Thanks to the vast number of mirrorless cameras we have available today, it can be very difficult to choose the right one. That’s especially true when you’re trying to balance features against budget constraints. Which mirrorless camera actually walks that tightrope the best?
The answer is going to be different for every photographer, but I’ve been lucky enough to test literally dozens of mirrorless cameras over the years for our many camera reviews at Photography Life, including some mirrorless cameras which we haven’t even reviewed yet. So, I figured that today was a good time to do a list of the best mirrorless cameras on the market today, as of 2023.
Make sure to check out our Mirrorless vs DSLR guide, and our Best DSLR Cameras list if you want more information, too.
Considerations for the “Best” Mirrorless Camera
It’s very hard to rank cameras from best to worst, not least because every camera out there is the best for someone. The camera that works for my photography may be a bad choice for you, and vice versa.
That’s my disclosure for this article: read the descriptions before getting mad about my rankings! Heck, the mirrorless camera that I personally use is the one I ranked 10th. No hard feelings if your favorite camera isn’t in the top two or three.
I tried to prioritize cameras that are good at almost anything you could throw at them: high-speed, high-resolution beasts with great autofocus systems, large buffers, and modern features. And all that for low prices :)
Such a thing is impossible, of course, but that’s what I aimed for. In the end, I didn’t take price into account very much when ranking these cameras. I figure that you can set your budget ahead of time, then look for the highest-ranked cameras on this list that fall within your budget.
Without further ado, here is my top-17 list for 2023:
1. Nikon Z9
The Nikon Z9 is a workhorse no matter what subject you throw at it. This camera is Nikon’s best wildlife photography camera and Nikon’s best landscape photography camera. It has a 45-megapixel sensor, yet shoots 20 FPS bursts with a practically unlimited buffer (1000+ shots). And even though it’s expensive at $5500, it’s at least $1000 less than I had expected and stands as one of the best values in a mirrorless camera today. (Check current price.)
Compared to DSLRs like the Nikon D6, the Z9 is more advanced in almost every way, yet less expensive. It sets a new standard in the mirrorless world, and that’s why I put it at #1 on this list. The only downside for some photographers is that the Z9’s large size and weight make it impractical for long hikes or full days of traveling. And, of course, $5500 is still expensive. If you’re on a budget, it would make sense to get a less expensive camera and put your money toward lenses instead.
2. Sony A1
The Sony A1 has extraordinary specifications, basically on par with the Nikon Z9. It can shoot 50 megapixel images at 30 frames per second, which is out of this world. It has an amazing autofocus system, too, making for great sports and action photography – alongside the obvious landscape photography applications.
Between the Sony A1 and the Nikon Z9, it was very hard to pick which one deserved to be ranked higher. A lot of it comes down to whether you prefer the large form factor of a camera with a built-in grip like the Z9, or the portability of the Sony A1.
That said, the Sony A1 is a seriously expensive camera at $6500 (check price). Compared to the Nikon Z9, both cameras have strengths and weaknesses that could favor either camera – and because of that, I gave the #1 place to the one that’s $1000 less expensive. You can see the full differences in the article Nikon Z9 vs Sony A1. If the price and size differences don’t matter to you, it will be one tough choice indeed.
Also, props to Sony for releasing the A1 almost a year before the Nikon Z9 started shipping. Sony really set the trend on this one.
3. Sony A7r V
Almost reaching the lofty heights of the Sony A1, yet a couple thousand dollars less expensive, is the Sony A7r V. It sells for $3900 (check price) and has an even higher-resolution 61-megapixel sensor.
The A7r V still manages to shoot at 10 FPS despite the high-res sensor, and it has a huge buffer of 583 images. And the autofocus system is incredible: It uses Sony’s newest artificial intelligence, subject-recognition algorithms. Cutting through the buzzwords, this means the A7r V can recognize subjects like birds and people even when they face away from the camera or have an unusual pose.
For a lot of photographers who are considering the Nikon Z9 or Sony A1, the A7R V will actually make more sense. It’s an excellent camera for landscape photography because of the high-res sensor, and at 10 FPS, it’s still great for photographing wildlife, too. It doesn’t quite reach the maximum specifications of either the Z9 or A1, but for most applications, it will do just as well as either of those cameras.
