Best Mirrorless Cameras
If you’re researching the best mirrorless cameras of the year, you’re definitely not the only one. In 2019, their popularity is growing faster than ever.
Each day another photographer somewhere in the world is switching systems, or starting off their photography journey with one of these remarkable camera bodies.
Mirrorless cameras offer the very latest technology in a more compact package than DSLRs, often at more competitive prices.
|Sony a7III Despite fierce competition and newer releases, the a7III is still on top. Unrivalled performance at a great price. It's the camera I use :-)||View Price|
State-of-the-art technology like electronic view finders (EVF), leaf shutters, complete AF area coverage and in-camera stabilization, are just a few of benefits of mirrorless cameras, that can make photography easier and more fun.
I’m a happy user of a MILC (mirrorless interchangeable lens camera), and recommend them to all beginners and professional photographers alike.
Let’s have a look at the best mirrorless cameras of 2019
Best Mirrorless Cameras of September 2019
|Sony a7III||Check Latest Price|
|Fujifilm X-T3||Check Latest Price|
|Sony a6400||Check Latest Price|
|Fujifilm X-T20||Check Latest Price|
|Sony a6000||Check Latest Price|
|Panasonic GH5||Check Latest Price|
Let’s just jump right in to the good stuff. Each mirrorless camera listed below well and truly deserves its place in this review.
I’ve included the Nikon and Canon bodies that weren’t in my ‘best of the best’ table above, as I appreciate that a lot of photographers reading this will still be interested in their abilities.
Sensor Size: Full Frame (35 mm)
Weight: 653 g (23 oz)
It may not be the newest camera on the block, but the Sony a7III still the best full frame mirrorless camera in 2019.
Most of the talk in the mirrorless industry last year revolved around Sony, with their the Sony a9 stealing headlines with its crazy speed initially, then the Sony a7R III leaving photographers’ jaws dropped with its enormous megapixel count.
[Related: See the full Sony a7 III review]
However, there’s one big problem that caused photographers to hesitate in their purchases – both the flagship Sony full frame a-series bodies are expensive, and as such, pigeon-hole their usage predominantly to pros or wealthy amateurs.
After 10+ years of using DSLRs, this is the camera that provoked me to switch to a mirrorless system.
I’ve used it for over a year for my wedding photography, and made the video below about my thoughts, including some quirks that you should be aware of.
So what does the Sony a7III bring to the table? Well, in true Sony style, everything but the kitchen-sink…
It all revolves around that glorious Sony 24.2 MP BSI full frame image sensor, which produces sharp, vivid and contrasty JPEGs and RAW files with acres of dynamic range.
Then there’s the ISO, which ranges from 50 all the way up to 204,800. I find that at ISO 6400, images are impressively clean, and the noise only creeps in slightly at ISO 12,800.
You can even get respectable images at ISO 51,200, which is actually even better than the Sony a7R III (which costs almost 1.5x the price).
This ability to shoot in near-complete-darkness makes the Sony a7III a firm favourite for wedding photographers. Other cameras may have similar high ISO ability, but the Sony takes it a step further with its incredible low light auto-focus capabilities.
The Sony a7III offers 693 phase-detection AF points with 93% image coverage. By comparison, the Fujifilm X-T3 ‘only’ offers 425 AF points, with 91% coverage.
Then there’s touchscreen LCD (admittedly with rather limited functionality), extended battery life (approx.. 700 shots), dual memory card slots, Enhanced Eye-AF, 5 axis image stabilization, Wifi NFC and Bluetooth, and more customisable buttons than you can shake a stick at.
In practice, I can get around 1,000 shots from one battery, which is pretty much the same as I got with my DSLR. This is really impressive, and one of the big reasons so many wedding photographers chose the a7III over any of the other full frame mirrorless bodies on the market this year.
That Eye-AF deserves a special mention for being the most mind-blowing tech to reach a digital camera in the past few years – the way that it finds and locks on to a subject’s eye (even when they’re wearing sunglasses) is incredibly useful for any photographer who shoots people.
The Eye-AF is another reason the a7III has been voted the best mirrorless camera for wedding photography. Capturing the bride and groom walking towards the camera in poor light has never been so simple.
Another big reason that Sony a7III is still number one in 2019, despite much newer mirrorless camera releases, is an impressive firmware update, which we can assume is one of several in the pipeline for Sony shooters.
Firmware v3.0 brings the enhanced (and frankly mind-blowing) Real-time Eye AE performance to the a7III, available in AF-C mode with a simple half-press of the shutter button. This will work on both humans and animals!
The huge update also brings interval recording functionality, allowing the creation of simple time-lapse movies. AE tracking sensitivity can also be adjusted during interval recording, allowing for reduced changes in exposure over the shooting interval.
Another exciting new developing is the Imaging Edge software, to enhance mobile connectivity and expand the creative capabilities of the entire Sony mirrorless range.
Sony is taking a leaf out of Fujifilm’s book, releasing relevant firmware updates that add useful features to existing bodies, thus prolonging their relevance over time.
So why would I recommend the Fujifilm X-T3 as a viable competitor to this Sony, which seems to be extending its reign as the king of mirrorless?
Well, the 4 things that annoy me about my Sony a7III may be small, but are certainly worth mentioning – first off, the Sony menu system is a mess. Then there’s the ergonomics, which aren’t great (especially when compared to the Nikon and Canon mirrorless bodies).
