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Best mirrorless cameras of 2020

(Image credit: Sony)

Mirrorless cameras have many of the benefits of larger DSLRs (such as great image quality) but are far more compact, making them easier for amateurs and professionals alike to carry. And, you'll find a wide selection in the models now in the market, with prices starting at less than $500. So, there's a mirrorless camera to suit almost every photographer. 

After testing dozens of models, we think the best mirrorless camera for most consumers is the Sony a6100, which costs around $700 with a lens, takes great photos in low light, has a fast autofocus system, and can record video in 4K.

The best mirrorless camera for beginners is the Sony a6000, which costs just under $500 with a lens, yet shoots at a fast 11 fps, and takes great pictures in all conditions. 

Having trouble deciding which Sony mirrorless camera is right for you? Check out our best Sony mirrorless cameras page.

If you prefer something not made by Sony—and something that can withstand the elements—check out Olympus' OM-D E-M5 Mark II, which has 5-axis image stabilization, a sturdy weather-resistant body, and a super high-resolution 40-MP mode. We also like that you can customize nearly all of the E-M5's buttons, making it a truly personal camera. Note that Olympus just announced its successor, the OM-D E-M5 Mark III, which has a high-resolution sensor and better image stabilization.

Make sure you see all of our top picks for DSLRs, mirrorless cameras and more on our best cameras page. And after you start shooting, be sure to check out our roundups of the best digital photo frames and best photo books to get the most out of your mirrorless camera.

Best mirrorless cameras

Sony A6100 (Image credit: Sony)

1. Sony Alpha a6100

The best mirrorless camera for most people

Megapixels: 24.2 | ISO: 100-51,200 | Built-in Flash: Yes | Shooting Speed: 11 fps | Body Size/Weight: 4.7 x 2.6 x 1.9 inches/14.25 ounces | Viewfinder: Yes | Screen: 3 inch touchscreen LCD | Battery Life (CIPA): 420 shots

Superfast, AI-driven autofocus system
Up to 11-fps shooting for action shots
Rich, accurate color
Sharp HD and 4K video
Bright, clear OLED viewfinder
External mic jack
Small, low-res LCD touch screen
Sprawling menu system
Horribly placed video-record button

We think most consumers will find the Sony A6100 to be the best mirrorless camera for their needs. Selling for around $700 with a kit lens, it's not overly expensive, but has many of the modern features you'll want, including an excellent autofocus system, a fast 11fps shooting speed, a bright electronic viewfinder, and sharp 4K video.  

What you don't get at this price are features such as in-body image stabilization, and the A6100's viewfinder is a lower resolution than higher-end models. But these tradeoffs are more than acceptable.

Read our full Sony a6100 review.

Best mirrorless camera

Sony A6000 (Image credit: Future)

2. Sony Alpha a6000

The best mirrorless camera for beginners

Megapixels: 24.3 | ISO: 100-25,600 | Built-in Flash: Yes | Shooting Speed: 11 fps | Body Size/Weight: 4.8 x 2.9 x 1.9 inches; 12 ounces | Viewfinder: OLED | Screen: 3 inch LCD | Battery Life (CIPA): 360 shots

Fast continuous shooting and autofocus
Compact body
Multiple custom control options
Above-average image quality
Excellent low-light performance
Vast array of camera settings may be overwhelming
Noise reduction can be excessive
Clunky adjustment of focus point selection

The Sony a6000 is the best mirrorless camera for beginners, in that it's an ideal compromise between power and portability. Its autofocus is as good as a DSLRs, and it shoots at a blistering 11 frames per second with continuous autofocus and metering. Electronic viewfinders are a weak point on many mirrorless models, but the a6000's OLED eyepiece is bright and crystal-clear, and doesn't suffer from the stuttering you'll sometimes find on EVFs with lower refresh rates. A DSLR shooter would be comfortable moving over to this eyepiece.

The a6000 shines in low light, and features the ability to capture clean images up to ISO 1600 sensitivity and usable shots in very dim conditions way up to ISO 12,800. On top of that, the a6000 shoots gorgeous full-HD video at up to 60 fps, as well as 24 fps for a cinema look. Clips show fine detail, rich color and buttery-smooth motion rendering, even in low light.

Read our full Sony a6000 review.

MORE: DSLRs vs Mirrorless Cameras

Best mirrorless cameras

Sony A6500 (Image credit: Sony)

3. Sony A6500

The best mirrorless camera for shooting video

Megapixels: 24.2 | ISO: 100- 25,600 | Shooting Speed: 11 fps | Body size/weight: 4.75 x 2.75 x 2.13 inches; 1 pound | Viewfinder: OLED | Screen: 2.95-inch LCD | Battery Life (CIPA): 310 shots

Tough construction
Excellent image and video quality
Can shoot 11 fps for more than 30 seconds
5-axis in-body stabilization
Awkward on-screen menus
Some noise at higher ISO
Expensive  

With 4K video and 5-axis image stabilization, the Sony a6500 is the best mirrorless camera for those looking to capture stable video. Detail and color are excellent in video, but you may want to use the camera's Center Lock-on AF feature to make sure focus stays on a moving subject.

