People buy mirrorless cameras because of their small size, and here we’ve picked the best small mirrorless cameras you can buy today. One of the main advantages of mirrorless cameras is that they can be smaller than DSLRs, though some mirrorless cameras, particularly full-frame, have got decidedly big and bulky. But if you’re looking for a camera that can slip in a small bag or pocket and be used one-handed, you’re in the right place.
At AP, we have a lot of experience testing and using cameras out in the real world. We’ve drawn on the extensive first-hand knowledge from our review team to put together this guide. The mirrorless cameras here are not only ideal for carrying around on your travels without breaking either your back or the bank – they also deliver great stills and video quality, too.
For more affordable options, check out our guides to the best cheap full-frame cameras, as well as the best cameras under £500 / $500. And, if you’re looking for a small camera because you’re interested in vlogging, take a look at our guide to the best cameras for vlogging and how to get started. But for now, let’s take a look at what to consider when choosing a lightweight mirrorless camera.
How to choose the best small mirrorless camera
Small cameras inevitably come with compromises, so it’s worth thinking about what you can live without. Sensor size is a big factor: the small mirrorless cameras have small sensors, particularly Micro Four Thirds but APS-C too. Bigger sensors do have advantages in terms of dynamic range and ultimate image quality; however, small sensors are still very capable and many professional photographers and content creators swear by MFT cameras, plus they give your lenses greater effective telephoto reach. For more on sensor size, have a look at our guide to APS-C, MFT and Full-Frame sensors.
Also, do you need a viewfinder? For manufacturers, this the first thing to go when they set about making a small mirrorless cameras. Some photographers simply can’t imagine life without one, but if you’re happy composing images on the LCD screen, it’s a great way to save some weight and bulk.
It’s also key to think about lens selection. The lens you fit to your camera will have a big impact on its weight and balance, not to mention image quality. Again, Micro Four Thirds is a system to think about here, as it offers a huge range of slim, pancake lenses that are perfect with small cameras. Also, with their 2x crop factor you can achieve long telephoto focal lengths without the lenses being massive. The classic example here is the OM System 300mm f/4 which gives an effect of 600mm in the full-frame format, but it comes in a very compact form.
Lenses are a very important factor in size and portability that it’s easy to overlook. It’s no use having a compact mirrorless camera if it comes with bulky lenses. We’ve kept this firmly in mind as we’ve prepared this guide and in some instances we recommend specific lenses for these cameras.
Without further ado, let’s get into the best small mirrorless cameras you can buy…
The Fujifilm X-T30 Mark II is basically a smaller, lighter and more affordable alternative to the X-T4 as it features the same 26.1MP 4th generation X-Trans CMOS sensor and processor. There are also 2.16M phase detection pixels covering 100% of the frame and up to 425 user-selectable AF points.
Shutter speed and exposure compensation dials help give the X-T30 II old-school looks and handling designed to appeal to traditionalists who will love the Fujifilm’s range of X-Mount lenses that feature an aperture ring.
Along with that traditional appearance, the X-T30 II has some great modern technology, including a responsive tilting touch-screen, fast autofocusing and an excellent 0.39-inch 2.36M-dot OLED viewfinder.
Although it’s not weather-sealed, its magnesium alloy construction gives the X-T30 II a solid feel and its handling is generally very good aside from the location of the Q button which means it’s a bit too easy to accidentally activate the quick menu.
You’ll also find it delivers excellent image quality with Fujifilm’s well loved colour reproduction. For video use, the lack of in-body image stabilisation may be an issue, so be sure have a look at the next model in the list.
The X-T30 II is being sold with a variety of kit lenses. The XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 is perhaps the best, but the XC 15-45mm is smaller, cheaper and lighter.
Smallest Fujifilm with IBIS: Fujifilm X-S10
The Fujifilm X-S10 is the Fujifilm APS-C format camera for photographers who don’t want traditional exposure controls. It has much of the same technology as the X-T30 (and X-T4) including the 26.1Mp X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor and X Processor 4, but there’s an exposure mode dial instead of the shutter speed dial and the aperture can be adjusted either via a lens ring or a command dial on the camera body.
In a step up from the X-T30 II, the X-S10 has a vari-angle touchscreen (great for videographers) and a very effective in-body image stabilisation (IBIS) system that enables up to 6 stops shutter speed compensation.
As an X-series camera, the X-S10 benefits from Fujifilm’s superb colour science and there’s an extensive collection of Film Simulation modes that can be used to give JPEGs and videos colours, tones and contrast to suit the subject, shooting conditions and photographer’s preference.
As we’d expect from Fujifilm, video can be recorded at up 4K resolution at 30fps with no additional crop while Full HD video can be recorded at up to 240fps.
Fujifilm has recently added another model to the X-S series to consider, the X-S20. This is almost identical in size to the X-S10 and has the same sensor but uses the X-Processor 5 to give a better IBIS performance (7 stops benefit), superior AF and vastly improved video features. It sells at $1,299 / £1,249 body only. This is one of the most powerful small mirrorless cameras you can get, though the extra power does increase the price.
