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Best mirrorless camera 2019: 10 top models to suit every budget

Nikon Z7
Nikon Z7
(Image credit: Future)

What's the best mirrorless camera right now? It's not an easy question to answer but we reckon we can point you in the right direction – whatever your budget. 

Mirrorless cameras have evolved in countless ways ever since they came on the market 11 years ago, and there's little doubt that today's models are more exciting  than their DSLR rivals.

But what exactly is a mirrorless camera? 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 be made much more compact. 

No mirror means that instead of optical viewfinders to frame your subject, mirrorless cameras rely on electronic viewfinders instead. Be aware, however, 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.

Top 5 cameras

Here's our pick of the 5 best cameras - click on the links below to go through to the full review for each 

1. Nikon Z6
2. Sony A7 III 
3. Nikon Z7
4. Sony A7R III
5. Fujifilm X-T30

You'll find that mirrorless cameras are also known as compact system cameras (or CSCs for short), with models ranging from the simple to use 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 then? There are still quite a few pros and cons to both designs, so if you want to find out more, read this: Mirrorless vs DSLR cameras: 10 key differences 

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 in 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 mirrorless camera for beginners buying 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. 

Best mirrorless cameras in 2019

2019 has already seen a raft of exciting new cameras from most of the big players.

Key releases include the Sony Alpha A7R IV, Olympus OM-D E-M1X, Panasonic Lumix S1R, Canon EOS RP and Fujifilm X-T30 – and there's no doubt more to come before the year is up. 

So what stands out most for us from the current selection? It's close but we reckon the best mirrorless camera right now is the Nikon Z6, for its excellent image quality, great videos, polished handling and overall performance. It's not without fault but for the money you get a whole lot of camera.

1. Nikon Z6

It's close but we reckon this is the best mirrorless camera right now

Sensor size: Full-frame | Resolution: 24.5MP | Viewfinder: 3,690K dots | Monitor: 3.2-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 2,100K dots | Autofocus: 273-point AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 12fps | Movies: 4K at 30p | User level: Intermediate/expert

Refined handling
Great image quality
Limited buffer depth
Only one card slot

Sony may have got to the full-frame mirrorless market before the likes of Canon, Nikon and Panasonic, but now that all four are active in the sector, the playing field is starting to level a little. And our nod right now goes to Nikon's Z6, which combines a sound 24.5MP sensor with a super-sharp 3.69 million dot EVF and lovely 4K video into a compact shell. The beefy grip makes for great handling while the FTZ adapter that's either bundled with the camera or available separately means you can carry on using hundreds of F-mount lenses, with autofocus and auto-exposure maintained. It's not perfect, but a recent firmware update gave it a nice boost – and now that its price has fallen some way it's even more accessible than ever. We love it.

(Image credit: Future)

2. Sony Alpha A7 III

Massively popular for good reason

Sensor size: Full-frame | Resolution: 24.2MP | Viewfinder: 2,359K dots | Monitor: 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 921K dots | Autofocus: 693-point AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 10fps | Movies: 4K at 30p | User level: Intermediate/expert

693-point AF system
10fps burst shooting
Limited touchscreen control
Slight 'tearing' in EVF

The Alpha A7 III may sit on the bottom rung of Sony's full-frame mirrorless camera range, its siblings being the pricier A7S II and A7R III, but it should no longer be seen as the poor relation to its pricier siblings. This is a brilliant choice for the enthusiast photographer or pro, and when you look at the specification, it's easy to see why. Sony has taken some of the best bits from its flagship Alpha A9 and A7R III cameras, and distilled them into a single camera that offers a fantastic mix of performance and image quality. The full-frame 24.2MP sensor is excellent in a range of lighting conditions, while the advanced 693-point AF looks set to get even better with a firmware upgrade in April. This is one advanced camera that's at a great price considering the features and performance on offer.

(Image credit: Future)

3. Nikon Z7

A nicely compact camera that spits out images with masses of detail

Sensor size: Full-frame | Resolution: 45.7MP | Viewfinder: 3,690K dots | Monitor: 3.2-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 2,100K dots | Autofocus: 435-point AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 9fps | Movies: 4K at 30p | User level: Expert

Great handling and images
Superb electronic viewfinder
Shallow buffer
Single XQD card slot

Like the sound of the Z6, but want more megapixels? Then the 45.7MP Z7 should do the trick. Sharing an identical design to the Z6, Nikon's first full-frame mirrorless camera is a real triumph. It may be a first-generation camera, but we think Nikon's knocked it out of the park with the Z7 right from the get-go. The densely populated 45.7MP sensor is brilliant, delivering some of the best results we've seen on a mirrorless camera, while the effective in-camera image stabilization also delivers. Factor in a beautiful EVF, excellent handling, very competent AF performance and great response throughout, and it's easy to see why the Z7 is such a pleasure to use. 

