Best Mirrorless Cameras in 2021

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Looking for the best mirrorless cameras? We’ve put together this guide to mirrorless cameras to help you sort through the choices out there. 

Different mirrorless cameras have different strengths. Some are designed to maximise resolution for detail and printing quality, while others are amazing in low light. Some are best for photography, others have class-leading video features. We’ve picked out all the best cameras around, and put together a few explainers if you’re new to all this and need a grounding in the basics.

We’ve divided this guide up into sections to make it easier to navigate – click the headings below to jump straight to the section of your choice.

Most Recent Mirrorless Camera

Before we go any further - here's the newest mirrorless cameras this year. 

Sony A7 IV Digital Camera Body

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£2,399.00 View

Fujifilm X-T30 II Digital Camera Body - Black

£769.00 View

Best Mirrorless Cameras for Video

If you’re looking to shoot video on a mirrorless camera then you’re in luck! There are loads of fantastic models to choose from, each with different strengths and specialities. Here we run through the best mirrorless cameras for video recording, with a mix of models from entry-level mirrorless cameras right up to professional tools.

Canon EOS R5 Digital Camera Body

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£4,299.00 View

Pro: Top-notch image quality

Pro: Huge video versatility

Pro: Sophisticated EOS R lens mount

Con: Recording limits on some video modes

Designed for professional photographers and videographers, especially those content creators who might dabble in a bit of both, the Canon EOS R5 is the blueprint for the kinds of cameras we’ll be seeing over the next decade.

This camera is absolutely crammed with top-of-the-range features. There’s the brand new 45MP CMOS sensor, which is capable of shooting 8K footage, or 4K footage at up to 120fps for super-slow motion in pristine high quality. The mechanical shutter can burst shoot at up to 12fps, and when you pair this with Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus system, you can virtually guarantee that you’ll never miss a moment.

All this is housed in a DSLR-style body, with a 5-axis stabilisation system and a new long-life battery. Shooting faster, better and longer is a matter of ease with the Canon EOS R5, and we’re excited to see where this journey takes us next.

Who’s it for? Professionals.


 

Panasonic Lumix S5 Digital Camera Body

£1,299.00 inc. Cashback View

Pro: Stunning video quality

Pro: Excellent in low light

Con: HDMI port not full-size

Con: Some video modes have a 30-minute time limit

Panasonic has caused tremendous excitement with its full-frame mirrorless series of cameras, and it’s well earned! These cameras keep getting better all the time, and the Lumix S5 is the most interesting yet. With a lower resolution than the others we’ve examined so far, at 24.2MP, it’s more suited for video and low-light work.

The Lumix S5 is rated at -6EV luminance detection performance and its Dual Native ISO sensitivity technology will greatly reduce noise in images, even at the highest expanded ISO setting of 51,200. 

Video-wise, it’s as well-specced as you’d expect a Panasonic camera to be, capable of shooting 4K 60p/50p 4:2:0 10-bit and 4K 30p/25p 4:2:2 10-bit internally. Add to this the 14+ stops of dynamic range you get with the V-Log colour profile, and you’ve got a seriously flexible video-shooting machine on your hands.

Who’s it for? Professionals, advanced enthusiasts.


 

Panasonic Lumix GX880 Digital Camera with 12-32mm Lens - Black

£349.00 View

Pro: Incredibly tiny

Pro: Great-looking 4K

Pro: Loads of lenses

Con: Smaller MFT sensor

You may not believe at first that a camera this small is capable of shooting great-looking 4K video, but Panasonic has made it so. The Lumix GX880 is small enough to take everywhere with you in a small bag or coat pocket, but also packs in a 16.1-megapixel MOS sensor with no low-pass filter for superb image quality. The 3-inch touchscreen is also capable of flipping around 180 degrees, meaning it’s great for shooting travel selfies, a task made simpler by the specialist selfie modes like Night Mode Selfie and 4K Selfie.

All this also makes the GX880 a good choice for vlogging, and its 4K 30p video will look great on any platform. A front grip has even been added for a more stable and comfortable hold while you’re self-shooting, so you can get on with travel vlogging in confidence. Access to the huge stable of Micro Four Thirds lenses is just the icing on an already extremely tasty cake.

Who’s it for? Beginners, travel photographers. 


 

Sony A7S III Digital Camera Body

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£3,799.00 View

Pro: Best low-light performance in the business

Pro: Class-leading video quality

Pro: Superb video autofocus

Con: Low MP count for stills

The Sony A7S series has been beloved by filmmakers ever since its introduction but has generally had a foot halfway in the stills camp as well. With the long-awaited Sony A7S III, the firm has made its choice and gunned more firmly for video. The 12MP sensor of the A7S III is probably not going to be enough resolution for any serious stills photographer, but for video shooters it’s perfect.