Image quality is equally fine in detail and color, with excellent dynamic range (combined shadow and highlight detail). And images stay fairly clean of pixel noise up to ISO 6400. Autofocus is superb, with the camera able to shoot 11fps, adjusting focus as needed for each shot. Combined with a memory buffer holding over 300 images, you're nearly guaranteed to get a shot that captures the action perfectly.

Keep in mind that Sony is phasing out the A6500, so it may be harder to find it going forward.

Read our full Sony A6500 review.

Best mirrorless cameras: Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II (M5 MII)

(Image credit: Olympus)

4. Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II (M5 MII)

Weatherproof seals make this a good mirrorless camera for the outdoors.

Megapixels: 16.1 | ISO: 100 - 25,600 | Built-in Flash: No | Shooting Speed: 10 fps | Body Size/Weight: 4.9 x 3.3 x 1.8 inches /16 ounces | Viewfinder: LCD | Screen: 3-inch LCD | Battery Life (CIPA): 310

Petite, weather-sealed body
Excellent photo and video quality
Five-axis image stabilization
Large articulating LCD with tap-to-focus
Electronic viewfinder
Overly complex interface
No built-in flash
Autofocus sometimes sluggish in low light

With even cellphones shooting 1080p video up to 60 fps, Olympus had to up its game for video. It certainly did, with an amazing five-axis image-stabilization system in the Olympus OM-D E-M5 MII that allows you to capture steady video even while walking around — something unthinkable until now. That video also boasts fine detail and attractive color, with one of the best auto white balance capabilities we've seen for avoiding the typical orangey look during indoor shooting. All these virtues serve the M5 MII equally well for still-photo shooting, too. Its resistance to water means you can shoot under nearly any condition. In addition, the M5 MII's truly tiny dimensions and weight, coupled with a nice selection of compact lenses, make it the most portable high-performance mirrorless camera out there. It's a joy to carry anywhere, and for an entire day.

Note that Olympus has introduced the OM-D E-M5 Mark III ($1,200; $1,800 with lens) which has a 20.4MP sensor, and can capture video at 4K resolution and 120fps slow-mo HD. 

Read our full Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II review.

Best mirrorless cameras

(Image credit: Sony)

5. Sony Alpha a7 II

Best Pro Mirrorless Camera

Megapixels: 24.7 | ISO: 100-25600 | Built-in Flash: No | Shooting Speed: 5 fps | Body Size/Weight: 5 x 3.87 x 2.37 inches, 1 pound 3.6 ounces | Viewfinder: Yes | Screen: 3-inch LCD | Battery Life (CIPA): 340 with LCD on

Effective 5-axis image stabilization
Bright, clear pictures
Fast access to settings
Surprisingly small for a full-frame camera
Slow writing to memory card
Quirky autofocus
Motion distortion from shutter roll in action video

It's the world's first full-frame mirrorless camera to carry in-body 5-axis image stabilization, but there's more to the Sony A7 II than just steady shooting. This petite, sexy camera fits in most bags, and packs a bunch of customizable buttons and knobs for quick access to your favorite controls. We also loved the bright, clear pictures and relatively low amount of noise (graininess) even at high ISO light sensitivity levels. Thanks to effective wireless capability, you'll be able to beam your shots to your smartphone or computer within seconds.

Read our full Sony A7 II review.

Best mirrorless cameras

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

6. Canon EOS RP

Full-frame mirrorless at an affordable price

Megapixels: 26 | ISO: 100-25600 | Built-in Flash: No | Shooting Speed: 5 fps | Body Size/Weight: 5.2 x 3.4 x 2.8 inches, 1.7 pounds | Viewfinder: Yes | Screen: 3-inch articulated touchscreen | Battery Life (CIPA): 250 shots

Good image quality
Fully articulated touch-screen monitor
Easy to use
New Fv exposure mode
Compact and lightweight
4K video
Competitively priced
Limited affordable RF native lenses
Slow continuous shooting speed
No built-in flash
Video limitations
Short battery life
No in-body stabilization

Until recently, most full-frame mirrorless cameras cost at least $2,000 just for the camera body. The Canon EOS RP is part of a trend of less-expensive models, bringing higher image quality at a lower price. The EOS RP has a 26 megapixel sensor, user-friendly controls, and a compact body, all for less than $1,000. 

However, there are some compromises: The EOS RP lacks in-body image stabilization, it has a comparatively short battery life, and a slower shooting speed than other mirrorless cameras. Still, these tradeoffs are worth it for the price.

Read our full Canon EOS RP review.

