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Best Mirrorless Cameras for Landscape Photography: 2017 Buyer’s Guide

best mirrorless cameras landscape photography

Find out why we chose the Fujifilm XT-2 as the Best Pro-Crop Mirrorless Camera, and the Sony A7R II as the Best Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera.

We’ve issued other awards too, like Best Mid-Grade Camera or Best Value Full-Frame Camera!  Look for the Mountain Tripper badge to find our top picks.

Lightweight mirrorless camera systems are the wave of the future.  Landscape photographers can and should take advantage of the extra mobility afforded by these small but capable bodies. With so many options on the market right now, it can be hard to sift through all product choices to find the right camera for your needs.

Of course, landscape photographers have their own unique set of needs that can vary greatly from other types of photographers and it’s often hard to find recommendations tailored specifically to our craft.

As an experienced landscape photographer that shoots with mirrorless cameras, I’m here to help! Based on my own research and personal experience, I’ve compiled the following list that features the best mirrorless cameras for landscape photography.

Contents (Jump Ahead In This Article)

Best Mid-Grade Mirrorless Cameras
Best Pro-Grade (Crop-Sensor) Mirrorless Cameras
Best Full-Frame Mirrorless Cameras
Best Medium-Format Mirrorless Cameras
Factors for Choosing a Mirrorless Camera for Landscape Photography

Best Mid-Grade Mirrorless Cameras

This is by far largest category of mirrorless cameras.  It includes many Olympus and Panasonic micro four-thirds cameras, as well as Sony and Fujifilm APS-C bodies.  This is also my favorite category because I believe that you don’t need a really expensive camera to take amazing photos, and the mid-grade price point seems to offer the best quality-to-price ratio.

For the sake of brevity, I’m going to stick to only a few of the best mid-grade mirrorless cameras. However, there are definitely some that I will leave off that may very well serve a demanding landscape photographer.

Fujifilm X-T20best midgrade mirrorless

24.3 Megapixel APS-C Sensor

Weight: 13.51 oz / 383 g

Dimensions: 4.7 x 3.3 x 1.6″ / 118.4 x 82.8 x 41.4 mm

fujfilm xt20 mirrorless camera

The Fujifilm X-T20 holds the title of “Best Mid-Grade Mirrorless Camera”.

Fujifilm has arguably the most alluring APS-C system for landscape photographers, and the Fujifilm X-T20 is an excellent choice for photographers buying the mid-grade category.  It’s priced to match its lack of “pro-grade” features.  However, compared to the pricier X-T2, the X-T20 only lacks weather-sealing, a slightly bulkier grip, and a slight edge in ergonomics.  As such, I do think that the X-T20 is a fantastic camera for the price, matching great image quality with solid build quality and above-average ergonomics.

If you’re buying the X-T20 in a kit, you have a choice between the 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS and the 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 OIS.  Both are solid lenses, however I think it’s worth the extra money for the 18-55mm as its max aperture range of f/2.8-4.0 can come in handy in some situations like night photography. Regardless, buying this camera in a kit is a substantial value that should not be overlooked.

Overall, I think the Fuji X-T20 is an amazing camera that offers a great value, and will perform nearly on par with the more expensive X-T2, especially considering its new 24.3 megapixel sensor. It should come as no surprise for this to be my pick for “Best Mid-Grade” Mirrorless Camera.

Check current prices for the Fujifilm X-T20:

Sony a6000

24.3- Megapixel APS-C sensor

Weight: 12.13 oz / 344 g

Dimensions:  4.7 x 2.6 x 1.8″ / 120.0 x 67.0 x 45.0 mm

sony a6000

The Sony a6000 is our favorite Sony product in the APS-C format.

The Sony a6000 is perhaps the best value-for-image quality mirrorless camera on the market.  It lacks a few higher-end features (such as touch screen LCD and weather sealing), which partially explains its low price point.  If you can go without these things (most folks can), then the a6000 may be an excellent choice for an affordable but feature-rich mirrorless body.  A couple of nice bonuses if you are a landscape photographer that occasionally shoots wildlife: the a6000 shoots a fast 11 frames per second and is one of the fastest auto-focusing cameras on the planet! And considering its price for a 24 megapixel crop-sensor, the Sony a6000 is one best value APS-C mirrorless cameras on the market right now.

However, this camera does have a couple weaknesses. The menu system is rather convoluted, so at times it can be cumbersome to quickly switch settings.  It does at least have a mode dial, which makes it an improvement over the budget level Sony offerings.

