Best mirrorless camera 2020: the 12 best models on the planet

Nikon Z5

(Image credit: Future)

If you’re looking for the best mirrorless camera on the market, this is the guide for you. We’ve comprehensively tested, reviewed and ranked the top mirrorless cameras – so whether you’re upgrading from an older model or switching from a DSLR, this buying guide will help you find your ideal match.

More compact than most DSLRs, mirrorless cameras also offer superlative shooting performance, versatile features and the latest photographic technology. The top models deliver image quality of the highest order, as well as class-leading video skills, comprehensive connectivity options, and seriously rapid autofocus and burst speeds – all in portable packages. And while the very best models rarely come cheap, you don’t need to spend thousands for a capable mirrorless camera.

A number of exciting mirrorless models have launched this year. The full-frame Canon EOS R5 is a photographic powerhouse, offering full-width 8K/30p video, in-body image stabilization and Dual Pixel autofocus in all modes. Hot on its heels have come the Canon EOS R6 and Sony A7S III, both with outstanding spec sheets. 

We thoroughly test all of the latest releases and regularly update this list to include our recent reviews. At the moment, our favorite mirrorless camera is still the Nikon Z6. A lightweight and versatile full-frame model with excellent image quality and fantastic handling, it’s arguably the complete mirrorless package – and falling prices mean it’s now more appealing than ever.

But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily perfect for you. Our buying guide features a variety of models to suit a whole range of budgets and needs. Whether you’re a newbie looking for an affordable option, an enthusiast in the market for an upgrade or a vlogger on the hunt for something with serious video prowess, there’s a mirrorless camera that’s right for you – and it’s probably in the list below.

Best mirrorless cameras 2020 at a glance:

  1. Nikon Z6
  2. Fujifilm X-T4
  3. Sony A7 III
  4. Nikon Z50
  5. Sony A7S III
  6. Sony A6100
  7. Canon EOS R5
  8. Sony A7S III
  9. Fujifilm X-T30
  10. Sony Alpha A7R IV
  11. Canon EOS RP
  12. Panasonic G9

The best mirrorless cameras 2020:

1. Nikon Z6

This is the best all-round mirrorless camera you can buy 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.

Fujifilm X-T4

(Image credit: Future)

2. Fujifilm X-T4

A superb all-rounder that’s as capable as it is desirable

Sensor size: APS-C | Resolution: 26.1MP | Viewfinder: 3,690K dots | Monitor: 3.0-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,620K dots | Autofocus: 425-point AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 15fps (30fps electronic shutter) | Movies: 4K at 60p | User level: Intermediate/expert

IBIS for stills and video

Superb build quality

Improved battery life

No built-in headphone jack

Looking for a mirrorless camera that’s equally comfortable shooting both great stills and 4K video? Few cameras do this better than the Fujifilm X-T4. The best APS-C camera so far, it offers a great blend of great build quality, a fun shooting experience, and class-leading image quality. We were already fans of the Fujifilm X-T3, which remains on sale is worth considering if you mainly shoot stills. But 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. 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 it tops off a brilliant all-rounder that now has an excellent range of lenses. 

(Image credit: Future)

3. Sony A7 III

Not new, but 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.

Nikon Z50

(Image credit: Future)

4. Nikon Z50

Great handling makes this a fine choice Nikon DSLR switchers

Sensor size: APS-C CMOS | Resolution: 20.9MP | Viewfinder: 0.39-inch EVF, 2.36 million dots | Monitor: 3.2-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 1.04 million dots | Autofocus: 209-point AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 11fps | Movies: 4K (UHD) at 30fps | User level: Intermediate/expert

Great handling

Impressive viewfinder and screen

No joystick for choosing AF points

Limited native lens range

Nikon’s first foray into the mid-range mirrorless market, the Z50 proves a strong debut. Despite the smaller APS-C sensor, Nikon hasn’t tried to shrink the Z50 too much, instead paying great attention to form and handling. The result is a mirrorless camera that, though still more compact than a DSLR, packs a generous grip which is lovely to hold. Its high-resolution viewfinder and tilting touchscreen are impressive, while 4K video and reliable autofocus (using the same hybrid system as the Nikon Z6) complete a great value package. The Z50 uses SD cards rather than the more expensive XQD format, though the single slot is only compatible with slower UHS-I cards, which limits its continuous shooting speeds. Perhaps the biggest challenge the Z50 faces is the limited native lens range, but this will surely grow – and the twin-lens kit is a versatile buy. For those looking to move from a Nikon DSLR to mirrorless, the Z50 is a great choice.

Sony A7S III

(Image credit: Future)

5. Sony A7S III

A videographer’s dream for low-light 4K footage

Sensor size: Full-frame | Resolution: 12.1MP | Viewfinder: 9,436K dots | Monitor: 3-inch articulating touchscreen, 1,440K dots | Autofocus: 759-point hybrid AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 10fps | Movies: Full-frame 4K at 120p | User level: Intermediate

Superlative low-light video

Impressive battery life

Low resolution for stills

Costs more than before

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.

Sony A6100

(Image credit: Future)

6. Sony A6100

A brilliant beginner pick that’s perfect for point-and-shooters

Sensor size: APS-C CMOS | Resolution: 24.2MP | Viewfinder: 0.39-inch EVF, 1.44 million dots | Monitor: 2.95-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 921,600 dots | Autofocus: 425-point hybrid AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 11fps | Movies: 4K at 30fps | User level: Beginner

Excellent tracking autofocus

Compact yet feature-packed

Takes time to understand capabilities

Relatively low-res LCD and EVF

The Sony A6000 remains a popular mirrorless camera for beginners, but five years after its launch the A6100 brings 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 superb all-rounder that should follow in the footsteps of its best-selling forebear.

