In the photography world, new cameras seem to come in waves. After a bit of a drought in 2015, this year has shaped up to be a great one for photographers looking to make a new camera purchase. From flagship professional cameras to the enthusiast bodies, there is something for every photographer.
We’ve had the chance to play with or test all the newest models and some have stood out above the rest. Here’s our shortlist of the standouts from the new crop of cameras.
The newest flagship model from Nikon is a killer, packed full of enough wish list features to satisfy any professional photographer. The redesigned body tweaks the layout of the previous D4, feeling more comfortable in our hands. A new 20.8 megapixel sensor is the heart of the D5, but the new AF features and high-ISO performance make it shine. The system has a 153 point AF system and works in conjunction with the camera’s metering system and scene recognition technology to provide blazingly fast focusing—it can capture images up to 12fps with full AF. Nikon boosted the ISO range on the camera up to—ready for it?—3,280,000, which makes us wonder if, maybe, the camera is part owl. The D5 comes with either CompactFlash slots or the new XQD card slots, the latter being perfect for video shooters capturing 4K with the Nikon D5. $6500 nikonusa.com
CANON EOS-1D MARK II
Standing in the other corner of the ring is the Canon EOS-1D Mark II, a body that Canon shooters have been anticipating for years. The 20.2 megapixel camera has the company’s new Dual DIGIC 6+ processors for even even faster focusing and processing than the original EOS-1D, which was already known to be a speed champ.
The new top-end Canon has 61 high-density AF points, and all 61 points are selectable by the shooter, allowing for very precise focusing. To eek more performance out of Canon’s long lenses, the camera’s AF points all function even when the camera is attached to super-tele lenses and Canon’s teleconverters. The Canon EOS-1D Mark II has the best frame rate in a DSLR, capturing up to 14fps. It is also capable of capturing 4K video to 60p and full HD video to 120p, and features both a Compact Flash and CFast slot. $6000 usa.canon.com
Pentax might want to change their name to “Phoenix” for the new K-1, which successfully re-launches a pro-level brand that had been moribund since the days of digital. While Pentax has a terrific (and value-priced) medium format body, and a line of excellent APS-C cameras, the K-1 is the first full-frame digital from this historic company, ever. And what a camera it is, packed so full of features and design improvements that it’s a breakthrough simply because it puts so much useful technology in one body. Built-in five-axis stabilization? Check. GPS? Check. The ability to use the shifting sensor and the GPS together to track stars for long exposure night shots? Check. An intuitive new dial that lets photographers change key settings without trips to the menu? Check. How about external LCD lights to help you change settings in the dark? Check again. All this (and more) is packed inside a classically-styled body that’s weather resistant too.
Simply put, the sub-$2000 Pentax K-1 is going to be for photographers what the K-1000 was for film shooters—a powerful, functional and friendly body that creates exceptional images in nearly any situation. $1800 pentax.com
If the excess of features on the Pentax K-1 is a distraction to you, might we suggest you take a look at the Leica M-D, a full-frame body with a 24 megapixel sensor and surprise! no LCD screen at all. What’s that you say, no screen? Leica created this body for the purist (and perhaps the luddite as well), as it’s set by manual dials and devoid of a way to review your images. This forces you to really pay attention to your shots—just as you did if you are old enough to have shot Tri-X back in the day. $6000 leica-camera.com
Sony’s APS-C sized a6300 isn’t so much a replacement of the company’s super-successful a6000 mirrorless camera, but a refinement. While the a6000, (which is the best-selling mirrorless camera) is designed to provide high-quality images with an interchangeable-lens system at a low price, the a6300 is tuned for speed.
The 24MP sensor is largely the same as that in the a6000 but the new AF system has 425 phase detection AF points across the entire imaging area that work with distance information for incredibly precise focusing. The camera can capture images up to 11fps, with very little viewfinder blackout time. For video shooters the a6300 captures 4K video with “full pixel readout,” which results in much better quality video than most 4K systems, which group pixels together for recording in order to save on processing time at the expense of detail. $1000 Sony.com
FUJIFILM X-PRO 2
Fuji pioneered the “professional” mirrorless system when it launched the X100 way back in 2010, and has been refining the concept ever since. As with the original X100, which had an APS-C sensor, the company’s interchangeable system is based around an APS-C sensor as well, providing excellent image quality in a small shape.
The X-Pro 2 improves on the original X-Pro 1 by providing improved focusing accuracy, focus speed, image quality and general camera ergonomics in the same hybrid “rangefinder” style body as the X-Pro 1. The 24MP sensor works with the 273 AF points for focus times the company says are four times faster than the X-Pro 1. With 61 weather seals, the X-Pro 2 is moisture and dust resistant. $1700 fujifilm-x.com
The Nikon D500 is the company’s APS-C version of the D5, giving customers with an existing collection of DX lenses an experience that’s as good as their full-frame friends. (Sports and wildlife shooters get the advantage of the focal length crop on full frame lenses, extending their reach.) The D500 has a 20MP sensor that captures images up to 10fps and can store 200 RAW images before the buffer fills. Sheesh. It has the same AF system as the D5 and the same processor, giving it the most horsepower in the APS-C world. The D500 is also capable of shooting 4K video. Nikon’s introducing a new always-on communication system for smartphones with this camera called SnapBridge, which uses Bluetooth to connect with a shooter’s smartphone whenever the camera is on. $2000 nikonusa.com
Holding the Olympus PEN-F in your hands it’s easy to imagine yourself standing sometime in the late 1970’s, cigarette dangling from your mouth, capturing gritty, urban street subjects. The retro styling on the PEN-F is eye-catching to say the least, but functional as well.
Big, beefy dials with ridged edges grace the top of the camera, providing direct control over capture settings. The back of the camera is more thoroughly modern, almost entirely taken up with a large fold-out LCD screen and a gorgeous OLED viewfinder. Inside it’s got a 20MP sensor and five-axis stabilization. The newest of the Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras, the PEN-F body works with MFT lenses from Olympus or Panasonic (as well as third party lenses) and the array of MFT accessories. $1200 olympusamerica.com
The Canon 80D is the company’s newest SLR and is aimed squarely at the enthusiast photographer. It’s a powerful, yet simple camera that has great AF performance, thanks to the 45 point AF system and great image quality from the 24MP sensor. When shooting video the camera uses Canon’s Dual Pixel AF for smoother video than other DSLR cameras. The 80D has excellent low light performance, and the built-in flash is handy to balance out a scene. $1200 usa.canon.com
CANON REBEL T6
The Canon Rebel is the Dark Side of the Moon of cameras, scoring the number one spot in sales, year after year after year. That’s because the Rebel is the go-to camera for the photographer stepping up from point-and-shoots or camera phones to a more serious camera. The newest Rebel, the T6, uses an 18MP APS-C sensor with a respectable ISO range of 100-6400. The Rebel has numerous features tailored to the newcomer to digital, including Intelligent Scene modes that evaluate a subject to optimize camera settings, built-in WiFi with NFC connectivity that lets the camera share images with the company’s smartphone app, and the ability to shoot full HD quality video at 30p. $500 usa.canon.com