Mirrorless cameras are the trailblazers of the camera world. Unlike DSLRs, which have optical viewfinders and internal mirrors, they’re pioneering a completely electronic form of a composition that is evolving quickly and bringing lots of exciting new features.
These include everything from electronic viewfinders (or EVFs) to autofocus systems that cover the entire frame, rather than just a diamond in the centre. But with mirrorless cameras coming in all shapes and sizes, it can be difficult to choose which one’s right for you. Luckily, we’ve rounded up the best ones for every type of photographer.
best overall mirrorless camera
The Sony A7R III is our pick of the best overall mirrorless camera because it combines a high resolution 42.4MP sensor with seriously high speed 10fps continuous shooting. The A7R III is as versatile as a professional mirrorless camera can get.
If you want a small, well-built entrée to mirrorless photography, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is great value and ideal for beginners. For those who prefer to avoid editing and just want to shoot high quality JPEGs, Fujifilm’s X-T20 is an excellent choice. And if you’re really serious about your snapping and want the best mirrorless camera around, then it’s hard to look past the Sony A7 III.
There are strong rumours that both Canon and Nikon will be announcing their first full-frame mirrorless cameras later this year, possibly at the Photokina show in September 2018. We’ll bring you news of those as soon as it breaks, but in the meantime here are the best mirrorless cameras you can buy today.
If you’re in the market for a different style of camera head to one of these more specific round-ups:
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is our pick for best value mirrorless camera. Overall, we consider this a great camera for both newcomers and mirrorless camera enthusiasts alike. £649.00
best value mirrorless camera
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is our pick for best value mirrorless camera. Overall, we consider this a great camera for both newcomers and mirrorless camera enthusiasts alike.
How we test mirrorless cameras
We put every mirrorless camera we test through a series of rigorous tests to analyse how each model performs. All results are analysed by the very best industry software. This makes our reviews the most authoritative of any you’ll read.
We test for colour – different sensor and camera image processors can interpret colour differently, while this can also shift at different ISO sensitivities. We then get down to the nitty-gritty of resolution, with our lab tests showing us exactly how much detail each camera’s sensor can resolve. Even though cameras can share identical pixel counts, some perform better than others. Then we look at image noise, since different cameras can produce cleaner images at higher ISOs than others.
Finally, we get out and shoot with every camera in real-world conditions, just as you will, to find out how they perform in day-to-day use.
Related: Looking for some good deals on mirrorless cameras? Make sure you check out our Amazon Prime Day 2018 round-up in the run-up to the big day on July 16.
Sony A7 III
- Excellent value for money
- Improved battery stamina
- Fast and responsive autofocus system
- Revised button layout for intuitive control
- AF point illumination could be improved
- Convoluted menu system
- Thin plastic port covers aren’t weather-sealed
- Handles poorly with large gloves in cold climates
The Sony A7 III is a sensational mirrorless camera that improves on the Sony A7 II and introduces many of the niceties of the A7R III and A9, at a price that falls below £2000 from launch. Sony calls the A7 III its most basic full-frame camera in the Alpha 7 series, but it’s far from lacking when you take a closer look at what features it offers for the money.
It’s equipped with a 24.2-megapixel full-frame sensor, which benefits from backside-illuminated architecture. You get a wide ISO range that can be expanded to ISO 50-204,800, fast continuous burst shooting up to 10fps with autofocus and exposure adjustment, and a fully electronic shutter, making it possible to shoot silently when you want to avoid disturbing a subject.
The headline feature of the A7 II was its 5-axis in-body stabilisation. This advanced IS system carries over to the A7 III, but now offers up to 5 stops of stabilisation compared to 4.5 stops on its predecessor. Another improvement sees the A7 III use the same uprated NP-FZ100 battery as the A7R III and A9, offering over twice the capacity of the old NP-FW50. It also gains twin SD card slots, but only one supports the UHS-II type.