Canon EOS R5

(Image credit: Future)

7. Canon EOS R5

Simply the best stills camera Canon’s ever made

Sensor size: Full-frame | Resolution: 45MP | Viewfinder: 5,760K dots | Monitor: 3.15-inch articulating touchscreen, 2,100K dots | Autofocus: 5940-point Dual Pixel AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 20fps | Movies: 8K at 30p | User level: Intermediate

Very versatile for stills

Incredible autofocus

Not cheap

Limits on video recording

Canon has pulled out all the stops with the EOS R5. Lightweight yet substantial in the hand, it’s the company’s best mirrorless camera to date – and on paper, it could be the top hybrid model on the market. High-resolution, full-frame and driven by the powerful Digic X processor, it’s an exceptional tool for stills photographers. Next-gen Dual Pixel autofocus is 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. 

Battery life can’t rival a DSLR, but a good four hours of intensive shooting is possible on a single charge. There are caveats, though. Video specs are staggering, capturing 8K at up to 30fps or 4K at up to 120fps, but heat restrictions seriously limit recording times, while ‘cool down’ periods are lengthy. And making the most of that performance will 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.

(Image credit: Future)

8. Fujifilm X-T30

Great stills, cracking video and beautiful design – the X-T30 is a little gem

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

Despite its age, this little gem remains our favorite small, powerful mirrorless camera. While we’re big fans of its bigger brother, the X-T4 (position number 2), this model’s combination of travel-friendly size and impressive performance make it a fantastic choice for those who need something a little less bulky. It’s no longer brand new, given it launched in February 2019, and there are whispers that a X-T40 could be arrive later in the year or in early 2021. But the flipside to its age is that you can pick it up for some excellent prices, and it remains a very modern camera with few weaknesses. You get the same 26.1MP APS-C sensor and processing engine as the Fujifilm X-T3, making it suitable for everything from sports snapping to landscape photography. This is helped by a phase-detect AF system that covers almost the entire frame, plus the usual range of Fujifilm’s excellent Film Simulation modes, which subtly ape the company’s old film looks. It’s a fantastic, charming little all-rounder.

(Image credit: Future)

9. Sony A7R IV

Sony’s megapixel monster gets a major boost

Sensor size: Full-frame | Resolution: 61MP | Viewfinder: 5,760K dots | Monitor: 3-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 21,400K dots | Autofocus: 567 PDAF 425 CDAF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 1fps | Movies: 4K at 30p | User level: Expert

Improved ergonomics

Fast, intelligent AF

Well-behaved metering system

Brilliant viewfinder

Rolling shutter noticeable in videos

No in-camera RAW processing

No motion correction in Pixel Shift mode

Sony’s A7R line of cameras has been all about resolution, and the A7R IV delivers a lot more of it than ever before. Its class-leading 61MP delivers an excellent level of detail, augmented by the 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 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. Although the addition of top plate command dial makes the mode dial a little harder to access. And while the A7R series wasn’t designed with videographers in mind, video quality here is excellent, even though the rolling shutter effect is an issue.

Nikon Z5

(Image credit: Future)

10. Nikon Z5

The best entry-level full-frame mirrorless camera you can buy

Sensor size: Full-frame | Resolution: 24.3MP | Viewfinder: 3,690K dots | Monitor: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen, 1,040K dots | Autofocus: 273-point hybrid AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 4.5fps | Movies: 4K at 30p | User level: Beginner

Comfortable and solid build

Very capable AF system

Disappointing video specs

Underwhelming burst speed

Very similar in many ways to the Z6 (see no.1), Nikon’s new Z5 is the best entry-level full-frame mirrorless camera you can buy right now – depending on how you define ‘entry-level’. On the spec sheet, there’s plenty that appeals. A 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 Z6 continue to fall, the Z5 looks like a less persuasive proposition.

(Image credit: Future)

11. Canon EOS RP

The cheapest full-frame mirrorless camera around

Sensor: Full-frame CMOS | Megapixels: 26.2MP | Autofocus: 5,655-point AF | Screen type: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Enthusiast

Great value for money

Tiny and light body

Limited native lens selection

4K video limitations

Canon’s first full-frame mirrorless camera, the EOS R, delighted in some ways and frustrated in others, but the EOS RP made a much more positive impression. While technically a more junior model and not as fully featured, its much smaller and lighter body, together with a far nicer price, means that it’s far more accessible for those who were hoping to make the jump to mirrorless but didn’t want to stretch all the way to the EOS R. Without only around 4MP difference between the two you’re not really sacrificing much in terms of sensor resolution, while the responsive touchscreen, fast autofocus and deep buffer makes it a pleasure to use in all kinds of situations. And while the native lens range for the R mount are still limited, a lens mount adapter allows users already invested in Canon’s ecosystem to use their existing EF lenses.

(Image credit: Future)

12. Panasonic Lumix G9

Uncompromized versatility

Sensor: Four Thirds Live MOS | Megapixels: 20.4MP | Autofocus: 225-area AF | Screen type: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040K dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 20fps | Movies: 4K at 60fps | User level: Enthusiast

Excellent 4K and 6K photo modes

Ergonomic handling

6.5-stop image stabilization

Dual card slots

ISO range not broad enough

Smaller screen than GH5

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.

Also consider:

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.

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 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 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 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 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. 

September 17, 2020
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