These mid-price mirrorless compact system cameras blend power, potential and value
You can rely on techradar to bring you all the latest camera reviews and news, but we’ll also help you choose the right camera with our specially-themed buying guides – and this one is aimed enthusiasts studying the mirrorless (compact system camera) market
Many mirrorless compact system cameras are sold as up-market upgrades for people who want better quality or better features than they get from their compact digital cameras. There are certainly plenty of mirrorless compact system cameras for beginners to choose from, but photo enthusiasts will be looking for more control, more features and – crucially – an electronic viewfinder. This is something you don’t get on entry-level models.
So we’ve picked out our top 5 mirrorless compact system cameras for enthusiasts, choosing models that offer the kind of features you’d expect from a good DSLR, but at a price the average hobbyist can afford.
1. Fuji X-T10
The smaller and (much) cheaper version of Fuji’s legendary X-T1
Sensor size: APS-C | Megapixels: 16.3MP | Viewfinder: EVF | Monitor: 3-inch tilting, 920,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 8fps | Maximum video resolution: 1080p
Fancy a smaller, cheaper version of Fuji’s excellent X-T1 but with equal performance? That’s the magic of the X-T10, as it uses the same 16MP APS-C X-Trans sensor and EXR processor to produce images with terrific detail levels and well controlled noise. Autofocus performance has been improved to enhance continuous focussing, but Fuji hasn’t messed with the build quality, which is still first class and includes a decent selection of manual controls. Compared to the X-T1, you get a slightly smaller viewfinder and a marginally lower screen resolution. Weather sealing has also been removed, but the X-T10 still offers superb value.
Read the full review: Fuji X-T10
2. Olympus OM-D E-M10 II
It’s small, it’s powerful and it’s hard not to love the E-M10 II
Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds | Resolution: 16.1Mp | Viewfinder: EVF |Monitor: 3-inch tilting display, 1,037,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 8.5fps | Maximum video resolution: 1080p
We loved the original E-M10 for its size, versatility and value for money, but the E-M10 II adds features that take it to another level. The old camera’s 3-axis image stabilization system has been uprated to the 5-axis system in Olympus’s more advanced OM-D cameras, the viewfinder resolution has been practically doubled and the continuous shooting speed, already impressive at 8fps, creeps up to 8.5fps. Some will criticise the smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor format (roughly half the area of APS-C) but the effect on image quality is minor and it means that the lenses are as compact and lightweight as the camera itself. It’s small, but it’s no toy – the E-M10 II is a properly powerful camera.
Read the full review: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II
3. Fuji X-E2
OK, it’s hardly new any more, but that makes the X-E2 terrific value
Sensor size: APS-C | Resolution: 16.3MP | Viewfinder: EVF | Monitor: Three-inch fixed screen, 1,040,600 dots | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 7fps |Maximum video resolution: 1080p
The Fuji X-E2 uses the same X-Trans sensor as the X-T10 and X-T1, but in a classic rangefinder-style body – though there is also a very good electronic viewfinder in the top corner. This alone puts the X-E2 a whole step above entry-level mirrorless cameras. When it was launched in 2013, Fuji claimed the X-E2 had the world’s fastest AF for a camera of its type and it’s certainly very quick even now, using a hybrid AF system consisting of on-sensor phase-detection AF sensors coupled with contrast AF for low-contrast subjects or low light. The X-E2 has a real ‘retro’ look, with an old-fashioned shutter speed dial on the top-plate – you can set the shutter speed manually, or turn the camera to the ‘A’ setting to have the camera do it automatically.
Read the full review: Fuji X-E2
4. Sony A6000
Sony’s top APS-C CSC has an electronic viewfinder and super-fast AF
Sensor size: APS-C | Resolution: 24.3MP | Viewfinder: EVF | Monitor: 3-inch tilting screen, 921,600 dots | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 11fps |Maximum video resolution: 1080p
The A6000 is Sony’s top APC-S compact system camera and has a ‘box’ design rather than the D-SLR style of the E-M10 and other enthusiast-orientated compact system cameras. It has an electronic viewfinder, though, mounted in the top corner and some very impressive specs, including a hybrid AF system claimed by Sony to be the fastest in the world when it was launched (February 2014), a 24-megapixel sensor and 11fps continuous shooting. But although the body is compact, the Sony E-mount lenses can be bulky, which affects the overall balance. On the other hand, the A6000 is now on sale at super-competitive prices – this is a high-end compact system camera at an entry-level price and that guarantees it a place in our list.
Read the full review: Sony Alpha 6000
5. Panasonic G7
The slightly charmless design masks a seriously powerful camera
Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds | Resolution: 16MP | Viewfinder: Electronic | Monitor: 3-inch articulating screen, 1,040,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 8fps | Maximum video resolution: 4K
Panasonic’s D-SLR-style G-series cameras are easily overlooked, as the company tends to put its latest technology in its smaller, rectangular GX-series cameras – the new GX8 is the first to use Panasonic’s new 20Mp Micro Four Thirds sensor. Nevertheless, they offer a good blend of features, technology, practicality and value. Indeed, the G7 is a pretty good stills camera for the money, but it goes a whole step further, adding in Panasonic’s 4K movie capability and the option of grabbing 8Mp stills at a rate of 30fps. Interestingly, though, Panasonic has kept to its ‘old’ 16Mp sensor for this model, reserving its latest 20Mp sensor for the GX8. And while the G7 looks great on paper, its plasticky construction is a disappointment.