2021 is only a few months old but things are already looking better, especially from a photo gear perspective. Several major new cameras have been introduced and each one has the potential to be game changer in the photo industry.
Interestingly, most of the new cameras unveiled, so far, in 2021 have been aimed at professional photographers. This is somewhat unusual for this time of the year, considering the largest (virtual) trade show has been CES, which typically showcases products designed to appeal to consumers. But as we all know, things haven’t exactly been normal lately and with the emergence of the recently held (virtual) CP+ Show in Japan, which has become the event for new camera gear since the shuttering of photokina, the product introduction timeline has changed.
Add in the fact that camera manufacturers are in desperate need for some sizzle after the nightmare that was 2020, and we have a handful of new models that already have pro photographers salivating. Here are our picks for the five best cameras of 2021, so far. (And we emphasize so far. The year is still young and we can’t wait to see what Canon and some of the other camera brands have up their sleeve for 2021. We will update this story as the year progresses.)
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.