We've seen some big mirrorless camera launches this year from Panasonic, Canon and Fujifilm, but one big name has been noticeably quiet. Sony has yet to launch a new camera in 2022, so what's going on?
The Sony Alpha quietness is likely partly down to the usual suspects (chip shortages, supply chain issues), but also because its full-frame range is in pretty good health after a some big launches over the past couple of years. One model that does look ripe for a refresh, though, is its high-resolution model, the Sony A7R IV. And there are growing rumors that a Sony A7R V could be en route later this year.
Some rumors have even suggested that the A7R V could bring a 102MP sensor, which would set a new benchmark for high-res full-frame cameras. How useful that resolution would be for the average photographer is another matter, but it's certainly one to watch.
Mark Wilson, Cameras editor
Our guide to the world's best mirrorless cameras has welcomed some impressive new entries from the likes of Sony and Panasonic in recent months. With mirrorless tech maturing nicely, our guide has never looked stronger – which means there are some brilliant options for everyone, whether you're a beginner or looking to upgrade to a flagship powerhouse.
Despite the arrival of those new contenders, so far none has managed to surpass the Sony A7 IV as our overall top choice. If you have the budget and are looking to shoot a mix of stills and video, we think it's the best mirrorless camera you can buy in 2022. But if you want to spend a little less, Fujifilm’s X-T4 also produces excellent results, backed up by speedy burst shooting, in a shell with convenient proportions.
Looking for something a little more affordable? We'd check out the Fujifilm X-S10 and Nikon Z fc. Both mid-range cameras offer a compelling blend of retro styling, portability and shooting fun that's more than powerful enough for most amateur creatives (and some pros, too). Looking for a real bargain? For sheer value, our top picks are the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV and Fujifilm X-T200, both of which are ideal for beginners.
The Canon EOS R5, for example, is Canon’s best-ever stills camera, while the EOS R3 is a winner for fast-action photography. If it’s an all-rounder you’re after, the Canon EOS R6 is a worthy alternative to the Sony A7 IV: it ships with brilliant in-body image stabilization, super autofocus and the ability to record 4K video at 60p. Plus it’s good for 12fps burst shooting.
Many of the hybrid mirrorless models featured below are also targeted at budding videographers. Sony’s full-frame A7S III is a winning pick for fledgling 4K filmmakers, with big pixels delivering superlative low-light performance. Or for a lightweight video powerhouse, take a look at the Panasonic Lumix GH6: with 5.7K recording and an arsenal of 10-bit video modes, this Micro Four Thirds model ticks all the right boxes.
In short, the best mirrorless cameras come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. That’s why our buying guide, based on countless hours of testing, covers everything from entry-level options like the Nikon Z5 to top-end trailblazers like the Sony A1. We’ve also included a few older mirrorless models that continue to offer excellent value. Not sure where to start? Scroll to the bottom of list and you’ll find useful advice to keep in mind when choosing your ideal mirrorless model.
The best mirrorless cameras in 2022:
The best enthusiast mirrorless cameras
The Sony A7 IV is a truly modern hybrid camera. It’s overkill for beginners and more expensive than its stills-focused competition, but it’s also a versatile workhorse for anyone who want to shoot a mixture of photos and video. A price bump means it no longer occupies the same entry-level price bracket as its popular predecessor, but upgrades like 10-bit video and a Bionz XR processor make it an even more powerful option.
In our tests, we found the A7 IV to have class-leading autofocus skills, plus a seemingly endless buffer depth with CFexpress cards that swallowed 9fps for over a minute (or 6-7fps when continuously shooting raw). Its new 33MP full-frame sensor doesn't dramatically improve image quality over the A7 III (the higher resolution also means fairly prevalent noise above ISO 6400), and there's a heavy crop on 4K footage. But as a complete package, the Sony A7 IV is a solid all-rounder which could be the only mirrorless camera you ever need.