4. Canon EOS R5
It feels criminal to rank the Canon EOS R5 outside of the top three, but that’s just a testament to how fast camera companies are innovating today. The EOS R5 is a high-resolution, high-speed beast that’s equally capable of landscape photography and sports/wildlife. In that sense, it’s pretty similar to the three cameras above.
The Canon EOS R5 has a 45 megapixel sensor and can shoot a whopping 20 FPS. It has an excellent autofocus system, and like the three cameras above, it can also shoot 8K video. Canon found a way to push a ton of data through the EOS R5’s imaging pipeline, and it makes this camera excellent for both action photography and landscapes.
As you would expect, all this comes at a high price. The EOS R5 costs as much as the Sony A7r V at $3900 body only (check current price, though, because at least the R5 sometimes goes on sale). Between the two, the A7r V is arguably the better camera both for landscapes (due to more resolution and lens selection) and wildlife (due to the bigger buffer and AI-driven autofocus system). But the Canon EOS R5 is no slouch and easily one of the best mirrorless cameras available today.
You can read our full review of the Canon EOS R5 here.
5. Canon EOS R3
If you want a more specialized camera for sports and wildlife photography, it’s hard to beat the Canon EOS R3. Unlike the previous cameras on this list, the EOS R3 doesn’t have a 40+ megapixel sensor; instead, it’s “only” 24 megapixels. But the EOS R3 can shoot 30 FPS bursts with a 420-shot buffer (and more if you shoot at a lower FPS burst). It also has Canon’s unique “eye-sensing autofocus” that begins focusing at the spot you look at in the composition. It’s a seriously cool feature.
I wouldn’t recommend the EOS R3 for landscape photography as my first choice, considering that it costs $6000 and has a lower-resolution sensor. But for any fast-paced genres of photography, you’ll want to take a long look at the EOS R3. If you don’t need the high-res sensors of the Nikon Z9, Sony A1, Sony A7r V, or Canon EOS R5, it arguably beats all of those cameras in sports/wildlife performance.
6. Sony A7 IV
I’m stunned that we’re already at #6 and I haven’t gotten to talk about the Sony A7 IV yet – one of the best all-around mirrorless cameras that you can get today, and a great deal, too.
This $2500 camera (check price) has a 33-megapixel sensor, which is a sweet spot for both landscape and wildlife photography. Although it maxes out at a more standard 10 FPS, the A7 IV has an unlimited buffer and borrows its autofocus system from the Sony A1. So, it’s great for wildlife photography, too.
Sony has the advantage of being in the full-frame mirrorless market longer than Nikon or Canon, and it’s starting to show now that we’re on the 4th generation of the A7. For example, the large lens lineup for Sony mirrorless cameras (including third-party autofocus lenses) gives you more choices than Canon or Nikon, even though those two companies are catching up.
One of the best “under the radar” features of the Sony A7 IV is that it has the redesigned menu system found on Sony’s newest cameras (including the A1 and A7r V). Frankly, Sony’s old menu was a pain to use, even once you got used to it. The new menu makes the camera much more usable.
7. Canon EOS R6 II
Alongside the Sony A7 IV, one of the best mirrorless cameras today in terms of price-vs-features is the Canon EOS R6 II. This camera is a replacement for the prior generation EOS R6 that also remains an excellent choice.
The EOS R6 II has a 24-megapixel sensor (compared to 20 megapixels on the original R6), which is on the lower end of the scale these days – but it more than makes up for it in other features. Specifically, the EOS R6 II shoots up to 40 FPS stills (20FPS for the R6), has dual memory card slots, and uses Canon’s superb new dual-pixel mirrorless autofocus system.
It does all this at a starting price of $2500 (check here for price and availability.) Likewise, the prior generation EOS R6 is going on sale for cheap prices these days – $2000 if you find a good deal.
The EOS R6 and EOS R6 II are better than I would have expected in autofocus performance. They are practically as good as the Nikon Z9, Sony A1, and other top cameras in this respect, which was a big surprise when I tested the EOS R6. Well done to Canon for putting such a good autofocus system on a less expensive camera.
