The overwhelming majority of today’s digital cameras, regardless of type or format, deliver impressive real-world imaging performance. However, full-frame mirrorless cameras represent the tip of the spear; they showcase the latest technologies and incorporate the features serious shooters need to achieve still images and videos of the highest quality.
Moreover, many of the 10 models described here provide such elevated performance parameters as super-high-resolution image sensors of up to 61 megapixels. They also achieve full-res burst rates of 7–12 frames per sec and higher with 14-bit RAW capture.
Other notables are elevated maximum sensitivity settings in the ISO 100,000 to 400,000+ range; ultrafast, super-precise hybrid autofocus (AF) systems with hundreds of phase- and contrast-detection points as well as eye-focus capabilities; 5-axis in-camera sensor-shift image stabilization (IS); high-res OLED electronic viewfinders (EVF); and high-speed mechanical and electronic shutters.
Video capabilities include 4K UHD 60p video recording in 10-bit—or even 8K 30p. Most also provide S-Log2, S-Log3 and Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) options for optimizing the dynamic range and color reproduction of videos to display full highlight and shadow detail.
As they say, the devil is in the details; that’s why perusing the text blocks here will give you a clearer picture of what’s out there and what experienced and emerging pros and serious enthusiasts are looking for when they’re focused on upping their game.
10 Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera
Nikon Z 7II
Nikon’s exceptional, top-of-the-line full-framer is ruggedly handsome and purposeful. It provides pros and advanced photographers with a tool to capture immense resolution. The ILC is based on a 45.7MP, FX-format, backside-illuminated (BSI) CMOS sensor that omits the low-pass filter. It’s coupled to advanced dual Expeed 6 image processors. This high-tech combo delivers impressively upgraded speed and performance, with enhanced dynamic range for stills and video.
What’s more, they facilitate 4K UHD video recording at 60 fps as well as recording externally in 10-bit using N-Log or HLG (HDR) with output via HDMI. The Z 7II also offers sensitivity settings of ISO 64–25,600, extendable from ISO 32 to 102,400. It also achieves an impressive full-res burst rate of 10 fps with more than 3x the buffer capacity of its predecessor. In addition, built-in 5-axis VR (vibration reduction) IS minimizes the effects of handheld camera shake even with video. Plus 8K time-lapse mode is included.
Another high-end feature is a 493-point phase-detection AF system that now supports eye-detect AF in wide-area AF mode and during video recording—even for animals. Furthermore, it can focus swiftly in very low light, down to -4 EV.
Other features include a 0.8x, 3.7M-dot EVF; a 3.2-inch, 2.1M-dot, tilting touch-screen LCD; and a top panel dot-matrix OLED display that allows easy monitoring of settings when the camera isn’t at eye level. The stylish Z 7II also provides memory card slots for SD UHS-II and CFexpress Type-B/XQD cards; and it has built-in SnapBridge connectivity with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. All this and a lot more is built into a robust, weather-sealed magnesium alloy body. $2,995.95.*
Nikon just announced the new high-performance flagship of its acclaimed Z line of full-frame mirrorless cameras. Scheduled for official release mid-2021, the Nikon Z 9 professional ILC will provide “the best still and video performance in Nikon history.”
While Nikon has not revealed its full tech specs, the Z 9 will incorporate a newly developed FX-format stacked CMOS sensor and an advanced new image-processing engine for unprecedented speed. What’s more, its upgraded video specs boast 8K video recording, while a host of additional tools will enhance the entire imaging experience from capture to workflow.
Sony Alpha 7C
Sony’s diminutive, rangefinder-style full-framer is built on a hybrid concept that delivers impressive performance parameters for both still and video applications. The ILC employs a 24.2MP Exmor R BSI CMOS sensor linked to a high-performance Bionz X image processor with a front-end LSI. Consequently, the camera provides 4K UHD 30p video recording with 2.4x oversampling to capture greater detail. It also records Full HD video at up to 120 fps. Both resolutions record in the 100MB/s XAVC S format. Moreover, the 7C uses extensive customizable color and gamma controls. Among them are S-Log2, S-Log3 and HLG support.
In addition, the camera supports 16-bit processing and 14-bit RAW output with up to a 15-stop dynamic range. It also has sensitivity settings ranging from ISO 50 to ISO 204,800. And it achieves a respectable 10-fps, full-resolution, continuous burst rate.
Sony’s on-sensor Fast Hybrid AF system employs 693 phase-detection and 425 contrast-detection points; it also supports real-time eye AF (humans/animals) and AF tracking using AI. Other key features are 5-axis, in-body, sensor-shift image stabilization offering a 5-stop advantage in suppressing the effects of camera shake; anti-flicker shooting; an offset 0.39-inch, 2.36M-dot OLED EVF; a 3-inch, 921K-dot, side-opening, variable-angle LCD; built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity; and a single SD slot that’s compatible with SD UHS-II cards.
