The Best Digital Cameras for 2021

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The Best Digital Cameras
The Best Digital Cameras
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The Best Digital Cameras for 2021

Planning to Buy the Best Digital camera in 2021? Here’s everything you need to know to pick the best digital camera for you. A mistake I see some digital camera buyers making is that they get sucked into buying cameras that are beyond what they really need.

BEST FOR ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE

Fujifilm X-T4

Fujifilm X-T4 Mirrorless Camera Body - Black
Fujifilm X-T4 Mirrorless Camera Body – Black

The Fujifilm X-T4 is the company’s latest high-end photo and video APS-C mirrorless camera. It brings in-body stabilization, faster shooting, improved autofocus, and a larger battery to the already very capable X-T3.

Fujifilm says that the X-T4 is a sister model to the X-T3, rather than a replacement, which is borne out by the specs and pricing. It’s a 26MP camera capable of 20 fps shooting and 4K capture at up to 60p. In use, we found it offers distinct benefits over both the X-T3 and the older X-H1. And, although the autofocus performance isn’t cutting edge, it offers one of the best stills and video options you can buy.

Key specifications

  • 26MP BSI CMOS sensor
  • In-body image stabilization (up to 6.5EV correction)
  • 20 fps shooting with AF (15 with new mechanical shutter)
  • 4K video (DCI or UHD) at up to 60p
  • 1080 video at up to 240 fps, output as 4-10x slow-motion footage
  • The fully articulated rear touchscreen
  • 3.68M-dot OLED electronic viewfinder (up to 100 fps refresh rate)
  • New NP-W235 battery rated to give 500 shots per charge
  • Dual UHS-II card slots
  • USB-C type connector allowing USB PD charging
  • 12 Film Simulation modes, including Eterna Bleach Bypass
Pros
  • Pro-grade, dust- and splash-protected body
  • Excellent EVF
  • Articulating LCD
  • 15fps mechanical shutter
  • Improved battery
  • Excellent in-camera film looks and Raw processing
  • Stabilized image sensor
  • 4K at 60fps
Cons
  • Some might not like flip-out screen
  • Omits standard headphone jack (though a dongle is included)
  • Smallest tracking focus area not that small
Conclusion

The X-T4 offers one of the most enjoyable and refined user experiences of any mirrorless camera on the market. And for the price, it is also one of the most feature-packed, especially in terms of video tools. But you can pick-up an entry-level full-framer for about the same price as an X-T4 and get better image quality and in some cases, more reliable autofocus. If considered only as a stills-shooting camera, there’s a lot to like about the X-T4, but its price would probably hold it to a Silver award. But we believe it’s made more compelling if you shoot a video. Or, to be more precise, if you also shoot a video. It’s a really good stills camera, it’s a really, really good video camera, but the thing it excels at is switching back and forth between being both. We’re not sure there’s another camera that offers such a strong combination.

BEST FOR FULL-FRAME MIRRORLESS

Sony a7 III

Sony a7 III ILCE7M3/B Full-Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Camera with 3-Inch LCD, Black
Sony a7 III ILCE7M3/B Full-Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Camera with 3-Inch LCD, Black

The Sony a7 III is a 24MP full-frame mirrorless camera that incorporates many of the features and improvements found in the a7R III. Primary among these is a BSI sensor, along with the larger capacity ‘Z’ battery, AF joystick, and the company’s impressive EyeAF feature. Its 693-point AF system offers 93% frame coverage. Continuous shooting is offered at up to 10 fps with a mechanical shutter, and 5-axis in-body stabilization claims a 5.0 stop shutter speed advantage.

Video recorded at 4K/24p is taken from a 6K region of the sensor, while 30p shooting comes from a roughly 5K region with a 1.2x crop. The camera offers both S-Log2 and S-Log3 gamma curves for shooting wide dynamic range scenes or Hybrid Log Gamma for playing back directly on high dynamic range displays.

The new larger-capacity battery boasts 710 shots per charge. The a7 III uses the same 2.36m dot OLED viewfinder as its predecessor, giving a 1024 x 768-pixel view, rather than the higher-res version in the a7R III. The viewfinder is complemented by an articulated 3″ 921k-dot LCD.

