Best Mirrorless Cameras

As you probably know the mirrorless camera revolution is well underway. These new camera systems really challenge the need for DSLR cameras. Why bother with the bulk and weight of a DSLR when you can get similar and sometimes better results from an interchangeable lens mirrorless system? The key advantages of the DSLR are speed (still images per second) and actually seeing exactly what you are shooting by way of the mirror and optical viewfinder.

Jump straight to each segment:

Best of the Best

Best Value

Best on a Budget

Another feature which distinguishes DSLR’s is their autofocus speed. When shooting wildlife the DSLR’s offered an advantage in focus speed and in available frames per second shooting. Over time the mirrorless systems are getting better at focusing and shooting speed and improvements have been made to their electronic viewfinders. The top of the line Sony A9 mirrorless system has surpassed the top of the line Canon DSLR (1DX Mark II) with 20 RAW Shots per second, versus 16 RAW Shots per second and does this with a an even higher megapixel full frame sensor: 24 MP versus 20.2 MP.

The Sony Alpha series mirrorless camera systems are way ahead of the curve and pack a serious punch in the way of photo and video. They have really made a dent in the sale of popular DSLR cameras like Canon and Nikon. Some of the Sony mirrorless systems also offer professional video recording features like S-LOG, 4K Uncompressed signal output (for external recorders) and focus peaking.

In this report I’m including my top 3 winners for Best of the Best, Best Value, and Best on Budget. I’m leaving the Sony A9 out because its just too pricy to be relevant for most people.

BEST OF THE BEST



BEST OF THE BEST

Sensor

Lens

Video

#1 WINNER

Sony Alpha A7R Mark II (A7R2)

 42.4 megapixel 35 mm Full-Frame CMOS Exmor R BSI

Interchangeable, E-Mount, Adapter compatible.

Internal 4K UHD Video & S-Log2 Gamma, 4K output

#2 WINNER

Sony Alpha A7S Mark II (A7S2)

12.2 megapixels 35mm Full-frame CMOS Exmor 

Interchangeable, E-Mount, Adapter compatible.

Internal 4K  UHD 30 fps & S-Log3 Gamma, 4K output


#3 WINNER

Panasonic Lumix GH5

20.3MP Micro Four Thirds with no optical low pass filter

Interchangeable, Adapter compatible 

Internal 4K UHD up to 60 fps. FHD up to 180fps. V-LogL recording.

 

#1 WINNER
Sony Alpha A7R Mark II (A7R2)

Sensor: 42.4 megapixel 35 mm Full-Frame CMOS Exmor R BSI with Super 35mm crop mode.

Lens: Interchangeable, E-Mount, Adapter compatible.

Video: Internal 4K UHD Video & S-Log2 Gamma, 4K output

Pros: Huge sensor size. Best sensor for still photography by far. 4K Video.

Cons: Overheats when using 4K video for a long period.

Most people would agree this is hands down the best mirrorless Camera in the world at the moment. Sure the A9 can shoot high-speed with 20fps but that really isn’t useful for most photography purposes. The A9 is also twice the price. The A7R II and A7S II (in the #2 Winner spot) though in the professional segment and out of the budget of many photographers, have to be mentioned here. They are remarkable cameras that are worth every penny. The A7R II can’t be beat really. With a huge 43 megapixel sensor you can print images at huge sizes. The images are so sharp you can even re-crop in post and not lose much. It also has no optical low pass sensor which is great for landscape and nature photography. This is a back-side illuminated sensor and so it has absolutely ground breaking low light capability. You’ll need to shoot in Super-35mm mode if you really want to take advantage of the low light capabilities. This Camera is weather-sealed. The A7RII takes the number one spot because of its huge sensor for still photography and its amazing low light 4K video capabilities. I love this camera and own one.

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#2 WINNER
Sony Alpha A7S Mark II (A7S2)

Sensor: 12.2 Megapixel 35 mm Full-frame CMOS Exmor

Lens: Interchangeable, E-Mount, Adapter compatible.

Video: Internal 4K UHD 30 fps & S-Log3 Gamma, 4K output

Pros: Best low light performance for video. Best mirrorless Camera for video by far.

