The best mirrorless camera? How to choose?
It was in the early 2010’s that mirrorless cameras began to appear in the photography market. The models of the time, with their 4/3 micro sensor, took time to become well known as it was difficult for these new cameras to find their place among the existing ranges of classic cameras: compact, bridge, DSLR cameras.
But over time, with the arrival of the first APS-C bodies and electronic viewfinders, mirrorless cameras have captured more space in the market. Due to the fact that some DSLRs can be too heavy, expensive, compact camera of poor quality, mirrorless cameras have managed to gain an edge. Indeed, so much so, that many people consider them now, regardless of whether they are beginners for their first camera or professionals for their work.
After the article about guiding you on the best camera for travel, here is an article that will help you to understand the purchase of your future mirrorless camera. How to decide, based on certain criteria, which mirrorless camera to choose. I will try to update this article every year to include new models.
The idea is not really to give you an exhaustive comparison of everything that is being made in terms of mirrorless cameras (it’s impossible!), but to guide you in making your choice. As with DSLR cameras, a balance will often have to be found between your desires, your real needs and your budget. So let’s try to find out together what the best mirrorless camera is for you! A big thanks to Alex for his corrections, clarifications, add-ons and especially for helping me in writing this article!
By the way, would you like to choose your mirrorless camera lenses?
(complete guide made with passion!)
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The mirrorless camera
Let’s start at the beginning. What exactly is a mirrorless camera? You will find it under several different names: mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera (MILC), mirrorless camera (without mirror), DSLM (digital single lens mirrorless) or EVIL (electronic viewfinder interchangeable lens).
To summarize briefly, the mirrorless camera does not have a mirror, like the DSLR, so no optical viewfinder (digital screen on the back or electronic viewfinder) and allows the possibility to change lenses. Many say it’s the ideal balance between a compact and a DSLR camera. This is less and less true with the arrival of expert mirrorless cameras of very high quality, in Full Frame, for instance. However, you have understood the idea, a small body (bigger than a compact but smaller than a DSLR) on which you can adapt several lenses. It is closer to a compact camera in terms of ergonomics but with features and image quality similar to DSLRs.
To put it simply, there are roughly 3 sensor sizes available for mirrorless cameras:
- The Micro 4/3: it is the smallest sensor found in mirrorless camera and the one at the origin of this type of camera (Size: 13 x 17.3). It is referred to as “MTF” – Micro Four Third),
- The APS-C format: it is the same format as found on all entry-level cameras or some experts in DSLR (Size: 15 x 22),
- Full-Frame: this is the historical format of silver film, which is found on mirrorless cameras, the same as on a Full Frame DSLRs (Size: 24 x 36).
There are actually more than 3 sensor sizes but these are the most popular on the market and the most democratized. Smaller sensors in Micro 4/3 format are found in some mirrorless cameras: 1″, 1/2,5″, 1/1,7″ and 2/3″. These are mainly found in small compact cameras, but also on specific models of certain brands. They are a minority, so I wouldn’t mention it in the article, but generally speaking, I don’t recommend them.
We will see below in which proportion the size of the sensor influences the image quality and what possibilities it gives in terms of photography.
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The advantages of the mirrorless camera
Let’s quickly review the advantages of a DSLM:
- Weight: this is an issue that comes up often for many people. Most of the time, the whole thing will always be lighter than a DSLR camera, at least for entry-level cameras. However, it will be almost equivalent for mirrorless Full Frame bodies with good quality lenses. The weight depends mainly on the size of the sensor but also on the range of the body (for example a GX800 weighs 240g, a GX9 410g and a GH5s 580g, all in Micro 4/3).
- Compactness: clearly, the fact that they do not have a mirror means that manufacturers have managed to fit great DSLM into small bodies, which is ideal for those who are looking for a light and compact body. Handling and shooting is often considered easier.
- A large sensor: it is obviously necessary to understand in comparison to compact cameras that have much smaller sensors and whose image quality is clearly questionable. Mirrorless cameras have sensors that are large enough to produce good quality photos. Everyone will judge the relevance of choosing at least an APS-C (which I recommend personally) or a Micro 4/3 (optical range shared by the two MFT players who also offer quite different types of bodies in terms of aesthetics and ergonomics that give you more options). We will come back to this later, but to be honest, choosing between a compact/bridge and an EVIL, is a no brainer!
- Interchangeable lenses: this is clearly a plus over compact and bridge cameras that are limited to a single lens. We are getting closer to the advantage of having a DSLR but in a lighter and more compact body.
- Quality: everyone now agrees that the quality of some mirrorless cameras is getting closer or even better than that of some DSLR cameras. The image quality will therefore be identical on a sensor similar to DSLRs.
- A depth of field equivalent to DSLR: if you don’t know the term, it’s simply the sharpness area of the image. Having a short depth of field makes it easier to isolate the subject. The arrival of APS-C and Full-Frame mirrorless cameras now guarantees an equivalent depth of field. Be careful, the Micro 4/3 sensor (Olympus and most Panasonic mirrorless camera) is smaller than the ones found on DSLRs. Some brands like Fuji only offer APS-C format.
