Professional photographers demand robust, reliable interchangeable-lens cameras (ILCs) that deliver a seamless combination of high imaging performance, versatility and advanced features. The full-frame high spec ILCs, both DSLR and mirrorless cameras, detailed here provide all those things and more. They offer cutting-edge, often unique features as well as awesome real-world speed and precision—both with still and video capture. Of course, all of them accept a full complement of pro-caliber lenses.
While today’s top-tier mirrorless cameras are making serious inroads among pros, traditional DSLRs remain the go-to choice for many. That’s because they deliver amazing imaging performance and dependability in familiar form factors. They also provide a spectrum of advanced, high-spec features; are fully compatible with a wide range of prized legacy lenses; and have conveniently placed traditional controls.
On the other hand, mirrorless cameras are the hot ticket among today’s tech savvy pros because they can provide continuous autofocus (AF) during the actual exposure; this is crucial when capturing pro-quality high-speed bursts and seamless video in 4K. In addition, eliminating the mirror box enables smaller, lighter mirrorless ILCs. Moreover, their shorter lens-to-sensor distance enhances optical flexibility; it permits optical designers to create compact, portable high-performance lenses. What’s more, photographers can mount a huge variety of existing lenses via simple adapters.
To cut to the chase, current pro-aimed DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are both capable of capturing still images and videos of spectacular quality. Wise dealers will therefore present both categories of high spec ILCs and let their knowledgeable pro customers choose for themselves. Whatever they decide, they won’t go wrong with any of the 10 cameras detailed here; they are as good as any in the world and therefore belong on every professional photographer’s short list.
Spectacular Full-Frame High Spec ILCs
Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R
Panasonic’s original full-frame mirrorless ILC, it’s a heavy-duty, weatherproof, high-resolution camera. Aimed at professional photographers, the full-featured L-mount model employs a full-frame 47.3-megapixel MOS image sensor integrated with a high-performance Venus image processor. As a result, it provides 4K UHD video recording at 60 frames per sec; an impressive maximum full-res burst rate of 9 fps with AF-S or 6 fps with AF-C; and sensitivity settings from ISO 100 to 25,600.
In addition, its 225-zone contrast-detection DFD (Depth from Defocus) AF system adjusts the focus position in as little as 0.08 sec with sensor-to-lens communication at rates up to 480 fps. Moreover, Dual IS 2 image stabilization technology combines 5.5-stop-rated, 5-axis sensor shift IS with the in-lens 2-axis IS on compatible Lumix lenses. Further, the S1R’s cutting-edge live viewfinder is an ultrahigh-res 5.76M-dot, 0.78x OLED LVF. It has a smooth, selectable 60- or 120-fps refresh rate; a 0.005-sec lag time; and a 10,000:1 contrast ratio. It’s complemented by a 3.2-inch, 2.1M-dot, triaxial tilting, touch-screen LCD. Other features include: 187MP high-res mode; 6K photo functions; built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity; XQD/SD card slots; and HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) mode for enhanced dynamic range and shadow detail. $3,699.99.*
Nikon Z 7
Nikon’s remarkable high-res, pro mirrorless full-framer is rugged and purposefully built. At its core is a 45.7MP FX-format (full-frame) BSI (backside-illuminated) CMOS sensor and Nikon’s advanced Expeed 6 image processor. Consequently, the high-tech ILC delivers impressive performance parameters. The Z 7 records 4K UHD video at 30 fps with N-Log for capturing an enhanced dynamic range. It also offers 10-bit HDMI output and has an extended sensitivity range of ISO 64–25,600. What’s more, it has a full-res burst rate of up to 9 fps.
Designed around Nikon’s wide-diameter Z mount with a shorter 16mm flange distance, it enables the use of more compact wider-aperture Nikkor Z lenses. However, legacy Nikkor F-mount lenses also can be used with the mount adapter FTZ. When doing so, they gain the advantages of the Z 7’s in-body vibration reduction, silent shooting and PDAF focusing system. The optional adapter also supports E-, G- and D-type Nikkor lenses.