- Read our in-depth Sony A7 IV review
Looking for a mirrorless camera that's equally comfortable shooting stills and 4K video? Few cameras do it better than the Fujifilm X-T4, which is both smaller and more affordable than its full-frame rivals. The best APS-C camera so far, our tests found that it serves up a compelling blend of great build quality, class-leading image quality and a fun shooting experience. We also remain fans of the Fujifilm X-T3, which is still on sale and worth considering if you mainly shoot stills.
The X-T4 takes the series to new heights thanks to the inclusion of in-body image stabilization (IBIS), a new battery, and a new, quieter shutter. During our shoots, these created an enjoyable shooting experience and produced results that trump the X-T4's rivals for low-light performance and resolved detail. We'd have liked a slightly deeper grip and the IBIS system isn't quite up to Olympus standards, but it's a big bonus for both shooting both stills and video, and tops off a fine all-rounder that now has an excellent range of lenses.
- Read our in-depth Fujifilm X-T4 review
If you own a Canon DSLR and have been waiting to make the move to mirrorless, the EOS R6 is the camera for you. It's also a very worthy upgrade from Canon's early mirrorless launches like the EOS R, too. One of the main reasons is the EOS R6's excellent autofocus – there's no other camera in this class that can beat its Dual Pixel CMOS AF II system, which brings excellent subject detection (including animals) and tracking.
The EOS R6 is a big improvement on Canon's original mirrorless models across the board too, with impressive in-body image stabilization (IBIS), speedy 12fps burst shooting when using the mechanical shutter and decent 4K/60p video skills, too. We found that the EOS R6's recording limits and rolling shutter issues make it more of a stills camera than a video workhorse, but as long as that 20MP resolution is enough for you, it's undoubtedly one of Canon's best ever cameras.
- Read our in-depth: Canon EOS R6 review
The Canon EOS R7 is like one of the camera giant's full-frame EOS R cameras, only with a smaller APS-C sensor. For the price, it's impressively powerful, particularly if you're fan of shooting wildlife or sports scenes. That's because it boasts 15fps burst speeds (or 30fps if you switch to the electronic shutter). Our tests found that the EOS R7 can indeed hit these speeds, though you don't get the deep buffers found on full-frame siblings like the EOS R6, so it can't sustain those speeds for quite as long.
Beyond rattling off frames of speeding animals, the EOS R7 offers comfortable handling, Canon's latest subject-tracking autofocus system and and dual UHS-II card slots, making it a camera that will also tempt pro EOS R series fans as a second body. The only downside? Canon has so far only made two native lenses for the EOS R7's APS-C sensor. More should be en route, though, and you can always mount existing RF lenses or adapt older EF lenses from Canon's DSLRs while you wait.
- Read our in-depth Canon EOS R7 review
For a long time, the full-frame Nikon Z6 reigned as our number one camera. This successor remains an excellent performer, particularly for those looking to upgrade from Nikon DSLRs, but the Z6 II's modest updates mean it's fallen slightly behind the very best mirrorless cameras. It still comes highly recommended, though, thanks to its consistency in most areas, with the addition of a second Expeed 6 processor bringing a range of performance improvements that include a new 14fps burst shooting speed.
In our tests, we found the autofocus to be a significant improvement on the Nikon Z6, particularly with animal eye/face detection, and the Z6 II adds a much-needed UHS-II SD card slot alongside the existing XQD/CFexpress slot. Video does now lag slightly behind hybrid rivals like the Sony A7 IV. But with a tried-and-tested 24MP full-frame BSI CMOS sensor, which delivers very good high ISO performance, and the best handling around, it fully deserves its place at the top table for photographers.
- Read our in-depth Nikon Z6 II review
By shoehorning several highlights from the excellent X-T4 – including IBIS – into a cheaper, more compact body, Fujifilm has created the best mid-range mirrorless cameras for beginners and hobbyists. The Fujifilm X-S10 packs stacks of shooting power into a small shell that handles well. In the hand, its chunky grip and simplified dials make it feel like a classic DSLR (without the unnecessary bulk), while the charm of its retro styling speaks for itself.
