Mirrorless camera technology continues to evolve in 2023. Though some people want to define a camera as "video-centric" or "built for stills," some of the best cameras manage to balance the two by taking the so-called "hybrid" path. Compared to, say, a cine camera, the inability to pin down what a mirrorless camera is or should do makes it a highly versatile platform capable of anything from everyday photo taking to high-budget Hollywood productions. To see manual focus, stills-only rangefinders sharing a space with the first mirrorless camera to feature a global shutter makes the world of mirrorless cameras an excitingly unpredictable place to be.
Here are my picks for top mirrorless cameras of the year.
10: Panasonic Lumix G9 II
Filling a niche within the Lumix Micro Four Thirds lineup, Panasonic launched the Lumix G9 II in late summer as the photo-oriented flagship in this category. The big news here was the arrival of phase-detection autofocus (PDAF) for a Micro Four Thirds camera from Panasonic. The brand had already debuted PDAF with its full-frame cameras, so seeing it in the smaller sensor format feels like a natural evolution that brings increased speed and focusing precision. Some of the other big upgrades in the G9 II include the new 25.2MP sensor, a body that's based on the S5 II/S5 IIX cameras, and, despite the camera being positioned for photo, a wealth of top-tier video specs like 5.8K open gate recording, 4K recording at up to 120p, ProRes 422 support, and V-Log built-in.
Check out our Lumix G9 II announcement and hands-on review video for more information.
9: Leica M11-P / M11 Monochrom
Leica had two "mirrorless" (technically rangefinder) camera announcements in 2023 and both are iterations of the M11 platform, which debuted in 2022. Separately, the M11 Monochrom and M11-P are on the minor end of camera launches, since they're iterative upgrades that follow a historical pattern, but looking at them together feels more substantial and highlights Leica's strategy of improving when and where necessary without disrupting what works.
The M11 Monochrom is the camera you think it is—everything new from the M11 but with a modified sensor that only records grayscale values. This means you get the higher 60MP resolution, Triple Resolution Technology, internal 256GB memory, and updated processing with a specialized sensor for the black-and-white fanatics out there.
Similarly, the M11-P takes all of the great internals of the standard M11 but adds a few stylistic refinements along with one notable change: the inclusion of a secure chipset that unlocks Content Authenticity Initiative technology for encrypting metadata and providing clear, reliable image provenance information.
8: Sony ZV-E1
Moving on to the sole "vlogging" camera of the list, Sony's ZV-E1 feels like the natural evolution of the company's ZV series of content creator-focused cameras, this time matching the niche feature set and body with a larger full-frame sensor. Much like the ZV-E10 APS-C mirrorless and ZV-1 fixed lens compact camera, the ZV-E1 is purpose built for single-person, handheld productions—the key difference is that it uses the same 12MP Exmor R sensor as the a7S III and FX3 for improved image quality, low-light performance, and wider dynamic range compared to the smaller sensor sizes. In terms of creator-focused features, the camera has a three-capsule microphone with included windscreen, a variety of imaging modes to prioritize focus and framing based on subject or product, and a useful side-opening vari-angle LCD.
Check out our announcement and video for more on the ZV-E1.
7: Canon EOS R8
Next on the list is the Canon EOS R8, and this all-arounder is being featured here not necessarily for its innovative specs or sheer power, but for presenting a really well-rounded feature set at a solid value. In terms of entry- to mid-level potential, the R8 checks off nearly all the boxes for a camera that appeals to newer hobbyists or even those just looking for a modest amount of tech in a camera that delivers on the essentials. The R8 has a 24MP full-frame sensor, 4K 60p video, and reliable Dual Pixel CMOS AF II focusing. Beyond these standards, the camera has few frills. The R8 is a great camera for those jumping up to full-frame from APS-C or maybe those moving from a DSLR to a mirrorless system for the first time.
Look back at the announcement and video, when the R8 debuted alongside the APS-C-format R50.
6: Nikon Zf
Probably my choice for most fun camera of the year, the Nikon Zf is the spiritual successor to the Df DSLR and the big brother to the DX-format Zfc. It's a retro-themed full-frame camera using much of the Z6 II's internals with a stylized exterior reminiscent of a film-era FM2. Whereas the Z6 (and Z7, Z8, and Z9) has a forward-thinking, futuristically sleek body, the Zf is all about tactile control, dials, knobs, sharp edges, and knurling. It's a camera to delight the senses and make shooting an enjoyable experience.