That said, if you’re mainly interested in landscape or studio photography and don’t need so many action photography features, you’d probably happier with one of the other cameras on this list.
See our full Canon EOS R6 review.
8. Panasonic S5 II
One area where Panasonic had been lagging behind the best mirrorless cameras from Nikon, Canon, and Sony was autofocus performance (at least in Panasonic’s full-frame cameras). The Panasonic S5 II fixes this by introducing the company’s phase-detect AF.
Although the S5 II has a 24-megapixel sensor, don’t let that fool you if you’re a landscape photographer. Like some of the Sony and Fuji cameras on this list, the Panasonic S5 II has a high-resolution pixel-shift mode that quadruples a photo’s resolution to 96 megapixels! This only works if the subject is staying still, but I found that it produces fairly natural results in previous Panasonic mirrorless cameras, like the Panasonic S1R (see our review).
The Panasonic S5 II also has some very good video features, capturing up to 6K video internally. It even has a dedicated cooling fan to allow the camera to keep filming for long stretches without overheating. Add that to the 200-image RAW buffer, the 30 FPS shooting, and the $2000 price, and you have a very versatile mirrorless camera indeed.
9. Sony A9 II
Next up is the Sony A9 II, a 24 megapixel mirrorless camera aimed at sports and wildlife photographers. After testing the Sony A9 II in the field, I was very impressed by its autofocus capabilities, its fast continuous shooting speed of 20 FPS, and its large buffer.
I’m putting it a little lower on this list because other cameras – including from Sony itself! – are less expensive than the A9 II, while having better features. It’s a $4500 camera, at which point I believe it’s overpriced compared to others on the market. But in pure capabilities, it’s still an amazing mirrorless camera. If you buy it used or find a good deal, it’s hard to find any flaws with the A9 II.
10. Fuji GFX-100S
One of the most specialized mirrorless cameras today is the Fuji GFX-100S. It’s not a sports or wildlife photography camera at all – instead, it’s a 100-megapixel medium format beast. For landscape photography, architecture, product photography, or other high-resolution needs, it’s probably the best camera on this list. For nonmoving subjects, it even has a sensor-shift mode to quadruple the resolution to 400 megapixels!
My main landscape cameras for years have been the Fuji GFX cameras, and I love them. The lenses, image quality, and dynamic range are amazing, and once you go to medium format, you won’t go back. But because of how specialized this camera is, I don’t think it makes sense to rank the GFX-100S above some of the more practical cameras on this list.
I give a lot of credit to Fuji for releasing the GFX-100S at a reasonable price (for medium format) of $6000. That puts the camera within line of the Nikon Z9 and Sony A1. Even though the GFX-100S is a much slower-paced camera, it has the best sensor of the three.
11. Fuji GFX-50S II
Pretty much everything that I said about the GFX-100S above also applies to its little brother, the GFX-50S II. The two cameras share the same design, both have IBIS, and both match each other in most specifications.
However, “most” specifications is not “all” specifications. The GFX-50S II has a 50-megapixel sensor rather than 100-megapixel sensor, and it has a slower contrast-detect autofocus system. The GFX-50S II is also limited to 1080p video for some reason, while the GFX-100S shoots 4K.
Will these differences matter to the typical medium format shooter? Most of them probably won’t – I doubt you’re buying a camera like this for video, or for sports photography. The biggest relevant difference is the sensor resolution, and 50 megapixels is already plenty for most applications. Considering that the GFX-50S II costs $4000, it’s a pretty stellar deal for medium format.
12. Nikon Z7 II
If you want a high-resolution camera that’s excellent for landscape photography, you should look closely at the 45 megapixel, $3000 Nikon Z7 II.
Even though the Nikon Z7 II isn’t as fast as some other mirrorless cameras – including Nikon’s own Z9 – it would be one of my top few choices on the market for landscape photography. An unsung feature of the Nikon Z7 II is the base ISO of 64, giving it dynamic range that rivals even medium format! Not to mention that the Z lenses are some of the sharpest lenses of all time, making it an ideal system to capture a lot of detail without weighing very much.