Perhaps the biggest qualm is the Sony APS-C lens selection, which is sub-par. Fuji X-Mount and Micro Four-Thirds both have a better selection of quality lenses well-suited for landscape photography, while Sony continues to ignore their APS-C lens lineup. I only recommend buying the a6000 if you are upgrading from a previous Sony body.  If you are just entering the mirrorless crop-sensor market, I recommend looking at the Fujifilm, Olympus, or Panasonic systems as they are more well-rounded.

I also recommend buying the a6000 as the body only.  The 16-50mm “pancake” style kit lens not of high quality, so the few bucks you save by skipping the kit lens might go toward a quality lens purchased separately.  My favorite landscape lens for the a6000 is the Sony Zeiss 16-70mm f/4.

Check current prices for the Sony a6000:

 

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IIbest-midgrade-mirrorless-kit

16.1-Megapixel Micro Four-Thirds Sensor

Weight: 13.76 oz / 390 g

Dimensions: 4.7 x 3.3 x 1.8″ / 119.5 x 83.1 x 46.7 mm

olympus em10 mark ii

The Olympus E-M10 Mark II is a formidable mid-grade micro four-thirds camera body.

Another great value, especially when you consider the lens packages below!  The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II packs a big punch into a small body, and also includes a touch screen LCD!  Its micro four-thirds sensor renders beautiful images, and will suit the needs of a great many photographers, just as long as you don’t need to print extremely large.  In comparison to its main competitor, the Sony a6000, you might think that the E-M10 Mark II is inferior based on sensor size and resolution alone.  But consider this: E-M10 Mark II has superior handling, with its dial-based operation being a pleasure to use.  Another consideration is the fantastic lens packages available with this body:

The E-M10 Mark II is available in a kit with the Olympus 14-42mm II R lens, which is a capable mid-range zoom that will work great for many landscape photogs.  To boot, Olympus offers a two-lens kit with the OM-D E-M10 Mark II, the 14-42mm II R plus the 40-150mm II R telephoto zoom.  Offering two solid lenses plus a great micro four-thirds body is an incredible value.  This package should catch the eye of any landscape photographer browsing for a camera system in this price range.

Check current Prices for the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II:

Best Pro-Grade APS-C and Micro Four-Thirds Bodies

Nowadays, many pro photographers shoot with crop-sensor mirrorless bodies, and our favorite mirrorless manufacturers are producing a good number of cameras in this range.  By the way, I like to call this category the name Pro-Crop.

It is my opinion that many of these cameras are full of features that the average landscape photographer doesn’t need.  These may include 4k video capability, super fast burst mode, and many other features important to those that shoot high-quality video or photograph fast moving subjects in low light.  I myself am sticking with a “pro-sumer” mid-grade Sony a6000 because I don’t want to pay extra for features I don’t need and will never use.  You will also the notice a bit of size increase as we go to Pro-Crop, as most of the bodies start creeping up over 1 pound in weight.

At the same time, all of the cameras in this category are weather-sealed, and most are built like tanks.  This is an important consideration for many landscape photographers and shoot in extreme conditions and generally put their cameras through hell.  Landscape photographers that occasionally delve into other types of work may especially need some of the common features of the pro-grade cameras.

It is up to you to  decide if the extra features on these cameras are necessary for your style, or if you would be better served making the jump to a full-frame system, perhaps even staying in the mid-grade range like myself.

Sony a6300

24.2-Megapixel APS-C Sensor

Weight: 14.25 oz / 404 g

Dimensions: 4.7 x 2.6 x 1.9″ / 120.0 x 66.9 x 48.8 mm

sony a6300

The Sony a6300 is a solid choice for Sony shooters in the APS-C format.

A refresh of the a6000, the Sony a6300 features essentially the same specs but with a weather sealed body that now supports 4k video and the addition of a microphone jack (and a few other minor improvements).  If you are a landscape photographer that also does high quality video, you may want to seriously consider this camera. The quality of stills and video in a camera this size are likely unmatched anywhere on the market right now. Sony’s a6300 does pack a strong punch in the size-to-feature ratio, especially with the video capability, and I highly recommend the camera with only the caveats below.

The weather-sealed body is a nice feature, but to get weather-sealed lenses for this model you’ll have to drop an obscene amount of money for the Sony 24-70mm F/4 Vario-Tessar and Sony 16-35mm F/4 Vario-Tessar.  Those lenses are too large for a body this size as they’re designed for Sony full-frame.  In my opinion if you’re looking for weather-sealing with a Sony system, you might as well go to one of their full-frame mirrorless offerings (the Sony A7 is just a few bucks more).