The proven APS-C sensor and X-Processor 4 combo makes the X-S10 a true all-rounder, as comfortable shooting stills as it is capturing quality 4K footage. We found its only real weakness to be autofocus performance: AF is still impressive in most situations, but subject-tracking isn’t as advanced as the systems seen on cameras like the Sony A6600. While it might not be the first choice for action snappers, the X-S10’s IBIS system is also a boon for handheld shooters. Provided you can do without weatherproofing, the X-S10 is superb mid-range mirrorless camera.
- Read our in-depth Fujifilm X-S10 review
The Nikon Z5 is the best entry-level full-frame mirrorless camera you can buy right now – although it depends a little on how you define ‘entry-level’. On the spec sheet, there’s plenty that appeals. We found that the large 24MP full-frame sensor produces lovely images in well-lit situations, while the big, bright EVF and 3-inch tilt-angle touchscreen make composing shots a joy. The 273-point autofocus is also very effective, coping well with both static and moving subjects. And the camera itself is a lovely thing to shoot with, offering a large, comfy grip and a nice control layout.
Less impressive is the 4.5fps burst shooting speed, while a tight 1.7x sensor crop on 4K footage limits its use as a videography tool. Still, it should tick pretty much all the boxes for those new to the genre or Nikon fans after a second body. The biggest issue? Cost: as prices for the older but more capable Nikon Z6 continue to fall, the Z5 looks like a less persuasive proposition.
- Read our in-depth Nikon Z5 review
Smaller than the Panasonic Lumix GH5, which has a comparatively tiny Four Thirds sensor, the Lumix S5 is a great full-frame option for those who need a strong video performer with solid stills performance. While it's truly a hybrid camera, the S5 is particularly strong when it comes to shooting video, thanks to its uncropped 4K/30p shooting and high-end features that include Dual Native ISO and V-Log recording. If you're looking to shoot vlogging segments, there's also a vari-angle screen and in-body image stabilization (IBIS) on hand to help, too.
Okay, the mediocre 7fps burst shooting means it isn't the best option for action or wildlife snappers, but it does have a 6K photo mode to compensate, which lets you extract 18MP stills from a video sequence. And the autofocus, while not quite up to the level of Sony and Canon's latest full-framers, is certainly better than Panasonic's previous incarnation. In fact, for video shooters who need to also a large amount of stills, the Lumix S5's only real rival at this price point is the incoming Sony A7C.
- Read our in-depth Panasonic Lumix S5 review
Best starter mirrorless cameras
On paper, the E-M10 Mark IV is an easy camera to overlook. But in reality, it’s a top mirrorless camera for beginners and stills photography. It might lack advanced features such as phase-detection autofocus or a microphone input, but it ticks all of the key boxes for beginners. A compact body and approachable button layout make it an accessible upgrade for smartphone photographers, as do Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.
In our tests, we found that the 20.3MP sensor to be plenty capable enough to capture consistently attractive images, while in-body image stabilization works a treat for shooting snaps at slower shutter speeds. The 121-point contrast detection autofocus won’t make headlines, but it does a decent job of consistently tracking faces and eyes. Add classic styling to the mix, plus a handy flip-down touchscreen and an Advanced Photo mode that makes it easy to experiment with complex techniques and the Mark IV proves itself a well-rounded beginner mirrorless option.
- Read our in-depth Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV review
The Nikon Z fc is a gloriously retro take on the Nikon Z50, the camera giant's other crop-sensor mirrorless camera. It packs the same specs as the Z50 into a body that's inspired by the Nikon FM2 from the early 1980s – and the combination is a triumph for casual shooters who want a fun camera for travel and everyday shooting.