When the Nikon Z7 II was released, it got some bad press for the autofocus system’s wildlife photography capabilities. Of course, it’s all relative: I found that even the previous generation Z7 was perfectly good for fast wildlife once you get the hang of it. But it’s true that you’d be better served with something like the Canon EOS R5, Sony A7r V, or Nikon Z9 if wildlife photography is a priority for you.
Check out my full Nikon Z7 II review here.
13. Fujifilm X-T5
I’m a big fan of Fuji’s mirrorless cameras, and the X-T5 has some of the company’s best features so far.
With its 40-megapixel X-Trans sensor capable of producing excellent image quality, in-body image stabilization, a fast X-Processor 4 with Quad CPU that is capable of pushing up 6K video, F-Log gamma for extended dynamic range when shooting video, long battery life, an insanely fast and accurate autofocus system, and a bright 3.69 million dot EVF, the Fuji X-T3 is an impressive stills and video camera. It even shoots 15 FPS (20 FPS if you don’t mind a 1.3x crop), making it a good camera for sports and wildlife, too.
While it is an exceptionally good camera in many ways, it is still an APS-C sensor camera, so it doesn’t do as well at high ISOs or shallow depth of field as the other cameras on this list. It’s also more expensive than most APS-C cameras at $1700 (check price and availability). You may want to consider the prior generation X-T4, too, which I’ve seen go on sale now that the X-T5 is out.
14. Fujifilm X-H2S
If you want speed in a crop-sensor camera, the Fuji X-H2S is for you. It has a stacked 26MP sensor, which is plenty of resolution for most situations. And it’s fast.
Thanks to the camera’s stacked BSI sensor, it can shoot RAW photos at 40 FPS! At that frame rate, your buffer is still a very reasonable 140 images. Drop the burst down to 15 FPS, and you’ll get a 1000-image buffer. So, to say that this camera is good for fast action is an understatement.
The X-H2S also has some very impressive video features with excellent-quality footage – not only with 4K120 but also with 6K 30p. Between this camera and the X-T5 above, I consider the X-T5 more versatile because of its higher-resolution sensor, but the X-H2S isn’t far behind.
15. Nikon Z6 II
Along similar lines as the Canon EOS R6 II and Sony A7 IV, the Nikon Z6 II stands out as a great value for what you get. At $2000 when it’s not on sale, the Nikon Z6 II has a 24 megapixel sensor, excellent high-ISO performance, 14 FPS shooting, and access to Nikon’s amazing Z lenses. The Nikon Z6 also has some excellent videography features, including 4K video at 60 FPS slow motion.
As for the autofocus system, refer back to what I said about the Z7 II. There’s definitely some room for improvement, even though it’s better than what some people say. As a result, the Nikon Z6 is ideal for travel photography and portrait photography, even though it can certainly handle the occasional wildlife encounter without issue.
Considering that I ranked it #15 on this list, you’d think it’s a bad camera, right? Not at all. It’s actually the camera I bought to film our YouTube videos and act as a backup camera to my other systems, thanks to its price-to-performance ratio.
Check out our full Nikon Z6 II review for more.
16. Nikon Z5
Potentially the best value on this entire list is the Nikon Z5. Despite being a full-frame camera with plenty of advanced features, including in-body image stabilization, I’ve seen it go as low as $1000 new (check current sales).
You might think that a $1000 full-frame camera (okay, $1400 when it’s not on sale) would have some major flaws, but the Z5 would prove you wrong. Its 24 megapixel sensor is very good, the camera has dual memory card slots, and it still includes in-body image stabilization.
In terms of downsides, the Nikon Z5 only shoots 4.5 frames per second, the AF system isn’t great for sports, and it has a large 1.7x crop when shooting 4K video. That’s why I had to put it a bit lower on this list. But aside from those three issues, the Z5 is at the same level as cameras that cost double the price. If you’re on a budget, it’s hard to beat the Nikon Z5.
You can read our full review here to see if these drawbacks of the Z5 will matter for your work.
17. OM System OM-1
In the realm of micro four thirds, the OM System OM-1 is an amazing camera for sports photography and wildlife photography. It also has some of the most modern features of any camera on this list.
