If you’re a photography enthusiast, you’ll understand the notion of gear lust. Every year, the genre’s foremost brands reveal the next best platform, the most recent innovation, and the generational successor to whatever it is that’s “meta” at the time. The circular nature of the past-time is relatively daunting, especially when professional platforms can cost anywhere thousands upon thousands of dollars. This is only exacerbated by the fact that something as simple as ergonomics can make or break a buyer’s mind in terms of the acquisition. That’s why companies like Sony, Canon, Nikon, Olympus, and Panasonic have spent millions of dollars in research and development, designing and producing a more intuitive answer to the genre’s weight-savvy woes.
If you aren’t already aware, lightweight mirrorless platforms have come into their own over the past decade, standing toe-to-toe with — and sometimes even surpassing — their DSLR counterparts. They act as a bridge between the weighty, robust nature of their single-mirror brethren, and the world of compact carry. In many ways, they’re the future of photography, adopting insane megapixel counts, unparalleled low-light capabilities, and ergonomically-oriented designs that put an emphasis on concealment. In terms of structure and weight, they’re at the top of their game, making them the go-to option for travelers, adventurers, vloggers, and content creators who are looking to take a more “simplistic” approach to their camera setup. If you find that you’re looking for a similar kit, you’re in luck; we’ve curated an up-to-date list with some of the industry’s most recent mirrorless offerings, giving you insight into body style, structure, megapixel count, and sensor size.
It’s true that Nikon isn’t known for its mirrorless offerings, but that doesn’t mean that its flagship Z50 platform is a slouch when compared to its peers, either. The 20.9-megapixel wonder is certainly a joy to look at, mimicking the recognizable architecture of Nikon’s full-fledged DSLR models. However, due to its mirrorless nature, it adopts a much sleeker appearance, while still being able to adopt the brand’s lauded NIKKOR Z and F-Mount NIKKOR (with an FTZ adapter) lenses. This pairs nicely with the camera’s flip-down “selfie” screen since the brand’s iconic lenses can be used for traditional vlogging endeavors. To round things out, the Z50 is the first mirrorless DX-format camera to utilize a 55-millimeter lens mount, giving it a leg up on its competition when it comes to low-light image quality.
Sensor: BSI CMOS
Weight: 15.7 ounces
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III
Olympus is a name that many people outside of the photography world might not hear often, but the company is still (somewhat) alive and well within the world of visual capture. Although its history reaches back over 80 years, the brand has continuously remained a staple within the photographic world, and today, the mirrorless revolution has allowed it to offer its very own model — the OM-D E-M5 Mark III. This sleek, modern-day offering looks much like the camera’s in Olympus’ vintage catalog, keeping near to its iconic design language. Instead of utilizing film, however, the camera boasts a 20-megapixel MOS sensor, 121-point all-cross-type autofocus, and a modernized stabilization system that utilizes five-axis movement compensation.
Sensor: Four Thirds CMOS
Weight: 14.6 ounces
Panasonic Lumix GH5
Panasonic’s Lumix GH5 is an ever-popular model within the world of indie filmmaking, since its small form factor, lightweight demeanor, and adaptability have made it a go-to platform for run-and-gun film crews. They aren’t wrong in their adoration, either. Each example boasts a professional 20.3-megapixel micro-four-thirds sensor, a splash and freezeproof magnesium alloy body, and five-axis dual image stabilization, allowing it to take clear, sharp photographs. In terms of video capture, the GH5 shines above many of the genre’s alternative offerings, due to the lack of a low-pass filter, a heightened (and proven) dynamic range, and 4K/60P capabilities.
Sensor: Four Thirds CMOS
Weight: 25.5 ounces
Fujifilm has rooted itself firmly within the photographic sphere, placing a large emphasis on film-based capture. However, the brand doesn’t rest on its laurels when it comes to modern innovation, especially when it’s faced with competition from larger, more formidable brands. As such, the renowned camera company has devised one of today’s most adored mirrorless platforms — the X-T4. Like its competition, the X-T4 features a state-of-the-art, five-axis in-body image stabilization (IBIS) system, helping shooters to keep their photography as shake-free as possible. Where it innovates, however, is in its unique mechanical shutter, which was developed specifically for this platform. This allows it to take on the world’s most confrontational environments at a speedy 15 frames-per-second, complementing the camera’s larger battery and lack of an optical low-pass filter. A cutting-edge 26.1MP APS-C X-Trans BSI CMOS 4 Sensor rounds things out, giving the camera great dynamic range and a wide native sensitivity of ISO 160-12800.