If you want to keep the size to a minimum, consider the Fujinon XC 15-45mm kit lens. It’s not bad optically, and it’s small, light and cheap to buy.
Have a look at the best Fujifilm X-Mount lenses!
Most powerful Sony camera: Sony A6700
The Sony A6700 is the latest and most powerful model in the Sony APS-C mirrorless line-up. It’s the successor to the previous flagship A6600 and brings vastly improved video features, a new 26MP sensor first seen in the Sony FX30 cinema camera, and a slightly thicker body. Its rectangular rangefinder-style design means that there’s no protruding viewfinder housing on the top, so it’s still a pretty compact and pocketable camera, especially when used with the Sony 16-50mm power zoom kit lens. It’s not the best optically, but if you want a small camera-lens combination, it’s perfect. The A6700 can, of course, take the full range of Sony E and FE lenses.
The 26MP sensor might only be a small increase over the previous model’s 24MP, but photographers do get Sony’s latest and most advanced subject recognition AI autofocus, and it even incorporates the dedicated AI processor first seen in the Sony A7R V.
The headline news with this camera, though, is its 4K 30p, 60p and 120p (cropped) video recording capability, together with improved file format and compression options. This is the ideal camera for hybrid content creators who need to shoot both stills and video, and for whom the cheaper Sony ZV-E10 or more expensive ZV-E1 are just too video-focused.
As a Micro Four Thirds camera, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV has a smaller than APS-C format sensor, which gives it an advantage for size and weight. Indeed, with the Olympus 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ lens mounted, it could easily pass for a compact camera.
The sensor size brings a 2x focal length multiplication factor making the 14-42mm lens produce framing like a 28-84mm lens on a full-frame camera. That’s a nice everyday option.
The E-M10 Mark IV doesn’t have phase detection autofocusing and relies on contrast detection alone. This is pretty dependable for still and slow-moving subjects, but it’s not ideal for sport and action photography – though it is still surprisingly fast for its type.
Despite its entry-level status, the E-M10 IV has Olympus’s excellent Live Time and Live Composite modes, which take the sweat out of long exposure images, with Live Composite mode being especially useful for light painting, traffic trail and firework images.
There’s also a very good image stabilisation system, a long list of Art Filters, which are of use for stills and video, and a screen that can flip through 180° to be visible from in front of the camera. Best of all, it usually comes with a 14-42mm EZ pancake zoom, which is the smallest and slimmest kit lens on the market.
Smallest weather-sealed mirrorless: OM System OM-5
The OM System OM-5 isn’t much heavier than the E-M10 IV shown above, yet offers a weather-sealed camera body and, when combined with a weather-sealed Micro Four Thirds lens, offers a completely weather-sealed camera system with an IP53 rating. This makes it a great choice for anyone planning on going out in less than ideal weather conditions.
The camera is full of advanced photo features as well, including Live ND (for slow shutter speed shots of water etc), a high-res multi-shot mode for static scenes (for up to 80MP images), and other features that you rarely get on cameras from other brands, including Starry Sky AF. In our full OM-5 review we found the camera performed admirably, and gave excellent colour reproduction.
For video recording, there is a microphone socket, as well as unlimited video recording at resolutions up to CINE 4K. The camera also benefits from one of the best image stabilisation systems available, thanks to a 5-axis in-body image stabilisation (IBIS). If you’re looking for a particularly compact camera, then the Olympus/OM System f/4 PRO lenses combine small size with big performance, as the 12-45mm f/4 PRO (shown above) demonstrates.
Have a look at the best Micro Four Thirds lenses!
Panasonic’s best small mirrorless camera: Panasonic Lumix GX880 (GF10)
This pocket wonder really has to be seen to be believed. Somehow, Panasonic has created a Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera that weighs just 270g body only. This is probably the smallest and lightest mirrorless camera you can buy right now, and it acquits itself well in use, too. The previous GX850/GX800 was available in the US, (and other areas), and was a couple of grams lighter, but not enough to make a noticeable difference.
The Lumix GX880 is built around a 16MP MOS sensor, which is more than enough resolution for most purposes. It’s got face and eye detect autofocus, which is hugely handy for street photography – one of the best uses for this tiny, unobtrusive camera.
Like all contemporary Panasonic Lumix cameras, the GX880 shoots 4K video, and can make use of Panasonic’s clever 4K Photo modes. These include the ability to extract high-res stills from 4K footage – effectively giving you a 30fps burst rate. There’s also 4K Post-focus mode in which the camera shoots a series of images at different focus distances. You can then select where you want the focus to be with a tap on the screen post-capture.
