The Best Mirrorless Cameras

This post on the best mirrorless cameras for professional photographers was originally written by Mathieu Gasquet, a professional travel photographer who runs Mirrorlessons with his partner Heather.

The popularity of mirrorless cameras has grown enormously in the 2 years since this article was originally written, hence my desire to update this post with the best mirrorless camera reviews for 2017.

In the past few years, both amateurs and professional photographers have become increasingly interested in finding the best mirrorless cameras (also called MILCs or CSCs).

While it’s true that many photographers still use dSLRs professionally, many have started to realise that there are other interesting alternatives to the ageing dSLR now available in 2017.

If you’re still on the wall about buying into the mirrorless camera system, I highly recommend you read this mirrorless vs dSLR camera buyer’s guide.

The Best Mirrorless Cameras in 2017

Mirrorless camera reviews - the best mirrorless cameras

Before listing the best mirrorless cameras on the market, let’s start by highlighting the benefits and characteristics of mirrorless cameras that might interest you as a professional photographer. This should also be an interesting read for anyone wanting to compare the mirrorless camera vs dslr.

  • Size and weight – This is the primary reason for choosing a mirrorless camera. Working with smaller and lighter gear is certainly an advantage for photographers who have back problems, are tired of carrying around heavy gear, or maybe are just looking for something more manageable to use. Using a smaller mirrorless camera set up is usually just a lot more fun, and can be combined with one of these lightweight tripods for travel.
  • Electronic viewfinder – While a few years ago EVFs weren’t very sharp and had time lag issues, the latest technology now allows for big viewfinders with great resolution and reduced time lag. Moreover, an EVF gives you lots of advantages like the ability to see the exact exposure of a scene before pressing the shutter button.
  • Speed and discretion – Most Mirrorless Cameras now include an electronic shutter option that gives you several advantages like a faster shutter speed than 1/8000, a burst mode that can surpass 20fps and a completely silent shutter.
  • Price – even though it’s not really an apples to apples comparison, it has to be noted that the average price of a professional body mirrorless camera is substantially less than a dSLR. For those dSLR shooters wanting to ‘test the waters’ with a full mirrorless system, the switch isn’t quite as eye-watering as a Nikon <-> Canon dSLR switch, for example.
  • The X Factor – mirrorless cameras with their inbuilt stabilisation, multi-million dot electronic viewfinders, complete AF point coverage and all the other state-of-the-art functionality are inherently a lot of fun to use. For photographers growing tired of the ageing dSLR system of camera bodies, mirrorless cameras can provide a much-needed refreshment.

If you need a camera bag for your new mirrorless camera, be sure to check out these 3 posts: best camera bags, best camera backpacks and best camera bags for women.

Is it Time you Switched to a Mirrorless Camera?

Below we’ll describe a few of the best mirrorless cameras that Mathieu has tested during his work, as well as some more recent mirrorless cameras that are very popular among other professional photographers.

The switch from dSLR to mirrorless cameras for professional photography is a move more and more of us are making, and it’s a move that comes with some trepidation.

dSLRs are workhorse cameras – they’re rugged, reliable and fast. They get the job done and pay the bills.

Mirrorless cameras offer the same apparent benefits but in a much smaller, lighter and in most cases more modern package. However, are they really ready to compete with the dSLR on a professional stage yet? Let’s look at some of the best mirrorless cameras for professional photographers in 2017 to see if we can answer that question.

Fujifilm X-T20

fuji-x-t20 mirrorless camera review

Fujifilm X-T20 Specifications

Megapixels: 24.3
Sensor Size: APS-C (23.6mm x 15.6mm)
Weight: 2.2 pounds
Price: Click here for the latest price

Fujifilm X-T20 Review

Fujifilm has a habit of releasing a pro body camera aimed at working professionals, then several months later releasing a smaller, more affordable model which shares many of the same features. Fujifilm’s aim is to market to all level of photographer, and what this means to us the consumer is that we have access to excellent mirrorless cameras whatever our budget.

A few months after Fujifilm announced the Fujifilm X-T2 (reviewed here), it was inevitable that they also announce a smaller, lighter and more affordable version – the Fujifilm X-T20.

(If you want to learn more about what one professional photographer thought of this little camera, check out the Fuji X-T20 review.)

Camera manufacturers must carefully decide what features to exclude from these cheaper models of camera, ensuring that they do not cannibalise sales of their flagship bodies. Fortunately for us, the features that remain in the Fujifilm X-T20 make it a very appealing purchase for all level of photographer.

Simply put, the Fujifilm X-T20 is a lot of XT-2 for a lot less money! Have a look at the promo video below for a quick overview of what this amazing camera is capable of.

Let’s start off with what’s similar between the two cameras. The most important similarity is the 24MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor, which delivers gorgeous, vibrant, clean and crisp images whether you shoot in RAW or JPEG.

Another welcome inclusion is the faster processor of the X-T2 on the Fujifilm X-T20, which means more responsive start up times, autofocus speeds, shutter lag time and shot-to-shot time – all in all, a large improvement on its predecessor the X-T10 which was no slouch by any means.

Battery life on Fuji mirrorless cameras has always been a weak point, but at least with the Fujifilm X-T20 you’ll get the same battery as the X-T2, which is at this point the best that Fuji can offer. You can expect around 350 shots per charge – a bit of a joke when compared to dSLRs, but that’s what you need to expect when using a camera with an EVF and other battery zapping technology.

fuji-x-t20-back

Perhaps the best feature of the Fujifilm X-T20 is its class-leading autofocus, also borrowed from its big brother the X-T2. 325 selectable AF points is a massive increase from its predecessor (the X-T10 had 49).

