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Best mirrorless camera 2021

Best mirrorless camera
(Image credit: Future)

There has been an increasing shift over to the best mirrorless cameras over the past few years, among the photography community. Mirrorless cameras display an image very differently to DSLR cameras, and in many ways their technology is more modern and eloquent. The difference is that mirrorless displays are a 'live view' of what the camera sees, whereas DLSRs show a reflected image of what is on the camera's sensor. This means mirrorless cameras often have lighter, more slimline bodies, can shoot silently, and have more sophisticated digital features.

Our list of the best mirrorless cameras includes a number of models that have come onto market since 2018, with companies like Nikon and Fujifilm doubling down on the technology in recent years. While Sony and Canon have more limited ranges, they play in the mirrorless space too.

The advantage of mirrorless cameras, generally, is that manufacturers see them as the future of photography, especially as their video capture capabilities are so strong. So if you're looking to future-proof, this is the way to go. The disadvantage is that mirrorless bodies and lenses are - on the whole - more expensive, as there isn't the same sized new and used market for them yet. Plus, if you want to use a DSLR lens on a mirrorless camera, you need a specific adaptor, which is extra expense.

We would, on the whole, though recommend mirrorless tech - once you've actually used one, it's tougher to go back to DSLR because they make photography... so easy. If you're looking for the best camera for beginners, that's probably a DSLR, but for enthusiasts and above, mirrorless is a great option.

Once you're done shooting, we also have a guide to the best photo editing software, to make your pictures as sharp and colorful as possible.

1. Nikon Z6: Best overall mirrorless camera

Nikon Z6

(Image credit: Nikon)

Nikon Z6

The best mirrorless camera right now

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame | Megapixels: 24.5MP | Lens mount: Nikon Z | Screen: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen, 2.1 million dots | Continuous shooting speed: 12fps | Viewfinder: Electronic, 3.69 million dots | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast/professional

Wonderful handling
As strong with video as it is with images
Many would have preferred SD card slot 
AF can be unreliable in some conditions

Among a raft of new full-frame mirrorless cameras, Nikon’s Z6 stands out as a particularly strong introduction. Considering this is a first generation model, it’s impressive Nikon managed to get so much right. From the wonderful image quality and crisp 4K video through to great handling, to a clear and bright EVF and compatibility with existing Nikon lenses and accessories. 

The FTZ adapter, that's available bundled or separately to the camera, means you can pick from hundreds of F-mount lens options with autofocus and auto-exposure both working. 

While some issues persisted with the original version of the Z6, those have since been largely eliminated thanks to regular firmware updates. Our only real reservation is the camera's reliance on a single QXD or CFexpress memory card slot - professionals like a second slot, to avoid breaks with shoots, and CFexpress cards are still eye-wateringly expensive PLUS they require a separate card reader too.

2. Sony A7 III: Best all rounder at a decent price

(Image credit: Sony)

Sony Alpha A7 III

Best all rounder at a decent price

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Sony E | Screen: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 921k dots | Continuous shooting speed: 10fps | Viewfinder: Electronic, approx. 2.3 million dots | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast/professional

Brilliant value for money
Strong battery life 
Viewfinder slightly behind current standard
Can’t process raw files in camera

Building on the huge popularity of the previous A7 II, it’s safe to say that the A7 III is the best all-round mirrorless camera from Sony yet. The 24MP sensor produces great images with well controlled noise levels across the sensitivity range, and with sensor-based image stabilization on board you don’t need to worry about this being in your lenses. 

The sensor and stabilization also work together to capture detailed-packed 4K-quality videos, while other highlights include a strong hybrid AF system, many lens options and battery life that’s ahead of what most other mirrorless models can muster.

That 693-point AF system makes this superb in nearly any situation, even for those less accomplished camera users. And if it's fast paced shots you're after then the 10fps burst shot mode should cater well for your needs. This isn't the newest camera on the list but with those specs backed by a recent firmware upgrade, this is very much one of the best options out there at a price that's getting lower all the time.

