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Technology.

25 October 2021

Which DSLR or mirrorless camera brand to buy in 2021

Unique Which? reliability data can help you choose a camera brand that lasts, as we survey owners of Canon, Nikon, Sony, Panasonic, Olympus, Fujifilm and Pentax DSLR and mirrorless cameras to find out which develop the least faults over time
Hollie Hennessy
How we test1

Issues with focusing is the most common problem with DSLR and mirrorless cameras, with 14% of people reporting this as a fault in our survey.

DSLR and mirrorless cameras are fantastic pieces of kit, made up of electronics and optics. But they have lots of moving parts, which can increase the risk of something going wrong with your camera. Our reliability survey ensures that you can choose a DSLR or mirrorless camera that won't leave you wanting.

Every year we ask thousands of Which? members to tell us whether they are pleased with their mirrorless and DSLR cameras, or have experienced problems.

Our survey data takes into account the reported fault rates, severity of these faults and how quickly they occurred. In our latest analysis we've looked at the performance of the biggest DLSR and mirrorless camera manufacturers – including Canon, Panasonic, Nikon, Sony and Olympus – and have calculated a reliability rating for each.   

Difference between the best and worst DSLR and mirrorless camera brands

Difference between best and worst DSLR and mirrorless brands

Overall, DSLR and mirrorless cameras are pretty reliable across the board. But there's still a 10% difference between the most and the least reliable brands.

The most reliable DSLR and mirrorless camera brands

The table below summarises this year’s reliability results. Customer score relates to whether their customers would recommend it. The more stars for reliability, the fewer the problems reported.

Only logged-in Which? members can view which brands achieved the ratings and verdicts in the table below. If you're not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access.

BrandReliability ratingReliability scoreCustomer satisfaction score
96%83%
89%92%
97%84%
94%82%
99%80%
96%70%
98%79%

Common DSLR and mirrorless camera problems

There are three main faults we saw with DSLR and mirrorless cameras. 

14% of faults were with the focus. Although it's likely that you'd be able to take photos with this problem, it's annoying if the camera focuses before or after the intended point of focus, resulting in blurry photos. 

The second most common fault was with the flash, at 11%. This is less of a dealbreaker. A lot of DSLR and mirrorless models will have a hotshoe, which allows you to attach an additional, more powerful flash anyway. DSLR and mirrorless models are also far more capable of taking good photos in low lighting than other types of digital camera. 

Finally, 7% of faults were with the battery or charger. This might lead to you having to replace one or both of them. 

Which DSLR and mirrorless camera brand stays fault-free for longest?

The graph above shows how the brand that stays fault-free for longest compares with the worst brand, as well as the overall average. Which? members can see how brands compare for faults over a five-year period in the table below.

Only logged-in Which? members can view which brands achieved the ratings and verdicts in the table below. If you're not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access. 

Brand name% fault-free after one year% fault-free after three years% fault-free after six years
97%95%94%
95%89%89%
99%97%96%
94%93%93%
99%99%99%
100%94%94%
100%99%97%

How we measure faults and reliability in DSLR and mirrorless cameras

Our reliability scores don't just take into account the number of faulty products. We also look at how severe these faults were and when they happened. We judge major or catastrophic faults more harshly than minor annoyances, and also penalise faults that occur when the product is new and hasn't had much use. We ask our respondents to describe their faults as minor, major or catastrophic based on the following guidelines:

  • Minor: a fault that doesn’t affect the product’s performance significantly or a fault that only occurs occasionally with minimal impact. This issue may be irritating or annoying but it isn’t frequently problematic and you can easily work around it. For example, not being able to record audio with video.
  • Major: a fault that has a noticeable effect on the product’s performance. This fault affects how you use the product and can be problematic. For example, a fault with the lens.
  • Catastrophic: a fault that renders the product unusable, with the fault needing to be repaired or parts replaced before it can be used again. For example, problems with the shutter or failing to capture photos/video.

DSLR and mirrorless camera brands rated

Choose a brand from the list below to find out more detail about its performance in our survey.

Head to our DSLR and mirrorless camera reviews

Know which DSLR or mirrorless camera brand you want? Use the links to go straight to our reviews and find your ideal model:

How we calculate the best and worst brands

Every year we survey thousands of mirrorless and DSLR camera owners, asking how satisfied they are with their cameras and how likely they would be to recommend it to a friend. We also track faults, taking into account when these issues occurred and how severe they are. We use this data to create customer and reliability scores for the most popular DSLR and mirrorless camera brands.

Our reliability surveys, combined with our extensive lab tests, mean we can recommend the best DSLR or mirrorless camera you should buy.

This data is crucial for our testing, too. If a brand falls far below the category average, we take away the manufacturer’s Best Buy awards and won’t recommend any of their products unless a marked improvement in reliability is shown.