Interest in mirrorless cameras is at an all time high; photographers from all walks of life are becoming enlightened to the benefits of mirrorless systems. Maybe you are one of those individuals who are now looking more closely at mirrorless. Which cameras should you focus your research on?
Top 5 Mirrorless Cameras On The Market In Early 2015
Today, we are going to go through the top 5 mirrorless cameras on the market. The list is in no specific order, because let’s face it, when you cut an entire market segment down to 5, it’s hard to split hairs. Also worth noting, in this list, we are keeping the options to Interchangeable Lens Cameras and cameras currently available & shipping.
I am going to start off the list with the mirrorless camera that I am most accustomed to (due to owning one), the Fujifilm X-T1. Styled like an SLR, the X-T1 is currently the best option in the Fujifilm lineup for someone looking to ditch their DSLR in favor of a mirrorless camera.
The Fuji X-T1 has access to Fuji’s stunning range of lenses, is completely weather sealed, and utilizes Fuji’s unique X-Trans sensor technology which really sets it apart from any other option on this list. It is also pretty affordable, coming in at just under $1200 currently.
As with many mirrorless cameras, the X-T1 does struggle with battery life (this will be a theme you see throughout this list), but I have found that with the addition of the battery grip, the camera not only does fine with power, but is also much nicer to hold.
If you don’t mind the APS-C sensor, or the (by today’s standards) relatively low resolution, the Fuji X-T1 is definitely my personal pick as a mirrorless option for anyone looking into mirrorless to start with.
Sony A7 MKII
It’s hard to believe that there is already a Mk II of anything in Sony’s A7 line, but as you no doubt know, Sony’s second generation of the A7 full frame mirrorless cameras is the A7 Mark II.
There are two things that really set this camera apart from the other mirrorless options on this list; the most obvious being its full frame sensor. The A7 series is still the only full frame mirrorless offering on the market, so if you are set on ‘needing’ a full frame sensor, the A7 Mark II (or one of its fellow A7 brethren) is your only option.
The second item that sets it apart is its stabilization technology. The A7 Mark II utilizes an impressive new IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization) system that moves the sensor to adjust for your movements. This means that ANY lens you put on this camera can be stabilized, a feature that I am incredibly jealous of, being someone who loves to use vintage lenses on my X-T1. The ability to get image stabilization on my Canon FD 50mm F/1.4 from the 80’s would be amazing.
The downside to the stabilization and the larger sensor is that the battery life on these A7 cameras is even more of an issue than many of these other mirrorless cameras. It is not bad by any means, but it is something to be aware of. If you are buying mirrorless, then you really need to stock up and carry 2-3 extra batteries at all times.
Coming in at around $1700 currently, the A7 Mark II is still one of the most affordable full frame cameras on the market.
If you are into shooting video, there is no doubt that the only camera that should be on your list today is the Panasonic GH4. This camera boasts some of the best video functions of any mirrorless ILC on the market, boasting 4K shooting and an accurate auto focus.
The downside to the GH4, when compared to the two options that I have already mentioned, is the sensor size. The GH4, and the other GH cameras for that matter, all feature a mirco 4/3rds sensor, which has a x2 crop factor when compared to a full frame sensor. This means if you want to adapt your 50mm F/1.4 canon lens to your GH4, you are actually shooting with a field of view closer to 100mm. Getting wide shots is difficult and expensive on M 4/3 system cameras, so that is something to think about.
If you are a obsessed with out of focus areas, or shallow depth of field, then this may not be a great option for you either. Some people complain about the difference in depth of field from APS-C to Full Frame, and it is even worse when you are talking M 4/3 to full frame.
That said, the GH4 is still one of the best options of this list for both stills and video. It is just worth noting that if you are coming from a full frame, or even APS-C, mindset, you may be in for a wake up call. Currently available for just under $1500, it’s bordering on expensive, but is still a great option for those interested.
This is the new kid on the mirrorless block. Boasting a unique backside illuminated APS-C sensor, the NX1 has some of the most impressive features on the mirrorless market. It is also, in my opinion, probably one of the best options for someone looking to ditch their DSLR.
The size, shape, and weight of this camera make it a great “in-between” camera. It’s not as big and heavy as a full frame DSLR, but it is also bigger than most mirrorless cameras. So it is a great blend; you get the benefits of mirrorless, in a size that most DSLR users can easily adjust to.
Its image quality is stunning, and its high ISO performance is great for an APS-C sensor. It even shoots 4K video, like the GH4. The downside to the NX1 is its limited selection of lenses and adaptable lenses. Being so new, the Samsung lens lineup is rather small, and adapter manufacturers have not started many producing good vintage lenses to NX mount adapters yet. So, if you do look into this system, make sure to check on the lens selection and make sure that it is something you can live with for your current needs.
Olympus OMD E-M1
The last, but certainly not least, option in our top 5 listing: the Olympus OMD E-M1. This is the top of the line option currently available from Olympus right now. It features a Mirco 4/3rds sensor, similar to that of the Panasonic GH4. It also features IBIS similar to the A7 Mark II.
Olympus has a long history going back to the film days as some of the best cameras around, and the same can be said today. The OMD E-M1 is probably my top pick for the mirrorless camera with a Micro Four Thirds sensor with a focus on still images (if you are into video, the GH4 is a way better option).
[REWIND: OLYMPUS OMD E-M1 REVIEW]
The image quality is great, the stabilization is wonderful, and the Olympus lens lineup is superb. If a Micro Four Thirds sized sensor does not scare you away, this is an option that you should seriously look into. Coming in at $1,399, it’s not going to break the bank either.
There you have it, the top 5 mirrorless options as we currently see it in early 2015. There is already one option that may make its way onto this list later in the year and that’s the new Olympus OMD E-M5 Mark II.
Mirrorless is growing in popularity for many reasons, and if you are looking at what these mirrorless cameras are doing sitting on your high DSLR perch, I highly recommend that you at least research these options when you next look to upgrade your system. Many of these cameras would make a great backup to your big DSLR, offering nearly identical image quality (in many respects) at a fraction of the size and weight.
Mirrorless is the future, why not jump of the bandwagon before it gets crowded?