Learn more about the Nikon Zf via our announcement and hands-on video.
5: Sony a7CR
Another instance of when an iterative update becomes more important than expected, the Sony a7CR was announced alongside the lookalike a7C II, turning "a7C" into its own series rather than just a one-off compact full-frame camera. Whereas the a7 C II is a simple version II of the previous model, the a7CR sticks out because it takes the higher-resolution sensor of the a7R V and sticks it into a petite, stylish camera body. No longer are compact cameras relegated to being all-arounders. This unique combination of a premium 61MP full-frame sensor in a highly portable body makes for what feels like the ultimate travel camera; it's the camera for serious shooters making casual photos.
Get more details on the a7CR, along with the a7C II, in our announcement and intro video.
4: FUJIFILM GFX100 II
The only mirrorless medium format release of the year was FUJIFILM's GFX100 II, which also proved to be a significant and welcomed improvement on the GFX 100S. This latest model keeps all of the key attributes of the GFX 100 series, obviously including the 100MP 44 x 33mm sensor, but then brings the camera in line with the X Series of APS-C cameras via the inclusion of subject recognition AF, faster 8 fps continuous shooting, and improved video specs, like 8K 30p or 4K 60p recording at 4:2:2 10-bit internally or 12-bit ProRes 422 recording via HDMI. The specs alone are a big deal, but seeing these kinds of speedy, power-intensive features alongside a medium format sensor is pretty groundbreaking.
Get more info on the FUJIFILM GFX100 II on our announcement page and via our hands-on video.
3: Panasonic Lumix S5 IIX
The first camera release of the year also proved to be one of the most significant: Panasonic's Lumix S5 IIX, along with its S5 II sibling, was a standout mirrorless simply due to how well-rounded its feature set is, especially considering the prevailing shift toward video and the idea of a hybrid camera. The standard S5 II made it to market first, is a very well-rounded option, and was Panasonic's first camera to offer phase-detection AF. However, for those who waited, the S5 IIX proved to be a more interesting release, thanks to its ability to record All-I codecs, ProRes 422 and 422HQ, and ProRes RAW or Braw, as well as the option to record directly to an SSD via the USB-C port. Both cameras have a lot to offer for photographers and videographers alike, but the S5 IIX is just a bit more interesting, thanks to its souped-up video specs.
2: Nikon Z8
Since its release in the middle of the year, the Nikon Z8 potentially had "camera of the year" written all over it. And, for many shooters out there, I think it still is the most significant camera release of 2023. For anyone who missed it, the Z8 is essentially the Z9, Nikon's flagship camera, in a smaller, more portable body. It has the same sensor and processing as the Z9, the same AF performance, and the same video capabilities. Any sacrifices it makes relate to more professional workflows (lack of an Ethernet port, for example) but the Z8 makes up for these with a significantly smaller body. It's the camera for anyone who wants top-tier performance in a package that's suitable for everyday shooting.
For more in-depth coverage, check out our Nikon Z8 landing page.
1: Sony a9 III
Arriving late in the year, the Sony a9 III is an amazing and groundbreaking camera for a handful of reasons, chiefly because it's the first mirrorless camera to feature a global shutter. This unique 24.6MP full-frame sensor offers unrivaled shooting speeds, up to 120 fps raw capture, along with a top 1/80,000 shutter speed with flash sync at all speeds. And another positive consequence of the global shutter: no subject or motion distortion. For sports, wildlife, action, and event photographers, as well as video shooters in general, this opens up a new world of recording capabilities. The camera itself is top notch, but the first-ever inclusion of a full-frame global shutter in this category is what pushes the a9 III into camera of the year territory.
Learn more about this camera on our dedicated Sony a9 III landing page.
The Top Takeaways from this List
Sony is on fire with its camera releases this year; Nikon has kept on trucking with a pair of impressive cameras; I'm intrigued to see how Panasonic continues development across full-frame and Micro Four Thirds tiers in the future; glad to see FUJIFILM growing its GFX system but anxiously awaiting the next X Series camera; Canon's light year must mean the brand is cooking up something big; Leica, as usual, continues to do Leica things; OM SYSTEM was MIA for camera releases this year; Sigma?; and Pentax is keeping busy still making DSLRs and film cameras.
What are your thoughts on our Top Mirrorless Cameras of 2023? Did we miss any cameras? Was your favorite camera ranked too low or was anything ranked too high? Let us know your thoughts and top picks for 2023 in the Comments section, below.