The best mirrorless cameras of 2021 and how to pick one

To learn more about mirrorless tech and why it’s taken over the camera world, check out our Upscaled video on the subject for an even deeper dive:

First, let’s talk about what to look for in a mirrorless camera. The most important factor is the sensor size. The largest is medium-format, used on relatively niche and expensive cameras from Fujifilm, Hasselblad and Leica models. Models like Fujifilm’s latest 102-megapixel GFX 100S offer the largest sensors, very high resolution, top-notch image quality and the shallowest depth of field possible. However, they’re also very expensive, with Fujifilm’s entry-level GFX 50R starting at $4,500.

The next category is full-frame, with models available from brands including Sony, Nikon, Canon and Panasonic. That format offers the next-best image quality, low-light capability and depth of field, but costs considerably less, with prices starting at around $1,000. You’ll still get beautiful blurred background bokeh, but focus can be very fine for fast lenses, so your subject’s eyelashes may be sharp, but not their eyes.

Moving down a notch, APS-C is offered on Fujifilm, Sony, Nikon and Canon models. Cameras and lenses are cheaper than full-frame, but you still get lovely bokeh, decent low-light shooting capability and relatively high resolution. With a sensor size equivalent to 35mm movie film, it’s ideal for shooting video.

Micro Four Thirds, used by Panasonic and Olympus, is the smallest mainstream sensor size for mirrorless cameras. It offers less dramatic bokeh and light-gathering capability than APS-C, but allows for smaller and lighter cameras and lenses. For video, it’s harder to blur the background to isolate your subject, but focus is easier to control.

Also key to your buying decision is resolution. High-res cameras like Sony’s 61-megapixel A7R IV deliver detailed images but the small pixels mean they’re not ideal for video or low-light shooting. Lower-resolution models like Panasonic’s 10.3-megapixel GH5s excel at video and high-ISO shooting, but lack detail for photos.

Image quality is subjective, but different cameras produce slightly different results. Some photographers prefer the skin tones from Canon while others like Fujifilm’s colors, for example. It’s best to check sample photos to see which model best suits your style.

What about handling? The Fujifilm X-T4 has lots of manual dials to access shooting controls, while Sony’s A6600 relies more on menus. The choice often depends on personal preference, but manual dials and buttons do make it easier to shoot. For heavy lenses, you may need a camera with a big chunky grip like Nikon’s Z6 II or Z7 II models.

As for video, most cameras deliver at least 4K at 30 frames per second, but some models now offer 4K at up to 120p, with 6K and even 8K resolution. If you need professional-looking results, choose a camera with 10-bit or even RAW capability, along with log profiles to maximize dynamic range.

In-body stabilization, which keeps the camera steady even if you move, is another important option for video and low-light photography. You’ll also want to consider the electronic viewfinder (EVF) specs. High resolutions and refresh rates make judging shots easier, particularly in sunny environments.

Read our full guide to mirrorless cameras here:

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The best under $750:
– Sony’s Alpha A6100:
– Fujifilm $700 X-T200:
– Canon EOS M200:
– Canon M50 II:

The best under $1,500:
– Fujifilm X-T3:
– Nikon $1,400 Z5:
– Panasonic GH5:
– Canon EOS RP:

The best under $2,500:
– Canon EOS R6:
– Panasonic S5:
– Fujifilm X-T4:
– Nikon Z6 II:

The best over $2,500:
– Sony A1:
– Canon EOS R5:
– Sony A75 III:
– Sony A7R IV:
– Panasonic S1H:
– Panasonic GFX 100S:

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