Action Cameras

Fast verdict: the most effective mirrorless cameras on the market

Although they’ve only been “a thing” for a little over a decade, mirrorless cameras have quickly supplanted DSLRs as enthusiasts’ photography and video capture of choice.

Key to their appeal is that they offer the flexibility and performance of a DSLR in a (generally) more compact package. That’s because while mirrorless cameras have large sensors and interchangeable lenses like a DSLR, they don’t need to pack the bulky mirror and pentaprism you’d find in a DSLR’s optical viewfinder setup. For this reason, mirrorless cameras are also referred to as compact system cameras or CSCs.

While they all have one thing in common, there are big differences in price, specs, features, and performance. This guide features our favorite models across the category: entry-level, premium, video-centric, stills-centric, and all-around. If you’re looking for a mirrorless camera and are feeling a bit overwhelmed by the vast selection, start here.

buying tips

Video, photos – or both?

Some cameras here excel at video, others are masters at stills, and one or the other is a flexible do-it-all. Consider your requirements carefully before purchasing.

Choose your sensor

From medium format to Micro Four Thirds, mirrorless camera sensors vary widely in size. A larger sensor usually means a larger, heavier camera (and often a higher price tag), but it can also give you more detail, improved low-light performance, and the ability to shoot with a shallower depth of field.

lens is more

Mirrorless cameras support interchangeable lenses, but manufacturers tend to use their own systems. Before deciding on a camera, consider what lens choices are on offer and whether they will (or will not) meet your needs.

Declining Yields

Mirrorless cameras are quite affordable to begin with, but prices for premium and even mid-range models are increasing exponentially. So consider whether a slight increase in recording speed or the ability to record 8K video instead of 4K really matters before you splurge.

Our picks of the best mirrorless cameras to buy today

Fujifilm X-T4

The flagship of Fujifilm’s retro-inspired X series, the X-T4 is a true all-rounder in the mold of Ian Botham (and thankfully lacking in Beefy’s dodgy politics and dress sense). It can deliver colorful and crisp still images at a brisk 15fps (30fps with crop) and also shoot beautiful 4K video at up to 60fps. It’s also built like a tank, making it a little cumbersome for vlogging and the like – but with its amazing battery life and reasonable price tag, we’re happy to put up with a bit of arm pain.

Canon EOS R6

Canon is arguably the world’s leading DSLR maker and has been slow to get its mirrorless action off the ground, but now the company has caught up to up-and-coming rivals like Sony, Panasonic and Fujifilm thanks to standout models like the EOS R6. With a 20.1-megapixel full-frame sensor and quasi-DSLR design (albeit smaller and lighter), it’s a fast and well-equipped all-rounder that’s just as comfortable capturing 4K footage as it is capturing crisp stills on bad ones lighting conditions. It’s slightly more expensive than its closest competitors, and long video recordings can cause overheating, but we love the nimble autofocus and in-body stabilization.

Panasonic Lumix GH5 Mark II

The first GH5 was a groundbreaking mirrorless camera and the first 4K all-rounder that didn’t feel like there was any significant compromise on either video or stills. This 2021 update isn’t a huge step up from the original model, but for its price it’s still a brilliantly versatile camera. Vloggers will love the wide range of video options (including wireless live streaming – a first for a mirrorless camera), in-body stabilization, and lightweight, weatherproof construction. Slightly slow AF performance and the smaller sensor make the performance solid rather than heavenly, but this is still a fantastically flexible camera.

Sony A7SIII

Don’t let the “low” 12.1MP resolution fool you: the Sony A7S III is arguably the best mirrorless choice for filmmakers out there. Capable of capturing 4K footage at up to 120 fps, outputting pristine 16-bit RAW footage to an external recorder via HDMI and recording in a dizzying array of profiles, speeds and resolutions, it delivers video with gorgeous dynamic range and detail. Class-leading real-time AF and in-body stabilization give its video credentials even more weight, and the superb sensitivity of the full-frame sensor makes it a stunning low-light performer for stills and video.

Fujifilm GFX100S

Fujifilm has done something special by putting a huge 102-megapixel medium format sensor in such a compact camera. With fast AF and in-body stabilization, the GFX100S is as close to a point-and-shoot medium format camera as the world has ever seen, although it’s still chunky by mirrorless standards – not to mention shockingly expensive. And yet, when you see the beautiful bokeh, wide dynamic range and pin-sharp detail that the huge images deliver, you could be on the phone with the bank manager directly. A stunning, pro-quality camera that’s surprisingly easy to live with.

Nikon Z50

As the first model in Nikon’s Z-mount series with an APS-C sensor, the Z50 is aimed primarily at newcomers to the world of interchangeable lens photography. With its affordable price, lightweight plastic construction and comfortable handling, it’s an ideal first “real” camera for those looking to improve their skills. The 20.9-megapixel sensor isn’t stabilized or particularly high-resolution, but it’s capable of capturing engaging stills and 4K video, while the Z50’s body combines with Nikon’s 16-50mm pancake zoom lens for a compact and capable travel-friendly setup.

Sony a6100

Another killer entry-level APS-C, the a6100 is dinky even by mirrorless standards, and both its video (4K at 30fps or 1080p at 120fps is available) and photo performance are quite good. They’re backed by an excellent Hybrid AF setup that impresses with its speed, tracking and detection abilities, although the lack of in-body image stabilization is disappointing for the 24.2MP sensor (if not unexpected on a cheaper model ). Be warned, vloggers and selfie fans: the tilting screen can’t face forward, so selfies can be tricky.

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro

To get straight to the point: when it comes to still images, the PCC6K Pro is only marginally better than a turnip. But who cares? Blackmagic fulfilled a budding cinematographer’s dream, built for filmmaking. Lightweight and blessed with a huge 5-inch screen, it can capture 12-bit RAW or lossless ProRes footage at 6K resolution with 13 stops of dynamic range, and works with Canon’s hugely popular EF mount – which means there are hundreds of lenses you can try. It’s not for newcomers, mind you: without IBIS or AF tracking, only seasoned video warriors need apply.

Related Articles