5 Best Mirrorless Cameras for Astrophotography 2022 (Unique Data Analysis)

We reviewed all the cameras used in images shortlisted for the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition in the past three years to find the best mirrorless cameras for astrophotography:

best mirrorless cameras for astrophotography
(Percentage of images taken with mirrorless cameras)

See below for quick links or read on for further analysis of the best models and all the information you need relating to mirrorless astrophotography.

Highest MP
Sony Alpha 7R IV Full Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera w/High Resolution 61MP Sensor, up to 10FPS with Continuous AF/AE Tracking
Best Value Sony
Sony Alpha 7 IV Full-frame Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera,Body Only , Black
Best Video
Sony NEW Alpha 7S III Full-frame Interchangeable Lens Mirrorless Camera
Best Nikon
Nikon Z 6II FX-Format Mirrorless Camera Body Black
Best Budget
Canon EOS RP Full Frame Mirrorless Vlogging Portable Digital Camera with 26.2MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor, Wi-Fi , Bluetooth, 4K Video Recording and 3.0” Vari-angle Touch LCD Screen, Body, Black,
Make & Model
Sony A7R IV
Sony A7 IV
Sony A7S III
Nikon Z6 II
Canon EOS RP
Mirrorless
Sensor
Full Frame
Full Frame
Full Frame
Full Frame
Full Frame
Resolution
61 MP
24.2 MP
12 MP
24.5 MP
26.2 MP
Weight
1.5 lbs
1.4 lbs
1.5 lbs
1.4 lbs
1 lbs
Highest MP
Sony Alpha 7R IV Full Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera w/High Resolution 61MP Sensor, up to 10FPS with Continuous AF/AE Tracking
Make & Model
Sony A7R IV
Mirrorless
Sensor
Full Frame
Resolution
61 MP
Weight
1.5 lbs
Check Prices
Best Value Sony
Sony Alpha 7 IV Full-frame Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera,Body Only , Black
Make & Model
Sony A7 IV
Mirrorless
Sensor
Full Frame
Resolution
24.2 MP
Weight
1.4 lbs
Check Prices
Best Video
Sony NEW Alpha 7S III Full-frame Interchangeable Lens Mirrorless Camera
Make & Model
Sony A7S III
Mirrorless
Sensor
Full Frame
Resolution
12 MP
Weight
1.5 lbs
Check Prices
Best Nikon
Nikon Z 6II FX-Format Mirrorless Camera Body Black
Make & Model
Nikon Z6 II
Mirrorless
Sensor
Full Frame
Resolution
24.5 MP
Weight
1.4 lbs
Check Prices
Best Budget
Canon EOS RP Full Frame Mirrorless Vlogging Portable Digital Camera with 26.2MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor, Wi-Fi , Bluetooth, 4K Video Recording and 3.0” Vari-angle Touch LCD Screen, Body, Black,
Make & Model
Canon EOS RP
Mirrorless
Sensor
Full Frame
Resolution
26.2 MP
Weight
1 lbs
Check Prices

Last update on 2022-09-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Are Mirrorless Cameras Good for Astrophotography?

Yes, mirrorless cameras are good for astrophotography and are equally as good as DSLRs. There are even some advantages to using a mirrorless camera for astrophotography – for example, the live view image is much brighter when shooting in the dark. This helps visualize your shot before taking (and processing) it.

For our research, we looked at three years of images shortlisted for the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition and we found that the use of mirrorless cameras is increasing each year:

Are Mirrorless Cameras Good for Astrophotography?
(Percentage of mirrorless cameras vs DSLRs)

This reflects the general trend in wider photography of mirrorless cameras becoming more popular in contrast to DSLRs.

Mirrorless Cameras and Astrophotography

In our astrophotography competition data, there were 376 images shortlisted from 2019 to 2021 and 15% of these were taken with mirrorless cameras.

As you can see above, the proportion of images taken with mirrorless cameras has increased every year.

This data also allows us to look at which mirrorless brands and models have been most successfully used for astrophotography.

