The best mirrorless cameras

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What’s the best mirrorless camera you can buy right now? That depends on a few factors like your preferred photography style and budget – but whatever your answers to those, our guide will help you find the right one for you. 

While DSLRs still have their place for traditionalists, there’s no doubt that mirrorless cameras are the most exciting models around for their cutting-edge features and versatility. But what exactly is a mirrorless camera? And what should you bear in mind before deciding which one’s the right one for you? We’ve answered all this and more below. 

Looking for a quick answer to the best mirrorless camera for most people? Our top choice right now is the Nikon Z6. It’s small and light for a full-frame camera, without compromising on Nikon’s signature handling, and combines great image quality with a superb electronic viewfinder. While it doesn’t have many native lenses right now, you can pair it with hundreds of existing ones via an adaptor.     

Mirrorless vs DSLR: what’s the difference?

Mirrorless cameras allow you to swap and change lenses like on a DSLR, but because the mirror that you normally find inside a DSLR has been removed, the camera can be made much more compact. 

No mirror means that instead of optical viewfinders to frame your subject, mirrorless cameras rely on electronic viewfinders. Be aware, though, that most cheaper mirrorless cameras don’t come with viewfinders at all – instead, you compose the photo on the rear screen, just as you do with most compact cameras or smartphones.

This is a boon in terms of keeping size and cost down, but if you’re looking to start taking your photography seriously then a viewfinder is nigh-on essential. This is because it lets you compose photos in all conditions, even sunny ones that can render a rear screen useless.

You’ll find that mirrorless cameras are also known as compact system cameras (or CSCs for short), with models ranging from the simple to use beginner models to sophisticated full-frame monsters that rival the very best DSLRs out there.

Shopping during Black Friday

The Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals period is a great time to pick up a new mirrorless camera bargain. Many of the big retailers will have some great mirrorless camera offers, with particular focus often on the cheap or mid-range products. Don’t necessarily expect the top-line or flagship models to suddenly come down dramatically in price – while best sellers often don’t need the incentive of a deal to shift units. If you like the look of one of the fantastic models found on this page, waiting until Black Friday might not necessarily bag you a great bargain. Our handy widgets will always show you the latest and best camera prices, but if you’re less bothered about a specific brand or model, keep an eye on our Black Friday cameras deals page for the latest offers.

Why are mirrorless cameras better?

Is a mirrorless camera better than a DSLR then? There are still quite a few pros and cons to both designs, so if you want to find out more, read this: Mirrorless vs DSLR cameras: 10 key differences. 

Mirrorless cameras certainly offer more choice. If you’re looking to buy a DSLR, there’s only really two main players in the shape of Canon and Nikon. If you opt for a mirrorless camera, the choice is much broader, with the likes of Canon, Panasonic, Fujifilm, Sony, Olympus and Leica all offering a wide range of cameras to suit most budgets. 

Right now, every major camera manufacturer has something to shout about, and their latest models are different enough from their rivals to stand out in some way.

While it would be very easy to select 10 high-end models to make up our pick of the best mirrorless camera, we’ve tried to pick out some more affordable options as well. These models might not be dripping with features, but they represent great options for new users and those on a budget. That said, if you’re looking specifically for a budget mirrorless camera, take a look at our best mirrorless camera for beginners buying guide

So whether you’re after a better camera than the one featured on your smartphone or are looking for an advanced, high-end model to push your creativity even further, read on to find out what are the best mirrorless cameras you can buy right now. 

Best mirrorless cameras 2019 at a glance

  1. Nikon Z6
  2. Sony Alpha A7 III
  3. Fujifilm X-T30
  4. Sony Alpha A7R IV
  5. Panasonic Lumix S1R
  6. Canon EOS RP
  7. Olympus OM-D E-M1 X
  8. Panasonic Lumix G9
  9. Canon EOS M6 Mark II
  10. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III

The best mirrorless cameras 2019:

1. Nikon Z6

This is the best all-round mirrorless camera you can buy right now

Sensor size: Full-frame | Resolution: 24.5MP | Viewfinder: 3,690K dots | Monitor: 3.2-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 2,100K dots | Autofocus: 273-point AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 12fps | Movies: 4K at 30p | User level: Intermediate/expert