- Discretion: clearly, it’s a big difference compared to the DSLR because walking around with my 6D + 70-300mm is not the same as with a small entry-level mirrorless. However, large mirrorless cameras combined with quality optics will frankly not be very discreet either… For small mirrorless cameras, you will be more unnoticeable, people will be less wary and carrying a mirrorless in crowded spots will be a plus (market, crowds, etc..). The attention is less focused on you and let’s just say that’s a good thing…
Mirrorless camera or DSLR then?
For those who are still hesitating (but if you have made it this far then it is because you are considering?), I still give value to DSLRs on the following aspects:
- The choice of lenses remains lower than what you find in the DSLR range, even if things are tending to get better,
- Low light shooting conditions are more difficult with a mirrorless camera, at least those with a Micro 4/3 sensor, these are the ones that many people buy first (generally cheaper). APS-C and full-format mirrorless cameras manage ISOs very well, like DSLRs. Depending on your type of photo, be careful when choosing your sensor,
- However, where mirrorless cameras are worse than DSLRs, is in the low-light autofocus area,
- The battery life is generally much shorter than those of DSLR cameras.
Which brand to choose?
As with DSLR cameras, I never really recommend one brand over another, even if on DSLR cameras, I often suggest to stay with Canon and Nikon. This is because they are the two big brands and therefore have the most lenses and thus the most choice and possibilities! The only other real option is Pentax, so that makes it easier.
In 2008, Panasonic and Olympus launched the first mirrorless cameras with a Micro 4/3 sensor. Sony followed closely in 2010 with the arrival of the first APS-C sensors, the same as on DSLRs. In 2011/2012, Nikon and Canon followed the same path with the arrival of their first 1” camera, such as the Nikon Range 1 and the famous Canon EOS M. In 2013, Sony released the first two full-frame sensors. It was a revolution in the world of mirrorless cameras. It will take almost 6 years for Nikon and Canon to introduce their first Full Frame sensor in 2018.
After a long time of being dominated by Sony, the world of mirrorless cameras has gradually opened up to other brands. Among the best-known brands are Sony, Panasonic, Fujifilm, Olympus, Canon and Nikon.
The two leading brands in the mirrorless market remain Sony and Fujifilm/Panasonic, both of which offer a large number of native lenses. This is important to know because depending on what you want to do in photography (sport, macrophotography, wildlife, etc.), you will generally have more choices with them.
Overall, it is often the budget that will determine when you start out with a mirrorless camera, so there is a good chance that Full Frame sensors will be too expensive and oversized. This is something many people try to avoid (Sony, Canon and Nikon). However, these brands offer excellent bodies at very reasonable prices that may be enough for you to start with.
- Sony only offers APS-C and Full Frame sensors. They are the ones with the most lenses.
- Fujifilm only has APS-C cameras (except for 2 Medium Format cameras which I will not talk about in this article!),
- Olympus and Panasonic share the same Micro 4/3 mount, which remains very interesting because it will allow you to use all the lenses of one of the two brands on any bodies (of the 2 brands!). Panasonic has just released its first full-frame cameras (S1 and S1R),
- Both Canon and Nikon have Full Frame cameras (APS-C also available from Canon). However, they are still well behind in terms of range of native lenses.
To conclude, I would say that besides the budget, you should mostly look if the brand offers lenses that you are interested in and that would be adapted to your photographic practice (low light, sport, etc.). If you plan to shoot in difficult lighting conditions and you have enough money, I would advise you to choose a full frame format camera. It’s a matter of taste !
Technical criteria for choosing a mirrorless camera?
I mention here all the decisive criteria that I think should be known when choosing a mirrorless camera. I will not talk about the budget here, even if for many of you it is indeed the most important element. For those who have a little more budget and those wishing to make a well thought out choice on the technical aspects, this is basically the most important thing.
The size of the sensor
In my opinion, this is the most important aspect of a mirrorless camera, because not all of them are at the same level in this area. I would say that you can get the quality of a DSLR using a mirrorless camera if you have the same sensor size. It should be noted that almost all entry-level mirrorless cameras (Olympus MILC and the majority of Panasonic) have smaller sensors (often in Micro 4/3), than those of DSLRs.
In fact, to make things even more precise, micro 4/3 (mFT) sensors are half as small in diagonal and four times smaller in surface area than a full-frame sensor. You are going to tell me, so what? Remember that you won’t be able to compare a focal length, a maximum aperture or a rise in ISO between two different sensor sizes. The result will not be the same at all, due to the size of the sensors. Due to its small size, the mFT will be less adapted to produce background blur. Indeed, with the same max. aperture as a full-frame sensor of f/2.8 (for example), the depth of field will be much larger on an mFT and it will therefore be more difficult to highlight the subject from the background. A maximum aperture of f/1.4 in mFT is roughly equivalent to f/2.8 in full-frame (about 2 stops). The rise in ISO will also be “problematic”. An ISO1600 in mFT is still equivalent to ISO6400 on a full frame sensor.
- Digital noise management in shadowed areas or low-light scenes: In practice, ISOs are often less well managed and you will see artifacts appear more easily.
- The dynamics are better on larger sensors. The management of contrasting scenes with a high variance of light will be better the larger the sensor,
- The larger the sensor you have, the more comfortable you will be in situations where you need high speed. You will often have to use high ISOs to get enough shutter speed to capture specific scenes and the better noise management of a large sensor will produce better images.
