Mirrorless cameras have taken the lead in terms of technological development, with exciting models from Sony, Nikon, Canon and Sigma. It’s also significant that no pro DSLRs have launched since Nikon delivered its awesome D6 in 2020. Nevertheless, DSLRs are still the choice for many working pros. Consequently, we’ll examine a selection of top professional mirrorless and DSLR interchangeable-lens cameras (ILCs) that capture stunning content.
On one hand, traditional DSLRs deliver impressive real-world performance and dependability in familiar form factors. They also integrate a full complement of advanced features and conveniently placed traditional controls.
On the other hand, mirrorless cameras are the hot ticket among tech savvy pros. That’s because they provide continuous autofocus (AF) during the actual exposure—crucial in capturing pro-quality high-speed bursts and seamless 4K and higher video. Eliminating the mirror box also allows for smaller, lighter cameras. In addition, their shorter lens-to-sensor distance enhances optical flexibility. As a result, optical designers can create smaller, lighter, high-performance lenses. Of course, photographers also can mount a huge variety of legacy lenses via adapters.
Bottom line: pro-aimed DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are both capable of capturing still images and videos of spectacular quality. Let’s look at some of our favorites.
Professional Mirrorless and DSLR ILCs
Sony Alpha 1
The Alpha flagship full-frame mirrorless ILC, it’s Sony’s most technologically advanced model. In the top tier of current cameras, it employs Sony’s high-efficiency stacked 50.1-megapixel Exmor RS BSI (backside-illuminated) CMOS sensor. Moreover, Sony couples it to a state-of-the-art Bionz XR image processor.
The combo delivers impressive performance like 30-frames-per-sec, full-res bursts with AF/AE (autoexposure); 8K 30p and 4K 120p 10-bit video recording with internal 4:2:2 10-bit sampling; and 16-bit RAW output via full-size HDMI. It also has an extended sensitivity range of ISO 50–102,400 with 15-stop dynamic range.
Its 759-point Fast Hybrid AF tech uses 425 contrast-detection points and noticeably upgraded focus tracking. Furthermore, it provides real-time eye AF (people/animals) and bird mode. Other features comprise a 9.4-million-dot electronic viewfinder (EVF) with a 240-fps refresh rate; a 3-inch, 1.4M-dot tilting touchscreen; an upgraded electronic shutter with 1/200-sec flash sync (1/400 sec with upgraded mechanical shutter); and a heat-dissipating structure.
In addition, 5.5-stop, 5-axis SteadyShot InSide image stabilization (IS) corrects for pitch and yaw. Connectivity features include 5GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC; USB 3.2 Gen 1; Micro-USB and Ethernet ports; as well as dual card slots (CFexpress/SD UHS-II). As you’d expect, there are extensive customizable color and gamma controls, including S-Log2 and S-log3.Cine Gamma, and XAVC and XAVC S-1 codecs for differing workflows. Its weather-sealed body is built on a magnesium alloy chassis. $6,499.99*.
Nikon Z 9
The heart of Nikon’s top-end mirrorless crossover is an FX-format 45.7MP BSI stacked CMOS sensor and advanced Expeed 7 processor. The combo reduces rolling shutter effects and delivers 10x faster AF speeds. The full framer also offers extended sensitivity settings of ISO 32–102,400.
In addition, it provides continuous shooting speeds of 20 fps (RAW), 30 fps (JPEG) and up to 120 fps when recording 11MP stills from video—all with full AF/AE. It also buffers 1,000+ RAW images in a burst. Notably, it has a nearly silent electronic shutter with a top speed of 1/32,000 for working in bright light (no mechanical shutter required).
Boasting Nikon’s most intelligent AF system with 3D tracking, high-speed 493-point phase-detection AF enables 120-fps autofocus. Moreover, starlight mode focuses down to -8.5 EV. The system also comprises subject detection with deep learning tech; auto-area AF; eye-detection AF; and dynamic-area AF.
Multimedia features include 8K UHS recording at 30 fps; 4K at up to 120 fps; and oversampled 4K 30p video for increased detail. Furthermore, it provides internal recording with 10-bit color and 4:2:2 sampling in various codecs; a 10-bit N-Log setting; and HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) for creating HDR content in camera.
Also featured are a 3.7M-dot EVF with adjustable luminance; a four-axis, 3.2-inch, 2.1M-dot tilting touch LCD; an integrated vertical grip; dual CFexpress Type-B slots that support XQD; Bluetooth, Wi-Fi (2.4/5GHz), 1000BASE-T wired LAN and direct transfer to FTP; GNSS GPS; and vibration reduction with synchro VR for 6 stops of shake compensation. What’s more, its weather-resistant body with a magnesium alloy chassis is 20% smaller than Nikon’s D6 DSLR. $5,499.95.
