EletiofeThe 9 Best Mirrorless Cameras (2024): Full-Frame, APS-C, and...

The 9 Best Mirrorless Cameras (2024): Full-Frame, APS-C, and More

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Closeup view of a digital camera sensor

Full-Frame or APS-C?

Sensor Talk

Best for Most People

Sony A7 IV Camera

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Best on a Budget

Fujifilm X-T5 Mirrorless Camera

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Megapixel Madness

Sony A7RV

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You know what’s the least important part of taking a great photo? Gear. The vision you have and the work you put into realizing it are far more critical.

That’s not to say gear doesn’t matter, just that it’s best used in service of something larger. That’s why this guide doesn’t get too deep into the weeds of megapixel counts, sensor sizes, and pixel peeping. All these cameras are capable of producing amazing images. Which one is right for you depends more on your needs than on the size of the sensor.

Still, choosing the right one can be confusing. I’ve spent years testing dozens of cameras in all kinds of shooting scenarios to come up with what I think are the best choices for different types of photographers.

Be sure to check out our many other buying guides, like the Best Camera Bags, Best Action Cameras, Best GoPro Hero, and Best Instant Cameras.

Updated February 2024: We’ve added the Leica Q3, Sony A7C R, Nikon Zf, and updated links and prices throughout.

Special offer for Gear readers: Get a 1-year subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you’d like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.

  • Closeup view of a digital camera sensor

    Photograph: Jose A. Bernat Bacete/Getty Images

    Full-Frame or APS-C?

    Sensor Talk

    The internet has an obsession with sensors, megapixels, and zooming in on images to find their flaws. Here’s the thing: If sharpness is what you want, shoot the largest format you can. But know that great photographs don’t need to be razor-sharp from edge to edge. Few of them are.

    That said, most of the cameras here have “full-frame sensors” (except the Fujifilm models, which use the APS-C sensors). There is nothing magical about this size; it just happens to be the same size as 35-mm film. This means that any lens made for a film camera can (probably) be adapted to work with the camera and produce the same field of view.

    There are much smaller sensors—micro four-thirds, for example—that are capable of producing very sharp images. Future versions of this guide may include some micro four-thirds cameras, but for now, to keep things simple, I’ve limited testing to APS-C and larger sensors.

  • Photograph: Sony

    Best for Most People

    Sony A7 IV Camera

    Sony’s A7 IV (9/10, WIRED Recommends) is a 33-megapixel, full-frame camera capable of incredibly sharp images, with excellent dynamic range and the best autofocus system on the market. It’s compact and light enough to carry all day without back strain, and the grip is comfortable. The five-axis image stabilization means you can hand-hold it in lower light, and the wide range of 4K video options make it the best all-around video-and-stills combo on this page. There are better still cameras (see the Sony A7RIV below) and better video cameras, but nothing else combines the two quite as well.

    What I don’t like about it, or any other Sony, is the labyrinthine menu system. Luckily there are enough customizable buttons that it’s not too difficult to set things up so you never need to dive into the menus.

    Specs: 33-megapixel full-frame sensor, 10 frames per second (fps), 7K oversampled 4K/30 fps video, SD and Express cards

    ★ Alternative: If you don’t need the new autofocus features, the A7III remains a solid choice, and it’s frequently on sale for under $1,800.

  • Photograph: Fujifilm

    Best on a Budget

    Fujifilm X-T5 Mirrorless Camera

    The Fujifilm X-T5 (9/10, WIRED Recommends) is the best camera I’ve tested this year. Fujifilm uses APS-C sensors, which are smaller than the full-frame sensors in the rest of the cameras in this guide, but with the 40-megapixel sensor in the new X-T5 you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference. Images from the X-T5 are sharp, wonderfully detailed, and don’t suffer too much noise. This sensor also manages to retain that uniquely Fujifilm look.

    The X-T5 is more focused on the shooter of stills, while the updated X-H2 ($2,299 with XF16-80mm Lens Kit) is the best option for those more interested in video. The camera body’s design is reminiscent of film cameras, and perhaps the best thing about it is how seldom you need to use digital controls. ISO, shutter speed, exposure compensation, and shooting modes are all accessible via physical dials. Plus, Fujifilm’s excellent line of lenses is surprisingly affordable relative to some of the others on the list, making this one of the least expensive systems to invest in. My only real gripe is the grip; it’s on the small side for a body of this size.

    Specs: 40-megapixel XTrans APS-C sensor, 15 fps with full AF, 4K/60 fps video, dual SD cards

    ★ Alternatives: The Fujifilm X-T4 ($1,700) remains a solid choice, especially if you want a fully articulated rear screen, which is helpful when shooting video of yourself. Also, the X-H2 has a rotating screen, which the X-T5 lacks.

