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History has shown the traditional DSLR reigns supreme, but the continuous release cycle of Sony, Fujifilm, Nikon, and other mirrorless cameras show the market is ripe for growth. Every manufacturer is now putting forward new or upgraded mirrorless cameras.

You can’t browse YouTube or any photography blog without a debate raging over mirrorless cameras. Which is the best? What lenses? Should you stick to DSLRs? Pros and cons of each. It’s endless, so we decided to collect the best models out on the market right now into a guide and explain the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Our breakdown includes the highest-end models which have the latest in weather sealing, electronic viewfinders, and excellent autofocusing. And we include the budget models that can get you kitted out for less than $1000 including a lens. Perfect for those not wanting to jump into the deep end of photography.

The Gist

Mirrorless Cameras By Brand:  Sony  / Nikon  / CanonFuji / Panasonic

The Sony a7 III is the Best Mirrorless Camera of 2020

So far. While new cameras are announced all the time, the Sony a7III is still the best mirrorless camera thanks to its feature list. And it’s not even close when compared to Canon and Nikon.

Sony may call the a7 III its ‘basic model,’ but it’s anything but basic. The newly announced camera comes packed with all the latest tech from the a9 and a7r III and puts the vast majority of it into a camera body priced under $2000 (Amazon / B&H / Adorama).

Sure, it doesn’t have the absurd megapixel count of the a7r IV, relying on a brand new 24MP BSI sensor. The a7 III can’t match the 20 fps of the a9 II, instead easily hitting 10 fps using both mechanical and the silent electronic shutter.

What it does borrow is the autofocus system from the a9 – a 693-point AF system covering 92% of the sensor. The new Z battery makes an appearance, along with two SD cards. The basic a7 line finally jumps on the 4K mirrorless camera train and outperforms the a7r III in that it gives a full pixel readout of the sensor. No more pixel binning. It oversamples to 6K and has the option to enter APS-C mode, effectively giving you two focal lengths with one lens.

It has 15 stops of dynamic range, and the battery life will get you in the area of 700+ shots. That’s damn good for a mirrorless system, and while we wait on the promised a7s III, Sony a7 III fulfills the role as a low-light champion.

Sony may bill the camera as the basic model, but damn if it doesn’t impress on the price point. If you are looking to get into one of the best full-frame mirrorless cameras, this is one hell of a camera. It has its drawbacks, but the features trimmed from the a7r III and the a9 are one’s users workaround. 10 fps is still lightning fast. 24 MP is a solid sensor. 4K video is there, and Sony’s IBIS is ever-present.

It also enjoys regular firmware updates complete with new features. Timelapse made it back into the camera as did a brand new Animal-AF mode. Think Eye-AF for people, and you get the idea. 

And at less than $2K (Amazon / B&H / Adorama), you can immediately invest in solid lenses for the body.

Why does a two-year-old camera body still reign supreme in 2020? The Sony a7 III doesn’t win on specs against most full-frame cameras. It’s older, and we are looking at an update cycle in the next six months. 

But, what Sony has going for it is the ecosystem of lenses. Canon and Nikon cannot compete in the third-party lens arena. Sure, you can adapt a ton of glass to the various bodies, but if you want native, expect the price tag to get interesting in a hurry. 

The autofocus system is still on top. The rest are still playing catchup, and for the price, there really isn’t any competition. A sub-$2000 camera rocking a $4000+ autofocusing system? Sure, I’ll take that. Lenses under a grand that compete with peers reaching well past $2000? You are damn right; I’ll take it. 

Is the Sony a7 III getting long in the tooth? That depends. Are you searching for 8K video or 4K120p? If so, the answer is clearly yes. Oh yes, there’s a but. The caveat to those kinds of specs is that you’ll need a monster of a computer for post-production work. And I’m talking desktop-level computer specs unless you hate your laptop. 

If you’re looking for the gold standard of mirrorless cameras in 2020, the Sony a7 III checks most boxes and holds its own against cameras that came out well after it hit the market. All for under $2000.

Best Sony a7 III Lenses

It depends on your use case, but you can put together quite the focal lengths in a few lenses. Native will cost more, so we will break it down by native and budget or third-party.

Native:

Budget:

What will dethrone the Sony a7 III? All eyes are on Sony for a refresh of its ‘basic’ model. Most rumors hint at some reworked internals, the a7r IV ergonomics, and perhaps a flip-out screen. If the company is targeting vloggers, that would be a must-have. Oh, and toss in a working touchscreen. Seriously, it’s been five years and the company is using the same menu system. It is past time for an upgrade.

When can we expect an announcement of an a7 IV? I’d say in the first half of the year. Camera manufacturers will continue the absolute blitz of releases in 2020, and we all know Sony loves to release a camera. Except for the a7s III. Couldn’t resist.

Runner Up – Fujifilm X-T4

You can crown the Fuji X-T4 as the preeminent APS-C mirrorless camera. Nothing else even comes close. Sony may try slight refreshes around the margins, but if you want a professional-quality crop sensor camera, the X-T4 positions Fuji at the top. And it’s not even close.

First, it retains the ‘cool factor’ with the retro-inspired dials for which X-series is famous. The silver body is a piece of art unto itself. Then you dive into the specs, and you can start making strong arguments against its more expensive, less feature-rich competitors, including 4K60p video. Looking at you, Sony.  

The upgrades over the X-T3 are abundant. A new battery nearly doubles the capacity over the previous generation. Vloggers can rejoice with the new flip-out touch screen. That will make handheld filming dead simple to nail focus. In another nod to hybrid shooters, IBIS makes an appearance for the first time in the Fuji X-T4.

For the still photographers out there, Fuji redesigned the mechanical shutter, which now shoots up to 15fps. The addition of IBIS also helps out low light photography by allowing shooters to shoot handheld up to one-second shutter speeds theoretically. That’s insanely good. 

What You’ll Love: Probably just about everything. Battery life complaints have been answered. IBIS added. Improved ergonomics. Fuji answered the call on the wishlist of features users of the X-T3 had down to the flip-out screen. Priced at $1699.