Canon EOS R5 C
A hybrid mirrorless cinema camera, the Canon R5 C may be the ultimate crossover. At the flick of a switch, it transforms from a still camera into a full-frame 8K cinema camera. Moreover, it’s capable of internally recording 12-bit Cinema RAW Light footage.
Enhanced video features include 4K 120p recording; HDMI RAW output; Canon Log 3/HLG/PQ support; unlimited recording time; as well as a timecode port. It also employs Canon’s advanced Dual Pixel CMOS AF II, which provides nearly 100% coverage of the AF area and functions during HFR recording. In addition, its EOS iTR AF X system uses AF-tracking algorithms and deep learning to continually optimize the sensor’s readout speed and the Digic X’s processing speed.
Furthermore, pro features retained from the R5 include a 45MP full-frame CMOS sensor and an advanced AF system that locks onto fast-moving subjects with impressive accuracy and speed. It shoots at 12 fps using its mechanical shutter and 20 fps using the nearly silent electronic shutter.
The AF system has 1,053-automatically-selected zones as well as eye, face and head detection for humans and animals. A 5-axis in-body IS integrates with the optical image stabilizer in IS-equipped RF lenses for 8 stops of anti-shake. Other features include ISO 100–102,400 settings; a 5.8M-dot EVF; a 3.2-inch, 2.1M-dot vari-angle touchscreen; dual CFexpress/SD UHS-II slots; 5GHz/2.4GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and UVC connectivity; and voice-tag capability. What’s more, it boasts a rugged, weatherproof, ergonomic body. $4,499.
Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R
Panasonic’s high-res mirrorless ILC is a heavy-duty, weatherproof, L-mount camera. Aimed at the pro market and serious shooters, it employs a full-frame 47.3MP MOS sensor. The sensor works with a high-performance Venus Engine processor to enable 4K UHD video recording at 60 fps.
The camera also achieves a maximum full-res burst rate of 9 fps with AF-S or 6 fps with AF-C. Moreover, its sensitivity settings range from ISO 100 to 25,600. It also uses a 225-zone contrast-detection DFD (depth from defocus) AF system that adjusts the focus position in 0.08 sec. That’s due to a 480-fps sensor-to-lens communication rate. In addition, Dual IS 2 image stabilization combines 5.5-stop, 5-axis sensor shift with in-lens 2-axis IS with compatible Lumix lenses.
The S1R’s cutting-edge viewfinder is an ultrahigh-res 5.76M-dot, 0.78x OLED LVF with a selectable 60-fps or 120-fps refresh rate; a lightning fast 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 touchscreen LCD.
Additional features comprise 187MP high-res mode; HLG mode for enhanced dynamic range and shadow detail; integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity; as well as XQD and SD slots; $3,697.99.
Pentax K-1 Mark II
Pentax’s brilliant full-frame, K-mount flagship DSLR offers advanced processing and imaging capabilities compared to its popular predecessor. It features a 36.4MP CMOS sensor and a Prime IV processor to capture detailed, low-noise imagery at sensitivities up to ISO 819,200. The camera also shoots 4.4-fps, full-res bursts. Moreover, AA filter simulator minimizes moiré patterns but omits the standard antialiasing filter to ensure sharp images.
In addition, a Pentax 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 down to -3 EV. What’s more, its 5-axis shake reduction system provides a 5-stop advantage in combatting shake effects. It also enables Pixel Shift II technology, which merges sequential frames to achieve greater resolution and color detail.
The DSLR records Full HD 1080p video at 30 fps in full-frame or APS-C crop modes. Further, a distinctive 3.2-inch LCD tilts up 90º, down 44º and laterally 35º.
Other features include dual SD slots as well as Wi-Fi and GPS with an astrotracer feature that minimizes star trails during long exposures. In addition, it has LED-illuminated points on the lens mount, card slots, the back of the LCD and at the cable switch. Its durable body has a stainless-steel chassis and magnesium alloy outer shell that’s weather sealed in 87 places and operates to 14ºF. $1,999.95.