In addition, a 493-point phase-detection AF system supports built-in 5-axis VR (vibration reduction) IS to combat the effects of handheld shake. Other features include a 0.8x, 3.6M-dot EVF (electronic viewfinder); a 3.2-inch, 2.10M-dot, tilting, touch-sensitive LCD monitor; and a top panel dot-matrix OLED display that enables the monitoring of settings when the camera isn’t at eye level. Moreover, an XQD card slot and built-in Wi-Fi/Bluetooth connectivity are provided. The Nikon Z 7 sports a weather-sealed magnesium alloy body. $3,399.95.
Canon EOS R
Canon’s high-performance mirrorless model is aimed at a broad spectrum of serious shooters, including professionals. It features a full-frame 30.3MP CMOS sensor coupled to a high-tech Digic 8 image processor. As a result, the EOS R boasts such advanced capabilities as 4K UHD video capture at 30 fps with Canon Log Gamma for improved dynamic range; 10-bit HDMI output; expanded sensitivity settings from ISO 50 to 102,400; and a full-res burst rate of 8 fps. Built around the 54mm-wide Canon RF mount, the ILC accepts an advanced new line of more compact, wider-aperture lenses. What’s more, legacy Canon EF- and EF-S-mount lenses can be used with an optional EF-EOS R mount adapter.
The compact camera also features Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology with 5,655 selectable AF points and sensitivity down to -6 EV for pro-level low-light performance. Moreover, Canon’s Dual Pixel Raw technology permits slight focus point shifts and other adjustments after capture. In addition, a 3.69M-dot OLED EVF complements a 3.15-inch, 2.10M-dot swivel touch-screen monitor. Other features include movie digital IS to minimize the effects of shake; a customizable multifunction bar for personalized control of settings; Wi-Fi as well as Bluetooth connectivity; and an SD UHS-II card slot. The EOS R has a dust- and weather-sealed magnesium alloy body. $2,299.
Sony Alpha 9 II
Sony’s second-generation full-frame Alpha flagship is even faster than its impressive predecessor, and it has a handier, more attractive form factor. The a9 II provides remarkable multimedia capabilities for ultrafast continuous shooting and pro caliber video capture. Its 24.2MP full-frame Exmor RS stacked CMOS sensor and front-end LSI work with an advanced Bionz X processor. Subsequently, it shoots a continuous 20-fps full-res burst using its electronic shutter (AF/AE tracking) or 10 fps via its mechanical shutter. It also performs up to 60 AF/AE functions per sec. Multimedia capabilities include 4K UHD (6K equivalent) video recording at 30 fps and 8K still grabs from video. Moreover, it records with full-pixel readout without pixel binning and condenses 2.4x the amount of data needed for 4K.
In addition, the ILC offers sensitivity settings extendable from ISO 50 to ISO 204,800. And its advanced 693-point phase-detection AF system with 25 contrast-detection points is sensitive down to -3 EV. Further, 5-axis SteadyShot Inside sensor-shift IS provides a 5.5-stop advantage when shooting stills or video. Other features include a blackout-free 3.69M-dot OLED EVF; a 3-inch, 1.44M-dot, tilting touch-screen LCD; real-time eye AF for humans as well as animals; anti-flicker shooting for artificial lighting; and a silent electronic shutter. Its weather-sealed body has a magnesium alloy chassis and incorporates Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity; dual UHS-II SD slots; integrated LAN and PC terminals; and FTP transfer. $4,499.99.
Sigma’s first full-frame L-mount ultracompact mirrorless camera redrew the boundaries of the full-frame mirrorless class with its diminutive size and high specs. Breaking the boundary between still and cine imaging, the fp achieves pro-caliber functionality in a uniquely compact, slim body. Moreover, it offers a convenient platform for custom configuration by adding Sigma and third-party accessories using dedicated mounts. Measuring just 4.43×2.75×1.78 inches and weighing less than 15 ounces (body, including battery and SDXC card), the aluminum alloy fp is also resistant to the elements. Its specs include a 24.6MP BSI full-frame Bayer CMOS sensor that achieves 14-bit color depth and captures full-res 18-fps bursts.