What You May Not: If you’re in the market for a full-frame camera, look elsewhere. Fujifilm has decided to stay within the APS-C and medium-format market. Sure, some would like to see them make the jump, but don’t hold your breath. While the X-T4 is a great camera, you are locked into the Fujifilm lens ecosystem. Thankfully, the company is outstanding with its variety of choices and pricing. However, you won’t see budget-focused Tamron or Sigma glass on the X-series platform.

Best Fujifilm X-T4 Lenses

Unlike other manufacturers, Fujifilm X Mount doesn’t get much love from the third party. But the company also doesn’t price gouge you on lens prices. Even the kit lenses are solid. 

Native:

Your Mirrorless Camera Questions Answered

Mirrorless Camera FAQ

Why are Mirrorless Cameras Better?

Better is subjective. Mirrorless cameras do have advantages over their DSLR counterparts. They are more likely to be lighter, more compact and generally better for hybrid shooters with interest in video. The electronic viewfinder (EVF) allows you to essentially preview and adjust aperture, ISO, shutter speed on the fly before taking the image.

What is a Mirrorless Camera?

A mirrorless camera (for the purpose of this guide) is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. It’s in the name, but it lacks a mirror found in traditional DSLRs and uses an image sensor to send an image to the EVF or LCD screen. The lack of a mirror allows the camera bodies to be more compact.

Which brand has the best mirrorless camera?

If you’re looking for experience within the mirrorless camera market, then Sony hands down. The company has multiple camera bodies entering their third and fourth generation. Cameras such as the Sony a7 III are award-winning and represent one of the best values to features in a camera ever released. 

Another brand with plenty of fans is Fujifilm. It focuses mainly on APS-C mirrorless cameras but has a devout following even with the lack of third-party lenses. 

What is the best beginner mirrorless camera?

A solid beginner mirrorless camera would be the Sony a6400 (Amazon / B&H / Adorama). It’s under $1000 and has similar features to full-frame cameras which cost double. It’s a crop sensor, so that has to be taken into account, but Sony’s e-mount makes upgrading to a full-frame easy later down the line.

Are mirrorless cameras as good as a DSLR?

Yes. It wasn’t always the case, but a professional-grade mirrorless camera is as good, if not better than a DSLR. On the prosumer level, the difference is even starker. Mirrorless has quickly supplanted the older DSLR cameras in terms of features and price points.

Are Mirrorless Cameras Silent?

They are much quieter than a DSLR. There is no mirror, so each shutter push does not flip a mirror to expose the image. The only sound a mirrorless camera makes is the sound of its aperture-closing, and some models have pushed the noise levels below the ambient audio of a room.

Mirrorless Camera vs DSLR

The age-old debate of the mirrorless camera vs. DSLR. A few years ago, most would agree the DSLR still reigned supreme. Today? Every major camera manufacturer has released at least one mirrorless camera body with most have at least three on the market. 

Which is better? You’ll have your brand loyalists scream and shout, but right now even the most hardened DSLR fan will admit mirrorless cameras are quickly outstripping DSLR cameras. The watershed moment was the release of the Sony a7 III. Never before had there been a camera with its kind of feature set for the price point. 

It was quickly followed up in 2018 with Canon, Nikon, and Panasonic all jumping into the mirrorless market. The rapid pace of camera bodies was heavily tilted towards mirrorless cameras vs. DSLR camera bodies. That’s not to say there isn’t some development on the DSLR side. Nikon recently announced the D6, and expectations are for Canon to release a follow-up to the 1DX Mark II.

Sony Mirrorless Cameras

Sony is the preeminent brand of mirrorless cameras currently thanks to the company’s relentless camera body release schedule. In 2020, Sony has taken a wait-and-see approach as the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the globe. 

Sony Full-Frame Mirrorless Cameras

Sony a7r IV

In a surprise to most observers, Sony went ahead with updating the a7r line to the next-generation over the highly-anticipated a7s III. Instead, it was a complete overhaul into the a7r IV. At the old price of the a7r III. You can get a slightly older generation for sub $3000 or the new megapixel monster at $3500 (Amazon / B&H / Adorama).  

The headline changes between the two generations are the megapixel count, autofocus system, and better ergonomics. That’s right. A Sony mirrorless camera with a better grip. That only took five years. 

Sony a7r IV features:

  • 61 MP BSI CMOS sensor
  • 567 focal-plane phase-detection AF covering 74% of the sensor and 425 contrast AF points
  • 15 stops of dynamic range
  • 10fps continuous shooting with full AF/AE tracking
  • IBIS
  • Buffer lasts approx 7 seconds in full-frame
  • 26.2 MP APS-C crop mode
  • 5.76 million dot OLED EVF
  • WiFi and USB-C connectivity
  • 4K video with 6K oversampling with no pixel binning
  • S-Log3 and HDR support
  • Multi-Interface Shoe with a digital audio interface
  • Improved Ergonomics and Weather Sealing

One feature missing is still no 4K video at 60fps. Sony is obviously saving it for the a7s III, but it’s nearing the point of a unicorn feature. It’ll get there. One day…

The use case of the Sony a7r IV is landscape and portraits. It’s fast enough for weddings and some sports, but the file size will be extreme shooting 61-megapixel RAW photos. If you don’t mind the stacks of SD cards and external hard drives, the a7r IV is the ultimate mirrorless megapixel monster.

sony mirrorless cameras

Best Sony a7r IV lenses

Native:

Budget:

Sony a7s III

The low-light king. Seriously, the Sony a7s III has some of the most stunning low-light capability we’ve ever seen. It only took Sony half a decade to bring it to market. 

The Sony a7s III is a bit of an oddball on this list. It is decidedly video-centric with its 12MP sensor. Yes, you can take great stills with it, but it won’t knock you off your feet like a Canon R5, Sony a7r IV, etc. But that’s not the point. Sony’s a7s series has always been about video, and the a7s III delivers. Unlimited 4K120p 10-bit 4:2:2 internal. 