It might lack a weather-proof build and the large grip seen on the Nikon Z50, but we found the Z fc to be a delight to shoot with. Its competitive specs, which include a 20.9MP sensor, the ability to shoot 4K/30p video, and continuous AF tracking for people and animals, are also borne out in reality. The only downside? A lack of native lenses. If a wide range of APS-C lenses is important to you, then Fujifilm's X-series is a good alternative – but otherwise, the Nikon Z fc is a glorious mix of old and new.
- Read our in-depth Nikon Z fc review
The Sony A6000 remains a popular mirrorless camera for beginners, but five years on from its launch the A6100 brought its skills up to date in a familiar but more capable package. Borrowing an APS-C sensor from Sony’s premium mirrorless cameras, the A6100 also deploys the flagship A6600’s autofocus system to deliver outstanding continuous tracking capability that’s rapid and reliable for both stills and video.
Image quality is as expected, with good detail and decent colors (though a neutral profile would be welcome), while battery life is solid and the tilting screen is now touch-sensitive – albeit with limited functionality. Not everything has changed, mind: the LCD and EVF both remain relatively low-res and maximum burst is still 11fps, while buffering performance can sometimes stumble. So it’s not perfect and unlocking its full potential can take time, but the A6100 is certainly a top mirrorless all-rounder for a decent price.
- Read our in-depth Sony A6100 review
A fine choice for anyone moving up from smartphone shooting, the Fujifilm X-T200 combines a large, sharp 3.5in touchscreen with a lovely design that feels much nicer in the hands than its predecessor. It's a big step up from its X-T100 predecessor in most ways, including autofocus performance. And unlike the Fujifilm X-A7, the X-T200 also crucially has a built-in viewfinder for framing your shots.
The only real downside compared to pricier models in this list is that the X-T200's subject-tracking can be a little hit-and-miss during burst shooting and isn't available in video mode. But it otherwise offers excellent value and is a great alternative to rivals like the Sony A6100 (see above) and Canon EOS M50 Mark II.
- Read our in-depth Fujifilm X-T200 review
Best advanced mirrorless cameras
Canon really pulled out all the stops with the EOS R5. Lightweight yet substantial in the hand, it’s the company’s best mirrorless camera so far. High-resolution, full-frame and driven by the powerful Digic X processor, it’s an exceptional tool for stills photographers. Our tests found its next-gen Dual Pixel autofocus to be outstanding, offering impressively accurate tracking and mind-blowing animal detection. Image quality is similarly superlative, producing remarkable results even in low light, with minimal noise even as high as ISO 4000. Add 20fps continuous shooting with the electronic shutter and you’ve got a pro-level mirrorless camera that’s as comfortable in the studio as it is on the street.
The EOS R5's battery life can’t rival a DSLR, but a good four hours of intensive shooting is possible on a single charge. Its video specs are also staggering for a camera of this size, capturing 8K at up to 30fps or 4K at up to 120fps, and recent firmware upgrades have only boosted its appeal for videographers. However, it's worth bearing in mind that heat restrictions do limit recording times, while ‘cool down’ periods can be lengthy. Making the most of that performance will also require investment in costly CFexpress cards – though if you can afford the R5’s top-end price tag, perhaps that won’t be an issue.
- Read our in-depth Canon EOS R5 review
Sony's A7R line of cameras has always been about resolution, and the A7R IV remains its top dog. Our tests found that its 61MP sensor delivers an excellent level of detail, and is augmented by an impressive Pixel Shift Multi Shooting mode. An update to the autofocus system has made it faster and smarter, with face- and eye-detect AF working amazingly well – but with Sony at the helm, there was no doubt about that.
The camera body is now even more sturdy and better equipped than its predecessors to handle the worst of the elements while out on field, while the deeper grip makes it comfortable to use over long periods of time. That said, the addition of top plate command dial makes the mode dial a little harder to access. While the A7R series wasn't designed with videographers in mind, video quality here is excellent, even if rolling shutter effect is an issue. Perhaps the only downside is the A7R IV's age, with a Sony A7R V rumored to be on Sony's roadmap.