Nikon Z 7II
Nikon’s exceptional pro mirrorless full framer looks ruggedly purposeful—and it is. It’s based on a 45.7MP FX-format BSI (backside-illuminated) CMOS sensor sans low-pass filter. It pairs with advanced dual Expeed 6 processors. Consequently, it records 4K UHD video at 60 fps, capturing enhanced dynamic range. It also records externally in 10-bit using N-Log or HLG (HDR) and outputs via HDMI. Moreover, it has an 8K time-lapse mode.
The ILC offers sensitivity settings from ISO 64–25,600, which photographers can extend from ISO 32 to IS 102,400. It also provides an impressive full-resolution burst rate of 10 fps. Other high-end features include a 493-point phase-detection AF system with eye-detection AF for humans and animals in wide-area AF modes and during video recording. And it focuses swiftly in low light to -4.5 EV.
In addition, the Z 7II employs 5-axis VR image stabilization to minimize the effects of handheld shake. What’s more, its 0.8x, 3.7M-dot EVF is complemented by a 3.2-inch, 2.1M-dot, tilting, touchscreen monitor, as well as a top panel dot-matrix OLED display. The robust, weather-sealed Z 7II has card slots for SD UHS-II and CFexpress Type B/XQD cards, as well as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and SnapBridge connectivity. $2,999.95.
Sigma fp L
This audacious upgrade of the landmark Sigma fp adds advanced features that fans of this unique ultracompact, modular full framer clamored for. However, it retains its L mount and distinctive minimalist form factor.
The mirrorless ILC boasts an ultrahigh-res 61MP full-frame BSI Bayer CMOS sensor with a low-pass filter. It captures high-res DNG/RAW and JPEG stills in 14-bit. It also records 4K UHD video at 30p and DCI 4K 24p output if recording externally. Moreover, it records 8-bit CinemaDNG files to an SD card and outputs 12-bit CinemaDNG over USB-C or 12-bit RAW over HDMI.
The ILC also features a high-sensitivity (down to -5 EV!), hybrid phase- and contrast-detection AF system with 42 selectable points. What’s more, its native sensitivity range of ISO 100–25,600 extends from ISO 60 to ISO 102,400. In addition, a crop zoom function allows up to a 5x crop. Other features include a 3.1-inch, 2.1M-dot LCD; a 10-fps, full-res burst rate; webcam functionality; and an SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS II) card slot.
Furthermore, the diminutive camera accepts Sigma’s optional EVF-11 electronic viewfinder with a 0.5-inch, 3.7M-dot OLED panel for eye-level viewing at 0.83x magnification. It tilts upward 90° for low-angle shooting and has its own USB-C and 3.5mm headphone ports. The fp L’s diecast, weather-resistant body measures just 4.4×2.8×1.8 inches. $2,499 body only; with EVF-11, $2,999.
Sony Alpha 9 II
Sony’s second-gen Alpha 9 II is faster than its impressive predecessor. It also sports a handier form factor. The ILC features advanced multimedia capabilities for ultrafast continuous shooting and pro-caliber video. Its 24.2MP full-frame Exmor RS stacked CMOS sensor and front-end LSI work with a Bionz X processor. As a result, it shoots 20-fps, full-res bursts using its electronic shutter (AF/AE tracking) or 10 fps via its mechanical shutter. Moreover, it performs up to 60 AF/AE functions per sec.
Multimedia capabilities include 4K UHD (6K equivalent) recording at 30 fps and 8K still grabs. The ILC records with full-pixel readout without pixel binning and condenses 2.4x the amount of data needed for 4K.
Furthermore, sensitivity settings extend from ISO 50 to ISO 204,800. Additionally, a 693-point phase-detection AF system with 25 contrast-detection points is sensitive down to -3 EV. Plus, 5-axis SteadyShot Inside sensor-shift IS provides a 5.5-stop advantage when shooting stills or video.
Other features include a blackout-free 3.7M-dot OLED EVF; a 3-inch, 1.4M-dot, tilting touch LCD; real-time eye AF (humans/animals); anti-flicker shooting for artificial lighting; and a silent electronic shutter. Its weather-sealed body has a magnesium alloy chassis and integrates Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity; dual UHS-II SD slots; LAN and PC terminals; and FTP transfer. $4,499.99.
Canon EOS-1D X Mark III
At the pinnacle of the EOS DSLR lineup, this remarkable camera is the most advanced member of its breed. It combines state-of-the-art processing with robust multimedia capabilities. Its 20.1MP, full-frame CMOS sensor with a high-detail low-pass filter integrates with Canon’s most advanced Digic X processor.
The result is sizzling 16-fps, full-resolution bursts (20 fps in live view) plus DCI 4K (4,096×2,160) video capture at up to 60 fps with 10-bit 4:2:2 color. It also records Full HD video at up to 120 fps and 5.5K RAW (5,472×2,886) at 60 fps.