Sure, it may not have 8K video, but good luck finding an 8K monitor or TV. We still don’t have dedicated 4K television channels. Sony is making a bet content creators rather have the best 4K on the market over a feature you really can’t take advantage of in the near-term. Plus, YouTube compression doesn’t exactly show off 8K. 

The new Bionz XR processor pushes the ISO range from 50-409600. Somehow the autofocus performs exceptionally well in low-light situations. We all thought the a7s III was a unicorn, and it turns out it pulls off quite a few feats in the video department.

A new addition to the Sony full-frame cameras is the flip-out screen. The Sony a7s III is the first to earn the flip-out screen to help vloggers and content creators. Honestly, it’s tiny, and unless you’re mobile, an external monitor is the better option. Now we wait for the next a7 refreshes for all the cameras to get the flip-out screen. 

What You’ll Love: Low-light performance and incredible 4K video. Honestly, if you’re a vlogger looking to upgrade in the Sony ecosystem, this is the camera of your dreams. Having budget-friendly lens options out of Tamron and Sigma is a welcome addition considering the camera body retails for $3500. It’s not cheap, but you already knew that if you’re coming into the Sony a7s family.

What You Might Not Like: The Sony a7s III is not a hybrid camera. Despite what Sony fans may maintain, the 12MP sensor is meant for video. Full stop. Sure, you can take pictures, but the company has moved decidedly in the direction of delineating its a7 cameras along certain use case scenarios. The a7 III is the hybrid, while the a7r IV is the megapixel monster. That leaves the Sony a7s III in the video category. 

Sure, we want the kitchen-sink approach of the Canon EOS R5 too, but there are trade-offs. The big one being low-light performance. You’re getting much larger pixels in a 12MP sensor over a 45MP sensor along with a full sensor readout. 

It comes down to what you need. If you’re not a hybrid shooter and focus more on video, the Sony a7s III is the clear winner. The camera was designed with video shooters in mind.

Sony a7R III

Want a budget Sony a7r IV. Don’t sleep on the a7r III which enjoyed a $1000 price drop when the IV released. Think what’s great about the Sony a9, shove most of it into an a7r II body, and you get the a7r III. And the pricing is absurdly aggressive. I know Sony has other divisions, but damn if they aren’t taking the DJI approach of muscling competitors out of the way.

Not saying they will ever knock off Canon or Nikon, but the old guard needs to act with a sense of urgency as mirrorless captures more of the market share. It’s a hell of a response against Nikon’s D850 and is priced to move at $2500 (Amazon / B&H / Adorama). It was Sony’s megapixel monster until the a7r IV, but a 42MP BSI CMOS sensor is still massive paired with 10fps, and a 399-point AF system.

Video lovers have plenty to like with this 4k mirrorless camera. 

This isn’t a knock against Sony, but with all camera companies. Where is 4K at 60 fps? The new iPhones shoot that. It’s time to push the limits as the hybrid shooters grow in numbers.

What you’ll love: It’s a better version of the a7r II in every way. Better battery life. Frames per second. Autofocus. You name it; it has it. And the price is something professionals and enthusiasts can handle.

What you might not: Weather resistance was mentioned in passing. At this point, we have to start asking what gives on equipment stretching past $2500. The build quality is there, but for whatever reason, Sony seems to always fall behind in this area.

Best Sony a7r III Lenses

Native:

Budget:

Sony a9

The company’s latest flagship to take on the likes of Nikon and Canon. Before the a9, fast shooting remained firmly in DSLR territory. That ended with the announcement of the Sony a9 and its 20fps capability. Compare that to 14fps on the Canon 1DX Mark II or the 12 on the Nikon D5. Then, of course, there’s the price difference.

At $3500, the Sony a9 (Amazon / B&H / Adorama) is the cheapest among flagships, mirrorless or DSLR. Other features include a 693-point phase-detection autofocus system, five-axis image stabilization, 4K video and everything else Sony keeps innovating and shoving into cameras at a blistering rate.

Quick Specs:

  • 24.MP Stacked CMOS Sensor
  • 20 fps with silent shooting
  • IBIS
  • 693-point wide-area phase-detection AF and 425-point contrast-detection AF
  • ISO 100-51200 (expands to a range of 50-204800)

What You’ll Love: If you’re an action or wildlife photographer looking for a mirrorless system, this is it.

Why You Don’t Need It: Same reason why some will love it. If you’re not hardcore into the above niches, there are better, cheaper options. Especially the a7 III which more than chops the price in half. Sure, it’s not shooting at a blistering 20fps, but it did borrow the AF system and the new Z battery. 

Best Sony a9 Lenses

Some changes here as you’ll want to step up in the telephoto range. Unfortunately, it means we lose the third party options for now unless it has been adapted. 

Sony a9 II

Think everything you loved about the a9, but more refined. The ergonomics are better. It’s faster. Better connectivity. You name it, Sony improved upon it. Unless you just have a bucket load of money to blow, the a9 II is decidedly in the sports photographer realm. There are cheaper options like the a7 III or even the a7r IV with solid frames per second and 4K video.

[amalinkspro type=”showcase” asin=”B07YP4MTJD” apilink=”https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07YP4MTJD?tag=newled05-20&linkCode=osi&th=1&psc=1″ associate-id=”” new-window=”1″ addtocart=”0″ nofollow=”1″ sc-id=”4″ imgs=”LargeImage” link-imgs=”false” stack-imgs=”false” specs=”SONY ALPHA A9 II: Compact professional cameras mastered for sports photography and photojournalism~~~SUPERIOR SPEED: Fastest 35mm full-frame 24. 2MP stacked Exmore RS CMOS sensor with integrated memory~~~FASTER AUTO FOCUS: Up to 20fps at full resolution with 60 AF/AE tracking calculations per second~~~ADVANCED SUBJECT RECOGNITION: Real-time Tracking and Real-Time Eye AF for humans, animals and movies~~~VOICE MEMO FUNCTION: Attach a voice memo (. wav) to photo files or use voice to text for IPTC data~~~HIGH LUMINANCE VIEWFINDER: Continuous view blackout free OLED True-Finder with 100% frame coverage~~~UPGRADED CONNECTIVITY: High speed 2. 4 or 5 GHz Wi-Fi, up to 1 Gbps Ethernet and secure FTP transfer~~~4K RECORDING: Interval shooting, S&Q Motion, 2. 4x oversampling, full pixel readout without binning~~~MORE FEATURES: Touch screen, Bluetooth, image stabilization, anti flicker, dual UHS-II SD card slots” btn-color=”#ff9900″ btn-text=”View on Amazon” alignment=”alignnone” hide-prime=”0″ hide-image=”0″ hide-reviews=”0″ hide-price=”0″]Sony a9 II [/amalinkspro]