- The depth of field will be larger with a small sensor than with an APS-C or FF sensor. (this is “framing related” which to be equivalent will require a different focal length and/or subject distance resulting in a greater depth of field). Be careful with the maximum aperture of the lenses according to the different sensor sizes. A maximum aperture of f/1.8 does not have the same results on a Micro 4/3 sensor as on APS-C or Full Frame. To obtain the same results as a 24-70mm f/2.8 in Full Frame, on an APS-C sensor, you will need a 17-55mm f/2 lens (which does not exist…). You will have to roughly “convert” the focal lengths and apertures according to the sensor size,
- However, if you choose a larger sensor (APS-C or Full Frame), the lenses will often be heavier and more expensive with equal characteristics than on lenses dedicated to Micro 4/3 sensors,
- We could generally consider that, the more the bodies have large sensors, the more expensive they will be (especially in Full Frame – Micro 4/3 and APS-C sensors, the prices are quite close).
Personally, if you can afford it, I would recommend choosing a mirrorless camera with an APS-C sensor. But it remains a very subjective view and not a guaranteed fact, I grant you that.
The related lenses
In my opinion, this is the second most essential point to look at when making your purchase. Not all brands are equal in this area and clearly some of them offer a greater diversity of products. Canon and Nikon, who have recently switched to high-end mirrorless cameras, are lagging behind in terms of lens choice.
For the lenses, you will have to look at the number of optics but especially if the brand has what you are interested in, in particular for specific areas (macrophotography, sports, wildlife). Most of the time, brands offer lenses dedicated to the sensor they offer, with sometimes some compatibility between formats. If you choose a Full Frame camera, and you are looking for a transtandard lens, you will choose a 24-70mm. In APS-C, it will be a 16-55mm, and in Micro 4/3, a 12-35mm (as you see the Micro 4/3 sensor is half as small as a full frame sensor -> 12-35mm x 2 = 24-70mm)
To go further, I invite you to read my ultimate guide on which mirrorless lenses to choose! Also remember that some brands are compatible with each other (Panasonic and Olympus on Micro 4/3). Adaptation rings are also available to use other lenses….
Here’s a nice trans-standard lens from Fujifilm, the XF 16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR model – More details on Amazon
Some cameras now offer stabilization integrated into the sensor, which can be a plus, especially for video and under certain difficult conditions in photography. I am thinking in particular of fixed subjects in low light (sunrise/sunset, concert ( although subjects aren’t often fixed in concert) night, etc.) and with long focal length lenses (telephoto lens). The Sony A7 range, for example, offers cameras with 5-axis sensor stabilization that can be combined with the stabilization of some lenses. I’m not a great video artist, but those who own a stabilized body say it’s great.
Ergonomics and construction
These are two important points that will often be directly related to the price of the bodies. In general, we can summarize the following: the larger the sensors will be (from Micro 4/3 -> APS-C -> Full frame), the heavier, more expensive and larger the bodies will be. However, the more you move up the range, the more you can get tropicalized/waterproof cameras, which, depending on your regular shooting conditions, can be very attractive. On the ergonomic side, make sure you take a good look at the menus and how they work by taking a few laps around the stores or looking for advice on the forums.
The video mode
For a lot of people, this is a crucial point (even if it’s not in my case!). All video makers agree that the arrival of mirrorless cameras (without mirrors!) has made the difference for those who want to produce “beautiful videos” with this type of camera. The proof is that manufacturers are increasingly offering 4K and even 6K modes on some mirrorless cameras, or even cameras made for video such as the GH5s. We were already talking about it above, but focusing on a stabilized camera coupled with stabilized lenses would also be a clear advantage for those wishing to film. The 180° rotating screens would also be a plus for some shots.
Other technical elements
I will not go into all the technical details that are taken into account, but you can look in detail at all the specific points to choose your DSLR camera. The elements are also valid for mirrorless cameras, namely: the definition of the body, ISO, focus point, auto focus, burst….
The best mirrorless camera...for you
Let’s now get to the heart of the matter for when you are choosing a mirrorless camera. The most difficult point is to recommend a camera according to the criteria mentioned above. Moreover, the suggestions below are based on my experience and on dozens of hours (or even more) of research, comparing and contrasting, the different models of the brands (and with Alex’s precious help too!). In concrete terms, I pulled my hair out quite a bit to make this selection.
To make your task easier, I have divided my recommendations into 4 elements of choice, which I believe are essential. We can therefore choose our mirrorless camera according to:
The most important thing for me is really to make a well-considered choice, whether it is based on your budget or your needs. I admit that sometimes I first choose based on my wants, which does not prevent me from having made a thought through choice beforehand. For example, I once gave in to a wide-angle DSLR lens, the Canon 16-35mm f/4, which I had been longing for a long time.
Remember also one thing, the choice of your lens will also influence your images, even if the choice of its body remains very important. For example, a good lens with a body whose auto focus does not catch the subject will give you bad images for sports and wildlife. A good quality and bright lens is expensive, so it will be an additional budget to plan according to your camera. Of course, you can buy a camera + lens kit, which will often be cheaper without guaranteeing a quality lens… I would not focus on high-end mirrorless cameras, which will only interest a small portion of the people who will read this article.
Choose your mirrorless camera according to your budget
We will not hide the fact that the majority of readers will be limited by their budget. Unfortunately, not all of us have an infinite budget for a camera, as photography is a hobby for most of us.