4. Sony Alpha A7R III

Sony's megapixel monster gets a performance boost

Sensor size: Full-frame | Resolution: 42.2MP | Viewfinder: 3,686K dots | Monitor: 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 1,440K dots | Autofocus: 399-point AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 10fps | Movies: 4K at 30p | User level: Expert

10fps at 42.2MP
Fast AF performance
Limited touchscreen control
Battery life could still be better

Sony's A7R line of cameras has been all about resolution, and the A7R III sure delivers a lot of it. With its 42.2MP sensor, it manages to match or better the majority of DSLRs out there, while 4K video recording, weather-sealing and a brilliant hybrid AF system show that it's got more than just a high pixel count to shout about. The most recent A7R IV update took things further with a fresh 61MP sensor, although we've not had the opportunity to review it yet. It looks very promising, but until we do, it's the A7R III that gets our vote.

(Image credit: Future)

5. Fujifilm X-T30

Great stills, cracking video, beautiful design... what more could we ask for?

Sensor size: APS-C | Resolution: 26.1MP | Viewfinder: 2,360K dots | Monitor: 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen display, 1,040K dots | Autofocus: 425-point AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 8fps | Movies: 4K at 30p | User level: Intermediate

Robust, stylish body
Great image and video quality
Some cramped controls
EVF magnification isn't great

Fujifilm's X-series of compact cameras has been a huge smash among enthusiasts, and the previous X-T20 was the company's best-selling X-series model yet. So how do you follow on from that? By blending the best bits from the high-end X-T3 (position 8) in a body that's just as convenient to carry around as before. In fact, you get more than you might expect from the X-T3 here, from the 26.1MP sensor and processing engine through to the option to record 4K-quality footage and a phase-detect AF system that covers almost the entire frame. It's beautifully designed and built, and is just at home shooting sports and action as it is capturing landscapes or videos.  

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III

6. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III

The brilliant E-M10 Mark III is a little powerhouse of a camera

Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds | Megapixels: 16.1MP | Viewfinder: 2,360K dots | Monitor: 3.0-inch tilt-angle display, 1,037K dots | Autofocus: 121-point AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 8.6fps | Movies: 4K at 30p | User level: Beginner/intermediate

Compact size, lenses too
Excellent viewfinder
Smaller sensor than some
Focus tracking could be better

The OM-D E-M10 Mark III might not be a massive leap forward over the Mark II, with much of the camera's specification remaining the same. However, Olympus has refined and tweaked one of our favorite mirrorless cameras to make it an even more tempting proposition for new users and enthusiasts alike. Some will criticise the smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor format, but the effect on image quality is minor and it means that the lenses are as compact and lightweight as the camera itself. Sporting a 5-axis image stabilization system, a very decent electronic viewfinder, an impressive 8.6fps burst shooting rate and 4K video, it's no toy – the OM-D E-M10 Mark III is a properly powerful camera.

7. Sony Alpha A6400

Forget any worries about slow focusing with this little beaut

Sensor size: APS-C | Resolution: 24.2MP | Viewfinder: 2,360K dots | Monitor: 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 921k dots | Autofocus: 425-point AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 11fps | Movies: 4K at 30p | User level: Intermediate

Brilliant autofocusing system
Bright electronic viewfinder
No headphone port
No built-in IS

You don't have to go full-frame to get the benefit of Sony's great camera technology, and this APS-C format model makes a great choice for enthusiasts looking for an alternative to a more traditional DSLR. Sony's equipped the A6400 with a brilliant AF system that not only offers fast focus tracking, but a clever Eye AF system the locks focus on the eye. There's also an excellent electronic viewfinder that makes it easy to see when the subject is sharp and correctly exposed, while the touchscreen can be rotated round 180-degrees, making the camera a great choice for vloggers. Image quality is very high and there's built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity to allow you to share images via a connected smartphone.