Another thing is Sony’s colour science, which seems to be still trailing behind the other brands – skin tones just don’t look as nice straight out of camera.
Finally, and this is a strange one – the super-advanced technology in the Sony a7III make it so much easier for you to take photos, that it becomes… dare I say it, rather boring! (Some might say, effortless.)
This is true with all mirrorless cameras to some extent, but with the Sony it’s even more the case – sometimes I feel like I’m shooting with a computer, not a camera. The experience is a lot less fun than when using the X-T3.
However, I’m not complaining too much – the bottom line is, the Sony a7III makes it easier for me to do my job, and it definitely feels like the future of photography.
Despite being over a year old, the Sony a7III is still the best mirrorless camera for professionals in 2019, and one that I’d comfortably recommend to amateurs willing to invest in their passion.
Sensor Size: APS-C (23.6mm x 15.6mm)
Weight: 539g (19 oz)
This third generation release has leapt light years beyond its predecessor, the excellent X-T2 (reviewed here), yet keeps the classic, retro-looking Fuji design. Available in black/silver, or all-black, this is one of the sexiest cameras you’ll see.
What’s improved most importantly of all on version 3 is the autofocus system (now one of the best on the mirrorless market alongside the A7 III), as well as its video capabilities, among other things.
The autofocus on the Fujifilm X-T3 is fast and accurate, and rarely leaves room for complaint. It’s not only far better than the already decent X-T2, it’s almost on par with the Sony a7III. Most of the time you won’t even be able to tell the difference.
Like the Sony A7 III, the X-T3 has face and eye detection, with the additional control of being able to choose the left or right eye, something that can be particularly helpful with portraits. It works so well in fact that I was able to shoot an entire video of our two hyper active boys playing and it never skipped a beat!
The continuous AF is stellar as well, with continuous shooting rates of up to 30 fps (electronic) without an additional camera grip – yes that’s right, THIRTY frames per second. Sounds like we’re talking about film, right?! It also has a blackout-free live view when shooting bursts – something the Nikons/Canon struggle with.
It’s in the video department though, that the Fujifilm X-T3 really shines. With 4K and DCI up to 60fps, and 10-bit internal recording, this gives it an edge for filmmakers and others who rely on accurate/flexible colour grading – it’s definitely the hybrid camera of the year.
Beyond that, it pretty much matches the Sony A7 III in all other video aspects (except for the benefits that a full frame sensor can give you, like slightly better performance in low light, and shallower depth of field).
On the topic of APS-C vs full frame, there will always be those photographers who turn their noses up at any APS-C sensor camera – I should know, as I was one of them!
Truth be told, a full frame sensor will usually out perform a sensor of a smaller size (i.e. APS-C in this case), but only in a small handful of situations.
That said, Fujifilm has always stuck by APS-C, and are without doubt the leaders in the crop-sensor arena, pushing the boundaries with every new camera release.
Cameras like the Fujifilm X-T3 are as close as you can get to full frame performance out of an APS-C sensor… and even exhibit numerous benefits over full frame.
I won’t go any deeper into the crop vs full frame debate here, but just remember – if you’re a full frame snob, this camera is different! You’re going to be seriously impressed.
Back to the review…
For those who like a more intuitive interface, the X-T3 shines here as well. Fuji’s trademark exposure control buttons definitely appeal to those not wanting to visit the menu for everything, and the tactile dials are as beautiful as they are functional.
Other features that impressed me include the razor-sharp, fluid EVF that’s simply a joy to look through; a tally light so you always know if you are recording or not; and a completely silent shooting mode – an end to people turning their heads to look at you when the shutter clicks!
Of course, you also get the uniquely beautiful Fujifilm toning, colour and grain.
There’s something about this camera that just feels good. The dials, the look, the visuals… it’s really different to any other camera out there, and world’s away from the clunky Sony bodies.
Oh, and then there’s the weather-proofing – check out the video below of me being cheeky with an X-T2, which has much the same water-sealing as its successor – I bet the Sony wouldn’t be able to handle this!
So how about the cons? Well, the Fujifilm X-T3 lacks an in-camera image stabilisation system, which means that serious video shooters will need a gimbal. For us stills shooters, we can still take advantage of Fujifilm’s range of stabilised lenses, so all is not lost.
Then there’s the lacklustre battery life of approximately 3~500 shots per charge, and a grip that’s still rather small for larger hands/lenses.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the X-T3’s ISO (native 160 to ISO 12800 with the option to extend it down to 80 or up to 51200) isn’t quite in the same ballpark as the A7 III’s normal range of 100 to 51200 ISO, extendable to 50 (low) or 204800 (high), but this is down to sensor-size… cue full frame snobs!
In most normal situations, you won’t notice the difference in high ISO performance between the Fujifilm X-T3 and other full frame mirrorless cameras. It’s really quite remarkable what Fujifilm has managed to do with this sensor.
Even with all these minor niggles in mind, the X-T3 remains one of the best-performing and most versatile cameras on the market.
If you’re a hybrid photographer/videographer in particular, it’s an affordable way to get professional quality images and video, and is a true pleasure to use. Highly recommended!
Sensor Size: Full frame (36 x 24 mm CMOS)
Weight: 660 g (23.28 oz)
If you’re a Canon lover and have been waiting for the right time to switch to mirrorless, you’re probably over the moon that Canon is finally offering its first full frame mirrorless, the Canon EOS R… but can it really go head-to-head with the Sony A7 III?