Sony APS-C (Crop Sensor) Mirrorless Cameras

Sony a6600

The Sony a6600 doesn’t replace the a6500, but it definitely claims the mantle as the company’s flagship APS-C. It represents one of the most significant overhauls of the APS-C line as its the only camera body in its class from Sony to receive the Z-battery. That increases the battery life over similar Sony mirrorless cameras by 200%. 

Adding the Z-battery forced a few design tweaks, which includes better ergonomics. Announced alongside the a6100, the Sony a6600 features the same 425-point Phase Detection autofocus system, 11fps burst shooting, 4K video at 30fps and the flip-up touchscreen. 

In addition to the Z-battery, the Sony a6600 also gains a newly improved IBIS system over the a6500 and real-time autofocus tracking for video. A headphone jack is included alongside the mic jack for audio monitoring. The extra features push the price to $1500, but for a compact hybrid camera with features normally costing double, it definitely has value baked into the camera body (Amazon / B&H / Adorama).     

sony aps-c mirrorless camera

Best Sony a6600 lenses

In the past, Sony has been derided for the lack of native APS-C lenses. That changed with the launch of the a6100 and a6600 which saw two new native lenses including a G Master.

Native

Third-Party

Sony a6500

Sony shocked and angered more than a few fans of its a6000-series when it quickly updated the a6300 with the a6500. It’s not necessarily worth an upgrade, but if you’re in the market, the Sony a6500 does offer more than a few welcome additions to the APS-C format (Amazon / B&H / Adorama).

It sits firmly in the mid-range budget-wise. It’s a 4k mirrorless camera with five-axis stabilization found in its full-frames, weather sealing and a superb autofocusing system for $1200. That’s hard to pass up.

Quick Specs:

  • 24.2MP
  • IBIS
  • 11 fps
  • 4K Oversampled to 6K
  • Eye, Animal autofocus
  • Autofocus: 425 phase-detection AF points 
  • ISO 100-25600 (expandable to 51200)

And if the tech doesn’t sell you, the form factor will. The a6500 is compact and punches well above its weight class. You’ll see plenty of shooters using it as a backup or even as their primary camera. Sure, we all want more E-mount lens options, but Sony is rapidly building up a stable of lenses for any situation.

What You’ll Love: It’s compact enough to make you think you bought a point-and-shoot that’s a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera.

What You Might Hate: Lens options and the potential for overheating issues remains. It’s not as bad, but if you’re into vlogging, there are better answers.

Sony a6400

Sony’s attempt to take control of the vlogging world. Instead of a flip out screen, it opted for a vertical flip screen. If you’re imagining this blocks the hot shoe mount for an external microphone, you’d be correct. However, SmallRig has come up with a rather ingenious adapter to relocate a cold shoe mount and still take full advantage of the vertical screen. It’s a problem we shouldn’t have to fix, but it works.

In a bit of weird naming schemes, the a6400 is actually the newer of the APS-C cameras for Sony. Yep, that means the Sony a6500 is older than the new a6400. What gives? One feature it loses is IBIS, which for vlogging is an odd choice. Thankfully the weight and compact form factor make up for the missing feature. And a starting price of $899 definitely helps users forget about IBIS (Amazon / B&H / Adorama).

Quick Specs:

  • 24.2MP
  • 11 fps
  • 4K video Oversampled to 6K
  • Eye, Animal, and Real-Time Tracking autofocus
  • Autofocus: 425 phase-detection AF points 
  • ISO 100-32000 (expandable to 102400)

Like all Sony mirrorless cameras, firmware updates have been adding features. Animal AF and timelapses are now integrated into the camera. Let those pet pictures shine. 

What You’ll Love: The price to features makes it one to watch. The flip-up screen is solid though it requires an inexpensive hack to extend its usefulness. Lightweight and better specs compared to the a6500.

What You Might Not: The lack of IBIS on a camera marketed as a vlogging solution is a bit of an odd choice. 

Best Sony a6400 Lenses

Native

Third-Party

Sony a6100 

Sony’s entry-level mirrorless camera. It’s an APS-C, but it punches way above its price of $750. Like its predecessor, the a6400, and its more advanced sibling, the a6600, the Sony a6100 is almost like a baby a9. Autofocus is fast with a 0.02 acquisition speed paired 425-point phase-detection AF system (Amazon / B&H / Adorama). 

It comes complete with the latest Sony mirrorless technology including the new 24.2-megapixel CMOS sensor with a BIONZ X processor. Real-time Eye AF is enabled on stills for both humans and animals. The 11fps burst shooting is helped along with real-time AF tracking ensuring most if not all of your shots are in focus. 

In a nod to the vloggers out there, a flip-up touchscreen is featured to help compose your video along with a mic jack for better audio options. 

At $750, there are a few options left on the table for Sony’s more expensive a6600. Namely IBIS(in-body image stabilization) and real-time autofocus tracking for video. Those aren’t deal-breakers, and for $750, compromises always pop up with certain features left out. Considering what is included, the $750 price tag is a massive value.

Best Sony a6100 lenses

In the past, Sony has been derided for the lack of native APS-C lenses. That changed with the launch of the a6100 and a6600.