Cons: Not a lot of megapixels especially if you want to print the photos at a larger size.

The A7S II is one of the best video cameras for the price and it goes beyond its competition in terms of over all video quality. This is primarily a a video camera With S-Log profiles and an extra two stops of dynamic range compared to the A7R II for absolutely best in class low light performance. I would even say this camera is better at low light video than many cameras that are double the price. The A7S and A7S II and broke ground in the video category and seriously established itself as the tool for professionals. If you want to print large prints of your photos go for the A7RII instead. This Camera is weather-sealed. Both the A7S II and A7R II have 5-axis internal stabilization. The great thing about all the Sony Alpha cameras is that they are compatible with EF mount Lenses using a lens adapter.

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#3 WINNER
Panasonic Lumix GH5 

Sensor: 20.3 Megapixel Micro Four Thirds, No optical low pass filter

Lens: Interchangeable, Adapter compatible

Video: Internal 4K UHD up to 60 fps. FHD up to 180fps. V-LogL recording.

Pros: Very capable 4K video. Great fps for slow motion.

Cons: Not a full-frame camera.

The GH5 is a great camera. It boasts serious video capabilities, and just barely loses out to the Sony A7S II for overall video. It is weather-sealed and is thought by many to be the best Micro Four Thirds system available. I give first place to Sony for video because the A7R II and A7S II have better low light performance and are 35mm full-frame sensors. The GH5 is a very capable camera for both still and video. Having internal stabilization makes it much easier to capture smooth video with this camera. The articulating LCD on this camera is very useful.

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BEST VALUE



BEST VALUE

Sensor

Lens

Video

#1 WINNER

Sony Alpha A7 Mark II (A7II)

24.3 Megapixel 35mm Full-Frame Exmore CMOS

Interchangeable, E-Mount, Adapter compatible

1080P HD, S-log2 Gamma

#2 WINNER

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

20.4 Megapixel Micro Four Thirds

Interchangeable, Adapter compatible

 4K DCI at 24fps and 4K UHD at 30fps

#3 WINNER

Fujifilm X-T2

24.3 Megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS

Interchangeable, X-Mount,  Adapter compatible


Internal 4K UHD with F-log Gamma up to 30fps, 60 fps in 1080p


 

#1 WINNER
Sony Alpha A7 Mark II (A7II)

Sensor: 24.3 Megapixel 35mm Full-Frame Exmore CMOS.

Lens: Interchangeable, E-Mount, Adapter compatible.

Video: 1080P HD, S-log2 Gamma.

Pros: Good sensor size for still photos. High bit rate 1080p video recording.

Cons: No 4K Video.

Sony broke ground with the first version of this camera offering a full-frame sensor in a compact form. The A7 II has 5-axis image stabilization (Steadyshot) like the more expensive cameras in the Alpha line up. It can also be used with lens adapters so you’re not stuck with the E-mount only lenses. On the down side the camera doesn’t have a built in flash and doesn’t have a fast burst mode which can be a problem in some shooting scenarios. Another downside is that it doesn’t offer 4K video. Over all this is a winner because of the full-frame sensor.

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#2 WINNER
Olympus OM -D E-M1 Mark II 

Sensor: 20.4 Megapixel Micro Four Thirds

Lens: Interchangeable, Adapter compatible.

Video: 4K DCI at 24 fps and 4K UHD at 30 fps

Pros: 4K video, fast burst rates for action photography.

Cons: Some issues with autofocus in certain scenes, but still one the best autofocus systems in its class.

This camera is excellent. It has good ergonomics and is easy to grip. The E-M1 offers High fps for action scenes as well as good 4K video options. This camera can compete with some bigger DSLR’s like the Canon 6D, and though it may be a bit more expensive, its worth it for the smaller package. The camera boasts inside stabilization and is weather-sealed. If you don’t shoot action and don’t need the burst speed then this camera isn’t worth the extra money. Also not a great performer in low-light. On the upside it has a very nice durable design.

