The chief appeal of the best mirrorless cameras is that they’re smaller and lighter than their DSLR forebears – something enabled by removing their traditional mirror mechanisms; hence their ‘mirrorless’ moniker.
With DSLR sales having largely flatlined, when it comes to dedicated digital cameras, mirrorless is the market that is still witnessing innovation and growth. As a result, there is currently more competition and a greater number of mirrorless camera rivals competing for your spend.
With Sony having overtaken Nikon for sales, we’ve recently seen increased activity from the latter when it comes to new mirrorless models, as its ‘Z’ series stages a fight back and aids Nikon’s battle for survival. Canon remains a major player in mirrorless too, as it is for DSLR, and other familiar names including Fujifilm and Panasonic are likewise still present.
If you’ve noticed a new player in mirrorless by the name of OM Digital Solutions, this is the new owner of Olympus’ imaging division. Its new releases will, we’re told, bear ‘OM System’ branding, although at the time of writing the first camera announced since the sale – the OM-1 – still bears the Olympus brand name above its lens mount.
As with DSLRs, when we’re buying a mirrorless camera we need to take into account of the fact that we’re also buying into a ringfenced system at the same time. That’s to say, lenses and accessories that work with one brand mostly will not work with the other. The exception to the rule is Panasonic and OM Digital Solutions mirrorless cameras (formerly Olympus), which uniquely share a Micro Four Thirds lens mount, and Four Thirds sensor within.
When it comes to sensors, different manufacturers have different takes on which is ‘best’, and inevitably different sales lines to spin. If the ultimate in detail, quality and definition is our aim, then a full-frame sensor – its dimensions equivalent to a 35mm film frame of old – is king. Yet the likes of Canon and latterly Nikon offer cameras within their EOS R and Nikon Z ranges respectively that also feature physically smaller APS-C chips. The thinking here is smaller and lighter camera bodies – which was the aim of the mirrorless format all along – yet still sufficient detail to best the results from a smartphone.
After all, if we’re not looking to best the snaps we’ve taken with our phones, why are we considering the expense of dedicated mirrorless camera bodies, lenses and a whole world of accessories in the first place?
How to choose the best mirrorless camera for you
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Unsurprisingly, as it’s still a growing market, there is a shedload of choices when it comes to deciding the best mirrorless camera for our own purposes.
While we’ll each be guided by our available budget, naturally, we’ll also want to find the camera that most closely matches our skill sets and the kinds of pictures we take. If we’re not looking to shoot sports or action photography there’s not a great deal of point in spending a premium for a camera with a high capture rate, for example. That said, going for the most comprehensive or class-leading feature set we can afford at the time does provide a degree of future-proofing, and room for our skills to grow.
Happily, our buyers’ guide selections here include fairly priced mirrorless cameras suitable for beginners or those stepping up from purely shooting with a smartphone for the first time – alongside premium-priced, range-topping products that include all the up-to-the-minute bells and whistles their respective manufacturers could cram in at this point and time. Often both polar opposite choices can be found under the branding of the same manufacturer, who will keen to offer the much trumpeted ‘something for everything’.
So without further ado, let's examine the current choices for the best mirrorless camera – depending, of course, on various caveats…
Best mirrorless camera under £1500
Looking for something a little more affordable? These are the best mirrorless cameras under £1,500:
Baby sister to the existing Z 50, this time Nikon has online influencers, vloggers and content creators of all descriptions in its sights, selling its smallest mirrorless camera to date as ‘video first’, meaning the option of up to 35 minutes of 4K video in a single sequence, or 125 minutes of Full HD video. Omitting both an eye-level viewfinder and built-in flash as result, swift operation centres around the tilt and swivel LCD screen at the back, and of course the 20.9MP APS-C sensor at its heart.
Despite the slimmed-down Z 30 design, we still get a reassuringly chunky handgrip that makes for steady one-handed recording. The resulting imagery delivers plenty of contrast and detail, while the built-in stereo microphone also impresses. Photos are crisp and sharply rendered too, via the 16-50mm kit lens.
With the ability to add an external mic for even better sound and a hot shoe for various accessories, this one can be expanded beyond what initially emerges from the box. If we have a grumble it’s that the body-only price is a little high for a ‘starter’ option. So seek out the lens and accessory bundles available that suggest better value if you’re stepping up to this from a smartphone and don’t already own a bunch of Nikon lenses.
