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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:

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

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent build quality
+
Gorgeous EVF
+
Decent photo and video performer

Reasons to avoid

-
AF system behind competition
-
A little bulky
-
Battery life

The Panasonic Lumix S1R was part of the company's first foray into the full-frame mirrorless camera market – and it's and an exceptionally capable camera. The company has wasted no time in building the system up either, with regular launches of new L-Mount lenses that have already covered almost all conventional pro choices, like the 24-70mm and 70-200mm f/2.8's. 

And what of the S1R itself? Well, it's the high-resolution option with 47MP, ideal for landscape photography especially. It is also a highly capable video performer – we'd expect that from Panasonic. The company is steadily improving the S1R which has already had five firmware updates, recently including 5K/30fps video recording in addition to the already existing 4K/60fps 10-bit video.

In the hand, the S1R is bigger and heavier than the competition – there's really no advantage compared to a DSLR. However, the ergonomics are great, the build quality is exceptional and the 5.76-million dot EVF gives a great viewing experience. The only real downsides are that autofocus is the least effective among high-resolution full-frame options, and we'd also like a better battery life. But like most cameras today there is the option of USB-C charging on-the-go.

10. Nikon Z7 II

Nikon's best mirrorless camera, particularly for landscape shooters

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Lens Mount: Nikon Z
Sensor: Full-frame
Resolution: 45.7MP
Viewfinder: 3,680K dots
Screen: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen, 2,100K dots
Autofocus: 493-area AF
Max continuous shooting speed: 10fps
Max video resolution: 4K up to 60fps

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent handling
+
Nikon Z lens mount has huge potential
+
Superb stills image quality
+
Competitive price

Reasons to avoid

-
Better AF elsewhere
-
Not the best image stabilization
-
Limited EVF performance

The Nikon Z7 II is the company's best mirrorless camera today. Being a high-resolution flagship with excellent image quality and dynamic range, it competes against others in this roundup, such as the Sony A7R IV and Panasonic S1R. For the most part, the Z7 II holds its own, and at a lower price point.

Perhaps what's most intriguing about the Nikon Z7 II is the system that it is part of. The Nikon Z lens mount is the most versatile full-frame lens mount available today, boasting the largest diameter and shortest flange distance, and therefore the largest angle of incidence in a full-frame lens mount. 

If you're scratching your head right now, the larger the angle of incidence, the easier it is to make high performing lenses. Two years since the system was launched, we are starting to see some really exciting lenses, while the edge-to-edge quality of standard lenses like the 50mm f/1.8 Z is excellent. If you're starting from scratch and basing your buying decision on the whole system, the Nikon Z series could be for you – and the Z7 II is the jewel in its crown.

11. Fujifilm GFX 50S II

Bringing well-priced medium format to the masses

Specifications

Type : Mirrorless
Lens Mount: Fujifilm G
Sensor: Medium Format
Resolution: 50MP
Viewfinder: 3.69m-dot EVF
Screen: 3.2-inch 3-way tilting touchscreen, 2,360K dots
Autofocus: 425-area AF
Max continuous shooting speed: 3fps
Max video resolution: 1080p up to 30fps

Reasons to buy

+
Relatively affordable
+
Superb image quality 
+
Well-performing image stabilization

Reasons to avoid

-
No 4K video
-
Comparatively sluggish AF
-
Not good for sport/action

Unlike some of the models in our list that are adept at a wide-range of shooting scenarios, the GFX 50S II is designed with one thing in mind - high image quality and fantastic detail resolution. Its medium-format sensor is 1.7x bigger than the full-frame sensors you’ll find in other mirrorless and DSLR cameras. 

With a bigger sensor you get better low-light capability, superlative detail capabilities and fantastic dynamic range. The trade off is that it’s much more difficult to shoot quickly and rapidly with a camera like this - but that might be OK depending on the type of photographer you are.

If you’re a landscape or portrait photographer, it could be just the ticket for you, while sports and action photographers are likely to find the relatively slouchy AF system and the slow frame rates (3fps) to be off-putting.