In addition, continuous AF fine-tuning means that when paired with a fast focusing Fuji lens (see the best Fuji lenses here), you’ll benefit from continuous autofocus on par with flagship dSLRs costing 3x the price.

Touchscreens should be standard on all mirrorless cameras in 2017, and luckily the Fujifilm X-T20 has one that won’t disappoint. You can set the focus point and shoot just by touching the screen, allowing for angles and moments that you may have missed otherwise.

The responsive touchscreen is one reason I recommend the Fujifilm X-T20 when taking photographs of children. Here’s a video of how one of the Fuji X photographers uses the Fujifilm X-T20 to take portraits of kids.

In terms of what’s missing from the Fujifilm X-T20 when compared to the X-T2 (apart from the large price tag, of course!), there are several differences that aren’t particularly relevant to the average shooter (e.g. shallower buffer depth, customizeable AF setting etc.) Most of these differences revolve around the lack of an optional battery grip for the Fujifilm X-T20, but it’s safe to assume that only a small percentage of X-T2 users would actually invest in the pricey grip anyway.

The Fujifilm X-T20 had to compromise a little with buttons and dials due to its reduced size. There’s also no weather sealing, no dual SD card slots and a smaller OLED viewfinder on the Fujifilm X-T20 when compared to the X-T2.

I think it’s safe to say that the ‘missing’ features of the Fujifilm X-T20 from its big brother are insignificant for 90% of photographers, who’ll instead jump at the chance of a camera costing half the price of the flagship X-T2 whilst still featuring the majority of the features and functionality that truly matter.

Make no mistake – the Fujifilm X-T20 is an absolute bargain of a mirrorless camera and a great balance of size to pro-grade performance. Best of all, you can pick up the Fujifilm X-T20 in a selection of competitively priced kits – our recommendation is this Fujifilm X-T20 + 18-55mm f/2.8-4 OIS lens kit for those who want a great all-roundset up for most situations.

For those who want the body only, click the below for the latest price and select between an all black body or silver/black.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST PRICE ON THE FUJIFILM X-T20

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

olympus-omd-em1-mark-ii

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Specifications

Megapixels: 20.4
Sensor Size: 4/3 (17.3mm x 13mm)
Weight: 1.1lbs
Price: Click here for the latest price

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Review

The predecessor to the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II was and will continue to be one of the most popular mirrorless cameras ever made. It’s included lower down on this list of the best mirrorless cameras, but for now, there’s a new king on the Olympus block…

Olympus is well known for releasing upgraded versions of its popular cameras with a huge list of updates. This holds true with the impressive Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, an MFT (Micro Four Thirds) sensor camera which showcases some incredible features.

Thanks to a frankly ridiculous dual quad-core processor, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II can shoot 60 frames in one second. Read that again, as it’s unbelievable, and arguable whether any photographer would ever actually need it!

With continuous autofocus, the processor can deliver an equally impressive 18fps, which means that you can grab more in focus shots of your subject running toward you at speed.

Fast frame rate is nothing without excellent auto-focus to match, and luckily the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II has that down pat too. The original Mark I already had impressively fast auto-focus, (as does one of my favourite mirrorless cameras the Olympus OMD EM 5 Mark II, which I reviewed here), but the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II builds on this with a 121-pt hybrid AF system, offering arguably the fastest autofocus in any mirrorless camera in 2017.

The 5-axis image stabilisation isn’t new to Olympus mirrorless cameras, but deserves another mention since its so good. Whether you’re a stills or a video shooter, you’ll be in awe of the steadycam-like performance of hand-holding the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II even at slower shutter speeds – it really is a bit eery watching buttery smooth footage shot by the Olympus.

Other neat features on the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II include a fully articulating 3″ LCD display, 4k video, a 50mp high-res shot mode, weather-sealing and a gorgeous high-res electronic viewfinder – not quite as good as Fuji’s flagship cameras but still pretty damn good!

MIRRORLESS CAMERA REVIEWS

Aside from all the impressive hardware features of the camera, image quality is still up there with the best of the micro four third sensor cameras. RAW capture and high ISO performance on the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II doesn’t really change from the Mark I, but it’s still very good for a sensor of this size.

Straight out of camera JPEGS are sharp and contrasty, although the noise reduction at higher ISOs may be too harsh for some. However, these are all elements that you can tweak in-camera to your personal tastes – I’d recommend turning noise reduction off to see if you prefer the look.

Dual memory card slots are another indication that Olympus is pushing the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II towards professional photographers, but with a sensor this size and its apparent limitations, can you really use this Olympus for paying clients?

I’d say that depends on the nature of your work. If you’re frequently shooting in low light and/or require large dynamic range to play with when post-processing your files, a full frame, or even an APS-C sensor camera may be more to your tastes.

However, if all you need is a camera with blazing fast auto-focus to be used primarily in daylight (sports shooters etc.), the files from the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II are definitely good enough for professional usage. Even if your subject is standing still, the files are obviously equally impressive too! (Click here to see a high-res image taken with the Mark II).

Olympus OM-D E-M Mark II with Olympus 12-100mm f/4
Olympus OM-D E-M Mark II with Olympus 12-100mm f/4

The 50mp image option, whilst somewhat fiddly to get right first time, also gives you the unique ability to produce large-scale prints from the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II – something other mirrorless cameras may be unable to do.

