For serious photo enthusiasts, photography is a means of creative expression, and they gravitate toward high-performance interchangeable-lens cameras (ILCs) that deliver superlative real-world performance, speed and high-end features.
Our selection of great enthusiast-aimed cameras all retail for less than $2,300. The goal: to enable you to better serve this key market segment as well as create meaningful relationships with a class of customers more likely to be repeat buyers.
The biggest buzz in mirrorless: late-breaking announcements of high-spec full-framers from Canon and Nikon—the Canon EOS R and the Nikon Z 7 and Z 6. However, all the cameras on our list deliver superb imaging performance. They also include such cutting-edge features as 4K video capture; ultrafast, super-precise, multi-zone AF (autofocus) systems; superfast framing rates; and sophisticated multi-axis image stabilization (IS) systems. Their high-resolution sensors integrate with advanced image processors to enable amazing performance at elevated ISOs. Moreover, they sport high-res, tilting touch-screen LCDs along with electronic viewfinders (EVF) or optical viewfinders.
To cut to the chase, all provide an extremely high performance-per-dollar quotient, which spells value for savvy consumers. Of course, these aren’t the only enthusiast-aimed cameras worthy of consideration, so be sure to check out other models offered by the manufacturers listed here as well as other top makers.
Marvelous Mirrorless Models for Photo Enthusiasts
Canon EOS R
Just announced as we went to press, Canon’s sizzling mirrorless marvel features a full-frame, 30.3 megapixel CMOS sensor coupled to a cutting-edge Digic 8 image processor. They enable advanced capabilities like 4K UHD (3,840×2,160) video capture at 30 frames per sec with Canon Log Gamma for improved dynamic range, 10-bit HDMI output and movie servo AF. The EOS R also offers expanded sensitivity settings from ISO 50 to ISO 102,400, along with full-resolution bursts at up to 8 fps. Movie Digital IS minimizes the effects of camera shake, and a customizable multi-function bar permits personalized control settings.
At its core is a new 54mm-wide Canon RF mount that accepts an advanced new line of more compact, wider-aperture lenses. It also allows legacy Canon EF- and EF-S-mount lenses to be used with the optional EF-EOS RF mount adapter. The EOS R also uses Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology with an impressive 5,655 selectable AF points and sensitivities down to EV -6 for outstanding low-light performance. Moreover, a 3.69M-dot OLED EVF complements a 3.15-inch, 2.10M-dot, touch-screen LCD that’s adjustable for low-angle shooting. Other features include: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity; an SD UHS-II slot; and Dual Pixel Raw capture that allows slight focus point shifts and other adjustments after capture. A rugged, dust- and weather-sealed magnesium alloy body houses all of this and mre. $2,299*.
Nikon Z 6
Nikon’s scintillating new mirrorless full-framer is a sleek, broad-spectrum camera based on a 24.5MP FX-format backside-illuminated (BSI) CMOS sensor. It’s coupled to an advanced Expeed 6 image processor. The high-tech combo delivers remarkable performance parameters. They include 4K UHD video recording at 30/25/24 fps with N-Log Gamma for capturing enhanced dynamic range and 10-bit HDMI output. The Z 6 also provides extended sensitivity settings from ISO 50 to ISO 204,800 and impressive full-res continuous shooting at 12 fps. Most important, a new wide-diameter Z mount with a short 16mm flange distance enables the use of more compact wider-aperture Nikkor Z lenses.
Other high-end features include: a hybrid AF system with 273-point phase detection and focus lock; built-in 5-axis VR (vibration reduction) IS to minimize the effects of handheld camera shake; a 0.8x, 3.69M-dot EVF; a 3.2-inch, 2.10M-dot, tilting, touch-screen LCD; a top panel dot-matrix OLED display for easy monitoring of settings when the camera isn’t at eye level; and an XQD card slot. The stylish Z 6 comes with the FTZ mount adapter that allows the direct use of legacy F-mount lenses as well as full functionality with E-, G- and D-type Nikkor lenses. It’s all built into a rugged, weather-sealed magnesium alloy body. $1,999.95.
Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
A quintessential crossover camera, Panasonic‘s G9 offers a plethora of advanced still and video options. The Micro Four Thirds camera incorporates a 20.3MP Live MOS sensor coupled to the latest Venus engine processor. As a result, the camera records 4K UHD video at 24/30/60 fps. It also delivers 6K stills at 30 fps and 4K stills at up to 60 fps, allowing users to capture 18MP or 8MP still images at sizzling framing rates. And it locks focus in 0.04 sec.
Moreover, the weatherproof camera has sensitivity settings up to ISO 25,600 and 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilization that supports Dual IS 2.0 for a 6.5-stop anti-shake advantage. And its new multi-shot mode combines eight separate images into a single ultrahigh-res 80MP RAW image. In addition, the compact G9 features a 3-inch, 1.04M-dot, free-angle, touch-screen monitor; a 0.83x, 3.68M-dot OLED EVF; and an illuminated top-mounted status LCD that shows current settings without bringing the camera to eye level. Other features include: a rear-mounted joystick controller; 225-area AF; and dual UHS-II SD card slots. Built-in 5GHz Wi-Fi connectivity with NFC and Bluetooth 4.2 Low Energy allow sharing and remote camera control via smartphones. $2,299.99.