- Read our in-depth Sony A7R IV review
Like its GH5 Mark II stablemate, the Panasonic GH6 is first and foremost a video tool – and it’s one that proves the Micro Four Thirds format still has plenty to offer filmmakers. Robustly built and relatively compact, the new Lumix flagship is also blessed with a remarkable array of video modes, offering outstanding creative flexibility for videographers.
We found its handling to be excellent, with lots of useful interface features: the rear touchscreen can flip, twist and tilt for easy framing, while a second record button on the front benefits self-shooters. Add virtually unlimited recording times and improved image stabilization algorithms into the mix and the GH6 shapes up as a compelling package for videographers.
It’s also a dependable stills camera, with a range of options for specialist shooting, including a 100MP image-stacking High Resolution mode and extremely fast burst shooting (up to 75fps with the electronic shutter). We still found that full-frame rivals offer better low-light performance, while others offer faster, more accurate autofocus systems. But if you want a lightweight video monster that can also turn out solid still images, the GH6 should be near the top of your shopping list.
- Read our in-depth Panasonic Lumix GH6 review
Disguised as an old-school DSLR, the Canon EOS R3 is actually at the cutting-edge of mirrorless performance in 2022. Combining hybrid skills with a chunky form factor, it harbors a host of imaging innovations. Chief among them is a new 24.1MP CMOS sensor: though its resolution might seem low, a stacked design delivers rapid 30fps raw burst shooting. Paired with enhanced AF tracking (including Eye Control AF that follows your gaze to select focus points through the viewfinder), the EOS R3 shapes up as one of the most advanced fast-action cameras ever.
The EOS R3 is a video star as well: assisted by an articulating touchscreen, it can capture 6K raw video internally at 60p with minimal rolling shutter. It’s tough enough to travel too, thanks to a robust magnesium alloy build. Yes, the R3 offers more – and is more expensive – than most hobbyists will ever need. But it also sets a fresh benchmark for professionals who want a supremely speedy mirrorless camera.
- Read our in-depth Canon EOS R3 review
Mirrorless cameras are renowned for their technological advancements – and the Sony A1 shows the format’s evolution isn’t slowing. In almost every way, it’s the best mirrorless camera you can buy: superlative burst speeds mean you can capture detailed, high-resolution images at 30fps, while the 759-point hybrid autofocus is equal parts rapid and reliable. The 50.1MP full-frame sensor is also handy for videography, with the A1 capable of shooting 8K footage at 30fps in 10-bit 4:2:0 – or 4K at 120/60fps in 10-bit 4:2:2.
In the hand, the A1 hits a comfortable sweet spot between Sony’s A7 and A9 series cameras, while the incredible 9.44-million-dot OLED EVF renders the average LCD display somewhat superfluous. Its menu system is complicated, but that’s largely a reflection of the Sony A1’s astonishing skill set: this is a mirrorless camera that’s as useful for studio portraits as it is for fast-paced wildlife action. Yes, there are mirrorless cameras that offer better value – and the A1 will be overkill for the majority of photographers. But if you want the pinnacle in mirrorless performance in 2022, the Sony A1 should top your list.
- Read our in-depth Sony A1 review
It's only a subtle evolution of the original Z7, but Nikon arguably didn’t need to make too many changes to its impressive, high-resolution full-frame camera. A major criticism has been addressed by the addition of a secondary memory card slot for this Mark II version, while our tests found that its additional processor provides a significant boost to its all-round performance.
