The best mirrorless cameras your money can buy

Mirrorless cameras – also known as compact system cameras – are now big business and are winning an increasing share of the camera market. A growing number of photographers are recognising the benefits of features like the smaller design and an electric viewfinder that lets you see the impact of camera settings.

There are now mirrorless cameras to suit every kind of photographer, including professionals. As with DSLRS, specs can vary greatly between different mirrorless cameras, making something which is suitable for one photographer not particularly suitable for another. To make it easy to see which is good for you, we’ve indicated who is best suited to each camera, although we should point out that we’ve focused on the higher end of the market here.

Best mirrorless cameras

Best mirrorless cameras: 01 Sony A9

Sensor: 24.2Mp Full-frame (35.8 x 23.9mm)
ISO Range: 50-204,800
Viewfinder: Electronic 0.5-inch type OLED with 3,686,400 dots
Screen: Tilting 3-inch touch-sensitive LCD with 1,440,000 dots
Video: 4K (3840 x 2160) at 30p, 100Mbps
Dimensions: 126.9 x 95.6 x 63.0mm

Sony introduced the Alpha 9, also known as the A9 for professional photographers and as a competitor for Canon’s EOS-1Dx Mark II and Nikon’s D5 pro-level DSLRs. With 24million pixels on its full-frame sensor, the A9 has a higher resolution than either fo those DSLRs. It also has a phenomenal phase detection focusing system with 693 points that has even convinced pro sports photographers like Bob Martin to use it to shoot key events.

Incredibly, the A9 can also shoot at up to 20fps (frames per second) with autofocus and metering tracking for up to 241 raw or 362 jpeg images. What’s more, it can do that completely silently if needed. This makes the A9 ideal for shooting pro-level golf and tennis, or weddings from inside the church – anywhere where a clacking mirror or clicking shutter mechanism is unwanted.

Sony makes sensors for many of today’s cameras and naturally, its reserved a peach of a chip for its flagship camera. Detail levels are high and noise control is excellent

Best for: sport, wildlife and wedding photographers

 

 

Best mirrorless cameras

Best mirrorless cameras: 02 Sony A7 III

Sensor: 24.2Mp Full-frame (35.8 x 23.9mm)
ISO Range: 50-204,800
Viewfinder: Electronic 0.5-inch type OLED with 2,359,296 dots
Screen: Tilting 3-inch touch-sensitive LCD with 921,600 dots
Video: 4K (3840 x 2160) at 30p, 100Mbps
Dimensions: 126.9 x 95.6 x 73.7mm

Although it doesn’t have exactly the same sensor as the Sony A9, the full-frame A7 III has the same pixel count (24.2million). It also has a similar autofocus (AF) system with 693 points and it does a great job of getting fast-moving subjects sharp. Add in the maximum continuous shooting rate of 10fps (silent if you want) with full AF and metering capability and you start to see why the A7 III is selling like hot cakes.

Sony has given the A7 III an OLED viewfinder with 2,359,296 pixels, which although lower resolution than the A9’s viewfinder, gives a detailed view. A mini-joystick on the back of the camera falls conveniently under your thumb for selecting the AF point but you can use the touch-screen to set the point if you prefer – even when looking in the viewfinder.

Like the A9, the A7 III ‘s touchscreen can be tilted to give a better view of video or landscape format images. Unfortunately, Sony hasn’t made much use of the touch-control but it’s handy for setting AF point or zooming quickly into images to check sharpness.

The A7 III’s menu is very extensive and there are lots of customisation options available. This means it can take a while to get to know the camera but you can set-up to suit your style of shooting.

It’s an excellent all-rounder that delivers superb-quality images and video. 

Best for: enthusiast photographers shooting a wide range of subjects

 

Olympus OM-D E-M 1 Mark II review: Build and handlingBest mirrorless cameras: 03 Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

Sensor: 20.4Mp Four Thirds type CMOS (17.3 x 13mm)
ISO Range: 64-25,600
Viewfinder: Electronic with 2,360,000 dots
Screen: 3.0-inch, 1,037,000k-dot vari-angle touch-sensitive screen
Video: 4K (4096 x 2160) at 24p
Dimensions: 134.1 x 90.9 x 68.9mm

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is Olympus’s flagship Micro Four Thirds camera. As such it has a wealth of clever features that make shooting tricky subjects easy.

The built-in stabilisation system is also the best on the market. It enables you to take hand-held shots at shutter speeds measured in whole seconds with wide-angle lenses. It also transforms handheld 4K video into watchable, smooth footage.

Olympus has also updated its High Res Shot mode and it enables the camera to produce 50Mp shots from its 20.4Mp sensor even when photographing landscapes with moving elements like leaves or water.

Meanwhile, the autofocus system is able to cope with fast-moving subjects.

Olympus’s smart Bulb mode options, Live Bulb, Live Time and Live Composite mode are also available to make shooting long exposures a doddle by allowing you to see the image build up on the screen during the exposure.

