There are two cameras right now that seem to be trying to prove that if you want professional quality photos (and aren’t afraid to pay for it), you don’t need a huge, hulking DSLR. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 is arguably the best mirrorless camera currently on the market. It has an excellent sensor that takes much better images than its size would suggest, the best electronic viewfinder around, access to the huge Micro Four Thirds stable of lenses and the most effective stabilization system out there. Its all packed in to a body that’s tough and incredibly water resistant. It’s a camera for any and all situations – though the $1,400 price tag is pretty steep.
The other option, if you don’t need something under the tree immediately, might be the recently announced Sony A7 and A7r. These devices manage to take professional level image sensors (what’s called “full-frame”, the size of a traditional frame of film), and squeeze them into a mirrorless body. This pair of cameras hasn’t launched yet (pre-orders may not ship until January 1, 2014), but I’m excited for when they will. The first hands-on reviews suggest that they have the image quality of the biggest and the best professional level SLRs. Which may mean that mirrorless cameras will start to make much bigger inroads for pro-level shooters.