You now get 4K/60p video recording, plus 10fps shooting and a buffer that clears more quickly than on the Z7. The Nikon Z system is also growing at rapid pace, with several lenses and accessories available, making it a much more attractive overall ecosystem than when its predecessor launched in 2018. That’s not to say this camera is perfect – for those who shoot action, there are better options out there, like the Canon EOS R6. But for Nikon fans who need that 45.7MP resolution, the Z7 II is a very strong choice.
- Read our in-depth Nikon Z7 II review
The emergence of medium format as a realistic alternative to full-frame cameras has been one of the biggest stories of the past few years – and the Fujifilm GFX50S II is the best example yet. Its huge sensor, around 1.7x larger than full-frame, does still bring some practical drawbacks, including relatively slow 3fps burst shooting and a lack of 4K video (it tops out at 1080p). But the benefits for photographers, most notably hugely impressive dynamic range, make it a very tempting alternative if you mostly like to shoot landscapes, portraits, still life or architecture.
When combined with Fujifilm's excellent GF lenses, the GFX50S II's 51.4MP sensor is capable of resolving incredible detail – and that includes low light, too. It's very easy to bring info out of the shadows and highlights without a hit on image quality, and images are clean even when taken at ISO 6400. The real game-changers, though, are the GFX50 II's relatively affordable price tag and how well it shoots handheld, thanks to its highly effective image stabilization and comfortable handling.
- Read our in-depth Fujifilm GFX 50S II review
Significantly improved in almost every way, the third iteration of Sony’s A7S is the best of its kind. In fact, it’s the finest hybrid video camera you can buy. Rivals might pack superior specs, but the A7S III sticks with big pixels and a 4K cap for a simple reason: to be the top 4K video camera. The brand-new 12.1MP back-illuminated sensor can’t record 6K or 8K, but it can record for a very long time in very low light. With incredible noise management at high ISO levels, the A7S III is a liberating camera to shoot with; the only real limitations are card capacity and battery life, which averages 75 minutes when shooting in 4K.
A new touch interface and fully articulating screen prove equally intuitive, while an arsenal of on-body controls make inputs a cinch. IBIS and Active stabilization won’t totally counterbalance hand-shake but nevertheless steady well, while the customizable 759-point phase-detection AF is fast and reliable, with excellent subject tracking. And despite its video focus, the A7S III can also produce stunning stills, framed through the 9.44m-dot viewfinder. So what’s the catch? Paired with decent glass and fast storage, the A7S III is a very hefty investment.
- Read our in-depth Sony A7S III review
It might not be as great for video as the Lumix GH5, but the G9 prioritizes stills. Like Olympus OM-D E-M1X, the smaller MFT sensor size is made up for by a camera that is packed full of features. Its high resolution combines eight images into a single 80MP photograph, while its amazing image stabilization allows you to shoot handheld for about a second with sharp results. Throw in 60fps shooting, polished handling and a wealth of advanced features and the Lumix G9 is a brilliant all-round mirrorless camera that's now also great value.
- Read our in-depth Panasonic Lumix G9 review
Mirrorless or DSLR: what's the difference?
Mirrorless cameras allow you to swap and change lenses like on a DSLR. But because the mirror that you normally find inside a DSLR has been removed, the camera can (theoretically) be made much more compact.
No mirror means that instead of optical viewfinders to frame your subject, mirrorless cameras rely on electronic viewfinders. Be aware, though, that most cheaper mirrorless cameras don't come with viewfinders at all – instead, you compose the photo on the rear screen, just as you do with most compact cameras or smartphones.
This is a boon in terms of keeping size and cost down, but if you're looking to start taking your photography seriously then a viewfinder is nigh-on essential. This is because it lets you compose photos in all conditions, even sunny ones that can render a rear screen useless.
You'll find that mirrorless cameras are also known as compact system cameras (or CSCs for short), with models ranging from the simple beginner models to sophisticated full-frame monsters that rival the very best DSLRs out there.
Why are mirrorless cameras better?
Is a mirrorless camera better than a DSLR? There are still quite a few pros and cons to both designs, so if you want to find out more, read our Mirrorless vs DSLR cameras guide.