  • Photograph: Sony

    Megapixel Madness

    Sony A7RV

    The new A7RV uses the same 61-megapixel full-frame sensor as its predecessor, which remains largely unmatched (unless you opt for medium-format cameras). If that’s not enough, there’s a 16-shot, high-resolution mode that can create 240-MP images (so long as your subject is static, e.g., a landscape). The dynamic range is outstanding, and the ability to recover detail in the shadows is something you’ll only believe once you do it yourself.

    The primary improvements over the previous model are increased autofocus speed and intelligence, a huge new viewfinder and, although this might sound strange, an option for smaller RAW files. Fully uncompressed RAW files from this sensor run around 125 megabytes per image. There are now options to shoot large, medium or small lossless compressed RAW files. I haven’t tested this model, but I will update this guide after I do.

    Specs: 61-megapixel full-frame sensor, 10 fps with full AF (12 bit RAM, 6 fps for 14-bit RAW), 8K/24 fps video, dual SD/CF cards

  • Photograph: Nikon

    Best for Nikon Fans

    Nikon Z6 II

    The Nikon Z6 II is Nikon’s answer to the Sony A7III, and it is a good answer for dedicated Nikon shooters. The 24-megapixel full-frame sensor has excellent dynamic range, and the phase-detect autofocus system is one of the best I’ve used. Video quality is also excellent, with 10-bit 4:2:2 N-Log output possible over HDMI. The Nikon Z6 II is also the most comfortable camera to hold on this list. Although this will depend somewhat on the size of your hands, the grip is larger and more generously spaced than on the Sony or Fujifilm cameras.

    The Z-series lens system is intriguing for its wider base mount, which allows more light to the corners of the sensors. The benefits of this can be seen in the incredibly fast 58-mm f/0.95 lens (manual focus) and the surprisingly small 50-mm f/1.2. If you’ve got a lot of legacy Nikon glass you want to keep using, there’s an F-to-Z mount adapter available for $250.

    Specs: 24-megapixel full-frame sensor, 12 fps with full AF, 4K/30 fps video, XQD/CFexpress (Type B), and SD card slot

    ★ Alternatives: For more resolution, there’s the Z7 II, which is very nearly identical to the Z6 II except it has a 42-megapixel sensor and it’s more expensive. The Nikon Z5, on the other hand, is one of the cheapest full-frame cameras. Often on sale for around $1,100, the Z5 is a stripped-down Z6. The sensor is the same, but you lose much of the video features of the Z6.

  • Photograph: Scott Gilbertson

    Best for Classic Camera Vibes

    Nikon Zf Mirrorless Camera

    The Nikon Zf (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is the camera I would buy if I were in the market for a new camera. I grew up in the film era, and I am still more comfortable turning dials and knobs than I am using touchscreens. The Nikon Zf offers just that. Every setting you need to make an image is accessible on a dial or knob: ISO, aperture, shutter speed, and exposure compensation. There’s also a switch to change shooting modes and another to change to black-and-white mode or video mode.

    The Zf looks like a 1980s film camera, but the 24-megapixel sensor and speedy autofocus system is decidedly modern and every bit as good as our other Nikon pick above (faster at autofocus thanks to its updated processor). There’s no beefy grip to hold onto (though you can buy one), and I hate that Nikon doesn’t give you a battery charger, but otherwise the Nikon Zf is a fantastic camera. I suggest the version with the 40-mm lens, which pairs well with this body.

    Specs: 24-megapixel full-frame sensor, 13 fps, 4K/60 fps video (cropped for 60 fps).

  • Photograph: Canon

    Best for Canon Fans

    Canon EOS-R

    The Canon EOS R is a mirrorless option for people who loved their DSLRs. It’s a hefty beast, with a solid feel that reminds me of what I used to love about film cameras. Even the on-off switch is made of metal. The sensor is typically Canon, which is to say sharp, with good contrast and the characteristic Canon color rendering (it’s slightly warmer in tone than some of the others here). The phase-detect autofocus is fast and accurate. One thing to note: The rumor mills suggest that the R might be getting an update in 2023.

    One thing I really like is that when you change lenses there’s a cover that swings out to protect the sensor from dust. (The exception is if you have an adapter and you remove the lens but not the adapter.) Every camera on this list would benefit from adopting this feature. The R-Mount lens system uses a very wide base diameter, like the Nikon system, and achieves similar results—there are fast R lenses around. The better news for those already invested in Canon glass is that there’s a $99 adapter that will let you affix just about any older Canon lens to the R.

