The photography industry is shifting to mirrorless cameras. In fact, 2020 was one of the biggest years for mirrorless systems despite the pandemic, with all of the major camera makers announcing significant, innovative mirrorless cameras.
While having so many options is great, determining which one to buy can be overwhelming. On small letter or number in the name of the camera can mean a huge difference in terms of cost and features, as is the case with the Sony A7 III vs Sony A7R III or the Canon R5 and the Canon R6.
There are a large number of options to choose from, but among professional photographers, mirrorless cameras have finally become the natural starting point of discussion. These cameras can generally do everything their older DSLR brothers can do, and then so much more including silent shooting which could be integral for wedding & event shooters who would have otherwise felt awkward and unwelcome capturing images in an otherwise silent room.
This post will focus on providing an overview of the top 5 mirrorless cameras for professionals and we’ll assume that most of the readers will already have an existing lineup of lenses to use with them. We’ll cover some cost-friendly options as well as more professional options, (aka larger price points), ensuring every photographer can find a camera that fits their specific needs.
What to Look for in a Good Mirrorless System
A good mirrorless system for professionals needs to have simple, intuitive, and hopefully touch-screen controls that allow you to quickly and easily access all of the new features available with the camera’s menus.
Making the jump to mirrorless often means an entire line of new lenses, which is a significant investment for most of us. New mirrorless systems have some fantastic adapters available to let you use the brand’s DSLR lenses on them as well as some more unique adapters that will allow brand x to mount on brand z!
One of the major attractions of investing in mirrorless is that it provides you with both high photo quality and video quality. The modern photographer wants to get the best of both images and videos.
One of the big barriers to entry with mirrorless systems for most professionals has been battery life. Traditionally mirrorless systems didn’t last as long on a single battery compared to their DSLR counterparts. With advances in this technology, while the mirrorless still may not last as long on a single charge as the DSLRs out there, they have made leaps and bounds in their longevity and will only continue to do so.
Canon EOS R5 Mirrorless Digital Camera
Canon set the bar rather high with the launch of the $3,899 EOS R5 Mirrorless System by putting nearly every feature you could think of into it including a 45MP full-frame sensor, IBIS, arguably one of the best Autofocus systems on the market, dual card slots, 8k video capture capability, a high-res EVF, all built in a system that’s familiar and comfortable for canon shooters to figure out quickly.
If you’re a still and video shooter that fills in nearly every gap between video and photography work. The image quality is incredible with a Dual Pixel AF system leveraged from the flagship Canon EOS-1DX, and it’s capable of shooting at 20fps with continuous Autofocus tracking! Imagine the sports/action/wildlife shots you can capture?!
The camera features built-in Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi communication and data transfer technologies. It comes standard as a base kit, but alternatives with an included lens can be selected too.
Fujifilm X-T4 Mirrorless Digital Camera
Expanding on the classic X-T line from Fuji, the X-T4 offers everything you ever wanted in an APS-C system and more. From 5 axis IBIS that can partner up with stabilization in the lenses, an improved battery, and a fully articulating LCD screen, the X-T4 is an absolute pleasure to use and offers a working professional every feature they’d need to shoot any situation. Available in the standard black as well as a silver design, and priced at just $1,699
The X-T4 can be purchased as a kit with a few options for lenses, but when paired with Fujis’s professional line of lenses the quality is hard to beat. It’s a versatile mirrorless system that blends advanced still photography along with impressive video capabilities using a proven 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor. With this hardware, the camera can shoot high res video supporting DCI/UHD 4k at 60FPS and full HD recording up to 240FPS.
Sony A7R IV
The A7R IV is another incredible entry from Sony that delivers on pretty much anything you can possibly look for in a mirrorless system. If you’re looking for a full-frame camera that delivers images that compete against medium format cameras, while also offering the advantages of the most diverse lineup of full-frame lenses on the market and incredibly reliable autofocus, then the A7R IV is the camera to get.
With a 61MP full-frame sensor, the $2,998 Sony stands alone as having the highest resolution of any full-frame camera on the market, add in-body stabilization, eye-detecting autofocus, 4k video recording, and a traditionally stellar low light performance, the A7R4 is definitely worth the investment.
The latest mirrorless from Nikon brings a 45.7MP full-frame sensor with 5-axis in-body stabilization, 10fps shooting, 4k UHD video, dual memory card slots, and is, (along with the z6ii) the first mirrorless system from Nikon that truly supports a vertical battery grip. All for just $2,996.
The Z7ii, (which we’re currently reviewing), is the new Flagship for Nikon with many incredible improvements from its 1st generation, all of which are very welcome including dual processors and the already mentioned dual memory card slots. When paired with the FTZ adapter allowing F mount lenses, or mounting the new S-Mount mirrorless lenses, the image quality is absolutely incredible.
Nikon’s new mirrorless systems, while lacking a full pivotable view screen, have some of the most popular ergonomics of all the mirrorless systems on the market and a 3.5x improved buffer capacity, while offering a very impressive battery life as well. The Nikon Z7ii is one of the best mirrorless cameras on the market for professionals.
Panasonic Lumix S1R
The last option on our list is the Panasonic Lumix S1R. This mirrorless system comes with a 47.3MP Full-Frame sensor, with a 9fps still frame shooting speed, and while most of the cameras on this list can all do video, the Panasonic leans heavily into its family of cameras making it one of the better systems for shooting high-end 4k video!
This hefty mirrorless system features dual memory card slots (that also support the latest CFExpress cards), capable of shooting 3K video at 60/50p, 5 axis in-body stabilization, and just feels ready for business once you get it in your hands. Especially with its multi-shot high-resolution mode that combines 8 images in a series of minute sensor shifts to produce an incredibly high-resolution 187MP image beyond the sensors native resolution! Making these files even larger than most medium/large-format cameras currently on the market!
These mirrorless cameras offer a wide variety of excellent systems for photographers and videographers alike. There are many options to choose from so be sure to remember that these systems will leverage not only the new “native” lenses designed for them, but the previous generation of DSLR lenses as well when paired with their relative lens mount adapters. This gives you a much wider array of options to choose from and leverage with your shooting!
Knowing what to look for is important, as not all mirrorless cameras may comply with a professional photographer’s needs, but this list has some of the best options available for the professional photographer looking to make the jump into mirrorless systems.