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Best Mirrorless Cameras to Buy in 2018

Mirrorless cameras were once considered a forced alternative to DSLRs, offering inferior performance in the same price category. Much has changed in the last couple of years in the world of photography technology.

Mirrorless cameras have become more affordable and have incorporated features that make them on par with DSLRs – and even superior in certain aspects.

Best Mirrorless Cameras for Enthusiasts

The options for mirrorless cameras have grown massively the past couple of years. Mirrorless cameras have now become as good in performance as DSLRs while offering several perks. This makes them a popular choice for many progressive photographers.

However, it’s a lot of money at stake, so you want to be considerate on what product you buy. We’ve handpicked the best mirrorless cameras available in 2018 for you to buy. There’s also a buyer’s guide at the end to help you pick out some of the most important features in mirrorless cameras.

Best Overall

Best Overall

Sony A7 III

Amazing Photos and Performance

The Sony A7 III is one of Sony’s best-known mirrorless cameras. It is a full-frame camera with 24.2 megapixels and has the ability to shoot videos at 4K. It features an incredible 693-point autofocus system that is fast and accurate. Video shooting capability is great as well, making it the ideal all-round mirrorless camera.

For most enthusiasts, the Sony A7 III is the ultimate answer to mirrorless cameras that can take images matching those of high-end DSLRs without demanding an exorbitant fee.

Budget Pick

Budget Pick

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III

Great Performance at an Affordable Price

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is a brilliant Micro Four Thirds camera available at a fantastic price. It doesn’t demand a huge fee for a great electronic viewfinder in it, and its image and video quality is top-notch for what you pay. 16.1 megapixels for still photography and 4K resolution for videos offers enough to capture the best moments in this incredible mirrorless camera.

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is a potential game changer, as it’s offering enthusiast level features and quality in a mirrorless format at an incredibly attractive price.

Sony A7 III – Best Overall

  • Sensor Size: Full-frame
  • Megapixels: 2 MP
  • Viewfinder: Yes, EVF
  • Max Video Resolution: 4K

Even though the A7 III is at the bottom end of Sony’s Alpha series of cameras, it’s the best because of its incredible specs at a price most enthusiasts and professionals would be willing to dish out.

Its performance is almost as good as its pricier siblings. It doesn’t have the largest number of megapixels nor the greatest video recording, but it does everything insanely well. All the best bits of Sony’s flagship mirrorless cameras make it into this shooter, including a powerful 693-point autofocus and 10fps burst mode.

The performance of the camera is fantastic in a range of different lighting conditions, and you get the signature perk of mirrorless cameras with it due to its lightweight and compact design. Oh, and it doesn’t skimp on a viewfinder either, which comes in addition to the 3” tilt-angle touchscreen at 920,000 dots.

Pros

  • Superb autofocus
  • High quality video recording
  • Takes gorgeous snaps

Cons

  • Clunky control

Sony A9 – Best for Professionals

  • Sensor Size: Full Frame
  • Megapixels: 2 MP
  • Viewfinder: Yes, EVF
  • Max Video Resolution: 4K

The Sony A9 is not cheap, but it’s not supposed to be. This is the pinnacle of mirrorless cameras – the most advanced offering that is going neck and neck with DSLRs in image quality yet offering the compactness and speed of the mirrorless technology.

It’s not a camera everyone can afford, but it’s one that everyone wants to. Professionals looking to invest in some of the best lightweight cameras out there will probably end their search when they come across the Alpha A9 though.

The Sony mirrorless camera offers Sony’s incredible 693-point phase-detect autofocus system. This covers 935 of the frame. It’s not the most pixel-heavy camera in the world, but it doesn’t need to be to capture incredible stills. Even for action and sports, this camera works fantastically well due to its 20fps shooting.

The electronic viewfinder on this camera is the best one among mirrorless cameras, with the least amount of lag. It’s large and bright and doesn’t black out when you’re shooting.

Pros

  • Insanely good performance
  • Fantastic autofocus system
  • Wonderful electronic viewfinder
  • Great battery life

Cons

  • Ridiculously expensive
  • Underused touchscreen

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III – Best Budget Pick

  • Sensor Size: Micro Four Thirds
  • Megapixels: 1 MP
  • Viewfinder: Yes, EVF
  • Max Video Resolution: 4K

One of the biggest problems with mirrorless cameras are the electronic viewfinders or the outright lack of them. This is especially true for mirrorless cameras that are at the more affordable range. DSLRs still remain the popular choice among most uses who aren’t willing to dish out sub $1000 on a high quality camera for this very reason.