Native

Third-Party

Nikon Mirrorless Cameras

After waiting for years, Nikon finally became serious about mirrorless camera bodies in 2018 releasing two camera bodies.

Nikon Z6

A clear competitor to the Sony a7 III, the Nikon Z6 (Amazon / B&H / Adorama) is squarely targeted at Nikon DSLR owners who own a lot of Nikkor lenses. You’ll need the adapter for current F-mount lenses while the company rushes to fill out its Z-mount lens roadmap. It’s the new mount which has fans buzzing. Nikon promises faster lenses, but damn are they expensive. The 58mm f/0.95 comes in north of $5000 and is a behemoth.

What distances itself from Sony is it has solid ergonomics and excellent weather sealing. The 24.5MP sensor boasts a 275-point PDAF system and can shoot 12 FPS. Nikon was never known for video, but it looks like the Z series is learning to embrace it, offering 4K video at 30 fps and hybrid AF.

What You’ll Like: If you’re a Nikon owner, your lenses can be adapted, and it’s about as close to native as you will ever get with adapted lenses. Ergonomics and weather sealing are two pluses mentioned above. Nikon has also taken a page from Sony by adding features via firmware updates. Eye AF is now available on the camera.

nikon mirrorless cameras

What You Might Not: No dual card slots. Sony has it on the a7 III. The Fuji X-T3 has it, and it’s a smaller body. While XQD is fantastic, it’s a relatively new technology. Personally, I’ve never had an SD card fail. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen and it’s an odd oversight by Nikon. Another negative which will gradually disappear is the lack of lenses. The Nikon Z6 is a new system with a new mount. Patience will be needed for the company to build native lenses.

Best Nikon Z6 Lenses

First, get the Nikon FTZ adapter. It immediately opens up the Nikon F-mount library to fit the new Z-Mount. For native Z-Mount lenses, the choices are still slim, but there are a couple of gems:

For third party lenses, make sure the adapters are compatible with the camera. The Z-mount is still new, so don’t expect a lot of third-party lenses just yet. 

Nikon Z7

With the Z6 competing against the a7 III, the Nikon Z7 (Amazon / B&H / Adorama) is targeting the a7r III. The pitfalls found in the Z6 are present in the high-megapixel Z7. No dual card slots. Lack of lenses. Like the Z6, the lack of lenses will be addressed in time, and the adapter does work well for native lenses.

The marquee feature is the 45.7MP BSI sensor with a 493-point PDAF system on the sensor. ISO ranges reach down to 64 and hit 25,600. At 9FPS, it’s a touch slower than the Z6, but in line with Sony’s a7r III.

What You’ll Like: The increased AF points over the Z6 and its competition, the a7r III. A massive library of F-mount and third-party lenses. It’s the gateway into what should be the future of Nikon’s mirrorless systems.

What You Might Not: It’s not what Nikon fans wanted. The Z7 feels like it’s competing against the a7r II versus the a7r III. Where it takes a step forward, the Nikon Z7 inexplicably takes a step back. Battery life is an issue, and instead of a grip, Nikon is rushing out a battery pack. It’s decisions like that which has some questioning Nikon’s judgment.

Best Nikon Z7 Lenses

Basically the same as the Z6. Grab the adapter. For native, it currently looks like:

Nikon Z50

The APS-C camera you didn’t know you needed but Nikon decided to release anyway. It’s not going to win any awards and the price point is iffy at best, but if you’re a fan of Nikon and want a mirrorless APS-C, the Z50 fills that role. Honestly, you’re better off entering the Fuji or Sony ecosystem of APS-C cameras. Better glass and overall better cameras.

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Nikon Z5

Another release in 2020 was the Nikon Z5. Out of the other releases, the Z5 feels the most lackluster. Sure, the price of $1400 makes it compelling, but it suffers from the lack of lenses and generally better options available on the market. Whereas other manufacturers were pushing the envelope in terms of features, Nikon seems mired in the back.

Video options are capped at 4K30p using a 24.3MP sensor. Burst shooting maxes out at an anemic 4.5 shots per second, which is slow, considering it has the latest EXPEED 6 processor.  

The issue with Nikon is that it seems to be playing catch up at all times. Especially when it comes to its mirrorless camera options, they have yet to put a dedicated professional body, or even something we’d consider prosumer grade. Canon, Sony, and even Panasonic are leaving it behind.

Canon Mirrorless Cameras

Canon EOS R

Right on the heels of the Nikon announcement was Canon’s surprise announcement of the EOS R mirrorless system. Between Nikon and Canon, it feels like Canon has the most head-scratching decisions. On the one hand, everyone is rightly impressed with the lenses slated for release. They are fantastic but expensive. Canon also pulled a Nikon with a single card slot. The AF system is impressive, with over 5600 points. And it has a flip-out screen for vloggers (Amazon / B&H / Adorama).

And now the head-scratching decisions. The 30MP sensor is borrowed from the Canon 5D IV. What the hell Canon? Why isn’t this a new sensor? Yes the 5D IV is a known quantity, but it’s an odd choice.

canon mirrorless cameras

What You’ll Like: All the Canon lenses you have in your bag? It will work on the EOS R system which comes with three separate adapters including a control ring, lens adapter, and one to drop in filters (ND and polarizers). That’s a nice touch. Ergonomics and weather-sealing users have come to expect.

What You Might Not: Video. For reasons that escape us, 4K video has a 1.7x crop. The flip-out screen for vloggers is effectively rendered useless by the decision. And of course, no dual card slots. The rationale is lack of room, but Fujifilm’s X-T3 is smaller and found a way to put two slots into the body.

Best Canon EOS R Lenses

Yep, you have to get the adapter to use your extensive library of Canon lenses. On the native side, it’s getting interesting in a hurry:

Canon EOS RP

Canon’s answer to the a7 III? It’s hard to tell because the release felt random and almost as if Canon saw they had another camera lying about and released it. The price of $1299 makes it compelling as its the cheapest full-frame mirrorless on the market. 