With the aim to make smaller yet high speed and high performance cameras ideally positioned for enthusiasts, Canon has, for once, deviated from the full frame sensor models that make up its enthusiast and pro-targeted EOS R mirrorless camera series. Both the EOS R7 shown here and simultaneously released R10 incorporate physically smaller APS-C sensors, as commonly found in its consumer-level DSLRs. The EOS R7 is the bigger brother of the two, featuring a 32.5MP resolution. Given this, its intended audience, says Canon, is wildlife photographers, who will relish the extra detail, along with sports photographers. The latter group will benefit from the fact that this camera, along with its lower resolution sibling, has the fastest continuous mechanical shutter of an APS-C EOS camera at 15fps, with the alternatives, via use of the electronic shutter, being 30fps and 23fps.
As with most mirrorless touch screen cameras these days, on the EOS R7 we can bias which portion of our frame is in focus, here via a Touch and Drag AF feature. This Canon is also claimed to make history in being the first camera in the EOS R system to have a combined AF multi controller and control wheel, thereby enabling fast and convenient setting and playback function adjustment via a single thumb movement or dial rotation.
The EOS R7 additionally features what Canon claims as the world’s highest level of image stabilisation, equivalent to 8 stops. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity is offered on both this camera and its R10 brother, again as we’d expect from a contemporary digital camera.
Just sneaking in below the £1500 threshold for this section of our buying guide, the deal here is essentially that we’re paying a bit more if we need the higher resolution and extra bells and whistles of the EOS R7 – otherwise we can save a few hundred quid and opt for the lower resolution but still similarly featured EOS R10 instead. Both are obviously targeted at ensnaring Canon users who have been thinking about physically downsizing from existing and typically bulkier DSLRs.
After the success of the Z6/Z7 full-frame mirrorless models, it makes sense that Nikon would start chasing the much larger enthusiast market. The Z50 does just that by shrinking down all the best bits from the Z range into a more affordable package.
It does that by including a smaller (APS-C) sensor, allowing Nikon to make a smaller overall body. To achieve that, some sacrifices have been made - including removing the joystick and the top-plate LCD, but the engineers have done a pretty smart job of ensuring that handling is still well-balanced. Another trade-off is a lower resolution, smaller viewfinder, but if you’ve never used anything else you won’t be disappointed.
That’s not to say that the camera is perfect. Only having a single card slot is a shame, while the native lens range, for now, is a little bit limited. With more lens releases planned for the next year or two, you shouldn’t have to wait too long for the Z50 to catch up with its rivals on that front, though.
Overall, this is a fantastic APS-C model which is ideal for travel and everyday shots, giving you much of the benefits of the full-frame Z models, but at a much more affordable price.
Looking outwardly identical to the EOS R7 model introduced alongside it, the APS-C sensor incorporating EOS R10 in fact offers a lower but still very respectable 24.2-megapixel resolution, as opposed to its sibling’s 32.5MP. So it’s a case here of pay your money and make your choice, with the R10 unsurprisingly coming in a few hundred cheaper. That’s a saving that can theoretically be spent on more lenses and accessories, of which, this being Canon, there are many.
Aside from being a money-saving option in comparison with its R7, the R10 will appeal to those looking for an all-rounder, as suited to video as it is stills capture, that’s still smaller and more manageable in terms of size than the average DSLR. As we’d expect Wi-Fi and Bluetooth is integral to the camera here and, as with the more expensive option, the R10 retains the ability to continuously shoot with its mechanical shutter at 15fps, or if utilising an electronic shutter instead, being able to get up to 23fps. Like its bigger brother this camera also features a vari-angle LCD screen, thus enabling a wider variety of shooting angles and, in theory, expanded creativity.
If you don’t mind compromising on a few features found on its R7 sibling but not found here, such as dual card slots as opposed to the one card slot, or the omission of body integral image stabilisation, the Canon EOS R10 should prove a capable tool for photographers and videographers looking to begin their mirrorless photography journey.
Touted as the ultimate mid-ranger camera, Fujifilm has given its X-S10 a wealth of interesting, useful and exciting specifications. For your cash, you get in-body image stabilisation, uncropped 4K video and a well-performing sensor.
Other enticing features including 20fps shooting, an attractively made and well-handling body, and compatibility with a good range of lenses. In short, it’s the ideal camera for those who like to shoot just a bit of everything and want to make their way into a good all-round ecosystem without spending a fortune for the initial outlay.