In some cases, the answer is a resounding yes. However, as always, it depends on what you want to use it for.
If you’re used to shooting with a DSLR, then you’ll probably love the Canon EOS R’s build: its basically a slimmed-down version of a DSLR.
This is great in some respects, as the grip is definitely firmer and feels better to the hand than the A7 III, and the buttons are beefier, giving one a clear tactile sensation when being pressed. The flipside, though, is that the EOS R is a bit bulkier.
Personally I much prefer to hold a slightly bigger camera with better ergonomics like the EOS R, than a smaller one like the Sony A7III. The weight of both bodies is pretty much identical too, and if you’re going to chuck your camera in your backpack anyway, the slight size difference is negligible.
One of the huge advantages of investing in the EOS R system is the fact that all existing Canon lenses work so well with it, when using the surprisingly low-priced EF-EOS R adapter. Iconic Canon L glass such as the 85mm f/1.2L, which are notoriously slow/inaccurate to focus wide open, take on a new leap of life when attached to the advanced camera body of the Canon EOS R.
This is without doubt the main reason of choosing this full frame Canon mirrorless camera over any other brand:
Canon’s existing lens selection is second to none, and the EOS R manages to squeeze out even higher performance from every lens, whether new or old.
So while there are only four native lenses to go with the R mount right now, it’s definitely not an issue.
Of course, technically, all the existing Canon lenses can work on the A7 III by means of an 3rd party adapter, but it’s a rather half-baked affair. Since the lenses are non-native, Sony has limited involvement (if any?!) in their testing and compliance with Sony bodies.
I always advocate the use of native Sony lenses (or e-mount Sigma lenses) with Sony bodies, wherever possible.
The R-mount lenses that Canon offers are expensive, but worth the price. If these are the starting lenses, then we can all see Canon’s intention with the R system.
They’re remarkably sharp, have a unique look, and they have something that the Sony lenses don’t have – character. The Canon 50mm f/1.2 in particular is a joy to use, and produces the kind of bokeh that Nikon shooters can only dream about!
As far as stills photography is concerned, with 30.1 megapixels the EOS R absolutely excels at detail. As for its autofocus system, it isn’t quite up to par with the A7 III, but still works great – even with the EOS R’s superior autofocus point count, the AF system on the A7 III still has it beat.
The difference can most clearly be seen in continuous shooting mode, where the EOS R is also considerably slower in frames per second: 8fps with no AF, and only 2-4 with AF (in actual shooting). In contrast, the A7 III goes a full 10fps in AF, so if you’re into fast action shooting, the Canon EOS R is probably not right for you.
If you’re a pro wedding/fashion photographer who likes to use the eye detection feature, the EOS R’s isn’t quite there yet, at least not in continual autofocus mode. It’s too slow and often not quite accurate – we all have our fingers crossed for the next firmware update to bring this up to speed.
For everyone else who doesn’t need that level of precision, though, the face/eye recognition does work well enough, especially in single autofocus mode. (Also, if you’re a wedding photographer, note that the silent shooting only works in single shutter mode, which is a shame.)
The ISO on the Canon EOS R is impressive, much like the 5D Mark IV: a normal sensitivity range of 100 to 40000 ISO. It also has an extended Low mode (ISO 50 equivalent) and two H modes that push the values to 51200 and 102400 ISO. This isn’t as sensitive as the A7 III, but it’s still formidable, and most photographers rarely even touch those upper echelons of night-vision anyway!
Another key factor to take note of is that there’s no internal sensor stabilisation in the EOS R. However, all the native R lenses come with in-built stabilisation, so this may not be a factor at all. In fact, we found that at long exposures, the Canon RF 24–105mm f/4‘s stabilisation performed better than the IS in the A7 III. (Night shots at around 2 seconds actually came out sharp handheld, which is incredible!)
One huge benefit for all those vloggers out there, is that the Canon EOS R has a forward facing flip-screen. Also, the video autofocus seems even better than the Sony A7 III’s, which was already pretty damn good.
Personally, I’d much prefer if the flippable screen could twist to a tilted state (horizontally) without having to flip it out to the left hand side first.
Being used to cameras such as the Nikon D750 with its easy-to-operate flip out screen makes the EOS R‘s ‘two-step’ version feel a bit clunky, when all you need to do is quickly shoot from the hip. However, this style of rotating screen is still a great aid when composing a shot with a tripod.
It has to be remembered though, that being able to smoothly edit 4k footage requires a powerful computer set up – I much prefer to shoot videos in 1080 for this reason, and the difference in image quality when viewed online is for the most part negligible.
Another thing to note in the video features of this camera, is that the slo-mo really isn’t up to scratch. It doesn’t record any sound, can only do 720p, and has no AF at all. That won’t matter for most of us, but if you’re someone who records slow motion regularly, best to go with the Sony or some other option.
The Internet has been set on fire by the ‘dual memory card slots or nothing’ crew, and while I do understand their grievances, it’s not all in vain.
There are a great many photographers out there who’ve never even experienced the safety net of a dual card slot camera body, and just as many who are quite happy to step back in time a few years when all cameras only had a single slot.
If you’re a studio or commercial photographer who shoots tethered, one slot won’t be an issue for you. Then there’s always the option of an infield backup to a portable backup drive like the excellent WD My Passport Wireless Pro.