What’s more, the Alpha 7C is about 20% smaller and lighter than other Alpha 7 cameras (4.9×2.8×2.4 inches), and its weather-sealed body is built on a durable magnesium alloy chassis. In black or silver, $1,799,99.
Canon EOS R5
The flagship of EOS full-frame, mirrorless ILCs, the pro R5 has a 45MP CMOS sensor and an enhanced AF system that locks onto fast-moving subjects with impressive accuracy and speed. When using the mechanical shutter, it shoots at 12 fps; 20 fps using the virtually silent electronic shutter. It’s also one of the first EOS models with Canon’s advanced Dual Pixel CMOS AF II technology; it provides nearly 100% AF area coverage.
Another first is EOS iTR AF X, which uses AF-tracking algorithms and deep learning to optimize the sensor’s readout speed and the new Digic X processor’s speed. In addition, 1,053-automatically-selected AF zones detect a human eye, face or head, as well as the eyes, faces and bodies of animals, to adjust focus.
Moreover, 5-axis in-body IS works with the optical image stabilizer in IS-equipped RF lenses, providing 8 stops of shake-effect correction. The R5 also has an ISO 100–51,200 range that’s expandable to 102,400 (stills).
Notable is its ability to record uncropped 8K RAW internal video at up to 29.9 fps and 8K internal video at up to 29.97 fps in 4:2:2 10-bit Canon Log (H.265)/4:2:2 10-bit HDR PQ (H.265). It also captures 4K internal video at 119.88 fps in 4:2:2 10-bit Canon Log (H.265)/4:2:2 10-bit HDR PQ (H.265). In DCI modes, 8K/4K video is uncropped; Dual Pixel CMOS AF II is available in all 8K/4K recording modes.
Other features comprise a 0.5-inch, 5.76M-dot EVF with a 119.88-fps refresh rate; a 3.2-inch, 2.1M-dot vari-angle touch LCD; CFexpress/SD UHS-II slots; 5GHz/2.4GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity; the ability to voice-tag photos/videos; and weatherproof construction. $3,899.
Sigma fp L
Released shortly before we went to press, this audacious upgrade of the landmark Sigma fp mirrorless ILC adds an array of advanced features that many fans of this ultracompact, modular full-framer requested. However, it retains the L mount and distinctive minimalist form factor.
For starters, the fp L incorporates an ultrahigh-res 61MP full-frame BSI Bayer CMOS sensor (up from 24.6MP) with a low-pass filter. The new sensor captures high-res DNG/RAW and JPEG stills in 14-bit as well as 4K UHD video at 30p or DCI 4K 24p output if recording externally. Moreover, it records 8-bit CinemaDNG files to an SD card or outputs 12-bit CinemaDNG over USB-C or 12-bit RAW over HDMI.
The ILC also features a new high-sensitivity (down to -5 EV!), hybrid phase- and contrast-detection AF system with 42 selectable points. And its native sensitivity settings of ISO 100–25,600 extend from ISO 60 to 102,400. In addition, the camera boasts a new crop zoom function, allowing up to a 5x crop. Other key features include a 3.15-inch, 2.1M-dot LCD; a maximum 10-fps, full-res burst rate; webcam functionality; and a slot that accepts SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS II) cards.
What’s more, the camera accepts Sigma’s optional EVF-11 electronic viewfinder. The EVF has a 0.5-inch, 3.68M-dot OLED panel for eye-level viewing at 0.83x magnification. It also tilts upward 90° for low-angle shooting and incorporates its own USB-C port and a 3.5mm headphone port for audio monitoring.
Boasting a robust, diecast, weather-resistant body, the fp L measures only 4.4×2.8×1.8 inches and weighs a mere 15.1 ounces (body/battery/card). $2,499 body only; with EVF-11, $2,999. sigmaphoto.com
Panasonic Lumix DC-S5
Elegant, lightweight, compact and multifaceted, the S5 is Panasonic’s mid-range mirrorless full-framer. A great choice for both emerging and experienced enthusiasts, it delivers an appealing mix of high-end still picture and video capabilities. Its 24.2MP full-frame CMOS sensor with Dual Native ISO is coupled to a high-performance Venus image processor. The result is a maximum full-res burst rate of 7 fps with AF-S, 6 fps with AF-C and up to an amazing 60 fps when using 6K or 4K photo modes!