In comes the Olympus OM-D. The Mark III version of the OM-D like is simply breathtaking for the price. It’s not a massive leap forward from its predecessor, the Mark II, but Olympus has refined the camera to make it by far the best mirrorless camera under $600. This beauty comprises of the smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor, but that also means the lenses are smaller and the overall appeal as a superlight and small camera remains ever strong.

There is a 5-axis image stabilization system integrated into the camera, a great burst shot of 8.6fps, and 4K video recording. It even comes with an electronic viewfinder, something you don’t usually find in mirrorless cameras at this price range.

For this reason, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is the best choice for those who want to keep their expenditure to less than $1000. Its performance is immaculate for its price, and it comes with all the perks mirrorless cameras provide.

Pros

  • Great value
  • Excellent image quality
  • Compact body and lenses
  • Great electronic viewfinder

Cons

  • Autofocus doesn’t work reliably for moving subjects
  • A little lower in the megapixels department

Fujifilm X-T3 – Best Stills

  • Sensor Size: APS-C
  • Megapixels: 1 MP
  • Viewfinder: Yes, EVF
  • Max Video Resolution: 4K

The updated version of the highly popular X-T2 brings everything good about the predecessor yet improves on it in practically every way. Fujifilm mirrorless cameras offer some of the best stills out there, and the X-T3 continues to retain that reputation.

Many mirrorless camera enthusiasts owe a lot to Fujifilm for changing the game with their X-T line of cameras. The X-T3 updates the incredible X-Trans sensor with a couple of more megapixels and much improved noise control to give crisp, clear images. Autofocus has taken a leap forward with an insane 2.16 million phase detect, giving smooth focus tracking.

As a result, the X-T3 packs perhaps the finest sensor among mirrorless cameras at its price range, even though it is an APS-C and not a full-frame one.

Additional features include a great 1.04 million dots 3” touchscreen, 11fps burst shooting, and the ability to shoot video smoothly at 4K. Build quality is what you’d expect from an incredible camera like this, with an easy right-handed grip and plenty of body-mounted controls that give the user lots of tweaking options on the fly.

Pros

  • Wonderful lens
  • Incredible still image quality
  • Fantastic build quality
  • All-round great for photography

Cons

  • Viewfinder fringing

Panasonic Lumix G9 – Best for Action and Sports

  • Sensor Size: Micro Four Thirds
  • Megapixels: 3 MP
  • Viewfinder: Yes, EVF
  • Max Video Resolution: 4K

The Panasonic Lumix G9 is a high speed mirrorless camera that is packed with quality. Utilizing a Micro Four Thirds sensor, this camera can reach speeds of up to a whopping 60fps in burst mode. This makes it one of the fastest mirrorless cameras out there, ideal for capturing sport images.

The design of the camera follows the Lumix philosophy used by Panasonic in their line of point and shoot and mirrorless cameras. It’s easy to handle due to a good grip, ideal for using with longer lenses (often a challenge with mirrorless cameras).

The Micro Four Thirds sensor is a bit of a compromise, but it offers a more compact form factor with improved handling as a result of the smaller central body. The camera’s versatility and ability to deliver in most situations is what makes it stand out. It’s designed to prioritize capture stills of moving objects.

You also get a wonderful high resolution mode on the G9 to compensate for the smaller lens. Intended for landscape and architecture photographers, this mode combines 8 photos into a single, larger 80 megapixels file.

Pros

  • Great image stabilization
  • High burst rate of 60fps
  • Superb design and handling

Cons

  • Average battery life
  • Confusing burst shot mode

Panasonic Lumix GH5 – Best for Video

  • Sensor Size: Micro Four Thirds
  • Megapixels: 3 MP
  • Viewfinder: Yes, EVF
  • Max Video Resolution: 4K

If you’re looking for a mirrorless camera that captures some incredible videos, your search will likely end at the Panasonic Lumix GH5. It is hands down the best video shooting mirrorless camera out there right now.

The Panasonic Lumix GH5 sits right next to the G9 in terms of appeal and pricing, but it’s one that is meant for the videographers of the world. While it still offers 4K video shooting like its competitors, the sheer amount of video options available in this camera make it a superior option overall.

Perhaps the best aspect of this camera is its wonderful electronic viewfinder. You need a detailed viewfinder with minimal lag if you’re making videos, and the GH5 provides exactly that with a stunning 3.68 million dot electronic viewfinder. The image stabilization system is effective, and the autofocus system is fast and reliable.