As a current Sony shooter, I’m personally sticking with the a6000 for the time being as its just too good a value!  Part of the problem is Sony’s weak selection of APS-C tailored lenses that don’t quite fit with a camera the caliber of the a6300.  Because the a6300 is a great camera, it makes the list, but I still think that the a6000 is the best option for landscape photographers looking at Sony mirrorless crop-sensor cameras.

If you really, really want the freshest, shiniest Sony replete with a touch-screen LCD and in-camera stabilization, you could spring for the Sony a6500, but I’d save the money for a nice lens and grab the a6000 or a6300.  And again, I’m only recommending these Sony APS-C cameras to those already shooting Sony.  Photographers making the switch into mirrorless are better served going to any of the Fujifilm, Olympus, or Panasonic crop-sensors, or a Sony full-frame system in my opinion.

Check current Prices for the Sony a6300:

Fujifilm X-T2best-pro-crop-camera

24.3-Megapixel APS-C sensor

Weight: 1.12 lb / 507 g

Dimensions: 5.2 x 3.6 x 1.9″ / 132.5 x 91.8 x 49.2 mm

fujifilm xt2 body

The Fujifilm X-T2 is the winner of the Best Pro-Crop Mirrorless Camera award.

The Fujifilm X-T2 might be considered the manufacturer’s flagship camera among their fleet of high-quality APS-C size bodies.  It pulls out (almost) all the stops, featuring a competitive 24.3-megapixel sensor and an environmentally sealed body, but lacking the touch screen LCD that might be seen as standard for a body of this price.  Of course, of any camera boasting a similar feature set, the X-T2 is arguably the easiest and most efficient to use, and it’s doubtful you’d miss the touch-screen that much.  It’s most direct competition is the Sony a6500, which boasts all the same features plus a sleek touch screen LCD, but won’t be nearly as enjoyable to navigate as the X-T2’s ergonomic dials and buttons.

If you decide the X-T2 is the right camera for you, consider picking it up with the 18-55mm f/2.8-4 lens included.  The 18-55 is a capable, reasonably sharp lens that is an excellent.

I highly recommend  Fujifilm X-T2 as a professional grade APS-C mirrorless camera that will serve the demanding landscape photographer as an extremely functional system that produces great images.  It’s overall feature set wins it our “Best Pro-Crop” award. However, before you snap up the XT-2, definitely take a look at the XT-1 below.

Current Prices for the Fujifilm X-T2:

 

Fujifilm X-T1best value pro crop

16.3 Megapixel APS-C Sensor

Weight: 15.52 oz / 440 g

Dimensions: 5.1 x 3.5 x 1.8″ / 129.0 x 89.8 x 46.7 mm

fujifilm xt1

The Fujifilm X-T1 is our Best Value Pro-Crop Mirrorless Camera.

At one time, the Fujifilm X-T1 this was my personal favorite choice among Fujifilm cameras and the Pro-Crop category as a whole. As it is now a few years old, its showing its age a bit. Here’s the X-T1 in a nutshell: It’s pretty much the same as the XT-2, but with a few less megapixels and no 4k video.

But it’s also cheaper, and for many landscape photographers, the savings will be worth those sacrifices.  The image quality is still great, its ergonomics are top-notch, and its weather-sealed body is built like a tank.  As such, its a previous winner of my “Best Value Pro-Crop” award.

Of course, its 16 megapixel sensor is rapidly becoming dated compared to the 24 megapixel standard for APS-C sensors, and could be a deal breaker, especially with the newer and cheaper X-T20 coming into play (though, that camera is not weather-sealed).

Perhaps the real allure to buying at X-T1 at this point is the lens kits. You can get the X-T1 paired with the solid mid-range Fujinon 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 zoom which is a great setup at a great price.

Or my personal favorite is the X-T1 in a kit with the Fujinon 18-135mm.  That kit alone could allow you to shoot almost an landscape subject in a lightweight weather-sealed package, and an ultrawide (Fujinon 10-24mm or Rokinon 12mm) purchased separately could round out a nearly perfect mirrorless setup for a great value to boot.  If you’re willing to accept the lower resolution sensor, the XT-1 gets you into a weather-sealed body at a discount.

Current Prices for the Fujifilm X-T1:

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

best micro four thirds mirrorless

20.4 Megapixel Micro Four-Thirds Sensor

Weight: 1.26 lb / 574 g

Dimensions:  5.3 x 3.6 x 2.7″ / 134.1 x 90.9 x 68.9 mm

olympus om-d em-1 mark II

The Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II is essentially the most technologically advanced micro-four thirds camera to date.

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is one beast of a camera.

It’s got essentially every high-end capability imaginable, with bluetooth and geo-tagging capabilities being the only items left out.  And yes, it’s got the tilt-and-swivel touch-screen LCD plus the 4k video capability.  Not absolute necessities, but definitely awesome features.

