Pro-Level Mirrorless Cameras Take the High Ground

Pro-Level Mirrorless Cameras Take the High Ground

Mirrorless is destined to be the top camera category in 2023.

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Last year marked the turning point at which the mirrorless camera, or EVC (electronic viewfinder camera), became the dominant type of interchangeable-lens digital camera. Pro-level mirrorless cameras, and mirrorless models in general, have finally eclipsed the once mighty DSLR.

Indeed, there was only one DSLR introduced in 2022, the Pentax KF. It’s an upgrade of the APS-C-format Pentax K-70. However modest its improvements, the sleek Pentax KF may well earn its place in history as the last new DSLR the world will see.

The ultimate victory of the mirrorless EVC was made possible by perfecting its signature feature, the electronic viewfinder (EVF). The OLED EVFs in current EVCs deliver a viewing experience that equals, and in many ways surpasses, the optical viewfinder (OVF) in the best DSLRs—a brilliant ultrahigh-res image in impressively vibrant, accurate color. And at a high enough refresh rate to ensure a seamless viewing experience equal to the best OVFs.

These EVFs also provide superior performance in low light by upping the gain. Consequently, they give a brighter, clearer view of the subject.

Additionally, mirrorless cameras have other advantages. By eliminating the large and costly pentaprism and mirror box assembly, they’re smaller and lighter than comparable DSLRs. Therefore, they have inherently greater flexibility in terms of form factor. This has led to elegant designs with more ergonomic controls.

Of course, by removing the flipping mirror, a major source of camera-induced shake was eliminated. As a result, these cameras offer enhanced sharpness when shooting handheld at slower shutter speeds.

As you can see by perusing the specs of the top-end mirrorless EVCs here, the category also benefits from state-of-the-art technology. It delivers impressive dynamic ranges; upgraded image stabilization; remarkable full-res framing rates; vastly expanded ISO ranges; ultrahigh-res LCD monitors; pro-caliber video parameters; and advanced AI-based features.

                Pro-Level Mirrorless Cameras

Fujifilm X-H2

Fujifilms class-leading, APS-C-format, X-mount camera incorporates a 40.2-megapixel X-Trans CMOS 5 HR sensor with a unique color filter array. It minimizes noise and moiré patterns, enhances clarity as well as reduces rolling shutter effects in video capture. Along with a 64-bit X-Processor 5, it enables 8K 30p and 4K 60p Apple ProRes internal recording. It also permits Full HD 240p 10-bit video.

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Fujifilm X-H2

The ILC also boasts 13+ stops of dynamic range and ISO 125–12,800 sensitivity settings. They are extendable from ISO 64 to ISO 51,200 in photo mode and ISO 125–25,600 in video mode. What’s more, its burst rate tops out at 20 frames per sec with the electronic shutter and 15 fps with the mechanical shutter—with the ability to shoot upward of 1,000 RAW frames in a burst!

The sleek camera also has built-in 7-stop, 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilization (IS). Plus, it provides external RAW 12-bit recording via an HDMI port as well as support for F-Log/F-Log2 profiles in resolutions up to the open-gate 8K. Its impressive feature array also includes a hybrid AF system with 425 phase-detection points, sensitivity down to -7 EV for low-light conditions, and deep learning AI (artificial intelligence) that detects various subject types. Additionally, Pixel Shift Multi-Shot tech yields a single 160MP image. Add to that 15 film simulation modes plus adjustable grain and color chrome effect settings.

The X-H2 sports a 5.8M-dot EVF with 0.8x magnification and a 120-fps refresh rate. Other features are a top 1.28-inch monochrome LCD; a 3-inch, 1.6M-dot vari-angle LCD monitor; CFexpress Type B and UHS-II SD card slots; Bluetooth/Wi-Fi; and 79 weather-sealed points. Measuring 5.4×3.7×3.3 inches, it weighs 1.5 pounds.* $1,999.95.

