Who Makes the Best Mirrorless Camera Right Now?

With the Nikon Z 9 on the market, the competition for best mirrorless camera is a three-horse race again, with Nikon's option competing against the Sony a1 and Canon EOS R3. All three cameras offer highly impressive feature sets that can tackle just about anything you can throw at them, and this great video discusses the pros and cons of each and which edges out the other. 

Coming to you from Manny Ortiz, this interesting video takes a look at the Canon EOS R3Nikon Z 9, and Sony a1 mirrorless cameras and how they fare against each other. All three of these cameras are extremely capable. For me, the one standout difference between the three is the sensor resolution. Both the Z 9 and a1 offer high levels of resolution, at 45.7 and 50 megapixels, respectively. On the other hand, the EOS R3 weighs in at 24 megapixels. This is likely plenty for a lot of applications, but it is worth considering if you are someone looking for very high levels of detail or the ability to crop a lot in post. Nonetheless, I expect the upcoming EOS R1 to have a higher resolution when it arrives. Check out the video above for Ortiz' thoughts on each camera. 

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26 Comments
Reginald Walton's picture

As I've stated before with these kind of articles, "all of the major manufactures make great mirrorless cameras and if you can't get good photos out of the cameras that are out these days, find a new hobby/profession". For the most part (and for most of us who can't afford to shoot multiple brands) it's gonna pretty much come down to which ecosystem you're already in.

David Pavlich's picture

Yep! The cameras are just good. A photographer does his/her part, you're gonna' get nice images. I'm a Canon guy, but it wouldn't bother me a bit to change to Nikon if I had the piggy bank to support it.

John Ricard's picture

Um, that would be Leica who was making mirror less cameras 50 years ago…long before the term was being used ;)

David Hutson's picture

Seems like a fairly good comparison and an interesting video presentation.
Since I am primarily a bird and wildlife hobby photographer I am extremely happy with my choice to switch from Nikon DSLR to the Sony A1 last year. The size, ergos, AF system, menu, customization, EVF etc... all fit my needs to a tee.
Nikon releasing the 800PF lens makes me a little jealous though....lol

Jan Steinman's picture

It's interesting that the folks who first brought us modern mirrorless cameras — Olympus — was skunked in this story.

If you're a bird/wildlife photographer, you really should check out what many consider to be the pinnacle in that field, the OM-1 and the incredible 150-400mm ƒ/4.5 with built-in 1.25 teleconverter. This combo is, in many ways, more capable, smaller, lighter, and cheaper than the alternative Fool Frame outfits.

It's interesting that the author touted number of pixels as the reason to prefer the Nikon over the others.

I went on a local photo club shoot to a wildfowl refuge. I brought my Olympus E-M1 Mark II and six focal lengths — all in a tiny waist bag! The birds were not cooperating. There were some buffleheads out in the bay. I put on my Olympus OM 500mm ƒ/8 Reflex, and the ducks were discernible without cropping, and the market-leading IBIS allowed me to shoot hand-held.

Two guys were there with hugh Canikony bodies and huge ~300mm ƒ/2.8 zooms, and big, sturdy tripods. They were shooting away — I couldn't believe they were getting anything useful!

I asked them if the buffleheads were more than specks in the viewfinder, and they said, "Oh, no problem. I'll crop it in post."

So, there's the secret to full-frame megapixel wars — pay more, for bigger, heavier equipment, with more megapixels, and then get on the computer and throw most of them away!

If you have the RIGHT 20 megapixels, you don't need 50. Do your "cropping" in the camera, and get it right in the viewfinder!

Grant Mayert's picture

Hmmm.well Jan I guess when you pay $9600 CDN for your 150-400 mm it better work as good or better than the 100-400 mm Nikon at $3650 CDN.As far as cameras go the consumer is making the choices and sometimes they do not choose what you consider is better,Olympus is struggling just like Nikon was and Sony and Canon grabbed the lead.Time will shake out the market and we will see what the consumer wants and values.In the meantime you can go to the gym and push weights or just carry a heavier camera around?.Just because you come up with a great idea does not mean you automatically deserve something, other than a wikipedia entry.I think you will find a lot of the camera companies have advanced some aspect that deserves credit.I am really glad you value Olympus so highly, just like I do for Nikon,and my son in law is a Canon shooter.It is all good for the consumer in the end.

