Professional Mirrorless and DSLR Cameras That Give Savvy Pros a Competitive Edge

Professional Mirrorless and DSLR Cameras That Give Savvy Pros a Competitive Edge

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Professional photographers demand robust, reliable interchangeable-lens cameras (ILCs) that deliver a seamless combination of exceptional imaging performance, amazing versatility and advanced features. And they need these features for both still and video capture. We’ll explore a selection of professional mirrorless and DSLR cameras that can give savvy pros a competitive edge.

The pro-grade cameras we detail here provide all those things and more. They feature a full complement of cutting-edge, often unique features along with awesome real-world speed, precision and imaging performance. And they do so for both still and video capture. And all of them accept a wide range of pro-caliber lenses for creative versatility.

While today’s top-tier mirrorless cameras now dominate the coveted pro/serious enthusiast market, traditional DSLRs are still used by many working pros. These DSLRs deliver awesome real-world performance and dependability in familiar form factors. In addition, they have a host of advanced features and are fully compatible with a wide range of prized legacy lenses. Not to mention, they have conveniently placed traditional controls.

However, mirrorless cameras are the hot ticket among today’s tech savvy pros. That’s because they can provide continuous AF during the actual exposure. This can be crucial in capturing pro-quality high-speed bursts and seamless 4K and higher video. Eliminating the mirror box also enables mirrorless cameras to be smaller and lighter. Moreover, their shorter lens-to-sensor distance enhances optical flexibility. It permits optical designers to create smaller, lighter, high-performance lenses. Additionally, photographers can mount a huge variety of existing lenses via simple adapters.

To cut to the chase, the current crop of pro-aimed DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are both capable of capturing still images and videos of spectacular quality. Wise dealers will therefore let their knowledgeable pro customers choose for themselves. Whatever they decide, they won’t go wrong, because the cameras detailed here are as good as any in the world. They therefore belong on every professional photographer’s—and dealer’s—short list.

 A Selection of Professional Mirrorless and DSLR Cameras
OM System OM-1

This mirrorless ILC is named for the iconic Olympus OM-1 35mm SLR of 1972. OM Digital Solutions’ Micro Four Thirds mirrorless flagship has visual elements linking it with the past. However, it offers a thoroughly up-to-date feature set and impressive performance in a compact, ergonomic body.

To begin, its 20-megapixel, stacked BSI (backside-illuminated) Live MOS sensor combines with a TruePic X image processor. The processor is 3x faster than before. Consequently, this combo enables full-resolution framing rates up to 10 frames per sec as well as up to 120 fps without AF (autofocus)/AE (autoexposure) using an electronic shutter. Moreover, native ISO settings of 200–25,600 can span 80–102,400 in extended mode.

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OM System OM-1

Additionally, it records DCI/4K UHD 60p 10-bit video with 4:2:0 sampling and Full HD video at up to 240 fps. Other video capabilities include 12-bit raw output via a Micro HDMI port; HLG picture mode for in-camera HDR and OM-Log Gamma for postproduction color grading. Further, its autofocus system splits each pixel into four sub-pixels for improved low-light performance. The system has 1,053 points and can perform at 120 fps.

Complementing this is 5-axis in-body image stabilization (IS). It achieves a 7-stop advantage in minimizing the effects of camera shake (8 stops with IS-enabled lenses). Notably, the ILC’s high-res shot mode combines 12 frames into one 50MP image in five seconds. In high-res tripod mode, the resolution rises to 80MP.

Other features include Live ND that simulates a 6-stop ND 64 filter; and focus stacking, which combines sequential frames at varying distances into one image with extended depth of field. There’s also a 5.8M-dot, 0.83x-magnification OLED EVF (electronic viewfinder) and a vari-angle, 3-inch, 1.62M-dot touchscreen. All this is built into a weather-, freeze- and splash-resistant magnesium alloy body with an IP5 rating. $1,999.99.*

Nikon Z 9

At the core of Nikon’s top-end mirrorless crossover is an FX-format (full-frame) 45.7MP BSI stacked CMOS sensor. It integrates with Nikon’s most advanced Expeed 7 processor. This high-tech combo reduces rolling shutter effects and delivers 10x faster AF speeds. It also enables sensitivity settings from ISO 64–25,600 (extendable from ISO 32 to 102,400).

