The Best Mirrorless Cameras for Photojournalists

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony a7 Mk II product photos (1 of 8)ISO 1001-50 sec at f - 5.0

While Canon and Nikon keep on trucking with their powerhouse cameras, Sony, Fujifilm, Panasonic, Samsung and Olympus have viable and noticeably smaller alternatives. In photojournalism, particularly in breaking news situations, you have to be able to react to split-second changes, and the size and amount of gear you have can help or hinder you. As mirrorless cameras have become more robust, there’s been a gradual shift away from bigger rigs in photojournalism. If a smaller camera can do the job just as well, if not better than a bigger one, why not go for the smaller one? There’s less strain on your neck! With that in mind, here are our recommendations for the best mirrorless cameras for photojournalists.

Sony a6000

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony A6000 product images (3 of 9)ISO 4001-50 sec at f - 11

With a 24.3-MP APS-C sensor and an incredibly fast autofocus system, this camera is a prime choice for those who want performance and don’t mind the lack of a full-frame sensor.

In our review, we say:

“The Sony A6000 hands down has what could arguably be called the best autofocusing system out there. While it isn’t the fastest, it by far is the smartest and the most responsive–putting some DSLRs to shame in our tests for sure. Granted, Sony did this with an APS-C sensor and have yet to do this with a full frame sensor. If that doesn’t bother you, then you’ll have an autofocusing beast in the palm of your hand.”

Buy it now: Amazon

Sony RX10/II

julius motal the phoblographer sony rx10-4

It has one of the best lenses you could hope for in a premium compact superzoom. More over, it covers the coveted 24-70mm and 70-200mm range that is ideal for photojournalism, and it does it one lens. Granted it’s almost entry-level DSLR sized, but you won’t have to worry about changing out lenses. Its 1-inch sensor is surprisingly powerful, and it has solid RAW file versatility. It’s since been replaced by the RX10 Mk II, but the original is still worth considering.

In our review, we say:

“The Sony RX10 is a surprising contender in the crowded marketplace for cameras. It’s a bridge camera for the consumer that wants the capabilities of a DSLR without the hassle of deciding which lens(es) to buy. Of course, its 1-inch sensor slots it below Sony’s APS-C and full-frame options, but it’s not a knock against the RX10’s abilities. It has the capacity to make beautiful images from 24mm at the widest end to 200mm at the longest end. The RX10 gets an additional boost from its built-in Wi-fi, which makes sharing via the Sony Play Memories app a breeze.”

Buy it now: Amazon (RX10), Amazon (RX10 Mk II)

Sony a7 (versions I and II)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony A7 Mk II first impressions (25 of 29)ISO 4001-50 sec at f - 2.2

The a7 was the camera that marked a turning point for Sony. A full-frame mirrorless camera that succeeded where the Nikon Df failed. It would’ve been unwise to recommend it when it first came out, given the shortage of lenses back then, but now there’s a sizable roster. The original is one of the cheapest full frame cameras you’ll find, and its successor builds on the original’s formula with image stabilization and faster autofocus.

In our review of the original a7, we say:

“Even so, the A7 and the 55mm f1.8 did very well together. The A7R has more megapixels, but the A7 has far better autofocusing which gives it a sizable advantage. This makes it great for street photographers and just about any type of photographer, really. Moreover, the A7 is cheaper. Whether or not its affordable for most is a question that has yet to be answered conclusively, but in putting DSLR power into a compact body, Sony is succeeding in bringing the price down.”

Buy now: Amazon (a7), Amazon (a7 Mk II)

Fujifilm X-T1

julius motal the phoblographer fujifilm xt1 review-2

The crème de la crème of Fujifilm cameras is an obvious choice. It sports the best performance and ergonomics of the entire line, and Fujifilm finally has a 24-70mm f2.8 to boot.

In our review, we say:

“It’s got the right mix of vintage design and contemporary technology. Granted, the sensor is the same as the X-E2’s, but that isn’t a problem. The X-series is a much-lauded system, and the X-T1 is its strongest player. Part of the hubbub surrounding the X-T1 has to do with some of the design similarities to the Nikon Df, which had some ergonomic failings. While they sport nearly the same megapixel count, the Df has the upper hand with a full-frame sensor, tacking $1,000 to the price: $2,700 to the X-T1’s $1,700. That doesn’t mean the X-T1 is any less capable as it produces beautiful images.”

Buy now: Amazon

Fujifilm X100T

Kevin-Lee The Phoblographer Fujifilm X100T Product Images (6 of 7)

The X100 line of premium compact cameras is up there with Sony’s RX100 line, though Fujifilm’s has a more understate profile and handles colors better. Granted, the lens is a fixed prime, so while it may not be your main rig, it’s a great companion camera with excellent RAW files.

In our review, we say:

“The Fujifilm X100T has been slightly improved in almost every aspect to make it the best X100-series camera ever made. The X100T inherits all the great qualities of the X100s like a built-in ND filter—which does not seem to add any detrimental qualities to images this time around—and a leaf shutter for very quick flash sync speeds. Now with the newly refined camera’s controls, pop out mini-EVF, and a higher-resolution and larger screen adds on even more extras to what was already a great platform.”

Buy now: Amazon

Samsung NX1

julius motal the phoblographer samsung nx1 product image-1

Samsung had so much faith in its flagship NX1 that for a time, it offered to give you one in exchange for your old DSLR. Of course, that meant entering into Samsung’s ecosystem, which is a surprisingly robust one. The NX1 is styled like a DSLR, but it maintains a smaller profile.

In our review, we say:

“The NX1 shares design aspects with the NX30, but it goes above and beyond that camera in terms of processing power and the images it can produce. Full-frame enthusiasts won’t find anything they want here because Samsung has yet to enter the full-frame game. The NX1, however, is one of those cameras that can stand very close to a full-frame camera that can perform just as well, if not better in some cases.”

Buy now: Amazon

Panasonic GH4

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Panasonic GH4 product images for review (7 of 8)ISO 4001-160 sec at f - 2.8

The Micro Four Thirds ecosystem has some of the fastest autofocus around, which is a considerable boon in fast-paced situations, and we would be remiss if we didn’t include some MFT cameras in this roundup. The GH4 has a lot going for it including excellent video for those who take on video assignments.

In our review, we say:

“Panasonic’s GH4 is a beast of a camera with a lot going for it. It has great autofocusing, 4K video, very versatile RAW files, pretty good high ISO abilities, great ergonomics, and WiFi built in. There is really no reason that one could feel like this camera is inadequate in any shape or form.”

Buy now: Amazon

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk II

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Olympus OMD EM5 Mk II first impressions product photos (10 of 10)ISO 1001-30 sec at f - 4.5

Olympus has made considerable strides in the mirrorless space, and its latest camera the E-M5 Mk II is its best yet with a wealth of considerable attributes. Its lightness and high performance combined with great lenses make it a solid choice for any photojournalist out in the field.

In our review, we say:

“The sensor in the Olympus OMD EM5 MK II is the single best four thirds sensor that we’ve tested. It’s got a ton of dynamic range, great high ISO abilities, can give you a higher resolution photo if you need, lots of autofocus points that just work, and a heck of a lot going for it.”

Buy now: Amazon