Michael Atlas's picture

You're absolutely right that many camera brands make cool stuff and the Nikkor Z 100-400/4.5-5.6 is lovely. But comparing it to the Olympus 150-400/4.5 +1.25x TC is silly

The most equivalent reach the Nikkor gives is on an APS-C body, 600mm. Or could crop in if using on a hi-res FF body.

The Olympus with the 1.25x built-in teleconverter enabled gives equivalent reach to *1000mm* on full frame.

USD prices:

Nikkor Z 800/6.3 - $6,500
Olympus 150-400/4.5 +1.25x TC - $7,500
Canon RF 800/5.6 - $17,000
Canon RF 1200/8 - $2,000

The Olympus is the only one stable and small enough to hand hold and unlike these primes you get the flexibility of a zoom with a built-in teleconverter.

Which do you want to shoot?

Adrian Morton's picture

I like the OM1 a fun camera to use and that four thirds has that crop factor to give you the reach you are after. So light gear that makes it easy on those long treks to get the images you want. However there are some key trade offs comparing 4/3rd with FF.
I shoot a lot of sport events and 4/3 does not cut the mustard I'm afraid so yes I have a knackered back from carrying those big bits of glass, and a case that just fits in the boot of may car but all depends on what you need to do the job, horses for courses as they say.

Michael Atlas's picture

In what way do you feel m43 is insufficient for your sports shooting? I'm all for diversity of gear and using what works best for your needs, but not much of a sports photographer. I'm curious on your thoughts here.

Adrian Morton's picture

AF is fine doesn't have all the bells and whistles of the R3/A1/Z9 however these are extremely expensive bodies however the hit rate was fine.
The two key issues I had was the separation of players from the background. My colleague and I tried two lenses for football (soccer) the 40-150 f2.8 (his) and a hired 150-400. The 150-400 even@400mm just lacked that shallow DOF if you have a busy background the 40-150 was OK when players were close and I'd say was comparable to 300mm @f4 on FF.
We also went to an evening speedway meeting under lights and this is where even the 40-150 struggled a little. Poor lighting had to bump the ISO much higher than I would on my FF to get a decent shutter speed. The images cleaned up OK with Topaz noise but usually I just use lightroom noise when processing my workflow.
However I also used the 140-400 at an equestrian event and it was brilliant, good light enabled me get up close to some of the jumps that I would have had to use my 400mm with a x2 TC and that weighs a tonne. It was enjoyable light gear etc so it really depends on the specifics of the sport and conditions. Unfortunately for me as a paid sport photographer it just doesn't tick all the boxes however I can state if this was for hobbyist/enthusiast a no brainer it will produce great images paired with these lenses if the conditions are right and when I give this business up may find its way replacing my Nikon gear watch this space

Michael Atlas's picture

Thanks for your detailed reply! Makes sense about subject separation. I don't know if either of these lenses would solve your issue but the Olympus 75/1.8 and PanaLeica 200/2.8 are the only options that come to mind which might offer more separation, depending on how close to your subjects you can get. I mostly use the 75 for getting shots of people on stages. Concerts & anything else like that.

Jan Steinman's picture

Adrian Morton : Have you tried the OM-1 for sports events? I'm hearing that Olympus is pushing the Big Boys in terms of autofocus speed and accuracy.

Mine is not here yet. :-( But if you have first-hand experience, I'd love to hear it.

Adrian Morton's picture

The AF was fine, I had a good hit rate with the 50-140 at a football game it did struggle under lights at a speedway event however fast bikes and high ISO , but did a pretty good job. I did avoid the official photographers that day though as they're all camera snobs.
As I mentioned in previous comments its just that lack of separation especially from a busy background and needing to bump up the ISO to get suitable shutter speed if the conditions are against you apart from that my colleague and I quite enjoyed the experience, good intuitive camera and the 150-400 we hired for two events was impressive and back and shoulders we ache free.