A mirrorless camera to start for less than 250€
Bodies’ on their own start as low as 250€. At this price, of course, you don’t want to expect it to be a miracle-maker and the camera will quickly reach its limits. But for people looking for a cheap, compact, lightweight and casual camera for easy conditions, this may well be enough. Indeed, this will mainly restrict to bodies with a Micro 4/3 and smaller sensor.
If I were to only mention two examples that have gotten very good feedback in this price range, I would recommend the EOS M10 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1.
- The Canon EOS M10: This is an 18-million-pixel APS-C model (rare in this price range), with a large swivel touch screen, wifi and NFC, among other features. It is sold bare body but also in kit form with the 15-45mm STM lens.
- The Panasonic DMC-GM1: It is a model with a Micro 4/3 sensor (smaller than the Canon) of 16m pixels. It is really very light and compact. It could be coupled with the excellent Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 lens, a classic and bright lens.
In general, I really recommend that you save up to go up to the higher range (minimum of 500€). The two models above remain good models (for the price), but they are not recent in any case.
From 250 to 500€
At this price range, we are considering cameras that I think are starting to be more interesting. There are very good references. At this price, less than 500€, you can get some serious APS-C bodies, even if they are bodies that are already a few years old. Here are 4 good references that I recommend: the Sony A5100, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III, the Fujifilm X-T100 and finally the Panasonic Lumix GX80
- The Sony A5100: equipped with an APS-C sensor of 24 million pixels, remains in my opinion a good reference even if it is beginning to be a bit dated. It features a 180° swivel screen (for video) and an autofocus system known for its speed. It comes as a Kit with a Sony 16-50mm lens. The question to ask yourself is whether it is worth it to move on to the top range (A6000) for not much difference in terms of price, which I would probably recommend (we come back to it).
- The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III: Released in 2017, this model with a Micro 4/3 sensor (16.1 million pixels) remains among the best rated in this price range. The body alone can be found for about 500€ and in a kit with a 14-42mm for 150€ extra. Those who need to be a bit tighter on the final budget (kit + body) can choose the old model, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II, whose standard kit with 14-22mm lens is about 500€.
- The Panasonic Lumix GX80: Released in 2016, this Micro 4/3 (20mp) sensor body also remains a good option for this price range. It looks quite similar to the Olympus E-M10 Mark II (mentioned above). It is sold in kit form with the 16-32mm lens more or less at the same price.
- The Fujifilm X-T100: a 24mp APS-C, compact, lightweight and with a tiltable screen 3″ It remains a well-regarded for the brand, delivered in kit with a 15-45mm.
At the very limit of this price range, we also find the excellent Canon M50, an APS-C mirrorless camera with 24 million pixels. Delivered in kit form including a 15-45mm with sliding aperture, it is a beautiful mirrorless camera in this range with 4K and a screen that can be rotated through 180°.
From 500 to 1000€
We are clearly entering into more serious bodies here and if you can afford to invest a little bit more in a mirrorless camera, I would advise you to go for this price range. You can choose a good quality body alone and spend part of your budget on a beautiful lens that is adapted to your photographic practice, which I recommend, knowing that the kit lenses are often of medium quality.
Here are 3 very well rated models in this price range:
- The Fujifilm XT-20: it can be found in the 700/800€ range (body alone). This 24MP APS-C sensor body has a beautiful 8fps burst, 4k and a tiltable screen. Sold in kit with a 15-45mm, it will satisfy people looking for a serious camera. In the same brand and the same price range, many also appreciate the X-E3.
- The Panasonic GX9: usually found in kit form with a 14-140mm lens, this 20.3MP camera is very popular in this range.
- The Canon EOS M6: an entry-level option at Canon at an affordable price!
At the lower end of this price range, the Olympus OM-D E M10 Mark III body can also be found, often with a 14-42mm lens included and in a double kit with a 40-150mm. It’s something to have some fun with already.
Beyond 1000€, the top of the range
We are now getting into the best of the mirrorless cameras. The very best of the best. I didn’t deliberately want to split this category, because there are cameras at 1500, 2000 or 3000€… Clearly, at this price, the targets are either professionals or wealthy amateurs who like to enjoy themselves with a beautiful camera. I will not be too detailed here seeing that the majority of you will not be interested in creating a budget to afford such a camera. However, here are some extraordinary options in this price range (not exhaustive):
- At Sony: The A7II (which has dropped significantly in price since the arrival of its big brother the A7III) is amongst the brand’s top cameras. Another good camera is the Sony A6500, which is a racing beast! The A7II remains, in my opinion a very good camera at an “acceptable” price plus it does have a full frame sensor.
- At Fujifilm: The XT2 is still a superb option for the brand (in APS-C) with a heavy, solid, waterproof and fast body. Its big brother, the XT3 is also superb but for a price close to 2000€ in kit,
- At Nikon: The Nikon Z6, the first camera in full-format sensor from Nikon for the moment, competes directly with the Sony A7III and the Eos R from Canon.
- At Panasonic: We find the Panasonic GH5 or GH9 but in my opinion they are still behind the Sony or Fujifilm, mainly due to their micro 4/3 sensor.
Choose your mirrorless according to your needs
In practice, this would be the most appropriate point in my opinion, although in reality, few people choose a mirrorless camera based on their needs. Why? many people are new to this type of camera and do not yet know enough about what they like in photography to properly target a suitable camera. However, I suggest 2 categories based on needs: for videographers and travellers/inhabitants of the tropics.
