Mirrorless Camera Buying Guide

What are the best picks for 2024?

Photography is ever-evolving, and mirrorless cameras are steadily gaining ground among both pros and passionate enthusiasts. And big names like Nikon, Canon, Sony, and Fujifilm are consistently unveiling advanced mirrorless models.

With so many to pick from, knowing how mirrorless cameras work and how they measure up against DSLRs is key to making a smart decision.

Whether you're considering making the switch from DSLR or simply curious about the buzz, we'll break down what a mirrorless camera is, how it works and highlight the benefits. We'll also offer the best mirrorless camera recommendations for 2023 with help from our Product Specialist Lizzie James at Jessops.


What is a mirrorless camera?

What is the difference between mirrorless and DSLR cameras?

What are the benefits of using a mirrorless camera?

Recommended mirrorless cameras

Best budget-friendly mirrorless camera

Best mirrorless camera for beginners

Best mirrorless camera for video

Best mirrorless camera for sports, wildlife or action photography

Best mirrorless camera for landscape photography

Best mirrorless camera for street photography

Best mirrorless camera for low-light

Best mirrorless camera for lens options

What is a mirrorless camera?

A mirrorless camera is a type of digital camera that works without a mirror (as you may have guessed!). 

Instead of using a mirror to bounce the image into your viewfinder, it sends it straight to a digital screen. This allows you to change your settings and see the preview image before you take your shot. 

Many mirrorless cameras come with features like silent shooting, enhanced autofocus capabilities, and faster burst speeds, making them an excellent choice for both beginners and professional photographers.

What is the difference between mirrorless and DSLR cameras?

A digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera works by reflecting the light entering the lens into the optical viewfinder, so you can see what the lens is capturing, even with the camera turned off. 

In a mirrorless camera, there's no mirror to reflect the light into an optical viewfinder. Instead, the light passes directly through the lens to a digital image sensor, which then displays the image on a digital screen.

With the sensor turned 90° and the mirror removed, a mirrorless camera is able to be far lighter and slimmer than its DSLR counterpart. But this design approach has other advantages, too.

What are the benefits of using a mirrorless camera?

See the image change in real-time

The electronic viewfinder (EVF) on your mirrorless camera displays an image based on what the camera sees. This means that as you change the shutter speed or aperture, you can see in real-time how it will affect your shot.

This has other advantages, too. If you're shooting in low lighting, you can turn up the brightness in your settings to better see your subject on the digital screen. And if you want to shoot in black and white, you can make the viewfinder show your scene in monochrome without any distracting colours. The great thing about the EVF is that you know what you'll get before you press the shutter. 

Silent shooting

Thanks to fewer moving parts, a mirrorless camera can shoot completely silently. This means that if you’re shooting wildlife, you don’t have to worry about the sound of the mirror flicking up and scaring your subject. And if you like to shoot street images, you can do so without drawing attention to yourself.

Augmented reality

Another benefit of viewing your shot on a digital screen rather than a traditional viewfinder is the augmented reality feature. This allows you to have extra information laid over the top of what you're seeing, like grid lines to line up your shot, a live histogram to check exposure, or highlights to show what's in focus. 

Even more impressive, you can overlay the frames of a multiple exposure shot, so each time you press the shutter, that frame is added to the view you're seeing through the EVF. This helps you see how the different frames are coming together and gives you a preview of what the final combined image will look like.

Improved autofocus (manual focusing is easier, too)

Autofocus points are specific spots in the camera's viewfinder that it can use to focus on a subject. And, since there's no mirror in the way, mirrorless cameras offer many more focus points than a DSLR, running closer to the edges of the digital screen. 

And this makes tracking easier, too. With more focus points, your camera can follow moving people or animals, keeping them in sharp focus. Even if your subject is briefly obscured (for example, if it walks behind a tree), the camera's focus system is smart enough to predict where it will reappear, maintaining focus. This gives you a clearer shot of fast-moving subjects, capturing the action without a blur.

Manual focusing is also easier. To check you've got it spot on, you can increase the magnification in the EVF and zoom right into your scene, guaranteeing pin-sharp focusing exactly where you want it. 

Faster burst speeds

Mirrorless cameras excel at taking a rapid sequence of shots, known as "burst mode." Since there's no physical mirror flipping up and down, continuous shooting speeds are faster than anything you'll get with a DSLR. This is especially useful when you're trying to capture fast-moving subjects like sports players, birds in flight, or energetic children. 

Some mirrorless cameras, like the Panasonic Lumix S5, can fire off shots at 30 frames per second (fps) with continuous burst shooting.

Lightweight and compact design

Mirrorless cameras lack the mirror box and optical viewfinder that give DSLRs their size. This makes them sleeker and lighter — super handy for on-the-go shots. Whether you're travelling, hiking, or just on a casual day out, carrying a mirrorless camera is less of a hassle, giving you the freedom to capture high-quality images without the bulk. Plus, with the reduced weight, you can focus more on your shot and less on the strain on your arms!