Sony vs Nikon vs Canon Mirrorless

Firstly with brands, we can see that Sony is way out in front of the competitors in terms of mirrorless models:

sony mirrorless astrophotography
(Percentage of all images taken with mirrorless cameras)

Even though Sony’s mirrorless cameras are excellent, this also likely reflects the company getting a headstart in the mirrorless game over Nikon and Canon, who were slower to start producing mirrorless models when they were dominating the DSLR market.

The Best Mirrorless Models for Astrophotography

Now looking at specific models, there have been 22 different mirrorless cameras used and we can see the Sony models making up seven of the top ten, with the Sony A7R III first.

The Nikon Z6 and Canon EOS R are the highest non-Sony models:

Mirrorless Cameras and Astrophotography
(Percentage of images shot with mirrorless cameras)

Beyond Sony, Nikon and Canon, there have been a handful of shortlisted images taken with Fujifilm, Panasonic, Olympus, and Hasselblad mirrorless cameras.

What we can do is identify the common characteristics of these models. We can see that they all have:

  1. Full Frame Sensors: They virtually all have full frame sensors, as opposed to APS-C crop sensors. This is because full frame sensors allow you to capture a wider expanse of the sky for landscape astrophotography and they are better in general at capturing light in low light conditions. (Note: APS-C sensor cameras can have some advantages for deep sky astrophotography with a telescope.)
  2. High Megapixels: Generally at least 24MP megapixels. You don’t necessarily need a super high resolution, but it does need to be high enough to allow you to get the detail you want in your astrophotography images, especially if you want to blow them up and print them.
  3. Interchangeable Lens Mounts: They are all cameras that can have different lenses fitted, as opposed to compact cameras or bridge cameras that have a lens built-in. This is because they need to be able to have the right lenses attached for the shot being taken.

Let’s compare these key characteristics of the top ten models below:

ModelSensor SizeMegapixels
Sony A7R IIIFull Frame42.4 MP
Sony A7 IIIFull Frame24.2 MP
Sony A7R IIFull Frame42.4 MP
Sony A7SFull Frame12.2 MP
Nikon Z6Full Frame24.5 MP
Canon EOS RFull Frame30.3 MP
Sony A7 IIFull Frame24.3 MP
Nikon Z7Full Frame45.7 MP
Sony a6300APS-C24.2 MP
Sony A7R IVFull Frame61 MP

Now let’s look in detail at the top mirrorless models that we recommend for astrophotography.


Sony A7R VI

Best Sony Mirrorless Camera for Astrophotography

Sony Alpha 7R IV Full Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera w/High Resolution 61MP Sensor, up to 10FPS with Continuous AF/AE Tracking

The Sony A7R IV is the latest in the A7R range that boasts the highest resolution (megapixels) of any Sony mirrorless camera. In fact, the “R” in the name refers to “resolution”.

In our results above, we can see that the previous version (the Sony A7R III) is the most successful mirrorless camera for astrophotography. In addition, the Sony A7R II was third overall, providing a fairly major endorsement of the A7R cameras for astrophotography.

We are featuring the Sony A7R IV here as it is the most recent model that was released in 2019. It is therefore the most up-to-date and boasts a significant upgrade in terms of resolution – 61 MP versus 42 MP for the older models.

Of course, it is more expensive so you may prefer to look at the older Sony A7R III for a more budget option since it is proven for astrophotography in our data. In addition, having a higher megapixel count is not always better for astrophotography and can cause headaches in managing larger files on your computer.

However, the A7R IV is the top-of-the-range Sony mirrorless model with the highest resolution.

You can watch a video here of this camera being used for Milky Way astrophotography:

Overall, this makes a great option if you want the very best and have the money to spend to get the top of the range.

Key specifications

  • Camera Type: Mirrorless
  • Sensor Size: Full Frame
  • Megapixels: 61MP
  • ISO: 50 to 102,400
  • Weight: 1.5 lbs (0.7 KG)
  • Year of Release: 2019

Sony A7 IV

Newest Sony Mirrorless Camera for Astrophotography

Sony Alpha 7 IV Full-frame Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera,Body Only , Black

The newest in Sony’s A7 range, the Sony A7 IV, replaced the Sony A7 III in late-2021.