For the first time in a GFX body, we’ve now got IBIS (in-body image stabilization) that brings an impressive 6.5 stops of compensation for camera shake. That’s great news for anyone shooting handheld, making this a realistic walk around camera - something that traditionally wasn’t really possible with medium format cameras of the past.

There are other things which are arguably disappointing here, primarily the lack of 4K video recording, but it’s not really a camera aimed at videographers, so that’s understandable.

Essentially what Fujifilm has introduced here is an affordable medium-format camera. It may not be your only camera, but by bringing it to the market at a reasonable price, it gives professionals the option to add something ideal for those situations that require it to their kit bag.

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12. Olympus OM-D E-M1X

A small format offering that packs a powerful punch

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Lens Mount: Micro Four Thirds
Sensor: Four Thirds
Resolution: 20.3MP
Viewfinder: EVF 2,360K dots
Screen: 3.0-inch articulating touchscreen, 1,037K dots
Autofocus: 121-area AF
Max continuous shooting speed: 18/60fps
Max video resolution: 4K up to 30fps

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent handling
+
Great for action
+
Fantastic image stabilization

Reasons to avoid

-
Image quality suffers in low light
-
Viewfinder clarity in low light
-
Overwhelming menus

The Olympus OM-D E-M1X is a technological tour de force, armed to tackle action photography in particular. For continuous shooting at 20.3MP, the mechanical and electronic shutters offer up to 18fps and 60fps respectively, with no real limit to the sequence length. There's even a Pro capture mode that acquires 35 shots before you press the shutter, just in case your reflexes aren't quite up to scratch.

As with most Olympus OM-D cameras, the E-M1X is a joy to use day-to-day, slotting in the hand perfectly. Solid as a rock, it is the largest and heaviest Micro Four Thirds camera available. It's admittedly hampered by low light image quality when compared to large format rivals, but there's plenty of reason to pick up the E-M1X instead – especially for action photography.

Its like-for-like lenses are significantly smaller and lighter than its rivals. Take the new 150-400mm f/4.5 TC 1.25x lens that has a maximum equivalent reach of 1200mm – it's an incredible bit of kit, supported by arguably the most effective camera image stabilization available today, plus a new bird autofocus mode. The smaller sensor format also gives you greater depth of field at like-for-like apertures, ideal at those long focal lengths. Really, it's a win-win for action photography, even if Olympus itself is in a moment of flux.

Nikon D850

(Image credit: Future)

13. Nikon D850

Still the most well-rounded DSLR available

Specifications

Type: DSLR
Lens Mount: Nikon F
Sensor: Full-frame
Resolution: 45.4MP
Viewfinder: OVF, 0.75x mag
Screen: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen, 2,359K dots
Autofocus: 153-area AF
Max continuous shooting speed: 7fps
Max video resolution: 4K up to 30fps

Reasons to buy

+
Great all-rounder
+
Significant battery life
+
Excellent image quality at ISO 64

Reasons to avoid

-
Video performance can't match mirrorless
-
Sluggish Live View focusing speed

If you're a DSLR fan who can't quite bring yourself to buy a mirrorless camera just yet, then the Nikon D850 would be our pick. Armed with a 45.4MP sensor and class-leading image quality at its base ISO 64, the D850 is particularly suitable for landscape photography. You'll also enjoy the proven autofocus system borrowed from the action-focused Nikon D5, which will happily handle more demanding scenarios such as weddings and even action photography, too. 

Build wise, the camera is practically bomb-proof, and enjoys comprehensive weather-sealing, a significant battery life and a wonderfully large and bright optical viewfinder. This is a camera that you can simply rely on. When you consider the system as a whole, DSLR tech is a lot cheaper than mirrorless rivals too, with like-for-like lenses typically two thirds of the price. 

The clear drawback to a Nikon DSLR compared to mirrorless rivals is video performance. While you can still shoot lovely looking 4K videos, Live View autofocus is sluggish at best and there is no in-body stabilization. Also, this isn't a true action camera, with a 7fps continuous shooting limited to sequences around 50 shots.

