought out the Sony A9 II, though the changes are unspectacular and aimed mainly at a smoother professional workflow. We're due to try this new camera out in the wild shortly, so we'll let you know what we think!

Most of the excitement in the mirrorless camera market centers around the best full frame mirrorless cameras you can get, though, the more affordable APS-C mirrorless market is hotting up too.

Read more:

Sony A6100 hands on review
Sony A6600 hands on review

But there's an even bigger story. Nikon has at last released its own APS-C format mirrorless camera – the Nikon Z 50. Again, we've yet to get hold of a production sample for proper testing, but we've seen it, we've tried it, and we're pretty impressed.

Read more: Nikon Z 50 hands on review 

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.

What you need to know about Black Friday 2019

The Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales have always been a great time to pick up camera gear. This is when camera retailers bring out their best camera deals, often for a short time only and while stocks last. So what do we expect to see this year? Well, we think some of the best Black Friday camera deals in 2019 will come via the big-name brands. You may not get massive savings on the latest models – instead, the best deals are often on cameras, lenses and accessories that are a little older, or the previous model. Older Sony models like the A6000 and orginal A7, for example, are often sold at crazily low prices. So should you wait before you buy? Not necessarily! Makers and retailers bring out promotions and deals all year round, and you can be sure we'll bring you the latest just as soon as they appear!

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

Best mirrorless camera: Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III

(Image credit: Adorama)

2. Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III

Rugged, fast and packed with features... this new Olympus is amazing.

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: MFT | Megapixels: 20.4MP | Lens mount: NFT | Screen: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,037,000 dots | Viewfinder: Electronic | Continuous shooting speed: 30fps (Pro Capture mode), 10fps (mechanical shutter) | Max video resolution: c4K/4K | User level: Enthusiast/Expert

Stunning Pro Capture mode
Exceptional 152 raw file buffer
Size and handling
Range of lenses
MFT sensor smaller than APS-C
'Only' 20.4MP

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 is so new that while we've been able to test it extensively in the field we've not yet been able to run it through our usual lab tests. But already we can see that this is an exceptional camera and a worthy successor to the highly regarded Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. This new camera 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, and it allows Olympus cameras and lenses to be especially small and portable. 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.

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3. 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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4. 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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5. 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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6. Panasonic Lumix GX80/GX85

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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7. 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:
Sony A6000 review
The best Sony cameras in 2019

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8. 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

Best mirrorless camera: Sony A7R Mark IV

(Image credit: Sony)

9. Sony A7R Mark IV

You can't argue with that 61MP sensor, but this camera has so much more

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame CMOS | Megapixels: 61MP | Lens mount: Sony FE | Screen: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 1,440,000 dots | Viewfinder: Electronic, 5.76m dots | Continuous shooting speed: 10fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Professional

61 megapixel resolution
10fps continuous shooting
Advanced Eye AF
Unbalanced with bigger lenses
Quite expensi ve

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 Z 7 and Panasonic Lumix S1R. The A7R puts that right – and how – with a record-breaking 61-megapixel 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 feeling 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 mirrorless camera to beat.

Read more: Sony A7R Mark IV review

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10. 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. The new Sony A7R Mark IV offers more megapixels, but it's not a big gap, and we'd put the Z 7 ahead for handling and value.

Read more: Nikon Z7 review

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11. Panasonic Lumix S1R

Panasonic's top-end full frame mirrorless camera suits both stills and video

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame | Megapixels: 47.3MP | Screen: 3.2-inch, 2,100k | Viewfinder: Electronic, 5,760k | Lens: L-mount | Continuous shooting speed: 9fps | Max video resolution: 4k | User level: Expert/professional

Huge resolution
Excellent build and controls
High-end 4K video
Heavy and expensive

If you need top-quality stills photography and high-end 4K video features, the Lumix S1R is the better choice amongst the two Lumix S models. It costs substantially more than the cheaper Lumix S1, but the extra resolution is likely to prove well worth it for stills photographers (for video the S1 might be better). Both are pretty big, hefty cameras, though, and the same goes for the L-mount lenses we’ve seen so far from Panasonic and Sigma (also part of the new L-mount alliance, along with Leica). Compared to rival mirrorless cameras, the S1R feels pretty massive, but that does make it feel more balanced with big lenses, and it allows room for a lot of external controls, including a top-mounted status display, so it's ideal if you like proper hands-on control.

Panasonic Lumix S1R review

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12. Sony A9 (the A9 II has been announced)

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

We've still got the original Sony A9 in this list, even though Sony has just announced the Sony A9 II. We've tried it, and we love it, but for the moment, it looks like the older A9 will stay on sale at a lower price, in typical Sony fashion, and given that the new camera's changes are aimed more at smoothing out the professional workflow and don't include any massive technological leaps (a slight understatement), we'll keep the older A9 or our list. 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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13. 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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14. 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.
Fujifilm GFX 50R review

Read more:
• The 10 cheapest mirrorless cameras in 2019
• These are the best medium format cameras right now
• The best cameras for professionals to buy today

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