But here’s perhaps the biggest benefit to landscape photogs: its in-camera image stabilization is already becoming legendary.  Olympus’ claim of 6.5 stops of stabilization seems to be legit, with some real world hand-held shots coming out sharp even with a shutter speed of 15 seconds!  I still wouldn’t give away my tripod, but that is seriously impressive!

Another potential benefit: large handgrip makes the body a little more dSLR-like. This also makes it bulkier than most mirrorless cameras, but can be a pro for photographers with big hands or the preference for carrying the camera in-hand and ready-to-fire.

The verdict: it’s pricey but if you want a true pro-quality camera in small package with some of the best image stabilization on the planet, look no further than the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. It’s our de-facto Best Micro Four-Thirds Camera, but check out the Panasonic DMC-GX8 below as well.

Current Prices for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II:

 

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8

20.3 Megapixel Micro Four-Thirds Sensor

Weight: 1.07 lb / 487 g

Dimensions: 5.2 x 3.1 x 2.5″ / 133.2 x 77.9 x 63.1 mm

panasonic dmc-gx8

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 is our choice for the Best Micro Four-Thirds Camera.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 is perhaps in a category of its own.  It’s a pro-grade camera, but $800 cheaper than the Olympus EM-1 Mark II!  So what makes the Panasonic GX8 cheaper? Mostly a bunch of stuff that most landscape photographers don’t care much about: slower max shutter speed, slower burst mode, slower auto-focus, yadda-yadda-yadda.  The Olympus also has better in-camera stabilization, but is possibly in a league of its own in that regard anyway.  However, the DMC-DX8 does have a bunch of pro-grade features like 4k video and a tilt-swivel touch-screen LCD.

But lets get to the meat. The DMC-DX8 has a high-resolution micro-four thirds sensor, a very small but weather-sealed body, and fantastic ergonomics.  In fact, it looks almost like a Sony body with a better build and an interface that’s easier to use.  If you’re looking for a very small but very powerful camera that is well-suited for shooting in rough conditions, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-DX8 is a fantastic choice.  The Olympus EM-1 Mark II is crazy good, but I do think the typical landscape photographer could be happy saving the money and get this Panasonic instead.

As with all miro-four thirds sensors, just remember that your print sizes are more limited than with an APS-C camera.

Current Prices for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8:

 

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH5

20.3 Megapixel Micro Four-Thirds Sensor

Weight: 1.6 lbs/ 725 g

Dimensions: 5.5 x 3.9 x 3.4″ / 138.5 x 98.1 x 87.4 mm

panasonic gh5 dslr mirrorless

The Panasonic Lumix GH5 is a pro-grade mirrorless with a large dSLR-like body.

If you’re looking for a pro-quality mirrorless with a dSLR style body, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH5 may be the camera for you!  It’s packed with high-end features, like the tilt-swivel touch-screen, 4k video, in-body image stabilization, and weather-sealing. This camera even gives the Olympus OMD EM-1 Mark II a run for its money (although I do prefer the EM-1 Mark II over the GH-5).

Personally, this is a pretty big camera and isn’t really my cup of tea, but I can see it’s lure for pros making the switch to mirrorless that are trying to ease the transition.  This is especially true if you have big hands, or simply like the larger grip of a dSLR body, but want a little smaller size.  Another potential benefit versus a similar dSLR body: this camera has an EVF that for many photographers is seen as an improvement over an optical viewfinder.

Just realize this is a micro four-thirds sensor, so if you like to print larger than say 20×30 inches, this camera may not fit your style.

Current Prices for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH5:

Best Full-Frame Mirrorless Cameras

In the digital age of photography, a full-frame (35mm equivalent) sensor size is the gold standard of image quality.  However, I am of the opinion that the vast majority of photographers (pro or otherwise) don’t actually need a full-frame camera (especially as the technology of crop-sensors continues to explode).  But there are definitely some landscape photographers out there that print really big (think 50″ x 70″) or otherwise do need a full-frame sensor.

At this time, Sony pretty much has the full-frame mirrorless game locked up, for better or for worse. The only other company producing mirrorless full-frame is Leica, but their price point is so high, I just wouldn’t recommend buying one.  At that point you might as well go to medium-format mirrorless (more on that later).

leica sl mirrorless camera

The Leica SL full frame mirrorless body.

Mirrorless Full-Frame Weight Considerations

As you might expect, with the larger sensor also comes an increase in weight.  Currently, the Sony full-frame bodies all clock in between 1 and 1.3 pounds, which is at least a pound lighter than a typical pro-grade full-frame dSLR.  A nice weight savings, but to really take advantage, you’ll need to spring for the lenses built for the format, or else your weight savings will be negated compared to the competition.