The L-mount ILC has a sensitivity range of ISO 100–51,200, which extends from ISO 50 to 204,800. It can also capture an impressive dynamic range of 14+ stops and provides a unique 96MP high-res shot mode. The DC-S5 also features a 225-zone DFD (depth from defocus) AF system with advanced subject tracking. Moreover, a 5-axis sensor-shift IS system provides a 5-stop anti-shake advantage, which increases when using L-mount lenses with built-in optical IS.
The camera is capable of full-frame 4K UHD 30p video recording with 4:2:0 10-bit color; 4K 60p using the APS-C picture area; 4K 30p with 8-bit color and no time limit; and also Full HD recording at 180p. With multiple style modes, the ILC additionally provides Dual Native ISO for enhanced color balance when V-Log, HLG or Cinelike D2/V2 are applied.
Also featured are a 2.36M-dot OLED EVF with 60/120-fps refresh rates and a 3-inch, 1.84M-dot, free-angle touch-screen LCD for live view shooting and menu navigation. Also incorporated are dual SD card slots (UHS-II/UHS-I compatible) as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. $1,999.99.
Nikon Z 6II
Nikon thoughtfully upgraded this successor to the groundbreaking Z 6. It retains a compact, ergonomic form; however, it now sports a high-performance 24.5MP FX-format (full-frame) BSI CMOS sensor that works with two Expeed 6 processors. This advanced design delivers a 14-fps, full-res, continuous framing rate with single-point AF and 12 fps in other AF modes. That’s due to more than 5x the buffer capacity of the Z 6. The versatile ILC also provides an ISO 50–204,800 sensitivity setting range.
The Z 6II records 4K UHD 30p video with full pixel readout. In addition, it provides various frame rates, including 4K UHD 60p via a firmware update. It also captures Full HD 120p video for slow motion. Furthermore, it provides 10-bit output to an external recorder with N-Log along with the capture of HDR (HLG) video. Complementing its video capabilities are eye-detection and animal-detection AF.
Notably, firmware v1.10 enables 4K UHD recording at 60/50 fps; RAW video output to Blackmagic external recorders; and ProRes RAW output to Atomos external recorders for greater color grading flexibility.
In addition, in-body, 5-axis, sensor-shift vibration reduction reduces the appearance of camera shake. And a 273-point phase-detection AF system focuses down to -4.5 EV. The camera also features a 0.8x, 0.5-inch, 3.7M-dot OLED EVF and a 3.2-inch, 2.1M-dot, tilting touch-screen LCD.
Connectivity options include SnapBridge with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. There are also separate slots for CFexpress Type-B/XQD and SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-II cards, as well as a USB Type-C port for charging or remote power supply. The Z 6II has a robust magnesium alloy chassis and a weather-resistant body. $1,999.95.
The new full-frame Cinema Line FX3 for high-end video capture is conceived as a compact, pro-caliber backup camera for “cage-free” handheld shooting. The E-mount camera combines features from Sony’s Cinema and Alpha lines to create the perfect tool for sophisticated shooting on the fly.
Its 35mm full-frame 12.1MP Exmor R CMOS sensor is mated to an advanced Bionz XR processor. They enable 4K UHD 120p and Full HD 240p recording with a dynamic range of 15+ stops and internal 10-bit 4:2:2 sampling, or 16-bit RAW output. The camera also provides all-Intra internal recording and S-Cinetone, S-Log3, HLG/HDR and Rec. 709 gamma options. In addition, it has tally lamps on the front, rear and side, while an internal fan prevents overheating at high throughput rates.
Sony’s Fast Hybrid AF system uses 627 points to cover about 89% of the viewing area. In addition, it provides real-time eye AF along with face detection and subject tracking with AI-based subject recognition.
Other key features include sensitivity settings that expand from ISO 80 to 409,600; a 3-inch, 1.44M-dot LCD with touch focus/menus; 5x slow-motion rates; a top handle with two XLR.3.5mm TRS combo inputs; digital audio that enables 4-channel, 24-bit recording; customizable buttons for assigning 15 controls and 140 menu items; dual band 5GHz/2.4GHz wireless connectivity and wired LAN via the USB Type-C port; and dual slots for CFexpress Type-A and SD cards.
These features are rolled into a tough weather-sealed body with a magnesium alloy chassis and shell. $3,899.99.
Canon EOS R6
This versatile, broad-spectrum Canon camera is targeted at sophisticated enthusiasts focused on upgrading their video. It incorporates an advanced 20.1MP full-frame CMOS sensor coupled to a high-performance Digic X processor. Subsequently, it provides full-res bursts of 12 fps (20 fps when using the ultraquiet electronic shutter). Video capabilities comprise 4K internal recording at up to 59.94 fps or 1080p video at up to 119.88 fps in 10 bit 4:2:2 Canon Log (H.265) or HDR PQ (H.265).