As you can see in our results above, the Sony A7 III was the second most successful mirrorless camera for astrophotography overall.

Whilst not many would consider this “budget”, it does retail for cheaper than the A7R IV and the A7S III, making it possibly the best option for many when looking for a Sony mirrorless camera for astrophotography.

It boasts 24 megapixels, which falls into what many consider the perfect range for a camera for astrophotography since it provides sufficient detail without the drawbacks of having higher MP which can degrade low light images and cause challenges with the file sizes.

In this video, one of the best landscape astrophotographers, Alyn Wallace, covers how the Sony A7 III is his number one camera:

Overall, this is the perfect option for those that cannot stretch to the higher resolution A7R IV above, or simply prefer the lower megapixel count for ease of use and potential improved low light performance.

Key specifications

  • Camera Type: Mirrorless
  • Sensor Size: Full Frame
  • Megapixels: 24.2MP
  • ISO: 50 to 204,800
  • Weight: 1.4 lbs (0.7 KG)
  • Year of Release: 2021

Sony A7S III

Best Sony Mirrorless Camera for Astronomy Videography

Sony NEW Alpha 7S III Full-frame Interchangeable Lens Mirrorless Camera

If you are after a Sony mirrorless model for low light and astronomy videography, then the Sony A7S III might be what you are looking for.

The “S” in the name refers to “sensitivity”, which enables it to do so well filming in dark conditions.

It is also a great camera for regular (still) astrophotography as can be seen with the older Sony A7S being fifth overall in our astrophotography competition data.

Some will find 12 megapixels a little too low, but it is this that enables the pixels to be larger on the sensor and be better at collecting light and what gives it such great low light performance.

This video provides a good profile of this camera being used for astrophotography video and imaging:

Overall, the Sony A7S III is an amazing camera for astrophotography but given that it is generally more expensive than the A7 IV above, it only makes sense if you want the better video capabilities.

If not, saving some money and going for the higher megapixel A7 IV would make more sense for those focused on producing still astrophotography images.

Key specifications

  • Camera Type: Mirrorless
  • Sensor Size: Full Frame
  • Megapixels: 12.1MP
  • ISO: 40 to 409600
  • Weight: 1.5 lbs (0.7 KG)
  • Year of Release: 2020

Sony A7 Astrophotography

In our findings, six of the top ten mirrorless cameras for astrophotography are from the Sony A7 range (or Alpha 7).

Obviously, this is a good indicator that this range of cameras can produce excellent results for astrophotography, but what are the differences between these models and what is best?

The models within these ranges have confusingly similar names which can be hard to get your head around at first. In addition, they are also sometimes referred to with different model names (e.g. ILCE-7M4 instead of A7 IV). These are all listed in the table below to help you.

What they all have in common is that they are all full-frame mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras with the Sony E mount for lenses.

But there are four families within this Sony A7 range with naming conventions relating to their key characteristics:

  1. A7 – the original
  2. A7R – “R” for resolution, relating to its high megapixels
  3. A7S – “S” for sensitivity, relating to increased sensitivity for low light videography
  4. A7C – “C” for compact, relating to its physical size

You can compare the key specifications of all the A7 cameras in the chart below:

Model NameModel No.MegapixelsYear of release
Sony A7RILCE-7R36 MP2014
Sony A7R IIILCE-7RM242 MP2015
Sony A7R III ILCE-7RM342 MP2017
Sony A7R IVILCE-7RM461 MP2019
Sony A7ILCE-724 MP2014
Sony A7 IIILCE-7M224 MP2014
Sony A7 IIIILCE-7M324 MP2018
Sony A7 IVILCE-7M433 MP2021
Sony A7SILCE-7S12 MP2014
Sony A7S IIILCE-7SM212 MP2015
Sony A7S IIIILCE-7SM312 MP2020
Sony A7CILCE-7C24 MP2020