The A7S series is also famous for low-light performance, and the A7S III is world-class in that department, with its full-frame sensor and incredibly high ISO settings. It’s also weather-sealed and has one of the best electronic viewfinders on any mirrorless camera, full stop. As far as mirrorless video goes, this is pretty much the best you can get.

Who’s it for? Professionals.


 

Best Mirrorless Cameras for Photography

Here we’ve rounded up the best mirrorless cameras for stills photography. While all of these do shoot video, and indeed many do so very well, these are our picks for users whose primary interest is photography. Once again we’ve selected cameras at a range of price points so there should be something for everyone.

Sony A7R IV Digital Camera Body

£400 trade-in bonus

£2,899.00 inc. Cashback View

Pro: Exceptionally high resolution

Pro: Good grip and general body feel

Con: Huge files take a while to transfer

Con: Small body can cause an imbalance with big lenses

The Sony A7R IV is the perfect tool for pushing resolution further than ever before. Not only does it deliver a native 61MP of detail in incredible quality thanks to its back-illuminated CMOS sensor, but thanks to its pixel-shift multi-shooting mode, the A7R IV can also produce images up to an incredible 240MP.

If you’re making prints of landscape shots, this is pretty much the perfect camera. Offering incredible latitude with 15 stops of dynamic range, it ensures you’ll capture every detail in the shadows and highlights of your images. Thanks to the 5.76 million dot UXGA OLED viewfinder the A7R IV also provides one of the best shooting experiences in the business. An autofocus system with 567 phase-detect points also means it’s a great option for a moving target, too.

Who is it for? Pros, advanced enthusiasts.


 

Fujifilm X-T4 Digital Camera Body - Black

£1,399.00 View

Pro: Excellent 6.5-stop image stabilisation

Pro: Great controls, fun to use

Pro: Images look superb

Con: No headphone socket

This is probably the best crop sensor mirrorless camera you can buy. The Fujifilm X-T4 is a triumph, a retro-styled wonder with dial-based controls that are a pleasure to use. It makes a few considered improvements on the X-T3, bringing in a sophisticated image stabilisation system that can provide up to 6.5 stops of real-world compensation. This makes it easier than ever to shoot handheld, especially in low light.

Stills from the X-T4 look fantastic straight out of the camera, making it a terrific choice for those who don’t want to spend too much time fiddling in Photoshop. It also gives you access to the X series of lenses, which is arguably one of the finest mirrorless lens ranges around. This is a camera that basically any photographer would be proud to own.

Who’s it for? This is probably the best intermediate mirrorless camera, but also has a lot to offer professional users.


 

Canon EOS R3 Digital Camera Body

£5,879.00 View

Pro: Exceptionally fast work rate

Pro: Impressive low-light performance

Pro: Canon’s intelligent Dual Pixel CMOS AF II

Con: Not as high-resolution sensor as others

The Canon R3 is built for speed and is aimed at professional users who capture fast-paced sports, wildlife and action photography and video footage.

It is the pinnacle of photographic engineering and is host to an incredible range of features and functions such as its 26.7 Megapixel CMOS Stacked sensor and DIGIC X processing engine that offers exceptional low light performance and incredible speeds of up to 1/64,000 sec top electronic shutter speed and 30fps shooting.

The R3 also is equipped with a fast and accurate AF performance thanks to Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF II, which also offers intelligent AF tracking that recognises people, animals and vehicles. But there’s much more - This is only the tip of the iceberg.

Who’s it for? Beginners to intermediate users - especially good for sports photography.


 

Nikon Z7 II Digital Camera Body

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£2,999.00 View

Pro: Fantastic image quality

Pro: Can shoot at ISO 64

Pro: Top-notch ergonomics and design

Con: Battery life not as good as others

The Nikon Z7 II offers speed like never before. It’s a “II” camera by name and a double camera by nature, seeming to have been designed with the philosophy that two is always better than one. So, the Z7 II sports two EXPEED 6 processors, which allow it to process 45.7MP images and 4K 60p video faster than ever before. Elsewhere, the duality comes to the fore in a feature users were crying out for ever since the release of the first Z7 – dual card slots. The Z7 II sports a slot for a UHS-II SD card, and a slot for XQD or CFexpress cards, giving the user a great deal of flexibility.

A true hybrid camera, the Z7 II is designed for those who care about stills and video. Its autofocus is super-fast, its light sensitivity is sophisticated and its high-performance buffer lets you keep shooting and shooting at up to 10 fps. Without a doubt, this is one of the smartest, best enthusiast mirrorless cameras around.

