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(Pocket-lint) - If you're looking to learn about the top mirrorless cameras available today, you're in the right place. 

Whether you're new to the world of compact systems cameras or you're a seasoned snapper, there's now plenty to consider before deciding on the pick that's right for you. Mirrorless cameras are now more diverse and popular than ever before, with an increasing number of brands providing lens mounts and systems for you to pick between. 

In this guide, then, we've rounded up the best mirrorless system cameras to suit a range of tastes and abilities. We've spent plenty of time testing these products for our in-depth reviews, and that means we're able to provide recommendations for pretty much every type of camera user.

No matter if it's a first-time buy and you require an entry-level model, or you have the budget for a pro-spec, full-frame mirrorless model, there's something for you. And if you're keen to understand the area a bit more before deciding on your camera, check out the set of FAQs below our picks - this isn't a purchase you should rush into, after all.


What is the best mirrorless camera? Our current pick is the Sony A1. Other great options include the Canon EOS R5, Panasonic Lumix GH5M2, Olympus PEN E-P7 and Fujifilm X-E4.


Our Top Pick: Best Mirrorless Camera

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Sony A1

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For

  • Image quality is superb
  • All the ports you could possibly need
  • Stunning burst mode performance

Against

  • It's prohibitively expensive for most
  • The flippy screen is limited

There aren't many cameras on the planet capable of doing everything the A1 can, and that's what makes it our top pick. It can handle everything from 8K video recording through to intense 50-megapixel bursts at lightning speed, all without breaking a sweat. It can do pretty much everything.

This camera is definitely one for the professionals, given its price tag, but if you need the best of the best, then this is it. It's a multitasking monster, able to handle the most demanding shoots, no matter if they're focused on video or photo.

Mirrorless cameras we also recommend

The professional workhorse that is the Sony A1 won't be for everyone. So, with that in mind, here are four other hugely impressive mirrorless options that you could consider.

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Canon EOS R5

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For

  • Supreme autofocus modes
  • Super-detailed 45-megapixel images
  • In-body image stabilisation is excellent

Against

  • Overheats in high-end video modes
  • Pricey
  • CFexpress card adds to cost

The Canon EOS R5 is another absolute powerhouse. Canon took the approach of throwing everything possible into the specification, and it resulted in a fantastic camera.

It's a top performer with image quality, stabilisation and overall speed. Canon's autofocus is largely unmatched, too, so, if autofocus is a priority, this option shouldn't be overlooked.

For video, though, there's one big drawback. The EOS R5 is prone to overheat, especially when shooting at 8K. Those looking to use their mirrorless system primarily for video may want to look elsewhere.

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Panasonic Lumix GH5M2

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For

  • Compact and easy to use
  • Wireless live-streaming 
  • Good value

Against

  • Not a huge upgrade on the first GH5
  • Touchscreen is smaller

Panasonic's Lumix GH5 has been a long-standing favourite, particularly with video shooters. For good reason, too - the system offers relatively cheap micro four thirds lenses, and an unparalleled level of configuration options. The Mark II offers wireless live-streaming features and extra bit-rates, but not a whole lot else.

The update is very much an "if it ain't broke.." approach, and the good news is that the GH5M2 still offers tremendous value for money. It gives you plenty of pro-level features, but at a price that's much easier to stomach.

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Olympus PEN E-P7

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For

  • Standout retro design
  • Small-scale build
  • Great built-in 5-axis image stabilisation

Against

  • Can't stow screen for protection
  • Less resolution and focus speed than best of competition

The Olympus PEN E-P7 stands out as a compact little unit with a distinct retro charm.

It's much more affordable than some of the options on this list, and the same can be said for its micro four thirds lens system. The E-P7 is a capable little camera, and, if you're looking for something on the smaller side, with bags of character, this could be your guy.

It might not be capable of producing quite the image quality of some of its competitors, but what it lacks in performance it makes up in value and charm.

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Fujifilm X-E4

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For

  • Attractive and small-scale design
  • The same great image quality of Fujifilm X-T4 for less cash
  • Super autofocus system for stills and movies

Against

  • No lock on exposure comp dial
  • Fiddly to position screen forward

The Fuji X-E4 is another diddy retro looker. It's the first Fujifilm X series camera to offer a screen that can flip around into vlog mode, although we don't think that will appeal to most of its audience.