Also just announced was this exciting, classically styled upgraded pro/enthusiast mirrorless model in Fujifilm’s acclaimed X series. Housed in its robust weather-sealed, magnesium-clad body is the latest iteration of Fujifilm’s signature APS-C-format 26.1MP BSI X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor sans a low-pass filter. It works with an enhanced quad-core X-Processor 4 image processor. The high-performance combo enables the X-T3 to capture DCI 4K (4,096×2,160) video at pro-caliber 60 fps, provide internal F-Log Gamma recording to an SD card and offer 10-bit HDMI output.
The X-T3 has extended sensitivity settings from ISO 80 to 51,200. It also delivers full-res, blackout-free bursts at 11 fps as well as a blistering 30 fps at a 1.25x crop. Other features include: 5-axis in-body IS for a 5.5-stop anti-shake advantage; 2.16M-point phase-detection AF (!); a 3-inch, 1.04M-dot, tilting touch-screen LCD; a 0.75x, 3.69M-dot OLED EVF; film simulation and color chrome effects; RAW shooting; and dual SD slots. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth LE connectivity are also integrated. In addition, it sports an ergonomic locking dial and lever controls, including a dedicated focus lever. $1,499.95.
Sony Alpha a7 III
Sony’s top-tech mirrorless ILC is a crossover camera optimized for high-end video capture. It also offers various still picture applications and impressive low-light performance. The weather-sealed a7 III uses a full-frame, 24.2MP Exmor R BSI CMOS sensor coupled to a Bionz X processor and front-end LSI. As a result, it provides a 10-fps, full-res, continuous burst rate, improved AF performance and subject tracking, and sensitivity settings from ISO 50 to 204,800. It also outputs 14-bit RAW files, even in silent and continuous shooting modes. Its hybrid AF system employs 693 phase-detection and 425 contrast-detection points. And video recording capabilities are enhanced when recording in 4K with the full width of the sensor to minimize moiré patterns and aliasing.
Other features include: 5-axis SteadyShot Inside IS; 4K UHD video capture at 30 fps with 2.4x oversampling for enhanced detail; Full HD 1080p video recording at up to 120 fps; HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) support; S-Log2/S-Log3 Gammas for capturing a 14-stop dynamic range; HDMI ports; and dual media slots. Also integrated are a 2.36M-dot OLED EVF; a 3-inch, 922K-dot, tilting, touch-screen LCD; and Wi-Fi/NFC. $1,999.99.
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II
This serious mirrorless Micro Four Thirds model from Olympus has a timeless, downsized DSLR form factor and bristles with technical innovations. Enthusiasts will appreciate its advanced 20.4MP High-Speed Live MOS sensor and TruPic VIII dual quad-core processor. The combo provides outstanding image quality, a 15-fps full-res burst rate along with increased responsiveness. It also boasts enhanced performance at high sensitivity settings up to ISO 25,600.
Moreover, a large, wide-view, high-magnification, 2.36M-dot eye-level EVF provides a 100% view. And a 3-inch, 1.04M-dot tilting OLED monitor provides touch control. In addition, the camera has an advanced 5-axis sensor-shift IS system that delivers shake-free images when shooting stills or DCI 4K/24p or 4K UHD/30p video handheld. And its dual FAST 121-point AF system delivers pro-caliber tracking and AF performance. For remote operation and sharing, built-in wireless connectivity links it to iOS/Android devices. Also housed in its rugged dustproof, weatherproof magnesium alloy body is a customizable multi-function control array similar to that in high-end pro DSLRs. $1,699.99.
Sigma sd Quattro H
The top of Sigma’s Quattro line, this unique mirrorless camera incorporates the latest APS-H-size sensor (1.3x crop factor). It produces images equivalent to a 51MP Bayer sensor. Moreover, Sigma’s three-layer Foveon X3 Quattro CMOS sensor delivers full color information at every pixel point without interpolation. The camera’s SA lens mount is the same one used on the flagship Sigma SD1 Merrill DSLR. And thanks to its impressive 1:1.4 RGB pixel ratio, the sd Quattro H can create 25.5MP lossless compressed RAW images with superior color output.
Other features include: an advanced Dual True III processor that provides continuous, full-res shooting at 3.8 fps; ISO 6,400; super-fine detail mode that blends seven exposures into one RAW file with a wide dynamic range; a bright, 3-inch, 1.62M-dot LCD; and a 2.36M-dot EVF. Its hybrid AF system incorporates both phase-detect and contrast-detect points with up to nine selectable, and it has an operating range of -1 to 18 EV. The sd Quattro H has a distinctive ergonomic shape and an intuitive, customizable control layout. $699.
