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Best mirrorless camera: Our pick of the best compact system cameras

Mirrorless cameras have slowly taken over the camera market over the last ten years or so, and they’re now typically the most logical and best camera option for many beginners and professionals alike.

While they’re similar in principal to DSLR cameras, they’re typically smaller, lighter and often far more intelligent. Key things to look out for include sensor-based image stabilization (a big help) and high-resolution electronic viewfinders, while hybrid AF systems are also super useful if you plan on shooting moving subjects or video.

It also helps if there are many lens options, which is where Sony, Olympus and Panasonic have an advantage. You may, however, be able to use a model you’ve got your eye on with lenses from an older system via an adapter, which makes Canon and Nikon’s still-new systems considerably stronger than they otherwise would be.

Here are the best mirrorless cameras you can buy right now.

1. Nikon Z6: Best overall

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Nikon Z6

We reckon this is 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, a clear and bright EVF and compatibility with existing Nikon lenses and accessories. Our only reservation concerns the autofocus system’s performance on occasion. Need more than 24MP? The Z7 (position 8) is much the same camera but packs a 45.7MP sensor.

2. Sony A7 III: Second best option

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Sony Alpha A7 III

A superb all-rounder, with a price that’s more attractive than ever

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.

3. Panasonic Lumix G85: Best mirrorless camera for beginners

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Panasonic Lumix G85

This underrated Micro Four Thirds snapper is brilliant for novice users

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Four Thirds | Megapixels: 16MP | Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds | Screen: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1.04 million dots | Continuous shooting speed: 8fps | Viewfinder: Electronic, approx. 2.36 million dots | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Beginner/enthusiast

Weather-resistant body great at this level
Excellent detail in images
Small sensor can struggle at high ISOs 
Only one memory card slot

Panasonic has made a habit of packing its G-series bodies with an abundance of features and delivering them at very attractive prices, and the Lumix G85 (known as the Lumix G80 outside the US) manages to strike a great balance between ease of use, plenty of growing space and superb value for money. Its sensor isn’t the newest but the lack of an optical low-pass filter in front of it means it captures excellent detail, while 4K videos impresses too. DSLR-style handling and control are a huge plus too, as is the fact that the Micro Four Thirds lenses it uses now run into countless options for all kinds of shooting. Perfect for the newbie.

4. Sony A7R III: Best mirrorless camera for professionals

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Sony Alpha A7R III

The A7R III’s high-resolution sensor is just the start of what we love here

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame | Megapixels: 42.2MP | Lens mount: Sony E | Screen: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 1.44 million dots | Continuous shooting speed: 10fps | Viewfinder: Electronic, approx. 3.69 million dots | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Professional

High-res sensor produces bags of detail
Great battery life for a mirrorless camera
Lacks in-camera raw processing 
UHS-II support in only one card slot

Built around a 42.2MP full-frame sensor, the A7R III is capable of producing massive enlargements and rendering the smaller details in the scene clearly. That back-illuminated sensor scoops up plenty of light to help it to deliver clean, noise-free images, but what’s usually good is the fact that it can offer this at a speedy 10 frames per second. Other standout features include a 3.69 million-dot EVF, twin card slots and 4K video that’s captured from oversampled footage for extra crispness. As you might expect, it’s not the cheapest full-frame option, but the A7R III delivers what the resolution-hungry pro user demands. If you don’t need that high resolution, the A7 III (position 2) is worth a look.

5. Panasonic Lumix GH5: Best mirrorless camera for video

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Panasonic Lumix GH5

Still a sterling option for the pro that needs utmost video control

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Four Thirds | Megapixels: 20MP | Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds | Screen: 3.2-inch vari angle screen, 1.62-million dots | Continuous shooting speed: 9fps | Viewfinder: Electronic, approx. 3.69 million dots | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Professional

Comprehensive control over video recording
Low price for such a senior model
Battery life could be better 
Small sensor for such a large body

The GH line from Panasonic has arguably been the most successful among amateur and enthusiast filmmakers, and the Lumix GH5 is capable of delivering superb 4K video footage and plenty of control over how this is captured and output. Its body is a little on the large side for a Micro Four Thirds camera, but it handles beautifully and has a fantastic electronic viewfinder to help with composition. Built-in image stabilisation also helps to keep video footage steady and images crisp, while a huge assortment of lenses from Panasonic, Olympus and third parties means you can generally get what you need far cheaper than with a newer mirrorless system.

