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10 Best mirrorless cameras

BY Ian Evenden

11th Apr 2023 Technology

Whatever your needs, these are the most impressive mirrorless cameras on the market for aspiring or experienced photographers.

The mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, or MILC, sits in one of the most dynamic sectors of the camera market. If you’re looking for a “serious” camera, perhaps an upgrade to an old DSLR or premium compact, then the mirrorless cameras are the ones to look at right now.

Buying one means you’ll benefit from several things. Firstly, they’re smaller and lighter than the DSLR cameras that have been around for decades, digital descendants of the film SLR cameras that date back to 1861 and contain a mirror assembly that reflects light from the lens into the viewfinder, swinging up and out of the way when an exposure is taken. Most major manufacturers have now moved over to making mirrorless cameras instead of DSLRs, which means MILCs are where the latest innovations in both camera bodies and lenses are to be found, such as excellent autofocus systems and in-body stabilisation. All these cameras are also capable of shooting video.

There's also the cannibalisation of the compact camera market by phone cameras, which is pushing people to consider a small mirrorless as a step up. The perks a MILC brings include being able to change the lens, fully control the exposure, and create better looking, higher resolution images. Here are some of the best mirrorless cameras available right now.

1. A great all-rounder

Image of Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV camera

A top-quality entry-level camera for beginners and seasoned photographers alike, this retro-styled camera is built around a 20-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor. These sensors are smaller than the APS-C and full-frame sensors also commonly seen in mirrorless cameras, which means the camera bodies and lenses can be made smaller too.

As a result, the OM-D E-M10 Mark IV makes for an excellent travel camera, not requiring a particularly large bag or case to carry one around with a small selection of lenses. Of course, if your tastes run to large aperture portrait lenses or long telephotos, these are available too.

2. Retro revival

Image of Nikon Z FC camera kit

Nikon’s Z range of mirrorless cameras runs from the entry-level to the fully professional, but this one stands out because of the way it looks. Styled after the Nikon film SLRs of the 1980s, particularly the FM2, it contains a 20MP APS-C sensor and takes Nikon’s excellent range of Z-mount lenses, though an adapter for the older F-mount lenses is available.

It’s marketed as a camera for beginners, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still buy one if you know your way around a camera’s controls—the camera’s looks are bound to attract some who want a second body that looks good and is relatively unobtrusive, while anyone starting out on their photography journey will find it completely capable. However, it’s worth noting that it doesn’t come with a built-in flash.

3. Professional workhorse

Image of a Canon EOS R5 camera body only

When Canon moved from making DSLR cameras to mirrorless with the original EOS R, it wasn’t the camera many people wanted it to be. The EOS R5, released two years later, really packs in the technology and features, making it a workhorse for the professional photographer and video shooter.

With a 45MP full-frame sensor and taking RF-mount lenses, it’s capable of shooting at 20FPS using its electronic shutter, shooting 8K video, and recognising humans and animals with its tracking autofocus. And while it’s been out a few years, it doesn’t look like there's a successor on the horizon just yet, instead, Canon seems to be readying a large firmware update for the camera, which is expected to add new features such as AF vehicle tracking.

4. A great place to start

Image of a Nikon Z5 Camera

An entry-level full-frame camera from Nikon, the Z5 offers excellent autofocus with eye tracking, 24MP files, and a very reasonable price compared to some other mirrorless cameras.

Full-frame sensors are the same size as a frame of 35mm film, so if you’re used to shooting that way you’ll get a very similar experience, as smaller sensors such as APS-C and Micro Four Thirds give a different angle of view from the same lens.

And while the shooting rate of 4.5FPS isn’t going to turn the heads of sports photographers, the camera is ideal for anyone looking for a way into mirrorless cameras.