In terms of autofocus, the A7 II’s AF system has been replaced by a complex arrangement of 693 phase-detection points and 425 contrast-detection points. These cover 93% of the frame. Autofocus is further improved by employing the same AF advancements as used in the Sony A9. The difference in the speed and accuracy of the A7 III’s focusing is noticeable coming from the older A7 II.
With a good level of customisation and a revised button layout that makes operation more intuitive, the A7 III is an extremely enjoyable camera to use. It inherits the AF joystick from the A7R III and presents a new exposure lock (AEL) button below the exposure-compensation dial, a new AF-ON button, and an improved rear scroll dial that’s far less fiddly.
Other improvements on the A7 III are found at the rear, where a 2.3m-dot EVF with 0.78x magnification and 3in 922k-dot LCD touchscreen take pride of place. The EVF has a lower resolution than the A7R III, but is complete with Zeiss T* coatings to reduce obtrusive reflections.
The A7 III has come on a long way from the original A7 and A7 II. It does exactly what serious photographers want in a body that’s smaller and lighter than rival DSLRs. It’s quick, it’s highly versatile and delivers excellent image quality when more is asked from the sensor in low light.
Sony has made a superb all-rounder with the A7 III. By pricing it under £2000 (body only), it’ll appeal to a huge number of photographers who are looking to advance to full-frame, as well as those considering the switch from DSLR to mirrorless.
It seems likely that Canon and Nikon will release direct rivals to the A7 III in 2018, but Sony has stolen a mirrorless march on them both – the A7 series continues to get more appealing, and right now the A7 III is our favourite all-round mirrorless camera.
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III
- Compact, retro body
- Excellent JPEG image quality
- Superb in-body image stabilisation works with every lens
- Fast, accurate autofocus with static subjects
- Over-simplified in-camera raw conversion
- Less reliable autofocus with moving subjects
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III updates the two-year-old Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II. While the two cameras share broadly similar specifications and features, the user interface of the latest model has been radically overhauled in order to make the camera easier to use. That said, there are some new additions too.
The E-M10 Mark III is fitted with a 16MP Micro Four Thirds sensor, and while this provides the same resolution as its predecessor Olympus claims that the newer model offers superior performance in low-light. This is most likely on account of the E-M10 Mark III’s sensor being paired with Olympus’ latest TruePic VIII image processor – the same one used in the flagship OM-D E-M1 Mark II. The most notable benefit this brings to the E-M10 Mark III is the ability to record 4K video at up to 30fps, along with 120fps slow-motion video at 720p HD. Sadly there’s no way to attach an external microphone to the E-M10 Mark III though, nor does it have a headphone output.
The other main improvement is its autofocus module, which now utilises a 121-point contrast detect system compared to the 81-point system of the E-M10 Mark II. The AF points cover practically the entire frame and while focus acquisition isn’t quite as fast as some of the hybrid AF systems employed by other mirrorless manufacturers it’s still impressively quick. Olympus’ in-camera 5-axis image stabilisation technology is also on hand to provide up to four stops of shutter speed compensation – even with non-stabilised lenses attached.
Though it lacks the weather sealing of models higher up the Olympus range it nonetheless feels solid and sits in the hand nicely thanks to its redesigned handgrip and sculpted thumb rest. While buttons and controls fall in the same place as previous E-M10 models, some of their functions have been re-assigned as part of the overhaul to the user-interface. This also extends to the in-camera menu, which is now much simpler to navigate. Overall, it’s a great little camera for newcomers to mirrorless and enthusiasts alike.
Panasonic Lumix GX800
- Small and easy to use
- Capable of 4K Video and 4K Photo
- Cheapest Panasonic CSC around
- No eye viewfinder
Panasonic offers a generous range of mirrorless models to suit all price points and levels of ability. Released at the start of 2017, the Lumix GX800 is Panasonic’s current entry-level mirrorless model and, as such, is primarily aimed at casual users looking for an easy-to-use interchangeable-lens camera that’s capable of discernibly better image quality than a smartphone or budget compact.