Sony A7R IV vs Sony A7 IV vs Sony A7S III for Astrophotography

All of these cameras can be used for astrophotography, but the core differences you might want to consider are:

  1. The A7S cameras have the lowest resolution. Whilst 12MP is certainly not small, you may sacrifice some fine detail in astrophotography images versus models with 20MP+. The increased sensitivity does make them perfect for low light videography, with the Sony A7S III the latest model.
  2. The A7 range provides a great mid-point. They have a perfect megapixel count and are cheaper than the A7R or A7S range. The Sony A7 IV is the most recent of any of the Sony Alpha cameras having been released in 2021.
  3. The A7R cameras have the highest resolution and are marketed as professional level. The Sony A7R IV is the most up-to-date and boasts a whopping 61MP.
  4. The A7C is Sony’s smallest and lightest full frame mirrorless camera. It’s relatively cheap compared to the other ranges but is targeted at beginners and lacks some of the advanced features of the other models. The Sony A7C is the first and only model in this family and was released in 2020.

What’s the best budget Sony mirrorless for astrophotography?

If you are looking for the cheapest Sony full frame mirrorless for astrophotography then your options are:

  • Sony A7 IV – not cheap, but the cheapest of the other new advanced models
  • Sony A7C – lacking some advanced functionality but still a full frame mirrorless and most will love the small size and light weight

However, within each of the families of cameras, you can think about whether you need the newest models or are happy with earlier versions that you can pick up for cheaper or perhaps pre-used.

The advantage of this is obviously that you save money and that our findings show the older A7, A7R, and A7S models are proven for astrophotography.

If you click the links for these cameras in the table above you should be able to check the availability and prices from various retailers.

Sony A6600 Astrophotography

The other Sony models in our results are the Sony A6600, A6300, and A6500 cameras.

These are 24MP APS-C sensor cameras. For this reason, they are less optimal for landscape astrophotography due to the cropped sensor.

This is because when using a 14mm focal length it effectively performs as a 21mm due to the cropping and gives you a narrower field of view. This is a definite downside for widefield landscape astrophotography.

However, you can get around this by using wider lenses or by stitching multiple images together in post-processing.

In addition, they would work well for deep sky imaging through a telescope, where the cropping allows you to get closer to specific astronomical objects.

The latest model in this family is the Sony A6600 which was released in 2019.

Nikon Z6 II

Best Nikon Mirrorless Camera for Astrophotography

Nikon Z 6II FX-Format Mirrorless Camera Body Black

The Nikon Z6 II hits the perfect balance for most looking for a mirrorless astrophotography camera.

It has a full frame sensor with 26 megapixels.

As you can see in our chart of the most successful astrophotography mirrorless models above, the older Nikon Z6 was fourth overall and the highest non-Sony model, with this more recent model also featuring lower down.

The Z6 II was a 2020 upgrade to the original version that fixed a number of practical issues that people had with the first camera.

It has the same sensor but among the upgrades there are two features that are particularly good for astrophotography:

  1. The Z6 II allows you to take long exposures of up to 15 minutes without using an external intervalometer, whereas the original Z6 has this capped at 30 seconds, which is quite limiting for long exposure photography in low light.
  2. When you turn the Z6 II off and back on again it remembers your last focus settings. This is great if you are using it mostly for astrophotography and want to be able to pick up where you left off on a previous night.

You can watch a video here of Milky Way landscape astrophotography done with a Nikon Z6:

Nikon Z6II vs Z7 II for Astrophotography

The main challenger is the Nikon Z7 II which is also brilliant for astrophotography and has a much higher resolution at 45.7 megapixels. The only real downside is the additional cost. You can check live prices and availability by clicking the buttons on this page but the Z6 II is generally a fair bit cheaper than the Z7 II.

If you have the budget and want the higher megapixel count, then the Z7 II will be for you. It is essentially the mirrorless version of Nikon’s premium D850 DSLR which has been one of the most popular cameras for astrophotography in recent years.

But the Z6 II will be more affordable for most and is sufficiently advanced so that many are having great success with it as a mirrorless astrophotography camera.

