Mirrorless cameras (also known as MILCs or mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras) offer a great compromise between size, features, image quality and price. Amateur photographers looking to up their game from a point-and-shoot can get the hang of them quickly, and prosumers looking for portability without sacrificing options love them too. So which are the best? We asked you, and here are five of the best, based on your nominations.
Title photo by kuujinbo01
The Sony NEX line of cameras are some of the most popular MILCs on the market, and for good reason. They have broad lens selection, adapters for other lens types, unparalleled image quality, and lots of settings and options. All of the NEX models earned high praise from readers for their price point, portability, and image quality. The NEX-5N is no longer available from Sony, although you can still find them online. It has been replaced by the NEX-5R. One step up is the higher-end NEX-6 All of the models bring a Sony 16.1 megapixel alpha sensor to a smaller, portable frame. They shoot full HD video, sport a live-view LCD on the back that's also a touch-screen, and include of options and the corresponding physical controls to manage them. The 5R and 6 even pack built-in Wi-Fi for geotagging and automatic photo uploads. For more info, check out Gizmodo's review of the NEX-5R and of the NEX-6.
Fujifilm's X-series is a good-looking, highly-featured range of MILCs that takes excellent photos while appealing to photographers who appreciate a little retro design in their camera bodies. Those of you who nominated it noted that you often put down your full-on DSLRs and picked up your X-Pro 1s and X-E1s instead for portability. The X-Pro 1 is the high end of the X line, while the X-E1 is its more affordable cousin. Each model packs a 16.3 megapixel sensor, a LCD on the back, a slim form factor, and some pretty hefty and detailed options and features. Some people report the X-Pro 1 and the X-E1 have a steeper learning curve than others, but it's worth the effort. For more information, check out Gizmodo's review of the X-Pro1 and of the X-E1.
Olympus ranges the OM-D E-M5 with its other PEN series models, but it's a very different beast, with a huge lens selection and features that put even full-frame DSLRs to shame. It's easy to use, hides power user features behind a simple and elegant interface, and offers incredible image stabilisation. It offers a slim and compact frame, a 16 megapixel sensor, an LCD display in the back as well as a viewfinder and flash, and rugged styling that's easy to hold on to. For more information, check out Gizmodo's review of the OM-D E-M5 for more.
The Panasonic Lumix GH3 is perhaps more under the radar than some of its competition, but what it lacks in marketing it makes up for in features and customisability. Its body is shaped and its controls are laid out a bit more like a DSLR than a MILC, and while it does sacrifice a little in the portability department for that shape and size, it's easy to grip, its controls are logically laid out, and it includes Wi-Fi for automatic image uploads and remote flash control. The GH3 also has a large modding community devoted to it. Its predecessor, the GH2, was an incredibly hackable camera, and the GH3 continues the tradition. It's a 16 megapixel camera with a full LCD display in the back. Head over to Gizmodo's preview for more information.
Olympus' PEN series continues to be popular, with the early E-PL1 a particuarly common nomination despite having been succeeded by newer models. Most of you who didn't just call out the PEN line called out the E-PL1 specifically, even though the camera made its appearance back in 2010. Readers praised its compact size and portability, its modest lens selection, and its affordable pricing. The E-PL1 is a 12 megapixel model, older than most of the others here, and lacking some advanced features that new designs offer. The E-PM2 brings some of the OM-D E-M5's features down to the budget model, bumps the sensor up to 16 megapixels, and improves the camera's speed. If you have more money to spend, there's plenty of room to move up in the PEN line as well. The PEN line has had a long and storied history with multiple models. For more details, check out Gizmodo's review of the E-P1 and E-PL1..
Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favourite mirrorless camera, even if it wasn't included in the list? Tell us and tell us why in the comments.