The GX800 is built around the same 16MP Live MOS sensor as the more advanced GX80, which results in a similarly high standard of image quality overall. The GX800’s optical low-pass filter has also been removed for enhanced fine detail. Image processing is taken care of via Panasonic’s proprietary Venus Engine, which facilitates a native sensitivity range of ISO 200-25,600 (plus an extended lower setting of ISO 100) and a top continuous shooting speed of 5fps.
In addition the GX800 is also capable of recording 4K video at up to 30fps, and comes with Panasonic’s innovative 4K Photo mode, which enables 8MP still images to be extracted from 4K video footage in a variety of ways to ensure that you never miss a moment.
In terms of size and weight the GX800 is the smallest and lightest mirrorless camera in the current Lumix range. On top of this, it also benefits from some retro rangefinder styling, giving it an undoubtedly stylish appearance. While buttons are a little scarce and the camera lacks an electronic viewfinder – or indeed any means to attach one – the rear display flips up by 180 degrees so that it can be made to face the same direction as the lens for easy selfies. Better still, the rear display doubles up as a touchscreen, providing intuitive control over the camera.
Canon EOS M50
- Compact size and light weight make it easy to carry everywhere
- Excellent image quality, with reliable metering and auto white balance
- Quick and accurate autofocus, even with adapted EF-mount DSLR lenses
- Easy-to-use interface that still gives extensive control over settings
- Single-dial control slower to use than twin-dial competitors
- Overly contrasty viewfinder blocks up shadow details
- Poorly implemented manual focus magnification
- Very small range of native EF-M lenses
The Canon EOS M50 slots into the company’s lineup of mirrorless cameras between the EOS M100 and EOS M6. It offers a similar degree of external control to the firm’s beginner-friendly EOS 200D DSLR, but with an electronic viewfinder built-in, alongside a fully-articulated touchscreen.
It’s built around a new generation of Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF sensor, which is now capable of phase-detection autofocus across a wider area of the frame. With 24.1MP resolution, it offers a sensitivity range of ISO 100-25,600 that’s expandable to ISO 51,200. Continuous shooting is a real strength of this camera: 10fps with focus fixed, or 7.4fps with focus adjusted between shots.
For the first time on an EOS model, the EOS M50 provides a silent shooting mode that uses a fully electronic shutter. You get Canon’s Auto Lighting Optimiser for balancing shadows and highlights in high contrast scenes and there’s a good selection of basic modes and subject-based scene modes for beginners to start with before they progress.
Most notably, the EOS M50 marks the debut of the firm’s latest DIGIC 8 processor, making it the first Canon consumer camera capable of recording 4K video.
As you’d expect, Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth connectivity options are all available, with the latter capable of forming an always-on connection to your smartphone using the free Camera Connect app for Android or iOS. When sharing photos, you can either push your favourite shots from the camera to your phone while browsing in playback mode, or view your images on your phone and pull them across.
The EOS M50 is equipped with a 2.36-million dot, 0.39-type EVF with a magnification of around 0.62x. Beneath the EVF is a 3-inch 1.04m-dot LCD, with a fully articulated design. It can tilt upwards or downwards for waist-level or overhead shooting in either portrait or landscape format, face fully forwards for selfies, or even fold away with the screen facing inwards to protect it from scratches.
Autofocus performance is as good as you could hope for: it’s silent and goes about its business accurately. The EOS M50 also works remarkably well with Canon EF-mount DSLR lenses using the Canon EF EOS M-mount adapter that can be picked up for around £109.
With the EOS M50, Canon has produced a very likeable camera that manages to be simple and approachable for beginners, while also offering a full degree of manual control for enthusiasts. It has some stiff competition in the market and the only major thing it has against it is the limited number of lenses that are currently available in the Canon EF-M lens range.