Since we can’t possibly have everything in life, there are a couple of compromises to be made. Although 20fps (or up to 30fps with a crop) is available, AF tracking could be better - and indeed it is on some Sony models. If you never or rarely shoot moving subjects, this won’t be a huge problem, but if you're keen on sports and wildlife it’s something to consider.
In a sea of full-frame giddiness, Fujifilm also brought out its latest APS-C model this year, in the shape of the X-T3.
Fujifilm is very much committed to this format, arguing that it delivers the best compromise between size and image quality – and they’ve certainly got a fair point.
Having a sensor of this slightly smaller size means that you don’t have to lug around heavy lenses and accessories, while it being bigger than the even smaller Four Thirds still leaves you with cracking image quality.
Wonderful images aside, there’s plenty of other things to like about the X-T3, including great autofocusing, fast frame rates, an impressive array of 4K video features and of course, this being Fuji, beautiful looks.
On the downside, in-body image stabilisation is missing (pick up an X-H1 if you want that), battery life could be better and the screen tilts three ways, rather than fully articulating.
Still – in a world obsessed with full-frame, we’d be more than happy to pack this in our kit bag, and do our backs a favour in the process.
If you’re looking for your first full-frame camera, the Z5 makes a lot of sense. Nikon has taken the same form-factor as its popular Z6 camera and made a more affordable version by compromising on some key features.
So, while you get a 24 megapixel full-frame sensor, a nicely ergonomic body design and excellent electronic viewfinder, which couples with an inbuilt image stabilisation system and reliable AF, you do have to make sacrifices elsewhere.
There’s cropped 4K video and a fairly slow maximum frame rate for action and wildlife shooting - but if neither of those things are something you’re too bothered about, it’s a sensible choice.
For now, there’s not a huge price difference between the Z5 and the Z6, though, which makes the buying decision harder. Until the price gap widens, you might want to consider the Z6 instead.
Harking back to Nikon cameras of old (or Fujifilm cameras of late, perhaps), this retro-styled, lovely looking APS-C Z series camera from Nikon ticks a lot of boxes.
Being small and lightweight, it's ideal for travel, but still packs a reasonable punch in terms of its other specs, such as frame rate, 4K video and an excellent screen and viewfinder combination.
However, you do have to shell out a pretty penny for those good lucks - internally this camera is the same as the much cheaper Nikon Z50, so it really depends on where your priorities lay. It’s also true that there’s not too many specific APS-C lenses for the Z mount just yet - though we can expect more to appear if the system continues to prove popular.
Sony’s latest flagship APS-C model delivers a lot of great specifications on paper, such as 11fps shooting, 4K video recording and speedy focusing. That should make it one of the best cameras on the market, but it is let down by awkward and fiddly handling.
The sensor is also fairly old hat now, having been seen in older models, which rivals can do better things with 4K video. Still, the lens range for Sony’s cameras is huge, and in terms of actual performance, you’ll be hard pushed to match it for actually getting shots in focus more times than not for moving subjects.
Only toting a single UHS-I memory card slot is a strange decision for a flagship model in 2019, and again sees the camera come off worse against its rivals, such as the X-T3 and the Panasonic GH5, which both include double UHS-II (faster) card slots.
For composition, the electronic viewfinder is usable, but better can be found elsewhere (such as the Fujifilm X-T3 again)— but on the plus side, the tilting touchscreen, as well as video and microphone ports, making it a useful camera for vloggers.
Fujifilm promotes its APS-C sensors as being the perfect compromise between high portability and high image quality. The X series has won plenty of fans over the years for its capability to produce stunning results, and the X-T30 is no different.
Essentially a baby X-T3, it uses the same processor and sensor combination as its elder brother, along with the same autofocusing system and frame rate capability. There are some trade offs for going for this cheaper option - such as a more limited buffer, only one card slot, and slightly fewer body controls - but overall it’s the ideal option for travelling, or for those just looking to save some cash.
One slight complaint is the location of the “Q” button to access the camera’s quick menu - located on the camera’s grip, it’s all too easy to accidentally press it.
Sony’s a6000 camera is one of its biggest-ever selling models, thanks to a winning combination of ease of use and affordability. It’s taken Sony a long time to update the model, but in 2019 it brought out the a6100, giving new users a shiny new option to consider instead.