3. Fujifilm X-T30: Best mirrorless camera under $1000

(Image credit: Fujifilm)

Fujifilm X-T30

Best mirrorless camera under $1000

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 26.1MP | Lens mount: Fujifilm X | Screen: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 1.04-million dots | Continuous shooting speed: 8fps | Viewfinder: Electronic, approx. 2.36 million dots | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast

Beautiful, rugged body
Great image quality and cracking 4K footage 
So small it can be fiddly at times 
Only one card slot

With dashing good looks, plenty of functionality, excellent image and video quality, and a tiny, largely metal body, the X-T30 is a formidable mid-range mirrorless option. It inherits many features from the more advanced X-T3, and is ideal for those who want to control their camera more through physical controls rather than the touchscreen, with dedicated dials for shutter speed and exposure compensation on hand. 

In terms of value for money the X-T30 trounces pretty much every other mid-range model at this level right now. And it does it while looking a lot better too. Even the phase detection autofocus system punches well above the price with its 425-point setup. The fact you can shoot 4K video at 30fps is also a real draw at this price point. That 26.1MP APS-C sensor can eek out up to 8fps of burst shots while the 3-inch touchscreen makes for easy controls and clear views with its 1,040k dots.

4. Panasonic Lumix S1R: Best for megapixel power

Panasonic Lumix S1R

(Image credit: Panasonic)

Panasonic Lumix S1R

Best for megapixel power

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame | Megapixels: 47.3MP | Lens mount: Panasonic S | Screen: 3-inch tilting tri-axis, 2,100k dots | Continuous shooting speed: 9fps | Viewfinder: Electronic, approx. 5.76 million dots | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Intermediate/professional

Great viewfinder
187 MP images and 4K video recording
AF could be better
Heavy and expensive

The Lumix S1R is Panasonic's full frame mirrorless camera that aims to cater for the more skilled photographer that can make use of that 47.3 MP sensor. But it packs in some special tricks that make it stand out from the rivals on this list. Our favorite is the ability to shoot a 187 MP image – perfect for anyone that wants to blow it up in print, or have lots of zoom potential afterwards. That is well backed by the viewfinder which has one of the highest resolutions we've seen at 5.76 million dots.

The build is rugged enough to go anywhere without you needing to worry about being too careful. The same can be said when shooting thanks to a sensor-based image stabilization that helps make any shot better. That means for both good and low-light you can expect a crisp and clear shot from this camera. 

While the contrast-detect autofocus system is a little behind the rivals, this camera makes up for it in other areas and ultimately performs extremely well.

5. Canon EOS RP: Best full-frame mirrorless camera on a budget

Canon EOS RP

(Image credit: Canon)

Canon EOS RP

Best full-frame mirrorless camera on a budget

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame | Megapixels: 26.2MP | Lens mount: Canon RF | Screen: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1.04 million dots | Continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Viewfinder: Electronic, approx. 2.36 million dots | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast

Great price for a full-frame body
Very nice images straight out of the camera 
Small native lens selection 
4K footage subject to heavy crop

The EOS RP might not be the most advanced Canon mirrorless camera right now, but with an asking price considerably below the current EOS R flagship, it sure is tempting. 

It’s super small and quite light when you consider its full-frame innards, and great for those with some EF lenses that want to use them through an adapter. It also delivers very nice images without any further processing, although you can play with your raw files if you need to. 

Overall a great choice if you’re a Canon user wanting to get into mirrorless without it hitting your bank balance too greatly. Although it's worth noting you will get a heavy crop on the 4K video and your maximum burst shot speed is just 5fps. 

6. Sony A6100: Best beginner mirrorless camera

Sony A6100

(Image credit: Sony)

Sony A6100

Best beginner mirrorless camera

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Sony E | Screen: 2.95-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 921,000 dots | Continuous shooting speed: 11fps | Viewfinder: Electronic, approx. 1.44 million dots | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Beginner

Super tracking autofocus
Portable yet powerful
Low-res displays
Could be easier to master for a beginner camera

The Sony A6100 is a fantastic option for any beginner that wants to get into photography using a mirrorless camera. This is a very portable sized snapper yet crams in a powerful 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor which is backed by a 425-point hybrid autofocus. With the ability to shoot video in 4K at 30fps and capture burst photos at 11fps, this punches well above its price point.

This is great for a beginner but it does require time to work out everything on offer via the admittedly limited touchscreen interface. The resolution on that screen and the EVF could be higher but then for the price cuts need to be made somewhere.

While this is great for a beginner there's plenty to learn with enough power and features to grow with you as you get better.