    Specs: 30-megapixel full-frame sensor, 8 fps with autofocus, 4K/30 fps video, dual SD card slots

    ★ Alternatives: Canon has gone all-in on mirrorless in the past couple of years, with everything from this budget R model to the massive (and massively expensive) R5 ($3,500). They’re all nice, especially if you have a lot of those sweet legacy Canon lenses.

  • Photograph: Leica Camera AG

    A Luxe Fixed-Lens Option

    Leica Q3

    Leica’s Q3 (9/10, WIRED Recommends) packs a 60-megapixel sensor and Maestro IV processor, which it uses to produce some truly wonderful images. True to Leica’s reputation, shooting with the Q3 is a wonderful, simple experience that helps you focus on what you’re doing, not the camera.

    The autofocus on this model is better than on the Q2, but it’s still not a sports camera by any means. The fixed 28-mm lens is great in both manual and auto focus modes. I never used to be a fan of 28-mm lenses, but lately they’ve grown on me and become my go-to for many situations. The Q3 also has a bright, sharp viewfinder. It’s not the camera for everyone, but for a certain kind of photographer the Q3 is an absolutely perfect fit.

    Specs: 60-megapixel full-frame sensor, fixed 28-mm lens, 8K/30p video.

  • Photograph: Panasonic

    Best for Video

    Panasonic Lumix DC-S5

    Panasonic’s S5 is a compact, full-frame mirrorless with a very sharp 24-megapixel sensor. The S5 mostly holds its own against the rest of these full-frame cameras in still image quality, but what really sets it apart is the extra video features you won’t find elsewhere. Support for V-Log recording, anamorphic 4K support, and uncropped 4K at 30 frames per second top the list. The result is a camera that’s perfect for hybrid video and stills shooters.

    The one place this camera struggles is autofocus, especially when shooting video. That’s where the new S5II should be a significant step up. It features a new chip with onboard phase detection and, from early reports, appears to bring the S5’s autofocus up to snuff. Unfortunately it’s also significantly more expensive at $2,300. We haven’t had a chance to test this one, but if you can afford it, on paper it’s well worth the upgrade.

    Both S5s use the L-mount lens system, an effort to do for full-frame what Panasonic did for micro four-thirds: create a unified lens mount standard. Leica is the driving force behind the L-mount, but Panasonic and Sigma also have plenty of glass in L-mount. That means there’s no shortage of lenses for the S5. If your primary use case is video, be sure to check out our guide to the gear and tips you need to make studio-grade home videos.

    Specs: 24-megapixel full-frame sensor (no AA filter), 5 fps with autofocus, 4K/30 fps video, dual SD card slots

  • Photograph: Sony

    Best for Travelers

    Sony A7C R

    If you want the smallest body you can get but still want a full-frame sensor, the Sony A7C R (7/10, WIRED Recommends) offers the most bang for your buck. It’s plenty small and light, even with a lens. The 61-MP sensor offers amazing detail and very good dynamic range. Throw in some best-in-class autofocus with great subject tracking, and you have a camera that can handle just about anything. It’s expensive, but if you can afford it, this is a great camera.

    Specs: 61-megapixel full-frame sensor, 8 fps , 4K/60p with a roughly 1.2X crop, single SD card slot.

    ★ Alternatives: There are regrettably few travel-friendly full-frame cameras, but the Fujifilm X100V (9/10, WIRED Recommends) is a wonderful travel cam with a great 26-megapixel APS-C sensor. It’s a few years old, but it’s still one of our favorite cameras, especially for travel and street photography. Unlike the other cameras in this guide, the X100V has a fixed 23-mm lens (35-mm equivalent in full-frame). The X100V is a joy to use and produces wonderful images. The main problem is that a TikTok-inspired obsession with this camera has driven the price up to insanity levels. Don’t pay more than $1,400 for this one.

  • Photograph: Wotancraft

    Buying Advice

    Mirrorless Camera Tips

    There is no such thing as the perfect camera. Each has its own limitations, and part of the magic of photography is learning how to get around them. What you want to find is the camera best suited to the type of photos you like to take.

    If you want to shoot wildlife, you need good in-body stabilization. If you’re a street photographer shooting from the hip, stabilization isn’t as important, but an extending viewfinder screen becomes paramount. If you’re a landscape photographer who always uses a tripod, you probably don’t need either of those things, but you might need a sensor capable of sharp, wall-size prints.

    Once you’ve figured out the best camera for your needs, buy a lens to go with it and start shooting every day. Read the manual for your camera and learn what it can and cannot do, and then use it over and over until it is an effortless extension of your mind. Once you have the comfort level, the gear fades into the background where it belongs, and you can focus on making the images you’ve always dreamed of creating.

    Oh, and hey, you may want to pick up a camera bag, sling, cube, or other accessories for your new system. We have just the guide to help.

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