The 9 Best Mirrorless Cameras of 2021

Take your photography skills to the next level

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown
Best Overall:
Canon EOS R5 at Amazon
The Canon Eos R5 is perhaps the first true professional-grade mainstream mirrorless camera
This premium camera boasts 24.3-megapixel detail and the world’s fastest autofocus.
Best for Professionals:
Panasonic LUMIX S1 at Amazon
This camera can deliver the professional-quality results you expect.
Best for Video:
Sony A7S III at Amazon
The Sony A7S III is a video creator's dream come true.
Best Controls:
Fujifilm X-T4 at Amazon
The Fujifilm X-T4 is one of the best looking cameras on the market right now.
Best High Resolution:
Nikon Z7 II at Amazon
The Z7 II is a particularly good choice for landscape photographers.
The Eos M50 Mark II is Canon’s latest and greatest budget oriented mirrorless camera from their Eos M line.
Best for Vloggers:
Sony A7C at Amazon
The Sony A7C is a powerful tool for high-quality vlogging and anyone who needs a portable, flexible camera.
Best for Sports:
Sony Alpha A9 II at Amazon
The Sony A9 II is the mirrorless camera you’re most likely to see at a football game or the Olympics.

The best mirrorless cameras represent the cutting edge of photographic technology, though the best DSLRs are still capable of giving them a run for their money. For those looking for upgrading to the latest and greatest camera tech, mirrorless is the way to go. Many mirrorless cameras excel at both still photo and video recording. This makes them ideal for modern creators and artists who work in a variety of mediums. Our top pick, the Canon Eos R5 is a tour de force with a 45 Megapixel sensor and 8k video recording capability.

Not all mirrorless cameras are intended to be jacks of all trades but are instead masters with specific talents. The Sony A7S III is laser-focused on shooting high-quality video even in extreme low light conditions, while the LUMIX S1 from Panasonic is a high-resolution monster, with a large sensor and 4K video capabilities (though it comes with steep price to match). Whatever your photographic or film making requirements there’s probably a mirrorless camera that meets your needs, and we’ve assembled this list of the best of the best to help you decide which one is right for you.

Best Overall: Canon EOS R5

What We Like
  • High resolution 45MP sensor

  • 8k video shooting

  • Incredible image stabilization system

  • Highly ergonomic design

What We Don't Like
  • Overheating issues limit otherwise impressive video capabilities

The Canon Eos R5 is perhaps the first true professional-grade mainstream mirrorless camera, and it’s hard not to be awed by the technological leap forward it represents. Its 45 Megapixel sensor delivers crisp, rich images, and enables it to record video at up to an incredible 8K.

The full glory of both its still images and 8K video can’t be truly appreciated on most commercially available displays. The true value of such extreme resolution is for editing. For example, if you’re filming wildlife at a great distance, it will allow you to crop significantly into your image or video without a loss in apparent quality. It can also capture this high-resolution footage in a lossless RAW format for even greater editing flexibility.

The Eos R5 also delivers 4K footage at up to 120 fps, which means you can use this camera to capture beautiful high-quality slow-motion video. Furthermore, an advanced in-body image stabilization system (IBIS) allows for stable handheld shooting with any lens, and it can work in concert with the separate stabilization systems with compatible lenses for even greater shake reduction.

If this wasn’t enough, the Eos R5 also has one of the best autofocus systems in any mirrorless camera, with eye detection for animals as well as humans. It’s ergonomically designed, and is rugged and weather-sealed to stand up to even the harshest conditions.

The one caveat to what is nearly the perfect camera is that the Eos R5 overheats while shooting that high-resolution 8K and 4K video, limiting the length of time you’re able to shoot with it. However, this is only a serious issue if you plan on shooting for long uninterrupted periods of time. Otherwise, it’s hard to imagine a more well-rounded camera.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera

Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera
What We Like
  • Shoots incredibly fast

  • 24.3 megapixel resolution

  • Sleek and compact

What We Don't Like
  • Lacks some landscape features

The Sony a6000 may be six years old, yet it offers an impressive range of features that keep it competitive with current cameras at a price point that won’t break the bank. It can shoot high resolution 24.3 Megapixel images with its APS-C sensor at up to 11 frames per second and can easily nail sharp images with its fast autofocus system.

This is a highly compact and portable camera, depending on which lens you use, making it ideal for capturing high-quality images and video in situations where it’s important to travel light or be unobtrusive. The a6000 truly is a classic of the mirrorless camera world.