The mirrorless marvel provides continuous shooting speeds of 20 fps (RAW), 30 fps (JPEG) and up to 120 fps (when capturing 11MP stills from video). Moreover, these rates all support AF/AE. The Z 9 also buffers 1,000 RAW images in a burst (equal to 50 sec of recording). There’s also a nearly silent electronic shutter with a top speed of 1/32,000 for working in bright light (no mechanical shutter). Further, it records 8K video at 30 fps, 4K video at up to 120 fps and oversampled 4K video at 30 fps for increased detail. Also provided are internal recording with 10-bit color and 4:2:2 sampling in various codecs; 10-bit N-Log; and HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) for creating HDR content in-camera.

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Nikon Z 9

Nikon’s intelligent AF system provides high-speed, 493-point phase-detection AF. It enables AF at 120 fps; a starlight mode for focusing down to -8.5 EV; enhanced subject detection with Deep Learning technology; auto-area, eye-detection and dynamic-area AF; plus 3D tracking.

What’s more, a 3.7M-dot OLED EVF has adjustable luminance. It’s complemented by a tilting, 3.2-inch, 2.1M-dot touchscreen LCD. Other features include dual CFexpress Type-B card slots compatible with XQD cards; built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity (2.4/5GHz); and in-body vibration reduction (VR) with synchro VR (with select lenses) that achieves 6 stops of compensation to minimize the effects of shake. Nikon houses all this in a durable, weather-resistant body with a magnesium alloy chassis 20% smaller than the flagship D6 DSLR. $5,499.95.

Sony Alpha 1

The flagship of the Alpha line of full-frame mirrorless cameras, the Alpha 1 is also Sony’s most technologically advanced camera. Thus, it is clearly in the top tier of all digital cameras on the market. For starters, It employs Sony’s latest high-efficiency, stacked 50.1MP Exmor RS BSI CMOS sensor and most advanced Bionz XR processor. This technology achieves impressive performance parameters, like a 30-fps continuous full-res framing rate with AF/AE.

Additionally, the camera records 8K 30p and up to 4K 120p 10-bit video with internal 4:2:2 10-bit sampling. Further, it provides 16-bit raw output via a full-size HDMI. As you’d expect, the ILC also offers an extensive range of customizable color and gamma controls. They include S-Log2 and S-log3 Gamma. Plus, it provides XAVC and XAVC S-1 codecs to suit different workflows.

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Sony Alpha 1

The camera also boasts an extended sensitivity range of ISO 50–102,400 with a 15-stop dynamic range. Further, the sensor incorporates a 759-point Fast Hybrid AF system with 425 contrast-detection points. As a result, it offers noticeably upgraded focus tracking, real-time eye AF on people as well as animals, plus a bird mode.

Other key features include a 9.4M-dot OLED EVF with a 240-fps refresh rate and a 3-inch, 1.4M-dot tilting touchscreen. It also has an upgraded electronic shutter that provides flash sync at up to 1/200 sec or up to 1/400 sec when used with the mechanical shutter.

Furthermore, an enhanced 5.5-stop, 5-axis SteadyShot InSide IS system corrects for pitch and yaw. For storage and transfer, the pro camera has built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC connectivity; USB 3.2 Gen 1, Micro-USB and Ethernet ports; as well as dual card slots that both accept CFexpress or SD UHS-II cards. Finally, a tough, comprehensively weather-sealed body is built on a robust magnesium alloy chassis. $6,499.99.

Pentax K-1 Mark II

This is Pentax’s superbly upgraded, top-of-the-line, full-frame K-mount digital SLR. It offers enhanced image processing and imaging capabilities compared to its illustrious predecessor. The DSLR incorporates a 36.4MP CMOS sensor that works with a Prime IV image processor. Consequently, the camera can capture detailed low-noise images at sensitivity settings up to ISO 819,200! Additionally, it serves up a 4.4-fps, full-res burst rate, while its AA filter simulator minimizes moiré patterns and omits the standard antialiasing filter to ensure the sharpest possible images.