8. Fujifilm X-T3

A stellar update to the popular X-T line

Sensor size: APS-C | Megapixels: 26.1MP | Viewfinder: 3,686K dots | Monitor: 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 1,040K dots | Autofocus: 425-point AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 11fps | Movies: 4K at 60p | User level: Expert

Great new X-Trans sensor
Excellent build quality
Noticeable viewfinder fringing
EV dial easy to knock

Fujifilm has long shown that you don't need a full-frame sensor to make a cracking camera, and the X-T3 is very much testament to that. With a fresh 26.1MP APS-C sensor, a revamped processing engine and a 425-point AF system spreads across the frame, the camera is happy enough to be shooting sports and landscapes as it is when out on the street. But there's plenty more, such as wonderful 4K video quality, a three-axis LCD, highly detailed EVF and twin card slots, all inside a weather-sealed body. The newer X-T30 (position 5) manages to deliver a lot of this for less, but if you fancy a better viewfinder, a more flexible LCD, faster burst rate and superior video specs, this is the model to go for. 

Best camera: Panasonic S1R

9. Panasonic Lumix S1R

This newcomer packs a few special tricks over its rivals

Sensor size: Full frame | Resolution: 47.3MP | Viewfinder: 5,760,000 dots | Monitor: 3.0-inch tri-axis tilt display, 2,100K dots | Autofocus: Contrast-detect AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 9fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Intermediate/professional

Stunning viewfinder
187MP capture option
AF system a little behind rivals
Big, heavy and pricey

The S1R is the first of two camera's in Panasonic's S series, and it arrives with some mightily impressive technology. That 5.76million-dot viewfinder is streets ahead of the 3.69million-dot alternatives in rival bodies, while the rugged build, effective sensor-based stabilization and cracking 4K video show it to be a camera that excels in a wealth of areas. The 47.3MP full-frame sensor also manages to perform brilliantly in good light and bad, and the further option to output images at 187MP may seem a little crazy, but it opens up new possibilities for cropping and for macro work. We're very impressed.

10. Fujifilm GFX 100

If money is no object, grab this megapixel monster

Sensor size: Medium format | Resolution: 102MP | Viewfinder: 5,760,000 dots | Monitor: 3.2-inch three-direction tilt display, 2,360K dots | Autofocus: Hybrid AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 5fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Professional

Crazy level of detail 
EVF is superb: detailed and large 
Very expensive
Vertical grip isn't well-thought out

The GFX 100 outguns every other model in the list for native resolution, and while it has a lofty price tag to match its beefy body, it's arguably in a league of its own right now. While it's not the only camera capable of outputting images this detailed, it's the fact that it does it as standard rather than through any trickery or need to use a tripod like many others that makes it special. Throw in a very competent autofocus system, sensor-based image stabilization, strong 4K video and the best EVF we've seen so far, and you have one supremely versatile camera. Sure, none of us can afford one, but Fujifilm deserves high praise for delivering this kind of performance at a price well below that of other high-resolution medium format cameras. 

Also consider:

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

Bursting with features and cheaper than ever

Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds | Resolution: 20MP | Viewfinder: 2,360K dots | Monitor: 3.0-inch vari-angle display, 1,037K dots | Autofocus: 121-point AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 18fps (60fps with e-shutter) | Movies: 4K | User level: Intermediate

Compact, weather-sealed body
Superb image stabilization system
UHS-II in only one card slot
Sensor only 20MP

Olympus wowed us with its OM-D E-M1 Mark II when it arrived back in 2016, and while some of its sheen has been rubbed away by the flashier OM-D E-M1X that arrived earlier this year, this model packs much of that camera's tech inside a much cheaper and lighter body. And the tech itself is very sound: a superb image stabilization system, strong 4K video recording capacities, lightning-fast autofocus and a highly impressive burst mode that captures 60fps at full resolution – and all in a weather-resistant body. Some may prefer a slightly different sensor as the  20MP Four Thirds version here is neither the largest nor the newest, but you really can't argue with that you're getting for your money. We've always had a soft spot for the E-M1 Mark II, and at this price we love it even more.

Sony Alpha A7 II

A superb camera for the price

Sensor size: Full-frame | Resolution: 24.2MP | Viewfinder: 2,359k dots | Monitor: 3.0-inch tilt-angle screen, 1,228k dots | Autofocus: 117-point AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 5fps | Movies: Full HD at 50p | User level: Intermediate/expert

Great images
Advanced features
Full HD video only
Poor battery life

We may now be on the fourth generation of A7 cameras, but Sony has been smart enough to keep previous models available so that anyone who can't quite stretch to the latest versions can still grab themselves a top older model at a tidy price. And the A7 II is a great example of this, with its 24MP full-frame sensor, sensor-based image stabilization, Fast Hybrid AF system and compatibility with plenty of sweet Sony lenses to sway those on a budget. Sure, it misses out on a few mod cons like 4K video recording and a touchscreen, but neither is essential if you just want to get great images without having to eat beans for the rest of the month.