Refined handling

Great image quality

Limited buffer depth

Only one card slot

Sony may have got to the full-frame mirrorless market before the likes of Canon, Nikon and Panasonic, but now that all four are active in the sector, the playing field is starting to level a little. And our nod right now goes to Nikon’s Z6, which combines a sound 24.5MP sensor with a super-sharp 3.69 million dot EVF and lovely 4K video into a compact shell. The beefy grip makes for great handling while the FTZ adapter that’s either bundled with the camera or available separately means you can carry on using hundreds of F-mount lenses, with autofocus and auto-exposure maintained. It’s not perfect, but a recent firmware update gave it a nice boost – and now that its price has fallen some way it’s even more accessible than ever. We love it.

(Image credit: Future)

2. Sony Alpha A7 III

Not new, but massively popular for good reason

Sensor size: Full-frame | Resolution: 24.2MP | Viewfinder: 2,359K dots | Monitor: 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 921K dots | Autofocus: 693-point AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 10fps | Movies: 4K at 30p | User level: Intermediate/expert

693-point AF system

10fps burst shooting

Limited touchscreen control

Slight ‘tearing’ in EVF

The Alpha A7 III may sit on the bottom rung of Sony’s full-frame mirrorless camera range, its siblings being the pricier A7S II and A7R III, but it should no longer be seen as the poor relation to its pricier siblings. This is a brilliant choice for the enthusiast photographer or pro, and when you look at the specification, it’s easy to see why. Sony has taken some of the best bits from its flagship Alpha A9 and A7R III cameras, and distilled them into a single camera that offers a fantastic mix of performance and image quality. The full-frame 24.2MP sensor is excellent in a range of lighting conditions, while the advanced 693-point AF looks set to get even better with a firmware upgrade in April. This is one advanced camera that’s at a great price considering the features and performance on offer.

(Image credit: Future)

3. Fujifilm X-T30

Great stills, cracking video and beautiful design – the X-T30 is a little gem

Sensor size: APS-C | Resolution: 26.1MP | Viewfinder: 2,360K dots | Monitor: 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen display, 1,040K dots | Autofocus: 425-point AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 8fps | Movies: 4K at 30p | User level: Intermediate

Robust, stylish body

Great image and video quality

Some cramped controls

EVF magnification isn’t great

Looking for a small, powerful mirrorless camera with a great design and lens system? The Fujifilm X-T30 is our favorite right now. While we love its bigger brother, the X-T3 (position number 8), this model’s combination of size and all-round performance makes it one of our favorite cameras of 2019. You get more than you might expect from the X-T3, including the same 26.1MP APS-C sensor and processing engine, making it suitable for everything from sports snapping to landscape photography. This is helped by a phase-detect AF system that covers almost the entire frame, plus the usual range of Fujifilm’s excellent Film Simulation modes, which subtly ape the company’s old film looks. Throw in the option of recording 4K video and you have a fantastic all-rounder that actively encourages you to get out and shoot.  

(Image credit: Future)

4. Sony A7R IV

Sony’s megapixel monster gets a major boost

Sensor size: Full-frame | Resolution: 61MP | Viewfinder: 5,760K dots | Monitor: 3-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 21,400K dots | Autofocus: 567 PDAF + 425 CDAF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 1fps | Movies: 4K at 30p | User level: Expert

Improved ergonomics

Fast, intelligent AF

Well-behaved metering system

Brilliant viewfinder

Rolling shutter noticeable in videos

No in-camera RAW processing

No motion correction in Pixel Shift mode

Sony’s A7R line of cameras has been all about resolution, and the A7R IV delivers a lot more of it than ever before. Its class-leading 61MP delivers an excellent level of detail, augmented by the impressive Pixel Shift Multi Shooting mode. An update to the autofocus system has made it faster and smarter, with face- and eye-detect AF working amazingly well – but with Sony at the helm, there was no doubt about that. The camera body is now even more sturdy and better equipped to handle the worst of the elements while out on field, while the deeper grip makes it comfortable to use over long periods of time. Although the addition of top plate command dial makes the mode dial a little harder to access. And while the A7R series wasn’t designed with videographers in mind, video quality here is excellent, even though the rolling shutter effect is an issue.