The K-1 Mark II also employs an advanced wide-pattern SAFOX 12 AF sensor that covers nearly the entire full-frame area. It has 33 AF points, including 25 cross pattern and three f/2.8-luminance points that operate in light down to -3 EV. Complementing the AF system is a 5-axis shake-reduction system that realizes a 5-stop advantage in reducing the effects of handheld shake. It also enables Pixel Shift II tech, which merges sequential frames to achieve greater resolution and color detail.

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Pentax K-1 Mark II

Additionally, the ILC records Full HD 1080p video at 30 fps in full-frame or APS-C crop modes. Moreover, the Mark II retains built-in Wi-Fi and GPS with an AstroTracer function to minimize star trails during long exposures. Further, it adopts Pentax’s LED-illuminated body points on the lens mount, card slots, back of the LCD and cable switch, to facilitate low-light operation.

Also notable is its unique, 3.2-inch, cross-tilt LCD monitor that tilts upward 90º, down 44º and laterally 35º. The camera also provides dual SD memory card slots. Moreover, its robust body features a stainless-steel chassis and magnesium alloy outer shell. Plus, it’s weather sealed in 87 places, allowing the camera to operate in temperatures down to 14°F. $1,799.95.

Canon EOS R3

Combining a 24.1MP full-frame, stacked BSI CMOS sensor with Canon’s Digi X processor, the EOS R3 delivers the full complement of technology from the mirrorless EOS R system. It also features the robustness and performance of Canon’s flagship DSLR. The sensor affords ultrafast readout speeds to minimize the effects of rolling shutter distortion, benefitting video recording and high-speed burst shooting.

The pro-grade sensor/processor combo enables an ISO 100–102,400 range (expandable from ISO 50 to 204,800). It also makes possible full-resolution, bursts of 30 fps for 150 frames (RAW)/540 frames (JPEG) with the electronic shutter or 12 fps for 1,000 frames (RAW)/100 frames (JPEG) with the mechanical shutter.

Moreover, video recording specs are outstanding. The ILC captures H.265/MP4 4:2:2 10-bit internal video in DCI 4K at 24/30/50 and 100 fps. It also records Full HD up to 100 fps and external 4:2:2 10-bit video via HDMI in DCI 4K at up to 60 fps. 6K Raw video with Dual Pixel AF II technology and HDR-PQ recording are also possible. Plus, Canon Log 3, used in cinema production, reduces highlight blowouts.

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Canon EOS R3

Also, its Dual Pixel CMOS AF II system with 1,053 points covers the entire sensor area. It also provides tracking down to -7.5 EV; eye-control AF; plus focus tracking for eyes, faces, heads, animals as well as select vehicles. This is supplemented by 5-axis, sensor-shift in-body IS with an impressive 8-stop anti-shake-effect.

Other features are a 5.8M-dot, 120-fps blackout-free EVF; a 3.2-inch, vari-angle, 4.3M-dot touchscreen LCD; built-in wired LAN, 5GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity; a GPS module; and dual card slots for CFexpress Type B and SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-II) cards. The EOS R3 sports a robust, ergonomic, magnesium alloy body with an integrated vertical grip and the same weather-sealed standards of the flagship EOS-1D X Mark III DSLR. $4,999.

Nikon D6

Nikon’s flagship pro DSLR is a masterpiece of speed, performance, reliability and precision. Additionally, it’s a great crossover camera equally adept at capturing still and video imagery of exceptional quality. Its 20.8MP FX-format (full-frame) CMOS sensor mates with an Expeed 6 processor—Nikon’s fastest. They facilitate a 14-fps continuous, full-res burst rate for 200 frames. The D6 also has a silent, full-res 10.5-fps rate for discreet shooting. Further, in live view movie mode, it achieves 30-fps bursts at 8MP and 60 at 2MP.