Best for: landscape, sport and video shooters

 

Best mirrorless camerasBest mirrorless cameras: 04 Panasonic Lumix GH5

Sensor: 20.3Mp Four Thirds type (17.3 x 13mm)
ISO Range: 100-25,600
Viewfinder: Electronic 21mm type OLED with 3,680,000 dots
Screen: Vari-angle 3.2-inch touch-sensitive LCD with 1,620,000 dots
Video: 4K (4096 x 2160) at 24p,
Dimensions: 138.5 x 98.1 x 87.4mm

Prior to the announcement of the GH5S, the GH5 was Panasonic’s flagship video camera. Panasonic now bills the GH5 as its flagship hybrid camera with the GH5S being its most video-centric model. For many people, the GH5 still represents the best video option because unlike the GH5S, it has image stabilisation built-in.

But that’s not all. The GH5 has a pretty serious specification for videographers not least the fact that it can shoot 4K 4:2:2 10-bit 400Mbps video. There are even options such as 6K and 4K anamorphic mode with de-squeeze assist viewing mode so you get a sensible view of the anamorphic video you’re recording.

Along with the high-quality viewfinder, the screen is mounted on a variable hinge so you can angle it to give the perfect view whether you’re shooting video from high or low angles – or shooting stills in portrait format.

As it’s a Micro Four Thirds camera, the GH5 is compatible with a huge range of lenses.

Best for: Video

 

Best mirrorless cameras: Fuji X-T2

Best mirrorless cameras: 05 Fujifilm X-T2

Sensor: 24MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS III
ISO Range: 200 – 12800 (100 – 51200 expanded)
Viewfinder: 0.5-inch 2.36-million dot OLED Colour viewfinder, 0.77x magnification
Screen: 3.0-inch, 1040k-dot tilting touch-sensitive screen
Video: 4K (3840 x 2160)
Dimensions: 132.5 x 91.8 x 49.2mm

Fujifilm’s X-T1 convinced a lot of people to switch from a DLSR to a compact system camera and the electronic viewfinder in particular impressed those used to an optical device. The XT-2 has built on that, proving that mirrorless cameras are a force to be reckoned with. It competes even more closely, offering fast shooting rates more commonly associated with top-end DSLR cameras.

Add to that a gorgeous retro body with superbly implemented traditional controls, beautiful image quality, film simulation modes that deliver print-ready photographs, a super-snappy AF system and an ever-increasing lens range and you start to see why so many photographers love the X-T2.

Best for: street, landscape and wedding photographers

 

 

Best mirrorless cameras

Best mirrorless cameras: 06 Panasonic Lumix G9

Sensor: 20.3Mp Four Thirds type (17.3 x 13mm)
ISO Range: 100-25,600
Viewfinder: Electronic 21mm type OLED with 3,680,000 dots
Screen: Vari-angle 3-inch touch-sensitive LCD with 1,040,000 dots
Video: 4K (3840 x 2160) at 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p
Dimensions: 136.9 x 97.3 x 91.6mm

While the Panasonic GH5 and GH5S are best known for their video capability, the Lumix G9 is squarely aimed at stills photographers. Specifically wildlife and outdoor photographers.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that you can’t shoot video with it. Panasonic has enabled 4K (3840×2160) recording at 24, 25, 30, 50 or 60p at a maximum of 150Mbps in MP4 format. Meanwhile, Full-HD (1920×1080) video can be shot at up to 180fps for slow motion playback.

Panasonic uses contrast detection focusing but the G9 has a 225-point system that is capable of keeping track of fast-moving subjects. It can also shoot at up to 20fps with continuous autofocus, which puts it on a par with the Sony A9 in the speed stakes.

In addition, its weatherproof body shuns rain, making it an excellent camera for photographing wildlife or sport in less than perfect conditions.

Best for: Wildlife

 

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What is a mirrorless camera: key technology explained

Best mirrorless cameras

Best mirrorless cameras: 07 Fujifilm GFX 50S

Sensor: 51.4Mp 43.8 x 32.9mm (medium format)
ISO Range: 50-102,400
Viewfinder: Electronic 0.5-inch type OLED with 3,680,000 dots
Screen: Dual-tilting 3.2-inch touch-sensitive LCD with 2,360,000 dots
Video: Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 29.97p / 25p / 24p / 23.98p and 36Mbps
Dimensions: 147.5 x 94.2 x 91.4mm

Fujifilm has bypassed full-frame mirrorless cameras in favour of a medium format model to accompany its popular X-series APS-C format range.

The GFX 50S looks like an overgrown X-T2 and packs a 51.4million-pixel sensor that measures 43.8 x 32.9mm. That enables it to capture jaw-dropping levels of detail with the colours that we love from Fujifilm cameras.

The focusing isn’t as fast as with the X-T2, but it’s pretty good for a medium format camera.

Unusually, the 0.5-inch 3.69million-dot OLED viewfinder can be removed from the GFX 50S to make it smaller and lighter if you want. Alternatively, there’s a tilt and swivel pastor to allow you to use the viewfinder when shooting from awkward angles.

Best for: Portraits

 

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Best mirrorless cameras in the world in 2018
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Best mirrorless cameras in the world in 2018
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In this camera buyers guide we reveal the best mirrorless cameras on the market in 2018 to help you choose which compact system camera (CSC) is best for your needs.
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Camera Jabber
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