- Excellent image quality
- Advanced AF system
- Tactile controls
- Brilliant handling
- Poor battery life
Released at the start of 2017, the X-T20 succeeds 2015’s X-T10 model bringing with it a range of improvements that are, at least in part, borrowed from Fujifilm’s flagship X-T2 model. This includes Fujifilm’s latest X-Trans CMOS II sensor, which provides 24.3MP of effective resolution compared to the X-T10’s 16MP. This is paired with Fujifilms’s X Processor Pro image processor to provide a native sensitivity range of ISO 200-12,800 that can be further expanded to the equivalent of ISO 100-51,200. While continuous shooting remains at a steady 8fps using the mechanical shutter, the X-T20 can also shoot at up to 14fps via its electronic shutter.
The X-T20’s hybrid autofocus system has also been improved and now employs a total of 91 AF points, compared to 49 on the X-T10. The new AF module includes 49 phase-detection AF points, located in the central portion of the viewfinder. The rear LCD also benefits from a higher resolution (1.04m-dots vs 922k-dots) and touchscreen control – a feature that the X-T10 lacks altogether. In addition, the X-T20 is also capable of recording 4K video whereas the X-T10 maxed out at 1080p Full HD capture.
The X-T20 retains the same 2.36m-dot electronic viewfinder as its predecessor, and this provides 100% coverage at a magnification of 0.62x. In terms of design, the X-T20 shares the same stylish retro rangefinder aesthetic of its predecessor, with milled aluminium dials on the top-plate and dual control wheels providing a pleasingly tactile user experience. While the predominantly magnesium-alloy construction looks great and adds undoubted durability to the camera overall, the X-T20 is not weather sealed like the more expensive X-T2.
Panasonic Lumix G9
- Superb design and handling
- Excellent 4K & 6K photo modes
- Well supported by Micro Four Thirds lenses
- Offers high-resolution 40MP & 80MP modes
- Positioning of AF toggle could be better
- Lacks battery level indication as percentage
- Burst shot mode descriptions aren’t clear
- No in-camera panoramic mode
The Panasonic G9 sits beside Panasonic’s premium GH5 and GH5S models in the Lumix G lineup. Whereas the GH series has always set about appealing to videographers, the G9 is out to fulfil the demands of passionate stills-focused photographers. It does this with an impressive specification, however it’s the blistering speeds that it’s capable of that really sets it apart from many other cameras.
Shooting continuously in its AF-S mode, the G9 can rattle out a burst at 12fps for as many as 60 frames in RAW, or at 60fps for 50 frames in RAW by activating the camera’s electronic shutter. Switching the camera over to its continuous AF mode (AF-C) sees the burst speed drop, but to a highly respectable 9fps using the mechanical shutter or 20fps using the electronic shutter.
The G9’s new 5-axis Dual I.S II image stabiliser, which offers 6.5 stops of compensation to counteract camera shake when shooting stills or movies, also has a dual-purpose. It allows the camera to offer a new 80-megapixel high-resolution mode whereby the sensor is shifted precisely between eight shots to create a single image with much finer detail. It’s wonderfully executed and is so simply to use.
There’s so much more to like about the camera. It has a top-plate LCD like you get on most DSLRs, a superb 3680k-dot resolution electronic viewfinder with 0.83x magnification, and a sensitive 3-inch, 1040k-dot vari-angle touchscreen. It combines all of the above with a spritely autofocus system, relying once again on a formula of contrast detection and Depth From Defocus (DFD) technology.
It may lack a really high-end feel and an in-camera panoramic mode, but it’s an incredibly versatile mirrorless camera that’s very capable of delivering satisfying results in the hands of those who love photography. There’s great value to be had from buying the Panasonic Lumix G9 and it’s by far the company’s best stills camera to date.
- X-Trans CMOS sensor
- Great tracking performance
- Useful electronic viewfinder
- Capable of 4K video shooting
- No touchscreen
- Requires battery grip for top performance
- No in-body image stabilisation
The Fujifilm X-T2 sits alongside the X-Pro2 near the top of Fujifilm’s mirrorless lineup, just below the new flagship X-H1. The main difference between the two is that the X-Pro2 is targeted more at street photographers who covet its hybrid viewfinder, while the X-T2 is more of an all-rounder that can be easily used with larger telephoto lenses and for shooting video.
