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Mirrorless Camera Buyer’s Guide

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, which is the best mirrorless of them all? It seems that we all tend to have this desire to know which is the best camera. So, in this Mirrorless Camera Buyer’s Guide, we want to help you choose between all the incredible mirrorless cameras available.

How do you choose? Do you choose based on features on paper? Do you choose based strictly on your budget? Or, as one person I know, he is always asking me to “tell me which one is the best, money is not a factor?” These can all be valid ways of answering this question and we just have to look around to be convinced that every photographer has certain criteria in mind as he or she makes a purchase decision. But we want to show you a better criteria.

As long-time readers of Photoxels know, we have always insisted that you should stop trying to find and buy the best camera. Instead, you need to choose the one that is best for you — at your current abilities, budget and interest.

There is no point in choosing a camera that is way beyond your ability to use it properly; in fact, it may frustrate you and discourage you from further pursuing your hobby. We all have a budget to live within, though we could also wait and save up longer to get the camera that is just right for us. And, based on your interest, one camera and lens combination may serve you better than another combination.

So, take all these factors into consideration as you read up on the mirrorless cameras below. To help you out, we have divided them into four main groups: entry-level (for those who mainly “point-and-shoot” but want the option to be able to change lenses and explore further), serious / advanced (for those who want to take up photography seriously and need a more advanced camera), enthusiast / expert (for those who are expert at using any camera model as well as in post-processing) and Pro.

A mirrorless camera is often referred to as a Compact System Camera (CSC), emphasis on the word System. That’s because, like DSLRs, a mirrorless camera accepts interchangeable lenses, external flashes and other accessories that give it flexibility and extend its usefulness.

In selecting a mirrorless camera, you may want to give some thought to which system you want to standardize on. Professionals do that all the time since once they start spending thousands of dollars on camera bodies, lenses and accessories, they do not want to switch to a different camera system. Not only would it be financially prohibitive, but they would need to relearn how to shoot with a different camera, and the lenses and accessories for one camera brand are more often than not incompatible with other camera brands.

Don’t fret if you are new to all of this. If you are selecting an entry-level mirrorless camera and do not intend to invest heavily in lenses and accessories, you may afford to be brand-insensitive. With time, experience and use of the different camera brands, you slowly get a better feel for which system you definitely prefer. So, don’t go asking which is the best camera system. They each have their strengths as well as quirks, so if you want to make a choice that will make you happy, try them and see for yourself. Once you decide to invest in lenses (which can be much more expensive than the camera body), you then need to carefully decide to standardize on one camera system.

Since a mirrorless camera does not have a mirror nor does it need a prism/optical viewfinder, it can therefore locate its high resolution EVF (electronic viewfinder) anywhere it wants, resulting in some of the beautiful retro styling we have seen with a clean flat top.

However, since most people still equate a high-level camera with the tell-tale DSLR viewfinder hump, mirrorless camera manufacturers have therefore continued to locate the EVF on some of their mirrorless cameras at the top with a hump that mimics the DSLR viewfinder hump. Sometimes, lack of space or ergonomic design will dictate that the EVF should be at the top of the camera. But, don’t judge a mirrorless camera simply by the presence or absence of the hump.

Here are some of the best mirrorless cameras you can buy, listed in alphabetical order. This is by no means an exhaustive list and we will add and remove from the list as new models appear and old models are retired. As you read about the various models, remember don’t get too hung up with finding “the best camera”; instead, find “the camera that is best for you.

When you’ve identified a camera that you would like to learn more about, click on the manufacturer links to read more about the specifications. Note that there might be typos; firmware upgrades will add or change certain features; and not all countries include the same accessories in the box. So, do some careful research before you make a final purchase decision.

If you do decide to purchase from one of our sponsors by clicking on one of the links below each camera, we thank you beforehand for your support! It does not cost you one cent more and we get a referral fee to help support this site. Since there are always deals going on, clicking on the links will show you the latest price and will allow you to take advantage of any existing deals.

Lastly, if you are purchasing your first mirrorless camera, we recommend that you also purchase it together with the kit lens (if one is offered). The kit lens is usually of good enough quality and costs much cheaper when bought as a kit together with the camera than if you bought it separately.

Happy Reading!

Canon1 EOS M6 EOS M100
Fujifilm GFX 50S X-H1
Hasselblad X1D
Leica M10 CL
Nikon1 1 V3 1 AW1
1 J5
Olympus E-M1 II PEN-F
Panasonic G9
G85 GX9
Sony a9 a7S II
a7 III

Do not get too hung up if you find your camera listed under the “wrong” column in the table above. In fact, as new models come out with even better features, cameras may shift from one column to a lower one. But it does not mean that your camera is now less able to take great pictures. For example, cameras listed under the expert column are also extensively used by professional photographers, so those two columns could be viewed as one. We, however, have a feeling that many cameras specifically targeted at pros will be coming out in the near future.

1 Note that both Nikon and Canon are expected to announce flagship and consumer full-frame mirrorless cameras at Photokina 2018, so expect the mirrorless category to reignite with some very healthy competition. The Nikon 1 System have been discontinued and Nikon will introduce a new mirrorless system on August 23, 2018. If one of the three Nikon 1 mirrorless cameras fits your needs, you may be able to get them at a discount. We have no news yet if Canon will continue the current EOS mirrorless system.


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