You’ll have to decide for yourself if one slot is a deal breaker or not, but I do recommend you lower your guard a little – many great cameras only have one slot, and as long as you’re treating your memory cards well, the chances of a failure are greatly reduced.
While there are a number of features that don’t quite measure up to the excellent Sony A7 III (and it is obviously more expensive to boot – latest price here), if you’ve already invested in Canon lenses, the Canon EOS R is an excellent choice.
Honestly, Canon has arguably the best lenses in the world (no one ever said that about Sony!) I’m confident that the EOS R will only improve over time, especially with the firmware updates that are sure to come.
Sensor Size: Full Frame (35 mm)
Weight: 675 g (1 lb 7.9 oz)
Don’t worry Nikon lovers, you haven’t been left out. Nikon’s new Z6, the less expensive (and curiously, higher performing) version of the Z7, can still hold its own in this pack. It comes in at the same price point as the Sony A7 III and has many of the same features (including some that are actually better).
First off, the high-resolution electronic viewfinder will knock your socks off. With 3.69-million dots, it’s simply a joy to work with. In addition, unlike the A7 III, the touch screen is highly functional.
Similar to the D850 and the D5, the touch screen includes all the useful smartphone-like gestures that make it a lot of fun to use.
It also inherits the same tilting LCD screen as the other Nikons with this feature – much simpler to operate than that of the EOS R, but doesn’t unfortunately flip to face forwards.
Other important perks include Nikon’s 5-axis IS system, 12 fps burst shooting, and even more solid weather proofing than the others on this list.
As for video on the Z6, Nikon is finally turning the heads of videographers who were up to now firmly rooted in their Canon/Sony/Panasonic systems. Key features include the ability to record in 10-bit video when recording externally via the HDMI output, as well as the recent announcement of firmware that will allow support for the ProRes RAW codec, in addition to Nikon’s own N-Log format.
ProRes recording will require the ATOMOS Ninja V in order to output to that format, however.
The Z6’s autofocus is nowhere near the standards of the D850, but still performs reasonably well in most situations. The AF weak points are similar to those of the Canon EOS R, especially when you get into continuous shooting and low-light situations. (To be fair, the first generation Sony A7s had all the same weak points.)
Also, thanks to a firmware update, the Nikon Z series cameras will also feature Eye-AF – only time will tell if it’ll be on par with Sony’s offering, which is, quite frankly, akin to witchcraft!
The Z6 has better low light sensitivity and even faster performance (i.e. the fps). For landscape or commercial shooters who require more megapixels, I can see the attraction of the mammoth 45.7MP files out of the Nikon Z7, but for everyone else, the files are so large they become cumbersome in Lightroom.
They both have excellent dynamic range, with the Z6 actually being slightly better (ironic really seeing as the sensor is probably designed by Sony!).
The sensor size is virtually identical, with the Z6 having a little more resolution. ISO-wise, the Z6 is a bit more similar to the Canon, with banding occurring in low-light situations from ISO 3200 and up. The A7 III has some as well, but only at much higher ISOs.
If you’re looking for the smallest mirrorless camera, you’ll have to look elsewhere, but most photographers these days are willing to forego size advantages for excellent ergonomics, especially as most still use a dedicated camera bag to carry their gear anyway.
One thing that’s both a curse and a blessing for the Nikon Z6 is the burst rate of 12 frames per second. While that’s super fast (the A7 III is 8fps), it does seem a bit too fast for the its autofocus! It also fills up the rather sluggish buffer fairly quickly. (For me, it filled after just 15 shots at that burst rate in RAW.)
Luckily the XQD card writes fast and can clear the buffer fairly quickly.
Another annoying aspect (also shared with the Canon EOS R) is that there’s only one card slot. See above EOS R review for possible workarounds, and whether this is actually a non-issue…
For video, the 10-bit external recording is actually quite awesome and really puts the Z6 on par with some of the higher-end DSLRs. I also like that it has separate settings for both stills and video, something that’s particularly useful if you use your camera for both. Again, the autofocus isn’t up to Sony’s standards, but it’s at least as good as the live view on standard Nikon DSLRs.
For established Nikon users, the handling and menu functions will feel very familiar. Best of all, you can use all your Nikon’s F-Mount lenses with it (with the FTZ adapter).
This is an important factor, at least at the moment – the few kit lenses Nikon’s currently offering for both the Z6 and Z7 are definitely a bit lacklustre (the Canon R-mount lenses are much more expensive, but also currently outperform the kit lenses available for the Z6/Z7).
Should you buy the Nikon Z6? If you already have a good collection of Nikon lenses and are looking for an excellent full frame mirrorless camera, then yes! Compared to the Z7 (and even the EOS R), it’s at a really attractive price point too.
If you’re on a Budget …
You can still take advantage of the technology and features of mirrorless cameras, even if you’re on a tighter budget… or you’re perhaps a beginner who doesn’t want to splash out too much on your first camera.
Mirrorless cameras are actually an excellent choice for beginners. As much as I love DSLR cameras, for beginners who can afford it, I usually recommend a mirrorless – bang for buck, you simply can’t get a camera that has so much useful technology and features crammed into it for such affordable prices.
For under $1,000, you can get a mirrorless camera which is far more technologically advanced than any other type of camera.
