Best professional camera 2022: the 14 best workhorses for pro creators

The Nikon Z9 camera on a wooden table
(Image credit: Future)
Editor's note

With Sony, Canon, Fujifilm and Nikon all releasing their major line-leading models in the last year or so, it’s unlikely we’ll see any super expensive powerful pro cameras for a little while. However, as we all know, it’s not the camera which makes you a professional, but the user of it. We might see some mid-range models, while there’s a host of lenses rumored to be released for all the latest top-end mirrorless models. 

Need to know the best professional camera available to buy right now? Picking out the best tool to get the job done is no easy task. Happily however, we’ve got a buying guide here to help you out. 

We’ve rigorously tested all of the top professional cameras to make sure that we can identify the best ones for you. It doesn’t matter whether you shoot sports, weddings, or a bit of everything, then there’s something here that should appeal to you. 

So what exactly is the best professional camera you can buy in 2022? Generally speaking for pros, there’s no one size fits all camera. However, if we’re forced, our pick of the best right now is the Nikon Z9. With its high-class features including a 45.7MP sensor, super quick burst shooting and 8K/30p video, it’s one of the most powerful hybrid cameras we’ve ever tested. However, it certainly doesn’t come in cheap, so it’s unlikely to be to everybody’s tastes. 

Those who would prefer to stick with the classic handling of a DSLR, then the Canon EOS 1DX Mark III is an excellent choice - especially for those who shoot speedy subjects. On the other hand, if you want to stay at the forefront of the latest technology, the Canon EOS R3 puts modern tech into a DSLR-like shell, making it pretty much the ultimate camera for sports and wildlife photographers. 

For those with super-demanding clients who expect the best of the best, you might have a high budget which you’re prepared to spend. As such, the remarkable Sony A1 remains as the camera to beat, with its unmatched combination of speed and resolution, an impressively fast autofocus system and a 50.1MP full-frame sensor that captures the finest detail (plus 8K video). 

Speaking of video, most of the cameras in this list have been designed with capturing stills in mind. However, as video becomes increasingly in demand, there will be plenty of pros who have serious movie making desire. If that’s you, then the Sony A7S III is well worth a look. Here the video might top out at 4K, but that’s down to Sony choosing to concentrate on doing that excellently, rather than worrying about the less-used 8K. With this camera you get limitless, reliable recording, as well as a good range of 10-bit 4K video frame rates (up to 120fps).

Medium format cameras are often tempting to pros, thanks to the superb detail that they offer. As such, our guide includes a few Fujifilm models which bring medium format into the realms of ordinary professionals - such as the very well priced GFX100S, which includes a whopping 100MP sensor.

This buying guide is updated regularly as and when new releases come on to the market. We also update older cameras with information about how they stack up against those newer models. If you’re not sure what to think about when buying a professional camera, head to the bottom of this guide and you’ll find a slew of useful information to help you choose.

The best cameras for professionals 2022:

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The Nikon Z9 camera on a wooden table

(Image credit: Future)

1. Nikon Z9

The most powerful hybrid camera you can buy

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Lens Mount: Nikon Z
Sensor: Full-frame
Resolution: 45.7MP
Viewfinder: EVF 3,690K dots
Screen: 3-inch bi-directional tilting touchscreen, 1.04-million dots
Autofocus: 493 hybrid phase/contrast detect AF points
Max continuous shooting speed: 12/20fps
Max video resolution: 8K up to 30fps

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful stacked sensor
+
Impressive AF tracking
+
Bomb-proof build quality
+
Excellent battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Bigger and heavier than rivals
-
Some features need firmware update

If you need a future-proofed hybrid camera that can shoot pretty much any subject, and capture 8K video, then the Nikon Z9 is the best you can buy. The Z9 is so futuristic, it doesn't even have a mechanical shutter – that's because it's stacked 45.7MP sensor and Expeed 7 processor are so fast, it simply doesn't need one. That new tech provides a platform for the Z9's impressive shooting skills, from its ability to shoot full-resolution raws at 20fps to a much-improved autofocus system that draws it level with Canon and Sony.