Sensor: X-Trans CMOS 4
Weight: 21.4 ounces
Panasonic Lumix S5
Panasonic’s Lumix S5 is a play on the brand’s popular GH5 model, adopting new technologies to bridge the gap between photography and video capture. Instead of the micro-four-thirds sensor of its predecessor, this unique offering boasts a full-frame 24.2MP CMOS sensor, providing shooters with UHD 4K60 10-bit internal recording with a much larger sensor size. This, paired with the camera’s proposed 14+-stop dynamic range, makes it a powerhouse in terms of photographic capability, especially when you take its native ISO 100-51200 range into account. For quick-moving subjects, the platform’s 225-area DFD autofocus system will keep you locked on at all times. If you find that you’re not pressed for time, you’ll also be able to utilize the S5’s 96-megapixel “High-Res Shot” mode, making it one of the most capable high-resolution cameras on the market.
Sensor: CMOS Full-Frame
Weight: 25.2 ounces
Sony a7S III
Sony’s A7 lineup has made it the quintessential mirrorless provider, and its new-gen models are taking dramatic strides to keep it that way. The recently-released a7S III, for example, is the result of years of development under the watchful eye of the public, innovating on Sony’s previous platform for a more robust shooting experience. Since video is the primary focus here, the a7S III features a 12.1-megapixel full-frame mirrorless layout, making it an absolute monster in terms of low-light capability. The camera’s Exmor R BSI CMOS sensor and updated BIONZ XR image processor provide blazing-fast performance, as well as an enhanced dynamic range that’ll allow you to preserve details in post-production. The most interesting part of the upgrade has to be the ability to shoot 16-bit RAW, which, when paired with the camera’s dramatic ISO 40-409600 range, provides unparalleled adaptability for pushing and pulling post-shoot.
Sensor: Full-Frame Exmor R BSI CMOS
Weight: 24.7 ounces
Sony a7R IV
As the photo-focused counterpart to Sony’s video-centric a7S III platform, the a7R IV is a powerhouse in terms of high-resolution capture. Not only does this beastly camera boast a 61-megapixel, full-frame Exmor R CMOS image sensor for unparalleled image quality, but its autofocus system is one of the industry’s finest, calling upon 567 phase-detection AF points and 425 contrast AF points for relentless tracking. Like other Sony platforms, the a7R IV utilizes advanced subject recognition, real-time eye tracking, and a notable 14-bit RAW image output, allowing shooters to capture the intricacies of everyday life without fear.
Sensor: Full-Frame Exmor R CMOS
Weight: 23.5 ounces
Canon EOS R5
Canon’s EOS R5 is one of the newest platforms on this guide, and as of writing, it’s been met with a diverse spread of critical acclaim. Despite its shortcomings, the camera is one of the finest offerings in today’s mirrorless market, especially on paper. To give the R5 a leg up on its competition, Canon produced a proprietary 45-megapixel CMOS sensor capable of 8K raw video recording and 12 frame-per-second continuous shooting, pairing nicely with the EOS line’s first-ever five-axis stabilization system. It performs on par with the genre’s foremost offerings, thanks to its cutting-edge DIGIC X image processor, Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus, and deep learning technology, which adapts to its environment for more precise eye, face, and head-detection.
Sensor: Full-Frame CMOS
Weight: 26 ounces
Hasselblad X1D II 50C Medium Format
It’s rare that Hasselblad is usurped by any listing on our photography-focused guides but, with contenders like Leica, it’s bound to happen from time to time. That being said, the brand’s X1D II 50C Medium Format offering is one of the world’s finest camera systems, pairing the brand’s renowned architecture, image quality, and dependability with a smaller, mirrorless layout. As a result, this monstrous platform boasts a refined 43.8 x 32.9mm 50-megapixel CMOS sensor, 14 stops of dynamic range, and a 16-bit color depth, allowing it to capture a larger range of values when compared to many of today’s foremost offerings. While this specific platform is catered toward indoor/controlled shooting, it still boasts a substantial ISO 100-25600 sensitivity range, allowing it to take on darker situations with ease. Of course, this wouldn’t mean much without the brand’s timeless design at its back. Each offering capitalizes on its lineage through the use of a signature physical appearance, smooth aluminum alloy body, and right-hand grip.
Sensor: Medium Format CMOS
Weight: 27 ounces
There’s only one company that can replace Hasselblad for the top spot, and that’s Leica. The company’s entire lineup has served to define the worlds of film and digital photography for generations, and today, it’s still one of the most sought after brands on the market. That being said, the outfit’s SL2 is a mirrorless offering for the ages, thanks to its sophisticated layout, 47.3-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor, and ultra-fast Maestro III image processor, providing shooters with 20 frame-per-second continuous shooting. Inside, a Leica Object Detection AF system makes its presence known through 225 selectable autofocus points, pairing nicely with the platform’s five-axis in-body stabilization system and DCI 4K recording capabilities. The only downside is that it shoots in a 10-bit color space, making it a little less enticing if you err toward high-profile color correction.
Sensor: Full-Frame CMOS
Weight: 29.5 ounces
The 20 Best DSLR Camera Accessories
Mirrorless cameras might not fall under the DSLR demarcation, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t use the same bits and bobs. If you’re looking to enhance your field-ready kit, head over to our guide on the best DSLR camera accessories to create a more well-rounded photographic arsenal.
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