I am not what you might call a great videographer because I am clearly more photo-oriented, but according to my research two models stand out, and are of, particular interest for those who practice video.
- Sony A6400: it is found to be used by many bloggers/vloggers thanks to its 4K, its 180° tiltable screen (perfect for selfies) and its incredible focus.
- The Fujifilm X-H1: of all the reviews I have read it is indeed the brand’s best body for video. In particular because it is the only one with a stabilized sensor!
For travellers and those living in the tropics
I belong to this category of people who travel and who also live in the tropics. The main advice I could give would be to choose a tropicalized mirrorless camera, which will be much more resistant to the difficult travel conditions (dust, wind, etc.) but also to the tropical climate (high temperature and humidity). Between us, to avoid any problems, I advise all the people living in the tropics to store their photo equipment in a drybox. It is simply a closed box in which you can set the humidity level. I have been using a model from Eureka since 2012.
I definitely need to recommend 2 cameras last in a different price range:
- The Panasonic G DC-DX9: a beautiful image quality, a tropicalized body, a fast AF, all for a very acceptable price (less than 1000€),
- The Fujifilm XT3: a beautiful beast known for its image quality and its tropical climate resistant body.
Choose your mirrorless camera according to the size of the sensor?
The title is certainly a little catchy, but I spent so much time comparing, digging and checking information that I find it useful to recommend a few bodies per sensor type. Obviously, prices will increase relatively to how big the sensor you choose is.
The best micro 4/3 mirrorless camera
I would advise in particular here:
- The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II: even if it is a little old, it is still a superb body and the version above is clearly oriented for professionals (OM-D E-M1X). It is renowned for its high-speed performance, precise autofocus and ultra-resistant body.
- Panasonic DC-GH5: It is also solid in terms of features: with a rather powerful camera for both photo and video (the ideal for video is the GH5s).
These two bodies have very good characteristics in all aspects. Clearly, we’re in high-end equipment. Only downside in my opinion is that the two cameras are as expensive as a high-end Sony APS-C or Fujilfilm body. So, it should be taken into consideration when you know the importance of the size of a sensor.
Best APS-C sensor mirrorless camera
For those who are not limited in terms of budget and who are looking for a versatile APS-C mirrorless camera, both in terms of video/image quality, ergonomics and weight, I can suggest 2 models that I think have an excellent price-quality ratio and are a very good compromise.
- The Sony A6500: with all the research I’ve been able to do, here’s a body that is excellent in every aspect (very fast focusing and burst, 24.2 M pixels, 4K, swivel touch screen, 5 axis stabilization, etc.),
- The Fujifilm XT3: This APS-C camera is also among the best: 26m of pixels, burst at 20fps, longest autonomy, high shutter speed, a wide choice of lenses, stabilized kit lenses… in short, it’s seriously good!
|Budget||Brand||Type||Model||M pixels||Best price|
|250/500€||Olympus||Micro 4/3||OM-D E-M10 Mark III||16,1MP||Amazon|
|>1000€||Sony||Full Frame||A7 II||42MP||Amazon|
|>1000€||Sony||Full Frame||A7 III||24,2MP||Amazon|
Best Full Frame mirrorless camera
We are talking about excellence here. Here is a selection of the best Full Frame mirrorless cameras of the moment. Whatever you choose from this list, you are at the very top level. We’re talking about very expensive bodies here!
If I had to choose a full-format mirrorless camera today, I would most likely turn to something like the Sony A7II that remains extraordinary yet whose price has dropped a lot since the release of the A7 III, which remains very expensive. Another possibility for those who can spend between 1200/1400€ on a camera is the Canon EOS RP which, for the price, also displays magical features. The only problem is that you are more limited in terms of available optics. So, I think I’ll go on the A7 II!
Choose your camera according to the brand?
Some of you may simply be more attracted to one brand than another when choosing your mirrorless camera. And I would say: why not? When I bought my first DSLR, I wanted to buy Canon. Who knows why, but it was the case.
I suggest below a detailed comparison between the characteristics of the different bodies, listed by brand. I didn’t include all the cameras from each brand (there are too many of them), but essentially those that I quoted in the article. The interest for you is to be able to compare the different models and make your choice according to the characteristics.
This compilation work required a lot of time and research. I really wanted to make it easier for you because it is easy to get lost out there! If you like the advice and work provided in this article, you can support this blog by using one of the links to buy your camera!
Here are the main models in order from the best range to the lowest. I have only mentioned here the models I discussed in the article. If you want to go into more detail, here is our complete guide to Sony mirrorless cameras.
