Mirrorless cameras are a compelling choice for many new buyers since they tend to be more portable than traditional DSLR alternatives, feature responsive, precise autofocus systems, fast continuous shooting speeds, and electronic viewfinders that allow users to preview the impact of exposure adjustments in real-time. They've come a long way in recent years, with a hugely diverse product ecosystem that caters to a wide variety of budgets, usage habits, and experience levels.
It's worth noting that a camera's overall performance can vary drastically depending on what kind of lens you use. Your lens influences the amount of light entering the camera, an image's depth of field, autofocus behavior, and stabilization performance. That's without mentioning the physical aspects of your lens: a larger lens with a longer zoom length and a wider maximum aperture might make it easier to take the kind of photos you want, but it could make your camera more of a hassle to carry around. For the sake of consistency and user-friendliness, we currently test a camera with its standard kit lens.
We've tested over 30 cameras, and below you'll find our recommendations for the best mirrorless cameras to buy. These picks were selected not only based on their overall performance but also their feature set and price.
The best mirrorless camera for travel photography that we've tested is the Sony α6400. Despite its compact size, this APS-C camera should be comfortable to hold for a wide variety of users. Its lightweight magnesium alloy construction and relatively small 16-50mm kit lens make it easy to carry around for extended periods, and its tilting screen is sharp and bright enough to be seen under direct sunlight. Depending on your own usage patterns and settings, it should also last you throughout most of a day's use.
The autofocus system does a superb job of tracking and maintaining focus on moving subjects. Image quality is also great, with a relatively broad dynamic range and little in the way of softness or visual noise as you increase ISO, which is particularly useful when shooting in poorly lit environments. There's also a dedicated HDR shooting mode that helps to capture a wider range of detail in high-contrast shooting environments, like sunlight reflecting off of a lake, as well as a silent shooting mode to let you snap pictures without disturbing people nearby.
Unfortunately, its touchscreen interface can't be used to navigate the camera's slightly unintuitive menu system, which is a little frustrating. Otherwise, its compact size, impressive image quality, and superb autofocus system help make it one of the best mirrorless cameras under $1,000 that we've tested.
The best mirrorless camera for landscape photography that we've tested is the Sony α7 III. This full-frame mirrorless model delivers exceptional image quality out-of-the-box, with a very high dynamic range and low levels of noise even at high ISO settings, which is good if you plan on shooting in dimly-lit environments. You can also use its HDR shooting mode to capture a wider range of detail in areas of high contrast like a city skyline shot at night.
It feels well-built and is also comfortable enough to use for most users, as it features a large, well-textured handgrip that provides a secure hold and precise, well-spaced controls. Its screen can be tilted, allowing you to see what's being displayed when looking at it from above, and it's bright enough to be read under direct sunlight. Depending on your own usage habits and your chosen settings, the camera should also offer sufficient battery life for a full day of shooting.
Unfortunately, while it's relatively compact by the standards of full-frame mirrorless cameras, it's a little on the heavy side, which can be a bit of an annoyance if you're bringing it with you to a remote shooting location. Its menu system also takes some time to get used to and can't be navigated via touch inputs. Otherwise, it's an excellent option for landscape photography.
The best mirrorless camera for sports and wildlife photography that we've tested is the Nikon Z 6. This full-frame mirrorless camera has an amazingly fast maximum shutter speed of 1/8000s and can shoot in continuous bursts at 12 fps, allowing you to capture clear still images of fast-moving subjects, like race cars on a track. Better still, it can clear its buffer exceptionally quickly, so you don't have to wait too long between firing off a couple of bursts.
Its autofocus system delivers exceptional performance in photography, as it's capable of focusing on subjects quickly and consistently. Image quality is also excellent, with a fairly high dynamic range as well as good noise handling capability, so you can shoot in fairly dark environments without having to worry about excess noise caused by a high ISO level. It's also fantastically comfortable to use and feels amazingly well-built, with tight, responsive controls and a magnesium-alloy and high-grade plastic construction that's rated as being weather-sealed, though we don't currently test for that.