Sony Alpha 7R V

The latest iteration in Sony’s acclaimed 7R series is popular among professionals requiring a high-res, full-frame camera for still and video applications. The upgraded ILC scores with an ultrahigh-performance 61MP Exmor R BSI (backside-illuminated) CMOS sensor and a Bionz XR image processor and AI processing unit. This impressive tech delivers 15 stops of dynamic range plus a 10-fps, full-res framing rate with the mechanical shutter and 7 fps with the electronic shutter. ISO settings of 100–32,000 in still (ISO 100–12,800 video) extend from ISO 50 to 102,400.

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Sony Alpha 7R V

The ILC delivers 10-bit video at 8K 24p, 4K 60p and Full HD at 120p—with breathing compensation—in XAVC HS and XAVC S formats. It also has HDR-HLG, S-Cinetone and Sony S-Log2/S-Log3 Gamma support. Benefiting still and video capture is in-body 5-axis sensor-shift IS with an 8-stop anti-shake advantage in handheld shooting. Plus, Pixel Shift Multi Shooting technology creates composite images up to 240.8MP. Further, a fast hybrid AF system uses 693 phase-detection points and AI-based real-time tracking.

Its sleeker body incorporates a 0.64-inch, impressively realistic 9.4M-dot OLED EVF and a rear-mounted 4-axis, multi-angle, 3.2-inch, 2.1M-dot touchscreen LCD. Other features include anti-flicker shooting; HEIF support; 2.4GHz/5GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity; 2×2 MIMO or a SuperSpeed 10Gbps connection via a USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 Type C port; USB streaming with UVC/UAC; dual card slots (CFexpress Type A and SD); and a PC Sync terminal. It has a weather-sealed, robust body with a magnesium alloy chassis. Dimensions, 5.3×3.9×3.3 inches; weight, 1.6 pounds. $3,899.99.

Sigma fp L

Sigma’s marvelous upgrade of the revolutionary Sigma fp adds an array of advanced features that many fans of the unique ultracompact, modular, full-frame ILC were asking for. It also retains the fp’s L mount and distinctive minimalist form factor. The mirrorless wonder incorporates a new ultrahigh-resolution 61MP full-frame BSI Bayer CMOS sensor (up from 24.6MP) with a low-pass filter. Moreover, a high-sensitivity (down to -5 EV), hybrid phase- and contrast-detection AF system employs 49 contrast-detection and 42 selectable points.

The camera also works with Sigma’s optional EVF-11 electronic viewfinder. The EVF has a 0.5-inch, 3.7M-dot OLED panel for eye-level viewing and 0.83x magnification. The viewfinder tilts upward 90° for low-angle shooting and integrates a USB-C port and a 3.5mm headphone port for audio monitoring.

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Sigma fp L

The fp L’s sensor captures 14-bit DNG/RAW and JPEG stills. Additionally, it records 4K UHD video at 30p and 4K DCI 24p output if recording externally. Plus, it records 8-bit CinemaDNG files to an SD card and outputs 12-bit CinemaDNG over USB C or 12-bit RAW over HDMI.

Other notable features are a 3.1-inch, 2.1M-dot LCD; a crop zoom function for a 5x crop; a full-res, 10-fps burst rate; and a card slot that accepts SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS II) cards. The fp L sports a diecast, weather-resistant body. Dimensions, 4.4×2.8×1.8 inches; weight, a mere 15.1 ounces. $2,499 body; $2,999 with EVF-11.

Nikon Z 9

Nikon’s flagship mirrorless ILC is powered by an FX-format (full frame) 45.7MP BSI stacked CMOS sensor and the most advanced Expeed 7 processor. They reduce rolling shutter effects and deliver 10x faster AF speeds. Sensitivity settings of ISO 64–25,600 expand from ISO 32 to 102,400. And the pro ILC provides continuous shooting speeds of 20 fps (RAW), 30 fps (JPEG) and 120 fps (!) when recording 11MP stills from video—all while supporting AF/AE. The full framer also buffers more than 1,000 RAW images in a single burst (50 sec of continuous recording).

Moreover, it boasts a near-silent electronic shutter with a top speed of 1/32,000 for working in bright light (no mechanical shutter required). Further, a high speed 493-point phase-detection AF system allows 120-fps AF. It also has a starlight mode for focusing down to -8.5 EV; deep-learning subject detection; eye-detection AF and dynamic-area AF; as well as 3D tracking.