Best for Professionals: Panasonic LUMIX S1

Panasonic LUMIX S1
What We Like
  • Shoots same field as a 35mm camera

  • Great lens variety

  • 4K, 60fps video capable

What We Don't Like
  • Large sensor means lower practical resolution

There is something to be said for the chunky, solid feel of a traditional DSLR. Their bulk is reassuring and provides a distinctly professional look. If you’re such a fan of big and beautiful cameras, then the Panasonic Lumix S1 is the camera for you. It’s big, heavy, and not too portable, but that also means it's durable and feels awesome to use. Its 24.2 megapixel full frame sensor pushes out beautiful high dynamic range images with great high ISO noise performance.

It’s also great for video, featuring 4k recording at up to 60fps, and 1080p video with 180fps slow motion capability. Additionally, it’s tri-axial tilt touchscreen offers a good compromise between fans of tilt screens and lovers of fully articulating screens. However, the autofocus system in the Lumix S1 could be better, and it's priced a bit steeply. However, the fact that this is part of the L mount Alliance with Sigma and Leica means that you can take advantage of Sigma’s cheap lenses and bring the cost of a complete system down to a very competitive level.

What We Like
  • Incredible low light performance

  • High quality cinematic video recording

  • 4k 120fps and 1080p 240fps slow motion video

  • Revamped menu system

What We Don't Like
  • Relatively low resolution 12MP sensor

The Sony A7S III is a video creator's dream come true. It delivers beautiful high-quality RAW 4K footage and is a legitimate option for filmmakers. It’s capable of recording slow motion 120fps video at up to 4K resolution and can go as high as 240 fps when filming at 1080p.

That’s all very well and good, but where the A7S III really stands out from the crowd is with its almost unbelievable low light performance. With this camera, dim city streets, gloomy interiors, and even wilderness landscapes lit only by moonlight provide opportunities for recording crisp, low noise cinematic footage at ridiculous ISO levels.

The A7S III can achieve these amazing low light results because it utilizes a mere 12 Megapixel full-frame sensor. This low Megapixel count means that the A7S III isn’t so great for capturing still images, but by only using a small number of pixels, Sony was able to make those pixels big, and bigger pixels mean better performance when shooting at high ISO levels.

Additionally, the A7S III features IBIS, a revamped menu system, and a fully articulating LCD display. If you primarily shoot video, this is the ultimate dream mirrorless camera for you.

What We Like
  • Excellent control scheme

  • Retro style looks

  • Great video features

  • Compact camera and lens system

What We Don't Like
  • Smaller crop sensor

It would not be an unreasonable statement to make that the Fujifilm X-T4 is one of the best looking cameras on the market right now. Fujifilm leans into retro camera vibes with its products, and the X-T4 is no exception. The camera wouldn’t look out of place in the 1950s, with big, beautiful exposure dials. These dials are the key to its fantastic control scheme, as all of your settings are right there in front of you so you never even need to look at the screen to know what your shutter speed, ISO, or F-stop is.

The retro look masks this camera’s cutting edge core, which features a 26.1 Megapixel X-Trans sensor, in-body stabilization, and video recording capabilities that allow it to shoot up to 240fps at 1080p, or up to 60fps at 4k. However, keep in mind that this is not a full-frame camera, but has a cropped APS-C sized sensor instead. This doesn’t cripple, but it does limit its image quality to some extent. On the plus side, the smaller sensor size has allowed Fuji to craft a more compact system, so your lenses aren’t going to be quite so heavy or take up as much room in your bag.

Best High Resolution: Nikon Z7 II

What We Like
  • High resolution sensor

  • Improved autofocus

  • 4K 60fps video

  • Beautiful Nikon color science

What We Don't Like
  • Tilt screen is limiting compared to fully articulating screens

The Z7 II is Nikon’s brand new update to their line of full-frame mirrorless cameras, and it offers a number of important upgrades over its predecessor. It retains the high resolution 45 Megapixel sensor of the original Z7, which is well known for the spectacular detail it’s capable of capturing and for the beautiful colors that Nikon’s color science produces.

New to the Mark II version of this camera is an improved autofocus system that puts the Z7 II on a par with the competition, perhaps surpassing them with superior low light autofocus performance. It also boasts 4K 60fps video recording capability and 10 FPS full-resolution RAW or JPEG burst shooting with AE/AF tracking. A dual-processor design reduces blackout when shooting through the viewfinder and boosts your image buffer, allowing you to shoot continuously for longer periods of time. Professionals will appreciate that the Z7 II features a second card slot, allowing you to back up your images as you shoot to safeguard your images in the field.