The criteria I used here is as follows: 1) price – both of body and subsequent lenses; 2) features – that are specifically useful for beginners; 3) ease of use.
Sensor Size: APS-C (23.6mm x 15.6mm)
Weight: 383g (13.5oz)
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 cameras whatever our budget.
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 levels of photographer.
Simply put, the Fujifilm X-T20 is a lot of XT-2 for a lot less money, and in my opinion, it’s still this year’s best mirrorless camera under $1,000. (Incidentally, you’ll struggle to get a great mirrorless camera under $500, so investing around a grand is a good decision.)
It’s amazing that this much technology can be packed into a camera at this price – comparing it to a similarly priced DSLR makes the DSLR look like a dinosaur!
Let’s start off with what’s similar between the X-T20 and the X-T2. 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.
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 electronic viewfinder (EVF) and other battery zapping technology.
The EVF is a huge advantage of mirrorless cameras over DSLRs, and allows you to see the exact exposure of your scene before you take the photo.
This is a great time-saver, and helps photographers better understand the effect of ISO, shutter speed and aperture on the final exposure (since changing each setting allows you to see the outcome right away in the EVF – a huge benefit of mirrorless cameras).
Perhaps the best feature of the Fujifilm X-T20 is its class-leading autofocus at this price point, 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), with the points covering the majority of the frame.
In addition, continuous AF fine-tuning means that when paired with a fast focusing Fuji lens, you’ll benefit from continuous autofocus on par with flagship dSLRs costing 3x the price.
Touchscreens should be standard on all mirrorless cameras in 2019, 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.
You might be wondering why I’m not recommending the newer Fujifilm X-T100 in this list, especially with its front-facing touch screen LCD – the first for Fujifilm.
Well despite the image quality which is excellent as you’d expect from the big F, AF performance and general handling is rather lacklustre – perhaps more in keeping with its ‘entry-level’ pricing.
In terms of what’s missing from the Fujifilm X-T20 when compared to the X-T2 andc 3 (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, customizable 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-T2/3 users would actually invest in the pricey grip anyway.
The small camera body coupled with one of the compact Fujifilm lenses makes a great combination for travel photography, or any pursuit that requires a small gear footprint.
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-T2/3.
I think it’s safe to say that the ‘missing’ features of the Fujifilm X-T20 from its big brother are insignificant for most photographers.
This is a camera that costs half the price of the flagship X-T3, whilst still featuring a lot of the features and functionality that truly matter.
Yes, the X-T3 has a newly improved sensor with greater dynamic range and high ISO capabilities, but you need to ask yourself if any of that is really relevant for your photography. Unless you’re a pro who may rely on squeezing the most out of an APS-C sensor, I doubt it.
Make no mistake – the Fujifilm X-T20 is an absolute bargain of a camera and a great balance of size to pro-grade performance. I even went as far as naming the Fuji one of the best travel cameras, and I think it well deserves its title as best mirrorless under $1,000 too.
Best of all, you can pick up the Fujifilm X-T20 in a selection of competitively priced kits – my recommendation is this Fujifilm X-T20 + 18-55mm f/2.8-4 OIS lens kit for those who want a great all-round set up for most situations. Then I’d recommend a fast prime lens, like the impressive 23mm f/2.
If you want the body only, click the button below for the latest price and select between an all black body or silver/black.
In both colourways it looks and feels sexy. Fujifilm are still the leaders in making cameras that are inspiring to hold and shoot.
Sensor Size: APS-C (23.6mm x 15.6mm)
Weight: 468g (16.5oz)
You may be wondering why I’m recommending a mirrorless camera released in 2014.
There are several newer models than the Sony A6000, but the fact remains – the Sony A6000 is the best-selling mirrorless camera of all time… and that fact doesn’t look like it’ll change anytime soon.
I spent a month shooting with the Sony a6000 last year – you can see my full review here – and thoroughly enjoyed it.
The price of the a6000 has fallen considerably since its launch, making it an excellent choice for beginners. Other camera brands are still struggling to offer a mirrorless camera with similar features for such an affordable price (check the latest price here).
Sony got rid of the more familiar ‘NEX’ branding with the launch of the Sony A6000, and with it, marked a new era in its APS-C format of affordable, capable mirrorless cameras which can fit in your coat pocket.
I’m still impressed by this little camera, and don’t hesitate in recommending it to both beginners and more experienced photographers who want a great quality camera at an amazing price.
Another bonus is that Sony E-mount lenses are typically cheaper than comparable Fujifilm lenses, which is another plus for a beginner.
The 16-50mm lens that comes with this bundle is great value for money, or you can check out my list of the best lenses for the Sony A6000 if you want really want to make the most of what this camera is capable of.
One of the best features of the Sony A6000 for beginners is the advanced 179-point Hybrid autofocus system that covers 92% of the frame – coupled with machine-gun like 11 frames-per-second and impressive continuous auto-focus tracking, it’s pretty hard to miss a shot with this camera!
Due to the small size of most mirrorless cameras, selecting focus points with small buttons can be a little fiddly, especially if you have large hands like I do.
Thankfully, with the incredible auto-focus of the Sony A6000, you can rely completely on the camera selecting, locking on, and shooting your subject (several times) in a millisecond.
Also, the small size of the A600 is a huge plus when you carry a camera all day long – depending on the lens you have on the end of it, you’ll probably not even need to use a camera strap – the body is so light and easy to palm, and you could even squeeze it into a jacket pocket.