Who’s it for? Professionals and intermediate users.


 

Best Mirrorless Cameras for Portraiture

 

Best lens for portraits

 

Portraits is a pretty specialised genre, and if this is what you’re planning to shoot, it makes sense to ensure you have the right kit. Picking the best mirrorless camera for portraits is happily not too difficult, as you’re unlikely to go wrong as long as you bear  a few things in mind.

When shooting portraits, the key thing is being able to create a shallow depth of field. This refers to when an image has a main subject very sharply in focus, and then the background artfully blurred behind them – the plane of focus is very narrow. 

You also want to be able to shoot at longer focal lengths, as these are more flattering to a subject. Wide-angle lenses will stretch features horizontally and make people look wider than they really are. This can be fun for creative effects, but generally for portraits we want the compressed effect of a telephoto lens.

This means the question of the best mirrorless camera sensor size for portraits is a little complicated. Larger sensors are better for creating a shallow depth of field, so you can really get that beautiful blurred background effect more easily on a full-frame model like the Canon EOS R6. 

However, smaller sensors increase effective focal length of a lens, due to what’s called crop factor. Using a 50mm lens on an APS-C camera, for instance, makes it behave like a 75mm lens, which is a much better focal length for portraits. Use it on a Micro Four Thirds camera, and it behaves like a 100mm lens! As longer lenses tend to be more expensive, a crop-sensor camera can be an affordable way to simulate their effects. 

The other thing to think about is lenses. Creating a shallow depth of field requires a very wide maximum aperture, which is also referred to as the F-number. Lenses with an f-number of 1.8 or even 1.4 can open really wide and get that plane of focus really narrow. Look at the lens range for mirrorless cameras – if there’s a lens with a good focal length of around 85mm or more (remember the crop factor if the sensor is smaller) and an aperture of f/1.8 or wider, you’ve got a good portrait lens on your hands.

As a good balance of all these features, we’d recommend the Fujifilm X-T4 as an amazing mirrorless camera for portraits. Its APS-C sensor is a good size but also has the crop factor for increasing focal length, and the X lens range has loads of high-quality optics with large maximum apertures.

Best Mirrorless Cameras for Travel

 

Travel Photography: A Balkan Road Trip


When looking for a good mirrorless travel camera, a key thing to think about is, of course, size. You want something lightweight and breezy that won’t bother you if it’s round your neck all day. Ideally, its lenses should be light as well

Having a good burst mode with plenty of frames per second is a good idea as well, as you may find there are moments that happen quickly, which you don’t want to miss.

Also, you may not have time to do much photo editing on your travels, so a camera that produces great-looking JPEGs that don’t require editing is a plus. Similarly, good Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity features can be a great asset if you want to share images quickly.

Battery life is a big consideration for mirrorless travel cameras, as you want something that will last a day without needing to be plugged in.

We’d say the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is a great choice. Easy to use and tiny, but capable of producing fantastic images. 

Best Mirrorless Camera Buying Guide – how to make sense of it all

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It’s easy to get confused trying to get your head around which mirrorless camera to buy. We’ve put together this section of the guide for anyone who’s new to all of this and feels themselves getting a little bit lost among the names, numbers and letters. First up, let’s take a look at what actually defines a mirrorless camera.

What’s the difference between a mirrorless camera and a DSLR?

This is one of the most common questions we get at Wex, so we’ll try to answer it as simply as possible. 

The key difference between a mirrorless camera and a DSLR is that a DSLR contains an internal mirror mechanism that allows it to have an optical viewfinder. Mirrorless cameras lack this – hence the term “mirrorless” – and therefore will provide different ways of framing your subject. Some will just have an LCD screen, which may be fully-articulating, a tilting touchscreen or fixed in place. Others will also provide an electronic viewfinder – essentially a mini-LCD for the eye.

As far as concrete definitions go, that’s really it! There are a lot of features common to each type, but there are exceptions to every rule. For instance, DSLRs tend to be more ruggedly weatherproof and have a pronounced handgrip, while mirrorless cameras tend to be smaller and lighter. This is generally true, but not always – for instance, the Canon EOS R5 is not a DSLR, but resembles one in build and handling, to the point where an ordinary person wouldn’t really notice any difference. 

Mirrorless cameras also tend to be better for video, particularly in terms of video autofocus. This is again because of the mirror mechanism – mirrorless cameras can make use of on-sensor phase-detection autofocus for video, while DSLRs can’t because their mirror is flipped up when shooting video. However, many newer DSLRs like the Nikon D780 are improving their video specs to the point where there isn’t a whole lot in it.

