How to Pick the Best Compact System Digital Mirrorless Camera and Recommendations

These are the things to look for when considering mirrorless digital camera. Mirrorless cameras are digital cameras without the mirror that gives you the view finder sitting between the lens and sensor allowing the body of the camera to be much smaller and more room inside for a bigger digital sensor.

Key Considerations to Choosing the Right Mirrorless Digital Camera (Compact System Camera)

To help you make sense of all the technical specifications and jargons when choosing the right mirrorless digital camera for you, here is a breakdown of what you need to know.

1. Focal Length: these are the two numbers attached to the lens if you get a camera kit instead or separate lens instead of just the camera body. These two numbers represent the zoom range. The smaller the first number, the wider the camera angle, great for taking selfies, group shots and small spaces. The bigger the second number, the bigger the zoom range. Something between 55 – 70 or higher is considered telephoto zoom on a mirrorless digital camera. You can get complementary lenses, one for wide angle and one for telephoto zoom, taking subjects in a distance.

2. The ISO Sensitivity Range:  Remember the good old film days, a roll of 35mm ISO 100 is less sensitive than a roll of 35mm ISO 400. The higher the ISO, the more light and colour the film will capture. Fast forward to today, there are no films in these DSLRs to speak off but the sensor does offer an equivalent. If you intend to take photos in low light then you will need a higher ISO number something between 12,600 to 25,600. The higher number means the sensor accepts more light at short shutter speed.

3. Size of Sensor: the bigger the sensor the better. Large full-frame sensors like those on the Sony Alpha 7 series lets you take high definition images with full of detail even in low light. The bigger sensor simply takes in more light at the same shutter speed compared to cameras with smaller sensor. Cameras with big sensors can even capture the starts with some help from the image processor.

4. The Aperture or F-number: F3.5 – 5.6 is pretty standard on mirrorless digital camera. The aperture of a camera is the size of hole in which light is allowed through. The larger the diameter of this hole, the smaller the F-number. For a good camera, a big range of F stops meant more control over the amount of light allowed through to the sensor.

5. Interchangeable Lens: most cameras are pretty versatile and can take on any lenses with the help of adapters even those you may already have with your DSLR. But to make the most of the cameras features, you will need electronic lenses designed for the cameras. These will let you take shots with proper metering, autofocus and control over the aperture. There is one exception, lenses from Olympus mirrorless digital camera will work on Panasonics.

6. How Compact is Compact: Without the prism or mirror in the camera, manufacturers are able to design some really compact mirrorles digital cameras but some are more compact than others. There are cameras with grip bulges and cameras without so it comes down to a matter of preference. The grip bulge does help with handling given that the lens is quite bulky itself and the bulge offers more grip to steady the camera. You can find bulk free cameras from Sony and Panasonic. Some models also carry a smaller lense making the overall dimensions smaller. You see these from Sony, Fujifilm and Olympus.

7. Full HD or Ultra HD (4K) Video: Big DSLRs are known as popular equipment for filmmaking. If you are expecting the same from the Compact variety, you won’t be disappointed. Some Panasonic and Fujifilm cameras are able to capture 4K video footage and lets you capture stills between recording. Certain models offer near professional level video recording quality including the ability to record 4K at 60 frames per second. Other cameras capture Full HD 1920 x 1080 pixel or more commonly known as 1080p videos.

8. Need a Little Help: Certain compact cameras come with creative assistants to help you get started on your journey to master photography especially when using the camera in manual mode. Cameras such as those from Nikon offers  And, if you need help taking blur free shots, opt for camera lenses with Optical Image Stabilisation.

It is quite common for these cameras to have WiFi as well as NFC for transfering of images and videos from the camera wirelessly to a tablet or PC. A 3-inch view finder that doubles as a touch panel to control the settings that can be tilted to allow for taking photos at different angles and selfies is another common feature. You can also find companion app for the camera that lets you control the camera camera settings and take photos remotely.

Highly Recommended Digital Mirrorless Cameras

Here are some recommendations highlighting the features listed above.