Beginners tend to compose photos with the subject in the dead-centre of the frame, which is perfectly fine of course. After a while though, it’s fun to experiment with off-centre compositions, and having focus points that extend the edges of the frame is really useful. There’s no DSLR that can offer anything close to this kind of coverage.
Beginners will often only have had photography experience using their smart phones. The latest phones can take amazing photos, so it stands to reason that a camera needs to have much better image quality than a phone to be worthy of being used. Thankfully, the image quality of the Sony A6000 is very impressive indeed.
The 24.3 megapixel Sony sensor delivers impressive dynamic range, especially for an APS-C sensor camera. If you’re a beginner photographer reading this, dynamic range refers to the variation from the brightest to the darkest areas of a photo – in general, the more range that’s recorded, the more life-like the scene.
Beginners will tend to prefer to stick to JPEG format photos for simplicity (no need to edit them on the computer). The JPEGs out of the Sony A6000 are great, with realistic colours and accurate white balance.
Images are also sharp, but not to the point of looking ‘crispy’, which is the case with some smart phone images.
As beginners progress and want to experiment with the flexibility of the RAW format, the broad dynamic range allows for some fun in Lightroom, recovering highlights and shadows, or simply giving more ‘punch’ to an image.
Another reason I’m calling the Sony A6000 the best budget mirrorless camera for beginners is its ergonomics, or more specifically, its dials.
One of my peeves with entry level DSLRs is the lack of a second dial for adjustments. The Sony A6000 on the other hand features 3 dials – one on the top to select camera mode; another to change settings; and a final one on the back to adjust other settings – much like pro-grade Canon DSLRs.
This is great for beginners who have access to every automatic and manual setting with a twist of a dial, as opposed to holding a button and rotating a dial (like on most cheap cameras), or digging around in menus. Muscle-memory comes much quicker with dedicated dials, allowing you to focus on the moment rather than on the tool.
Another thing I love about the Sony A6000 is the 3″ tilting LCD screen, which really opens the door to creativity (not to mention saving your back/neck!) I just wish it was a front-facing screen (like on the a6400), which would make it perfect for vlogging!
As for the main annoyance I have with this camera, or rather most Sony mirrorless cameras in general, the menu system is rather convoluted. This is in part due to the sheer number of customization options available, which is rather overwhelming at first.
However, once you’ve spent some time setting up the Sony A6000, there’s really no need to keep accessing the menu, especially since all the main functions are accessible via the physical buttons and dials.
If you’re a beginner photographer, or simply someone who wants a great value for money camera packed with the latest technology, the Sony A6000 is really hard to beat. If you want to hit the ground running, I recommend going for this camera+lens bundle to start with.
Let’s be honest here – not many photographers will be reading this section of my review!
While the price of digital medium format has come down significantly in recent years, this type of camera is still out of reach for everyone other than serious professionals and wealthy amateurs.
2019 will be an exciting year for medium format, with Fujifilm releasing the range-finder-esque GFX 50R, and the formidable GFX 100, with its 100 megapixels.
Until then, let’s have a look at your best value option… if you’ve got the cashola ;-)
Sensor Size: Medium Format (44 x 33 mm)
Weight: 725g (25.6 oz)
If you’ve made it this far down the list, you’ve obviously got money to burn! Make no mistake, the Hasselblad X1D 50c is the absolute Rolls Royce of mirrorless cameras, and arguably the best for portrait photographers who put a price on world-class image quality.
Let’s ignore the price for one moment and have a think about what we’re talking about here – it’s a digital camera with a world-class sensor that’s almost twice the size of a full frame (35mm) camera, in a smaller, lighter package than most flagship DSLRs.
The Hasselblad X1D 50c only really has one competitor right now, and that’s the other mirrorless medium format camera, the Fujfilm GFX 50S. It’s cheaper, has an expanding range of more affordable lenses, and is also an astounding mirrorless camera for portraits, but the Hasselblad X1D 50c is simply a better camera.
We shouldn’t really be judging a camera on its looks, but it’s hard to ignore the sheer beauty of this Hasselblad.
For a camera that’s packed with so much technology, its minimalist aluminium body (handmade in Sweden no less) is a pleasure to hold, and the few buttons and dials that it does have feel incredible.
The Hasselblad X1D 50c with a lens attached is roughly the same size and weight of a pro-grade DSLR + prime lens, so it’s easy to forget that you’re shooting a medium format camera, and will leave you wanting more from the shooting performance initially at least.
The auto focus is similar to an entry-level DSLR – not fast, but not too slow either. Following the most recent firmware update, you can now use the touchscreen rear LCD to move the focus point by dragging your finger around it, which feels intuitive and fast.
Unlike most of the other cameras in this list, the menu system of the Hasselblad X1D 50c is very simple to use. This is partly due to the fact that there really aren’t that many features of the camera – this is a mirrorless camera that’s been built to do one thing and to do it really well – take incredible images.
The image quality is simply breathtaking – sharp, detailed, rich, contrasty, smooth – basically every adjective usually associated with a medium format digital camera!
The 50 mega pixel CMOS sensor produces realistic skin tones that simply can’t be matched. The enormous dynamic range offers smooth, noise free gradiation from light to dark tones which surpass a digital image, reminiscent of a film medium format camera.
If you can afford the Hasselblad X1D 50c and can take advantage of its resolution and image quality in your work, it’s actually great value for money when compared to other medium format cameras.