The new model inherits many of the features of more expensive models in Sony’s line-up, making it a good option for those who want some of the latest technology but are still new to the system.
Handling and battery life have also been enhanced, so while the a6100 is not as cheap as its predecessor, it’s likely to be something you’ll stick with for a bit longer as you grow in your skills.
If you don’t want to splash out thousands, but want a solid, capable and even attractively-designed mirrorless camera, then the smaller and cheaper OM-D models might be just the ticket.
The E-M10 Mark IV is available at a good price for those just getting started, and there's a lovely big selection of Micro Four Thirds lenses that you can grow into if you find yourself wanting to expand your skillset.
Although a Four Thirds sensor is smaller than APS-C or full-frame, that gives you expensive of an overall system which is small and light, making it an ideal travel and family camera when you don't want too much bulk. There’s also other useful specs such as a fairly fast frame rate and a good spread of autofocus points.
This small and light compact system camera is a great option for those looking to travel light, while keeping all the benefits of a larger sensor (than your phone), and interchangeable lenses.
You get a 20.3 megapixel Four Thirds sensor that performs well in a variety of situations, with an enhanced in-body image stabiliser to help keep your shots as sharp as possible. There’s also a tilting viewfinder, and a tilting screen - that’s not as flexible for selfies as an articulating screen, but is pretty helpful otherwise.
As this is a Panasonic, you get 4K Photo and Video, allowing you to shoot at 30fps and extract stills, a nifty feature that stands it apart from other CSCs.
Canon may not have set the world alight with its Canon EOS R range of full-frame mirrorless cameras, but the RP, with its (relatively) low asking price is still likely to sell by the bucket-load.
It’s a good compromise of sorts, offering excellent full-frame image quality, but with a few drawbacks, such as a low frame rate (5fps). There’s also the problem of there still being scant native RF lenses available - pick up an adapter if you have a set of Canon EF lenses in your cupboard.
Those interested in shooting movies might also lock onto the EOS RP as an affordable entry into full-frame video shooting, too.
Best mirrorless camera over £1500
Is money no object in your pursuit for ultimate image quality? These are the best mirrorless cameras you can buy:
Canon has produced some of the best full-frame mirrorless in recent years, giving professionals and enthusiasts something to really write home about. The most recent is the Canon EOS R3, a super-high end, pro-specced camera that we haven’t included in this list by dint of it being overkill for the average consumer. We’ve also missed out the Canon EOS R5 for pretty much the same reason.
Instead, we’ve included the Canon EOS R6, a superb all-rounder which is well-suited to the hobbyist photographer who likes to shoot a wide variety of subjects.
A good example of that is the best-in-class autofocus which easily picks out eyes and follows them around the scene for the best results. And it’s not just for humans either, it can also track animal eyes making it ideal for pet and wildlife photography. Other functions such as 20fps silent shooting, a fully-articulating LCD screen and well-performing sensor make the R6 really stand out.
When it was first released, the Canon R6 was plagued somewhat with problems with 4K video (namely that it would overheat in certain conditions), but recent firmware upgrades have gone a long way to fixing the problem so it shouldn’t be an issue for all but the most serious of videographers.
Traditionally pitched as a mid-range “all-rounder”, Sony seems to have taken the A7 range up a gear with the IV iteration.
What that means is you get a heck of a lot of powerful specifications under the hood here, including a high-resolution sensor, excellent handling, good video specs, superb autofocus, and a solid burst shooting capability.
In short, if you shoot a bit of everything, the A7 IV can probably handle it, and handle it well. You’ve also got other improvements including a vari-angle screen (compared to the predecessor’s tilting only variety), and dual card slots which can even accommodate the super-fast CFExpress cards (but doesn’t have to - so no expensive outlay there).
Of course there’s a very literal price to pay for this kind of all-round goodness. No longer the “bargain” it once was, you’ll need a hefty budget to pay for the Mark IV, but, presumably for that reason, Sony has kept the Mark III in the range, so you could always opt for that instead.
The Nikon Z6 was an excellent full-frame all-round camera well-suited to lots of different users who may be shooting a wide variety of subjects.
Some niggles were found in the original model, some of which has been rectified for its replacement, the Z6 II which is now found in our list. You get a boost to autofocusing with animal eye/face detection and the addition of a secondary EXPEED 6 processor to give updates which include a bump in frame rate.