The camera also has a wide range of sensitivity settings from ISO 100 to ISO 204,800. In addition, the EOS R6 employs Dual Pixel CMOS AF II technology using 1,053 selectable phase-detection AF points that cover the entire field of view. It also uses deep learning to constantly improve subject tracking and AF speed. The tech additionally enables clean video recording via the HDMI port. Notably, the ILC can focus in light as dim as -6.5 EV—an EOS mirrorless first.
Viewing options include a 0.5-inch, 3.69M-dot EVF with a 120-fps refresh rate as well as a 3-inch, 1.62M-dot, vari-angle touch-screen LCD that facilitates vlogging and high- or low-angle shooting.
Other features include support for Canon Log and HDR PQ for greater color and dynamic range control when shooting video; 5-axis sensor-shift IS that provides 8 stops of shake correction and works in conjunction with the in-lens IS in Canon RF and adapted EF lenses; dual SD UHS-II card slots; built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity; and a durable weather-sealed body. $2,499.
Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R
Panasonic’s first full-frame mirrorless ILC is a solid, heavy-duty, weatherproof camera. The high-res, full-featured, L-mount model is squarely targeted at pros as well as other serious shooters. A full-frame 47.3MP MOS sensor pairs with a high-performance Venus Engine processor. As a result, the ILC delivers 4K UHD video recording at up to 60 fps along with a respectable maximum 9-fps, full-res burst rate with AF-S or 6 fps with AF-C. The camera also provides sensitivity settings of ISO 100–25,600.
In addition, the S1R utilizes a 225-zone contrast-detection DFD (depth from defocus) AF system. The system adjusts the focus position in as little as 0.08 sec with sensor-to-lens communication at rates up to 480 fps. Furthermore, Panasonic’s Dual IS 2 image stabilization technology combines 5.5-stop-rated, 5-axis sensor shift with in-lens 2-axis IS when using compatible Lumix lenses.
Moreover, the S1R boasts an ultrahigh-res 5.76M-dot, 0.78x-magnification OLED live viewfinder. It features a selectable, smooth 60-fps or 120-fps refresh rate; a 0.005-sec lag time; and a 10,000:1 contrast ratio. In addition, the camera provides a large, 3.2-inch, 2.1M-dot triaxial, tilt, touch-screen LCD monitor.
Other features comprise 6K photo functions; 187MP high-res mode; HLG mode for enhanced dynamic range and shadow detail; built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity; XQD and SD memory card slots; a USB Type-C port; and a splash/freeze-resistant, magnesium alloy body. $3,699.99.
Note: With a 24.2MP full-frame CMOS sensor, the sister model DC-S1H ($3,999.99) is optimized for video. It captures 6K 24p, 4:2:2 10-bit DCI 4K and 4K UHD video. In addition, it provides V-log, Dual Native ISO and HFR with sound.
Sony Alpha 1
The Alpha 1 is the new flagship of Sony’s Alpha full-frame mirrorless line and the most technologically advanced camera it’s ever released. For starters, it employs Sony’s latest high-efficiency stacked 50.1MP Exmor RS CMOS sensor and most advanced Bionz XR processor. As a result, the camera delivers impressive performance parameters, such as a 30-fps, full-res, continuous framing rate with AF/AE.
Additionally, it offers 8K 30p and 4K 120p 10-bit video recording with internal 4:2:0 10-bit sampling. It also achieves 16-bit RAW output via a full-size HDMI port.
The pro ILC boasts an ISO 50–102,400 extended sensitivity range with 15-stop dynamic range. Further, a 759-point hybrid AF system offers 425 contrast-detection points; noticeably upgraded focus tracking; real-time eye AF (people/animals); and a new bird mode.
The camera also has a 9.44M-dot OLED EVF with a 240-fps refresh rate and a 3-inch, 1.44M-dot, tilting touch-screen monitor. Moreover, its upgraded electronic shutter provides 1/200-sec flash sync, 1/400 sec using the upgraded mechanical shutter, and 1/500 sec with an APS-C crop.
Another feature is an enhanced 5.5-stop, 5-axis IS system that corrects for pitch and yaw for long focal lengths and horizontal/vertical shifts in macro. Numerous connectivity options include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC, along with USB 3.2 Gen 1, micro-USB and Ethernet ports. It also uses 2×2 MIMO for 3.5x faster ftp transfer. Dual slots accept CFexpress or SD UHS-II cards. As you’d expect, the Alpha 1 offers an extensive range of customizable color and gamma controls, including S-Cinetone, S-Gamut3.Cine, S-Log2 and S-Log3 Gamma.
It’s all pack into a comprehensively weather-sealed body with a magnesium alloy chassis. $6,499.99.
*All MSRPs are body only unless noted.