  1. OLYMPUS OM-D E-M10 Mark II Mirrorless Digital Camera with 14-42 mm f/3.5-5.6 Zoom LensOIS, INTERCHANGEABLE LENS
  2. SONY A7 Mirrroless Digital Camera with 28-70 mm f/3.5-5.6 Zoom Lens – FULL FRAME
  3. FUJIFILM X-T10 Mirrorless Digital Camera with XC 16-50 mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS MKII Zoom Lens – OIS
  4. Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 16-50mm LensBULGE FREE
  5. OLYMPUS PEN E-PL7 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 14-42 mm f/3.5-5.6 Zoom LensBULGE FREE
  6. Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G7EB-K Mirrorless Digital Camera with 14-42 mm f/3.5-5.6 Zoom Lens – OIS, 4K VIDEO, INTERCHANGEABLE LENS
  7. Fujifilm X-T2 Mirrorless Digital Camera with XF 18-55mm lens – 4K VIDEO 
  8. CANON EOS M10 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 15-45 mm f/3.5-f/6.3 IS STM Wide-angle Zoom Lens – CREATIVE ASSIST, BULGE FREE
  9. Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GX85 Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera Kit 12-32mm LensOIS, 4K VIDEO, INTERCHANGEABLE LENS 
  10. Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX15 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 24-72mm f/1.4-2.8 Zoom Lens – 4K VIDEO, LENS, BULGE FREE

Now for a closer look:

1. OLYMPUS OM-D E-M10 Mark II Mirrorless Digital Camera with 14-42 mm f/3.5-5.6 Zoom LensOIS, INTERCHANGEABLE LENS

This 16.1 megapixel Olympus E-M10 Mark II has a 14 – 42 mm lens with powerful image stabilisation technology ready for capturing images in low light or on the move. Using the Mark II’s 5-axis stabilisation, it has the ability to produce blur-free and pin-sharp images on the go. As with all Olympus, it uses the M.ZUIKO electronic lens with smooth, quiet focusing and zooming. The lens is are interchangeable with other M.ZUIKO lens and supports remote zooming and capture via app over WiFi. It comes with a 3-inch tiltable OLED touchscreen viewfinder and supports Full HD 1080p video capture with high quality stereo sound.

olympus-e-m10-mark-ii

2. SONY A7 Mirrroless Digital Camera with 28-70 mm f/3.5-5.6 Zoom Lens – FULL FRAME

The Alpha 7 has a big telephoto zoom lens 28-70mm and a big 24.3 megapixel full frame sensor measuring 35.8 x 23.9 mm based on APS CMOS. The only other camera with up to 70mm zoom is the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX15. Sony A7 has superior hybrid auto focus system that combines fast phase detection with accurate contrast detection at high speed. It can take up to 5 frames per second once locked onto a subject. With multi-frame noise reduction you can capture darker scenes without the need for a tripod or flash. Auto HDR expands the dynamic range of your images from the darkest shadows to brightest glow, effectively capturing the tones you see in real life. The A7 also captures Full HD videos at 60 frames per second and has a 3″ LCD tilt screen OLED Tru-Finder.

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3. FUJIFILM X-T10 Mirrorless Digital Camera with XC 16-50 mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS MKII Zoom Lens – OIS

The Fujifulm X-T10 has a 16.3 megapixels sensor measuring 23.6 x 15.6 mm based on APS-C CMOST II. It has super fast auto focus at 0.08 seconds and can take up to 8 frames per second in continuous mode. With Intelligent Hybrid AF, it picks the most suitable focusing system based on the chosen scene and locks on to the subject even if it is moving in the frame. The camera has a 76.2mm (3-inch) tiltable LCD screen to better frame your shots and sufficient zoom up to 50mm for everyday photography. The lens support Optical Image Stabilisation OIS that lets you shoot up to three stops lower without compromising or blurring the image.

fujifilm-x-t10

4. Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 16-50mm Lens

With interchangeable lenses, the Sony a6000 is flexible and speedy. It has a high performance processor that provides for superior autofocus taking only 0.06 second and lets you take up to 11 frames per second in continuous shooting mode. The camera has 179-point, high-speed, high-precision contrast-detection autofocus. Other shooting modes include Superior Auto and Intelligent Auto for point and shoot. Fully manual mode for more control over exposure, aperture, white balance and more is also available. It also has a large 24.3 megapixel sensor for exceptional light capture. The sensor size measures 23.5 x 15.7mm based on APS-C CMOS with ISO range of 100 to 25,600 to ensure greater flexibility and performance even at dusk and low lighthing conditions. There is a 3-inch LCD tilt screen, a high resolution OLED electronic viewfinder that lets you frame your shots and preview them easily.