I mention this because many photographers are switching to a Sony full-frame body, but then using a Metabones adapter to use their Canon or Nikon lenses.  The lenses aren’t any lighter, and the addition of the adapter essentially negates the weight savings of a lighter mirrorless body.  As such, if you really want a full-frame but want the weight savings of mirrorless, you have got to go all in on the lenses designed for mirrorless as well.

With that in mind, here’s the run-down of the best full-frame mirrorless options.

Sony A7R IIbest full frame mirrorless

42 Megapixel Full-Frame Sensor

Weight: 22.05 oz / 625 g

Dimensions: 5.0 x 3.8 x 2.4″ / 126.9 x 95.7 x 60.3 mm

sony a7r mark ii

The Sony A7R II is the Best Full Frame Mirrorless Camera.

Sony’s flagship full-frame mirrorless camera.  The Sony A7R II features a gnarly 42 mega-pixel sensor that will definitely catch a ton of detail and let you print super large.  And breaking the mold a bit, it’s got much improved ergonomics compared to Sony’s APS-C offerings, although the menu system is still not the easiest to use.  Build quality is excellent, and it’s got almost all the bells and whistles like 4k video, just not a touch screen LCD.  Another nice feature is in-camera image stabilization, advertised as 4.5 stops worth.

I could fill another paragraph or five with all of its pro-grade features, but just know that the Sony A7R II is one amazing camera. If you want the highest resolution mirrorless full-frame out there, this is the one.  It’s ridiculous specs and passable usability make it the defacto Best Full Frame Body, but definitely check out the two cameras below for better value.

Current Prices for the Sony A7R II:

 

Sony A7 IIjakes-pick-full-frame

24.3 Megapixel Full-Frame Sensor

Weight: 1.22 lb / 556 g

Dimensions: 5.0 x 3.8 x 2.4″ / 126.9 x 95.7 x 59.7 mm

sony-a-7-mark-ii

The Sony A7 II is Jake’s Pick among full frame mirrorless cameras, featuring exceptional quality, nice ergonomics, and a great value.

If you compare the physical characteristics of this camera to the A7R II, you will see that they look exactly the same.  That’s good news for ergonomics (as both handle well), but may make you wonder why the Sony A7 II costs half as much.  To be honest, it’s the difference of almost 20 million pixels in resolution, plus the lack of 4k video.  Otherwise, this is basically the same camera.

If you’re seriously considering a full-frame body, you need to ask yourself if the extra resolution and video capability is worth the double-price upgrade to the A7R II.  In my opinion, the size of the sensor matters more than the difference between 24 and 42 mega-pixels, and since both cameras have the same sensor size, your prints aren’t going to come out that much crisper with the A7R II.

As such, I think the Sony A7 II gives you more bang for your buck, and is a great value compared to its more expensive younger brother.  If I was buying a new full frame body right now, the Sony A7 II would be my choice.

Current Prices for the Sony A7 II:

 

Sony A7best value full frame

24.3 Megapixel Full-Frame Sensor

Weight: 1 lb 0.7 oz / 474 g

Dimensions: 5.0 x 3.7 x 1.9″ / 126.9 x 94.4 x 48.2 mm

sony a7

The Sony A7 is our Best Value Full Frame Mirrorless Camera.

The Sony A7 is the definite winner of the Best Value in the Full-Frame category.  It’s an older model, and has come down in price as newer models have came along.  Regardless, its still worth your attention as it has pretty much everything a landscape photographer is concerned with.

Comparing it to the pricier Sony A7 II, there are only a couple differences.  The A7 lacks in-camera image stabilization, and it’s ergonomics a little clunkier, especially with its oddly spaced shutter button.  It’s lack of phase detection make the autofocus a tad slower.  Beyond that the A7 is essentially the same camera.  And it’s even ever so slightly smaller and lighter.

In my opinion, the ergonomics on the A7 are still usable, so it really boils down to how much you want that in-camera stabilization.  It’s definitely a great feature if you shoot a lot of handheld, but if you shoot on a tripod the majority of the time, you should definitely consider saving the $500 and grabbing the A7.

Another great value for budget conscious photographers that really want to go full-frame: the Sony A7 paired in a kit with the Sony 28-70mm lens.  The 28-70 is not a spectacular lens, but will get the job done.  This kit should be on the radar of budget conscious buyers looking to go full-frame and lightweight.