Instead, we expect they'll be more enticed by its top-tier image quality, small body, retro stylings and highly capable autofocus system.

Other products we considered

The Pocket-lint editorial team spends hours testing and researching hundreds of products before recommending our best picks for you. We consider a range of factors when it comes to putting together our best guides including physically testing the products ourselves, consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. Many of the devices we consider don’t make our final best guides.

These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top five selections:

How to choose a mirrorless camera

The range of mirrorless options spans pretty much the entire camera market at this point. Understandably, it can be hard to narrow down which one is right for you. Here are a few things worth thinking about before you invest.

What will you be using the camera for?

This will be the crux of the decision for most people, as different cameras are geared toward different shooting styles. If you'll mainly be taking videos, a heavier camera body might be better for keeping your shots stable. For street photography or holiday snaps, a lightweight, smaller camera will be ideal.

Ultimately, the answer will be in the specs. If you need to shoot 4K videos, then clearly you'll want a body that supports that. If you're shooting stills of fast-moving sports, then you will want to consider the burst rate.

Hooking things up

Especially for video, there's a wide range of ports to think about. Will you want to hook up an external monitor? If so, you'll want a body with an HDMI output. Need good quality audio? Then you'll be looking at the microphone inputs (not all cameras have them).

A lot of modern camera bodies offer USB charging functionality, this can be incredibly handy when you're on the go. Where previously you would have needed to carry spare batteries or a cumbersome charging dock, now you can plug into any old power bank and keep your camera topped up.

A quick lesson in lens mounts

First thing's first: cameras don't work in a one-size-fits-all kind of way. Brands like to keep their own heritage and, as such, manufacturers tend to have individual lens mounts. The exceptions are Micro Four Thirds, supported by Panasonic Lumix G, both Olympus Pen and Olympus OM-D models; and the Leica L mount, which will offer S lenses from Panasonic and lenses from Sigma.

Elsewhere there are a whole host of considerations, each tied to their respective manufacturers: it's EOS EF-R for Canon's full-frame models and EOS EF-M for its APS-C models; it's E-mount for Sony Alpha (formerly NEX) and A-mount for its full-frame (SLT) cameras; and XF-mount for Fujifilm.

Others are already past their sell-by date: Pentax gave up on the Q-mount for Pentax Q in 2017; NX-mount for Samsung NX (and specifically the smaller NX-M mount for the NX Mini) are both now defunct, and the 1-mount for the Nikon 1-series was also binned in 2017. 

Finding the focal length equivalent

Each lens will have "mm" marking on it, such as 12-24mm, to convey the angle of view it will deliver. The lower the number the wider the angle of view, so more will "fit in" to a given scene.

It's a bit more complex than that, however, as different camera systems have different sensor sizes that give different focal length equivalents, but stick to that rough rule above and you'll have an approximate understanding of what you're getting.

Budgeting

As you likely well know, mirrorless camera pricing ranges anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand. There's a model for every budget, but it's important to factor in the cost of lenses. After all, a camera is nothing without some good glass in front of it.

Full frame bodies tend to be on the pricier side, but the same is true for their lenses. So if you're on a tighter budget, it probably makes more sense to go with an APS-C sensor. It's not uncommon for keen photographers to spend more on a lens than a body, so be sure to take a look at what's available before you commit.

More about this story

Every product in this list has been tested in real-life situations, just as you would use it in your day-to-day life.

A camera system can be a hefty purchase, so we've tested all the options on this list extensively to see how they hold up to daily usage. We've checked everything from image quality to battery life to make sure they're up to the task.

We aren’t interested in pointless number crunching or extraneous details - we just want to provide an easy to understand review that gives you an idea of what it's going to be like to use. And don’t for a second think that the products aren't tested fully because the reviews are concise.

We’ve been covering tech since 2003, and, in many cases, have not only reviewed the product in question, but the previous generations, too - right back to the first model on the market. There is also plenty of models we've considered that didn't make the cut in each of our buyer's guides.

Writing by Luke Baker. Originally published on 25 October 2013.