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#3 WINNER
Fujifilm X-T2 

Sensor: 24.3 Megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS

Lens: Interchangeable, X-Mount, Adapter compatible

Video: Internal 4K UHD with F-log Gamma up to 30fps, 60 fps in 1080p

Pros: Major improvement from previous model (X-T1).

Cons: Video quality is no where near the quality of Sony and Panasonic cameras.

The X-T2 carries on Fujifilms reputation for having the best color reproduction. This is a great camera for many types of photography. The camera has an adjustable touch screen which is very useful. One thing thats great about this camera is that it just feels so solid. Its a magnesium alloy build and it dust and weather sealed (only when using a weather sealed lens as well). The X-T2 Graphite/Silver also happens to be one of the best looking cameras- it has a cool vintage feel to it. One down side of this camera is that its low light focusing can be a bit slow.

 

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BEST ON A BUDGET



BEST ON A BUDGET

Sensor

Lens

Video

#1 WINNER

Sony Alpha A6300

24.2 Megapixel APS-C Exmor CMOS

Interchangeable, E-Mount, Adapter compatible

Internal UHD 4K at 30 fps and Full HD at 120 fps

#2 WINNER

Canon EOS M5

 24.2MP CMOS APS-C 

Interchangeable, Adapter compatible (for Canon DSLR lenses)

1080p Full HD at 60 fps

#3 WINNER

Sony Alpha A6000

24.3  Megapixel APS-C CMOS

Interchangeable, Adapter compatible

1080p Full HD  up to 60 fps

 

#1 WINNER
Sony Alpha A6300

Sensor: 24.2 Megapixel APS-C Exmor CMOS

Lens: Interchangeable, E-Mount, Adapter compatible.

Video: Internal UHD 4K at 30 fps and Full HD at 120 fps

Pros: Excellent ISO performance and 4K video capability.

Cons: No touch screen. No internal stabilization.

The A6300 is a real winner in the way of video. For the price there really isn’t anything anywhere near as capable as this camera. It includes focus peaking and zebra stripes that are commonly found on much more expensive systems. Another surprise for this price range is that it is dust and weather sealed. The camera’s ergonomics and controls are not the best. There isn’t a second dial at the forefinger position and there isn’t a joystick or a touchscreen to reposition the focus point.

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#2 WINNER
Canon EOS M5

Sensor: 24.2 Megapixel CMOS APS-C

Lens: Interchangeable, Adapter compatible (for Canon DSLR lenses)

Video: 1080p Full HD at 60 fps.

Pros: Canon adapter enables this Camera to work with Canon DSLR Lenses.

Cons: No weather-sealing, and no 4K video.

Canon’s been trying to make its way in to the Mirrorless category. The M5 is a decent camera that gives you solid performance and the ability to use your Canon DSLR lenses with an adapter. It has good burst speed of 9 fps. A major drawback to this camera is that it lacks 4K video. The M5 has an excellent touch screen AF system (you can reposition the AF point using the touchscreen). It also has good ergonomics and is similar in feeling to Canon DSLRs. Its a solid overall camera and is great for travel photography.

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#3 WINNER
Sony Alpha A6000

Sensor: 24.3 Megapixel APS-C CMOS.

Lens: Interchangeable, Adapter compatible

Video: 1080p Full HD up to 60 fps.

Pros: Excellent overall value.

Cons: No 4K Video. Not weather-sealed.

The 24.2 MP sensor is an impressive sensor for this price range. The A6000 has built in WIFI and fast burst shooting (11 frames per second). The camera is very lightweight and for this price how could you go wrong? The A6000 also offers focus peaking- a feature not usually found at this price point. The A6000 makes for an excellent entry level mirrorless system, that is capable of capturing some very good photos.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

Switching to a mirrorless camera system can be really liberating! Not having to fuss with extra weight and bulk and being able to travel light makes a very big difference. It takes a little while to get used to the the digital viewfinders. I hope you enjoy your new mirrorless system and being a part of the latest camera revolution. Though I still love shooting with a DSLR- the mirrorless interchangeable camera systems are a pleasure to shoot with as well. The Sony Alpha line well deserves the name “Alpha” and comes up as a big winner and leader in the mirrorless world.