To conclude, if you’re a fan of Olympus camera bodies and are looking for a way to capture fast moving objects in a small, lightweight package, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II should definitely be on your shortlist.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST PRICE ON THE OLYMPUS OM-D E-M1 MARK II

Fujifilm X-T2

FUJIFILM X-T2

Fuji X-T2 Specifications

Megapixels: 24.3
Sensor Size: APS-C (23.6mm x 15.6mm)
Weight: 1.12 pounds
Price: Click here for the latest price

Fuji X-T2 Review

Fuji had a big year in 2016 with the release of the Fujifilm X-Pro 2 and now this, the sucessor to one of the most popular Fujifilm cameras of all time and a true top 10 mirrorless camera – the Fujifilm X-T2.

[Click here for an in-depth review of the Fuji X-T2]

The Fujifilm X-T2 supports the same 24mp X-Trans III sensor as found in the X-Pro 2, meaning similar image quality and an ISO range that runs from 100-51,000. However, Fuji has shown us once again that with each new camera release, there’s a technological advance and this comes in 2 main places.

First we see the most advanced AF system in the Fujifilm X-T2, featuring a 325-point hybrid contrast+phase detection autofocus which is Fujifilm’s best yet. This combination allows rapid image capture at up to 8 fps with full AF tracking or at up to 14 fps using the silent electronic shutter, with accurate, fast tracking of subjects in all modes.

Then there’s the UHD 4k video recording, a first for a Fujifilm mirrorless camera. The beautiful film-look stills presets which we are accustomed to can also be applied to any recorded footage, saving you video shooters some time in front of your computers for a fast edit.

When used in combination with any of the lightweight primes in this best Fujifilm lenses roundup, the Fuji X-T2 becomes a perfectly balanced unit capable in any situation.

FUJIFILM X-T2 MIRRORLESS CAMERAS

The Fujifilm X-T2 features improved handling to its predecessor, incorporating a larger grip, focus lever joystick, locking dials, and raised buttons to ensure smooth operation. The weather-sealed body sports a 2.36m-dot OLED EVF with a larger eyecup for comfortable composition and a base refresh rate of 60 fps, boostable to 100 fps. There’s also a 3″ 1.62m-dot three-way tilting LCD screen for creative shooting angles, including in the portrait orientation.

With the release of the Fujifilm X-T2 also comes an optional vertical power ‘booster’ grip, enabling faster shooting speeds of 11fps, longer video recording times of up to 30 mins and a headphone jack for audio monitoring.

Since its release, the Fujifilm X-T2 has been notoriously hard to get hold of. Continue to be the best mirrorless camera in 2017? Quite possibly! If you want to make sure you have one in your camera bag asap, click here to place an order!

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST PRICE ON THE FUJIFILM XT-2

Sony A7R II

Sony A7RIISony A7R II Specifications

Megapixels: 42.4
Sensor Size: Full frame (36mm x 24mm)
Weight: 3 pounds
Average Customer Rating: 4.5 stars
Price: Click here for the latest price

Sony A7R II Review

For the working professional and serious hobbyist, the Sony A7 series was intriguing, but still wasn’t quite there yet as a viable replacement for the DSLR.

Even with the Sony A7S, which offered 4K video and crazy good high ISO performance, its 12 megapixel sensor and weird ergonomics made it difficult for the average professional to adopt completely. However, Sony’s latest Sony A7R II has evolved into a true competitor to the dSLR, and with its full frame sensor, it’s most certainly the best mirrorless camera for low light.

With a revised exterior design sporting a beefed-up dSLR-like grip, buttons and dials which are more ergonomically friendly, an incredible five-axis sensor-shift image stabilization system, the Sony A7R II is fast becoming a go-to mirrorless camera for professionals.

Shotkit_Emin_Kuliyev_16
Emin Kuliyev’s impressive camera gear collection which currently revolves around the flexibility of the Sony A7R II.

The major draw card of the Sony A7R II is that it is a full frame mirrorless camera. This means that the sensor is the same size as a piece of 35mm film, which is great news for image quality, dynamic range and depth of field control.

The Sony A7R II is also Sony’s highest resolution full frame mirrorless camera, with an incredible 42.4 Mega pixels being recorded at 5fps. This allows for a huge amount of detail in every image, with impressively low noise even at high ISOs.

With a hybrid contrast/phase-detection AF system with 399 points covering 45% of the imaging area, the Sony A7R IIuses data about object distance from all these AF points to ascertain the location of the subject, whether it’s moving in relation to the background, and the location of other objects in the scene.

Sony A7R II sample shot
Sony A7R II with Leica 50mm Summilux f/1.4 sample image – Copyright Jay Cassario

In fact, Sony claims the A7R II’s new sensor design enables the autofocusing system to be 40% faster than the previous A7 cameras.

The Sony A7R II also offers the first 5-axis image stabilization in any full frame camera, helping enormously to reduce image blur resulting from camera shake in both stills and video. What this means in practice is that much slower shutter speeds can be used (e.g. 1.15 sec!) when hand holding the camera, allowing you to shoot at lower ISOs in low light than normal, resulting in cleaner files.

The Sony A7R II is the first full-frame camera to offer 4k recording in-camera. This gives stills photographers the option to shoot video of a scene, then in post production pull out individual frames from the video for editing (as stills).