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Nikon Z 9

The Z 9 captures 8K video at 30 fps, 4K video at up to 120 fps and oversampled 4K video at 30 fps for increased sharpness and detail. Other benefits are internal recording with 10-bit color and 4:2:2 sampling in various codecs; a 10-bit N-Log setting; and HLG for creating in-camera HDR content.

Also incorporated are a 3.7M-dot OLED EVF with adjustable luminance and a four-axis, 3.2-inch, 2.1M-dot, tilting touchscreen LCD. Other features are dual CFexpress Type B slots compatible with XQD cards; Bluetooth/Wi-Fi (2.4GHz/5GHz); 1000BASE-T wired LAN and direct transfer to FTP; GNSS GPS; and vibration reduction IS with synchro VR (select lenses) for 6-stop shake compensation. Its weather-resistant body with a magnesium alloy chassis is 20% smaller than the flagship D6 SLR. Dimensions, 5.9×5.9×3.6 inches; weight, 3 pounds. $5,499.95.

Canon EOS R5 C

Billed a mirrorless cinema camera, this Canon ILC is the ultimate crossover. With just the flick of a switch, it converts from a pro-level still camera to a full-frame 8K/60p Cinema EOS camera. It’s capable of internally recording 12-bit Cinema RAW Light footage. Moreover, pro-aimed features include a 45MP full-frame CMOS sensor mated to an advanced AF system that locks onto and captures fast-moving subjects with impressive accuracy and speed. It can shoot at 12 fps using its mechanical shutter and 20 fps using the near-silent electronic shutter.

Further, enhanced video features comprise 4K 120p recording; HDMI RAW output; Canon Log 3/HLG/PQ; unlimited recording; as well as a timecode port. Additionally, it incorporates Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF II technology. It provides nearly 100% coverage of the AF area and functions during HFR recording. Plus, its EOS iTR AF X system uses AF-tracking algorithms and deep learning to optimize the sensor’s readout speed and the Digic X’s processing speed.

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Canon EOS R5 C

What’s more, the AF system has 1,053-automatically-selected zones and eye-, face- and head-detection AF for humans and animals. Complementing the AF system is 5-axis in-body IS. It integrates with the optical image stabilizer in IS-outfitted RF lenses to provide 8 stops of anti-shake compensation. Other features are a native ISO 100–51,200 range expandable to ISO 102,400; a 0.5-inch, 5.8M-dot EVF with a 119.88-fps refresh rate; a 3.2-inch, 2.1M-dot vari-angle touchscreen LCD; and the ability to voice tag photos and video. Storage and transfer are via dual CFexpress/SD UHS-II card slots; 5GHz/2.4GHz Wi-Fi; Bluetooth; and UVC connectivity. All this and more is housed in a weatherproof body. Dimensions, 5.6x4x4.4 inches; weight, 1.7 pounds. $4,399.

Panasonic Lumix GH6

This EVC boasts pro-caliber performance in an elegantly compact body. The flagship of Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds GH series features an upgraded 25.2MP Live MOS MFT sensor sans a low-pass filter. The sensor works with a Venus Engine processor to enable 4K DCI 60p 4:4:2 10-bit unlimited video recording. The ILC also records 5.7K 30p video in Apple ProRes 422 HQ to a CFexpress Type B card; 4:2:0 10-bit 4K 120p (5x slow motion) video to an SD card; and FHD 300p VFR (variable frame rate).

Additionally, photographers can shoot 100MP stills handheld. They can also capture 14-fps (AFS) bursts with the camera’s mechanical shutter and 75 fps with the electronic shutter. Furthermore, the camera achieves proper exposures over an impressive 13+ stop range. And in-body sensor-shift IS works with the image stabilizer in Lumix lenses for a 7.5-stop advantage in minimizing shake effects.

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Panasonic Lumix GH6

Panasonic also tripled the GH6’s autofocus processing speed, raising the speed of the 315-zone contrast-detection, depth-from-defocus (DFD) AF system. Plus, AF tracking was improved. The AF system also provides a focus limiter, manual-focus assist, zone AF, face priority and a joystick for convenient control.