Not only does it have a stacked 20MP sensor, it has an insane 120fps burst capability and advanced subject recognition modes for almost every situation. If you don’t want to carry around a massive full-frame camera, and you want access to some very compact, yet high-quality lenses, the OM-1 is worth considering.
The downside, of course, is the smaller sensor size. Obviously Micro Four Thirds has a dedicated audience of photographers, and for something like wildlife or macro photography, it’s may not be a hinderance at all. But bigger sensors usually allow you to shoot in low-light conditions more easily, and they give you more flexibility in your depth of field. To match a full-frame camera with an 85mm f/1.2 lens, for example, you would need a (nonexistent) 42mm f/0.6 on Micro Four Thirds.
Whether that matters to you or not depends on your style of photography. If you’re not the type to need maximum dynamic range, high ISO performance, or shallow depth of field, the OM-1 can beat almost any other camera on this list in features. The fact that such an amazing camera is low on our list is not a negative for the OM-1, but rather a statement about how good today’s mirrorless cameras are.
I hope this article helped you get a sense of where things stand as of 2023, from someone who has used literally dozens of mirrorless cameras during my time reviewing them on Photography Life. Let me know below if you have any questions or comments, or want to recommend a camera to our readers that I couldn’t fit on the list!
Thank you for the helpful article! Which camera (as of January 2023) would you recommend specifically for static portrait photography with natural lighting? Sharp focus on eyes is a must – plus being lightweight, ergonomically suitable for smaller hands, and wifi enabled. Also helpful would be 4K video. Thanks in advance.
There’s a picture of a Lumix at the beginning of the article but there is no discussion on it?
Thanks for the reminder, John! The S5 and S5R are no longer on our list due to their large size and slow AF systems, but the newer S1 II is a seriously good camera that deserves a place here. We’ve added it into the list at #8, around the level of the Canon EOS R6 II and Sony A9 II.
Do you have an opinion on the use of Nikon Slr lenses with the Z9 plus adapter??
Yes, they work really well! Image quality and sharpness are identical to how they would perform on a DSLR. Autofocus speed and accuracy is also very, very close to how it would perform on a DSLR, but a bit behind where a native Z lens would perform. You can definitely adapt them without worry.
I suggest the primary aim of a comparison of cameras across brands is to compare the state of technology, or rather attempt an objective comparison on functionality. Suggested themes for features/performance/reliability/genres, which you might include:
1. Autofocus engine – suitability for the primary photographic Genres eg Events, Landscapes versus Sports and Action Wildlife;
2. Colour Science or rather quality, ie sensors with respect to image quality, lowlight (eg Z6/D6 vs D850/Z9 etc) and thus practicable applications – maximum print resolution for fineart, advertising etc;
3. Ergonomics and Menu Usability. How easier is it to use and carry this camera for long periods and use highly efficiently (ie scope for customization); does one need a Commercial Pro Licence to decipher the convoluted menus – or Not (!) etc ;
4. Weatherproofing in as much as this can be determined with your own testing system (as used by Imaging Resources);
5. Last but not least – the primary Lens System, and Tigma options, and also diversity of lenses available with Adapters (in house ie FTZ and possibly cross-mount to 3rd party) . For example with the Z System, this could link in a summary statement in a paragraph, with cross reference to your Z System Lenses summary for more details including reviews. Nikon and Canon stand apart here: MIrrorless options and DSLR.
Howsoever, one dice and divvies up camera features, their performance had a history of being more transient than optics. Most experienced photographers with any common sense are unlikely to jump systems (unless they’ve money to burn). The adage hasn’t changed in decades – “Date the Bodies; Marry the Lenses”
I am surprised the E-M1 III didn’t make the list. With its host of computational features (LiveND, HHHR, Live Composite, ProCapture), superb build quality, nearly best-in-class IBIS and incredibly deep lens line-up, and solid AF, it’s at least as good as the X-T4.