Moreover, native sensitivities of ISO 100–102,400 extend to ISO 3,280,000! The D6 also records 4K UHD video at 30/25/24 fps and Full HD at up to 60 fps. Plus, its high-density 37K autofocus system incorporates 105 selectable cross-type points to improve precision and speed. Additionally, it provides 1.6x greater frame coverage than previous Nikon DSLRs. It also works with 17 customizable group-area AF patterns for more accuracy.

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Nikon D6

A 3.2-inch, 2.4M-dot touchscreen monitor provides intuitive menu navigation and settings. You can even use it as a keyboard for taking notes. There’s also an eye-level, 0.72x, 100% view optical pentaprism viewfinder. Plus, the camera’s intelligent scene recognition system works with a 180,000-pixel RGB sensor in its 3D Color Matrix Metering III AE system. Consequently, it optimizes color, exposure and consistency from image to image. Add to this subject-tracking AF.

Further, the ILC features dual CFexpress Type B card slots. Nikon’s most connected DSLR, it has a 1000BASE-T Ethernet standard with a 15% increase in speed; 2.4/5GHz Wi-Fi; Bluetooth; wireless transfer using the optional WT-6 transmitter; and USB Type-C connector. Plus, it includes GPS for geotagging; 14 configurable buttons; mic/headphone inputs; and an integrated grip for shooting in horizontal and vertical orientations. The DSLR also boasts bulletproof, magnesium alloy construction with extensive weather sealing. $6,499.95.

Fujifilm GFX100 II
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Fujifilm GFX100 II

The GFX100 II is the new flagship of Fujifilm’s GFX mirrorless camera family. It incorporates a 55mm, large-format sensor nearly 1.7x larger than the 35mm sensors of full-frame cameras. Subsequently, the ILC produces images with broad dynamic range at a very shallow depth of field. Its 102MP sensor pairs with Fujifilm’s latest X-Processor 5 engine, which doubles its predecessor’s signal readout speed. This provides benefits continuous shutter mode, autofocus and video.

Moreover, developed with deep learning and updated with the latest prediction AF algorithm, the camera’s AI-based subject-detection AF tracks animals, birds, vehicles and other fast-moving objects—including insects and drones. Additionally, the camera achieves 8-fps burst shooting (up from 5 fps) with an expanded buffer memory.

The sensor also provides enhanced capabilities for video production. A GFX camera first is internally recording of Apple ProRes 4:2:2 10-bit video at 4K/60p and 8K/30p. Plus, with a third-party GF-to-PL lens adapter, multiple recording formats are natively accommodated. Consequently, Fujinon Premista large-format and 35mm anamorphic cinema lenses can be used. Additionally, the camera supports three Apple ProRes codecs: 422 HQ, 422 and 422 LT. The camera also outputs h.264 and Apple ProRes 422 proxy files to streamline workflows.

Also provided are Ethernet, HDMI Type A and USB-C terminals for external devices, as well as native integration for Frame.io Camera to Cloud delivery. Plus, dual card slots support one CFexpress Type B and one SD card.

Further, the camera includes 20 film simulation modes. And when the sensor is set to its native ISO 80, the camera makes images with dramatic dynamic range and noise levels lower than previous GFX models. Other features are 5-axis, in-body IS with 8-stop compensation; a 1.0x-magnification, 9.4M-dot EVF; a 3.2-inch, 2.4M-dot tilting touchscreen LCD, a sub-LCD top panel; and textured grip. $7,499.

Canon EOS-1D X Mark III

Perched at the pinnacle of the Canon EOS DSLR lineup, this remarkable ILC integrates state-of-the-art image processing with formidable multimedia capabilities. Its 20.1MP, full-frame CMOS sensor combines with a new low-pass filter. The sensor works with two advanced Digic X processors to deliver a 16-fps, full-res burst rate with the optical viewfinder or 20 fps in live view with AF/AE. It captures RAW, JPEG and, for the first time in an EOS camera, HEIF files.