This means it has some extra features over the X-Pro2, including 4K video, an articulated rear screen and a superior EVF. On the flipside, the X-T2 lacks the hybrid optical/EVF viewfinder of the X-Pro2. In terms of design, the X-T2 closely follows 2014’s X-T1 – with a sculpted handgrip and raised EVF, whereas the X-Pro2 follows a more classic retro-rangefinder aesthetic. Both cameras benefit from solid magnesium-alloy construction and weather-sealing.
Internally, the X-T2 is built around the excellent 24.3MP X-Trans CMOS III APS-C sensor and an X-Processor Pro image processor. The X-T2’s mechanical shutter offers a decent top speed of 1/8000sec, although switching to the electronic shutter increases this to 1/32,000sec. Continuous shooting, meanwhile, maxes out at 8fps unaided, though this can be increased all the way up to 14fps by attaching the optional VPB-XT2 Power Booster grip (£249).
Autofocus is taken care of via an advanced hybrid AF module that incorporates 325 individual AF points, 169 of which are of the phase-detection type. While coverage doesn’t quite stretch to 100% of the viewfinder, focus acquisition times are impressively fast, which is to say all but instantaneous in good light.
The X-T2 also boasts a number of useful AF-C customisation modes, which can be used to more accurately track moving subjects in a range of ways. This helps to make the it a great choice for sports and action photographers. Last but not least the X-T2 is also the first model in the range to support 4K video capture, with an external microphone port handily located on the side of the camera.
While a Fujifilm X-T3 is rumoured for late 2018, this is far from certain – and in terms of looks, build quality, features and performance, the X-T2 remains hard to beat as a mirrorless all-rounder.
Olympus OM-D E-M1 II
- Long battery life
- Cinema 4K
- High resolution viewfinder
- Excellent tracking focus
- Very expensive
- Strange menu setup
- Only one UHS-II memory card slot
In recent years the digital camera industry has seen a move towards the use of ultra-fast image processors that can handle the increased data produced by high-resolution sensors and speedily process it, thereby enabling photographers to shoot extended bursts at high speed for longer than was previously possible. Of course, this is especially valuable to sports and action photographers but equally useful to wildlife shooters too. Released early in 2016, the flagship Olympus OM-D E-M1 II epitomises this new breed of camera in that it’s built from the ground up for speed and performance.
While the OM-D E-M1 II’s 20.4MP sensor represents a step up from the 16MP sensor of the original OM-D E-M1, it’s the TruPic VIII image processor that really makes the OM-D E-M1 II tick. This utilises two quad core processors, one of which is assigned to image processing duties while the other drives the OM-D E-M1 II’s autofocus system. This enables the OM-D E-M1 II to shoot continuously at 18fps via the mechanical shutter while maintaining active AF. If you want to shoot even faster, the E-M1’s electronic shutter can be employed to facilitate speeds of up to 60fps, albeit with focus locked on the first frame.
Autofocus is another area where the OM-D E-M1 II shines. Whereas the original OM-D EM-1 used a 37-point system, the OM-D E-M1 II gets a more advanced 121-point system that covers around 80% of the frame with on-sensor phase-detection AF points, all of which are of the cross-type variety. Used to track moving subjects, the AF system performs exceptionally well. Furthermore the OM-D also benefits from built-in 5-axis image stabilisation technology, which provides up to 6.5 stops of compensation.
Elsewhere the OM-D E-M1 II gets 4K video recording at up to 30fps along with twin SD card slots and built-in Wifi. In terms of construction, the OM-D E-M1 II benefits from durable magnesium alloy construction and is weather-sealed against dust and moisture. For those looking to shoot at speed, the OM-D E-M1 II is definitely one to put on the shortlist.
Sony A7R III
- Phenomenal image quality in almost any situation
- Compact, lightweight design with well-placed controls
- Superb electronic viewfinder
- In-body image stabilisation gives sharper images with any lens
- AF area is invisible when moved using the joystick
- Rear screen only tilts up or down
- Handgrip too close to the lens for shooting with gloves
The Sony A7R III is an extraordinary mirrorless camera that combines high resolution (42.4MP) with high speed (10fps continuous shooting) and sensational high-ISO performance. It follows on from the much-loved Sony A7R II, with a compact, SLR-styled body and central electronic viewfinder, whilst inheriting many of the best features from the company’s speed demon, the Sony A9.