When I look at the heated debate, I am glad I have a G9. Kinda goes unnoticed from all this childish “mine is better than yours’ type discussion. Nasim wrote an excellent article. The criteria applied and their weighting is always a bit subjective, but this is not about dogma, this is just a helpful list for anybody out there interested in getting a camera, not an apologetic piece to defend everybody’s choice of camera. Some here really need to grow up.
This article leaves me cold. And it is the first time I can say that about an article on the photography life site.
The ten best mirrorless. Honestly. Who cares?
Why pull down the quality of this site for a “Best of….” article?
This is interesting
Piete, not sure how you find an article interesting, with the author writing about gear that he has never even handled…
That article in fstoppers by Alex Cooke was just horrible and just click bait made to get people all stirred up in a hobby that gets people stirred up pretty easy. It’s pretty arrogant to say those camera are the “worst”.
Now days really all modern digital FF, crop, M43 and just really good as is all glass by the major camera and lens manufacturers. Each has there strength and weakness but they all will take a great image if the person behind the shutter knows what he is doing. Some may not print a great 30×70 print and some may not be conducive to take on a 20 mile hike.
I personally use Nikon gear and am happy with it so I will NOT be adding to the 7942 on line articles and YouTube videos about how I am switching to Sony. Not really sure why people that switch to Sony feel the need to broadcast it to the world. I recently switched from a Toyota truck to a Ram 1500 truck……maybe I should have written a story about why I switched truck brands.
DG, thank you for your feedback. These are our subjective conclusions based on using the above cameras. If they don’t match someone else’s ranking, that’s OK. And if this particular article wasn’t to your liking, please accept my apologies – we will do our best to improve going forward. Please keep in mind that “best of” articles always get some positive and negative reactions. Unfortunately, people feel very protective about their purchasing decisions.
I would like to thank you Nasim for what I feel is an accurate, concise and informative view on why you have chosen each camera and why you have positioned them in your rankings. I have finally decided to purchase a full frame camera after years of dreaming, to run along side my Fuji X kit. I have just ordered a Nikon Z6 II, I considered an R6 but the flippy screen, lower resolution sensor and extra price over the Z6 II were the deciding factors as I prefer a 24MP, screen and IQ of the Nikon. Reading your review has made me feel even more content with my decision. Now I cant wait until it arrives in 2 days time. Thank you for your review. Jason
But will my Zeiss lenses work with the FTZ mount adapter?
Frank, yes, they will. Zeiss lenses are all manual focus, so they will have no problems with the Z6 or Z7.
I know this isn’t really in topic, but I was wondering, wouldn’t it be quite interesting to have the members of the PL team to make each a “what was in my bag for 2018, and why” kind of article? Obviously just with bodies/lenses that they have bought with their own money. It could include also bags/filters/accessories but I think that’d possibly get a bit too long. Just an idea, as much as one might give an enthusiastic review of a piece of kit, there might be other reasons why, even though he/she could afford it, they’d rather stick with something else (and naturally, as readers of the website, I think more than a few of us are curious about such choices too).
Tomas, that’s a great idea – if I can get everyone to do it, it would be a pretty cool article to publish. Let me send an email out and see where it goes :)
There’s no way the Nikon mirrorless beats anything Sony, sorry but you got that so wrong. I switched completely to Sony from Nikon a few years back. Recently I borrowed the Z7 for two weeks from NPS. I was completely unimpressed with the camera and it only reinforced why I left Nikon. From the cheap feeling 24-70 S lens and its lens hood to the ridiculous XQD (single) card (much prefer SD and had to buy XQD special just to try camera out), to viewfinder blackout, to klunky and too big with un removable tripod mount FTZ adapter, to image quality and color science to overall experience just was more frustrating than anything. You rated Nikon Z6 II above Sony A9 II? That’s funny ?
You are kidding me. What do you mean there is no way the Nikon beats the Sony? This article is idiotic because it brings out comments like yours. I’ve shot with both too. I prefer the Nikon over the Sony. Honestly though, who cares? I prefer to look at photos than argue over gear.
Further, if you don’t understand the advantages of XQD over SD then you should hang up your camera strap. Certainly the Z7 and Z6 cameras are not clunky and the lens you mention is tack sharp. Are yo sure you are not working for Sony?