On a practical level, it’s the addition of a secondary card slot which is perhaps of most use - especially given that it's the more ubiquitous SD, so you won't necessarily have to rush to update your memory cards with this expensive format either.
Much of the rest of the Z6 II’s internals are the same as its predecessor. That’s no bad thing, with a well-performing sensor and excellent screen and viewfinder combination being something that’s well-worth keeping. With that in mind, you can also get a bit of a bargain if you plump for the older model too.
- Read our full Nikon Z6 II review
While other brands may steal the new release fanfare, Panasonic has been quietly continuing to update its Lumix range of mirrorless cameras, of which the GH6 is the latest flagship offering for those of us seeking to shoot video alongside stills. At its heart is a respectable 25.2 megapixel resolution Four Thirds format CMOS sensor married to a Micro Four Thirds lens mount, with the omission of a low pass filter theoretically allowing the most possible detail to be eked out in resulting images.
What we get here to further its flagship credentials are 75 frames per second burst shooting at full 25.2MP resolution, and 4K resolution recording up to 120fps with unlimited recording time; such firepower coming courtesy of a Venus Engine processor offering twice the processing power as before. Another advantage is five-axis body integral image stabilisation the equivalent of 7.5 stops, which aids hand held use, with the expected tilt and swivel 3-inch LCD at the rear aiding usability. For the photo enthusiasts we’re also gifted an eye level electronic viewfinder with a clear-as-day 3,680-dot resolution.
Like former Olympus models, there is the facility here to create the equivalent of a 100-megapixel image by combining 8 consecutively shot pictures – taken, of course, with the aid of a tripod so they marry up exactly. To deal with such high-resolution files the Panasonic GH6 responds with two card slots – one for the regular SD card we all have drawer full of, and another for a CFexpress Type B card favoured by fellow high-end cameras; a capable all-rounder.
Rather than presenting a massive overhaul of its original full-frame mirrorless model, Nikon included a series of small - but useful - upgrades for the Z7 II.
So, while it kept hold of some specifications - most notably, the 45.7MP full-frame sensor and excellent viewfinder and screen combination, other things have benefited from a boost. You now get a faster frame rate, better AF tracking (though admittedly still not as brilliant as some other models) and arguably most of the practical use - a secondary card slot.
If you want a fantastic all-rounder and have a decent amount of budget available, then it’s the Z7 II which is the one to go for. If you’ve got a bit less - opt for the Z6 II. And if you’ve got even less still, take a look at the original models, which are still excellent cameras if you’re in need of a bargain.
Nikon now also has the excellent Nikon Z9, which is more suited to sports and action - but we’ve not included it here because of its high price and unsuitably for most ordinary consumers.
While Nikon and Canon are busy twiddling their thumbs (or at least giving that impression) when it comes to serious mirrorless cameras, Sony is taking the market by storm.
The superb A9 is the camera to beat, but if you don’t have a spare 5k lying around, it’s not exactly accessible to most. Step in the A7 III, a fantastic all-rounder available at a much more affordable £2,000. For that cash you get an awful lot of features, including 10fps shooting, a 24.2 megapixel back-illuminated sensor, fantastic 4K video creation and a body which is small and compact.
The overall system is still large - lenses still need to be pretty big to be matched with a full-frame sensor - but otherwise, this is almost the perfect camera for enthusiasts right now.
While Nikon was initially slow to join the mirrorless camera ‘party’, at the time of writing it’s upgraded its initial two full-frame sensor incorporating examples and now adds a brand new full-frame flagship camera to the mix in the shape of the Z 9. This one again resembles a full-frame DSLR, while being slightly smaller than that equivalent camera would be. In fact, it’s 20% smaller than Nikon’s own DSLR flagship the D6.
What we do get in this reassuringly chunky camera, which matches the hefty price tag, is a 45.7-megapixel sensor, suggesting this one is perfect for commercial photographers wanting billboard-sized prints. That said, it has appeal for sports snappers and photojournalists too, who wouldn’t normally require such a high resolution for news media, thanks to the Nikon Z 9’s very effective 493-point autofocus system with 3D tracking, and the ability to achieve a whopping 120fps capture speed, complete with AF and exposure metering. Want top-quality Raw files, if wanting to bias detail, rather than speed? These can still be captured at up to 20fps, in a burst of up to 1,000 images at a time.
