Sony Alpha camera on wood table
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What to Look for in a Mirrorless Camera in 2022

When they were first introduced, mirrorless cameras had their share of drawbacks. Newer models, however, have worked out the kinks.

The innovations made to mirrorless cameras in the last few years have become their main draw. These cameras have now got advanced autofocusing systems with elements like eye autofocus that help get tack-sharp portraits and fast action stills.

Mirrorless cameras can also shoot at higher burst shooting rates than a conventional DSLR because they don’t have a mirror to flip out of the way with each shot.

Battery life for mirrorless cameras has also advanced. Early generations lasted about 300-400 images on a single battery, while DSLRs routinely get close to 1,000 still images per charge.

But today’s mirrorless models have done a good job of catching up—while cheaper mirrorless cameras will still only last about 400 shots, modern higher-end and professional mirrorless SLRs will get around 700-1000 shots per charge.

Mirrorless cameras also pack higher resolution sensors into a smaller, more compact package than a traditional DSLR (though with the addition of a lens that difference can narrow). As with DSLRs, you can now find a relatively affordable full-frame, crop sensor, and medium format options.

Whether you’re buying your first SLR camera or you’re a pro thinking about an upgrade from your DSLR, odds are you’ll find a mirrorless camera that works for you.

Best Mirrorless Camera Overall: Sony A1

Sony alpha 1 on green and blue background
Sony

Pros

  • High resolution sensor
  • Super fast burst rate
  • Pro level video capability with 4K and 8K options
  • Lots of eye autofocus options

Cons

  • One of the most expensive cameras on the market right now

An immense 50 megapixels of power combined with a burst rate of up to 30 frames per second give the Sony A1 some serious power. Hands-on reviews show you can shoot at that frame rate for about five seconds, getting about 150 images, before the buffer kicks in and you have to wait while the camera writes the images to its memory card. Even when the buffer activates, it’s cleared in about a second.

You get two memory card slots with this camera, good for people who like to back up their images. The camera takes CFexpress cards or SD cards, but CFexpress cards will let you write images more quickly.

In addition to the human eye autofocus, the A1 has animal and bird eye autofocus performance modes. It also shoots 8K video and can shoot 4K video in slow motion. Live tracking autofocus is very fast and accurate, with autofocus points covering 92% of the frame you see.

The dynamic range is also impressive because of all the data you get from the 50-megapixel sensor, so recovery of shadows and highlights from RAW files is easy.

From sports and wildlife to the racetrack, this camera can handle anything you throw at it, and it’ll do it well. The catch is that you have to pay a hefty price for all that power—the A1 currently retails for around $6,500 for just the camera body. Add lenses and it goes over $8K.

With that in mind, if you’re looking for stellar pro-level performance but can’t drop that kind of cash, the Canon R5 and Nikon Z7ii are both excellent alternatives that cost less.

Best Mirrorless Camera Overall

Sony A1

A highly capable professional mirrorless camera that can handle anything you throw at it.

Best Budget Mirrorless Camera: Canon EOS RP

Canon EOS RP on pink background
Canon

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Good stills and video for this price range
  • Variable angle screen
  • Low-cost entry into mirrorless

Cons

  • Not as feature-packed as more premium cameras
  • No in-body image stabilization

If you’re looking for your first camera or to try out mirrorless before you switch, the Canon EOS RP is a solid choice. At around $1,300 brand new for the camera body and a kit lens, this is the cheapest mirrorless camera you’ll find on the market today. Better yet, it doesn’t sacrifice much in quality to reach that price point.

The RP shoots a perfectly respectable 26.2 megapixels, on par with more expensive mirrorless cameras. It also shoots 4K video, with a variable angle screen for self-portraits or vlog-style video recording.

The EOS RP display works as a touch screen so you can touch and drag your focus point in live view. Plus, this camera is compatible with Canon’s RF mirrorless lens lineup which has some truly excellent options.

For a demonstration of the RP’s video quality, check out Peter McKinnon’s side-by-side comparison with the slightly more high-end EOS R. Looking at the clips, it’s nearly impossible to tell which is which.

That said, there are some sacrifices Canon made to reach this price point. You won’t find the top LCD display that Canon includes with others in the R lineup on this camera. It also doesn’t have in-body image stabilization (though there are lenses you can use with it that do).

Overall, this camera’s video and stills capability make it great for anyone who wants to get into mirrorless on a budget or is looking to learn the ropes of hybrid stills and video shooting.

Best Budget Mirrorless Camera

Canon EOS RP

An affordable but high-quality full frame mirrorless camera that shoots great stills and video.

Best Mirrorless Camera for Beginners: Nikon Z6

Nikon Z6 on purple background
Nikon

Pros

  • Many of the capabilities of the Z6ii for less
  • Records 4K video without cropping the image
  • In-body image stabilization
  • Good lineup of lenses to choose from, if limited for now

Cons

  • Slightly outdated compared to other mirrorless models
  • Can have mic issues when recording video

Nikon’s Z lineup has shown it can compete in the mirrorless world, and the Z6 is a relatively affordable way to check it out. They’ve since released the Z6II, which means you can get a deal on the first generation while still having access to Nikon’s quality mirrorless lenses.