Sony A7 II sample image - Copyright Emin Kuliyev
Sony A7R II sample still taken from a video file – Copyright Emin Kuliyev

Another exciting feature of the Sony A7 cameras is that they are the only cameras that allow you to use virtually every make of 35mm lens with the full angle of view for which those lenses were designed. This means that with an adapter such as the Metabones Smart Adapter IV, you’ll be able to use all your Canon EF lenses in conjunction with the Sony A7R II.

Check out this full review of the Sony A7R II to see the results of some other lenses being used on the Sony body.

The enormous flexibility combined with stellar image quality of the Sony A7R II one of the most sought after mirrorless cameras by professional photographers in 2017. This makes it top of the pile in this list of mirrorless camera reviews. Expect to see this camera used more and more for wedding photography in coming months.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST PRICE ON THE SONY A7R II FROM AMAZON

Fujifilm X-Pro2

Fuji X-Pro2

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 Specifications

Megapixels: 24.3
Sensor Size: APS-C (23.6mm x 15.6mm)
Weight: 2.9 pounds
Average Customer Rating: 4.5 stars
Price: Click here for the latest price

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 Review

The wait is finally over! 2016 finally saw the release of one of the most eagerly awaited mirrorless camera releases ever – the Fujifilm X-Pro 2. With a huge bump in megapixels, processing power, AF speed and build quality, the Fujifilm X-Pro 2 is arguably the best mirrorless camera on the market today.

During my interview with Fujifilm Australia, the Fujifilm X-Pro 2 was described not as the successor to the hugely popular X-Pro 1, but as a totally different camera altogether.

The Fujifilm X-Pro 2 features a newly-developed 24.3MP X-Trans CMOS III APS-C sensor, which reduces moiré to dramatically improve image quality. The X-Processor Pro engine increases response times considerably over the sluggish X-Pro 1, achieving lightning fast AF, lower noise and better colour reproduction than the original.

Fuji X-Pro 2 review for Shotkit
Fuji X-Pro 2 sample image – copyright York Studios

Professional photographers currently using the Fujifilm X-Pro 2 have told me they love the advanced hybrid viewfinder, which features a magnification function that is overlaid on top of the optical viewfinder, making it fast and easy to check focus, exposure and white balance in real time!

The EVF x OVF viewfinder on the Fujifilm X-Pro 2 really is the best of both worlds – it can be a bright optical viewfinder with LCD-projected overlays or an electronic viewfinder with 100% frame coverage. Technology like this in a mirrorless camera really highlights the slow progression of the dSLR, with relatively small advances in technology over the years.

For those who like to shoot in JPEG, the Fujifilm X-Pro 2 offers all the usual, beautiful film simulations that Fuji X users have come to know and love. A new addition is ACROS, which features smoother gradation, deep blacks and beautiful textures. Fuji uses the knowledge acquired from years of accurately reproducing colour in film manufacturing in its digital X series cameras, and it shows.

Fuji X Pro 2 by York Place Studios for Shotkit
Fuji X-Pro 2 sample image – copyright York Studios

The Fujifilm X-Pro 2 and others in the Fuji X series are one of the few mirrorless cameras that professional photographers feel confident to shoot in JPEG rather than RAW.

As for the AF, the number of selectable focusing points has been expanded to 77, meaning that 40% of the imaging area is covered by fast, precise phase detection AF pixels, which means impressive focusing speeds when photographing moving subjects.

To read an in-depth review of the Fujifilm X-Pro 2 by 2 professional wedding photographers who have made the switch from their Canon dSLRs, click here.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST PRICE ON THE FUJIFILM X-PRO 2 FROM AMAZON

Olympus OM-D E-M1

Olympus OM-D E-M1

Olympus OM-D E-1 Specifications

Megapixels: 16
Sensor Size: 4/3 (17.3mm x 13mm)
Weight: 15.7 ounces
Average Customer Rating: 5 stars
Price: Click here for the latest price

Olympus OM-D E-1 Review

Despite the release of its successor in November 2016, it’s hard to argue with this mirrorless camera which has over 100 5 star reviews on Amazon!

The Olympus OM-D E-1 features a 16MP Micro Four Thirds (MFT) sensor with ISO sensitivity that goes up to 25,600, continuous shooting capabilities up to 10fps, fast contrast/phase detection autofocus with 81 AF points and the most advanced built-in stabilisation system.

Why should you choose the Olympus OM-D E-M1 over other mirrorless cameras?

  • Ergonomics – from the grip and button/dial layout to the great flexibility in customisation it’s hard to beat the feel of the Olympus OM-D EM-1. It’s also a great looking camera, available in black or black and silver.
  • Lenses & Accessories – The Micro Four Thirds system is the most complete among Mirrorless Cameras regarding lens choice. In addition, because the MFT mount is shared by both Olympus and Panasonic, this means that you can use lenses produced by both brands. You also have a vast choice of accessories including flash units.
  • 5-axis stabilisation – the Olympus OM-D EM-1 has the best stabilisation system he’s ever used. When you work and you find yourself in certain situations where you need to take a general shot at night but don’t have your tripod with you, the 5-axis allows you to keep your ISO values down, use a slow aperture like f/5.6 and compensate with a very slow shutter speed. The most extreme example he took was at 1.5 seconds, hand-held with a wide angle lens.
  • Size – The Olympus OM-D EM-1 is the smallest professional mirrorless system you can work with. The combination of the body plus lenses allows you to carry a lot of stuff in a very tiny package. In May, Mathieu worked for five days in Dubai carrying two bodies, 5 lenses, a flash unit, a Macbook Pro Retina 15” and various accessories in a mid-sized shoulder bag (you can read more about it here). It is in situations like these that you really feel the difference.
  • Price – for less than $900 on Amazon, you get a whole lot of camera. After purchasing a selection of fast primes and zoom lenses, you’ll still have change from what you could have spent on the latest professional dSLR camera body!
Olympus OM-D EM-1 sample photo - best mirrorless cameras
Olympus OM-D EM-1 sample image – Copyright Vittore Buzzi

The Olympus OM-D EM-1 is also a complete camera for professional photographers. It is splash, dust and freeze proof, and has a fast and reliable autofocus with phase detection that makes it very good for AF-C and tracking as well.