Just remember that the price is for the body only, and you may have to keep selling off your vital organs to pay for the Hasselblad XCD lenses too ;-)
Buyer’s Guide | Top Picks Compared
Sony a7III vs. Fujifilm X-T3
Sony and Fujifilm have had a massive head-start on the mirrorless game, and it certainly shows.
Deciding between Sony and Fujifilm used to be a bit easier – you either needed a full frame sensor or you didn’t.
Here in 2019 with the incredible Fujifilm X-T3, the case for full frame is simply not as strong.
As a regular Sony a7III user, I was blown away by the imaging capabilities of the X-T3. I still can’t believe that a sensor 2.5x smaller (APS-C vs 35mm full frame) can resolve as much dynamic range and produce such high quality images at high ISOs.
With regards to image quality and flexibility in post production, there’s negligible difference between the top two cameras… despite the difference in sensor size.
I’ll help you make the decision of what mirrorless camera to buy with a quick Sony a7III vs Fujifilm X-T3 comparison run-down.
Don’t think in terms of full frame vs APS-C – there are specific features when deciding which camera is right for you.
- You need the best battery life out of any mirrorless camera
- You need in-body image stabilisation
- You need the absolute best low light performance
- You need the absolute best auto-focus performance
- You need more customisable buttons
- You need dual memory card slots
- You need shallower depth of field (than the equivalent Fuji lenses)
- You need wider angles (no 1.5x crop)
- You want to use more 3rd party lenses
- You need the best straight out of camera JPEGS
- You need beautiful film presets
- You need 4k up to 60fps video (vs 30fps on the Sony)
- You need 10-bit video for 64x more colour depth than Sony’s 8-bit
- You need light-weight (539g vs 650g)
- You need a vertical flip out screen
- You need dual memory card slots
- You need blackout-free live view shooting
- You’re on a stricter budget (for the body and lenses)
- You need longer lenses (thanks to 1.5x crop)
- You want a more enjoyable/good-looking camera
Every photographer’s needs are different, but I’d go as far as to say that the a7III is the best mirrorless camera for professionals (and amateurs willing to invest in their hobby).
With recent firmware updates (in April 2019, the addition of class-leading real-time AF functionality), as well as more shooting options via the Imaging Edge software, Sony is still one step ahead of Fuji… albeit a small step.
The main reasons to choose the Fujifilm X-T3 over the Sony, are
1) the excellent Fujifilm lenses, which are cheaper, offer arguably better image character, and are smaller/lighter than the equivalent Sony offerings;
2) the great film simulation modes for beautiful straight-out-of-camera JPEGS and movie footage;
3) the all-round ‘fun-factor’ of such a beautiful and well designed camera body.
2. Nikon Z6 vs. Canon EOS-R
Looking at my recommendations above, you may be wondering where the Nikon and Canon mirrorless cameras are hiding.
2018 was a huge year for the two camera giants, but unfortunately, their first steps into the full frame mirrorless arena didn’t create the ground-tremors many were hoping for.
Rather than being a big step forward from their flagship DSLRs, the recent Canon/Nikon mirrorless releases are more like mirrorless versions of those same DSLRs – they take advantage of typical mirrorless camera features like an EVF, wider AF coverage and lighter bodies, but they don’t push the needle any further.
Having said that, I’d still recommend the Canon/Nikon mirrorless bodies over their DSLR equivalents, and if you’re a fan of Canon’s superior lens selection, the Canon EOS R is still a solid choice, even over Sony and Fujifilm.
I’m confident that with firmware updates and second generation body releases, the gap between Nikon/Canon and Sony/Fujifilm mirrorless camera bodies can be narrowed.
- You’re already invested in Canon EF lenses
- You need the widest lens selection (via adapted EF lenses)
- You want the best lens character (both RF and EF lenses)
- You want the best colour science
- You want better AF performance from your old Canon lenses
- You want better AF performance than the Canon 5D mark IV
- You need the shallowest depth of field
- You need the best camera body ergonomics
- You need great battery life (real-world=approx. 1,800 per charge)
- You don’t need 2 card slots
- You want to adjust settings using the lens control ring
- You don’t need insane dynamic range capabilities
- You need a front-facing screen
- You need more megapixels (30.6 vs 24.5)
- You don’t need in-body image stabilisation
- You only need 8fps (vs 11fps)
- You need dual-pixel AF
- You don’t need un-cropped 4k or 120p video
- You’re already invested in Nikon FX lenses
- You want better colours than Sony
- You need in-body image stabilisation
- You need 11fps
- You need the best dynamic range
- You need the best high ISO
- You don’t need better AF performance than the Nikon D850
- You don’t need two card slots
- You need 4k video up to 30p & 120p in full HD
- You need the best touch-screen implementation
- You need a lighter body (585g vs 660g)
- You want great ergonomics
I spent a few weeks with the Nikon Z6, and while it does have its quirks, it’s still an excellent camera.
Would I recommend it to a pro who’s coming from a Nikon D850 (or superior) camera? Probably not. Would I recommend it to someone who hasn’t used a prosumer Nikon before? Definitely!
It’s only when you compare the Nikon Z6 with the other mirrorless cameras on offer in 2019 that you start to realise its short-comings.
However, if you’re already invested in Nikon glass, I’m confident that with firmware updates this year, the AF performance will be greatly improved, and there’ll be a stronger reason (even for pros) to shoot with this camera.