Unfortunately, despite its exceptionally comfortable ergonomics, you may experience some fatigue while using this camera during longer shooting sessions due to its heavy weight. Depending on your usage habits and the settings you use, its battery life is also somewhat short. Still, it delivers impressive overall performance when it comes to sports and wildlife photography.
If you're looking for a full-frame mirrorless camera that offers even better overall image quality, consider the Canon EOS R6. It doesn't feel as well-built as the Nikon Z 6, can't be used while charging, and its autofocus system is less effective overall but does capture images with a slightly wider dynamic range, superior color accuracy, and less apparent visual noise. It's fantastically comfortable to use, with easily accessible controls, a rounded-off body that sits well in your hand, and a highly intuitive menu system. If you're planning on snapping pictures of easily spooked wildlife, you can use its silent shutter function to shoot at a maximum continuous speed of 18 fps, which is even faster than the Nikon. That said, its longer buffer clearing time can lead to interruptions after firing off an extended burst. Unfortunately, this camera isn't especially portable, with a relatively heavy body that can make it a challenge to carry it around for a full day of shooting.
Consider the Nikon if you prioritize build quality and slightly longer battery life, but consider the Canon if you value image quality and even more comfortable ergonomics.
The best mirrorless camera for vlogging that we've tested is the Fujifilm X-T4. This premium crop-sensor camera features an in-body image stabilization feature as well as a kit lens with an optical stabilization function, which helps smooth out camera shake and generate amazingly stable footage while recording handheld video. Its screen is also clear, bright, and fully articulated, allowing you to see what's being recorded even when the camera is pointed at you.
Its video autofocus system is remarkably effective, as it can track subjects' faces quickly, smoothly, and consistently even as they move around within the frame. Video quality is impressively sharp and low in noise whether you're recording in FHD or 4k, and this camera is capable of shooting 4k video at up to 60 fps with only a relatively minor 1.16x crop, so the corresponding reduction in field of view isn't too noticeable. Its twin UHS-II SD card slots are useful if you're worried about running out of space while recording video or want a backup of your footage. There are ports and adapters for attaching an external recorder, an auxiliary mic, as well as headphones too.
Unfortunately, it's a little on the heavy side, which can cause a bit of fatigue if you carry it around on a gimbal for long periods of time. Still, its remarkably effective autofocus system, great video quality, and excellent stabilization performance make it an amazing choice for vlogging.
The best mirrorless camera for studio video that we've tested is the Panasonic Lumix DC-S5. This full-frame mirrorless camera delivers impressive overall video quality whether you're recording in 4k or FHD, with sharp, well-rendered object contours and surfaces and very little visual noise when recording in poorly-lit settings. Its autofocus system also does a great job of tracking subjects, with quick, consistent, and smooth focus transitions.
There are a couple of functions that should please both novice and enthusiast videographers, including its V-Log shooting mode, which expands the camera's dynamic range and allows for in-depth color grading in the editing stage, though we don't currently test this feature. It also features two SD card slots, a clean HDMI output for fitting an external recorder, and microphone and headphone jacks to improve the audio quality of your recording and monitor sound levels with greater precision. Its long battery life is great for extended recording sessions, and its menu system is easy to navigate and intuitively laid out.
Unfortunately, it's worth noting that while the camera can record in 4k at 60 fps, doing so incurs a severe 1.5x crop, leading to an overall reduction in field of view. Thankfully, you can record at 30 or 24 fps in this resolution without any crop. Unlike the Sony α7 III, it isn't capable of recording at high frame rates in FHD for generating smooth slow-motion video. Still, its great video quality, reliable autofocus system, and dense feature set make it an excellent choice for studio video.
Apr 14, 2021: Verified that all main picks are still in stock and represent the best choice for their given category.
Mar 24, 2021: Verified that all main picks are still in stock and represent the best choice for their category.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best mirrorless cameras for most people to buy, according to their needs. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability (no cameras that are difficult to find or almost out of stock in the US).
If you would like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our reviews for interchangeable-lens mirrorless cameras. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There is no single perfect camera. Personal taste, preference, and shooting habits will matter more in your selection.