The A7R III’s main rival is the Nikon D850, which is similarly priced (£3500) and is also aimed at serious photographers who desire the perfect blend of resolution, speed and performance. Autofocus on the A7R III uses a hybrid system covering most of the image area, with 399 phase-detection and 425 contrast-detection points.
As well as including 5-axis in-body image stabilisation that works with practically any lens, the A7R III uses the same uprated NP-FZ100 battery as the A9, offering over twice the capacity of the old NP-FW50. It also gains twin SD card slots, but only one of these supports the faster UHS-II type. A couple of others things you don’t get that you might expect for the price are in-camera RAW conversion or a built-in intervalometer.
The body of the A7R III feels every bit as solid as Canon and Nikon’s full-frame DSLRs. The really good news is that it offers an AF-on button and AF-area selection joystick, along with a much better-positioned movie button and a larger, easier-to-use rear dial than the older model.
The 3inch screen isn’t fully articulated like other high-end mirrorless cameras, but the resolution has been upgraded to 1.44-million dots, with Whitemagic technology for improved brightness. Above it you get a large, high-resolution 3.69-million-dot EVF, which provides a bright, detailed view that’s as large as any full-frame DSLR’s.
The A7R III is much more than just a basic update of its predecessor and offers substantially faster autofocus and continuous shooting. It has a number of benefits over the Nikon D850 too, including a truly accurate viewfinder preview, a more reliable and accurate autofocus system and a considerably smaller body, along with much better 4K video capability.
As an all-rounder goes, the A7R III is about as versatile as a professional mirrorless camera gets and could be used in virtually any situation to get top-notch results. Overall, it’s a sublime camera and would be one of the best choices when making the move from DSLR to mirrorless.
- Excellent handling and controls
- Superb autofocus tracking
- High-speed shooting with minimal distortion
- Excellent electronic viewfinder with zero blackout
- Impressive battery life
- AF area not highlighted in viewfinder when moved via the joystick
- Touchscreen woefully under-used
Released in the spring of 2017 the Sony A9 is a high-speed full-frame mirrorless camera that’s designed to compete directly with Nikon and Canon’s professional-grade DSLRs. More specifically, it’s high burst speed and remarkable autofocus tracking abilities mark it out as an ideal camera for high-speed sports and action photography, while it’s extended sensitivity settings and silent shooting abilities also increase its appeal to professional weddings and events shooters.
Making all this possible is a new 24MP full-frame Exmor RS sensor that employs Sony’s stacked design whereby the sensor circuitry is positioned directly below the photodiodes along with an integral DRAM chip that feeds the data to the A9’s powerful BIONZ X image processor up to 20 times faster than a conventional chip. In real-world use this enables the A9 to shoot continuously at up to 20fps via its electronic shutter with AF-C enabled, with no rolling shutter distortion effects and a top shutter speed of 1/32,000sec. Switching to the mechanical shutter, maximum burst speed drops to 5fps with a maximum shutter speed of 1/8000sec.
The other big highlight of the A9 is its AF system, which employs 693 phase-detection points that cover approximately 93% of the frame. With its ability to refocus up to 60 times a second, the A9’s tracking abilities with moving subjects are also exceptional. Five-axis image stabilisation in the guise of Sony SteadyShot is also present, helping to keep images sharp even at slower shutter speeds.
Build quality is, as you’d expect of a £4.5k flagship camera, very good indeed with the A9 wrapped in durable magnesium alloy and fully sealed against dust and moisture. Physical controls are plentiful too, and in addition to twin control dials there’s also a dedicated joystick for speedy AF point placement. The 3.68m-dot EVF, meanwhile, is one of the sharpest on the market, while the 3-inch rear LCD doubles up as a touchscreen. 4K video capture at 25fps is supported, however the A9 does not offer any “flat” profiles for grading purposes.