|Type||Model||M pixels||Burst rate||Autofocus||Weight (in g)||Best price|
|Full Frame||A1||50||30 fps||759 points||737||Amazon|
|Full Frame||A9 II||24||20 fps||693 points||678||Amazon|
|Full Frame||A9||24,2||20 fps||693 points||681||Amazon|
|Full Frame||A7S II||12||2,5 fps||169 points||627||Amazon|
|Full Frame||A7S III
||12||10 fps||759 points||699||Amazon|
|Full Frame||A7R III||42,4||10 fps||399 points||657||Amazon|
|Full Frame||A7R IV||61||10 fps||567 points||665||Amazon|
|Full Frame||A7IV||33||10 fps||567 points||658||Amazon|
|Full Frame||A7III||24,2||10 fps||693 points||650||Amazon|
|Full Frame||A7II||24,7||5 fps||117 points||560||Amazon|
|APS-C||A6600||24,3||11 fps||425 points||625||Amazon|
|APS-C||A6000||24,3||11 fps||179 points||344||Amazon|
|APS-C||A5100||24,3||6 fps||179 points||283||Amazon|
Here is a summary of the APS-C mirrorless camera range. The Sony range is divided as follows:
- A5100 (old entry-level) to A6600 (high-end): all in APS-C format,
- The “A7” series represents the transition to the full frame sensor. The A7III is still the one of the best mirrorless cameras at the moment but is quite costly. Plus, the A7R IV is already here!
- The A9 series (full frame) is the range above, dedicated to professionals or wealthy amateurs! (in particular for sports photography, they are supposed to compete with the D5 and 1DxII DSLR bodies).
Regarding Sony’s APS-C range, only the A5100 (the oldest) to the A6600, the latest Sony APS-C can be purchased today. Of course, the older the bodies are, the less they will offer advanced features. The APS-C range of bodies all have a 24.2 Mp and a weight that has globally increased with each generation of bodies. The ISO management has been globally improved, going from 100-25600 on an A5100 to ISO 50-10400 possibilities on the latest A6600 body. Burst rate capabilities have also been increased, with the latest A6600 being able to shoot up to 11 fps. Battery life has also been improved. For example, 400 images were announced with the A5100, while about 800 are expected on the latest A6600. By getting into the newer cameras, the number of AF points will also be increased.
For the Sony mirrorless cameras, the switch to full frame will happen with the A7 series. I am deliberately not talking about the old bodies like the first A7, A7S or A7R. The A7 was the first full-frame mirrorless camera body, released in 2013. More high-end versions were released (A7R and A7S). Today, we mainly find the “II” and “III” versions of these cameras.
I won’t detail all the full frame Sony products and the differences between the “II” and “III” versions, but remember that in general, as you upgrade through the range, you’ll often gain in battery life, ISO, Megapixel, burst rate, buffer (RAW and JPEG) or video capacity. The A7R series is characterized by a high number of pixels, while the A7S series is very well known for video and low light.
Finally, the highest range of Sony full-frame mirrorless camera bodies is found in the A9 and A9II series, which are ideal for professionals looking for a high-speed body for wildlife or sports photography, in particular.
The choice of an Olympus mirrorless camera is quite simple. Remember that they all have a Micro 4/3 sensor. The range extends from the OM-D E-M10 Mark III (entry-level) to the OM-D E-M5 Mark III (mid-range) to the OM-D E-M1 Mark III and more recently the OM-D E-M1X (very high-end).
|Model||M pixels||Weight (in g)||Burst rate||Best price|
|OM-D E-M1X||20,4||849||18 fps||Amazon|
|OM-D E-M1 Mark III||20,4||500||18 fps||Amazon|
|OM-D E-M1 Mark II||20||570||18 fps||Amazon|
|OM-D E-M5 Mark III||21,8||410||10 fps||Amazon|
|OM-D E-M5 Mark II||16||417||10 fps||Amazon|
|OM-D E-M10 Mark III||16||362||8,6 fps||Amazon|
|OM-D E-M10 Mark II||17||342||8,6 fps||Amazon|
I wanted to add a few things about the Olympus mirrorless cameras. Choosing a camera is never easy, even with a brand, but the advantage of Olympus is that the range is relatively limited, so it’s quite simple to compare. Here are a few more things to consider.
The very high end of the range concerns the E-M1X, then the E-M1 Mark III and the old E-M1 Mark II. All three bodies offer the brand’s most advanced features including 121 cross-type AF points, AF sensitivity set to -6EV, 18fps continuous shooting with AF/AE tracking function, and 60 fps when shooting burst with AF/AE lock. The E-M1X body differs from the E-M1 Mark II and III notably by a higher viewfinder magnification (0.83x), a tropicalized weather-resistant body, and the ability to place a grip for two battery packs, resulting the possibility to shoot 2580 images (compared to 900 images in two other bodies). However, the body will be much heavier (almost double the weight) and much wider with the grip.
The Olympus amateur range offers two really well known bodies for a very acceptable price: The OM-D E-M5 Mark III and the OM-D E-M10 Mark III. There are two older versions of these two cases as well: The OM-D E-M5 Mark II and the OM-D E-M10 Mark II. The E-M5 Mark III differs from the Mark II with better features: 20.4 Mp, better image stabilization, 121 AF points (compared to 81), better burst (10 fps), faster electronic shutter (1/32000) and 4K video. For people with a slightly smaller budget, the E-M10 Mark III remains a very nice option for less than 600€.
As with other brands, here are a few things that will help you understand the Fujifilm range of mirrorless cameras. Let’s go for a little Fuji photography tour! Regarding the brand, it’s the “X” series that refers to mirrorless cameras. As a reminder, the whole X series offers APS-C sensors.
You will find on our blog a complete guide of all existing Fujifilm APS-C mirrorless cameras.
Generally speaking, I would say that there are 3 categories:
With 24.2Mp, the X-A7 or X-E3 will satisfy those looking for a simple, light, discreet and small APS-C body. In this price range, you don’t have access to in-body stabilization, a viewfinder, a very fast burst rate and great video capabilities.