14. Leica M10-R

A street shooter's delight

Specifications

Type: Rangefinder mirrorless
Lens Mount: Leica M
Sensor: Full-frame
Resolution: 40.9MP
Viewfinder: Optical rangefinder, 0.73x mag
Screen: 3.0-inch articulating touchscreen, 1,037K dots
Autofocus: Manual focus only
Max continuous shooting speed: 4.5fps
Max video resolution: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Improved and competitive 40MP resolution
+
Rangefinder handling and style
+
Superb lenses

Reasons to avoid

-
No video
-
Mainly for wide and standard primes
-
Very expensive

Offering a wholly different experience to most of the other cameras in this roundup, the Leica M10-R is a prestige, rangefinder-style mirrorless camera that's widely adored by reportage and street photographers. Compared to its predecessor, the M-10R enjoyed a significant bump in resolution, now at a competitive 40MP. That divine Leica M lens quality can now be enjoyed on a larger scale.

The M10-R is also the most expensive camera here, though it will likely retain its value. It offers double-image rangefinder manual focusing that gives all of the feels to photographers familiar with this method, in a way that no autofocus system can match. It may sound corny, but the experience is wonderful. This is also a stylish yet discreet camera, with a virtually silent shutter that's well-suited to street scenes. 

This is a stripped back experience, too. There's no video recording, no autofocus and a simple control layout. There are digital touches, with a fixed touchscreen offering Live View operation and image playback. But really the M10-R is the most niche camera in this roundup and you'll probably already know if it is the one for you. The Fujifilm X-Pro 3 is a decent alternative at about a quarter of the price.

15. Sony A7R IV

Still the resolution king two years on

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Lens Mount: Sony FE
Sensor: Full-frame
Resolution: 61MP
Viewfinder: EVF 5,760K dots
Screen: 3.0-inch tilting touchscreen, 1,440K dots
Autofocus: 567-area AF
Max continuous shooting speed: 10fps
Max video resolution: 4K up to 30fps

Reasons to buy

+
Class-leading resolution
+
IBIS effective to 5.5EV
+
Lovely EVF
+
AF performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Touchscreen control is limited
-
Control layout a little fiddly
-
Less suited to action

Our camera of the year in 2019, the Sony A7R IV is still a formidable camera two years later. The headline-grabber was its class-leading 61MP resolution, which is still unmatched today in full-frame and holds its own against the digital medium format. Those extra pixels support large printing and unparalleled flexibility for cropping, with the APS-C crop mode boasting a decent 26.2MP resolution.

Even at such a high resolution, the A7R IV has excellent dynamic range and can record 10fps sequences with continuous autofocus thanks to the able Bionz X processor, though there is a limit to the length of sequences. You've also got Sony's proven autofocus system and a decent in-body image stabilization. Add the lovely 5.76-million dot EVF with 120fps refresh rate and the A7R IV was what raising the bar looked like in 2019. 

Video performance is good but outsmarted by rivals today. Downsampled from 6K, the 4K videos up to 30fps enjoy a number of Sony's color profiles. Lens choice is wide, with the recently launched Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 G lens becoming the 60th native lens in the system (and soon followed by three more primes). For years now Sony has been an innovator in camera tech, and the real-world performance largely backs up the numbers.

16. Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro

A serious amount of video bang for your buck

Specifications

Type: DSLR/mirrorless
Lens Mount: Canon EF
Sensor: Super 35
Resolution: 6K (21.2MP)
Viewfinder: optional EVF, 3,680K dots
Screen: 5.0-inch tilt touchscreen, 2,073K dots
Autofocus: single-shot AF
ISO: 100-25,600 dual native ISO 400/3200
Max video resolution: 6K up to 60fps

Reasons to buy

+
Incredible 6K video image quality
+
Built-in ND filters
+
Great value

Reasons to avoid

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Handling quirks
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No real photo capability
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EVF is an optional extra
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Large plastic body
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No image stabilization

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro is just about the most affordable way to shoot delicious 6K videos. By focusing on video – there's no real photo capability with this camera – the 6K Pro offers video smarts not available with any other camera here, such as built-in ND filters. 

