Are you ready to try mirrorless camera technology? They are at the forefront of the digital photography world. Join us as we talk you through the best mirrorless camera on the market today.
Thanks to superior sensor resolution, high frame rates, professional lenses, weather-proof bodies, and sensor stabilization, DSLRs finally have serious competition.
There are many options to pick, from full-frame, great low-light performance, high frame rates, and handheld exposures, to hybrid photo/videography and much more. Let’s see what’s available right now.
If you are in a hurry, here is a summary of the mirrorless bodies we are recommending here. We’ve done hours of research and field testing, except for the a7R Mark IV model, which is due to be released on September 2019). Scroll down to see the reviews of each mirrorless camera.
1. Sony Alpha 7R Mark IV (September 2019 Release)
Medium format level performance produces ultra-high resolution images
Weight: 576g | Sensor size: Full-frame (36 x 24mm) | Resolution: 61 megapixels | Lens Mount: Sony FE | Autofocus Points: 567 Phase and 425 contrast-detection points | Image Stabilization: Yes, rated up to 5.5 stops | Maximum Video Resolution: UHD 4K (3840 x 2160p) at 30 fps (frames per second) | Battery Life: Up to 670 shots per charge
Sony’s newest member of the a7 series boasts a 61-megapixel sensor: essential for studio or commercial photographers who print large images.
You can also use the Pixel Shift Mode to stitch together 16 frames into a composite of 963-megapixel ultra-high resolution image. Moreover, shifting to APS-C crop mode offers 26 megapixels with nearly 100% autofocus coverage.
If you are into wildlife or sports photography, this camera offers a truly impressive 10fps frame rate even at 61 megapixels. It can continuously shoot at that rate for about 7 seconds. Perfect for action photographers who never want to miss a shot.
Sony’s BSI (back-side illuminated) sensors all boast improved dynamic range performance; it is rated at 15-stops of dynamic range. Which means it is able to correctly color grade and expose tricky lighting situations (such as sunsets) far superior to other mirrorless cameras on this list.
The wiring and photodiode layers are reversed in Sony BSI sensors, which means increased, not decreased, low-light performance.
Sony’s autofocus system is widely considered the best on the market, with fast acquisition and intelligent subject tracking. Moreover, the a7R Mark IV introduces real-time Eye-AF (focus tracking the eye of your subject) for movie recording.
Due in September 2019, this can definitely be considered one of the best mirrorless cameras on this list.
2. Fujifilm X-T3
Fast frame rate option great for sports or event photographers
Weight: 1406g | Sensor size: APS-C (23.5mm×15.6mm) | Resolution: 26.1 megapixels | Lens Mount: Fujifilm X | Autofocus Points: 425 Phase-detection points | Image Stabilization: No | Maximum Video Resolution: DCI 4K (4096 x 2160p) at 60 fps | Battery Life: Up to 390 shots per charge
Boasting burst rates of up to 30 fps in RAW (1.25x crop) and 60 fps in JPEG using an electronic shutter, the Fujifilm X-T3 is well-suited for any kind of action photography.
Fujifilm X cameras use a unique X-Trans pixel array, which reduces moiré without impacting sharpness. But be wary, Lightroom has issues rendering X-Trans files.
Styled from Fuji’s own film stocks, the Film Simulation modes create color and contrast adjustments that can be adjusted further in-camera.
But there is even more, such as the extremely good weather resistance, highly accurate and fast EVF, accurate subject tracking, face & eye detection, plus stunning 4K video quality. All at a price less than half of the A7R Mark IV! This is a high-speed contender for the best mirrorless camera.
3. Nikon Z7
Nikon’s foray into mirrorless boasts high low-light performance
Weight: 585g | Sensor size: Full-frame (36 x 24mm) | Resolution: 45.7 megapixels | Lens Mount: Nikon Z | Autofocus Points: 493 Hybrid Phase/contrast-detection points | Image Stabilization: Yes | Maximum Video Resolution: UHD 4K (3,840 x 2,160) at 30fps | Battery Life: Up to 330 shots per charge
The Nikon Z7 is Nikon’s first foray into full-frame mirrorless and includes a sensor-stabilized, weather-sealed body.