The X-T200 range differs from the X-A7 mainly by: a larger size and weight, a better burst rate (8fps vs 6fps), the introduction of a viewfinder and better video capabilities (e.g. 120fps Full HD filming).
- Finally, the top of the range, which mainly concerns the “X-T” range. The XT-20 and X-T30 remain lower in range and characteristics than the X-T2, X-T3 or the recent X-T4.
In Fujifilm’s high-end range, a clear distinction can be made between the X-T20 / X-T30 bodies and the X-T2 and X-T3. So, what’s in it for you then? The XT-3 will for example be much heavier/larger, including a tropicalized body, a better viewfinder and LCD screen, a faster burst rate (11fps), a better buffer (RAW and Jpeg), better video capabilities and the ability to attach a grip. At the current price, I still consider the X-T3 to be the best mirrorless camera of the brand.
Finally, the recent arrival of the X-T4 is making a lot of noise in the Fuji world. This new APS-C body from Fuji offers: a 5-axis in-body stabilization (only the X-H1 had it until then), a much better battery-life (500 pictures compared to 390 on the X-T3), a better quality LCD screen, an even faster burst rate (up to 15 fps) and improved video features. However, the body is slightly larger and heavier than the X-T3 (about 80g heavier and slightly wider). This is a top of the range high-end body.
On the side of these classic ranges, we find the X-pro range, which is difficult to fit in front of the X-T3/X-T2 with a slightly retro look and a very different ergonomics. The X-Pro3 was released more recently than the X-T3 and has some interesting features, but the much more expensive price of the X-Pro3 means that I wouldn’t generally recommend it. The X-T3 seems much more versatile and less expensive.
Finally, the X-H1 is placed as a very interesting body for filmmakers with features worthy of the high-end body (stabilized body, very fast burst, tropicalization, etc.). It is classed between a high-end mirrorless camera and a DSLR.
Canon’s arrival into the mirrorless camera world is relatively recent. The number of Canon models for this type of body is relatively small. Here is some additional information to help you find your way around. Simply put, Canon is divided into two ranges: mirrorless camera bodies for beginners and amateurs with APS-C bodies and higher-end cameras with full-frame bodies. Here is our article detailing all the full-frame mirrorless cameras from Canon. And now here is the one on Canon APS-C mirrorless, lighter and more compact.
Note that in June 2022, Canon decides to release their first APS-C mirrorless cameras with the Canon RF mount.
Below is a summary table of Canon’s mirrorless camera range and its main specifications.
|Brand||Type||Model||M pixels||Weight (in g)||Best price|
|Canon||APS-C (EF-M)||M6 Mark II||32,5||408||Amazon|
For the question of which Canon APS-C mirrorless camera bodies, the Canon EOS M series is the answer. I won’t talk about the older versions (Canon M, M10, M2, M3) which are starting to be a bit dated. Although I have to admit that some of these bodies are still available new and they can be very interesting from a financial point of view. Here is a straightforward way of organizing the Canon range:
Both are entry-level bodies that are perfect for people looking for a lightweight body that is easy to use without breaking the bank. They both have the same dimensions (108.2 x 67.1 x 35.1mm), the same ISO range (100-25600), a 180° swivel screen, similar min/max shutter speeds (30s to 1/4000s), a 6-fps burst shooting or WIFI and Bluetooth.
The M200 also features a better processor (DIGIC 8), a higher number of AF points (143), better low-light AF (-4EV), 4K cropped movie capability (vs. Full HD 1080), eye detection and improved battery life (485 vs. 315).
- The best mirrorless camera body for everyone: the EOS M50
The EOS M50 is a nice evolution from the M200. We can recognize a higher ISO possibility (51200 against 25600), a better weatherproofing, a better burst shooting (10im/s), the possibility to apply an external flash, the presence of a viewfinder, or even an articulated screen. However, the body weighs an extra 100g. If you can afford to spend a little more, this is a very interesting body with great value for money.
- Mirrorless camera bodies APS-C amateur: and the recent version the M6 Mark II.
In my opinion, the EOS M6 is closer to a Canon 200M than the EOS M50. The M6 doesn’t have a viewfinder contrary to the M50 (it exists in option). The M6 doesn’t have an articulated screen either, but does have a 180° pivoting screen. The AF capabilities of the M6 remain below those of the M50 (lower number of AF points and less light receptivity). Personally, I would recommend to go for the M50 instead of the M6.
The M6 Mark II is an obvious evolution of the M6 with 33Mp, a faster burst rate (14fps), almost similar weight and dimensions, more autofocus points (143 vs 49), and slightly better video resolution. Again, I do prefer the M50 to the M6 Mark II.
- Expert mirrorless camera bodies: the EOS M5
The M5 is in a range between the M6 Mark II and the M50 but the latter’s features remain less interesting to me than the m50.
If I had to choose a mirrorless camera body from Canon, I would definitely choose the M50.
For Canon’s full-frame mirrorless camera bodies, the following bodies are available today (in order from lowest to highest range): The Canon EOS RP, the Canon Ra and the Canon R. The full-frame Canon R5 is expected to be released during the year 2020.