5. High-res and high-speed

Image of Fujifilm X-HE mirrorless camera

Fujifilm’s mirrorless cameras are often characterised as retro-styled Micro Four Thirds models for enthusiasts. Not so the X-H2. It has a 40MP APS-C sensor and is capable of blazing away at 15FPS (or even 20FPS if you can accept a slight crop to your images). There's 8K video too, and in-body image stabilisation.

Image quality is predictably excellent, with Fujifilm introducing new algorithms to keep on top of the image noise generated by a sensor with so many tiny pixels. You’ll need a good quality X-series lens to make the best of it though, and they don’t come cheap.

6. The most megapixels (almost)

A full-frame camera with one of the highest resolutions currently on the market, the A7R V’s 61MP sensor produces enormous files filled with detail. They take up more space and require more processing power than those from other cameras, so if you go down this route, make sure you have a computer to match.

You’re going to want to put good glass in front of such a camera, and Sony’s E-mount lenses are excellent, while there are some cheaper options from the likes of Sigma, Tamron and Samyang. With newly developed AI-assisted autofocus, a maximum framerate of 10FPS, 8K video shooting, and powerful in-body stabilisation, all in a relatively small mirrorless body, this is a fantastic package.

7. Small, light and useful

A full-frame sensor in a small body is a mirrorless speciality, and Panasonic has succeeded here with a 24.2MP camera that takes L-mount lenses including a compact 20-60mm kit zoom.

The resolution isn’t spectacularly high, the maximum framerate is only 7FPS, and it tops out at 4K video (which should be good enough for most people), but it’s also cheaper, smaller and lighter than Panasonic’s other full-frame cameras, something that will make it more attractive to travel shooters and anyone who doesn’t want to lug a bag full of heavy equipment around with them.

Panasonic uses contrast detection autofocus in its cameras, which is fine but considered inferior to the phase detection AF points you’ll see in models from other manufacturers. To compensate, the Lumix S5 has a revamped autofocus system that should mean it locks on to your subject more reliably than previous Lumix models.

8. Compact powerhouse

Image of a Sony Alpha 6600 mirrorless camera

Sony’s top APS-C mirrorless camera comes in a compact, if extremely rectangular, package, with a 24.2MP sensor and compatibility with all E-mount lenses. It’s so small it can look a little odd hanging off the back of a large lens, but there are compact lenses designed for the smaller APS-C sensors in the range that suit it better.

There's an excellent hybrid AF system that can recognise the eyes of your subject and lock onto them, 4K video shooting, in-body stabilisation, and a shooting rate of 11FPS. Being the right size (with a small lens) to fit in a coat pocket makes the A6600 a great choice for holidays, or just to carry with you wherever you go.

9. Jaw-dropping performance

Ridiculously expensive and aimed at professionals taking photos of sporting events or wildlife for publication, the R3 has a 24MP full-frame sensor and a large body with an integrated grip, so it can be used equally well in portrait and landscape orientations. It was a toss-up between the Nikon Z9 and the Canon EOS R3 for this slot, and the Canon got in because of its absurd 30FPS framerate.

It may have limited appeal—and the price only goes up when you consider the suite of top-end RF lenses you’ll need to use it to the full—but if you need some of the best tracking autofocus out there, along with the ability to shoot 6K video, there's little to touch it outside of the Z9 or Sony A1.

10. Medium format wonder

An unusual camera, in that it has a sensor that’s larger than full-frame: a 100MP medium format sensor that measures 44x33mm (for comparison, a full-frame sensor is 24x36mm). This allows unprecedented detail in your images, and combined with one of the excellent lenses available it’s capable of creating the kind of high-quality images that fashion houses and motor manufacturers demand—though can’t shoot video. You’ll need to make a significant investment, however, as the camera body plus one lens comes to around £10,000.

There's in-body stabilisation and a new phase-detect autofocus system, both of which mean it’s possible to use the camera handheld if you want to, and the body isn’t particularly large. However, this is an extreme example of a mirrorless camera, and not the sort of thing most people would pick up to take better photos of their family.

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