Pros
  • 24MP full-frame BSI sensor.
  • 10fps with tracking.
  • 5-axis stabilization.
  • 4K HDR video.
  • Silent shooting available.
  • Tilting touch LCD.
  • Dual SD slots.
  • Vastly improved battery.
  • Focus joystick.
  • Flat profiles available.
Cons
  • Screen not true vari-angle.
  • Only one card slot is UHS-II.
  • No in-body flash.
  • The shooting buffer must clear to start the video.
  • Dense menu system.
  • Omits PC sync socket.
Conclusion

The Sony a7 III is a well-priced, well-rounded camera suitable for all kinds of photography. Twenty-four megapixels of resolution is more than sufficient for most tasks, and the 693-point autofocus system and 10 frames-per-second burst speed help the a7 III keep up with fast action. Video quality and feature set is another strong point, though some operational lag, a slightly low-resolution viewfinder, and unintuitive video autofocus may turn off some users.
Generalist photographers, wedding, event, and action shooters, and those that need high-quality video.
Those that need more resolution for detailed scenes or large prints, those that need ultimate build quality for harsh shooting conditions.

BEST FOR BALANCED SPEED AND IMAGING

Fujifilm X-T3

Fujifilm X-T30 Mirrorless Digital Camera, Black (Body Only)
Fujifilm X-T30 Mirrorless Digital Camera, Black (Body Only)

The Fujifilm X-T30 provides many of the features found in the higher-end X-T3, including its 26.1MP X-Trans sensor and X-Processor 4 Quad Core-CPU. It offers a hybrid AF system with 425 points across the entire frame and boasts faster face detection compared to its X-T20 predecessor.

The X-T30 is an altogether smaller and lighter camera than the X-T3 (383 g / 13.5 oz compared to 539 g / 19 oz) and offers a smaller, lower-resolution viewfinder. A 3″ 1.04M-dot touchscreen tilts on one axis, and a single card slot is offered. Burst shooting with continuous AF tops out at 20 fps (8 fps with mechanical shutter) and a lower native ISO of 160 is offered.

Pros
  • Proven 26MP APS-C image sensor.
  • Quick, accurate autofocus.
  • Up to 30fps Raw capture.
  • EVF and built-in flash.
  • Tilting touch LCD.
  • Tactile controls.
  • 4K video.
  • Wi-Fi.
Cons
  • Body isn’t weather-sealed.
  • Restricted maximum video clip length.
  • No in-body stabilization.
  • Small capture buffer.
  • Memory card slot limited to UHS-I speed.
Conclusion

The Fujifilm X-T30 is an exceptional value for the money, offering excellent image quality, a (generally) well-designed body with plenty of direct controls, and an autofocus system that handles most situations with ease, with face detection being a weak point. Video is a real highlight, in terms of both quality and controls, and offers features previously found on more expensive cameras. All-in-all, it’s hard to go wrong with the X-T30, one of the best midrange cameras we’ve tasted in a long time.
Those seeking a lightweight camera with great out-of-camera image quality, flexible Raw files, and top-notch video
Those seeking the best face and eye AF performance. Serious videographers who need the very best spec.

Best for Superlative Autofocus

Sony a6400

Sony Alpha a6400 Mirrorless Digital Camera Body - Bundle with Camera Case, 32GB SDHC U3 Card, Cleaning Kit, Card Reader, Memory Wallet, PC Software Package
Sony Alpha a6400 Mirrorless Digital Camera Body – Bundle with Camera Case, 32GB SDHC U3 Card, Cleaning Kit, Card Reader, Memory Wallet, PC Software Package

Sony’s a6400 is a compact 24MP mirrorless interchangeable lens camera with an APS-C sensor that will serve plenty of photographers from family documentarians to pro shooters looking for a lightweight second body. The big news is that it has a new processor based on that used in Sony’s sports-shooting flagship a9 which enables ‘Real-Time Tracking’ autofocus, which is one of the most effective autofocus implementations we’ve yet seen. It’s also among the easiest to use, once you’ve got it set up.

