2019 was a wild year for camera manufacturers as the newest crop of cameras being released continues to expand the technological boundaries of what’s possible. In some cases, iterative updates continue to push the capabilities of camera sensors and other features. Yet, in some instances, manufacturers seem to be suffering from an identity crisis, unsure of who they’re aiming to serve with their latest offerings.
All in all, though, it’s an amazing time to be shooting photographs, since the latest cameras hitting the shelves are making capturing images and video easier, more enjoyable and far more capable than ever before.
As an owner of a new Sony a7R IV, I can attest to the amazing capabilities that today’s pro camera bodies offer shooters. While some lament the growing number of megapixels being built into modern camera sensors, I couldn’t be happier. In fact, one of my favorite, and most-used, features of this camera is its pixel-shift mode: The 240.8-megapixel photos that the camera outputs have left me speechless when it comes to sharpness and detail. The larger file size—each photo is about 800 MB—is well worth it to me, especially when it comes to tightening a composition with an aggressive crop.
I’ve also sent off a new pixel-shift photo to be printed in large format on metal, and the early response from the lab has been quite positive.
So with that, let’s take a look at a number of new cameras hitting the streets in several major categories, segmented by sensor size: Full-frame sensor, APS-C-sized sensor and medium format.
And lest you think that cameras with smaller sensors aren’t able to compete with their beefier siblings, think again. There have been some exciting and innovative camera updates in each of these categories, especially with APS-C cropped sensor models. Whether you focus primarily on still photography or spend time with video, the latest generation of digital cameras will certainly have something unique to entice you.
In terms of innovations that you will find in these cameras, advancements in sensor performance, from dynamic-range capabilities to pixel shifting, among others, such as intelligent autofocus and in-body image stabilization (or IBIS) improvements, all bubble up to form a serious lineup of powerful and capable cameras.
Now, let’s take a look at some of 2019’s newest cameras.
Sony a7R IV
The Sony a7R IV packs a whopping 61 megapixels into its 35mm full-frame sensor, along with a high price tag. And when you use the aforementioned 16-image composited Pixel Shift mode, the camera can output a 240.8-megapixel photo.
Thankfully, the Sony a7R IV continues the tradition of packing in-body 5-axis image stabilization, which has been a godsend for me and my overly caffeinated hands! It also supports 10-frames-per-second shooting, improved Eye AF (with support for animals) and a robust hybrid phase-detection and contrast-detection AF system. It’ll provide ample resolution and performance for virtually any landscape shooter out there.
Panasonic Lumix S1
Panasonic’s much-anticipated debut in the full-frame mirrorless space has been turning heads, especially since its announcement at Photokina last year, alongside its L-Mount alliance with Leica and Sigma. The Lumix S1 is a commendable camera sporting a 24.2-megapixel sensor, 4K video at 24 and 30 fps with unlimited recording time, plus dust, splash and freeze resistance.
The aforementioned L-Mount alliance also means Lumix S1 users can expect a breadth of capable native-lens offerings. And similar to the Sony a7R IV, the Lumix S1 sports its own form of sensor-shift technology, which results in 96-megapixel, ultra-high-resolution photos.
Canon EOS RP
While many manufacturers have released pricier cameras, Canon has chosen to take a different path. The Canon EOS RP is arguably one of the most approachable and affordable full-frame mirrorless cameras on the market. While its specs aren’t head-turning, it has proven to be a very capable camera for novices looking to expand their capabilities.
The camera sports a 26.2-megapixel sensor with Dual Pixel AF. The fully articulating display is also a welcome addition for vloggers. While Canon’s RF-mount lens lineup is still small, photographers can take advantage of Canon’s full EF-mount lenses thanks to the available EF adapter (sold separately or as part of a bundle).
Another enticing feature packed into the EOS RP is focus bracketing: When activated, the camera will take a series of photos that incrementally move the focus point as defined by the user. The resulting brackets can then be stacked together during post-processing for a sharp plane of focus from the foreground through to the background.
APS-C Cropped-Sensor Cameras
In Sony’s continuing trend of blurring lines between its camera lines, the a6600 packs a powerful 24.2-megapixel sensor with 11 fps of continuous shooting and 5-axis in-body image stabilization.
The a6600 also inherits real-time subject tracking and real-time Eye AF, with support for animals. Real-time subject tracking can also be activated by touching the rear LCD. Another very nice touch with the a6600 is the support for Sony “Z-type” batteries, giving it a best-in-class power performance.
If you’ve been looking for a camera that packs a lot of the punch of the Fujifilm X-T3 but is more inexpensive, you should take a close look at the Fujifilm X-T30. Packing the same 26-megapixel sensor as the X-T3, the Fujifilm X-T30 is a smaller and lighter camera without sacrificing much. Its capable Hybrid AF system has 425 phase-detection points that cover the entire frame. The Fujifilm X-T30 also sports continuous shooting at 30 fps with no blackout (at a 1.25x crop), but that drops to 20 fps with no crop.
This medium-format Fujifilm camera is a notable update to its predecessor, the GFX 50, in several ways. In addition to its stunning 102-megapixel CMOS sensor and extended grip, shooters will find a speedier and more capable AF system, especially when compared to other medium-format competitors.
Furthermore, Fujifilm’s GF-mount lenses are optimized to take advantage of that massive sensor. The GFX100 is also one of the first cameras to support 16-bit RAW output, which should result in packing in far more shadow details. Additionally, if you’re going to pack a 102-megapixel medium-format sensor in your camera, you’ll certainly want some sort of image stabilization.
Fortunately, Fujifilm packed a rather capable image-stabilization mechanism in the GFX100, which should mitigate potentially soft images, especially when handheld. For photographers who need a medium-format sensor and are looking for exceptional image quality with massive resolution, the GFX100 should fit the bill.
Phase One XT Camera System
While the XT Camera System by Phase One isn’t technically an integrated camera, it’s one of the most unique products to be announced this year.
Rather than thinking of this as a camera, think of the XT as a bridge between the ultra-impressive Phase One IQ4 medium-format back—in 150-megapixel and 100-megapixel versions—and a set of three Rodenstock HR medium-format lenses.
The ability to shift the lens in any direction by 12mm is also a novel option, allowing for seamless panoramas and superior perspective correction. Because of the svelte, modular design of the XT system, it’s a very travel-friendly option for the photographer who’s either a Phase One loyalist or has a specific need for its outstanding digital sensors. The rationale with the XT system is to simplify the gear that’s needed to capture such high-resolution photos using their hardware while traveling, especially to remote locations.