The Lumix GH5 also comes with a full HDMI socket and 10-bit recording. It shoots 4K up to an impressive 60fps for buttery smooth videos, and when combined with its incredible stabilization you get some of the best video recording you can possibly do.

Pros

  • Incredible video shooting capabilities
  • Excellent image stabilization
  • Fast and accurate autofocus
  • High quality viewfinder

Cons

  • Limited battery life
  • Body is a bulky for a mirrorless camera

Buyer’s Guide

    The image sensor size is an extremely important spec of any professional level camera. There are several types of sensors available in DSLR and mirrorless cameras. Generally, the larger the image sensor, the more detailed the picture will be. It is more important than megapixels.

    There are four image sensor sizes in mirrorless cameras.

    Micro Four Thirds – The smallest size, and popular in Panasonic and Olympus cameras. Though these are small sensors, they still offer fantastic quality.

    APS-C – APS-C is the most well known and common image sensor size. It is found in the majority of DSLR cameras, and many mirrorless cameras also utilize it. Do note that Canon’s APS-C standard is different from others, being marginally smaller. If you want a great camera at a reasonable price, this is the sensor to go for.

    Full Frame – Full Frame is what enthusiasts and professional level users search for. Full frame sensors capture a lot of detail and slightly larger pictures. You’ll find the high-end enthusiast and professional grade cameras to have full frame sensors.

    Medium Format – Medium format is reserved for the ultimate cameras. It’s not common at all among mirrorless cameras, but Fujifilm and Hasselblad have released mirrorless cameras with Medium Format sensors. Such sensors (and cameras) will cost you anywhere between $6000 to $40,000+.

    While even most high quality DSLR and mirrorless cameras didn’t feature in-body image stabilization before, it is becoming increasingly common to incorporate that technology in mirrorless cameras. The advantage in-body image stabilization has over lens stabilization is that it works consistently across lenses of all sizes and price ranges.

    The names of the image stabilization technology vary by manufacturer, but the application is largely the same. Image stabilization is hard to quantify despite manufacturers’ attempts to do so with “stops”. The reality is quite different though, and image stabilization’s quality can only be determined by viewing samples of videos and testing the camera itself.

    Regardless, it is one of the most important features alongside sensor size when choosing mirrorless cameras, since mirrorless cameras are smaller and lighter, making them more prone to moving around and tilting, especially with larger lenses.

    One of the biggest differences between entry level mirrorless cameras and high-end ones is the electronic viewfinder. Unlike in DSLR cameras, the quality of the electronic viewfinder varies a lot in mirrorless variants, and the difference between the best and worst (none at all) is huge.

    Electronic viewfinders help in greater accuracy for composition and focus. Without it, you can’t take high quality photos as the focus is likely to be all over the place. Replication of the image isn’t as accurate on an LCD panel than it is on an electronic viewfinder, so buying a mirrorless camera with one is essential.

    Because the viewfinder in mirrorless cameras is electronic, you should consider the number of dots it has. Higher number of dots means more detail, which allows for more accuracy. Additionally, many higher end electronic viewfinders will give features like face and eye tracking, and more.

    Why should I choose a mirrorless camera over a DSLR?

    The biggest advantage of a mirrorless camera over a DSLR is the size. Mirrorless cameras are far more compact because they get rid of the mirror and mechanical parts that move it around. This also makes them faster, allowing for faster burst shots. The compact size combined with the advanced features have made mirrorless cameras on par in image quality to DSLR cameras in the last year or so.

    What are the major disadvantages of mirrorless cameras?

    Mirrorless cameras provide a lot of perks, but they do have several disadvantages. The biggest one is the electronic viewfinder. Though it accurately replicates the final image and shows more information on the screen, an electronic viewfinder will have a bit of lag which is just enough to be noticeable.

    This can be disconcerting during action photography or making videos. Additionally, many mirrorless cameras at more affordable prices don’t even feature a viewfinder.

    Another disadvantage is battery life. Most mirrorless cameras don’t have great battery life because the electronic viewfinder and LED consume a lot of it, resulting in far fewer snaps per charge than DSLRs.

    Where are Canon and Nikon when it comes to mirrorless cameras?

    Canon and Nikon dominate the DSLR market, but they haven’t released many recognizable mirrorless cameras, even though many professional photographers tip the technology to ultimately usurp SLRs. Nikon recently released a couple of great mirrorless cameras, and there are rumors that Canon is about to unveil an incredible full frame mirrorless model in 2019. So far though, the mirrorless camera niche is dominated by Sony, Fujifilm, Olympus, and Panasonic.

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