In addition, a 49-point contrast-detection AF system provides face detection, eye detection and focus peaking readouts. Furthermore, photographers can expand the fp’s base sensitivity range of ISO 100 to 25,600 from ISO 6 to 102,400. It also offers 4K UHD video recording at up to 30 fps; supports 12-bit CinemaDNG external recording at up to 25 fps; and records Full HD video at up to 120p for slow motion effects. Plus, Sigma’s teal and orange mode mimics Hollywood color-grading techniques, while a “director’s viewfinder” function simulates pro effects like those captured by Arri cameras. The fp also features 6,000×4,000-pixel resolution for RAW /JPEG files; a 3.15-inch, 2.1M-dot touch LCD; a UHS-II SDXC slot; a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C port; and a micro-HDMI port. $1,899.
Nikon officially released its D6 flagship DSLR this spring. The FX-format camera offers enhanced workflow functions and the most powerful AF system in Nikon’s history. Faster than previous Nikon DSLRs, it also delivers accelerated file transfer capabilities. In addition to improved low-light performance down to -4.5 EV, it also provides advanced 4K UHD multimedia capabilities. The D6 uses a densely packed 105-point AF system; all focus points utilize cross-type sensors and are selectable. This allows the D6 to achieve 1.6x denser AF coverage than the D5. It also boasts an expanded focus detection range for single-point AF and dynamic-area AF.
Additionally, the DSLR boasts a 14-fps mechanical shutter with full AF/AE and silent shooting, capturing full-res 10.5-fps bursts. Its 20.8MP CMOS sensor is engineered to create detailed images with true colors and enhanced dynamic range—with an ISO range from 100 to 102,400 that’s expandable to 3.2 million. It’s also Nikon’s most customizable DSLR with 14 customizable buttons. Moreover, upgraded connectivity includes a 1000BASE-T Ethernet standard with a 15% increase in transmission speed; built-in 2.4/5 GHz Wi-Fi; wireless transfer using the optional WT-6 transmitter; a USB Type-C connector; and priority image transfer. Other features include time-lapse movie recording; security lock compatibility to connect anti-theft cables; GPS; dual CFexpress slots; and a magnesium alloy, weather-sealed body. $6,499.95.
Pentax K-1 Mark II
Pentax’s brilliant, top-of-the-line, full-frame DSLR offers enhanced image processing and imaging capabilities. Its high-res 36.4MP CMOS sensor and Prime IV processor capture detailed low-noise images at sensitivity settings up to a very impressive ISO 819,200. The K-mount camera also delivers a full-res burst of 4.4 fps and Full HD 1080p video recording at 30 fps in full-frame or APS-C crop modes. It also incorporates a AA filter simulator that minimizes moiré patterns but omits the standard antialiasing filter to ensure the sharpest possible images. Further, an advanced wide-pattern SAFOX 12 AF sensor covers nearly the entire full-frame area and has 33 AF points; they include 25 cross pattern and three f/2.8-luminance points that operate in light down to -3 EV.
The DSLR also has a distinctive 3.2-inch, cross-tilt LCD monitor that tilts up 90º, down 44º as well as 35º laterally. What’s more, an integrated 5-axis shake reduction system provides a 5-stop advantage in minimizing the effects of handheld shake; and it now enables Pixel Shift II technology that merges sequential frames to achieve greater resolution and color detail. Other features include dual SD slots; built-in Wi-Fi and GPS; an astrotracer feature that minimizes star trails during long exposures; and LED-illuminated body points on the lens mount, card slots, back of the LCD and at the cable switch to facilitate low-light operation. In addition, its robust body features a stainless steel chassis and a magnesium alloy outer shell that’s weather sealed in 87 places and operates down to 14ºF. $1,999.95.
Sony Alpha 7R IV
This Sony ILC is a top choice among professionals requiring a high-res, full-frame mirrorless camera for still and video applications. The upgraded a7R IV scores with an ultrahigh-performance 61MP Exmor R BSI sensor mated to a cutting-edge Bionz X processor and front-end LSI. This outstanding combo delivers a rapid 10-fps full-res framing rate, as well as ISO settings of 100–32,000 (expandable to cover an ISO 50–102,400 range). The camera is also capable of 4K video capture at 30 fps in the XAVC S format through 5K (15MP) oversampling at 30 fps with the S-Log3 and S-Log2 Gamma curves found in high-end Sony video cameras. It also supports HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma).
