Best mirrorless cameras: nine of the best CSCs for mirror-free picture taking

If you're looking for the best mirrorless camera, we're here to help

If you're looking for a new camera you've come to the right place, because we have collected the very best mirrorless cameras here. But before we dive right in, let's have a look at what to look out for in a new camera...

First, what actually are mirrorless cameras, or compact system cameras (CSC, for short)? They're an alternative to bulky DSLRs, which still allow you to change the lens and enjoy the benefits of a large sensor.

Compact system cameras come in three main styles: beginners’ basics, DSLR-replacements, and retro revivals.

Basic models don’t have viewfinders but they do come with everything else you need, including interchangeable lenses and full manual-exposure controls so that you can develop your camera skills later. DSLR replacements are like slimmed-down versions of real DSLRs; the only difference is that you get an electronic viewfinder rather than the optical sort. Retro revivals hark back to an earlier era of classic rangefinder-style cameras with rectangular bodies, viewfinders in the corner rather than on top, and smartly finished external controls.

With their market still expanding, mirrorless cameras have come on a lot in the past year. The latest must-haves include 4K-video capture with the ability to extract an 8 megapixel still. Increasingly, we also get flip-up screens to satiate the selfie shooter, and Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity to share shots with smartphone or tablet.

What hasn’t changed much is sensor size, however. Offerings are still split between – in ascending order of physical size – one inch, Four Thirds (of an inch), APS-C, and Full Frame sensors. The rule of thumb is that physically larger sensors are capable of taking better the pictures.

These are the best mirrorless cameras you can buy in 2016:

1. Sony A7R II

Full-frame sensor and top software makes the Sony A7R II the best of the best

Sensor size: Full-frame | Resolution: 42MP | Viewfinder: 2.36M OLED | Continuous shooting: 5FPS | Video: 4K | Stabilisation: 5-axis in-body

Sony A7R II

Amazing detail
Low-light capability impressive
Battery life

Sony’s full-frame A7-series mirrorless cameras are serious challengers to DSLRs. The top-level 42.4-megapixel A7R II offers razor-sharp resolution, the ability to shoot in 4K, 399-point hybrid AF and 5-axis in-body stabilisation. It might seem pricey, but it’s not for a professional camera with this power.

2. Olympus PEN-F

Stylish retro shooter which packs the latest tech

Sensor size: Four Thirds | Resolution: 20MP | Viewfinder: 2.36M OLED | Continuous shooting: 20FPS | Video: 1080p | Stabilisation: 5-axis in-body

Olympus PEN-F

Great image quality
Stylish compact body
Video not great

Olympus is unashamedly targeting the style-conscious with the PEN-F, which combines design cues from its classic half-frame film cameras with seriously up-to-date technology. It looks beautiful and packs a brand new 20MP sensor, exquisite external controls, and an excellent EVF.

3. Fujifilm X-Pro2

Don't let those retro looks fool you, this is a truely modern camera

Sensor size: APS-C | Resolution: 24MP | Viewfinder: Hybrid 2.36M TFT | Continuous shooting: 8FPS | Video: 1080p | Stabilisation: OIS in-lens

Fujifilm X-Pro2

Great image quality
External controls
Lens range not extensive
So-so video

The X-Pro2 is a chunky, classic rangefinder-style camera with a unique hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder. It takes the same X-mount lenses as the X-A2 and X-T10, but throws in a brand-new and super-sharp 24MP X-Trans sensor. It’s unlike any DSLR, and it’s absolutely brilliant.

4. Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF7

Excellent image quality from a tiny body

Sensor size: Four Thirds | Resolution: 16MP | Viewfinder: N/A | Continuous shooting: 40FPS | Video: 1080p | Stabilisation: OIS in-lens

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF7

It's tiny
No ISO button
Short battery

This tiny beginner orientated system camera packs the large Four Thirds sensor and Venus engine as found in the numerically similar GX7 premium model. Panasonic has bowed to the ‘selfie’ craze here, by including a 180-degree tilting monitor, along with two new self-portrait enabling features in Face Shutter and Buddy Shutter. It also has a new Wi-Fi button, and lightning quick autofocus response, in conjunction with supplied 12-32mm lens. The GF7 feels like Panasonic is making even its entry level CSC’s into serious contenders.

5. Nikon 1 J5

Small sensor, but faster than the speed of light

Sensor size: 1-inch | Resolution: 20MP | Viewfinder: N/A | Continuous shooting: 60FPS | Video: 4K (15fps) | Stabilisation: N/A

Nikon 1 J5

It's pocketable
Very fast
4K video limited
Small sensor

The Nikon 1 has the smallest sensor, but the image quality is still good and it’s the smallest and most pocketable of them all. It comes with high-speed tech that enables 20fps continuous stills shooting, and it also has a tilting touchscreen display.

6. Fujifilm X-A2

Fujifilm's most affordable CSC

Sensor size: APS-C | Resolution: 16MP | Viewfinder: N/A | Continuous shooting: 5.6FPS | Video: 1080p | Stabilisation: N/A

Fujifilm X-A2

Film simulation
Looks great
No Wi-Fi
Low MP count

Fujifilms’s cheapest X-mount camera doesn’t come with its top X-Trans sensor or a viewfinder, but the regular 16MP APS-C CMOS sensor is still a good performer, and the X-A2 delivers style and control that belie its budget price tag. It also comes in black and silver, but we love this tan version.

7. Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4

The best mirrorless camera for videographers

Sensor size: Four Thirds | Resolution: 16MP | Viewfinder: 2.36M OLED | Continuous shooting: 4.2FPS | Video: 4K | Stabilisation: OIS in-lens

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4

Professional-grade video
'Only' 16MP

Panasonic's GH4 is renowned for its professional-grade video quality - making it a top choice for videographers around the world. It'll record in resolutions up to 4K at 30 fps, with the ability to grab 8-megapixel stills from a frame of video, in-camera. Broadening its appeal the GH4 also offers both Wi-Fi and NFC, an OLED viewfinder, great image quality, and weather proofing. This is a very adept all rounder.

8. Canon EOS M3

A mirrorless camera from the biggest name in photography

Sensor size: APS-C | Resolution: 24MP | Viewfinder: N/A | Continuous shooting: 4.2FPS | Video: 1080p | Stabilisation: OIS in-lens

Canon EOS M3

Good image quality
Limited lens selection

Being the biggest camera manufacturer on the planet you'd expect Canon's CSC offering to be pretty competent. This miniature EOS has a large 24MP APS-C sensor, and excellent flexible touchscreen that tilts upwards by 180° and down by 45°. Keeping with the times there's Wi-Fi and NFC.

9. Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II

The perfect mirrorless camera for enthusiasts

Sensor size: Four Thirds | Resolution: 16MP | Viewfinder: 2.36M LCD | Continuous shooting: 10FPS | Video: 1080p | Stabilisation: 5-axis in-body

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II

Amazing OIS
Excellent build and design
No 4K
Low-light can't match DSLR

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II may be the perfect enthusiast camera. The body is fully weather resistant, and the Mark II also introduces a new shutter mechanism, a swivelling touchscreen, and a new 40-megapixel high-resolution shot mode. Carried over is the amazing five-axis in-body stabilisation, and the amazing line-up of Micro Four Thirds lenses. All of that, in the gorgeous body which strikes a perfect balance between retro and modern.

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