Each month we poll a list of journalists, photographers and experts from around the world on what still cameras they think are the best on the market right now for working professionals. Though the gear is only a fraction of the equation, most of us who are deep in this industry face a daily onslaught of questions from our friends and their friends: What camera should I buy? What do pros use? Though the answers are always more nuanced than they expect, we generally try and help. This list helps narrow the list, put a finger on the pulse of the industry, and serve as a decent “overall these are your best options” for just about anyone serious about photography.
This month we added four new voters: Zach Sutton (Fstoppers & LensRentals), Hanssie Ho (SLR Lounge), Dave Kai-Piper (UK-based Fashion Photographer) and the legendary Roger Cicala (founder of LensRentals and pretty much the smartest and most in-tune dude in the camera evaluation industry). What resulted from the last month of changes? Well, we expected some shifts due to the announcement of the Sony a7R II, new firmware for the Fuji X-T1 and more folks getting their hands on the Canon 5Ds/ 5DS R and the Phase One XF System… but what we saw was a bit more dramatic than I was ever expecting.
#1 – Fuji XT-1
(Up 8) In rather shocking form, the Fuji X-T1 shoots up the rankings and claims the new #1 spot, making nearly every voter’s list and scoring highly through the range. Why? Well, you could probably look at the new updated firmware, which gives an already great camera new life. The update gave the camera a completely rebuilt 49 point autofocus system that’s faster and more accurate, eye detection and auto macro. Basically, this older camera feels like a brand new toy thanks to the update, and it’s clear from the rankings, it’s got a lot of attention on it. Look at it this way: not everyone needs a big DSLR anymore to create beautiful images. The Fuji is excellent at providing amazing quality in a handy, well-loved package. And you know what? It’s darn affordable to boot.
#2 – Nikon D810
(Down 1) The Nikon D810 is still a fabulous camera, and most professionals will tell you it’s their “go-to” if they shoot Nikon. The D810’s fall from #1 is more about the fanfare surrounding the newcomers to this list, not anything that has happened specifically to the D810.
#3 – Pentax 645z
(Up 2) Medium format for the masses! We have loved this camera from the moment we set eyes on it, and that opinion is certainly spreading. The Pentax jumps up two spots to claim number 3, and it’s a spot it deserves. Why would a medium format camera be below a smaller sensor like the one found in the Fuji? Well, the Fuji is just a bit more approachable. The Pentax is also far less widespread… But it’s getting there.
#4 – Sony a7R II
(New to List) Well, we knew it would show up here in some form. The Sony a7R II is a very, very impressive camera on paper. So why isn’t it higher? We haven’t really been able to get anything more than a passing glance at footage taken on the sensor or any photos, but those will come. Adam Ottke points to the price: over $3,000. Sony’s latest A7 product is expensive for what it is — especially when you compare it to similar weather-sealed DSLR offerings from Nikon and Canon. But the in-body 5-axis image stabilization, 42MP of sensor data (perhaps a happy compromise between the Nikon D810 and the Canon 5DS?), in-camera 4K video, and an almost ridiculous 399 phase-detect autofocus points make it a serious proposition for the on-the-go photographer that wants a top-end, ultra-high-resolution body.Right now, it’s on the list because of what it is capable of, and how other Sony cameras have fared in recent months. We’re expecting a lot from this guy, so let’s hope it can live up to the hype.
(Down 1) The Canon 5Ds and 5Ds R is just barely edged out of its former spot by the newcomer Sony A7R II, and that’s to be expected. There is a lot of fanfare surrounding the Sony, but the Canon is proving to be a camera worth remembering. We expect to see it on this list for many months to come.
#6 – Sony a7 II
(Down 3) There isn’t anything wrong with the Sony A7 II, it’s just not as bright and shiny as it once was thanks to the newcomer a7R II. Roger Cicala of LensRentals says that its sensor and performance are great, he only wishes it had more lenses. I think that’s a sentiment we all share with regards to the entire Sony line.
#7 – Canon 5D Mark III
(Down 4) The 5D Mark III is a workhorse, there is no denying that. It was given points by nearly every voter, but unfortunately its age is clearly showing. It’s still an outstanding camera, but it’s on its way down and the sensor’s dynamic range, color rendition and performance are being edged out by newer cameras.
#8 – Nikon D750
(No Change) The D750 stays firmly in place at #8. Why? Well, it’s a great all around camera. It takes great photos (that are pretty close to on par with the D800) and really sharp, crisp and beautiful video.
#9 – Sony a7s
(Down 2) The a7s was never really a “still” camera to begin with, so seeing it fall a bit is expected. The photos are only a small 12 megapixels, but that ISO performance is something to still be stunned by.
#10 – Phase One XF
(New To List) Finally, the new Phase One XF makes the list after about a month of action on the market. The sensor is no different than what we have come to expect out of Phase, but the body is vastly improved. Better autofocus and a more snappy firmware makes this camera a lot more pleasant to shoot with than its predecessor. Unfortunately, the incredibly high price point makes it somewhat intangible on the open market for anyone other than a very invested pro. Adam Ottke summarizes it perfectly: “Bringing everything from better, faster, in-house autofocus to a new design, programmable buttons, and increased modularity, the XF is a medium format worth paying for… if you need it all.”
- Roger Cicala, LensRentals
- Jaron Schneider- Resource Magazine, Commercial Videographer
- Zach Sutton, Fstoppers & LensRentals
- David J. Crewe- Portrait and Landscape Photographer
- Blair Bunting – Advertising Photographer
- David Kai-Piper- Fashion Photographer
- Adam Ottke- Fstoppers, Portrait and Travel Photographer
- Hanssie Ho- Portrait Photographer, SLR Lounge
- Mike Wilkinson- Fstoppers, Resource Magazine, Commercial and Adventure Videographer
- Casey McCallister- Landscape and Adventure Photographer
- Michael Bonocore- Resource Magazine, Commercial Videographer and Travel Photographer
- Karaminder Ghuman- Resource Magazine, Headshot Photographer
- Adam Sherwin- Resource Magazine
How are votes calculated? Each voter submits his/her top ten cameras. Each #1 pick gains 10 points, #2 picks gain 9 points, and so on and so forth. All values are calculated together and a final score is given to each camera.