It uses a new 55mm wide mount with a shallow 16mm flange depth: offering improved low-light performance and edge-to-edge sharpness.
A 5-axis IBIS (sensor-based image stabilization) allows photographers to shoot handheld with 5 stops of stabilization; so scenes requiring speeds of 1/1000ths for handheld can be shot as slow as 1/30th of a second.
Nikon’s current range of Z lenses is limited to only 5 choices. But the FTZ mount adapter opens up more than 360 F-mount lenses to be used with this camera.
The Z7 has more AF points (493) than the Z6 which covers more than 90% of the frame, and with 14.6 stops of dynamic range, the Z7 does have an edge over the Z6 in terms of accurate exposure and color grading. At 45.7 megapixels, it is a vast improvement over Z6 in terms of image resolution.
4. Nikon Z6
Affordable option boasts high ISO and fast frame rate
Weight: 585g | Sensor size: Full-frame (36 x 24mm) | Resolution: 24.5 megapixels | Lens Mount: Nikon Z | Autofocus Points: 273 Hybrid Phase/contrast-detection points | Image Stabilization: Yes | Maximum Video Resolution: UHD 4K (3,840 x 2,160) at 30fps | Battery Life: Up to 330 shots per charge
I find the Nikon Z6 to be as competitive a choice as the Z7. It boasts 24.5 MP, which is half of the Z7 but is an average resolution in today’s market.
The Z6 is also a touch faster, shooting 12 fps vs 9 fps for the Z7. Video shooters should note the Z6 also captures oversampled 4K at full sensor width: the Z7 only does so in crop mode.
The high ISO range is better on the Z7, with a max native ISO of 51,200 vs 25,600. You also lose out on AF points, but not much; the Z6 has only 273 versus the 293 of the Z7. Z6 and Z7 cameras are more or less identical in every other way. However, if you do not need the extra high ISO. The reduced price of Z6 is a steal considering its capabilities
5. Canon EOS R
Canon’s mirrorless entry boasts impressive mount adapter
Weight: 662g | Sensor size: Full-frame (36 x 24mm) | Resolution: 30.3 megapixels | Lens Mount: Canon RF | Autofocus Points: 5655 Phase-detection points | Image Stabilization: No | Maximum Video Resolution: UHD 4K (3,840 x 2,160) at 30fps | Battery Life: Up to 350 shots per charge
If you are a fan of the Canon systems, their first full-frame mirrorless camera could be the right choices. Especially because you can use existing EF or EF-S lenses with this camera by using the Control Ring Mount Adapter. Which will also extend the RF lens’ control ring functionality to EF/EF-S lenses.
EOS R has an impressive 5665 focus point system that covers 100% of the frame vertically (88% horizontally). Combined with a fast focus time of 0.05 seconds it makes it a breeze to track and focus on your subjects. We also noticed that the camera can accurately focus in very low light situations, a definite plus for night or astrophotography.
However, some might find the single UHS-II card slot limiting. Plus, the 4K video has a hefty 1.8x crop factor. Plus there is no ISIB, but the Digital image stabilization does provide stabilization at a slight crop.
6. Panasonic LUMIX DC-S1R
Panasonic’s first foray into the mirrorless market
Weight: 899g | Sensor size: Full-frame (36 x 24mm) | Resolution: 47.3 megapixels | Lens Mount: L | Autofocus Points: 225 contrast-detection points | Image Stabilization: Yes | Maximum Video Resolution: UHD 4K (3,840 x 2,160) at 60fps | Battery Life: Up to 360 shots per charge
This is Panasonic’s first entry into the full-frame arena.
Both Panasonic and Olympus pioneered the current trend of IBIS (in-body image stabilization) in mirrorless cameras, so as expected, the Panasonic LUMIX S1R has one of the best IBIS ratings: claiming up to 6 stops natively and 6.5 when paired with an O.I.S. (optical image stabilized) lens.