If size and weight are your priority when picking a camera, Micro Four Thirds is a very sensible system to buy into. There are absolutely loads of slim, high-quality lenses available from Olympus, Panasonic and third party brands, but our favorite for a pocket-size combination is Panasonic’s own 12-32mm pancake zoom. The GX880 has been around for a while now, but it’s a great little pocket camera, and cheap too.
Best small mirrorless camera for vlogging: Panasonic Lumix G100
Designed for vlogging and video recording, the Panasonic Lumix G100 is a compact, neat little camera, that also represents excellent value for money, particularly if you can find it in-store body only, if you have a lens available. This camera is particularly lightweight, but features a high-resolution electronic viewfinder, as well as a high-resolution 3inch vari-angle touchscreen.
The Micro Four Thirds camera features a 20MP image sensor, and gives good image quality, with great looking stills images. As part of the Micro Four Thirds system, there are a wide range of Micro Four Thirds lenses to choose from, including budget options, as well as premium optics.
The camera records 4K video, and the screen can be turned forwards to use as a selfie screen for vlogging, although the crop is worth noting, particularly if video is your main focus.
The battery life is a little on the short side as well, so packing a spare battery, or a portable power bank is definitely recommended, although this could also be said for some of the other mirrorless cameras here. The tiny Panasonic 12-32mm (24-64mm equivalent) pancake zoom is the perfect lens to go with it.
Lightest Nikon mirrorless camera: Nikon Z 30
Nikon’s Z series now boasts three cameras with APS-C sensors, in addition to the full-frame flagship line-up. The Nikon Z30 is the smallest and lightest of the lot, weighing in at a slender 405g, and it’s also the cheapest at launch. While it’s comprehensively equipped for both stills and video, the Nikon Z30 has clearly been designed with vloggers in mind – it shoots uncropped 4K video, and it has a fully articulating screen that can be set to pretty much any angle.
The video focus doesn’t mean it skimps on stills. Having an ISO sensitivity range of 100-51,200 gives you real flexibility in low-light situations, especially given how good the performance is up to ISO 6400, as we found out in our testing. The only thing that stills photographers are likely to take exception to is the very thing that has allowed Nikon to keep the cost and weight of the camera down – the lack of a viewfinder. This makes total sense on a vlogging camera, but if it’s a deal-breaker, then try one of the other Nikon Z APS-C cameras like the Z 50 or the Z fc. Just be aware they’re a little heavier and more pricey.
It’s also worth noting that the majority of Z-Mount lenses have been designed for full-frame cameras, so finding a compact lens to go with this camera may be an issue once you grow beyond the compact zoom kit lens – though if you intend using the Z30 as a pocket camera, the retracting 16-50mm kit lens will be perfect.
Canon’s best small mirrorless camera: Canon EOS R10
Canon arguably sounded the death knell for its APS-C EOS M cameras when it introduced the crop-sensor EOS R7 and EOS R10. The latter is the smaller of the pair, comparable in size and weight to an EOS M camera, and bursting with plenty more features.
With sophisticated autofocus, impressive shooting speed and DSLR-style handling, the EOS R10 is a comprehensive photographic package. As we found in our full test of the camera, the subject-detection autofocus is particularly impressive, making the camera a real contender for sports and action shooting on a budget. The viewfinder is perhaps a little small in use, but some some cutbacks are going to be necessary in making a fully featured camera as small as this.
The RF-mount lens range for APS-C RF cameras is pretty restricted currently – though, unlike the EF-M range, it’s likely to expand in the future. For the moment, as we said in our review of the EOS R10, the Fujifilm X-S10 is probably a better buy simply for its greater lens options. However, this is something we can expect to change as the EOS R series matures. The EOS R10’s body is not quite as pocket-friendly as some of the other cameras here, but Canon’s 18-45mm kit lens is pretty compact.
Canon used the same 32.5MP APS-C format Dual Pixel CMOS sensor for the M6 Mark II as is in the Canon EOS 90D DSLR. The chip is also paired with the DIGIC 8 processing engine to give a maximum shooting rate of 14fps that can be maintained for up to 23 raw files or 54 JPEGs with continuous focusing.
Combine that fast-shooting capability with the M6 II’s excellent 143-point phase detection AF system, which copes extremely well with low light, and you have a versatile mirrorless camera.
Unlike the M50 and M50 II, which have a vari-angle screen, the M6 II has a screen that can only be tilted up or down. However, there’s no additional crop applied to 4K video which means that movies have the same angle of view as stills.
Canon decided to make a viewfinder optional with the M6 II. That means that there isn’t one built in but it is compatible with Canon’s EVF-DFC2. This has a 0.39-inch 2.36-miliion dot display and connects via the camera’s hotshoe. It’s a worthwhile addition but it bumps up the cost and size of this superb little camera. Without the optional viewfinder, this is a very compact camera, and one of the lighter models.
However, it’s pretty clear that Canon is switching all its attention to its newer RF-S mount mirrorless cameras, so if you want to take advantage of the M6 II’s features and resolution, plus its decent range of EOS M lenses, you’d better move quickly.
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