Key specifications

  • Camera Type: Mirrorless
  • Sensor Size: Full Frame
  • Megapixels: 24.5MP
  • ISO: 100 to 204,800
  • Weight: 1.4 lbs (0.6 KG)
  • Year of Release: 2020

Nikon Mirrorless Astrophotography

There are seven Nikon mirrorless models available, four of which are present in our astrophotography competition findings – the Z6, Z6II, Z7, and Z7 II.

You can see the key differentiating characteristics of these models:

ModelSensorMegapixelsYear of release
Nikon Z5Full frame24.3 MP2020
Nikon Z6Full frame24.5 MP2018
Nikon Z6 IIFull frame24.5 MP2020
Nikon Z7Full frame45.7 MP2018
Nikon Z7 IIFull frame45.7 MP2020
Nikon Z9Full frame45.7 MP2021
Nikon Z50APS-C20.9 MP2019
Nikon ZFCAPS-C20.9 MP2021

The “Z” in the names of these cameras refers to the Z mount that features on Nikon’s interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras.

The model specifications will also state either “FX” or “DX”, where FX denotes a full frame sensor and DX denotes an APS-C sensor.

But apart from the Z6/Z6II and Z7/Z7II covered above, how are the other models for astrophotography?

Nikon Z5 Astrophotography

The Nikon Z5 is a great option if you don’t have the budget for the Z6II but want a brand new full frame mirrorless model from Nikon.

The main features that it lacks compared to the Z6 are related to video and so for astrophotography there are relatively few hindrances.

Nikon Z50 Astrophotography

The Nikon Z50 has an APS-C crop sensor. These are slightly less optimal for wide-field landscape astrophotography when compared to the full frame models.

However, this can be an advantage for deep sky or planetary imaging with a telescope or long focal length lens where you want to have a narrower field of view.

This is also the cheapest Nikon mirrorless model and is excellent value for the price it retails at.

Nikon Zfc Astrophotography

The Nikon Zfc is a retro style crop sensor camera. You could certainly use it for astrophotography but it has little in its favor over the Z50 which is cheaper.

Nikon Z9 Astrophotography

The Nikon Z9 is a beast of a camera that comes at a high price and is probably overkill for astrophotography.

It is much like the Z7 II above with high resolution, but it also comes with improved 8k video performance. If you plan on doing videography, and have the budget, then the Z9 might be for you.

However, with regards to astrophotography then you might as well stay with the Z7II for the same megapixel rate and save some money.

What’s the best budget Nikon mirrorless for astrophotography?

The Nikon Z5 is a great budget option and the best value full frame model.

If you can work with a crop sensor lens then the Nikon Z50 is even cheaper.

Canon EOS RP

Best Budget Mirrorless Camera for Astrophotography

Canon EOS RP Full Frame Mirrorless Vlogging Portable Digital Camera with 26.2MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor, Wi-Fi , Bluetooth, 4K Video Recording and 3.0” Vari-angle Touch LCD Screen, Body, Black,

The Canon EOS RP is a brilliant, budget full frame mirrorless camera.

With 26 megapixels, it is sufficiently high-spec to perform for astrophotography yet it is available for a price that puts it within the reach of many casual photographers and astrophotographers.

It is also extremely small and light and so makes a great option as an all round camera for all types of photography.

Here is an example Milky Way landscape astrophotography image taken with a Canon EOS RP:

Redshift ♪—Patricia Barber

Overall, this is a great value full frame mirrorless that anyone should consider in comparison to the more expensive competition.

The main other Canon to consider would be the Canon EOS R which gives you higher megapixels for a slightly higher price.

Key specifications

  • Camera Type: Mirrorless
  • Sensor Size: Full Frame
  • Megapixels: 26.2MP
  • ISO: 50 to 102,400
  • Weight: 1 lbs (0.4 KG)
  • Year of Release: 2019

Canon Mirrorless Astrophotography

There are six Canon full frame interchangeable lens cameras, four of which are present in our astrophotography findings – the Canon EOS R, RP, R5, and Ra.