Add in the ability to record up to 8K resolution video between 24fps and 60fps, or 4K video between 24fps and 120fps, along with time-lapse videos, and it’s clear that this camera is a proper powerhouse. Nikon was reluctant for a long while to step away from DSLR and focus the majority of its attention on mirrorless, but the Z 9 would suggest that its eventual change of heart is beginning to pay off.
German brand Leica makes some of the most highly regarded and covetable cameras out there, built like battleships and equally capable of some series creative firepower. The only downside is the typically eye-watering price tags associated with its unwavering pursuit of photographic excellence.
Though it may be stretching the definition of compact, the Leica M11 will fit in a jacket pocket and is ideal for street photography use, so we reckon it’s worthy of inclusion here. Plus the rangefinder camera delivers a pretty unique shooting experience that is out there on its own; building on its maker’s iconic ‘M’ series while staying true to the original is the pitch here. The ‘building on’ part relates to the M11 delivering an incredible 60-megapixel resolution – the highest in the series’ history – with other selectable resolutions being 36MP or 18MP. As well as a slot for an SD card a whopping 64GB of internal storage is provided, which is another first for this camera series.
The graphical layout of its interface also gets a welcome redesign here, with the camera offering a 2.3 million dot 2.93-inch touch screen LCD as well as a traditional eye-level viewfinder, while compatibility with the Apple certified Leica Fotos 3.0 app is further offered, allowing for firmware to be updated via the app and for users to select favourite photos for hosting in an online gallery. Though this covetable camera looks very traditional, it’s crammed with the latest tech that we would very much expect for its asking price, with further accessories for those who want to blow the budget including a top-mounted electronic viewfinder. However those who do dare to stump up the cash will enjoy a uniquely tactile and rewarding shooting experience.
Straying firmly into medium-format territory, the 61MP A7R IV is aimed squarely at professionals and high-end enthusiasts who want the best camera money can buy.
There’s a range of very advanced technologies crammed into this body, and Sony has spared no innovation in bringing this one to market, but of course, it has a high price tag to match.
Although the detail and dynamic range are phenomenal from this sensor, there are some downsides to such a high number of pixels - including massive file sizes and a relatively modest frame rate (10fps). It won’t be a camera for everybody, but for those that crave the ultimate resolution, it’s a perfect choice.
When Panasonic debuted its full-frame models a couple of years ago, some were disappointed to see such large cameras considering Panasonic has always been so keenly in favour of travel-friendly products.
Fast forward a couple of years and the company has been keen to address some of the key criticisms of its first full-frame models. The first is the size issue - the S5 is actually smaller than the GH5 Four Thirds model, which is a pretty impressive feat.
You also get an improved autofocus - though there are still others on the market doing a better job - and a good range of other specifications. It’s a little disappointing to only have 7fps shooting, but if you’re not somebody who shoots action all that often, you might not be too worried about that.
Being a company that has always favoured video tech, it’s no surprise to see a good range of video specs in the S5, and there’s no overheating issue to think about either.
Sitting right at the top of Fujifilm’s mirrorless offerings, the X-T4 represents an evolution from the X-T3, but with some appealing upgrades even to existing users.
Adding in image stabilisation to the body, along with a bigger battery and improved autofocus makes this one of the best all-rounders currently on the market.
If your budget is on the lower side though, consider the fact that the X-T4 includes the same sensor and processor combination as its predecessor, so if you could save some serious cash by sticking with the older model.
Managing to turn the heads of even die-hard Nikon and Canon professional DSLR users, the Sony A9 leads the way when it comes to impressive technology.
If you’re into your sports, wildlife or action photography, being able to shoot at a full resolution 20fps all while tracking focus - and what’s more - completely silently - means you’ll be able to capture those moments that your DSLR-wielding buddies miss.
Other specifications include a 24.2-megapixel full-frame sensor, a viewfinder that manages to stay blackout-free even while shooting at super-fast speeds, and a tilting, touch-sensitive screen.
The biggest drawback here is price, but you do get something seriously impressive for your cash.
Since finding its place in our original list, the Sony A9 has since been superseded by the Sony A9 II. However, since the differences are relatively minor, unless you desperately find yourself wanting the added tweaks, it still makes more sense to go for the older model.
On the same note, the Sony A1 has also recently entered the fray, being an even higher-level model for those with serious photography ambitions - and a massive budget. It's worth checking out, but it’s almost definitely overkill for most.
