Have Your Say: Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera of 2013

Dec 18, 2013 at 21:55 GMT

Have Your Say: Best Mirrorless ILC of 2013

2013 saw a lot of new mirrorless cameras, from minor updates to older models to all-new products like the waterproof Nikon 1 AW1 and the world's first full-frame enthusiast mirrorless cameras with Sony's Alpha A7 and A7R. We've used almost all of this year's crop of mirrorless cameras, published numerous samples galleries, wrote first impressions articles and reviews, but now it's your chance to have your say. What was the best mirrorless interchangeable lens camera of 2013? Click through this slideshow to see our selection, and cast your vote. 

Because so many mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras were released this year, we've been a little selective here. Did we miss your favorite camera? Let us know in the comments. 

Fujifilm X-M1

The Fujifilm X-M1 carries the same 16MP X-Trans APS-C sensor as Fuji's more advanced X-series cameras - a chip we've praised for its excellent image quality. While it doesn't have the viewfinder that some of the more expensive models do, it offers a tilting 3.0" LCD panel. It also lacks the traditional shutter speed and aperture dials of its thoroughly-retro siblings, but still offers twin control dials.

Like other X-Trans Fujifilm cameras the X-M1 produces relatively noise-free JPEG images even up to ISO 3200 - very good indeed for this class. It turns out images with great default color and exposure, and JPEG processing is so good that many users won't feel the need to shoot Raw. 

Fujifilm X-E2

The Fujifilm X-E2 uses a 16MP APS-C-size CMOS sensor with the company's X-Trans color filter, which has impressed us with its excellent image quality. The camera's color rendition is among our favorites and JPEG image quality is generally very good.

Overall, the Fujifilm X-E2 is a camera designed for photographers who put still image quality and handling ahead of movies and the often-gimmicky features found on some other mirrorless cameras. The design of the camera is top-notch, performance is good and, with the right lens, image quality will truly impress.

Nikon 1 AW1

The AW1 features a 14.2 megapixel CX-format CMOS sensor and Nikon's latest Expeed 3A processor. Focusing is achieved via a hybrid contrast and phase detect system, which in combination with the AW1's processing power, allows for 15 fps continuous shooting with autofocus (with focus locked that number jumps to 60 fps).

Although the control logic of the AW1 is firmly geared towards point-and-shoot photography, it's a cut above the relatively numerous tough compacts that occupy the lower rungs of the rugged camera ladder. The AW1 has an interchangeable lens mount and can be used with any 1-series lens, but with one of its companion waterproof lenses attached the camera can be dropped, frozen, muddied and completely immersed in water safely.

Olympus OM-D E-M1

The E-M1 is the highest-end Micro Four Thirds camera so far - competing head-to-head with the best enthusiast-level APS-C DSLRs. It sits above the excellent E-M5 and offers even more direct control, as well as improved focus tracking and faster performance with Four Thirds lenses. 

The E-M1 rivals the Fujifilm X-Pro1 for color rendition and generally its JPEGs are among the best in the business, with good tonal response and sensible noise reduction. Its smaller sensor means you need brighter lenses to match the depth-of-field control offered by its APS-C rivals, but its image quality in both Raw and JPEG modes is competitive by all other measures.

Olympus PEN E-P5

The Olympus PEN E-P5 is the fourth model in the E-P range, and arguably the most desirable PEN yet. It includes many of the features that made the E-M5 such a compelling package, such as the same 16MP MOS sensor, advanced '5-axis' in-body image stabilization (now with automatic panning detection), 9 fps continuous shooting, and tilting rear touch screen.

The E-P5's 16MP sensor offers excellent image quality. The Olympus JPEG engine still does its usual great job of converting what the sensor captures into attractive JPEGs. Its improved lower noise floor, compared to the 12MP cameras means the Auto Gradation feature can be used without undue impact on image quality.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 is a tiny Micro Four Thirds camera that can literally fit in the palm of your hand. It features the same 16 megapixel Live MOS sensor as the much larger GX7, and also sports a 3-inch touchscreen LCD, a wide selection of manual controls and creative features, 1080/60i movie recording, and built-in Wi-Fi.

The GM1's image quality, unsurprisingly, is much like the GX7's - excellent color in good light JPEGs, with good exposure and detail. Higher ISOs have typically been challenging for Panasonic's JPEG processing and, while they're better than they were, the GM1's high ISO JPEGS can still look a bit messy. Shooting Raw isn't a necessity, but is a good idea for low light work.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 is the long-awaited successor to the DMC-GX1 mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. New features include sensor-shift image stabilization - a first for a Lumix ILC - plus a high resolution electronic viewfinder that can tilt upward by as much as 90 degrees. The 3-inch LCD also has the ability to tilt up or down. Panasonic has also added Wi-Fi to the GX7, complete with NFC for easy photo sharing with mobile devices.

Image quality is one of the GX7's strong suits. Exposures are accurate, though highlights will clip at times (turn on i.Dynamic to reduce this). Colors are vibrant and detail good, thanks to well-implemented sharpening. The camera performs well at high ISOs, though there's more detail to be had by shooting Raw.

Samsung Galaxy NX

The APS-C format Samsung Galaxy NX is the world's first mirrorless interchangeable lens camera running the Android operating system. The Galaxy NX takes a 20.3 megapixel, SLR-style mirrorless camera (basic photographic specifications are similar to contemporary Samsung 'NX' models) and adds 3G, 4G LTE and Wi-Fi, connectivity and Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean). The camera sports a gigantic 4.8" HD LCD touchscreen - via which you control nearly all camera functions.

Samsung NX300

The Samsung NX300 is built around a 20MP sensor that includes phase-detection focus elements to allow a Hybrid AF system for faster focusing. It gains a larger, now touch-sensitive, screen than previous NXs - the 3.3" OLED screen is a 16:9 panel with 768k dots. A faster processor helps the NX300 hit nine frames-per-second for continuous shooting, and allows 1080p movies to be shot at 60fps. 

At low ISOs, image quality is comparable to its peers, but the JPEG output begins to fall apart at higher settings, where noise reduction can be a bit crude. Raw image quality is good, though, and overall the NX300's feature set is very compelling.

Sony Alpha A7 / A7R

The Sony Alpha 7 and Alpha 7R are the world's first enthusiast mirrorless cameras to include full-frame sensors. Identical in terms of design, with the main differences being their sensors and autofocus systems. The α7 features a full-frame 24 megapixel CMOS, while the α7R has a 36 megapixel CMOS sensor with no optical low-pass filter.

The A7 uses an Hybrid AF system (using on-chip phase detection) similar to the one found on the SLT-A99, while the A7R has traditional contrast detection. Both cameras use Sony's new Bionz X processor and also have XGA (1024 x 768 pixel) electronic viewfinders, tilting LCDs, Wi-Fi, and weatherproof bodies that resemble a much-simplified Olympus E-M1.

Sony Alpha NEX-5T

The Alpha NEX-5T is an APS-C mirrorrless camera, sitting above the entry-level NEX-3N and just below the NEX-6. It features Sony's familiar 16MP CMOS sensor with on-chip phase detection, which touts responsive focusing and burst shooting at 10 fps with continuous AF.

The images produced by the camera (and its siblings, which use the same sensor) have always impressed us, though fine details will look smudged when viewing images at 100%. The kit lens for the NEX-5T is a 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 power zoom, which takes up very little space when powered off. Raw image quality is excellent, with plenty of scope for processing.