Many professional photographers may not be convinced by the MFT sensor, as it is smaller than APS-C and full frame, but the reality is that today most MFT sensors perform at a very high level. (Just look at what a SONY RX100 and its 1” sensor can do.) Certainly you have less control over depth of field but it is just a matter of using the right lenses.

Choosing a new system to work with certainly means you have to adapt to it and make it work for you. With the Olympus OM-D EM-1, you’ll find it easy and fun to adapt, and priced at under $900for the Olympus OM-D EM-1 body, it’s steal compared to most dSLRs. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that its the best mirrorless camera under $1000.

If you’re looking for an even smaller version of the Olympus OM-D EM-1, I highly recommend the Olympus OM-D EM-5 Mark II which I reviewed in depth here. If your budget can’t stretch to either of those, take a look at the Olympus OM-D EM-10 Mark II, which I consider to be the best mirrorless camera under 500.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST PRICE ON THE OLYMPUS OM-D EM-1 FROM AMAZON

Panasonic Lumix GH4

Panasonic Lumix GH4Panasonic Lumix GH4 Specifications

Megapixels: 16
Sensor Size: 4/3 (17.3mm x 13mm)
Weight: 1.23 pounds
Average Customer Rating: 4.5 stars
Price: Click here for the latest price

Panasonic Lumix GH4 Review

Despite the recent release of the Panasonic GH5, the Panasonic Lumix GH4 is still one of the best professional mirrorless cameras Panasonic has ever designed.

It features a 16MP Micro Four Thirds sensor with an ISO sensitivity that goes up to 25,600. Its autofocus is the fastest among MFT cameras thanks to the new DfD (Depth from Defocus) technology and can shoot 7.5fps in AF-C mode.

Most people talk about the Panasonic Lumix GH4 for its incredible video capabilities, but the truth is that this camera is still one of the best hybrid photo/video camera you can find on the market in 2017.

Panasonic Lumix GH4 sample photo
Panasonic Lumix GH4 sample image – Copyright Thanh Tuấn Phạm

Here are some of the reasons professional photographers are using the Panasonic Lumix GH4 in their everyday workflow:

  • Autofocus and speed – the Panasonic Lumix GH4 is among the fastest of all Mirrorless Camera systems and works great in both AF-S and AF-C. The 7.5fps continuous shooting capabilities in AF-C mode make it the perfect choice for sports and action photography.
  • Silent mode – The Panasonic Lumix GH4 has a silent shutter option that can be useful when shooting during a church ceremony, a concert or a dance performance for example. The only limit is that ISO is limited to 3,200 maximum when activated.
  • Functionality and easy of use – Like the Olympus OM-D E-M1, the Panasonic Lumix GH4 has great ergonomics and customisation options galore. It is one of those cameras you can start using straight out of the box without the need to customise too many options. You charge the battery and you start using it – that’s it. The Panasonic Lumix GH4 also features the most complete touch screen option around. You can do everything with the dials and buttons or by using the touch screen. The LCD can also be flipped on its side which is another great feature of the camera, especially useful for video shooters.
  • Video capabilities – The reason the Panasonic Lumix GH4 is so popular and the demand has exceeded Panasonic’s expectations is owing to its video capabilities. The Panasonic Lumix GH4 is not only the most advanced mirrorless camera for video shooting but also competes with more expensive dDSLRs like the Canon 5D Mark III. The Panasonic Lumix GH4 gives you a lot of creative tools and options: 4K and UHD recording, professional codec up to 200 mbps, 96fps true slow motion, cine-like profiles and many settings implemented from Panasonic’s broadcast video cameras.
Best mirrorless cameras
Panasonic GH4 sample image – copyright William Innes

The Panasonic Lumix GH4 is a complete hybrid solution: recent technology is bringing video and photography together more and more, and there are now many jobs where people are required to do both.

The image quality for stills is up with the best MFT has to offer, and the video capabilities are incredibly versatile.

Many stills photographers often use 4K to have the ability to crop in a Full HD timeline and therefore make cuts between a wider shot and closer shot with only one camera. For news and quick reportage, this is certainly a big advantage.

Also, the ability to extract 8MP stills from 4k footage is another interesting feature of the Panasonic Lumix GH4 for web usage. For a move in depth review of the Panasonic Lumix GH4, click here.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST PRICE ON THE PANASONIC LUMIX GH-4 FROM AMAZON

Fujifilm X-T1

Fuji X-T1 - best mirrorless cameras

Fuji X-T1 Specifications

Megapixels: 16.3
Sensor Size: APS-C (23.6mm x 15.6mm)
Weight: 0.97 pounds
Average Customer Rating: 4.5 stars
Price: Click here for the latest price

Fuji X-T1 Review

The Fujifilm X-T1 is certainly one of the most popular cameras on the Internet and the one that convinced the most photographers to switch to the Fuji X system. Despite the release of the Fuji X-T2 in late 2016, the Fujifilm X-T1 is still a great mirrorless camera for professional photographers.