Benefiting both still and video capture is Sony’s 5-axis SteadyShot InSide sensor-shift image stabilization system; it provides a 5.5-stop advantage in handheld shooting. And the ILC’s sleeker body design incorporates an impressively realistic 5.76M-dot OLED EVF and a rear 3-inch, 1.44M-dot tilting touch-screen LCD monitor for convenient control when working at high and low angles. Other features include a pixel-shift multi-shooting function that creates composite images up to 240.8MP; a hybrid AF system with 567 phase-detection and 425 contrast-detection points; 2.4 and 5 GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity; dual SD slots; a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C port; and a PC sync port. Plus, its robust body with a magnesium alloy chassis has comprehensive weather sealing. $3,499.99.
Canon EOS-1D X Mark III
Perched at the pinnacle of the Canon EOS line, this remarkable new DSLR is the most advanced EOS ever. It combines state-of-the-art image processing with robust multimedia capabilities. Its 20.1MP full-frame CMOS sensor is integrated with Canon’s most advanced Digic X processor to deliver a sizzling 16-fps full-res burst rate (20 fps in live view). The DSLR also achieves DCI 4K (4,096×2,160) video capture at 60 fps with 10-bit 4:2:2 color, plus Full HD recording at up to 120 fps and RAW 5.5K (5,472×2,886) up to 60 fps. Canon Log lets users record 4K and 1080p video with 12 stops of high dynamic range. And an HDMI terminal transmits 4K 60p data to another device.
Its EOS iTR AF-X autofocus system uses 191 points with 155 cross-type points. It also utilizes deep learning technology to constantly refine head and face detection. Moreover, when shooting video or in live view, Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology provides 3,869 manually selected AF points and 525 automatic zones for enhanced focusing speed and precision. And an advanced metering sensor works with the EOS Intelligent Tracking and Recognition AF system to enhance metering and tracking accuracy. Other key features are a 3.2-inch, 2.1M-dot touch-screen LCD monitor; an 8.8MP still grab function when shooting video; native ISO 50–102,400 settings that expand to ISO 819,200; GPS; Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and gigabit Ethernet; dual CFexpress slots; button illumination; and a weather-sealed magnesium alloy body with a brilliant pentaprism finder. $6,499.
Nikon‘s successor to (but not the replacement for) the popular D750, this versatile high-tech DSLR was upgraded to deliver outstanding performance in still and video applications. It’s based on a new 24.5MP full-frame CMOS sensor with a BSI design for enhanced clarity and reduced noise levels. The sensor is coupled with an advanced Expeed 6 processor to deliver impressive specs. They include ISO settings from 100–51,200 that expand from ISO 50 to 204,800.
The DSLR also achieves a 7-fps burst rate with the viewfinder and up to 12 fps for RAW plus JPEGs in live view without shutter noise. It also records 4K UHD 30p video in full-frame mode with full pixel readout adopted from the Z 6 or in cropped mode. In addition, it captures Full HD video at up to 120 fps. Video capabilities integrate 10-bit output with N-Log Gamma and HLG for pro-caliber color control.
Also notable is a 51-point phase-detection AF system with 15 cross-type points in viewfinder mode; a 273-point hybrid AF system also adopted from the Z 6 (live view or shooting video); as well as eye detection AF. It also provides intelligent scene recognition with Nikon’s proprietary 3D Color Matrix Metering III technology, which utilizes a 180,000-pixel RGB sensor. The system automatically checks onboard reference images to ensure consistency of while balance, i-TTL flash settings and AF tracking performance. Other features include a 0.7x-magnification pentaprism optical viewfinder; a 3.2-inch, 2.36M-dot, tilting touch LCD; dual UHS-II SD slots; Wi-Fi and Bluetooth; USB Type-C; and weather sealing. $2,299.95.
*All MSRPs are body only.