Panasonic focuses on its Depth from Defocus technology, which relies on contrast detection rather than phase detection. This makes the autofocus comparable to phase-detection AF.
The 6K Modes use high-resolution video recording for 18-megapixel image frame extraction in JPEG. LUMIX cameras also offer Post Focus, which quickly focus brackets an area and lets you select the image with the best focus.
However, the body is a bit heavy at 899g. And the lenses are no better, so while mirrorless, Panasonic doesn’t have the compact advantage over DSLR bodies.
7. Older Sony Lineup: a7 Mark III and a7R Mark III
Older Sony models still pack a punch
Weight: 653g | Sensor size: Full-frame (36 x 24mm) | Resolution: 24 megapixels | Lens Mount: FE | Autofocus Points: 693 Phase and 425 contrast-detection points | Image Stabilization: Yes | Maximum Video Resolution: UHD 4K (3,840 x 2,160) at 60fps | Battery Life: Up to 610 shots per charge
Weight: 657g | Sensor size: Full-frame (36 x 24mm) | Resolution: 42 megapixels | Lens Mount: FE | Autofocus Points: 399 Phase and 425 Contrast-detection points | Image Stabilization: Yes | Maximum Video Resolution: UHD 4K (3,840 x 2,160) at 60fps | Battery Life: Up to 610 shots per charge
Sony again claims a high place on our list of the best mirrorless camera with its older a7 models. The current a7 Mark III model comes with a 24MP full-frame 5-axis image-stabilized BSI sensor. Plus 693 Phase-detection points with 93% frame coverage (293 more than the a7R Mark III), 10 fps continuous drive and weather sealing are also included.
The a7 Mark III boasts 24MP, while the a7R Mark III boasts 42MP. However, battery life drops significantly with the a7R Mark II, with 290 shots per charge, plus you lose touchscreen functionality of the a7 Mark III.
Both models include Sony’s Face and Eye AF tracking systems. The a7 Mark III is the best balance of budget to features in the current Sony line-up. However, if you are into landscape or architecture photography, I would recommend the a7R model due to its high megapixel sensor (more detailed shots)
8. Olympus OM-D E-M1X
Bulky but capable Olympus flagship option
Weight: 997g | Sensor size: Micro 4/3rds (17.4 x 13mm) | Resolution: 20 megapixels | Lens Mount: Micro 4/3rds | Autofocus Points: 121 Phase-detection points | Image Stabilization: Yes | Maximum Video Resolution: DCI 4K (4096 x 2160p) at 24fps/UHD 4K (3,840 x 2,160) at 30fps | Battery Life: Up to 870 shots per charge
The OM-D E-M1X is Olympus’s flagship camera and the most capable Micro 4/3rds camera on the market.
It is chunky at just under 1kg, but it boasts a high-resolution (Pixel Shift mode) that can create 50-megapixel composite images. It also comes equipped with two pro capture modes which buffer up to 35 frames when you half-press the shutter; great if you’re unsure when action will begin.
Micro 4/3rds holds the advantage in terms of IBIS (in-body image stabilization) thanks to the small sensor size. Paired with Olympus lenses, this allows for up to 7.5 stops of stabilization; photos can be exposed for as long as 10 seconds hand-held!
Those who focus on Landscape or astrophotography will love the Live ND (neutral density filter) mode. It intelligently takes long exposures, adjusts it to match the selected ND filter setting, and stitches images together.
9. Panasonic LUMIX DC-G9
Underrated Micro 4/3rds frame option from Panasonic
Weight: 658g | Sensor size: Micro 4/3rds (17.4 x 13mm) | Resolution: 20 megapixels | Lens Mount: Micro 4/3rds | Autofocus Points: 225 contrast-detection points | Image Stabilization: Yes | Maximum Video Resolution: UHD 4K (3,840 x 2,160) at 60fps | Battery Life: Up to 400 shots per charge
Another Micro 4/3rds offering, the Panasonic LUMIX DC-G9 is one of the most underrated cameras on the market. At 658g it’s weight is in line with the Sony bodies–not compact but not heavy. It’s also fully weather-sealed with a rugged magnesium chassis.