Those are our top picks of the best mirrorless cameras. If you want to know more about what to look out for when buying a mirrorless camera then read on.
Mirrorless camera buying guide
The primary difference between a mirrorless camera and a traditional DSLR is that the latter is fitted with an internal mirror that bounces the image acquired through the lens up towards a phase-detection autofocus (AF) module in the ceiling of the camera before exiting through the optical viewfinder. Once focus is acquired and the shutter button is pressed this mirror raises up, exposing the sensor and capturing the image. In a mirrorless camera, though, there is no internal mirror, so light passes straight through the camera and directly onto the sensor.
Related: Best cameras
When mirrorless models first came out this lack of a phase detection meant they had to use contrast-detect technology to acquire focus, which is slower than phase-detect AF. However, these days many mirrorless cameras use on-sensor phase-detection AF, often in combination with contrast-detect AF to produce AF speeds that rival those of DSLRs. In addition, the fact that there’s no mechanical mirror means mirrorless cameras are generally capable of much higher continuous shooting speeds. Some of the fastest mirrorless cameras can now rattle out a burst at up to 60fps after activating the electronic shutter.
Best mirrorless camera buying guide – EVF and sensor
One further issue with early mirrorless cameras was that the lack of an optical viewfinder meant an electronic one was required in its place. Early EVFs were clunky at best, offering a small and pixelated view. But these days, that’s simply not the case and the difference in quality between the high-resolution EVFs that many mirrorless cameras are now equipped with and their optical counterparts on a DSLR are far less pronounced.
If you’re going to be shooting high-speed sport and action, the other thing you’ll look out for is an EVF that features no viewfinder blackout. Viewfinder blackout refers to the period of blackout between each frame captured – something that can make it harder to keep up and track a subject successfully through the frame. The Sony Alpha 9 is currently one of the best mirrorless examples on the market with no EVF blackout.
Related: Best DSLR cameras
While the very first mirrorless cameras were fitted with smaller Micro Four Thirds sensors jointly developed by Panasonic and Olympus, these days they’re equipped with a wide range of sensor sizes including APS-C and full-frame. Which of these is right for you will of course depend on your individual requirements and budget.
Below you’ll find a jargon buster that reveals some of the complex terminology associated with mirrorless cameras and our compilation of the finest examples to give you a better idea of which are best to buy.
Hybrid AF Systems: There are an increasing number of mirrorless cameras using innovative hybrid AF systems that combine on-sensor phase-detection with traditional contrast-detect AF. And with the new breed of ultra-fast processors dedicated to autofocus duties some mirrorless cameras are now able to outperform DSLRs in terms of AF speed.
Rear display: An increasing number of mirrorless cameras are now adding touchscreen functionality to the rear display, which makes operating the camera much speedier and more intuitive. How the screen is attached to the camera body is another important consideration – some are fixed, some can be tilted, while others use the infinitely more flexible vari-angle design.
Video: More and more new mirrorless cameras are adding 4K video capture. For those serious about video, the Panasonic Lumix GH5 is currently the only mirrorless model to offer broadcast quality 10-bit 10:2:2 4K capture. Be sure to check whether your desired model sports a dedicated microphone and/or headphone input as this does vary between models.
Media slot: All mirrorless cameras come with at least one SD memory card slot, although an increasing number of high-end models sport two. These can usually be configured to record data in a number of ways including using the second slot as an overflow or for raw images, or using one card for stills and the other for video. Support for the even faster UHS-II cards is currently limited to more advanced models.
Design: Broadly speaking, mirrorless cameras tend to fall into one of two camps in terms of their general styling: there are those that take classic rangefinder cameras as their inspiration, while others are designed to mimic the appearance and handling of a DSLR. Which is best for you is all down to personal preference. Just be sure to take build quality into account, as cheaper examples are unlikely to benefit from a tough magnesium alloy chassis and weather-sealed construction.