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Best Overall: Canon EOS 5DS R at Amazon
"The crème de la crème, offering an incredible 50.6 megapixels of resolution."
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Sony A7R II at Amazon
"Offering an incredible 42.3 megapixels of resolution paired with the largest backside-illuminated sensor on the market."
Best Budget: Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II at Amazon
"A fantastic budget-friendly shooter that makes an excellent camera, especially if you’re into landscape and portrait image capture."
Best Battery Life: Nikon D850 at Amazon
"Able to take 1,840 still images on a single charge, or about 70 hours of 4K video."
Best Design: Nikon D850 DSLR at Amazon
"With an exceptional 3.2-inch tilting LCD screen and touchscreen support that allows simple and quick menu navigation."
Best All-Weather: Pentax KP 24.32-megapixel DSLR at Amazon
"Dustproof, water-resistant, and able to handle extreme conditions all the way down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit."
Best Video: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV at Amazon
"Featuring 4K video resolution at 30fps with a super easy-to-use interface and a quick method for grabbing single images from your video footage."
Best Splurge: Pentax 645Z at Amazon
"If you’re looking to capture and print at the highest level of detail."
If you’re looking for a high-resolution camera, Canon’s EOS 5DS R is the crème de la crème, offering an incredible 50.6 megapixels of resolution. Make no mistake about it, the EOS is determined to be a primary shooter and while it offers 1920 x 1080 30fps video capture, this full-frame camera is all about the still photo. The hefty price tag is just for the body only, no lens included, but Canon offers a slew of EF-series lenses that can be utilized with the EOS. Lenses aside, Canon added a low-pass filter to help take full advantage of the 50.6-megapixel CMOS sensor to deliver even higher resolution images and increased sharpness.
The body of the camera itself is typical Canon style, black and textured with no real special features that help make it stand out from the crowd. That said, it offers fantastic ergonomics in the hand while shooting and a weather-sealed body protects it against the elements. The 3.2 fixed-position LCD pairs with a 100 percent coverage viewfinder that offers .71x magnification, which is excellent. To aid with shooting, Canon added a whopping 61-point autofocus that is among the highest precision of any DSLR on the market today. If a staggering amount of detail is what your photography needs are all about, this is the one to buy.
Sony’s A7R II full-frame mirrorless camera offers an incredible 42.3 megapixels of resolution that's paired with the largest backside-illuminated sensor on the market. There’s no question that Sony’s A7R II is a weather-sealed, ergonomically pleasing camera that’s only real flaw is its shorter battery life (it can shoot just 340 images before recharge). However the excellent low-light performance and built-in image stabilization will have you all but ignoring the short battery life. The CMOS sensor itself offers superb resolution and noise performance, so still images and video that are nothing short of spectacular. Additionally, the 399 on-sensor autofocus detection points are so good, they can focus on the subject’s eyes even while in motion.
The inclusion of 4K video is notable since it’s not generally offered with full-frame high-resolution cameras where the focus is very much on still photo results. Capturing 4K in full-frame or Super 35 format with a full spread of manual controls provides compelling results that help make the Sony an incredible feature-to-price purchase.
Whether it's video or images, the five-axis in-body image stabilization adds accurate compensation for blur by offsetting camera shaking by moving vertically, horizontally, pitching, yawing or rolling to ensure stable image and video capture. And the three-inch Xtra Fine LCD display is offered in tandem with a Tru-Finder electronic viewfinder to make sure you see everything in frame before snapping away.
While it may be the lone camera on this list under $1,000, Olympus’ OM-D E-M5 Mark II offers a 16-megapixel TruePic VII image processor. Up to 40 percent smaller and lighter than the traditional DSLR, the Olympus has an ergonomically friendly weather-sealed body that’s splashproof, dustproof and freezeproof. And even though it's the cheapest on the list, it doesn't skimp on features. It has a powerful five-axis image stabilization system to reduce blur resulting from a shaky camera hand and 10 frames per second high-speed shooting. As with most full-frame cameras, the Olympus includes video, but goes beyond some of its higher-priced competition by offering 1080p Full HD video capture at 60, 30, 25, and 24fps.
One area where the Olympus does fall with its budget listing is battery life. At 310 photos, it’s short, but the partnership of image quality and budget pricing means a (separately purchased) secondary battery isn’t out of the question. Beyond battery, the Olympus helps view captured photos and peruse the menu on a three-inch LCD display that flips out to the side and rotates 270 degrees in total. The interactive electronic viewfinder offers complete control at eye level for capturing day or night shots whether you’re in the studio or on a mountaintop. Throw in Wi-Fi for transferring photos to a smartphone or computer and the result is a fantastic budget-friendly shooter that makes an excellent camera, especially if you’re into landscape and portrait image capture.
Built with an EN-EL15 rechargeable li-ion battery, the Nikon D850 is able to take 1,840 still images on a single charge (that’s about 70 hours of 4K video.) It’s the No. 1 New Release in DSLR Cameras on Amazon, and it’s sure to last you an entire weekend without the need for charging if you take it with you on vacation.