The IBIS-stabilized 20.3-megapixel sensor offers up to 60 fps with AF locked and 20 fps using AF-C. This speed is bolstered by 225 contrast-detection points.
Like the LUMIX S1R, the G9 uses Depth from Defocus for speedy AF acquisition. It offers most of the tricks of the S1R, including High-Res mode (80 MP RAW/JPEG) and the 6K Photo and Post Focus modes.
If you love Olympus handling you may not be converted, but Panasonic’s menu systems are just as intuitive, making the G9 a strong contender for the title of the best mirrorless camera in 2019.
How to Choose the Best Mirrorless Camera for You
This can be tricky, for two reasons.
The first is that there’s so much competition and none of them are bad options. And secondly, the right camera for you won’t be the right camera for someone else.
The right choice for you boils down to the specifications you need, let me talk you through them.
Which Size Sensor Do You Need?
Sensor size is forever contentious but the keyword here is ‘need’.
Speaking as a crop-sensor shooter, I’m amused by how well ‘full-frame’ has captured the imagination of the photography world.
I see questions on whether one should ‘downgrade’ or ‘upgrade’ sensors regularly. But I think there’s a bit of confusion as to why sensors don’t come in grades, but rather choices with pros and cons.
Cropped Sensor vs Full-Frame
Which sensor do you need? That depends on what you intend to shoot.
Each of the sensor formats has advantages and disadvantages. Cropped sensor advantages include:
- Faster readout speeds that allow for higher burst rates compared to larger ones (unless you pay more);
- Bodies are smaller and less expensive;
- Maximize depth of field: cropped sensor depth of field increases 1-2 stops for a given aperture, i.e. f2.8 on an APS-C camera will give f4 depth of field on a full-frame camera with f2.8 exposure; and
Micro 4/3rds are sometimes dismissed because of how quickly noise becomes a factor in low-light work.
It’s true that IBIS can’t completely negate the advantages of larger-format sensors. However, if you need reach, depth of field, and high frame rates, Micro 4/3rds reigns supreme. Sports, outdoor events, and wildlife photography shooters have a lot to gain here.
Advantages of Larger sensors:
- More potential for light-gathering;
- Shallower depth of field at a given aperture; and
- Gains in dynamic range and high ISO performance.
But in everyday shooting environments, you’ll be hard-pressed to tell the difference. For anyone who shoots events, landscape, architectural photography, and portrait photography, full-frame sensors will be best.
How Many Megapixels Do You Need?
Image resolution for the professional photographer usually comes down to the size of prints you want.
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A 24-megapixel sensor is enough to print a 20×13 inch image at 300 DPI (or dots per inch)–the best quality resolution for photo books and prints. However, you can make do with less, depending on your needs.
Higher resolution sensors offer more room for cropping if the composition needs adjustment. Removing half the pixels from a 61MP image will still result in a sharp shot that can be used for prints and online sharing.
Furthermore, file size goes up along with resolution. Bear in mind your computer will need more RAM and processor power to import, edit, and export large files created by high-resolution sensors.
Time to Go Mirrorless
So now is the time to swap your DSLR for mirrorless technology. Your choice of the best mirrorless camera will depend on your shooting style, subjects, and print needs.
Megapixels, features, and DxO charts are important, but I think we should also find cameras we enjoy handling. If you’re unsure which to go for, why not rent a few you like the look of?
Above all, think carefully about what sort of photos you capture and the camera features needed to capture those. Every camera here is a powerhouse, so don’t get too caught up in megapixels or frame rates.
Disclaimer: Our reviews are based on personal experience and extensive research by qualified photographers. We pride in keeping these reviews unbiased. Products may contain affiliate links from which we earn a small commission without any additional cost to you. Your support funds our research as well as PhotoBlog.com platform.
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