Exceptional Enthusiast DSLRs
Offering top-of-the line performance in a compact, ergonomically contoured package, this popular, enthusiast-aimed DSLR incorporates many key features of the successful Nikon D500. The weather-resistant D7500 uses the same 20.9MP DX-format CMOS sensor (that omits the optical low-pass filter to enhance resolution). It integrates with an advanced Expeed 5 processor. The result is a maximum full-res burst rate of 8 fps with full AE and AF, as well as a native sensitivity range of ISO 100–51,200. Moreover, sensitivities can be expanded to ISO 1,640,000!
In addition, its robust multimedia capabilities include 4K UHD video recording at 30 fps and the ability to produce 4K UHD time-lapse movies in-camera. Its impressive still and video performance are both enhanced with a 51-point, 15-cross-field-sensor AF system that delivers outstanding AF speed and accuracy. It also boasts a slim-line, tilting, 3.2-inch, 922K-dot, touch-screen LCD and a convenient auto picture control system. Other features include Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for instant image transfer, sharing and remote shooting, as well as the same 180K-pixel RGB sensor as the D500 to detect faces and improve AF performance—especially when shooting high-speed sequences. $1,249.95.
Canon EOS 6D Mark II
Canon‘s notable full-frame DSLR appeals to advanced enthusiasts because it delivers “the 5D experience” at an attractive price. It has an advanced 26.2MP full-frame CMOS sensor coupled to a state-of-the-art Digic 7 image processor. As a result, the camera achieves a full-res, 6.5-fps maximum burst rate and records Full HD video at 24/30/60 fps. Also incorporated are a 3-inch, 1.04M-dot, vari-angle, touch-screen LCD; a revised 45-zone, all-cross-sensor autofocus system; and a 97%-view, all-glass pentaprism viewfinder. It also provides built-in Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth LE connectivity with NFC.
Other features include: Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology; a movie servo AF function; built in time-lapse and HDR modes; 14-bit A/D conversion; in-camera RAW processing and JPEG conversion; and sensitivity settings expandable to ISO 102,400. This is all housed in a robust, dust- and weather-resistant body. Its performance will delight legions of enthusiast and pro Canon shooters wanting an advanced full-frame DSLR at a great price. $1,999.
Pentax K-1 Mark II
Pentax’s flagship, full-frame K-mount DSLR incorporates a 14-bit processor with a Ricoh-developed accelerator unit. The new processor reduces noise plus enhances clarity and color accuracy. It also boosts the camera’s sensitivity range up to a very impressive ISO 819,200. Moreover, its built-in 5-axis Shake Reduction (SR) system minimizes the effects of camera shake and enables Pixel Shift Resolution II. This technology factors in the movement of the sensor to record sequential frames and merge them into a single image with greater color detail and higher resolution.
The DSLR also incorporates the 36.4MP CMOS sensor from the previous K-1. Along with the Prime IV processor, it achieves a full-res burst rate of 4.4 fps for 17 RAW images. In addition, a AA filter simulator minimizes moiré patterns, and it omits the standard antialiasing filter to ensure sharper images. Moreover, a wide-pattern SAFOX 12 AF sensor covers nearly the entire full-frame area with 33 AF points. They include 25 cross pattern and three f/2.8-luminance points that can operate in light down to -3 EV.
Other features include: a unique 3.2-inch, cross-tilt LCD monitor that tilts upward 90º, down 44º and 35º laterally; dual SD card slots; Full HD 1080p video recording at 30p/60i; and GPS with an astrotracer function. Moreover, the weather-sealed, stainless steel and magnesium alloy body has LED-illuminated points on the lens mount, card slots, back of the LCD and cable switch to facilitate low-light operation. $1,999.95. ricohimaging.com
Sliding neatly in between the Nikon D610 and D810 in Nikon’s enthusiast/pro full-frame DSLR lineup, the full-featured D750 has what it takes to contend in this competitive neighborhood. Its full-frame, 24.3MP FX-format CMOS sensor pairs with an advanced Expeed 4 image processor. Together they realize continuous, full-res bursts of 6.5 fps, Full HD 1080p video recording at 60/30/24p and a native ISO range of 100–12,800 that’s expandable to ISO 51,200.
The D750 also features: a 3.2-inch, 1.23M-dot, vari-angle LCD monitor; a 0.7x eye-level pentaprism optical viewfinder; a 51-point AF system with 15 cross-type sensors for fast, precise autofocus for a wide variety of subjects; and group area AF that enables focus tracking with fast-moving subjects. Plus, a 91,000-pixel RGB exposure sensor enhances metering precision. Also provided is built-in Wi-Fi connectivity for easy sharing and remote operation with enabled devices. Moreover, it offers time-lapse shooting, customizable picture controls and exposure smoothing functions for expanded in-camera creative options. $1,999.95. nikonusa.com
*All SRPs are body only.