It does have a few exciting features like the ergonomics, AF performance, Eye AF, low-light performance. Where it falls off is the features it effectively killed. 4K video is unusable thanks to cropping and poor AF. Canon omitted IBIS, and the reduced dynamic range makes the camera a head-scratcher.

Best Canon EOS RP Lenses

Canon EOS R5

I’m reasonably certain Canon engineers watched an episode of Oprah’s favorite things when designing the Canon EOS R5. The spec sheet reads like a Canon rumors site’s fevered dream. 8K video? Sure. 4K120p? Check. 4K60p? Hell, go for it. 45MP stills? Damn right. 

The catch with the Canon EOS R5 is it was by far the most controversial mirrorless camera of 2020. Why? Overheating. Or what we thought was overheating. While the spec sheet read like the Canon cripple hammer was retired, the user manual told a different tale. Hard record limits on nearly every video type. Been shooting stills? It would cut into your video record time. 

At the time, most of us assumed it was the heat generated thanks to Canon’s overzealous weather sealing. The reality? It was a cripple hammer to save Canon’s Cinema line of cameras. After a few internet detectives discovered workarounds, Canon released a firmware update that removed many arbitrary record limits. 

That’s not to say it won’t double as a toaster if you leave it recording in 8K for an extended period. Canon wiggled out of a PR nightmare by placing the choice with you. Camera melt? That’s your problem.

What You’ll Love: With the latest firmware, the Canon EOS R5 is living up to the marketing hype. It’s a monster of a hybrid camera. Feel like shooting stills? The 45MP sensor is more than enough for incredible landscape shots. Need video? The 8K option is there, but it’s the 4K60p and 120p that shine. 

The R5 is Canon’s answer to all the fans wanting the best. Dual card slots. Flip out screen. A scary good IBIS system. Like gimbal good. Considering it’s Canon’s first foray into IBIS, it’s absurdly well done. It’s all there.

Canon’s EOS R5 is the camera we all wanted the EOS R to become. Now that it’s out in the wild, the mirrorless camera war has truly begun. 

What You Might Not Like: The price. There’s a caveat to the price in that at $3800; it’s priced competitively against its competition, and well under the Canon’s current flagship DSLR, the 1DX Mark III. 

New storage options. When you start reaching for high framerate 4K or 8K, standard SD cards don’t cut it. You’ll need to invest in CFExpress cards, quickly getting close to $1000 in price. While the body may be competitively priced, the actual cost is something else entirely. 

Post-production. This only applies to videos shot in 4K120p or 8K. There is simply no way to get around the fact you’ll need a beast of a computer. Even mid-range computers will not be able to handle 8K timelines. One good note is the new RTX 3000 cards out of Nvidia. Price points are reasonable, and paired with a high core count AMD Ryzen CPU; you will be able to build a solid editing rig.  

Lenses. First, Canon has exceptional glass. There’s no debate there. The issue is the company lacks budget-friendly options similar to Sony’s E-mount. You won’t find Tamron or Sigma lenses for the RF mount. Hopefully, that changes in the future, but Canon fans are stuck paying the Canon premium until then. If you have the cash, it’s not an issue. Lack the funds? I’d turn towards Sony. 

Canon EOS R6

Are you a Canon fan who wants money left for lenses? Good news because alongside the EOS R5 is the Canon EOS R6. At $2500, the EOS R6 feels like the sleeper of the rash of mirrorless camera releases. 

It also can claim the ability of not killing your computer when it comes to your editing process. The R6 is basically the R5 without the high-resolution sensor. Instead of 45 megapixels, it sticks with a 20MP CMOS sensor. Sure, you won’t get 8K video or 4K120p. However, 4K60p is there along with the rest of the specs from the R5. 

Think of the EOS R6 as the budget-friendly R5 in every aspect. You won’t have to upgrade your computer. The dual card slots are SD UHS-II. If Sigma or Tamron had released lenses for the camera, we would be having a different conversation on the best mirrorless camera of 2020. 

What You’ll Love: The price. $2500, and it does damn near everything you want. How many times have you been asking for 4K60p video? Sure, the 20MP sensor isn’t a landscape photographer’s dream, but it’s not a slouch either. The autofocus system from the R5 is inside the R6, along with Canon’s other-worldly IBIS system. 

What You Might Not Like: It’s hard to find a con for the Canon EOS R6 outside of nitpicking the fact we all wish it had a higher megapixel count sensor. One con it shares with the R5 is the lack of lenses from third parties. We have to think Tamron and Sigma will eventually move into the market, but you’re stuck with the Canon premium or adapted glass until then.

Panasonic Mirrorless Cameras

It’s a tale of two sensor sizes from Panasonic. The company is undoubtedly on top of the MFT world, but with Canon and Nikon diving into full-frame, Panasonic had more than a bit of FOMO.

Panasonic S1

Panasonic came out of nowhere in 2018 with its announcement it was entering the full-frame mirrorless camera field (Amazon / B&H / Adorama). Borrowing a bit from Nikon’s strategy, they introduced the Panasonic S1 as a competitor to the Sony a7 III and now the Nikon Z6. They may have been late to the party, but Panasonic came to play.

Quick Specs:

  • 24.2 MP
  • 10 bit 4K video with no crop but 60p is limited to 30 minutes
  • Rugged
  • High-resolution mode for landscape and fine art. 
  • Dual card slots
  • IBIS 

It all sounds great though it’s a bit more expensive than its rivals at $2500. Where it falls flat is the contrast-detect autofocus. It’s just not as good as a phase-detect AF system. And then there’s the whole charging for a firmware update.  

The S1 feels like the camera that almost had it all but dropped the ball in one of the most important areas of a camera body. The autofocus. Also, if you’re looking for a lightweight camera, Panasonic didn’t get that memo. 

What does hold promise for all the Panasonic mirrorless cameras is the L-mount alliance between it, Sigma and Leica. Yeah, you weren’t the only one who never imagined that trio teaming up. 

The alliance allows Panasonic to immediately answer the critics who point out the lack of native lenses for Canon and Nikon mirrorless bodies. While the S1 launched with only three lenses, Sigma is launching 14 prime L-mount lenses in 2019 and 2020. 