Panasonic Lumix S1R

(Image credit: Future)

5. Panasonic Lumix S1R

This newcomer packs a few special tricks over its rivals

Sensor size: Full frame | Resolution: 47.3MP | Viewfinder: 5,760,000 dots | Monitor: 3.0-inch tri-axis tilt display, 2,100K dots | Autofocus: Contrast-detect AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 9fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Intermediate/professional

Stunning viewfinder

187MP capture option

AF system a little behind rivals

Big, heavy and pricey

The S1R is the first of two camera’s in Panasonic’s S series, and it arrives with some mightily impressive technology. That 5.76million-dot viewfinder is streets ahead of the 3.69million-dot alternatives in rival bodies, while the rugged build, effective sensor-based stabilization and cracking 4K video show it to be a camera that excels in a wealth of areas. The 47.3MP full-frame sensor also manages to perform brilliantly in good light and bad, and the further option to output images at 187MP may seem a little crazy, but it opens up new possibilities for cropping and for macro work. We’re very impressed.

(Image credit: Future)

6. Canon EOS RP

The cheapest full-frame mirrorless camera around

Sensor: Full-frame CMOS | Megapixels: 26.2MP | Autofocus: 5,655-point AF | Screen type: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Enthusiast

Great value for money

Tiny and light body

Limited native lens selection

4K video limitations

Canon’s first full-frame mirrorless camera, the EOS R, delighted in some ways and frustrated in others, but the EOS RP made a much more positive impression. While technically a more junior model and not as fully featured, its much smaller and lighter body, together with a far nicer price, means that it’s far more accessible for those who were hoping to make the jump to mirrorless but didn’t want to stretch all the way to the EOS R. Without only around 4MP difference between the two you’re not really sacrificing much in terms of sensor resolution, while the responsive touchscreen, fast autofocus and deep buffer makes it a pleasure to use in all kinds of situations. And while the native lens range for the R mount are still limited, a lens mount adapter allows users already invested in Canon’s ecosystem to use their existing EF lenses.

(Image credit: Future)

7. Olympus OM-D E-M1X

The best Micro Four Thirds camera for pros, but it comes at a price

Sensor: Four Thirds Live MOS | Megapixels: 20.4MP | Autofocus: 121-point AF | Screen type: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,037K dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 15fps (up to 60fps) | Movies: 4K | User level: Expert

Excellent handling

Superb AF performance

Brilliant image stabilization

Great 4K video quality

Noise performance not adequate

Viewfinder suffers in low light

The OM-D E-M1X may look strange to some photography fans, but if form factor isn’t an issue, then this is by far the best Micro Four Thirds (MFT) camera money can buy. In fact, if you can ignore the sensor size, this is arguably the best mirrorless camera money can buy. Despite the smaller sensor size, the E-M1X produces bigger image files than any full-frame camera or medium format camera. And if you thought that this MFT system couldn’t keep up with its new full-frame mirrorless competitors, think again – there are so many features packed into this snapper, it can put Panasonic’s Lumix S1 series and Nikon’s Z series cameras to shame. Boasting up to 60fps RAW burst speed with locked autofocus (AF) and 18fps with AF tracking, the E-M1X is clearly aimed at wildlife and sports photographers. With two image processors under the hood, it is any wonder it can achieve these speeds? Picture quality is fabulous, both with stills and video, and image stabilization is sound. The only reason it features way down in this list is because of the hefty price tag.

(Image credit: Future)

8. Panasonic Lumix G9

Uncompromized versatility

Sensor: Four Thirds Live MOS | Megapixels: 20.4MP | Autofocus: 225-area AF | Screen type: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040K dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 20fps | Movies: 4K at 60fps | User level: Enthusiast

Excellent 4K and 6K photo modes

Ergonomic handling

6.5-stop image stabilization

Dual card slots

ISO range not broad enough

Smaller screen than GH5

It might not be as great for video as the Lumix GH5, but the G9 prioritizes stills. Like Olympus OM-D E-M1X listed above, the smaller MFT sensor size is made up for by a camera that is packed full of features. Its high resolution combines eight images into a single 80MP photograph, while its amazing image stabilization allows you to shoot handheld for about a second with sharp results. Throw in 60fps shooting, polished handling and a wealth of advanced features and the Lumix G9 is a brilliant all-round mirrorless camera.