After years extolling the virtues of the much small Micro Four Thirds system, Panasonic has made the leap into full-frame, joining forces with Leica and Sigma to form the “L Mount alliance”.
There are two models at launch from Panasonic - the S1 and the S1R, with the latter featuring a higher resolution sensor. For now, the system is fairly limited, with just three proprietary optics from Panasonic and a range of options from Leica and Sigma.
Handling is great, with a large chunky body replete with dials and buttons - this is much bigger than other full-frame mirrorless systems like Nikon’s Z series or Sony’s Alpha series - whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is likely dependent on your point of view.
It’s early days for this system yet, but it’s interesting to see how it will develop in the coming months or years. If you’re already the lucky owner of some Leica L mount glass, picking up an S1R makes a lot of sense - everyone else might feel the need to wait just a little while for it to bed in.
Action and sports photographers are in Fuji’s sights, with the direct successor to 2018’s X-H1 incorporating a new 26.1MP high-speed X-Trans CMOS 5 HS sensor in an attempt to deliver higher and faster accuracy with the camera placed in Auto Focus mode. Face and eye detection can keep up with subjects a lot better than before.
With a new sensor providing the camera’s ‘heart’, and its stacked layer structure enabling higher frame rates and higher resolution video, a new X-Processor 5 delivers the ‘brains’. Among other things it enables the camera to shoot in the HEIF file format – the first time the manufacturer has introduced this option – as well as regular JPEG and RAW files.
Feeling reassuringly chunky when held in the palm and with response times mirroring that of a top-flight DSLR, we also get up to 6.2K 30P video and 4K up to 120P, with – another first – a CF Express card slot provided alongside a second slot for the more common SD card. In total Fuji claims the X-H2S boasts a 36x quicker sensor and 33x quicker processor than that found in its original X-Pro1 launched a decade back. Additional features making a practical difference include a full-size HDMI port and 1.62 million dot vari-angle LCD, while the EVF has been upgraded to 5.76 million dots, with a refresh rate of 120fps.
Interestingly Fuji has introduced the rarity of an optional bolt-on fan alongside the X-H2S; this is because although the camera can record video for up to 240 minutes at 25°, this falls to a mere 17 minutes if temperatures top 40°. For more serious users still, there are also two optional power grips – one tripling battery performance to 600 shots, with the second known as a ‘network grip’, offering Ethernet connectivity.
With Olympus supposedly banished from all things photographic in favour of the ‘OM System’ name, it's a surprise that the first product under the new ownership – the flagship OM-1 – still bears the classic logo. And neither is it a radical departure from what has come before either; the OM-1 comes complete with Four Thirds sensor at its heart, encased in a familiar DSLR-like dustproof, splashproof and freezeproof body.
While some may grumble that a Four Thirds sensor still can’t compete with a Full Frame chip or even the APS-C sized commonly found at this price point, the OM-1’s manufacturer begs to disagree, suggesting it delivers a performance that goes beyond expectations of its sensor size. And, of course, its unique format’s properties ensure that sticking a 40-150mm lens on the front delivers performance akin to an 80-300mm lens in the 35mm format, yet without the comparable bulk that an alternative system would entail.
Factor in the latest generation TruePic X image processor three times faster than the prior iteration, enabling high-speed continuous shooting of up to 50fps with continuous AF, or 120fps in single AF mode, plus a choice of 4K resolution video at 60fps or Full HD shooting up to an impressive 240fps, and the OM-1 cuts the mustard for what’s expected of a flagship camera. It’s also one that is almost a third of the price of the current flagship Nikon mirrorless camera. Perhaps that’s why this OM brand currently rests at number three in the popularity stakes in Japan, just behind Canon and Sony.
What is a mirrorless camera?
Traditional DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras require a mirror to reflect the light (which comes through the lens) up to the optical viewfinder. As the name suggests, a mirrorless camera is one that doesn’t require a mirror.
In a mirrorless camera you don't have an optical viewfinder. The lens projects the image directly onto the sensor, and you'll see the digital image on the display or on the electronic viewfinder.
Mirrorless cameras, sometimes known as compact system cameras, were historically seen as an alternative to DSLRs.
The absence of a mirror means they're often smaller and lighter than their more traditional predecessors – and while it used to be that the trade off for that size reduction was a loss in image quality, that really isn’t the case any more.