There’s no right answer in the question of mirrorless vs DSLR. It’s all about figuring out your needs as a photographer or videographer, and determining what suits you best.


Recommended mirrorless camera brands

There are several popular brands of mirrorless camera, each one catering to a slightly different type of user. Below, we’ll quickly run through the main names you need to know about and what kind of cameras they make.

Sony

Sony produces many cameras that are lauded for being up there with the best ever made. It’s full-frame range includes the high-resolution A7R IV, the super-speedy A9 II and the low-light expert A7S III. These are tools for professional videographers and photographers – enthusiasts and amateurs should look at the APS-C A6000 range, which includes some excellent models that are very attractively priced.

What’s the best Sony mirrorless camera? If you’re looking for an all-rounder the Sony A7 III is balanced to be a great option for stills and video shooters. 

View our full range of Sony mirrorless cameras »

Canon

While Canon is known for its DSLRs, the firm has been expanding its mirrorless range to compete with the best around. The EOS R cameras are the flagship models, with full-frame sensors and sophisticated 12-pin lens mounts. But the EOS M cameras also have their fans among enthusiasts and more casual users. 

What’s the best Canon mirrorless camera? While the Canon EOS R5 is the showstopper of the range, for a balanced all-around experience we’d recommend looking at the Canon EOS R6.

View our full range of Canon mirrorless cameras »

Nikon

Similarly to Canon, Nikon has looked to grab a piece of the pie with its own full-frame mirrorless series, the super-snappy Nikon Z range. These cameras are designed to be extra-fast for professional shooters, with an impressive range of Z lenses that is only going to get bigger and better.

What’s the best Nikon mirrorless camera? The flagship right now is the Nikon Z7 II, though new users should look at the Nikon Z50, which is more affordable and uses a smaller sensor.

View our full range of Nikon mirrorless cameras »

Fujifilm

Fujifilm have been doing their X-series thing for more than a decade now, and this retro-styled series has won legions of fans. They make look fashionable, but these cameras also have the tech to match, and the X-series lenses are absolutely amazing. Even the kit lens is tremendous!

What’s the best Fujifilm mirrorless camera? Probably the Fujifilm X-T4, but there’s loads to choose from. Try the Fujifilm X-T30 for a slimmed-down version, or the Fujifilm X-Pro3 for a pure shooting experience.

View our full range of Fujifilm mirrorless cameras »

Panasonic

Panasonic’s mirrorless cameras are known for their high-quality 4K video. Its Lumix G-series cameras use a Micro Four Thirds sensor, which is smaller than the full-frame sensors of Sony or the APS-C sensors of Fujifilm. While this has some disadvantages in terms of low-light performance, it does allow them access to the huge Micro Four Thirds lens range. If sensor-size is a deal-breaker for you, then there’s also the firm’s latest mirrorless cameras, the Lumix S series, which are full-frame.

What’s the best Panasonic mirrorless camera? There are absolutely loads, and it depends what you have in mind. In brief – for new users, the Panasonic Lumix GX880. For stills shooters, it’s the Panasonic Lumix GX9. For video, the Panasonic Lumix S5 or Panasonic Lumix GH5S.

View our full range of Panasonic mirrorless cameras »

Olympus

Olympus also makes Micro Four Thirds cameras, so you can interchangeably use Panasonic G lenses on Olympus OM-D cameras, and vice-versa. Olympus mirrorless cameras are very small but absolutely packed with tech, and are great for those who like to get granular with their settings and shooting modes.

What’s the best Olympus mirrorless camera? For an enthusiast all-rounder, it’s the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III. For professional users, it’s the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, and for new users, it’s the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV.

View our full range of Olympus mirrorless cameras

 

What the Words Mean

If you’re new to photography and videography and find all the technical terms hard to keep up with, we’ve put together this quick guide to help you with some of the jargon.

Aperture

The aperture of a lens is the opening that allows light to access the camera sensor. It is expressed as an f-number, generally formatted as f/4, f2.8, F1.8 or similar. The lower the number, the wider the aperture, and the more light gets in. This is useful both for shooting in low light and for creating a shallow depth of field (more on which below). 

A lens’s maximum aperture will generally be listed in its name. Shooting at the widest setting a lens can go is referred to as “shooting wide open”. The trade-off is that the optics required to give lenses large maximum apertures are both large and costly, so these lenses tend to weigh and cost more. Shooting wide open can also result in a loss in sharpness, though this is becoming less of an issue as optical technology improves.

