You could say 2021 was the year the camera industry came roaring back but that’s mainly because 2020 was such a disaster in nearly every respect. Still though, exciting new photo gear introductions were the norm this year, making it fairly hard for us to narrow down our picks for Digital Photo Pro‘s Best Cameras of 2021.
But narrow them down we did to what we feel are the seven best new cameras of the year from a range of brands. If your favorite model of 2021 didn’t make our list – which you can see starting below and on the following pages – you should visit our sister site, Imaging Resource, which has released its comprehensive Camera of the Year 2021 awards.
So, without further ado, here is the cream of the crop in cameras for 2021. If you’re interested in buying any of these elite models, we’ve included links to Adorama, Amazon and B&H Photo where you can take advantage of all the latest Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and assorted holiday deals and discounts to find the best price for our favorite cameras of the year.
Sony Alpha a1
The year in photo gear started off with a bang with Sony’s introduction of the 50-megapixel Sony Alpha a1 ($6500) in late January. Our sister site, Imaging Resource (IR), got their hands on this full frame flagship camera from Sony and posted a large collection of full resolution images captured with the a1. They came away impressed. According to IR’s managing editor, William Brawley, the Sony a1’s new Bird Eye AF (autofocus) is going to gain a lot of fans in the avian photography community. “I managed to find and capture a good variety of different birds, which work well not only for showcasing the A1’s 50MP resolving power but also the performance of the new Bird Eye AF feature (spoiler alert: Bird Eye AF works very well!),” Brawley wrote. The Sony a1 can shoot 50MP images at a blazing fast 30 frames per second; and captures 8K video at 30p and 4K video at 120p for high-resolution, slow motion footage. The a1’s autofocus (AF) system uses 759 phase-detect points and 425 contrast-detect points that span nearly the entire sensor. In addition to Bird Eye AF, the Sony a1 also features Human and Animal Eye AF, so is designed for a variety of applications including everything from wildlife to sports photography or even portraits. Other noteworthy features from this pro-level mirrorless camera include blackout-free continuous shooting at 30fps, a fast sensor readout enabling up to 120 AF/AE calculations per second, and a bright and large 0.64-type 9.44 million-dot OLED Quad-XGA electronic viewfinder with the world’s first refresh rate of 240 fps.