Current Prices for the Sony A7:

Medium Format Mirrorless

If you want the absolute best in resolution in a mirrorless system, you might consider medium format.  However, these systems are super expensive, with the Hasselblad X1D-50c running at nearly $9000 for the body only.  At that rate, I’d just go for one of the Sony full-frames!  However, read below for our take on the Fujifilm GFX-50s medium format system.

hasselblad x1d-50c

The Hasselblad X1D-50C medium format mirrorless system will cost you an arm and a leg. I’d get one of the Sony full frames above, or look in the Fujifilm GFX-50S below.

Fujifilm GFX-50S

51.4 Megapixel 43.6 x 32.9mm Medium Format CMOS Sensor

Weight: 2 lb/ 920 g

Dimensions: 5.8 x 3.7 x 3.6″ / 147.5 x 94.2 x 91.4 mm

The Fujifilm GFX-50S is Fuji’s new mirrorless medium format offering. It may very well produce highest quality single images of any camera on the planet, mirrorless otherwise. It’s also a fairly small body compared to it’s enormous 43.6mm medium format sensor. It’s also packed full of all of the top-of-the-line features that you would expect from a camera of this price.

While it is large compared to the “pocket-sized” APS-C mirrorless bodies, the GFX-50S really is rather compact. Let’s put it in perspective: it weighs about 10 oz more that Sony’s A7R II mirrorless full-frame body, a mere 5 oz more than the Canon 5D Mark IV full-frame dSLR, a is a full 1.3 pounds lighter than the Canon 1DX Mark II. With the GFX-50S, you really are getting all the features and about the same size of a fully-loaded full-frame dSLR, but with a remarkably larger sensor.

For the really serious landscape photographer, the Fujifilm GFX-50S looks to be the ultimate combination of top image quality matched with (relatively) small size and a (relatively) reasonable price.

Check current Prices for the Fujifilm GFX-50s:


Factors For Choosing A Mirrorless Camera for Landscape Photography

Check out my suggestions for the factors you should consider when purchasing a mirrorless camera for landscape photography below.

Brand Comparisons

It is of value to know the strengths and weaknesses of between the camera brands that make mirrorless cameras.

Of the biggest players in the mirrorless game right now (Sony, Fujifilm, Olympus, and Panasonic) each brand has their own focuses, making each one better suited for certain needs. As such, comparing your own needs these focuses may allow you to decide which brands might be a better fit for you.

Below is a breakdown of the strengths and weaknesses of each brand.  At the end of the article is a more comprehensive section with factors you might consider when buying a mirrorless camera.

Sony

Strengths

  • Fantastic line-up of mirrorless Full-Frame bodies and lenses
  • Industry leading auto-focus
  • Small, sleek designs, especially compared to sensor size
  • Great image quality to price ratio

Weaknesses

  • APS-C lineup has a limited selection of lenses, with many lenses being flawed compared to their price-point
  • Some functions require jumping into a rather convoluted menu system
  • Consumer and pro-sumer models build quality is lower than that of the competition
sony a7 ii

Sony’s A7 series are the best options for full frame mirrorless cameras.

Fujifilm

Strengths

  • Strongest lineup of APS-C bodies and lenses
  • Excellent ergonomics provided by a dial-based operation system
  • Superb build quality
  • Available lenses are all high quality
  • Offers medium format system

Weaknesses

  • Lens selection is not altogether large (no true entry level options)
  • No full frame options (however, medium format is available)
fujifilm mirrorless camera systems

Fujifilm’s APS-C format mirrorless systems are perhaps the most well-rounded cameras on the planet.

Olympus

Strengths

  • Great selection of quality, lightweight lenses
  • Excellent build quality
  • Most models feature in-camera image stabilization
  • Excellent ergonomics and an easy-to-use dial-based system

Weaknesses

  • Micro four-thirds sensor size is too small to make very large prints
olympus em-1

Olympus micro-four thirds cameras combine excellent build quality, great ergonomics, and cutting edge features in the form of small mirrorless systems.

Panasonic

Strengths

  • Eclectic variety of body designs, some small and sleek, other reminiscent of dSLRs
  • Great selection of quality, lightweight lenses
  • Excellent build quality
  • Excellent ergonomics and an easy-to-use dial-based system

Weaknesses

  • Micro four-thirds sensor size is too small to make very large prints
panasonic lumix

Panasonic is also putting out some amazing products in the micro-four thirds format.

Canon/Nikon/Ect.

Canon and Nikon have been the biggest names in digital photography for the past 15+ years, and they both offer mirrorless systems, but in my opinion, nothing that compares to the quality of the mirrorless cameras produced by Sony, Fujifilm, Olympus, and Panasonic.  Hasselblad and Leica are producing high quality mirrorless systems as well, but their price points are so astronomical, I don’t recommend considering their systems either.  Other brands, like lens manufacturer Sigma are also starting to produce mirrorless bodies. Time will tell whether these systems are worthy of investment of time and money by landscape photographers.