A recent lens notable for its large maximum aperture is the Fujifilm XF 50mm f1.0 R WR Lens.

Depth of field

Depth of field refers to how much of an image is in focus. A shallow depth of field means that a very narrow plane of an image is in focus, with the rest blurred. This is good for portraits, where you want your subject to stand out from their background. In an image with a larger depth of field, more of the scene is in focus. This is ideal for landscapes, where there tends to be a lot of interest at different distances from the camera.

Dynamic range

This refers to a camera sensor’s ability to handle different shades of light and dark. A sensor with poor dynamic range will lose detail in the brightest highlights and darkest shadows of an image. The more dynamic range, the more detail you can retain in an image.

Electronic viewfinder (EVF)

Many mirrorless cameras possess electronic viewfinders, commonly referred to as EVFs. These are mini-LCD screens designed to simulate the optical viewfinders found on DSLRs. Once derided as laggy and poor quality, EVFs have improved greatly, and have the advantage of being able to display settings information alongside the image the camera is pointed at. The best EVF on any mirrorless camera right now is probably on the Panasonic Lumix S5.

ISO

On a digital camera you have the ability to set the ISO. This determines how sensitive the sensor is to light – a higher ISO setting means the sensor will take in more light, meaning it sees better in the dark. The trade-off is that this causes an increase in unwanted image artifacts, generally referred to as “noise”. If a camera is described as having good high-ISO performance, it means that it can produce images at high ISO settings with minimal noise. The best mirrorless high-ISO camera is the Sony A7S III, by some distance.

Kit lens

You may hear this term banded about when referring to entry-level cameras. A kit lens is essentially an entry-level lens, affordable and practical and often available as part of a kit with an entry-level camera – hence the name. Kit lenses tend to cover standard focal ranges like 18-55mm and have maximum apertures that top out at around f/3.5.

Phase-detect / contrast-detect / hybrid autofocus

Phase-detect and contrast-detect are the most common types of autofocus, and you’ll likely hear these terms crop up in a discussion about mirrorless cameras. One could write reams explaining the difference between the two, but let’s quickly run over the basics as that’s all you really need.

Phase-detection autofocus is a newer technology that uses the camera sensor. It effectively splits the image into two “phases”, measures the difference in point of focus between them and calculates accordingly how much to move the lens. It was most commonly found in DSLRs initially and is a fast way to find focus.

Contrast-detection measures contrast through the lens, and adjusts the optical system until it detects the optimal contrast level between pixels that means the image is in focus. It is slower than phase-detect, but tends to be more accurate.

Hybrid autofocus, as you might have guessed, uses both of these at once. This allows for faster-than-ever autofocus performance. The fastest autofocus camera right now is the Sony A6600, which in optimal conditions can achieve focus in as little as 0.02 seconds.

FAQs

Q: What is the best mirrorless camera for travel and wildlife?

A: If you’re planning on using a mirrorless camera for travel and wildlife photography, you want something lightweight but powerful. A great autofocus system is a must as well.  We’d recommend the Sony A6600, which we’ve already mentioned as the fastest autofocus mirrorless camera around right now. If your budget won’t stretch that far, try previous cameras in the same range like the Sony A6400 or even the Sony A6000.

Q: What is the best mirrorless full-frame camera?

A: This is an intensely competitive field, and there’s no real right answer. As with everything in photography and videography, it depends. But, if we were pushed, in terms of raw specs, the best mirrorless full-frame camera right now is probably the Canon EOS R5.

Q: Which mirrorless camera has the best battery life?

A: Battery life can be an issue with mirrorless cameras. This is an area where DSLRs do have an edge. However, some manufacturers have made an effort to make mirrorless cameras with good battery life – probably the best example is the Olympus OM-D E-M1X, which has low-power modes that allow it to shoot up 2,580 images on a single charge.

Q: Which is the best mirrorless crop sensor camera?

A: If you’re looking at crop-sensor mirrorless cameras, we definitely recommend the Fujifilm X-T4. It’s one of the most versatile cameras around, and its X-Trans sensor is a superb technological achievement. 

Q: Which is the best mirrorless camera with a kit lens?

A: If you’re starting your mirrorless journey, it makes sense to get a camera with a kit lens included, so you have everything you need to get started right away. We’d say the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX80 with 12-32mm lens is an ideal choice, small and affordable, but highly capable.


 

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Our in-house photography experts, store staff and partners all work collaboratively to poor over these guides. The cameras and equipment recommended in our guides are based on their personal opinion, empirical experience and of course, feedback from our customers.

We way up price, features, quality and the all-important 'je ne sais quoi' to make sure we recommend products that will delight and inspire. 

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