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

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Fujifilm X-T30

Plenty of growing space for newbies but equally capable for enthusiasts

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. If you need slightly more flexibility the X-T3 (position 10) is worth considering, but in terms of value for money the X-T30 trounces pretty much every other mid-range model at this level right now.  

7. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II: Best mirrorless camera for travel 

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Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

Speedy focus, excellent video, superb image stabilization – the list goes on

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Four Thirds | Megapixels: 20MP | Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds | Screen: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1.04m dots | Continuous shooting speed: 18fps | Viewfinder: Electronic, 2.36-million dots | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast

Superb image stabilization system
Huge selection of MFT lenses  
Relatively small sensor 
Menu system is awkward

The OM-D E-M1 Mark II might not be marketed specifically as a travel camera, but its definitely better suited to the task than many other mirrorless models. The weather-sealed body lets you shoot in all kinds of conditions, while the two card slots are super useful when you’re on the move and one card fills up. Perhaps its finest aspect is its sterling image stabilization system, which lets you carry on getting great results when the light isn’t great, while the 2x crop factor applied by the sensor is particularly useful when you need to home in on more distant subjects. Small budget? The Panasonic Lumix G85 (position 5) is also a weather-resistant Micro Four Thirds model with 4K video to consider.

8. Nikon Z7: Best full-frame mirrorless camera

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Nikon Z7

Full-frame fun in a fuss-free body

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame | Megapixels: 45.7MP | Lens mount: Nikon Z | Screen: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen, 2.1million dots | Continuous shooting speed: 9fps | Viewfinder: Electronic, approx. 3.69 million dots | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast/professional

High-res sensor produces great detail
Small body but large grip = great handling 
Only one card slot 
Small native lens range

Nikon’s D850 DSLR fast became a smash for the company, and the Z7 is in many ways its mirrorless counterpart. But here things are arguably even better, as the camera adds sensor-based image stabilization and a wonderfully detailed electronic viewfinder to its 45MP full-frame sensor. You also get a much smaller and lighter body, albeit one with only a single card slot, and while the lens range is still getting off the ground, you can use hundreds of F-mount lenses through the FTZ adapter. It’s a great option for anyone after a relatively future-proof full-frame model, but if you’re cash-strapped you should check out the similar Z6 model (position 1).

9. Canon EOS RP: Best mirrorless camera from Canon

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Canon EOS RP

Crack your way into full-frame shooting 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 more 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 adaptor. 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.

10. Fujifilm X-T3: Best mirrorless camera from Fujifilm

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Fujifilm X-T3

Retro-styled option is as much about performance as its looks

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 26.1MP | Lens mount: Fujifilm X | Screen: 3-inch three-axis-tilt touchscreen, 1.04 million dots | Continuous shooting speed: 11fps | Viewfinder: Electronic, approx. 3.69 million dots | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast

AF system is fast and highly customisable 
Impressive 4K video footage 
X-T30 offers something similar for less 
In-camera raw processing needs work

Much like Sony’s A7 III, the Fujifilm X-T3 follows two successful models that have redefined what the enthusiast mirrorless user should expect. And what’s particularly impressive about the X-T3 is just how broadly it caters for different users, with 11fps burst shooting that can be upped to 30fps through an electronic shutter, on top of a hybrid AF with compressive autofocusing, particularly strong 4K video and a back-illuminated sensor that does a great job when shooting at high ISOs. This is all inside a star body that also has a super-useful three-way-tilting LCD. Too pricey? The X-T30 (position 6) is very similar but cheaper.