So if you’re looking for a hybrid stills and video shooter that’s premium but won’t break the bank, you’ll want to give the Z6 a try. The recent firmware update Nikon released corrected a lot of the issues that this camera had at launch so it operates more like its newer sibling with a smaller price tag.

Nikon’s system is easy to learn, and if you’ve got lenses for a Nikon DSLR, the FTZ adapter will let you use them with this body. You’re also getting the same rugged body Nikon DSLRs are known for here. The 24.5-megapixel sensor will do just fine for portrait and event work, and its 12 frames-per-second burst rate can even catch some decent action shots.

It also has in-body image stabilization to help reduce shake and perform better in low-light shooting situations. 4K video and 1080p slow-motion recording make it a solid option for videographers as well.

The Z6 does have some drawbacks, however. It won’t have as many features as the Z6II or Z7II, and while it works very well for recording video, external mics can have some hiss when recording audio. The autofocus isn’t as good as more premium cameras, either, but it will definitely do for a beginner mirrorless camera.

You can check out YouTuber and photographer Taylor Jackson’s review with the latest firmware for a more in-depth look at this camera’s capabilities.

Best Mirrorless Camera for Beginners

Nikon Z6

An easy-to-use and capable full frame mirrorless camera for beginners and pros alike.

Best Mirrorless Camera for Video: Sony A7SIII

Sony Alpha 7S III on grey background
Sony

Pros

  • Great low-light performance
  • Shoots in pro video codecs
  • Lightweight design
  • Good ergonomics

Cons

  • Higher price tag
  • Not the best hybrid shooter out there
  • Not for people just starting out in video

Sony has developed a reputation for being great with video, and the A7SIII holds up to that. Built specifically for video, this camera has a 12-megapixel sensor that works especially well in low-light conditions that other cameras might find challenging.

The A7SIII camera also packs a lot of power and video features into a body just as lightweight as other mirrorless cameras. It can shoot 4K ultra HD footage and borrows enhanced ergonomics from its siblings the A7RIV and A9.

In-body image stabilization helps cut camera shake for smooth footage, and you can pair this camera with an impressive range of both brand-name and third-party lenses to meet a variety of cinematic shooting needs.

Another plus for the A7SIII is that it doesn’t force you to use CFexpress cards. You can, but Sony’s camera also takes SD cards and has two slots for backing up your footage. Its rear display is fully articulating, so you can swing it out for self-filming, and there are plenty of attachments to expand the camera’s capabilities further through attaching external monitors and other equipment.

A caveat for this camera—this is very much designed for video shooters. If you’re looking for a true hybrid camera for stills and video, you’ll be able to get something better for a lower price point than the A7Siii’s $3,500, such as theΒ A7IIIΒ or the just-released Sony A7IV.

Best Mirrorless Camera for Video

Sony A7Siii

A video-centric full frame mirrorless camera that produces gorgeous footage, even in low light.

Best Mirrorless Camera for Travel: Fujifilm X-T4

Fujifilm X-T4 on green background
Fujifilm

Pros

  • Stills that hold up against full-frame cameras
  • 4K video
  • Articulating screen
  • Compact, retro design
  • Longer battery life than previous XT models

Cons

  • Image quality not quite as good as full frame

Fuji’s X-T4 improves on the already outstanding quality of its predecessors and does so in a small package that’s perfect for travel. With in-body image stabilization and a shooting speed of up to 20 frames per second, you aren’t trading away power for portability, either.

This camera is an APS-C camera, meaning its image sensor is smaller than a full-frame camera’s 35mm equivalent sensor. Even so, it still holds its own against full-frame mirrorless cameras at the same price point.

The XT-4 shoots 26 megapixels and can record 4K video. Like Canon and Nikon, Fuji cameras have fantastic lenses that you can pair with this camera to get stellar images while traveling around. The compact build of the XT-4 makes it a favorite of many street photographers, and the retro design aesthetic just makes it fun to use.

You also get 12 film simulations you can use in-camera to get an interesting, vintage look to those shots of cobblestoned streets and cafes. The fully articulating rear screen is great for vlogging or self-portraits. It’s not the most powerful camera out there, but if you’re looking for a quality camera that’s easy to pick up and shoot with while you’re on the go, you’d be hard-pressed to find something better.

For a deep-dive review after a year of using this camera, check out this video from the YouTube channel The Hybrid Shooter.

Best Mirrorless Camera for Travel

Fuji X-T4

A compact mirrorless camera that doesn't sacrifice power to cut size.

The Best DSLR Cameras of 2022

Best DSLR Camera Overall
Nikon D850
Best Budget DSLR Camera
Canon 6D MKII
Best Beginner DSLR
Nikon D3500
Best DSLR Camera for Video
Nikon D780
Best DSLR Camera for Travel
Canon 6D MKII
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John is a freelance writer and photographer based in Houston, Texas. His ten-year background spans topics from tech to culture and includes work for the Seattle Times, the Houston Press, Medium's OneZero, WebMD, and MailChimp.Β Before moving to The Bayou City, John earned a B.A. in Journalism from CSU Long Beach.
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