As for the Canon EOS R, well I have to say it’s currently the better choice over the Nikon Z-series, if you’re a stills photographer (the Nikon is superior for video).
The major draw-card of the Canon EOS R over any other mirrorless camera is the existing Canon EF lens selection… and how the R actually -improves- each lens.
If you’re in love with Canon’s superior colour science and its exotic f/1.2 lenses, the EOS R is a wise investment.
The lack of in-body image stabilisation and a slower frame-rate than the other cameras isn’t such a big issue. Many of Canon’s lenses feature image stabilisation, and 8fps is more than enough for most.
Single Card Slot – Really a Deal-Breaker?
If you’re still trying to decide between the Canon/Nikon mirrorless bodies and the Sony/Fujifilm ones I’ve recommended above, the question of the single card slot may be playing with your mind.
If you’re an amateur who doesn’t rely on instant simultaneous card backups, this shouldn’t worry you in the slightest.
If you’re a pro photographer however, here’s where the debate gets rather heated… especially among wedding photographers, or those whose work benefits greatly from the safety net of an instantaneous backup.
One thing’s for sure, a camera with a dual memory card slot is better in every regard. That’s not the question here.
The real question is: Can a pro photographer -make do- with a camera with a single memory card slot, in 2019?
My opinion is that while 2 slots on these cameras would be amazing, it’s not a complete deal-breaker.
Many pros used DSLRs with only one card slot in the past. Many still do. Also, there’s probably more chance of you losing your camera or having it stolen than having a memory card fail.
Here’s how to live with the issue of only having one card slot:
- Use a cable to download images from camera to computer – this greatly reduces card wear and tear, that could leave to failure.
- If you use a card reader, eject each time – don’t just yank it out!
- Shoot tethered where possible – studio shooters don’t care about having 2 slots.
- Shoot with 2 bodies – wedding photographers can rotate bodies for a layer of redundancy.
- Use in-field backup solutions – the WD My Passport SSD is good option.
Yes, everyone would have loved it if Canon and Nikon had released their first full frame mirrorless cameras with dual memory card slots.
And yes, it’s a bit of an embarrassment for them that Sony and Fujifilm have been doing this for years.
However, this is the price you have to pay if you want to shoot with some of the world’s best lenses on a native mirrorless body.
Shooting Video with a Mirrorless Camera
I’m a stills photographer who dabbles with video, but its in stills cameras where my expertise and knowledge lies.
I won’t pretend that I’m the best person to listen to when it comes to recommending a mirrorless camera for video shooting, so instead I’ll leave you with a fun YouTube review.
Despite it being shot in August 2018, the points the reviewer makes are all still relevant about the strengths of the Panasonic GH5 over its competition.
Despite all the cameras above being able to produce beautiful video footage, its the GH5 that continues to shine above all the competition.
A huge advantage of this camera for videographers is that it still makes a remarkably good stills camera for photography, and one that’s often overlooked.
Features such as class-leading in-body stabilization and impressive weather-resistance (dust, splashes and temperatures as low as 14°F (-10°C)!!), are applicable to everyone, not just the film-makers out there.
It has to be said though, that if you’re leaning more towards stills photography than video, the cameras elsewhere in this review make a better choice – most of this comes down to the difference in sensor size.
During my time shooting weddings professionally, I’ve seen the rise in use of all manner of mirrorless camera by videographers.
However, its the Panasonic GH5 that’s most often noted as being the most versatile and best value for money option of the lot.
It’s truly remarkable what’s possible from a micro four-thirds sensor, dwarfed in comparison to full frame and APS-C.
Being able to use smaller, lighter and more affordable MFT lenses is also a huge advantage of the Panasonic GH5 over the other cameras on this list that shoot video.
Watch the video above, do some of your own research, then let me know in the comments if you think there’s anything better for shooting video here in 2019 ;-)
Frequently Asked Questions
Are mirrorless cameras better?
Mirrorless cameras are undoubtedly more technologically advanced than DSLRs. Whether they are ‘better’ or not depends on your needs.
What is the best mirrorless camera for beginners?
Anything from the Sony a6000 series of mirrorless APS-C cameras offers great bang for the buck and incredible shooting performance. Also excellent for beginners are the more affordable cameras in the range Fujifilm X-Series range.
Do professional photographers use mirrorless cameras?
Yes, more and more pros use mirrorless cameras. That said, a great many still use DSLRs too, and even medium format. Skilled professionals can use virtually any form of camera, mirrorless or otherwise.
What is the best compact mirrorless camera?
There are many great options, but our picks are the Sony a6400 and the Fujifilm X-T30.
I hope this guide helps you to make a well-informed purchasing decision. There’s a lot of selection out there, but I’ve cut through all the noise in an attempt to reveal the best of the best.
I’ll be adding to this list as the year progresses, but only if appropriate – the newest model of mirrorless camera doesn’t necessarily mean it’s worthy of a mention here.
One thing’s for sure – 2019 will see a huge rise in the number of mirrorless camera sales, with everyone from amateurs to professionals either making the switch, or investing in mirrorless as their camera of choice.
Whatever model you choose, the most important thing is that you get out there and take some photos. Mirrorless camera, DSLR, or just your iPhone, it’s the capturing of moments that matters the most.
Cheers and happy snapping!
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.