Just a few years ago, many thought that mirrorless cameras were nothing more than a passing fad — a hail mary in attempt to recover from the clearly declining sales of DSLRs. Fortunately for us photographers, camera companies have continued to iterate, improve, and refine mirrorless systems to get them to where they are today: a wide array of options, each fantastic in its own right, and all viable alternatives to the traditional DSLR systems.
This is a list of our favorite mirrorless cameras, in no particular order.
The Fuji X100 cameras have been a favorite of mine since the first one was released over four years ago. They embody everything that makes a camera great: a solid sensor, a gorgeous lens, undeniably cool retro styling, and tactile controls that make the shooting experience feel special.
The latest in the series, the X100T, improves upon the X100 and X100s in a number of ways, including an all-new version of the phenomenal Hybrid Viewfinder, an upgraded larger LCD display, and an electronic shutter that can shoot up to 1/32000. The X100T is small, lightweight, incredibly fun to use, and the images speak for themselves.
Combine the X100T with the WCL-X100 wide-angle adapter and the TCL-X100 telephoto adapter, and you've got a tiny, but flexible travel camera kit that can easily rival (or beat) the image quality from much larger and more expensive systems. This is my desert island camera setup.
The Fuji X-T1 is the flagship of the Fuji X-series, and the newest in their line of interchangeable lens cameras. With its large and beautiful electronic viewfinder, the signature tactile controls, and the well respected X-Trans sensor inside, it's a clear winner for those looking for a mirrorless system with serious capability. The Fuji XF-mount lens selection is vast and quickly growing, and all the lenses are absolutely fantastic.
The X-T1 is truly a pro-level mirrorless camera that can easily keep up with whatever task you throw at it. The flexibility of interchangeable lenses, combined with the unbelievable quality of the lenses available make it obvious why the photography community fell in love with this camera.
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II
Olympus has always been at the top of the heap when it comes to the m4/3 camera systems. They pushed the envelope when they released the original Olympus OM-D E-M5, and have pushed it even further with the OM-D E-M5 Mark II. It's upgraded in every way possible, including a brand new 5-axis image stabilization system, a gorgeous electronic viewfinder, and even includes a crazy feature that allows you to take 40 megapixel shots with a special sensor-shift mode.
Olympus cameras focus fast, are responsive and intuitive to use, and hit an ergonomic sweet spot — not too big to carry around in a small bag, but not too small to be uncomfortable to hold. The m4/3 lens system is flourishing with some of the best glass available for mirrorless cameras, and there's enough choice available to please even the most demanding professionals. You can't go wrong with this system.
Sony A7 II
The mirrorless camera landscape changed when Sony first announced the A7 line of cameras — the first interchangable-lens mirrorless camera system with a full-frame sensor. All three of the original cameras (the A7, A7r, and A7s) are brilliant in their own right, but Sony has refined the system and come up with a sweet spot in the line with the A7 II.
The A7 II offers some small but significant ergonomic and usability improvements, but what is most exciting is that it includes a Sony 5-axis on-sensor image stabilization system. This makes a huge difference when shooting in the dark, and even more so when you're shooting with manual lenses that might not have built-in stabilization (such as Leica lenses). The full-frame 24.3 megapixel sensor is brilliant, and the low light performance is among the best you'll get from a mirrorless camera.
The lens ecosystem for the A7 cameras is still new, so the choice is limited. That said, it's growing quickly, and what is available currently is top-notch in quality. The A7 II is also a perfect camera to mount manual glass to as well, like any of the terrific lenses from Zeiss, Voigtlander, or Leica available in M-mount.
I don't think any list of mirrorless cameras would be complete without mentioning one of the most interesting new cameras to come out in several years. Built from the ground up by the geniuses at Leica in Germany, it's the Leica T, and it's pretty unique.
For starters, it's painfully beautiful. Machined from a solid block of aluminum and polished by hand for 45 minutes, it's simply one of the finest built cameras available today. What you won't find, however, is any buttons. The camera is controlled entirely with a large capacitive touch-screen on the back. It's a completely new approach to camera control, and is also a departure from Leica's classic tactile methodology. Inside is a great 16 megapixel sensor, fed by some unbelievable Leica-built autofocus lenses (the 23mm Summicron in particular is stunning).
The Leica T is also a great camera to use Leica M glass on, and they even sell an M adapter that will read the 6-bit lens coding to properly code the EXIF data in your images and apply any corrections as needed.
The Leica T is not for everybody, but if you value the style and appearance, and are interested in getting your feet wet with an entirely new and different way of controlling a camera, this could be the way to go.
Honorable Mention: Leica M
While not often included in lists of mirrorless cameras, the Leica M is technically a mirrorless camera, although is more specifically (and accurately) called a rangefinder. The Leica M is in a category of its own — if you want a Leica M, you probably aren't cross-shopping with any of the cameras above. You likely know what you want, and why.
The Leica M is worth mentioning, though, because it was not only technically the first full-frame mirrorless camera (with the M9), but it also uses some of the world's best lenses created by any company, ever. Leica lenses are the Patek Philippe of the camera world — expensive, yes, but you get what you pay for.
The M (specifically the type 240) is a charming camera to shoot, as it's all-manual and requires precision and intense concentration to get anything worthwhile out of it. Because of this and the unbelievable lenses available for it, it's my favorite camera that you can buy today.
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