Canon’s EOS iTR AF-X autofocus system uses 191 points, including 151 cross type. Notably, it utilizes deep learning to constantly refine parameters. In addition, when shooting video or in live view, Dual Pixel CMOS AF with 3,869 manually selected AF points and 525 automatic zones is activated for enhanced focusing speed and precision. Further, native sensitivity settings of ISO 100–102,400 expand from ISO 50 to 819,200 (stills).
Other features include a 3.2-inch, 2.1M-dot touch LCD monitor; 8.8MP still grabs when shooting video; button illuminations; GPS; numerous connectivity features like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth; dual CFexpress slots; and an advanced metering sensor integrated with the EOS Intelligent Tracking and Recognition AF system to enhance metering and tracking accuracy. Its weather-sealed magnesium alloy body features a brilliant pentaprism finder and an ergonomic grip. $6,499.
Nikon’s flagship DSLR provides the speed and precision pros demand. Furthermore, advanced functions are built into a handier, more compact form factor than its predecessor. It also delivers workflow improvements, accelerated file transfer, improved low-light performance and 4K UHD multimedia capabilities.
The FX-format, full-frame DSLR combines a 20.8MP CMOS sensor with Nikon’s Expeed 6 processor. The duo delivers impressive 14-fps, full-res bursts for extended capture with full AE/AF while shooting lossless 14-bit NEF and 12-bit RAW S files. In addition, sensitivity settings from ISO 100 to ISO 102,400 expand to a remarkable ISO 3,280,000. Plus, 4K UHD video is recorded at 30, 25 and 24 fps.
The D6’s state-of-the-art Multi-CAM 37K AF system provides 105 cross-type phase-detection points that improve AF speed and precision and provide 1.6x greater frame coverage. AF modes include dynamic-area, group-area AF with 17 customizable patterns, auto-area AF and 3D tracking.
Other notables are a 3.2-inch 2.4M-dot touch LCD monitor; two CFexpress Type-B/XQD slots; an AF fine-tune function; a 400,000-cycle shutter; 2.4/5GHz Wi-Fi; Bluetooth; a GPS module; 1000Base-T gigabit wired LAN support; and an intelligent scene recognition system using a 3D Color Matrix 180,000-pixel RGB sensor. Its weather-resistant body with a magnesium alloy chassis integrates user-friendly controls and a textured ergonomic grip. $6,499.95.
Sony Alpha 7R IV
Aimed at professionals requiring a high-res, full-frame mirrorless ILC for still and video applications, the upgraded Alpha gets points for its ultrahigh-res 61MP Exmor R BSI sensor. Joining it are a Bionz X processor and front-end LSI. The high-tech combo achieves a 10-fps, full-res framing rate as well as sensitivity settings of ISO 50–102,400.
The 7R IV also records 4K video 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. In addition, it supports HLG recording.
What’s more, supporting still and video capture is 5-axis SteadyShot InSide sensor-shift IS. As a result, the ILC has a 5.5-stop advantage in handheld shooting. The camera’s sleeker body design also incorporates a realistic 5.8M-dot EVF and a rear 3-inch, 1.4M-dot, tilting touchscreen LCD monitor for control when working at high and low angles.
Additional niceties 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; 2.4/5GHz Wi-Fi; Bluetooth; dual SD slots; a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C port; and a PC sync port. Plus, its rugged body built on a magnesium alloy chassis has comprehensive weather sealing. $3,499.99.
Canon EOS R6
This versatile mirrorless Canon ILC employs an advanced 20.1MP full-frame CMOS sensor. It’s paired with a high-performance Digic X processor to achieve full-res bursts of 12 fps (20 fps when using the ultraquiet electronic shutter). Moreover, 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 provides a range of sensitivity settings from ISO 100 to ISO 204,800. In addition, the EOS R6 uses Dual Pixel CMOS AF II technology featuring 1,053 selectable phase-detection AF points to cover the field of view. What’s more, the system 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.
Also incorporated are a 0.5-inch, 3.7M-dot EVF with a 120-fps refresh rate and a 3-inch, 1.6M-dot, vari-angle touch LCD monitor that facilitates vlogging and high- or low-angle shooting.
Other features are 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 with the in-lens IS in Canon RF and adapted EF lenses; dual SD UHS-II slots; Wi-Fi and Bluetooth; and a durable weather-sealed body. $2,499.
*All SRPs are body only