Key specifications:

  • 24MP APS-C sensor
  • 425-pt phase-detection AF system with Real-Time Tracking
  • Tilting screen, 180° up, 90° down
  • 2.36M-dot electronic viewfinder
  • New Bionz X processor
  • ISO range from 100-32000
  • 11fps burst shooting (8fps with silent shutter)
  • Interval shooting option added
  • 4K/30p video capture
  • Mic input, no headphone output
  • 410 shots per battery charge (per CIPA)
  • Wi-Fi with NFC and Bluetooth
    Pros
    • Compact build.
    • 24MP APS-C image sensor.
    • Quick, accurate autofocus.
    • 11fps continuous drive.
    • Large, sharp EVF.
    • Selfie LCD.
    • Built-in flash and hot shoe.
    • 4K video without recording limit.
    Cons
    • Omits in-body image stabilization.
    • Flip-up screen not ideal for vloggers.
    • Some operational frustrations.
    • External charger not included.
    • Only full-frame lenses are weather sealed.
    • UHS-I card slot.

    Conclusion

    It’s hard to overstate just how good the autofocus system is on the Sony a6400. It’s got one of the best implementations out there: not just in its price range, but on the market, period. Once you set the system up, you can pretty much leave it alone for almost any type of photography, whether you’re photographing people, landscapes, sports, you name it. So that’s the full story of the Sony a6400. It is absolutely one of the most capable APS-C interchangeable lens cameras on the market today, with game-changing autofocus capabilities, in an affordable package. If you’re after a camera at this price point that is most likely to just ‘get the shot,’ this is the one. If you’re looking for a camera that is engaging and fun to use – a camera that you just want to pick up and take with you – you may want to try out some of the a6400’s competitors, and see how you get along with them before making a decision.

Best for Speedy Focus and 20MP Stills

Canon EOS R6

Canon EOS R6 Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera with 4K Video, Full-Frame CMOS Senor, DIGIC X Image Processor, Dual UHS-II SD Memory Card Slots, and Up to 12 fps with Mechnical Shutter, Body Only, Black
Canon EOS R6 Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera with 4K Video, Full-Frame CMOS Sensor, DIGIC X Image Processor, Dual UHS-II SD Memory Card Slots, and Up to 12 fps with Mechanical Shutter, Body Only, Black

The Canon EOS R6 is an enthusiast-grade full-frame mirrorless camera. It’s essentially a stripped-down version of the EOS R5 but appears to be very capable.

The camera uses a 20MP CMOS sensor – the same as in the EOS 1D X Mark III – with in-body image stabilization that can reduce shake by up to 8 stops. The camera uses the Dual Pixel AF II system, which has 1053 AF points across the entire frame. The R6 is capable of shooting bursts at 20 fps with its electronic shutter and 12 fps with the mechanical shutter, both with continuous AF.

The R6 can shoot UHD and DCI 4K video at up to 60p, saved as either Raw or H.265 footage. 10-bit 4:2:2 internal regarding using C-Log and HDR PQ are supported.

The SLR-styled R6 has a solid build and is weather-sealed. It’s OLED electronic viewfinder has 3.69 million dots and a magnification of 0.76x. Its 3″ fully articulating LCD has 1.62 million dots and is touch-sensitive. The camera also features dual SD memory card slots and Wi-Fi with Bluetooth.

Pros
  • Outstanding 20MP image sensor
  • Quick, smart autofocus
  • Subject tracking at 20fps
  • Large, crisp EVF
  • Swing-out touch LCD
  • Dual UHS-II SDXC card slots
  • Strong 4K video quality
Cons
  • 4K60 recording limited by heat
  • Fewer pixels than most competitors
  • Battery life could be better
  • Lens system still has room for growth
Conclusion

The Canon EOS R6 offers much of the capability of the EOS-1D X III in an enthusiast-level mirrorless body. It’s only a 20MP camera but one that can produce great results across a huge range of photographic challenges. The tendency to overheat if used before shooting video undermines its appeal for people shooting video and stills together, but the footage is best-in-class if you can work around this limitation. A superb photographers’ camera, even if it’s not quite the perfect hybrid model.

Where to Buy

 

 

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