Panasonic S1R

Think the Sony a7r III and the Nikon Z7, and you’re on the right track (Amazon / B&H / Adorama). It’s Panasonic’s megapixel monster at $3699. Unfortunately, the higher price doesn’t equal a better AF system. 

Quick Specs:

  • 47.3 MP
  • 10-bit 4K video at 60 fps but knocked down to 15-minute record times
  • Rugged
  • High-resolution mode (187MP) for landscape and fine art. 
  • Dual card slots
  • IBIS

Yep, the 4K video at 60 fps takes another hit here. At least it does it whereas its rivals do not. Where the S1 could overcome the AF issue, it’s a harder sell at the price point of the S1R. The Sony a7r III and Nikon Z7 both boast high megapixel counts and the AF systems are solid. Sure, both lack 4K video 60 fps, but at 15-minute caps, it’s not really a feature of the S1R. 

Panasonic S1H

Set for an autumn release, Panasonic jumped ahead of Sony with the announcement of the S1H. Consider yourself on notice Sony. The a7s III has its work cut out for it. There’s a lot we don’t know, but the camera clearly caters to videographers:

  • 24.2-megapixel Full Frame sensor
  • 6K 30p / 4K 60p 4:2:2 10-Bit internal recording, unlimited recording time
  • 14+ Stops of Dynamic Range with V-Log and V-Gammut
  • Dual Native ISO for low light high sensitivity recording with low noise
  • 5.5 Stop 5 Axis Body I.S / 6 Stop 5 Axis Dual I.S 2
  • Rugged dust, splash and freeze-resistant design

The 6K video is the headliner, and Panasonic had to install vents to prevent overheating. 4K video at 60 fps with no limits comes standard which throws down the gauntlet at Sony. The L-mount primes emerging from Sigma will make this a compelling camera if Sony doesn’t answer with the a7s III (Amazon / B&H / Adorama).

Panasonic Full Frame Lens Options

While the company didn’t have a ton of lenses at launch, the L-Mount alliance with Leica and Sigma guarantees it a solid native lens portfolio (Amazon / B&H / Adorama).

Panasonic S5

Panasonic has decided to join the ranks of camera manufacturers taking advantage of vlogging hysteria. It seems tossing a flip-out screen on a camera is enough to call it a vlogging camera, so here we are.

The Panasonic S5 is the company’s attempt to jump into the $2000 market. Yeah, the Panasonic S1 is basically the same camera at $2500, but hey, do you, Panasonic. Many of the features from the S1 appear on the S5, including the 24.2MP CMOS sensor, the Venus engine, and the DFD autofocus system. 

Panasonic, come on, fellas. I know you love the DFD system, but it may be time to give it up in favor of AF systems used by Sony, Canon, or Nikon. 

What separates the Panasonic S5 from the S1 is size. The camera has a much smaller footprint. The cut down in size doesn’t hamper the specs at all, with the S5 able to shoot 4K60p in 10-bit 4:2:2 internally. It has dual native ISO along with an IBIS system capable of 5.5 stops of image stabilization. It’s not as good as Canon’s IBIS, but as long as you’re not running around like a maniac, it works.

What You’ll Love: It’s one of the more compact full-frame cameras on the market. Yes, Sony and Canon are working on smaller cameras, but both will lack a dedicated EVF. Panasonic keeps its OLED EVF on S5, which is a smart play. The rumors surrounding the other cameras point to a detachable EVF which will be sold separately.

Another benefit of the Panasonic S5 is the L-Mount alliance. The S1 camera series was Panasonic’s first foray into full-frame mirrorless cameras. That meant a lack of lenses. The company moved to counter its exposed flank with the L-Mount Alliance, which allows Panasonic, Sigma, and Leica lenses to work on its full-frame camera bodies. 

Where it shines is the hybrid capability and the 4K60p video recording option. That’s something other cameras in the same price range cannot compete.

What You Might Not Like: The autofocus. There are better systems. Sony is still king, with Canon quickly catching up when it comes to autofocus. If you’re already in the Panasonic ecosystem, there’s not much new with the Panasonic S5. It’s basically a cutdown S1 with a $500 price drop.

Fuji Mirrorless Cameras

What I love about Fuji is it is unabashedly comfortable in its position as the APS-C mirrorless camera of choice. Sure, it may not have the market share or get the play on YouTube Sony manages, but it’s damn good at what it does and why it earns our runner up spot for the best mirrorless camera of 2020.

Fujifilm X-T3

Now that is has been replaced by the new X-T4, the Fujifilm will become a bargain hunter’s dream camera. It’s another nod to the APS-C crowd. While full-frame mirrorless camera fans look down on the crop sensor, it offers portability and more accessibility thanks to the weight it sheds. 

The successor to the X-T2, Fujifilm keeps everything we loved about the X-T2 and builds upon it. All while lowering the price (Amazon / B&H / Adorama). That’s different. Maybe you could toss Apple a hint about pricing in the future. A 26.1 MP sensor gives it the APS-C sensor crown, while improved AF and a new X-Trans processor open up a world of options.

Where the X-T2 was hampered without the battery grip, the X-T3 (Amazon / B&H / Adorama) has no limitations. The battery grip does what a battery grip should do. Add battery life and vertical shutter release. That’s a hint, Nikon.

What You’ll Like: Everything is improved upon. Fujifilm rightly kept the retro styling with the dials on top. It’s also a 4k mirrorless camera with 60 FPS support and makes a mockery of all the recent full-frame announcements. The X-T3 is one of the most well-rounded APS-C cameras and has a company willing to support it with pro-level lenses.

What You Might Not: Those holding out for IBIS will be a bit disappointed. It’s reserved for the X-H1. Still, we would have liked to see it, and it’s a missing feature you need to be aware of when making a purchase.

Best Fujifilm X-T3 Lenses

Unlike other manufacturers, Fujifilm X Mount doesn’t get much love from the third party. But the company also doesn’t price gouge you on lens prices. Even the kit lenses are solid. 