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ALSO: Sony Alpha a6300 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 16-50mm Lens

5. OLYMPUS PEN E-PL7 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 14-42 mm f/3.5-5.6 Zoom LensBULGE FREE

The Olympus 16.1 megapixel camera has a 17.3 x 13.0 mm Live MOS sensor capable of capturing images at ISO range between 100 to 25,600. The camera has a 3-inch tiltable LCD touchscreen that flips down up to 180 degrees letting you take photos at different angles including that all important selfie. The body is made from premium metal enhanced with faux leather finish making it a fashion piece at the same time. It uses M.ZUIKO electronic lens with a range of 14-42mm. Powered by the TruePic VII image processor, it produces crisp and clear image with fast auto focus and quick start-up.

olympus-pen-e-pl7

6. Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G7 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 14-42 mm f/3.5-5.6 Zoom Lens – OIS, 4K VIDEO, INTERCHANGEABLE LENS

The Lumix G7 has a 16 MegaPixel sensor measuring 17.3 x 13.0 mm with Live MOS, the latest line of Panasonic’s DSLR mirrorless cameras. It supports 4K Ultra HD video recording offering incredible detail and realistic video clips at 30 frames per second with option to create slow motion sequences. The compact 14-42mm offers super wide angle for everyday photography. It also makes the package small and lighweight. The lens has a minimum focus distance of 20 cm and comes with MEGA OIS to take clear and stable shots. It has intuitive menu and easy to access controls via the 1040k vari-angle touchscreen giving you full control over the image and shooting from different angles. Finally, the rapid response AF has a contrast AF system, using the lights that passes through the lens for autofocus detection for better low light performance. There is also a Startlight AF mode that takes it one step further allowing you to photos of starts in the night sky. ISO sensitivity is 100 – 25600.

panasonic-lumix-dmc-g7

7. Fujifilm X-T2 Mirrorless Digital Camera with XF 18-55mm lens – 4K VIDEO 

Fujifilm X-T2 camera supports 4K Ultra HD video recording with, fast autofocus, easy to use colour modes and video settings to bring out the creativity in your shots. The camera is a great all-rounder offering superior stills with fast autofocus speed and great video clips in a waterproof package. It also has a large 3-inch tilting viewfinder.

fujifilm-x-t2

8. CANON EOS M10 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 15-45 mm f/3.5-f/6.3 IS STM Wide-angle Zoom Lens – CREATIVE ASSIST, BULGE FREE

The Canon EOS M10 is another affordable mirrorless digital camera with a wide angle 15-45mm lense. It is an 18 mega pixel camera with its APS-C CMOS sensor measuring 22.3 x 14.9mm. ISO sensitivity range is pretty standard between 100 – 12,800. For easy of shooting there is a 3-inch (76.2mm) tiltable LCD touchscreen for framing your shots as a digital viewfinder and changing the settings. Powered by a DIGIC 6 processor, it delivers high resolution images with Creative Assist to help you take advantage of expert level manual controls. The lense uses Canon EF-M mount.

canon-eos-m10-white

9. Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GX85 Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera Kit 12-32mm LensOIS, 4K VIDEO, INTERCHANGEABLE LENS, BULGE FREE 

The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GX85 features Dual Image Stabilisation; 5 axis in-body sensor stabiliser that works with the LUMIX 2-axis optical stabilised lens for video and still capture. The 16 megapixel camera with LIVE CMOS sensor and venus engine also supports 4K video capture and 4K Photo with Live cropping for pan or zoom to crop and Post Focus support for focal point selection as well as exposure correction with light composition. The interchangeable lens open up to myriad of lens options with over 27 different lenses and couting.

panasonic-lumix-dmc-gx85

10. Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX15 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 24-72mm f/1.4-2.8 Zoom Lens – OIS, 4K VIDEO, INTERCHANGEABLE LENS, BULGE FREE

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX15 with 1-inch sensor, fluid 3 x optical zoom lens and easy to use controls and tilting touch screen. The 20.1 megapixel camera supports 4K video recording and a range of useful photo modes. The intuitive and hands-on aperture dial lets you manually control the amount of light that enters the lens. It has a close 3cm Macro mode with the LEICA f1.4-2.8 lens. The 5-Axis Hybrid O.I.S. + (Five Axis Optical Image Stabilizer Plus) effectively compensates for handshakes occurring in virtually any direction, enabling smooth photo and video recording.

panasonic-lumix-dmc-lx15