The only real caveat with the Z7 II is the fact that it features a simple tilt screen rather than the more flexible articulating design found in most other modern mirrorless cameras. However, it’s worth noting that this tilt screen design is preferred by some photographers. Given that this camera features a comparably high-resolution sensor to the Canon Eos R5, yet is nearly a thousand dollars cheaper, the Z7 II is a particularly good choice for landscape photographers.

Best Budget: Canon EOS M50 Mark II

What We Like
  • Compact and portable

  • Affordably priced

  • Slow motion 1080p video

What We Don't Like
  • Smaller cropped sensor size

  • No IBIS

The Eos M50 Mark II is Canon’s latest and greatest budget-oriented mirrorless camera from their Eos M line. This little photographic powerhouse is packing a 24.1 Megapixel sensor and is capable of 4K video recording as well as slow-motion 1080p 120fps video capture. This is a versatile system built to be small and compact so it can go wherever you do. A caveat of this smaller form factor is the M50 Mark II only features a smaller cropped sensor. Another downside to the M50 Mark II is that it’s one of the few recently released mirrorless cameras to not feature in body image stabilization.

Overall though, this is an impressive, compact, and high-quality system capable of producing amazing photos and video.

What We Like
  • Small and compact form factor

  • Full frame sensor

  • Fully articulating display

What We Don't Like
  • Not the best value

  • Small viewfinder

Though it’s not cheap considering its specs sheet, what you’re paying for is portability. All the image quality and professional capabilities of a full-frame camera are contained in a tiny body that’s ideal for those looking to record their adventures with high-quality photos and video. It features a 24.2 Megapixel full-frame sensor, 4K recording capability, and 5 axis image stabilization, as well as a fully articulating LCD screen.

Of course, this miniaturization comes at the cost of the functionality of some features. Most significantly, the viewfinder has been shrunk down and offset in one corner, which makes it less than ideal in terms of useability. However, with great dynamic range, low noise at high ISO levels, slow motion 1080p 120fps video, and a wide range of other powerful features, the Sony A7C is a powerful tool for high-quality vlogging and anyone who needs a portable, flexible camera.

Best for Sports: Sony Alpha A9 II

What We Like
  • 20 fps continuous shooting

  • Up to 1/32000 second electronic shutter speed

  • Professional grade autofocus

What We Don't Like
  • High price

The Sony A9 II is the mirrorless camera you’re most likely to see at a football game or the Olympics. This thing is a beast built for pro shooters with insane autofocus accuracy and speed to keep up with world class athletes and wild animals with spooky smart eye AF for both humans and wildlife. It can capture full resolution 24.2 megapixel RAW images at a blazing 20fps. This camera is capable of capturing even the most fleeting moments with a crazy 1/32000 second electronic shutter speed which can freeze any motion with ease.

This kind of cutting-edge tech focused on a specialized purpose comes at a price. The camera is a lot of money, but for pro photographers who need the tools the A9 II provides is more than worth the cost.

Final Verdict

The Sony Alpha a6000 shoots with blinding speed and produces absolutely gorgeous photos, and boasts the fastest autofocus on the planet, earning it our top honors. For those on a budget, however, the Canon EOS M10 is a fantastic alternative, a beginner-friendly camera that still takes incredibly sharp, detailed photos and supports a ton of lenses.

About Our Trusted Experts

Andy Zahn is an experienced photographer and video creator who, when he isn’t testing out the latest cameras and other tech for Lifewire, can be found roaming the mountains and forests of the Pacific Northwest. Andy is particularly passionate about cameras and enjoys researching and geeking out over the tech that powers them almost as much as he does capture images using them. He shoots primarily using Nikon’s Z mount mirrorless system.

Katie Dundas is a tech writer for a range of publications. She is an avid travel photographer and personally shoots with the Sony Alpha a6000.

What to Look for in a Mirrorless Camera

Lens availability

Many mirrorless cameras have proprietary lens mounts. This means that if the manufacturer doesn’t make the type of lens you want to use, you can’t just buy any lens and use it with your device. Some mirrorless cameras have adapters that allow you to use full-size DSLR lenses, but it also makes sense to take stock of the available lenses before you buy and make sure the majority of your camera needs are covered.

Video

While many of us buy mirrorless cameras strictly for still photography, some of these little cameras have the power to take excellent video. If you are interested in using your camera for video shooting, or think you may want to in the future, then it’s important to look at those capabilities (can it shoot in 4K?) before you purchase.

Sensor

Many mirrorless cameras sport cropped APS-C(Advanced Photo System type-C) sensors, which are smaller than full-frame sensors. You can take great pictures with a cropped sensor, and it’s not always worth splurging for a larger sensor, especially if you’re a hobbyist. But if you have the cash for it, then you may want to pay more for better image quality.

Was this page helpful?