Additional features include dynamic range boost mode for footage shot at up to 60p; 3D noise reduction (video); a free-angle, 3-inch, 1.8M-dot LCD; a 3.7M-dot OLED live viewfinder with 0.76x magnification; anamorphic capability allowing 5.8K 30p 4:2:0 10-bit and 4.4K 60p 10-bit video; super-slow motion in HFR for capturing 1080p 240p video; Cinelike Gamma presets; Wi-Fi 5GHz; Bluetooth 5.0; and ISO settings of 50–25,600 (photos) and 50–12,800 (video). Panasonic placed all this tech in a weatherproof, freezeproof body. Dimensions, 3.9x4x5.5 inches; weight, 1.8 pounds. $1,899.99.

Sony Alpha 1

The flagship of the Alpha full-frame mirrorless camera line, the Alpha 1 is also the most technologically superior camera Sony ever made. It boasts Sonys latest high-efficiency stacked 50.1MP Exmor RS BSI CMOS sensor. The sensor pairs with Sony’s most advanced Bionz XR processing engine.

Together they provide remarkable performance: a continuous, 30-fps, full-res burst rate with AF/AE; 8K 30p and 4K 120p 10-bit video recording with internal 4:2:2 10-bit sampling; as well as 16-bit RAW output via a full-size HDMI. Additionally, the camera has an extended sensitivity range of ISO 50–102,400 with a 15-stop dynamic range. Not surprising, the Alpha 1 offers expansive customizable color and gamma controls. They include S-Log2 and S-Log3 Gamma. And it provides XAVC HS and XAVC S codecs to suit different workflows.

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Sony Alpha 1

The ILC’s high-res sensor incorporates a 759-point Fast Hybrid AF system with 425 contrast-detection points and markedly improved subject focus tracking. Also added were real-time eye AF for people and animals, as well as a bird mode. In addition, enhanced 5.5-stop, 5-axis SteadyShot InSide image stabilization corrects for pitch and yaw.

Other key features include a 9.4M-dot OLED EVF with a 240-fps refresh rate; a 3-inch, 1.4M-dot, tilting touchscreen monitor; and an improved electronic shutter that provides flash sync at up to 1/200 sec; and 1/400-sec flash sync via the revamped mechanical shutter. There’s also built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC connectivity, as well as USB 3.2 Gen 1, Micro USB and Ethernet ports, plus dual card slots that accept CFexpress or SD UHS-II cards. The ILC sports a comprehensively weather-sealed body built around a robust magnesium alloy chassis. Dimensions, 5.1×3.9×3.3 inches; weight, 1.6 pounds. $6,499.99.

Nikon Z 7II

This second-gen, full-frame Nikon ILC is highly acclaimed. At its core is a 45.7MP FX-format (full frame) BSI CMOS sensor sans the low-pass filter. The sensor integrates with dual Expeed 6 processors to deliver noticeably upgraded speed and performance. Consequently, the Z 7II records 4K UHD video at 60 fps and captures an enhanced dynamic range in stills and video. It also records externally in 10-bit using N-Log or HLG (HDR) and outputs via HDMI.

Moreover, the camera’s sensitivity settings of ISO 64–25,600 extend from ISO 32 to ISO 102,400. Plus, the ILC achieves a respectable full-res burst rate of 10 frames per sec. Other pro-level features are a 493-point phase-detection AF system that supports eye-detection AF for humans and animals in wide-area AF mode—and during video recording. Further, it focuses swiftly in low light, down to -4.5 EV. Working with the autofocus system is Nikon’s built-in 5-axis VR image stabilization system, minimizing the effects of handheld camera shake.

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Nikon Z 7II

Further, the Nikon Z 7II features a 0.8x, 3.7M-dot dot-matrix EVF; a 3.2-inch, 2.1M-dot, tilting touchscreen LCD monitor; and a top panel dot-matrix OLED display. The full framer also has SD UHS-II and CFexpress Type B/XQD memory card slots and an 8K time-lapse mode. With always-connected SnapBridge, it additionally provides built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. Its magnesium alloy chassis and weather-sealed body allow performance in tough outdoor conditions. Dimensions, 5.3x4x2.8; weight, 1.4 pounds. $2,999.95.