Size and Weight

It varies photographer to photographer, but when you’re out in nature hunting for shots and potentially hiking for miles, size and weight are super important.  That’s one huge benefit of any mirrorless camera system: weight and size reduction without loss of photo quality.  I personally try to keep each of my larger gear items under 1 pound, a preferably closer to 1/2 pound. Some photographers (especially those with big hands) may also prefer a slightly bulkier shape, keeping some of the weight savings of mirrorless while still maintaining a firm grip.

Image Quality

When looking at camera bodies, there two main factors that influence image quality: megapixel count and sensor size.  Of course, I do think that most photographers put too much importance on these two factors alone.  Most of us (even the professionals) can get by with a smaller sensor (Mirco Four-Thirds or APS-C) and fewer megapixels for the majority of what we do. But there are those that prefer or even need the better ISO performance, dynamic range, and larger printing options of a full-frame (35mm) or even a medium format sensor.  All of these are options in the mirrorless world.

Consider this too: image quality is highly influenced by the sharpness of the lenses being used.  Thus, even if you buy an expensive body with a big sensor and high megapixel count, you could ruin it all by strapping on a crummy lens.  Bodies that feature in-camera image-stabilization also help ensure that your images come out sharp when you aren’t able or willing to shoot on a tripod.

Build Quality

Landscape photographers often shoot in extreme conditions of weather (rain, snow, wind, ect.) while hiking over rugged terrain.  Our cameras are at risk at getting soaked, dropped, blown over, and subjected to any type of torture known to man or beast.  While we might want our cameras small and easy to carry, we also want them to be tough.  Most of the cameras on this list are of high build quality, but be weary that one (ahem, Sony), may be a little on the soft side.

Some cameras (more so on the high-end) feature weather-sealing, which will help keep the rain from damaging your gear, but is not a guarantee of any sort.  Also, to get the most out of your weather-sealing, you must also purchase weather-sealed lenses, and even then, don’t expect to be able to drop your camera into a river, lake, or sea and have the camera to still work properly.

fujifilm-xt2-best-mirrorless-camera

The Fujifilm X-T2 is a fantastic example of a mirrorless camera with exceptional build quality.

Ergonomics

Fantastic image quality, light weight and size, and all the bells and whistles in the world be negated if you can’t figure out how to use your camera.  Systems that force the user into on-screen menus can bog down a work flow and cause the photographer to miss the shot while trying to change settings.

Cameras that rely more on dials, buttons, and a simple on-screen interface typically foster greater usability.  Placement of said dials and buttons is also important.  However, no matter how well or poor a camera is laid out, a photographer must know their camera well in order to maximize its ergonomics.

Some manufacturers are better than others at ergonomics (Sony comes under fire once again here), and even the best ergonomic designs may take getting used to if switching from a different camera system.  It does pay to try out a camera (if you have the opportunity) before buying it to make sure you like how the camera feels and operates.

xt2 top view

The Fujifilm X-T2 features a user-friendly series on buttons and knobs that are inherently usable.

Trade-Offs

There are always trade-offs!  For instance, if you want the absolute best image quality, you will have to take on the larger size and weight of a camera with a larger sensor.   Of course, a heavier camera means larger and heavier lenses too.  If you want to go super-lightweight, you better be ready for a smaller sensor and some reduction in image quality.  Price is yet another factor: a larger sensor camera and its accompanying lenses can really break the bank.   Be aware that you will likely never find an absolutely “perfect” camera system for what you do.  Instead, be content to find the camera system that best suits your needs and budget.

Conclusion

I hope this is a helpful resource to any landscape photographer looking a buying a new mirrorless camera system.  If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions about this article, feel free to leave a comment below, or email me directly at jakecasephotography@gmail.com

Additional Mirrorless Camera Resources

Best Sony E-Mount Lenses For Landscape Photography

Best Olympus Micro Four-Thirds Lenses For Landscape Photography

Best Panasonic Micro Four-Thirds Lenses For Landscape Photography

Disclosure: Mountain Tripper is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • Nick says:

    Thanks for the great article, it provides me an overview of the mirrorless world! I am a landscape (daily and nightly) and cityscape amateur photographer and I am considering the upgrade from my old DSLR camera to a mirrorless. I want to take serious pics and the first lens I want to buy are a wide-angle zoom, a 50 equivalent and probably a wide fast prime for night photography. I am struggling between the Fuji X-T2 and the Sony A7 ii (I cannot afford the A7r ii), I know the Fuji is newer but I am considering the whole system overall. Which camera do you suggest staying the above requirements? Thank you so much, I’ll keep following your site 😉