The Fujifilm X-T1 features a 16MP APS-C X-Trans Sensor and has an impressive shooting speed of 8fps in AF-C. It is also weatherproof and drop-dead gorgeous in black, black and silver, and graphite silver (pictured) colour options.

Here are a few of the many reasons of the huge popularity of the Fujifilm X-T1 amongst both professional and amateur photographers.

Fuji X-T1 wedding photography
Fuji X-T1 – Part of James Day’s Wedding Photography Gear
  • Ergonomics – The Fujifilm X-T1 has physical dials on the body to adjust your settings, so that you spend less time dealing with digital menus. It has a dedicated ISO dial, shutter speed dial and exposure compensation dial plus different sub-dials for metering, drive mode, etc. You can visualise every setting on the body without the need to look at the LCD or inside the EVF.
  • Electronic Viewfinder – The EVF on the Fujifilm X-T1 is arguably the best EVF on the market. It is the biggest and the brightest with the shortest time lag. It is the first EVF that can truly make you forget the optical viewfinder of your dSLR.
  • Quality of lenses – Fujifilm is really producing wonderful zoom and prime lenses for the X system. The prime lenses in particular are very impressive, with fast f/1.2 and f/1.4 apertures that are clearly designed for professional photographers.
  • Quality of the files – I admit that I have a soft spot for Fujifilm colours, as I’ve found them different with a less digital look than conventional picture profiles. The dynamic range is also another strong point and the RAW files out of the Fujifilm X-T1 offer lots of versatility. I know there is much controversy surrounding the rendering of the X-trans sensor especially regarding green foliage but it seems to be more related to Adobe Camera RAW than the sensor itself. I’ve personally never found a real issue with this.
Fujifilm X-T1 sample photo
Fujifilm X-T1 sample image – Copyright Frederic Frognier

Some professional photographers have less faith in the autofocus capabilities of Fujifilm cameras. Though it is true that previous models like the Fujifilm X-Pro1 were slow, Fuji has managed to enhance the autofocus through firmware updates while implementing new technology into the latest models.

The Fujifilm X-T1 is not perfect but you can definitely use it for action shots once you know what the best settings for it are. (You can read an in-depth article about the Fujifilm X-T1 AF capabilities here.)

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST PRICE ON THE FUJI X-T1 FROM AMAZON

Shortcomings of Mirrorless Cameras

There are other aspects to consider when using a mirrorless camera for professional photography and this is related to what doesn’t work yet and what can be improved. The first thing is certainly professional support.

Canon and Nikon both offer very advanced support options and allow a professional photographer to have his or her camera replaced right away so that postponing a shooting session isn’t required. At the time of writing, neither Olympus, Panasonic, Sony nor Fujifilm have something like this yet. Olympus has a Service Plus support for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 that is available in almost all countries in Europe. Sony is bringing its Pro Support to Europe starting with Germany. But we are still far from what Nikon and Canon have to offer.

Other aspects like autofocus, image quality or the amount of lenses available is something related to the photographer’s needs. Regarding autofocus, mirrorless cameras are really catching up and I am sure that we will soon see a model capable of equaling or even surpassing a dSLR in terms of AF performance.

As for image quality, it depends on many things. The only advice I can give is that if you are interested in switching to a Mirrorless Camera system or even considering a model to use as a second or third body, you must be interested at the advantages and benefits it can give you and not just image quality.

The Best Mirrorless Cameras for Professional Photographers was originally a guest post by Mathieu Gasquet of MirrorLessons. It has since been updated for 2017 by Shotkit

Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post contain affiliate links which help support Shotkit.

46 Comments

  • great article, very interesting and useful. but I have one question that u didn’t touch in your article, what about using mirrorless cameras for wedding? I’m using Nikon DSLR and Fujifilm X-M1 as a second body and I’m very impressed with the image quality of X-series and the convenience by using small body and now I wanna fully switch to X-series.

    P.S. sorry for my English :)

    • Many photographers, including people that I know personally, started to use mirrorless cameras for wedding. Some of them switched totally.
      Fuji cameras are the most popular among wedding photographers because the mix of quality and portability works really well. Also the kind of colour rendering the X-trans sensor has suits those weddings and portraits looks.
      Also the E-M1 from olympus, the Gh4 from Panasonic or the Sony A7s work well.
      In september I did a wedding with a mix of cameras: A7s, E-M1, E-M10 and X-T1 plus a GH3 in a photo corner where people could take selfies with a remote. It worked like a charm.

    • Hey Jack, we are currently on a train on our way to Tuscany, Italy to shoot a wedding this weekend with a Fuji XE2 and XT1. They are both excellent cameras for weddings but the big factor in all this for weddings are the lenses. Fuji glass is pretty bloody good and when you are in a dark reception or church with a F1.2 56mm or f1.4 23mm fitted we have found the image quality is great. We have shot about 12-15 weddings using purely Fuji and have no complaints so far. Back Sunday then off to Toronto Canada for another Fuji wedding ???? Can’t wait for the XT2 though!

  • The only dilemma for me is that working with light, ie. flashes and strobes, is not yet “up to speed”. When this comes around, I’ll jump in with a Sony for sure. I need to be able to bounce light around at weddings.