Fujifilm X-T5

Comparable in size but a bit lighter than its predecessor, the Fujifilm X-T4, this X-mount ILC has a higher-res 40.2MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS 5 HR sensor and a fifth-generation, high-speed X-Processor 5. The combination delivers 4K 60p and 6.2K 30p 4:2:2 10-bit internal video recording. Its sensitivity settings of ISO 125–12,800 extend to ISO 51,200 in still mode and 25,600 in video mode. It also achieves a maximum burst rate of 20 fps and 15 fps with the electronic and mechanical shutter, respectively.

Featuring an intuitive dial-based layout, the X-T5 is an adept crossover machine that provides built-in 7-stop, 5-axis, sensor-shift IS. Moreover, its pixel-shift multi-shot mode creates stunningly sharp 160MP files, and the electronic shutter can freeze action at up to 1/180,000 sec!

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Fujifilm X-T5

The camera’s moviemaking prowess also includes the ability to record 12-bit ProRes RAW and Blackmagic RAW via the HDMI port to Atmos and Blackmagic devices. What’s more, videographers have access to Fujifilm F-Log and F-Log2 Gamma curve profiles. Additionally, its cutting-edge feature set includes a phase-detection, 425-point, intelligent hybrid AF system (PDAF plus contrast detection). The system is sensitive down to -7 EV for extreme low-light work.

Also notable is a 100% view, 0.8x magnification, 0.5-inch, 3.7M-dot OLED EVF with diopters adjustable from -5 to +3. It’s joined by a 3-inch, 1.8M-dot, tilting touchscreen LCD. Other features comprise 19 film simulation modes; HEIF file support; and integrated Bluetooth/Wi-Fi connectivity with remote control capability. Dimensions, 5.1×3.6×2.5 inches; weight, 19.6 ounces. $1,699.95.

Olympus OM-1

This Micro Four Thirds ILC was named after the iconic Olympus OM-1 35mm SLR of yore. OM Digital Solutions’ flagship MFT camera has styling cues linking it with the past. Nevertheless, it boasts a modern feature set and impressive performance in a compact, ergonomic form factor.

For starters, its 20MP stacked BSI Live MOS sensor works with a TruePic X processor that’s three times faster than the previous generation. Consequently, the OM-1 achieves a full-res, 10-fps framing rate—up to 120 fps without AF/AE using its electronic shutter. It also records DCI 4K UHD 60p 10-bit video with 4:2:0 sampling as well as captures Full HD video at up to 240 fps. Further, RAW 12-bit 4:4:4 data outputs via Micro HDMI. And there’s HLG picture mode for in-camera HDR and OM-Log Gamma for postproduction color grading.

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OM System OM-1

The OM-1 has extended ISO settings of 80–102,400. Plus, its Cross Quad Pixel Phase-Detection AF technology splits each pixel into four sub-pixels for improved performance in challenging lighting. Moreover, 1,053 points cover the sensor and perform at 120 fps. It also achieves 50-fps, blackout-free AF/AE tracking at 20.4MP, and AI detection AF uses deep learning. Notable is 5-axis in-body IS with a 7-stop advantage in minimizing shake effects—8 stops with IS-enabled lenses. And with reduced processing time, handheld high-res shot mode takes five seconds to create 50MP images. Also retained is tripod high-res shot mode to create 80MP images.

Other features include live ND that simulates a 6-stop ND 64 filter; light painting; focus stacking; a 5.8M-dot OLED EVF; a vari-angle, 3-inch, 1.6M-dot touch LCD; and Wi-Fi/Bluetooth. Its magnesium alloy body with IP53 dust/splashproof protection is freezeproof to 14°F. Dimensions, 5.3×3.6×2.9 inches; weight, 1.3 pounds. $2,199.99.

*Unless noted, approximate weights include battery and memory card.

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