The Canon RP (26.2Mp) is still the smallest and cheapest mirrorless full-frame body in the Canon range. For those who want to try the full frame “at a lower cost”, it is the ideal body from the brand. The Canon R is the big brother of the Canon RP with more interesting features than its little brother: 30.3MP, up to 5655 selectable AF positions, a low light AF sensitivity of -6IL, a burst at 8 fps, and a larger and better quality swivel screen. All of this is packed into an obviously heavier (660g vs. 485g) and larger (135.8 × 98.3 × 84.4mm vs. 132.5 × 85 × 70mm) body. Battery life is also considered to be better (370 images vs. 250 for the Canon RP).
The Canon Ra is considered to be a full-frame mirrorless camera adapted for astrophotography. It has 30.3Mp, 30x screen magnification possibilities and an improved infrared filter. It is in a way a Canon Rp made for anthropography.
The Canon R5 announced by Canon for soon will have a 5-axis stabilization system on its sensor (a first at Canon), the possibility to shoot in RAW 8K and other improved possibilities in video. It is also announced two memory card slots (CF and SD).
Choosing a Nikon mirrorless camera is even easier, since at the time of this writing, there are only three models available. For the full-frame mirrorless cameras, Nikon has released two bodies: the Z6 and the Z7. For those who don’t have the budget to buy a full frame camera, Nikon recently released the Nikon Z50, the first APS-C body of the brand.
To go into much more detail, we have compiled everything you should know about Nikon full frame mirrorless cameras, and the same for Nikon APS-C cameras.
|Brand||Type||Model||Burst rate||M pixels||Weight (in g)||Best price|
|Nikon||Full Frame||Z9||20 fps||45,7||1340g|
|Nikon||Full Frame||Z5||4.5 fps||24,3||675g||Amazon|
|Nikon||Full Frame||Z6||12 fps||24,5||675g||Amazon|
|Nikon||Full Frame||Z6 II||14 fps||24,5||705g||Amazon|
|Nikon||Full Frame||Z7 II||10 fps||45,7||705g||Amazon|
|Nikon||Full Frame||Z7||9 fps||45,7||675g||Amazon|
|Nikon||APS-C||Z Fc||11 fps||20,9||445g||Amazon|
Here are a few complementary elements that could help in making your choice. The Z6 and Z7 are both 24×36 stabilized bodies very similar in many ways except for the sensor. The Z6 has 24Mp and that of the Z7, 45,7Mp. The rest is almost identical. What changes then? Shooting with the Z7 will result in much heavier files (as you can imagine). The Z7 however offers more AF points (493 against 273). The weight of the files being heavier on the Z7, the burst rate will be faster on the Z6 (12 fps against 9 fps for the Z7). On the ISO side, the range is slightly similar. In reality, the best image quality of the Z7 will only be seen on large prints. For everyday life, I think that the Z6 will be more than enough, knowing that its price is much lower and that you can save money to buy a lens with the price difference between the two models.
If you feel like it, you can also go for the Nikon Z50 which remains at a lower price (under 1000€). It also has nice features such as 20.9Mp, 11im/s, 4K video, a touch and tilt screen or Wifi/Bluetooh. Note however that the Z50 does not have in-body image stabilization (as is the case for the Z6 and Z7). Even if the choice of lenses is still limited with Nikon, I still think it’s a good APS-C mirrorless camera body.
Which lens to start with?
Unfortunately, I will not deal with this vast subject in this already very long article. I’m of the opinion that the choice of lens remains according to what you want to do, your budget, your level of photography, etc.
If you are a beginner and you don’t yet know what you are going to specialize in, I simply advise you to keep your kit lens that was sold with the camera that you will be able to choose thanks to this article! The lenses associated with entry-level cameras are often not high quality. For those who want to take pictures of everyday life and occasionally travel, in easy conditions, this lens may suit you in the beginning. When you start to understand why you need to change your lens and what its limitations are, it will be time to consider moving up to a higher range! Be careful though, because in the vast majority of bodies your lens sold with the camera will be something like 15-45mm or 14-42mm, which remain “quite wide” focal lengths. You won’t be able to “zoom out” with it to take pictures of sports, wildlife, distant subjects, etc. It could therefore be interesting to consider investing in a longer focal length from the beginning to complement your standard transtandard kit lens.
For those who already have a certain level of photography, or those who already have an idea of the style of photography and shooting conditions, you will clearly know how to adapt the choice of your lens. Do you need a long focal length? A fixed focal length? A wide-angle lens? A bright lens?
Here I am, at the end of this very long article (again). I spent a lot of time to produce this informative and comparative article on the best mirrorless cameras (for you). With all the points mentioned in the article, you should be able to make a well thought out choice.
However, a big fan of DSLR cameras, I am really interested in evolving or completing my camera range with a good quality mirrorless camera body to travel lighter. For months now, I have been learning a lot about mirrorless camera, their quality, their limitations and the associated possibilities. This article is therefore the result of several months of extensive research and clearly seeing an interest in sharing all the elements summarized in the simplest possible way for you.
I hope I’ve been clear (otherwise say it, huh?) and that you’re going to make the right choice. If you are hesitating between several models and you need advice on choosing your mirrorless camera, feel free to leave me a comment at the bottom of the article and I will try to guide you as best I can! If you missed it at the beginning of this article, I invite you to visit the complete guide to choose your mirrorless camera lenses.
See you soon,