  • I keep trying mirrorless and love the size and weight and retro feel most have.
    I instantly fall in love until I use the them.

    To put it simply they are just not fast enough for me yet. Not talking about specs I am talking mainly about auto focus, menus and ergonomics.

    Pro level DSLRs still ‘just work’ how I want and in the instant I want.

    • I know what you mean Stuart, and I have to say I agree. I guess everyone has a different concept of ‘fast’ though. I guess you have to decide what is appropriate for your style and genre of photography.

    • Cameras like the OM-D E-M1, Lumix GH4, Sony A6000 and the recent Samsung NX1 are proving mirrorless cameras can do well with autofocus and overall speed. DSLRs have still an advantage also because all DSLR cameras have good AF while with mirrorless, only certain models really excel in this. But I believe that in a few years MILCs will equal DSLRs to say the least.

      • I beg to differ from the claim that all DSLR cameras have good AF. Basically, what you see on the viewfinder of DSLRs is often not the actual focus on the sensor. That is because the focus showing on the viewfinder often is not the actual level of focus on the imaging sensor. DSLRs indicate focus using a different set of sensors below the mirror box, and often there is a discrepancy of the indicated focus from the actual focus on the imaging sensor behind the mirror and shutter. And entry-level DSLRs don’t allow for AF micro-adjustment. With higher-end DSLRs, you can adjust focus in individual camera units to prevent front-focus or back-focus. Contrast this with mirrorless, which uses no mirror box and the imaging sensor itself is also the focusing sensor. That’s why focus with mirrorless cameras is usually bang on, tack sharp right on the subject you intended. There is no discrepancy from tiny misalignments or imprecise assembly. Lucky for you if your particular DSLR is a perfectly assembled unit, because usually there are minute variations within the same production batch.

        • I have an aging Canon EOS 550D that probably has suffered from all that mechanical flip-flopping and it is probably no longer in its correct angle for viewing focus manually. The images I get with manual focus as well as with AF are now noticeably soft. However, when I use Live View, I always get excellent focus.

  • Good read. I have been Mirrorless for the past two wedding seasons. I shot you my kit a little while ago, Fujifilm X-Pro 1 & X100S.

    Happy holidays,
    V.

  • That is a nice article, thanks for your time!
    I am so in love with the Olympus E-M1 OM-D with 12-40mm f/2.8 lens !
    Right now, I shoot with a D610 + 24-70mm f/2.8 lens but I am thinking a lot about moving to a mirrorless camera. I am not a professional photographer, I mean, I am not doing this for living, but still, I spend a lot of time taking with my camera and I also enjoy post processing – I wish I had someone saying “go, sell your D610 and lens and flash and triggers and and and…and get the Olympus E-M1 OM-D as you won’t regret it!!!” – I shoot portraits and landscapes, will this camera work for me ?

    • For portraits and landscapes the E-M1 works really well. There is a nice selection of lenses for portraits, same for landscapes. Colour rendering is really nice as well. If you like to travel and walk a lot for your landscape work, it can make a difference.

    • Hi Andrew — I was going to say ‘go sell your D610 etc, and get an E-M1 and 12-40, you REALLY won’t regret it’, but I see that task has been crossed off the list a long time ago! How are you getting on — have you any regrets? I’m so confident when I’ve got that combo in my hands.

      Best regards, Ben Russell

  • which mirrorless camera is fast enough to focus in low light? I shoot a lot of wedding and during the reception, it’s always indoors with very dim light. When people are moving and dancing, I’m worried that they are not fast enough to get the focus right. any suggestions? thanks!

    • I used with success the E-M1 for dancing moments with the Fl-600r flash and the AF illuminator turned on. It is the camera I have most experience with so it certainly the one I feel to recommend. The A7s also works well in low light.

    • Greetings! I’m Very impressed with your article on Mirrorless Systems, as I’m on the fence between the Fuji XT-1, Olympus EM-1 Mark II, and the Sony A7 II. My primary concern is maintaining high sharpness and detail when printing large (20×30), as well as having a weather-resistant system for shooting marathons in the Pacific Northwest. I like the Fuji XT-1 ergonomics and excellent Fuji optics, but have read about issues of “mushy” detail in green foliage, perhaps being related to the particular raw processing software. The Oly system is intriguing, but the smaller 4/3 sensor gives me concern when printing very large. The Sony A7 II sounds exciting, except not many weather-resistant lenses available. Based on all this, your expert opinions would be greatly appreciated! Thank you.

  • I always enjoy your articles by different people. I certainly respect you for the photography I have seen from you. Thanks for this synopsis of mirror less cameras. Personally, I still have my rather ancient Canon 7D with all the three lenses. (24-70mm f:/2.8; EF-S lens 10mm-23mm f:/ 3.5-5.6; 70-200mm f:/4).
    Someone hacked my computer and I am missing my early photos from 2006-2009. These all were taken with my G2 and my Canon 20D. It is with great sorrow that they are gone as I am a person that gets attached to the pictures that I have taken. I keep all the good ones, and it is with sadness that I will continue to plug on and get others that I will enjoy greatly.

  • Thanks for those insights Mathieu, they’re really helpful. I’m an enthusiastic E-M1 user, and it’s good to keep things in perspective. It’s nice to see that your reservations about the E-M1 are being addressed in the Nov 2015 firmware upgrade — silent mode and extended video capabilities, as well as focus stacking for macro, are all coming our way. Olympus are hyping that up with the slogan ‘Download your new camera’, but it’s not too far from the truth. I’ve put together a page to compare the current Olympus models (including the Nov 2015 firmware upgrades) here: http://bit.ly/1VUot9k.