JR Kelsey's picture

I hand hold all my bird images with my Nikon 500mm f5.6 PF and get great results....You need to update your information...My birds in flickr....flickr.com/photos/155169247@N03

JR Kelsey's picture

Comparing your Olympus outfit with 300mm f2.8 competition is convenient cherry picking....My Nikon 500mm PF weighs 3.2 lbs and on my Z7ll with 45.7 mp works great for birds.....And my results would likely exceed most outfits including Olympus.... My Flickr page...flickr.com/photos/155169247@N03

Michael Atlas's picture

Wonderful shots!

Just to be clear I'm not trying to prove that one camera is objectively the best or even better than another one. There are many wonderful cameras & lenses in the world that are better or worse for different people and how they plan to use them. I own many brands.

It just so happens that m43 long lenses are way smaller than other bigger formats and that's a benefit to some people.

I'm *far* from a wildlife or sports shooter. More documentary & food. I work with portrait subjects who are not professional models. Separate from that I lead an interesting life and try to bring a nice camera with me as much as possible. I need to get shots that show people at their best, quickly & easily, by putting them at ease. Big pro looking cameras intimidate people. I'm very conscious of this. For times I want to go even smaller, I bring my Ricoh GRIIIx.

In addition to my compact documentary style gear I also love Nikon. I have a D810, F-801s, and a bunch of AF-D Nikkors that work on both. I know full well how a larger format creates that sense of depth that a smaller format just can't. That's why I own both the 85/1.4 and 105/2 Defocus Control 😁

But the D810 is for occasions where I have more time & planning available. I've invested way more $$$ in my m43 system than Nikon because it's what I use the most.

The longest lens I own is the Olympus 75/1.8 😉 I've thought about picking up a Nikkor AF-D 180/2.8 as those are quite reasonably priced and sized but I can't picture myself lugging the D810 + 180 to situations where I use the Oly 75.

Jan Steinman's picture

My "mirrorless" Linhof Super Technika and Color Getter drum scanner weighs over 100 kilograms, and produces quarter-gigapixel images.

What's your point? Do you just like to pee in other people's pools?

JR Kelsey's picture

Sorry you can't deal with facts lady...try peeing in your own pool...

winzehnt gates's picture

A comparision without the Fuji GFX100S?
Can't be worth watching.

winzehnt gates's picture

The title says "best mirrorless camera".

Hans J. Nielsen's picture

Without watching the video, and I'm not going to, I can till it's neither of these 3 cameras.
Way to expensive to fill my needs.

They may be the most advanced cameras of our time, but that still doesn't make them the best.

It is like asking what car is the best and then compare a Mercedes L-class a BMW i7 and a Audi s8. Yeah. Not going to buy any of those either.

That being said, Ortiz is an okay YouTuber, within his specific field, so I'm sure his finding will be trustworthy.

Stuart C's picture

Fuji for me, not because they do, they just do for me.

James Bruton's picture

"Who makes the best" are very boring as it is what you can do with a particular kit that makes it special and be more important. This article reminds me when you see other electronic equipment be compared, like PC's (HP VS Dell VS Lenovo) or in older days receivers (Marantz VS Kenwood VS Pioneer). Also, these type articles oftentimes draw out those that want to defend their purchases (mine is better than yours). I own and use 3 brands of cameras and each one has its purpose and place in my collection of gear.

Michael Atlas's picture

The best mirrorless cameras in no particular order are the Olympus OM-1, Fuji GFX100S, Nikon Z7 II, Fuji XT4, and Panasonic GH6. What do I win?

Timothy Gasper's picture

Technology is so close these days that it's a very tight "race". I guess the bottom line is that it's an individual choice. If you've been shooting for a while then you might be more apt to choose what you're familiar with. Also, if you've been shooting for a while but want to check out a different brand because of this or that, then you might try something new. And then, if you're new to photography then research and feedback from others might help you make a wise choice. I don't always stick with one thing, but rather look and study what would be best for my needs. So many great cameras to choose from out there. Thanks for the article.

Jim Tincher's picture

If I had a Z9 it would certainly be my favorite...