Moreover, the DSLR has native sensitivity settings of ISO 100–102,400, which are expandable from ISO 50 to 819,200. It also records DCI 4K (4,096×2,160) video at up to 60 fps with 10-bit 4:2:2 output; Full HD video at up to 120 fps for slow-motion playback; and 12-bit 5.5K RAW video at 60 fps. And Canon Log Gamma facilitates postproduction enhancement. With dual CFexpress Type B card slots, it captures a maximum burst rate of 1,000 images and 5.5K/60p and in-camera RAW movies.

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Canon EOS-1D X Mark III

Further, a refined EOS iTR 1 AF X system has 191 points (155 cross-type points) for superior performance. Plus, Deep Learning technology enables refined tracking capabilities that include head and face detection. It even offers the added benefit of eye-detection AF in live view mode or while shooting video. Additionally, its Dual Pixel CMOS AF tech has 3,869 manually selectable AF points and 525 automatic positions for enhanced precision, especially when shooting video.

Other key features are a 3.2-inch, 2.1M-dot LCD monitor; built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a standard Ethernet interface and GPS; as well as the ability to register IPTC tags. The EOS-1D X Mark III’s, dust- and weather-sealed magnesium alloy body integrates an ergonomic grip and is topped by an intelligent viewfinder pentaprism finder that provides a 100% view plus sophisticated configurable readouts. $6,499.

Pentax K-3 Mark III Monochrome

Pros wishing to capture the artistry of traditional black-and-white photography should look at this reasonably priced, full-featured DSLR. The fascinating camera is based on Pentax’s flagship APS-C-format DSLR. However, the new Mark III Monochrome features a unique 25.7MP APS-C CMOS monochrome image sensor. The sensor features three custom image modes for personalizing monochrome images. Beyond standard mode, hard mode produces high-contrast images, and soft mode creates high-key, low-contrast images. Each mode allows minute adjustment of tone, key, contrast and sharpness.

In addition, the DSLR has a AA filter simulator and an advanced image processor to yield images of exceptional sharpness. It faithfully represents the brightness data of each pixel to enhance tonal gradation. It also provides sensitivity settings of ISO 200–1,600,000! Further, the camera achieves continuous, 12-fps, full-res bursts for 55 frames (JPEG) and 32 frames (RAW), plus up to 7 fps for 100 frames (JPEG) and 40 frames (RAW). What’s more, it’s capable of internal video recording in 4K UHD at 24/30 fps and Full HD at 24/30/60 fps.

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Pentax K-3 Mark III Monochrome

What’s more, its SAFOX 13, 101-point, phase-detection AF system has 25 cross-type sensors in the center of the frame. It works with 5-axis sensor-shift SR II In-Body Shake Reduction tech that provides a 5.5-stop shake effect reduction with select lenses.

Viewing options include a 1.05x-magnification, 100% view pentaprism optical viewfinder and a 3.2-inch, 1.6M-dot touchscreen LCD monitor with a night vision function. Other features comprise built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity along with USB 3.2 Gen 1; dual SD slots compatible with the UHS-II standard; and 3.5mm mic and headphone ports. The camera’s exterior was customized to reflect its monochrome capabilities and is weather-, dust- and-moisture resistant with a lightweight, durable magnesium alloy chassis. $2,299.95.

Panasonic Lumix S1H

This full-frame mirrorless camera for pros and enthusiasts shoots pro-caliber video and embraces multimedia applications. Panasonic’s S1H has a host of advanced crossover features in a compact, ergonomic, balanced package. First off is a 24.2MP, full-frame CMOS sensor mated to the latest Venus Engine processor. It features OLPF adoption (optical low-pass filter) to suppress moiré. And Dual Native ISO tech can be switched manually between Low (ISO 640–5,000) and High (ISO 4,000-51,200).

The ILC delivers impressive parameters, like 14-stop dynamic range. It records 6K/24p (3:2 aspect ratio); 5.9K/30p (16:9 aspect ratio); and 10-bit 60p 4K/C4K video. It also offers DCI/4K UHD video at up to 29.97 fps, internal 4:2:2 sampling and Super 35 format at up to 59.94 fps. Moreover, V-Log/V-Gamut, HDR and HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) are also available to facilitate postproduction adjustments. Plus, VFR (variable frame rate) records overcranked or undercranked video in C4K/4K (60 fps, 2.5x slower in 24p). Additionally, HFR (high frame rate) video with sound records even when using autofocus.