While it's considerably bulkier than the Sony A1, the Nikon Z9 will feel comfortably familiar to anyone who's owned a Nikon DSLR like the D5 or D850. It's no throwback, though – with the ability to shoot 8K/30p video (and an 8K/60p mode en route), it's one of the select few mirrorless cameras that can record at that lofty resolution. The Canon EOS R3 might beat it for top burst shooting speeds and we'll have to wait for a firmware upgrade to see internal ProRes 422 HQ recording, but otherwise the Nikon Z9 is top dog for the professionals who can afford it.


The front of the Canon EOS R3 mirrorless camera

(Image credit: Future)
A cutting-edge mirrorless camera for Canon fans

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Lens Mount: RF
Sensor: Full-frame
Resolution: 24.1MP
Viewfinder: EVF 5,760K dots
Screen: 3.2-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 4,300K dots
Autofocus: 1,053-point autofocus
Max continuous shooting speed: 12/30fps
Max video resolution: 6K up to 6fps

Reasons to buy

+
Seriously speedy sensor
+
Powerful AF features
+
Impressive video specs

Reasons to avoid

-
Big for a mirrorless model
-
No EVF upgrade from R5
-
Relatively low resolution

Don’t be fooled by the old-school shell: this isn’t a DSLR from a decade ago, but a cutting-edge camera that represents the pinnacle of mirrorless performance in 2022. Combining the hybrid smarts of the EOS R5 with the chunky form factor of the 1D X Mark III, it features plenty of innovations inside. The lower-resolution sensor will limit its appeal for some, but the stacked design delivers super-fast 30fps raw burst shooting. 

Combined with enhanced AF tracking (including Eye Control AF, which follows your gaze through the viewfinder), that makes the EOS R3 a winner for wildlife and sports photographers. True to its hybrid design, the R3 also offers a solid video skill set: it can capture 6K raw video internally at 60fps. A sharp articulating touchscreen is on hand for straightforward framing, while the control layout will be familiar to anyone who’s shot with a pro Canon DSLRs. Sony’s A1 might trump it on certain specs, but nothing else combines the traditional charms of a DSLR with next-gen mirrorless tech like the EOS R3.


3. Canon EOS R5

The best stills camera Canon has ever made

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Lens Mount: Canon RF
Sensor: Full-frame
Resolution: 45MP
Viewfinder: EVF 5,760K dots
Screen: 3.2-inch articulating touchscreen, 2,100K dots
Autofocus: 1053-area AF
Max continuous shooting speed: 12/20fps
Max video resolution: 8K up to 30fps

Reasons to buy

+
Canon's most competent stills shooter
+
Accurate and versatile AF
+
Effective IBIS

Reasons to avoid

-
Video recording time limits
-
Overheating recovery times
-
Pricey

The bar was well-and-truly raised when the Canon EOS R5 was launched. Boasting 8K video, a 45MP resolution, up to 20fps burst shooting, an EVF with 5.76-million dots, and a 3.2-in fully articulating touchscreen, the R5 crammed all of this crammed into a body that weighs a mere 650g. It all read like an unrealistic wishlist. Too good to be true? For the best part, the EOS R5 well and truly delivers.

This is Canon's most competent mirrorless camera for photography. The high-resolution sensor is well supported by an incredibly effective autofocus system, while its competitive 12fps continuous shooting is gobbled up by the powerful DIGIC X processor. 

Then there is 8K video recording, not found on any other camera at this price point. Video image quality is incredibly sharp, complemented by easily graded color profiles and Canon's first in-body image stabilization (IBIS) system. There is one well-reported caveat; overheating with lengthy cooling down periods. Consequently, 8K video recording time is limited and therefore unusable for heavy-use pros. However, 4K video recording fares better, even if there is still a video recording cap. 

It's not out-and-out hybrid perfection, but the EOS R5 still takes the crown as the most well-rounded camera for pro photographers.