Canon EOS M6 Mark II

(Image credit: Future)

9. Canon EOS M6 Mark II

An excellent video camera to take on your travels

Sensor size: APS-C | Resolution: 32.5MP | Viewfinder: Not inbuilt | Monitor: 3.0-inch tilt-up touchscreen, 1,040K dots | Autofocus: 143-point AF | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 14fps | Movie resolution: 4K/30p | User level: Beginner/enthusiast

Small and light weight

Great tilt-up touchscreen

No built-in viewfinder

Relatively few native lenses 

Just because this little snapper doesn’t have a built-in viewfinder, doesn’t mean you can dismiss it out of hand. It more than makes up for it in its specifications list. It compact size and light weight makes it one of the best traveling companions you can get, and its 32.5MP sensor captures excellent images at 14fps. Color reproduction has always been Canon’s strong suit and you won’t hear us complain here. You won’t find built-in image stablilization, but as long as you’re aware of that you can compensate for it. You will, however, need to contend with the idea that there are limited lenses for the M-series of snappers but you can use EF and EF-S lenses via an adapter. Just steer clear of the bigger lenses as they will unbalance this tiny package.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III

10. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III

The brilliant E-M10 Mark III is a little powerhouse of a camera

Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds | Megapixels: 16.1MP | Viewfinder: 2,360K dots | Monitor: 3.0-inch tilt-angle display, 1,037K dots | Autofocus: 121-point AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 8.6fps | Movies: 4K at 30p | User level: Beginner/intermediate

Compact size, lenses too

Excellent viewfinder

Smaller sensor than some

Focus tracking could be better

The OM-D E-M10 Mark III might not be a massive leap forward over the Mark II, with much of the camera’s specification remaining the same. However, Olympus has refined and tweaked one of our favorite mirrorless cameras to make it an even more tempting proposition for new users and enthusiasts alike. Some will criticise the smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor format, but the effect on image quality is minor and it means that the lenses are as compact and lightweight as the camera itself. Sporting a five-axis image stabilization system, a very decent electronic viewfinder, an impressive 8.6fps burst shooting rate and 4K video, it’s no toy – the OM-D E-M10 Mark III is a properly powerful camera. The recently announced Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III may yet knock it out of this list when we’ve had a chance to test it properly, but for now this remains a great buy.

Also consider:

Fujifilm GFX 100

If money is no object, grab this megapixel monster

Sensor size: Medium format | Resolution: 102MP | Viewfinder: 5,760,000 dots | Monitor: 3.2-inch three-direction tilt display, 2,360K dots | Autofocus: Hybrid AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 5fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Professional

Crazy level of detail 

EVF is superb: detailed and large 

Very expensive

Vertical grip isn’t well-thought out

The GFX 100 outguns every other model in the list for native resolution, and while it has a lofty price tag to match its beefy body, it’s arguably in a league of its own right now. While it’s not the only camera capable of outputting images this detailed, it’s the fact that it does it as standard rather than through any trickery or need to use a tripod like many others that makes it special. Throw in a very competent autofocus system, sensor-based image stabilization, strong 4K video and the best EVF we’ve seen so far, and you have one supremely versatile camera. Sure, none of us can afford one, but Fujifilm deserves high praise for delivering this kind of performance at a price well below that of other high-resolution medium format cameras.

(Image credit: Future)

Sony Alpha A9

One for the pros

Sensor size: Full-frame | Resolution: 24.2MP | Viewfinder: 3,686K dots | Monitor: 3.0-inch tilt-angle screen, 1,440k dots | Autofocus: 693-point AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 20fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Expert

Incredibly fast AF

Advanced features

No viewfinder blackout

Limited touchscreen control

Weather sealing not robust

Sony quietly announced the launch of the second generation Alpha A9, but until we can test it, the original A9 remains one of the best sports and press cameras around. We can’t think of another pro-level snapper that can match the A9’s absolutely blistering performance and incredibly quick AF tracking. While the lack of an XQD card slot and limited touchscreen functionality can be disappointing, the camera’s rapid 20fps burst speed and EVF with no blackout is more than enough to convince most experts to reach for this one, if they have the money to spare. Although, with the arrival of the A9 II, the price of the original has dropped considerably.

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