Users can enjoy the Blackmagic RAW and ProRes codecs, stunning preset LUTs, all edited in Blackmagic's own DaVinci Resolve Studio software included with the camera. The Super 35 sensor is a little smaller than full-frame, but the 6K Pro is still a capable low-light shooter, too, with dual native ISO 400/3,200. There's the Canon EF lens mount, meaning a great choice of lenses. 

If you are moving from photography to video, there will be some acclimatization with a number of handling quirks in the 6K Pro, while its EVF is an expensive optional extra. Build quality is passable – we're looking at a plastic build rather than metal, plus there's no image stabilization. While we're on build, this is actually quite a chunky camera. But if 6K video image quality is your prime concern, there's no better bang for your buck.

17. Fujifilm X-T4

The best hybrid APS-C mirrorless camera you can buy

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Lens Mount: Fujifilm X
Sensor: APS-C
Resolution: 26.1MP
Viewfinder: EVF 3,690K dots
Screen: 3.0-inch articulating touchscreen, 1,620K dots
Autofocus: 425-area AF
Max continuous shooting speed: 15fps
Max video resolution: C4K up to 60fps

Reasons to buy

+
A true photo-video hybrid
+
Solid body looks the part
+
Best APS-C mirrorless camera available

Reasons to avoid

-
AF performance depends on lens
-
No headphone jack
-
EVF behavior in low light

Do pros really, really need full-frame or medium format? We don't think so and the stylish Fujfilm X-T4 is the best APS-C format mirrorless camera available today. On the outside it's all retro dials and analogue chic, but inside is Fujfilm's best tech. A true photo-video hybrid, at the flick of a switch the control layout, operation and menus of the X-T4 can move between dedicated setups for 26.1MP stills and 4K videos (10-bit up to 60fps with F-Log profile).

For ultimate handling we'd like a bigger handgrip and the omission of a headphone jack seems strange considering that the X-T4 is a hybrid camera (even if you can add one via an adaptor). Stabilization and autofocus performance is impacted by the lens attached to the camera, with some older lenses not quite as effective as others. But otherwise, there's very little to pick apart. 

We test cameras from all brands, and the X-T4 is up there as the most immediately enjoyable camera to use. It will also stand the test of time with its solid and attractive build, competitive battery life, new in-body stabilization and a flip-out screen with full touch operation. Being part of the X-Series, there are some delicious lenses to choose from, too.

Five things to look for when choosing a professional camera

1. Build quality
Needless to say, life alongside a pro is rarely dull. Exposed to inclement weather, being thrown around the place and rattling through thousands of pictures, your camera will be taken through its paces and will need to stand up to the challenge. Ideally, the camera body will be both weather-sealed and made from hard-wearing metal.

2. Real-world performance
Sometimes you'll need to look beyond the spec sheet and into real world experience. One example, 20fps continuous shooting might sound impressive for action, but if the camera slows up after a second, that mode is of no real use. Or is that the electronic shutter affected by banding? A true pro camera for action should just keep going without slowing up.

3. Lens choice
Sometimes we can get so drawn into what the camera can do, while forgetting that it is part of an interchangeable lens system. Lens quality and choice is just about as important as the camera itself. Even within this roundup, the camera systems vary in age and therefore breadth. Does the system offer the lens you want?

4. Listen to other pros
The feel in the hand, the control layout, potential customization, reliability, the little features that don't make the headlines. It's worthwhile reading up what other pros have enjoyed about the camera you are interested in, because they have that real-world experience. Sometimes it's the little things that make all the difference with the camera that you intend to rely on. 

5. Accessories
Memory cards, additional batteries, grips, supports, audio, wireless transmitters, lighting. The list goes on. Not all pros are made of money and the camera is only your initial outlay. The best option might not be what camera you can afford, but building a system within your budget. For example, new memory card types can be particularly expensive.

Tim Coleman has enjoyed more than 15 years in the photo industry. Image maker, writer, camera-kit reviewer and video producer, Tim was part of the team at Amateur Photographer Magazine for three years as Deputy Technical Editor and then worked as Editor for Vanguard Europe. Currently, he freelances for numerous photo titles alongside video production for Studio 44 and volunteering for a non-profit in East Africa.