Best mirrorless cameras

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

7. Nikon Z50

A versatile mirrorless camera at a good price

Megapixels: 20.9 | ISO: 100-51,200 | Built-in Flash: Yes | Shooting Speed: 11 fps | Body Size/Weight: 5 x 3.7 x 2.4 inches, 14 ounces | Viewfinder: Yes | Screen: 3-inch flip-down touchscreen | Battery Life (CIPA): 300 shots

Great image quality
Solid build
Excellent feature set
Slow-motion 4K video
Flip-down LCD blocks tripod mount
No in-body image stabilization
Modest battery life
Limited lens options

While it doesn't have a full-frame sensor like the Z6 and Z7, the Nikon Z 50 offers a solid feature set, great image quality and good performance — but in a smaller form factor at a more consumer-friendly price. We liked its build and deep, comfortable grip, as well as its sharp electronic viewfinder. 

The 3.2-inch touchscreen flips down for selfies, but is obscured if you have the camera on a tripod. The Z 50 has intuitive controls, in-camera retouching, and good performance in low light. However, there's no in-body image stabilization, and the single card slot only supports lower-end SD cards. 

Read our full Nikon Z 50 review.

How to choose a lens for your mirrorless camera

One of the most important qualities that mirrorless and DSLRs share is that they accept interchangeable lenses, which can dramatically improve image quality and bring your photography to a new level. But there are scores of lenses to choose from, which can be confusing. To help you get better acquainted with this important camera accessory, here's a quick rundown of types of interchangeable lenses that are available for your mirrorless camera:

Standard zoom lenses: It's the lens that most people who buy an entry-level SLR or mirrorless model as a kit know first. Mirrorless kits generally come with a 14-42mm lens. They typically include a small amount of zoom (3x), and are often inexpensive, but not the highest quality. However, in the past several years, the quality of these kit lenses has improved.

Prime lenses: You can save money by choosing a prime or non-zoom lens. They offer excellent quality, and are often much more affordable. If you need to zoom, just use your feet and walk closer to your subject!

Telephoto zoom lenses: If you shoot a lot of sports or other types of events, consider these powerful zooms, which can bring you closer to the action and provide features to capture images with shallow depth-of-field. They can be a bit heavy and bulky, but most manufacturers have been inventing new lenses that are smaller and more compact, but are still high quality. The 70mm-200mm is a good example of this type of lens.

Wide-angle lenses: If you're traveling, this type of lens, such as a 16-35mm zoom, can be very valuable, since it allows you to capture different types of wide-angle shots. Want to shoot a group portrait? Set the zoom lens towards the 35mm end of the range, which will avoid distortion at the edges of the image. Or if you want to capture a broad, sweeping landscape, use the lower end of the zoom, nearer to the 16mm end. However, these lenses can be pricey.

Macro or Close-up lenses: If you're looking to capture close-up shots of small objects, you'll want a good quality macro lens, which come in a variety of focal lengths, such as 50mm and 100mm. Be sure to do your research to be sure the lens you want has macro capabilities. 

Specialty lenses: One of the most notable specialty lenses in this category is the ultra-wide fisheye lens, which some photographers love for the exceptionally distorted point of view. Other types include tilt-shift and soft-focus lenses.

  • seoguy
    Archived comments are found here: http://www.tomsguide.com/forum/id-2196095/mirrorless-camera-2014.html
    Reply
  • Rui Soares
    I´m sorry but the olympus camera is far from being the best camera for video from that lot, a camera like the samsung nx1 or the sony a7rII or the best mirrorless camera for video is prob the sony a7IIs but certainly not the olympus.
    Reply
  • Leroy_kthx
    The nx is Lister for 2017 But that camera system is completely dead. While the fujifilm x-t2 gets no mention (even with all the love its been getting from the photography world), not does the sony a7RII ( probably the most loved pro mirrorless camera in the wild right now )
    Reply
  • professionalcamerastore
    up with their amazing autofocus and interchangeable lenses, really give the usual dominance of DSLR cameras a run for their money. Today we wanted to take the time to review, compare and contrast the best
    Reply
  • pauldiamond
    Sam!
    You've decided that "mirrorless SLR" is the answer to any question. A reviewer must overcome personal bias. Doing so means that what the camera is used for and the output quality for that use is the #1 issue. If you review cars that can drive to the grocery store for apples, every one can suffice. If you want top quality handling in the curves and a 0-60 mph in less than 5 seconds, the field narrows considerably.

    For me, the sharpest and best lenses used with a higher 36 MP sensor in my Nikon gives better "pro" quality pictures of landscapes, product photography, weddings/portraits, action, etc. My Nikon D800E/D810 can take pictures comparable to my old 35 mm film cameras and medium format size too.
    Reply
  • Hrunga_Zmuda
    That is far from the best Olympus camera. That would be the OMD E-M1 Mark II which does 4K. Panasonic's GH5 is about the same. The Olympus for is you lean towards stills overall, or the GH5 if you lean towards video. The cool thing is, both cameras can use any MFT lens.

    Sony's A9 or A7S mark II would also be good choices. Any mirrorless from Canon? Do not even consider it.

    You did say 'high end" cameras. The E M-5 Mark II is old, there's a Mark III now. Plus, the M1 Mark II is the best MFT camera in existence.
    Reply
  • Saga Lout
    The last post is removed as Spam and this thread is overdue for closure.
    Reply