7 Best Mirrorless Cameras for Astrophotography

best astrophotography mirrorless cameras

In recent years, mirrorless cameras for astrophotography have emerged as the preferred choice due to their advanced features, lightweight design, and superior image quality.

astrophotography mirrorless lens

As we are midway through 2024, let’s see which mirrorless cameras stand out for their exceptional performance in astrophotography at this moment.

mirrorless cameras for astrophotography

Let’s look at the best mirrorless cameras for astrophotography this year.

Read more: Mirrorless vs DSLR Cameras for Nature Photography

1. Canon Ra

Canon Ra is still the only mirrorless camera built specifically for astrophotography. Unfortunately, it is no longer produced, but you can still find it new at quite a few retailers around the world.

Digital sensors are very sensitive to infrared light and, because of that, they are fitted with a filter in front that cuts out infrared light so they can be used for day-to-day photography.

mirrorless cameras astrophotography

But that filter also cuts out some wavelengths that are very useful for astrophotography, like the wavelength of Hydrogen alpha emitted by most nebulae in the sky.

In an off-the-shelf camera, the red in such nebulae will be washed out, and very long exposure times will be needed to show their true beauty. Astro-modded cameras, where the IR-cut filter is replaced by a clear glass window, will be a lot more sensitive to that specific part of the spectrum.

A modified camera is not really necessary for landscape astrophotography; they’re more useful in deep-sky astrophotography. But even in wide-angle photos, red emission nebulae will be more prominent, and the sky will look even more interesting.

The Ra will allow you to capture the night sky in all its beauty. If your main goal is to do deep-sky astrophotography, definitely go for such a camera.

2. Canon R6 Mark II

The R6 line from Canon is one of the best choices for astrophotography. I might be a bit biased here, as I’ve always been a Canon shooter when it comes to astrophotography, but the previous sentence is in fact more objective than subjective.

mirrorless camera astrophotography

I was struck by the dynamic range of the R6 when comparing it to any DSLR made by Canon. The R6 Mk II has an ISO-invariant 24-megapixel sensor, which will produce very clean photos suitable for large-size prints.

The R6 Mark II has improved battery life versus its predecessor, the R6, which astrophotographers will greatly appreciate. If you are happy with changing the battery a little bit more often, the R6 Mark I is also a great choice.

3. Nikon Z8

A little on the expensive side, the Nikon Z8 is a superb camera, both for daytime and nighttime photography.

If you also do commercial photography, this is a camera that will fulfill both your business and hobby needs (I consider astrophotography more of a hobby as its commercial value is somewhat limited).

nikon z8 mirrorless camera astrophotography

The Z8 has an articulated display that will make framing easier, especially when shooting a subject high above the horizon or when shooting through a telescope.

It also comes with a feature called Starlight View that will help you view the scene and more easily focus on stars. Starlight View will not change the ISO of the camera; it will only boost the image in the viewfinder.

4. Sony Alpha 7 IV

Sony has spoiled us with top-notch quality low noise images for a while now. This is also the case with the Alpha 7 IV. Battery life is great, the display is fully articulated, and it features an internal intervalometer.

mirrorless camera astrophotography

You can program the camera to take a series of photos without the need for a remote, and then you can go on with visual observations of the night sky or chat with friends in a warm place.

Similar to the Nikon Z8, it has a function called bright monitoring, which allows you to easily frame your shot at night. Images are super clean even at high ISO settings.

5. Olympus E-M1 Mark III

Olympus is usually not your first choice when you think about astrophotography, as their sensor is small and doesn’t always deliver the best quality in astrophotography.

But, especially if you are also keen on wildlife photography, Olympus might be the best compromise if you want to have the best of both worlds. Also, the lenses made by Olympus are really great and compact.

mirrorless cameras astrophotography

One very interesting function of Olympus cameras is the Live Composite mode.

The OM-1 Mark III’s Live Composite mode takes a continuous series of photos with the same exposure time and then combines them into a single shot — making star trail photography easy without the fear of overexposure.

I used this feature a lot when I had an Olympus OM-1, and it made my star trail work a lot easier.

The E-M1 Mark III’s compact and lightweight design makes it highly portable, an important factor for astrophotographers who often travel to remote locations. Its rugged build and weather sealing further add to its appeal.

6. Fujifilm X-T4

Fujifilm is another brand that is not a usual first choice for astrophotography, the reason being that most of their cameras only sport APS-C sensors that are usually noisier than full-frame sensors.

But if you are a Fuji user and have an affinity for the brand, it doesn’t mean they’re a bad choice for astrophotography.

best mirrorless camera astrophotography

Although there’s a newer version in the X-T series, namely the X-T5, I would go for the previous model for better results when photographing the night sky. The X-T5 has a higher resolution than the X-T4, making it more prone to noise.

The X-T4 is a camera that will work great for nightscape astrophotography, paired with the great optics of the Fujifilm lenses. If you’re concerned about noise levels, keep the ISO level below 6400.

7. Panasonic LUMIX S5 II

I believe Panasonic cameras are some of the most underrated ones, especially when it comes to astrophotography.

Like the Olympus cameras, the S5 comes with a mode similar to Live Composite, allowing for easy star trail photography straight out of the camera. The Panasonic S5 is actually the only full-frame camera with this feature.

best mirrorless cameras astrophotography

But that’s not the only thing that makes the LUMIX a good camera for astrophotography. Noise is very well controlled at high ISO, and I think it performs a touch better than the Canon R6 Mark II when it comes to that.

If you find Panasonic lenses a bit on the expensive side, there are plenty of third-party lenses (especially Sigma) that work great on this camera.

It has a night view mode that helps you preserve your night vision. And if you also like moving images, the S5 II is a very capable camera to shoot videos with.

In conclusion

Each of these cameras brings something special to the table, ensuring that astrophotographers can find the perfect tool to capture the beauty of the cosmos in stunning detail.

Which one you choose, I believe, is more a matter of personal taste.

Try to test a camera before you buy it and see which one suits your needs better. With current technology, pretty much any modern mirrorless camera will offer beautiful results for the keen astrophotographer.

Clear skies!

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