4. Sony A7S III

The 4K video king

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Lens Mount: Sony FE
Sensor: Full-frame
Resolution: 12MP
Viewfinder: EVF 9,440K dots
Screen: 3.0-inch articulating touchscreen, 1,440K dots
Autofocus: 759-area AF
Max continuous shooting speed: 10fps
Max video resolution: 4K up to 120fps

Reasons to buy

+
Unlimited 4K video recording
+
Image quality in any lighting condition
+
Stunning S-Cinetone color profile

Reasons to avoid

-
Low-resolution stills
-
CFexpress Type A cards are expensive

When 4K video recording is your primary concern, then the Sony A7S III is hands-down our top hybrid camera. This is a pro's tool, totally reliable and with no real limitations. Being the video-centric A7 model, some hoped to be blown away by 6K or 8K video recording, but instead Sony clearly focused on getting 4K video right, with no nasty surprises. What we have is a technically perfect camera.

Its lightweight 600g body is durable and boasts lovely ergonomics, the articulated screen has full touch control, there's truly effective IBIS, decent battery life and comprehensive 10-bit 4K video frame rates at up to 120fps with no record limit and no overheating. Autofocus is an absolute dream, while rolling shutter is very well controlled.

Image quality-wise, the dual native ISO 640/ISO 16,000 offers unparalleled low light performance and dynamic range. What's more, the A7S III recently enjoyed a firmware update that introduced the gorgeous S-Cinetone color profile originally found in the Sony FX9 cine camera. If you don't mind the low 12MP resolution, stills look lovely, too. Really, we could keep banging the drum for the Sony A7S III, it really is that good.

5. Sony A1

A truly remarkable pro-level, versatile camera

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Lens Mount: Sony FE
Sensor: Full-frame
Resolution: 50.1MP
Viewfinder: EVF 9437K dots
Screen: 3.0-inch tilting touchscreen, 1,440K dots
Autofocus: 759-area phase detection, 425-area contrast detection AF
Max continuous shooting speed: 30fps
Max video resolution: 8K up to 30fps

Reasons to buy

+
Superb detail
+
Excellent combination of speed and resolution 
+
Super-fast AF

Reasons to avoid

-
Very expensive
-
Not necessary for most photographers
-
Complicated menu system

Boasting an extremely rare blend of speed, high-resolution stills and 8K video, the Sony A1 is pretty much the ultimate mirrorless camera and without a shadow of a doubt, Sony’s flagship. It really is a camera that can tackle any subject that you care to throw at it, blending together fine detail and super-fast shooting speed.

Of course, all of that doesn’t come cheap, with a car-sized price tag attached to it that may well set your eyes watering if you don’t have a big budget to hand. 

Look at it another way though, and it arguably represents good value. No longer do you need one camera for studio work and another one entirely for taking to the racetrack - when you’ve got one camera that does it all, you may actually end up spending less than you might. 

Aside from an impressive 50.1MP sensor, you get 30fps shooting (even more impressive at that resolution), 8K video and 4K at 120p. If you’re already a Sony shooter then when it comes to upgrade time, the A1 may be a bit of a no-brainer if you’ve got the funds to spare, and it’s also a pretty tempting proposition for those coming from other brands too.

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A fantastic hybrid camera for professional film makers

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Lens Mount: Micro Four Thirds
Sensor: Four Thirds
Resolution: 25.2MP
Viewfinder: OLED, 3.68m-dot EVF
Screen: 3.0-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1.84m-dot
Autofocus: 315-area AF
Max continuous shooting speed: 75fps
Max video resolution: 8K/30p

Reasons to buy

+
Huge range of video options
+
Multi angle tilt and swivel screen
+
Unlimited recording times

Reasons to avoid

-
Larger and heavier than GH5 
-
Autofocus not perfect

Although full-frame models are the hot ticket right now, there’s still plenty of scope for cameras with smaller sensors depending on exactly what you need. One of the big advantages of Micro Four Thirds cameras like the GH6 is that they’re smaller and lighter than their full-frame equivalents, making them ideal for travelling and shooting on the move. That smaller sensor also makes it easier to stabilize, too. These smaller models also tend to be more affordable than full-framers, which is another tick in the box. 