Mirrorless cameras certainly offer more choice. If you're looking to buy a DSLR, there's only really two main players in the shape of Canon and Nikon. If you opt for a mirrorless camera, the choice is much broader, with the likes of Canon, Panasonic, Fujifilm, Sony, Olympus and Leica all offering a wide range of cameras to suit most budgets.
Right now, every major camera manufacturer has something to shout about, and their latest models are different enough from their rivals to stand out in some way.
While it would be very easy to select 10 high-end models to make up our pick of the best mirrorless camera, we've tried to pick out some more affordable options as well. These models might not be dripping with features, but they represent great options for new users and those on a budget. That said, if you're looking specifically for a budget mirrorless camera, take a look at our best beginner mirrorless camera guide.
So whether you're after a better camera than the one featured on your smartphone or are looking for an advanced, high-end model to push your creativity even further, read on to find out what are the best mirrorless cameras you can buy right now.
How to choose the best mirrorless camera for you
It's a great time to buy a mirrorless camera, but also a slightly overwhelming one. An explosion in the number of options available at all price points from the likes of Canon, Sony, Nikon, Fujifilm, Panasonic and a reborn Olympus means that photographers and videographers have never had more choice.
So where to start? Sensor size is often a good barometer of a camera's character and shooting style. Models that are built for professionals and keen amateurs will have either a full-frame sensor or a slightly smaller APS-C chip. The latter tend to be smaller and more affordable than full-frame cameras, if not quite as portable as those with Four Thirds sensors (from Panasonic and Olympus).
Other important features to look out for are electronic viewfinders (EVFs), which bump up the price but are nigh-on essential for most photographers. It's also worth considering what kind of lenses you'll need.
If you like to specialize in a particular area (for example, wide-angle architecture or macro), then check the system you're looking at to make sure it has the right options for you. In the full-frame mirrorless space, Sony offers the most choice right now, while on crop-sensor APS-C cameras Fujifilm has a wide range of options at most focal lengths.
How we test mirrorless cameras
Buying a mirrorless camera these days isn't cheap, so every camera in this guide has been tested extensively by us. These days, real-world tests are the most revealing way to understand a camera's performance and character, so we focus heavily on those, along with standardized tests for factors like ISO performance.
To begin with, we look at the camera's design, handling and controls to get a sense of what kind of photographer it's aimed at and who might most enjoy shooting with it. When we take it out on a shoot, we'll use it both handheld and on a tripod to get a sense of where its strengths lie, and test its startup speed.
To test performance, we use a formatted UHS-1 card (or UHS-II if supported) and shoot in both raw and JPEG (if available). For burst shooting tests, we dial in our regular test settings (1/250 sec, ISO 200, continuous AF) and shoot a series of frames in front of a stopwatch to see if it lives up to its claimed speeds. We'll also look at how quickly the buffers clears and repeat the test for both raw and JPEG files.
In various lighting conditions, we also test the camera's different autofocus modes (including Face and Eye AF) in single point, area and continuous modes. We also shoot a range of photos of different styles (portrait, landscape, low light, macro/close-up) in raw and JPEG to get a sense of metering and its sensor's ability to handle noise and resolve fine detail.
If the camera's raw files are supported by Adobe Camera Raw, we'll also process some test images to see how we can push areas like shadow recovery. And we'll also test its ISO performance across the whole range to get a sense of the levels we'd be happy to push the camera to.
Battery life is tested in a real-world fashion, as we use the camera over the course of the day with the screen set to the default settings. Once the battery has reached zero, we'll then count the number of shots to see how it compares to the camera's CIPA rating. Finally, we test the camera's video skills by shooting some test footage at different frame-rates and resolutions, along with its companion app.
We then take everything we've learned about the camera and factor in its price to get a sense of the value-for-money it offers, before reaching our final verdict.