The best mirrorless camera to buy will depend on what kind of photographer you are! You might be a novice looking for you first 'proper' camera, an enthusiast who wants to step up to the latest tech or an expert wondering about the best mirrorless cameras for professional use. We've tried to cover all the bases by splitting our guide into three sections:
All-rounders: These are mirrorless cameras that are ideal for enthusiasts and content creators because they can tackle almost any assignment but without the expense and complexity of a professional camera.
Cheap and simple: If you're upgrading from a smartphone or a point and shoot camera, or you just don't want to get into heavy technicalities, then these are the cameras for you. These cameras also tend to be lighter, so will be a good choice for travel.
For pros: This is where the market has really been hotting up lately, with cameras like the Canon EOS R5 and Sony A1 pushing back the boundaries of innovation. Here, though, it's even more important to get the right tool for the job.
Mirrorless camera formats
There are four mirrorless camera formats in the mirrorless world right now: Micro Four Thirds, APS-C, full frame and medium format. Each has its own pros, cons and advantages.
• Micro Four Thirds is the smallest format, but these cameras are still capable of great image and video quality. 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. The two advantages of this format are its lower cost and its lighter and more portable cameras and lenses.
• APS-C cameras offer a great blend of quality and affordability, with a sensor roughly twice the size of Micro Four Thirds cameras. It includes mirrorless cameras like the new Fujifilm X-S10 and the Nikon Z50. These are appealing options for enthusiasts because they offer good resolution – typically 24-26MP – and 4K video features good enough for professional or semi-pro video.
• Full frame cameras have sensors the size of 35mm film negatives, and twice the size of APS-C. This gives them a quality advantage but also makes them bigger, heavier and often a lot more expensive. The main story right now is the steady increase in full frame digital cameras at prices that make them attainable for all photography fans, not just professionals. The Canon EOS RP was one of the first affordable options, and is still one of the best, and it's been joined by the equally affordable Nikon Z50 and Panasonic Lumix S5.
• Medium format cameras have sensors even larger than full frame, and while they were once prohibitively expensive, more and more 'affordable models are appearing. The big leader right now, outside of the expensive high-end studio market, is Fujifilm. We've included the Fujifilm GFX 50S in our guide as an affordable entry point, but we've been seriously impressed by the 100MP Fujifilm GFX 100S, which costs less than a Sony A1!
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 DSLR, 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. The cameras in this section have a broad range of capabilities and can adapt to a wide range of subjects and shooting styles. We have two Fujifilm cameras in this group – the Fujifilm X-S10 and the Fujifilm X-T4 – and we almost included a third, the new Fujifilm X-E4, with its uncluttered, classically-styled rangefinder design.
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
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
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
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.
Read more: Canon EOS RP review
The Nikon Z50 is a terrific little camera at a very good price, but we think the only thing holding it back right now is the limited range of Nikon Z DX (APS-C) mirrorless lenses. Right now it's just the two it was launched with, though you can use the optional Nikon FTZ adaptor to fit Nikon DSLR lenses. The Nikon Z50 was introduced in late 2019, joining Nikon's more advanced full frame Z6 and Z7 models. The Z50 is far more than just a stripped-back version of these bigger cameras, though. Nikon managed to work a satisfyingly chunky handgrip onto this small frame for a superior handling experience, while also including 11fps burst shooting for action photography and high-quality 4K video. Best of all is the superb 16-50mm pancake kit lens available as part of kit, and the price, which has clearly been specifically tailored to undercut similar offerings from Fujifilm and Olympus. The Z50 is a superb but affordable camera for a wide range of photographers at all sorts of skill levels.
Read more: Nikon Z50 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. 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. Here are the models which we think are the best mirrorless cameras for anyone just starting out. We should also give an honorable mention to the Canon EOS M50 (now available in a Canon EOS M50 Mark II version), as a neat little mirrorless camera for Canon fans.
With a new 20MP sensor, incrementally improved in-body image stabilization and a new flip-down and tiltable monitor, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV has plenty to shout about. Retaining the 4K video and attractive styling that made the Mark III so attractive to consumers, the Mark IV is set to be a new favorite for anyone looking for an entry-level camera that can do pretty much everything. This is one of our favorite pint-sized cameras ever, so we're really pleased that it has AT LAST got Olympus's latest 20MP sensor. It's not the cheapest mirrorless camera, but it's small, user-friendly and so much more powerful than it looks.
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.
Note: The Fujifilm X-T200 has sold like hot cakes and is out of stock in many places! It's also gone back up to its full launch price, so that's a double blow. When the situation and prices improve, expect this camera to rocket back up our list!
The Fujifilm X-T200 slots just below Fujifilm's premium X-mount mirrorless cameras, but delivers a lot of style, features and performance for its price point, which has dropped a lot since it was first launched. The X-T200 is light and compact, but looks and feels handles like an old-school 35mm SLR camera. Best of all, it has a big new 3.5-inch vari-angle touchscreen with twice the resolution of most rivals and a 1:6 aspect ratio perfectly suited to video. It also has an electronic viewfinder and can shoot 4K video as well as 24-megapixel stills. Its 15-45mm kit lens is electrically powered and is a bit of an acquired taste, but it's really compact for an APS-C kit lens and it also offers a much wider angle of view than most kit lenses, making it ideal for interior shots and big landmarks.
Read more: Fujifilm X-T200 review
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.
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 suitable for full scale video production, too, and the Canon EOS R5 redefined the video capabilities of mirrorless cameras.
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
If you need top-quality stills photography, the Lumix S1R is worth the extra over the Lumix S1. It costs substantially more, but it has almost twice the resolution. 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). If you need to travel light and shoot stills and video equally, the smaller format Lumix GH5 or Lumix G9 models (above) might be a better choice. A firmware update in November 2019 has made this camera's XQD memory card slot compatible with the latest CFexpress memory cards, so Panasonic is ahead of the curve here.
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.
Read more: Fujifilm GFX 100s review
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