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Panasonic Lumix S1H

Still image specs include a 9-fps, full-res burst rate for 60 frames (RAW)/999 frames (JPEG) as well as 30-fps shooting at 18MP and 60 fps at 8MP. Further, the S1H’s 225-area Depth from Defocus contrast-detection AF system delivers commendable speed, precision and tracking. Additionally, 5-axis sensor-shift IS achieves a 6-stop advantage in minimizing handheld shake effects.

What’s more, the camera sports a 5.8M-dot, 0.78x-magnification OLED EVF; a 3.2-inch, 2.3M-dot tilting touchscreen monitor; and a top-mounted 1.8-inch status panel. Other features include Bluetooth 4.2/Wi-Fi with remote control and monitoring options; dual UHS-II SD slots (Video Speed Class 90); and a heat-dissipating fan. The Lumix S1H has a splash-, dust- and freezeproof magnesium alloy body with a built-in grip, an 8-way joystick control as well as illuminated buttons. $3,999.99.

Fujifilm X-H2

For pros and serious shooters looking for a high-res, APS-C-format ILC, Fujifilm’s X-mount camera boasts a 40.2MP 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 videos. Working with an enhanced 64-bit X-Processor 5, it achieves 8K 30p and 4K 60p Apple ProRes internal recording. In addition, it captures Full HD 240p 10-bit video.

The mirrorless camera also provides 13+ stops of dynamic range and ISO 125–12,800 sensitivity settings. They extend from ISO 64 to ISO 51,200 in photo mode or ISO 125–25,600 in video mode. Furthermore, it has a 20-fps burst rate with its electronic shutter or 15 fps with its mechanical shutter. Plus, it shoots upward of 1,000 RAW frames in a burst.

Fujifilm X-H2 front
Fujifilm X-H2

The sleek camera also has built-in 7-stop, 5-axis sensor-shift IS that combats the effects of shaky hands. Moreover, it offers external RAW 12-bit recording via an HDMI port as well as support for F-Log/F-Log2 profiles in resolutions up to open-gate 8K.

Its feature set additionally includes a hybrid AF system with 425 phase-detection points and sensitivity down to -7 EV for low-light conditions. The system also uses deep learning AI to detect various subject types. Additionally, Pixel Shift Multi-Shot tech yields a single 160MP image. And picking up on Fujifilm’s film heritage, the camera has 15 film simulation modes plus adjustable grain and color chrome effect settings.

The X-H2 also features a 0.8x-magnification, 5.8M-dot EVF with and a 120-fps refresh rate. Other features include a top 1.3-inch monochrome LCD panel; a 3-inch, 1.6M-dot, vari-angle LCD monitor; CFexpress Type B and UHS-II SD slots; as well as Bluetooth/Wi-Fi connectivity. Moreover, 79 weather-sealed points make this a capable outdoor camera. $1,999.95.

Sigma fp L

This outstanding upgrade of the revolutionary Sigma fp mirrorless ILC adds an array of advanced features. The diminutive, modular, full-frame camera retains its predecessor’s L mount as well as distinctive minimalist styling. In addition, the mirrorless marvel features an ultrahigh-resolution 61MP full-frame BSI Bayer CMOS sensor (up from 24.6MP) with a low-pass filter. Further, a high-sensitivity (down to -5 EV), hybrid phase- and contrast-detection autofocus system provides 49 contrast-detection and 42 selectable points.

What’s more, the fp L 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. Additionally, the viewfinder tilts upward 90° for low-angle shooting. The EVF also integrates a USB-C port and a 3.5mm headphone port of its own for audio monitoring.

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Sigma fp L with EVF-11

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

Additional pro-level 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 Sigma ILC has a diecast, weather-resistant body. It measures just 4.4×2.8×1.8 inches and weighs a mere 15.1 ounces. $2,499 body; $2,999 with EVF-11.

*All manufacturer suggested retail prices are body only, unless otherwise noted.

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