The Nikon D850 is designed with a backside touchscreen illuminated full-frame image sensor with no optical low-pass filter. The heavyweight camera uses 45.7 megapixels for extreme resolution quality and superior dynamic range for far distance shots, never skipping on quality. It’s able to capture nine frames per second with full resolution without any decline in image resolutions either. You’ll be able to record 4K Ultra HD videos, as well as an 8K time lapse using an interval timer. There's also a slow motion capture up to 120 FPS at a full 1080p resolution.
When it comes to exceptional photo results, the 45.7-megapixel Nikon D850 DSLR delivers in a big way. Fortunately, this camera is more than just megapixels, with other highlights including a 153-point autofocus system, 4K video recording and time-lapses, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, as well as seven frames-per-second burst shots. Beyond its feature set, the design weighs around two pounds and has a comfortable grip that feels just right in the hand.
For long-time Nikon users, the control set will be instantly familiar, with buttons organized in standard Nikon fashion, although you’ll find a dedicated dial on the left side and the ISO button has been replaced with a Mode button. The 3.2-inch tilting LCD is equally exceptional and has touchscreen support that allows simple and quick menu navigation.
While its megapixel count might not be as high as some of its counterparts, the Pentax KP 24.32-megapixel DSLR camera offers a standout combination of photography and protection against the elements. Dustproof and water-resistant, the Pentax can handle extreme conditions all the way down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit before failing to operate. Its slim body design helps it function perfectly for casual photography or on hiking trails.
As the first APS-C camera to integrate shake reduction, the Pentax offers a five-axis mechanism to help counterbalance the camera against natural shaking from the hand to provide exceptional photographic results with each shutter press. Additionally, the KP is designed for ISO sensitivity 819,200, which makes it a great choice for nighttime photography shooting. The tilting LCD helps the photographer with both high and low angle shooting.
Canon’s quest to dominate the full-frame market continues with the EOS 5D Mark IV and its 30.4 megapixel DIGIC CMOS sensor. The larger resolution of the Mark IV offers a superb balance between resolution and dynamic range while still maintaining Canon’s reputation for top-notch color output. To assist with capturing the perfect shot every time, Canon included a fast and accurate 61-point autofocus system, as well as up to 7 frames per second continuous shooting speed to make sure you capture fast-moving subjects with ease. It’s the latter bit that makes the Mark IV perfect for photographing weddings, portraits and sporting events.
Canon designed the Mark IV to be tough and, while it’s ergonomically comfortable and lightweight for a full-frame camera at 1.8 pounds, the addition of weather sealing makes it suitable for the elements. Additionally, Canon added 4K video resolution at 30 fps with a super easy-to-use interface and a quick method for grabbing 8.8-megapixel single images from your video footage. Throw in ISO range from 100-32000 with 50-102400 expansion and it’s easy to see why the Mark IV is a full-frame photographers dream. Rounding out the feature set is a 3.2-inch fixed-position LCD touchscreen that allows you to thumb through the menus and select options, as well as swipe through images and pinch-to-zoom, which feels right at home due to the smartphone world.
Pentax’s 645Z may have been released in June 2014, but the 51.4-megapixel CMOS sensor camera is still a photographer’s delight. With a battery life that exceeds 650 photos, the 645Z is proof that age doesn't always have to matter. As a medium format camera, there’s no question the price tag is going to be very high before you even add in the purchase of the lens, so it's definitely not geared for the casual shooter. Medium format excels at enlarging photos without losing detail and does so better than a standard DLSR camera.
There’s a little bit of a learning curve with the Pentax, but once you get a hold of the camera’s feature set, it’s a dream come true for landscape shots. It might be easy to sum up the Pentax as an oversized DSLR with a larger sensor, but at 3.42 pounds you’re going to know when you’re holding the Pentax. But despite its hefty weight, it’s ergonomically designed to be both comfortable and at the ready on a moment’s notice. The tiltable 3.2-inch LCD monitor is perfect to preview images right after capture. There are 27 autofocus points to help track a subject with manual focus equally as viable with the bright viewfinder.
Ultimately, the Pentax comes down to image quality and it is incredible. Photography is colorful and full of life, with dynamic range (up to ISO 204,800) that can be stretched to the limit. Full HD video capture at up to 60fps is outstanding and as vibrant as one could imagine with such a high-resolution shooter. So if you’re looking to capture and print at the highest detail, the 645Z is calling your name (and wallet).
Compatibility - When you buy an interchangeable lens camera, the manufacturer is essentially locking you into its hardware ecosystem—so don’t take this decision lightly. For example, Nikon lenses can’t be used on Canon cameras and vice versa. If you already own an array of hardware from one brand, your best bet may be sticking to it.
Design - While most DSLR cameras look largely the same, there are small nuances in their shape and button layout that can make or break your shooting experience. If possible, hold the camera in your hands and play around with different settings to make sure it’s comfortable to shoot with.
Price - Any photographer knows that between the cameras, lenses, and peripherals, photography can be an expensive hobby. Luckily, there are still plenty of reasonably priced camera options on the market. However, a cheaper price tag often comes with compromises, like a smaller image sensor or lack of 4K video. If you’re on a tight budget, it’s important to prioritize which features are important to you as you’ll likely need to make some sacrifices.