  • Just made the switch from Nikon to Fuji X-system. After years being a staff photojournalist, I left that world and opened up a documentary photography wedding/event studio. Fuji x-system is ideal for this task. If I was a fashion photographer, or did studio work exclusively, or shot professional sports… this is not the system. However, for straight photojournalist photography, I believe there is nothing better out there.

    • I’m sure many would agree with your comment John. Expect to see bigger advancements in Mirrorless cameras in 2016 ;-)

  • Nice article. A couple of years ago I would never have bought a mirrorless camera because of their earlier flaws. Today I’ve got both the Fujifilm X-T1 and X100T and they’re great cameras. They’re small, lightweight and have great image quality (Fujinon lenses ar excellent), but they’re still not for every task. My Canon 5D MkIII still destroys them when it comes to autofocus speed for example, but I use my Fujifilm cameras probably 90% of the time.

    • Totally agree Peter – those Fujis are excellent cameras, but they still have their limitations. dSLRs are still leagues ahead for auto focus. Thanks for the comment!

  • Thank you! I learned so much about the various Mirrorless systems with the excellent article of the Pros and cons of each.
    I am trying to decide when & what Wireless system I want.

  • I don’t want to be rude, I’m sorry if you’ll think so, or I’ll be looking so.
    My point is. There is no specific theme in this article. There are four main mirrorless cameras and you just said this. You were started like japancamerahunter.com telling about different photographers and their gear. But photographers were different, not just film lovers.
    I was hoping to read ypur own articles about photography as an art, to get some inspiration in the future, but you just told me about four main mirrorless cameras…
    Please, let me read an interview with interesting persons, with camera makers and other art people.
    I’d like to donate this kind of work, not just books about fundamentals of everything and nothing.

    p.s.
    I know, someome might say, “Go to another blog or start your own” But I was in the begining of your journey and it is a harm to see content like this.
    Don’t be like phoblographer.com(3 lenses for this; 5tips about that, etc)

    Thank you.

    • Hi Constantine

      Thanks for your comment and helpful feedback.

      I understand where you’re coming from and know my content won’t be for everyone.

      I did start out that way, and appreciate you being there from the launch.

      However, Shotkit is now my full time job, so I rely on the income for my family. I’d love to write articles about photography as an art, but to be blunt, these things don’t pay the bills.

      Instead I need to focus on things that help people, interest the majority and also allow me to maintain the site/support my family if someone finds the info useful and chooses to make a purchase.

      I hope you understand, and sorry to disappoint you!

      Mark

      • Oh I’m so happy you understood me (Russia English is far from English English)

        To my mind you should play with different forms of writings…
        I was shocked, when I saw a New Yourker like article on the website about games. It was like a thunder strike. I think you should write more of your own feelings or something on your mind.

        Btw, the most important thing, that you and your blog forcing me to start my own blog for my clients. I’m happy to thank you for this!

  • Hi Mark, interesting comments from Constantine and although I totally appreciate what he says I think the clue is in the title “Shotkit- The camera GEAR of the worlds best photographers”. Glad to hear you are making a living from it, great site I have enjoyed it for some time and wishing you every success. Just one from me is all the links take you to Amazon.com where I am on Amazon.co.uk not sure if I get kicked back to .co.uk your affiliation will work? Good luck and best wishes…

  • This is great information. It seems like the debate over DSLR vs Mirrorless is still raging. DSLRs are definitely more common but who knows, maybe mirrorless will become the new standard similar to how digital has all-but replaced film.

  • I agree with all the advantages of mirrorless cameras. But I have a huge investment in a dozen Nikon lenses for my (three) Nikon DSLR bodies – mostly top-of-the-line pro lenses, all full-format, many fast primes, not kit zooms. If one of these mirrorless body makers really wanted to crack the “serious” market they should make a body that takes Nikon lenses. I assume it’s only a matter of time before Nikon comes out with a pro or prosumer mirrorless body with a full-format sensor that takes their family of lenses.

  • Hi everybody! I really enjoyed the article and I’m getting more interested in the mirorless system. I really love the look and feel of Fuji and seariosly thinking about making a change in my gear. I would really appreciate an advice for my situation:

    – Mostly wedding photography
    – I have a fast shooting style ( not into arranging and posing the “perfect” shot )
    – I have 2 Canon 5D mk 3, 35 mm 1.4, 135 mm 2.0, 85 1.2
    – all my gear is old and kinda used up so it needs some maintenance and defiantly need some new lenses. Plus I have big issues with autofocus which I think it might be from the usage and age of the gear ( haven’t given them much maintanance lately )

    So I’m reading all these good things about Fuji but also that mirorless are still not a serious competition for DSLRs… is it worth it to start changing to Fuji? I feel that I need a fresh start or at least something new to be exited about but business is kinda slow and I’m on a very tight budget… so for example should I buy a 70-200 2.8 or sell everything and start building on Fuji?

    Thank you and I hope you can understand my English. :)

    • The main benefits are size/weight, EVF and the great lens options (https://www.shotkit.com/best-fuji-lenses/). I wouldn’t say one is better than the other, but rather, you have to evaluate your own personal needs. If you need the maximum dof, dynamic range and high ISO, a full frame sensor will always ‘beat’ Fuji’s APS-C offerings. If you don’t need to rely on these things, the Fuji system can be a real game changer.

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