You might be wondering about what the best mirrorless cameras are in the market today. With so many different camera models, it might be tough to pick a mirrorless camera that has the features you need that also fit your budget. Thanks to all the technological advancements offered by mirrorless cameras, their popularity has been increasing year after year not only among enthusiasts, but also among professional photographers. As of today, most camera manufacturers offer mirrorless cameras at different price points.
Without a doubt, mirrorless cameras are going to be the future of photography. As we have already explained in our mirrorless vs DSLR camerasarticle, mirrorless cameras offer features that DSLR cameras do not have, such as an electronic viewfinder (EVF), information overlays, advanced face detection features, superb focus point coverage and much more. So it is a matter of time until they replace DSLRs for most photographers. We decided to put together a list of the best mirrorless cameras to purchase in 2018 and early 2019, ranking them based on our personal experiences and preferences. Please note that we prioritized the list based on overall value and not particular features. While the list is subjective, we hope that you join the discussion and let us know what you think. Without further ado, here are our top 10 picks for 2018:
1. Sony A7 III
When thinking about the top mirrorless camera that in our opinion has the best balance of features, lens selection and price, it was clearly the Sony A7 III.
With its 24 MP sensor (that is good enough for most needs) and a fast processor capable of recording 4K videos, an amazingly quick and accurate autofocus system, a great selection of native and third party lenses (as well as accessories), a large capacity battery, and a great sub-$2K price, the Sony A7 III is a highly capable full-frame camera that should be able to satisfy most photography needs.
A number of Photography Life team members had a chance to use the Sony A7 III in the field and we all agreed that it is a highly capable camera. Our biggest complaints have to do with the complex and cluttered menu system, lack of some basic features (such as intervalometer, lossless compressed RAW shooting, etc) and overall ergonomics of the camera, as detailed in our article “10 Issues Sony needs to address in its Mirrorless cameras”. However, considering how many areas the camera excels in, we still decided to award this camera the top spot in our list.
2. Nikon Z6
Nikon’s launch of its mirrorless system was very exciting in 2018 for many Nikon shooters, including some of the team members who have been shooting with Nikon DSLRs for many years.
Although Nikon announced both Z6 and Z7 cameras at the same time, the release of the Z6 was delayed, so we have not had a chance to write a full review of the camera yet. However, considering how similar the Z6 is to the Z7 (identical camera build and ergonomics and very similar features), which we found to be an amazing camera (see #4 below) and considering that Nikon put it at the sub-$2K price point, we decided to award it the second place in our list of top Mirrorless cameras.
Thanks to a 24 MP BSI CMOS sensor, a fast EXPEED 6 processor that can handle 10-bit 4K video shooting, exceptional 5-axis in-body image stabilization (IBIS), proven Nikon ergonomics, organized menu system and an exceptional electronic viewfinder (EVF), the Nikon Z6 is a superb choice for not only photography, but also serious videography needs. Although at the moment Nikon only has a total of three native lenses available for the Z6, the camera can be used with hundreds of existing Nikon F mount lenses (Nikon as well as third party options) using the optional FTZ adapter.
Our biggest complaint about both Nikon Z cameras has to do largely with the autofocus system, specifically when it comes to tracking fast-moving subjects. Considering that Nikon DSLRs have traditionally been some of the best camera systems for photographing action, we expected its mirrorless system to be close to DSLR focusing capabilities. We expect Nikon to put some effort into refining the AF system on the Nikon Z6 and add specific tracking capabilities, such as being able to track and focus on a subject’s eyes in the near future.
3. Sony A7R III
The Sony A7R III tops our list as the best overall tool for those who need a high-resolution camera.
Thanks to its 42 MP BSI CMOS image sensor capable of superb dynamic range, an excellent autofocus system, a great selection of native and third party lenses and a long-lasting battery, the Sony A7R III has established itself as the top choice for many photographers. Although it is a bit more specialized than the Sony A7 III and is geared more towards landscape, fashion, studio and architecture photographers, it is still one of the best Mirrorless cameras on the market today.
Our comments about its weaknesses are very similar to those of the Sony A7 III – a rather complex and disorganized menu, lack of a built-in intervalometer and sub-par ergonomics are perhaps the biggest challenges that Sony engineers should work on. In addition, considering that the Sony A7R III is likely to be used more often in outdoors environments, Sony should have made sure that the camera is properly weather-sealed (reports from independent resources showed weaknesses in weather sealing on the bottom of the camera, while we experienced fogging issues of the EVF when shooting in humid conditions).
4. Nikon Z7
Considering how new Nikon’s mirrorless system is, it is impressive how many areas Nikon hit right with the release of the Z7.
If it wasn’t for the limited native mount lens selection and the challenges we experienced when tracking fast-moving subjects, we would have perhaps put the Nikon Z7 higher in our list. Still, with its superb 45 MP BSI CMOS image sensor that is capable of yielding very high dynamic range, excellent built-in features, superb ergonomics and a very bright EVF, the Nikon Z7 in our opinion is one of the best mirrorless cameras on the market today for landscape, product and architecture photography.
Having shot with the camera extensively for the past few months while traveling both domestically and internationally, we have been very impressed with what the camera is able to offer. It is a very easy camera to transition to for any Nikon shooter and when coupled with the native Z-mount lenses, it offers exceptional image quality and a new level of clarity and sharpness, even when using the compact 24-70mm f/4 S kit lens.
We have provided the results of our extensive research about this camera in our Nikon Z7 review, so you can give it a read for a lot more information. Similar to the Z6, the Nikon Z7 also has its own challenges that we would like Nikon to address as soon as possible. This list is provided in its entirety in our Nikon Z7 firmware update wishlist and we really hope that Nikon will start addressing the highlighted issues in the near future.
5. Sony A9
The Sony A9 is the first mirrorless camera release which proved that mirrorless cameras can indeed compete with DSLRs for shooting fast action – the one area that where DSLR cameras have always reigned supreme.