The Panasonic GH6 is aimed squarely at video makers, and we believe it to be Panasonic’s most powerful Micro Four Thirds camera to date, and the best MFT you can buy for video to boot. We loved its excellent design and handling and the sheer wealth of video options. You can also use it for stills photography, too - although it’s better for those for whom stills is a secondary, rather than primary, concern. 

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7. Canon EOS 1D X Mark III

Canon's most expensive DSLR is built for speed

Specifications

Type: DSLR
Lens Mount: Canon EF
Sensor: Full-frame
Resolution: 20.1MP
Viewfinder: OVF, 0.76x mag
Screen: 3.2-inch fixed touchscreen, 2,100K dots
Autofocus: 191-area AF
Max continuous shooting speed: 16/20fps
Max video resolution: 5.5K up to 60fps

Reasons to buy

+
Exceptional autofocus
+
No continuous shooting limit for stills
+
Intuitive new 'smart controller'
+
Hugely competent video shooter, too

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks IBIS
-
Fixed LCD screen
-
Expensive

The Canon EOS 1D X III is the company's flagship DSLR, a camera typically seen in the hands of professional action photographers at big events. It's a substantial and rugged bit of kit, designed for speed and to withstand harsh conditions. They don't come tougher than this.

You'll be able to rattle off 20.1MP still images at a rate of 16fps until the memory card fills up. Truly, there is no limit in the camera's performance for action and it is backed up by a staggering battery life of nearly 3,000 shots (which in real use for continuous shooting is much higher, too). Subject-tracking autofocus performance is also simply jaw-dropping. 

But this isn't just an action camera – the EOS 1D X III is a brilliant video tool too, with 5.5K RAW 10-bit video up to 60fps. Beware, you'll need to save up for a handful of expensive CFexpress cards because those video files are huge. Unlike other competing DSLRs, Canon's Dual Pixel AF works exceptionally well in Live View, where you virtually get equal AF performance to when you're using the bright optical viewfinder. The only real downside is that there has been a price hike in this third 1D X installment.

8. Fujifilm GFX100S

A mainstream medium format marvel

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Lens Mount: Fujifilm G
Sensor: (Digital) Medium format
Resolution: 102MP
Viewfinder: EVF 3,690K dots
Screen: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen, 2,360K dots
Autofocus: 425-area AF
Max continuous shooting speed: 5fps
Max video resolution: 4K up to 30fps

Reasons to buy

+
It's a 100MP medium format camera!
+
Effective IBIS
+
Aggressive price point

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy when paired with GF lenses
-
No vertical grip

When only digital medium format will do, the two current players competing for your attention are Fujfilm and Hasselblad. There are pros and cons for each system, and arguably Fujifilm is pushing the boundaries more, as seen in the new GFX100S. Like the Fujifilm GFX100, the GFX100S features a whopping 102MP medium format sensor. What grabbed the headlines, though, was an almost unfathomable price drop of almost 50%. 

The GFX100S ditches the vertical grip and the battery life is reduced to a still-respectable 460-shots, because the camera now only houses a single battery unit. On the plus side, the camera is about two-thirds the size and weight of the GFX100. Yes, that medium format goodness is housed in a DSLR-size body. Oh, and in-body stabilization effective up to 6EV is introduced, too. 

As far as medium format goes, the GFX100S packs some impressive tech from its X-Series, including its mostly responsive autofocus system. And if that 100MP resolution is not enough, there's a new 400MP high-res mode (combining 16 shots using pixel shifting). Being a Fujifilm, the GFX100S is a fine looking camera, too. Overall, the GFX100S is the most compelling option to switch to from full-frame mirrorless cameras or DSLRs.

Panasonic Lumix S1R

(Image credit: Future)

9. Panasonic Lumix S1R

Panasonic's best camera for photographers

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Lens Mount: Panasonic (Leica) L
Sensor: Full-frame
Resolution: 47MP
Viewfinder: EVF 5,760K dots
Screen: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen, 2,100K dots
Autofocus: 225-area AF
Max continuous shooting speed: 9fps
Max video resolution: 5K up to 30fps/ 4K up to 60fps