Video capabilities 

Mirrorless cameras have swiftly become the top pick for videographers, boasting features that outclass many DSLRs. The absence of a mirror mechanism means faster readout speeds, paving the way for high-resolution video, like 4K and even 8K in some newer models like the Sony a7R V. This translates to smoother and crisper footage.

On top of that, they benefit from enhanced autofocus systems designed specifically for video. With on-sensor phase detection, these cameras promise faster and pinpoint-accurate focus tracking, ensuring sharpness during camera movements.

Their compactness is also great for videographers on the move, making them easy to rig for filming or vlogging.

Recommended mirrorless cameras

Best budget-friendly mirrorless camera: Canon EOS R100

"This camera offers a huge step-up in quality, control, and handling compared to a smartphone," says Lizzie. "It delivers beautifully detailed 24-megapixel photos and full HD 1080p video from a compact body that's really simple to use."

"This is a great choice for photography enthusiasts looking for a mirrorless camera that isn't going to break the bank!"

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Best mirrorless camera for beginners: Sony a6100

Lizzie says, "The a6100 excels with its rapid autofocus capabilities and consistent subject tracking, managing the technicalities of photography. This allows you to focus on the creative elements of your shots, making it an excellent choice for beginners eager to improve their photography skills."

Plus, you can quickly showcase your work online with the One-touch sharing feature that allows you to transfer your photos and videos to your phone.

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Best mirrorless camera for video: Sony ZV-E1

"This Sony camera has a full frame 12.2-megapixel sensor that's capable of 4K recording, ensuring the best quality in your videos," says Lizzie. 

"It also has a 3-capsule intelligent microphone that can pick up clear audio outdoors, where wind and environmental noise can sometimes be an issue."

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Best mirrorless camera for sports, wildlife or action photography: Canon EOS R7

If you're looking to snap fast and unpredictable moments in sports, wildlife, or action scenes, you'll need a camera with fast autofocus tracking and plenty of frames per second in burst mode. This way, you can ensure you won't miss a moment.

"The Canon EOS R7, with a 32.5-megapixel APS-C sensor, up to 30fps continuous burst shooting and fast autofocus, would be a great choice for wildlife enthusiasts," explains Lizzie. 

"Thanks to the large resolution, you can also crop and frame your image post-production without worrying about loss of image quality.

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Best mirrorless camera for landscape photography: Nikon Z 5

With landscapes, you have the luxury of making the most of a stationary subject and capturing all the beautiful details you want. A camera with high resolution is, therefore, your best bet.

"This Nikon camera offers high-quality resolution with its 24.3-megapixel full-frame sensor inside a fully weather-sealed body — perfect for shooting outdoors," says Lizzie.

"It's also a great choice for landscape photographers looking to keep their kit bag lightweight."

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Best mirrorless camera for street photography: Fujifilm X-T30 II

As they're small and unobtrusive, mirrorless cameras are a great choice for street photography, where you don't want to be noticed clicking away at your shutter.

"Fujifilm cameras are known for having a compact and lightweight body, and therefore, they suit themselves well to street photography," says Lizzie. "They also have 18 Film Simulation modes to choose from, so you can really get creative."

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Best mirrorless camera for low-light: Sony a6700

Night owl? Reckon you'll be doing a lot of your photography after the world has gone to bed? Then you'll be wanting a mirrorless camera that handles well in low light. 

"Equipped with a 26-megapixel sensor and an expansive ISO range, the Sony a6700 excels in low-light conditions, capturing images with clarity and detail," says Lizzie.

"The AI-driven autofocus and 4K video recording features also make it a great option for hybrid shooters who demand top-tier performance in both stills and motion."

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Best mirrorless camera for lens options: Sony a7 III

One of the scariest things about buying a new mirrorless camera or DSLR is the prospect of committing yourself to a system. What if a beautiful lens comes out that isn't easily compatible with your camera?

Given the financial commitment involved, it's understandable to want to play it safe. 

If you want reassurance that you'll have as many lenses as possible, Lizzie recommends the Sony a7 III: "It has a vast eco-system of native lenses and accessories to choose from, catering to all your shooting needs."

"It's also an excellent all-rounder when it comes to both stills and video, offering you a 24-megapixel resolution, 4K video recording, fast autofocus and 10fps continuous shooting."

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Discover mirrorless cameras at Jessops

At Jessops, we have a wide range of mirrorless cameras from leading brands like Sony, Canon and Nikon

If you're new to photography, check out our beginner's guide to choosing the best digital camera, or if you're looking for more advice and inspiration, discover our blog. If you have any questions or you're unsure about which product is right for you, contact us today.

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