    • Jake Case says:

      Hi Nick! Thanks for the response! First off, a “newer” model doesn’t neccessarily mean a better camera. The biggest difference between the Fujifilm XT-2 and the Sony A7 ii is the Sony has a larger sensor. When talking pure image quality, the Sony will produces better images than the XT-2, regardless of the megapixel count. However, unless you want to making really big prints, you probably won’t actually notice the difference too much. I’d say that if you are planning on printing larger than 24″ x 36″, then the full frame sensor on the Sony is a true necessity. However, since these two bodies are similarly price, I’d say the A7 ii gets a definite edge there.

      That said, even though two bodies are similar in price, the cost of the lenses for each system can be dramatically different. For the type of lenses you want, I ran the numbers, and it’s actually fairly close.

      The XT-2 will require you to get the Fujinon 10-24mm ($999 full price), the Fujinon 35mm f/2 ($399 full price), and the Rokinon 12mm f/2 ($399 full price). This equates to $1797 in lenses.

      In comparison, for the Sony A7 ii you will need the Sony 16-35mm f/4 ($1348 full price), the Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 ($248 full price), and the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 ($339 full price). This equates to $1935 in lenses.

      As such, it appears it may be worth it to invest in the A7 ii since the image quality will be better and the lenses you want are in the same price range. I also researched price comparisons for if you wanted a mid-range zoom or a telephoto zoom sometime down the road, it actually appears that you can get these types of lenses for the A7 ii for a similar price as their Fujifilm counterparts.

      (By the way, I used “full price” because most of these lenses are currently on sale for less than what I listed)

      So it does appear that the Sony A7 ii system may be your best option. The one thing that I think you should consider is the fact that the Sony lenses will likely be heavier and larger than the Fujifilm ones as these things do scale up as the sensor size gets larger. Definitely do your own research to compare size and weight to make sure that’s something you are comfortable with. In my opinion, small size and weight are an important benefit in mirrorless cameras, and the full frame systems give you a little less of this benefit.

      I hope that helps! Feel free to email at jakecasephotography@gmail.com if you have further in-depth questions, ect. I also have a new write-up about the Best Sony E-Mount Lenses for Landscape Photography, check it out!

  • Nick says:

    Thanks Jake for the exhaustive reply, I really appreciate!

    From what you said every camera system seems to have its pros and cons, I really would like to try them for a while in order to do a better pick. The IQ and lens selection of Sony really attract me but I have some concerns regarding handling, weight and overall build quality. Fuji may be a better compromise but maybe it’s not that specific for landscape due to sensor size and poor lens selections. In this moment I am leaning toward Sony but I am not still hundred percent convinced…

    The choice is really tough since I would like to invest in a system without regrets. Thank you again for providing such an useful standpoint!!

    • Mike says:

      Hi Nick!
      Any update on your system choice between the A7ii and the Fuji X-T2, almost one year ago? Really curious as I am looking to get out of the Canon system’s (60D) bulk and get better IQ and a lighter load for backpacking/travel. Great points made Jake on the pros and cons of these two packages! Thanks!

  • Tom says:

    Great Article! Thanks so much for taking the time to write this.

  • Isabel says:

    Thanks very much for your article. It’s been very useful to clarify my mind!

  • Xavier Valldeoriola says:

    A great article, Jack! Nevertheless, after reading it I’m still deeply doubtful about one subject. I shoot to mountain landscapes in order to watch them in a 4K TV (I don’t want to print them). I really take into account the weight, the 5-axis stabilization and the quality lenses of the Olympus OM-D but I’m not sure I wouldn’t appreciate an image quality improvement if I would compare its shots with other ones made with a camera with a 24MP APS-C sensor. Although the camera body didn’t have a built-in stabilization system it would produce sharpen images when you shrink them from 6000 x 4000 pixels to 4096 × 2160. Olympus OM-D just can make 4608 x 3456…

    Thanks in advance!

    • Jake Case says:

      Thanks for the input, Xavier! I don’t ever really view my photos on my TV, much less a 4k TV, so that is not something I had considered! But I’m sure that must be something that is becoming more and more common. However, generally speaking when you are reducing resolution, it levels the playing field. That is why print makers can often get away with using small sensor point-and-shoot cameras to make prints at 8×10 inches that don’t look much different than the same shot taken with a larger sensor camera. So in your case, I’m doubtful that you would see any difference in a reduced resolution 24mp APS-C image vs the micro four-thirds image when viewed at 4096 x 2160. If you discover any more information one way or another, please let me know!

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