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Fuji X-T30

Love the X-T3, but not ready to shell out the cash? Fujifilm’s X-T30 (Amazon / B&H / Adorama) is a solid answer. It packs a ton of features in a compact body. You lose some of the upper-end features of the flagship X-T3, but at $899, is that really a complaint? It still shoots 4K video at 30 fps, features the 26.1MP X-Trans BSI CMOS sensor, and an OLED EVF. 

Other features of the X-T3 do make an appearance with the camera able to perform film simulation and grain effects in-body. Fuji takes its history seriously – not only in the retro design – but the rich analog film history.

Fujifilm X-T2

It’s a generation older than the X-T3, but who says mirrorless cameras can’t maintain excellent features, an old-school feel, and a solid price? Fujifilm definitely agrees by keeping the X-T2 around (Amazon / B&H). 

If you don’t have the cash for a Sony a7 III or looking at an APS-C body for accessibility reasons, Fujifilm offers a solid alternative for $1099, which includes an excellent kit lens. And it wins on aesthetics. You’ll immediately fall in love with the old school knobs on top to give it that retro feel of an analog camera. Add in Fujifilm’s insanely gorgeous image and color quality, and it’s a winner. Those needing lenses have their pick from a wide assortment of Fujinon lenses.

The $999 price point definitely doesn’t hurt its cause. Fujifilm has shifted with its latest flagship away from being a direct competitor to Sony in the full-frame space. The company has instead moved towards medium format, leaving the flagships like the X-T2 in the APS-C category of sensors.

fujifilm mirrorless cameras

Megapixels: 24.3

Weight: 17.9 oz

What You’ll Love: All the technology packed into a retro body. Hard not to love the fusion of the two.

What Holds It Back: It has 4K video, but if you lean more videographer over a photographer, then Panasonic or Sony is your better option. Also, the battery grip increases functionality, which is a bit of a bummer considering grips should only extend battery life, not functionality. Still, at $1099, if you give a little on the quirks of the 4K, it’s a solid deal and will always start a conversation thanks to its style.

Fujifilm X-H1

Fuji’s latest release continues its willingness to capture as much of the mirrorless APS-C market as possible. The Fujifilm X-H1 (Amazon / B&H / Adorama) does stray a bit from the X-T2 series with a greater emphasis placed on video. There’s also a substantial upgrade in the megapixel count from 20MP to 24MP.

IBIS is there allowing you to forego a gimbal for most b-roll shots. It’s damn stable as long as you are willing to walk softly and not push it to the max. Fans of recent Fujifilm cameras will be excited to see a couple of the manual dials remain, though the X-H1 does introduce an LCD screen for a quick check of camera information. It’s a nice balance between retro and 21st-century features.

Megapixels: 24MP

Weight: 23.74 oz

What You’ll Like: Hybrid shooters will love the increased focus on video. Also, it’s a solid APS-C mirrorless system with the 24MP sensor. It has movie controls for days. The X-H1 also retains the retro look of the X-T2 and X-T3. It may have lost a dial, but the added features outweigh the aesthetic.

What You Might Hate: Lens selection. While Fujifilm produces some absolutely sublime choices in the lens department, it can’t be overlooked. It’s an area where it is trailing other camera manufacturers. It will come down to needs. If you need a lens outside the scope of the X-H1, then you need to look elsewhere. If not, Fujifilm is one of the few camera companies that continually updates its camera lineup via firmware.

Fujifilm X-T20

Don’t want to drop the cash on the flagships Fujifilm cameras above? The X-T20 is still a great camera and a great deal with the 18-55mm kit lens for $999 (Amazon / B&H / Adorama). It may not have the incredible styling of the X-T2 or the wild viewfinder of the Pro2, but the image quality is nearly the same. In the end, that’s what matters.

Video performance takes a nosedive, but that’s expected in an older generation, and there’s no weather sealing. If you plan on getting dusty or wet, it’s something to be aware of when picking out your mirrorless camera.

Best Fujifilm Lenses

Unlike other manufacturers, Fujifilm X-Mount doesn’t get much love from the third party. But the company also doesn’t price gouge you on lens prices. Even the kit lenses are solid. 

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Camera Buying Advice

The biggest mistake is chasing numbers. The most expensive camera isn’t always the best. Take the Sony a9. That’s perfect for hardcore sports and wildlife photographers. But you can just as quickly take an a6500 out on your porch and snap away at birds or to your kid’s game.

What matters in photography is education. Learn everything you can about your camera – the function buttons, menu systems, its pros, and cons. Snap a ton of pictures. All the theory in the world means little if you aren’t outside filling up SD cards.

Lenses. Quality over quantity. Unless you need a ton of lenses, you can get by with two or three. In the end, you’ll find your favorites, and the rest will collect dust. Don’t buy a macro lens because you saw something amazing on Instagram. Ask yourself how often you’ll be out there snapping macro photos. I love it, but it’s a personal preference. I know I’ll use the lens.

Looking Past 2020

When the pandemic struck in early 2020, most assumed the year would be lost when it came to camera releases. The reality turned out to be the complete opposite with multiple full-frame and APS-C camera bodies being released. You would think the economy is booming, considering the sheer pace of releases. Whether or not the strategy pans out remains to be seen. CIPA numbers have cratered due to the economic downturn, but here’s hoping.

What’s next for mirrorless cameras? I’d bet on quite a few refreshes. The Sony a7 III is getting old, and fans are looking forward to seeing some of the video functionality of the a7s III make its way over. 

Other potential releases include what may be dubbed the Sony a7c, which will look like the 6000-series APS-C series, but a full-frame variant. Canon is expected to follow suit with a similar EOS R variant, while Nikon should debut a professional level Z-series camera body to compete against the heavy hitters.

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Gear. TV. Movies. Lifestyle. Photography. Yeah, I’m the type who sees a shiny object and is immediately captivated. Wait... There’s another. You can reach me at marcus@newsledge.com

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