You can see the key differentiating characteristics of these models below:

ModelSensorMegapixelsYear of release
Canon EOS RFull frame30.3 MP2018
Canon EOS RPFull frame26.2 MP2019
Canon EOS R5Full frame45 MP2020
Canon EOS RaFull frame30.3 MP2020
Canon EOS R6Full frame20 MP2020
Canon EOS R3Full frame24.1 MP2021

The “R” in the names of these cameras refers to the RF mount that features on Canon’s interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras.

But what differentiates these models in relation to astrophotography?

Canon EOS RP vs EOS R vs EOS R5 for Astrophotography

If you want a Canon full frame mirrorless camera for astrophotography then your choice is really between these three cameras.

The key differentiating factors are:

  1. EOS RP – This is probably the cheapest full frame mirrorless on the market, which is why we have recommended it here. The 26 megapixels are around the perfect value for astrophotography and for the price this is a great option.
  2. EOS R – Compared to the EOS RP, this is a slightly higher spec with 30.3 megapixels. This is the main reason you may favor this over the EOS RP, however it costs more. You therefore need to decide if the extra cost is worth the extra resolution to you.
  3. EOS R5 – Coming in at a higher price bracket, you may want to consider this if you have the budget and want the 45 megapixels in a Canon to rival the Nikon Z7 II or Sony A7R range.
  4. EOS Ra – This is an astrophotography modified version of the EOS R – the “a” in the name actually refers to “astrophotography”. However, it was discontinued and can now only be bought used, otherwise this was a near-perfect option for a mirrorless astrophotography camera.

We wouldn’t really recommend the EOS R3 and EOS R6 from an astrophotography perspective.

Not that they couldn’t perform for this (they really can), but they are in the higher price bracket and what you get extra are things that fall outside of astrophotography, like 8K video.

Lastly, the Canon EOS R7 and EOS R10 are due to be released in June 2022. These are APS-C crop sensor cameras and so not ideal for landscape astrophotography.


FAQs: Mirrorless Astrophotography

Which mirrorless camera is good for astrophotography?

Sony, Canon, and Nikon all make excellent mirrorless cameras for astrophotography. See the recommendations above.

Can you do astrophotography with a mirrorless camera?

Yes, mirrorless cameras are equally as good as DSLRs for astrophotography.

You can read more about the pros and cons of each in DSLR vs Mirrorless Cameras for Astrophotography.

What kind of camera is best for astrophotography?

A full frame sensor interchangeable lens camera (mirrorless or DSLR) is best for landscape astrophotography.

See Full Frame vs APS-C: What’s Best for Astrophotography?.

How many megapixels do you need for astrophotography?

Looking at astrophotography competition data, we found that the average megapixel count of the cameras used was around 28.6MP, but that 20MP to 30MP could be seen as optimal.

See How Many Megapixels Do You Need for Astrophotography?.

Do I need a mirrorless camera for astrophotography?

No, you can use a DSLR, mirrorless, or dedicated astronomy camera for astrophotography.

See the Best Cameras for Astrophotography and the Best CCD and CMOS Cameras for Astrophotography.

How do you shoot a Milky Way with a mirrorless camera?

You need to do some planning with regards to timing and location and then shoot a long exposure photo to ensure you collect enough light in the dark sky conditions.

See How to Photograph the Milky Way.


Conclusion: Best Mirrorless Cameras for Astrophotography

There are a great number of interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras that have come into the market in recent years from Canon and Nikon which now rival the dominance and excellence of Sony.

Overall, when looking at what is available we recommend:

  1. Sony A7R IV if you want super high resolution and have the budget
  2. Sony A7 IV if you want a great Sony mirrorless with slightly lower megapixels and at a lower price
  3. Sony A7S III if you want the best for low light astronomy videography
  4. Nikon Z6 II if you want a great value Nikon mirrorless
  5. Canon EOS RP if you want a Canon and the cheapest full frame mirrorless

We hope you found this helpful. Please let us know if you have any comments below.

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