Equipment & Gear
A Guide to the Best Cameras for 2018
Camera technology has advanced at a rapid pace, with some mobile phones rivaling the best camera options from even five years ago. When it comes to the best camera of 2018, it’s a close race. It has become near impossible for the consumer eye to differentiate between different brands.
What Makes a Camera the Best?
There are many photographers who remain brand loyal and assert preference over popular and traditional brands such as Canon, Nikon, or Fujifilm. But as Sony has shown, brand is no longer an indication of “the best”. Recently, a study showed that the best-selling images on 500px were taken by a consumer grade Olympus – not even one of the big three!
Outside of brand, the most obvious answer to this question is that the best camera of 2018 is the camera that is best for you. Simply put, the best camera depends on your needs and these needs point to specific features and uses.
Sure, a DSLR may shoot only 4k video, but maybe it’s ahead of the curve in still photography. The best is always relative. Rarely is there a significant difference in image quality and performance at the top. It often comes down to extra features (which you may or may not need!) and newer design. These are the features that we considered when evaluating the best cameras for 2018:
- Cost – Not surprisingly, most top-of-the-line cameras are expensive. But top-of-the-line doesn’t necessarily equate to best value. In this guide to the best cameras for 2018, we aim to get you the best bang for your buck. But fair warning – two out of our three recommendations are expensive. In these cases, we felt the cost was associated with enough value to justify the recommendation. We’re planning another article for this holiday season that focuses exclusively on the best cameras under $500.
- Ease of Use – Some cameras seem like they necessitate a PhD for operations. Comfort and ease of use is important to today’s consumer and we took this into consideration in our guide to the best cameras of 2018.
- Features –Gone are the days when the number of MPX a camera wielded served as an excellent indication of overall quality. While resolution stats have become moot, other important features certainly haven’t. Today, it’s all about what sensor, image stabilization, and autofocus a camera has. Features like body sensors, along with memory volume and speed, were included in the list of features important in the evaluation of the best cameras of 2018.
Professional DSLR Camera: Canon EOS 5d Mark IV
The 5d is a tool that plenty of professional photographers swear by. It’s recent reincarnation just edged over Nikon (yet again) in the 2017-2018 EISA awards, bringing home three different category wins. This camera also won the Technical Image Press Association (TIPA) award and received a gold standard from DPReview.
- 800g Body only
- Max battery life 1800 shots (with BG-E20 Battery Grip)
- EF Mount
- 30.4 MPX CMOS Sensor
- Self-Cleaning Sensor
- Dust Deletion feature
- 4k Video
- Pentaprism viewfinder
- Fixed Screen
- Dedicated AF sensor with 2 focusing modes
- 61 point reticular AF II autofocus system
- 7fps continuous shooting
- Dual Card Slots (CF/SD)
Notable New Features for 2018
- Improvement in dynamic range
- High quality 4k video recording capacity
- Faster autofocus
- New Dual Pixel Raw used to create better background blur and subject sharpness.
The biggest standout among cons is the continuous shooting mode. 7Fps isn’t terrible, but if you compare it to the mirrorless Sony A9 with 20fps, it certainly doesn’t look good. But for the best camera of 2018, many professionals tend to be more concerned with the speed and autofocus, which is why the 5D Mark IV wins this category hands down.
Why It’s the Best
The reason this model won out over Nikon has a lot to do with the autofocus and the sensor. While a favorable contender, the Nikon D850 (their newest full-frame model) hasn’t quite had the “wow” impression that most people expected from it; while it’s certainly still a great camera, Canon is simply better when evaluating all-around features and performance.
Mirrorless Camera: The Sony ἀ9
There’s still quite a debate going on between DSLR vs. mirrorless cameras. The downside to mirrorless cameras is that they often have fewer lenses and less available accessories. But mirrorless cameras are also lighter and easier to use. They’re trending as a possible new standard as photographers ditch their heavier bodies for more comfortable choices.
Recently, Sony has been making a lot of waves with their mirrorless innovations. The ἀ9 won the EISA 2017-2018 Product Camera of the year because it goes beyond the normal functions of a full-frame camera, yielding a stacked CMOS sensor and impressive deck of memory. The body features high-speed shooting at up to 20fps and autofocus tracking at up to 60 cps. The camera is silent and has an anti-distortion shutter to negate shake or vibration, up to a snappy 1/32,000.
- 673g Body Only
- 24.2 MPX
- E mount
- Emor RS CMOS stacked sensor
- BIONZ X processor
- 20fps continuous shooting with AF tracking
- 693 pt. wide area phase detection autofocus
- ISO 50-204800
- Anti-dust mechanism
- 5 axis image stabilization
- Electronic viewfinder with OLED
- 650 Shot max
- 2.95” TFT tilting Screen
- 1/32000 Max shutter speed
- Vibration free shutter
- Dual SD
Notable New Features for 2018
- Stacked, full frame CMOS sensor
- 20 fps continuous shooting with blackout-free technology
- Up to 60 AF/AE calculations per second, covering 93% of the view
- 1/320000 shutter speed
While making remarkable strides, Sony is still limited in their production of mirrorless lens camera accessories, as is also evident with the up-and-coming Sony AR7 II. More established camera names have had much longer to develop a wide variety of compatible accessories to their models. Since Sony is new to the camera game, it’s understandable they’re behind. The biggest issue is that by the time the accessories are released for a specific model, that model has often already been replaced with something newer. So those who value accessorizing may consistently feel a step behind.
Why It’s the Best
It’s lightning fast and reliable. Compare this innovation to the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV or V and there’s very little in features that the Sony isn’t edging out on. While Canon may still be the way to go if you need the variety of lenses and accessories, as a mirrorless camera, this option is more comfortable for most people to shoot with and can fairly provide comparable images.
Fixed Lens: Sony RX100V
Yet again, Sony won the category for the compact camera of EISA 2017-2018. This laudable camera also won silver in the DPReview and Stuff Gadget Awards rated it as the Best Compact. What catapults this camera ahead of the competition is the new sensor and processor. It has a 20.1 mpx Exmor CMOS and a BIONZ X image processor. Many of you will recognize the BIONZ X processor from higher-end models. Here, it’s been revamped and renewed for a compact camera, resulting in even better quality images from a point and shoot that is closer than ever to DSLR quality. The autofocus response time has been cut to 0.05 seconds with af tracking and it has 24 cfps. It can also shoot 4k and slow motion with a control ring not unlike those seen on consumer-grade DSLRs.
- 1.0 type Exmor RS CMOS sensor
- BIONZ X processor
- Long exposure NR
- 20 shooting modes with scene selection
- Built-in Flash
- 220 Max images/110 minutes video per battery
- 20.1 MPX
- ISO 125-12800
- ZEISS Vario Sonnar T Lens 25.7-89mm f/8-30
- 11-44x digital zoom
- 3” TFT Tilt LCD
- 0.05 second 315 point wide AF
- 24fps continuous with tracking
- Retractable OLED Viewfinder
- 20.1 MPX Exmore RS CMOS with BIONZ X processor
- 0.05s autofocus with up to 24 fps continuous shooting
- super slow motion 1000 frames per second.
- 4k video
Fixed camera lenses have certainly evolved, but these innovations have come at a cost. While one may be hard-pressed to find a poor review of this camera, the price point may exceed the budget of financially savvy shoppers. The reason for the high price tag is because this camera delivers almost as much functionality as the ἀ9, aside from the lens capability.
Why It’s the Best
For those that don’t want to spend time swapping lenses or don’t want to invest in lenses – this is the closest thing you’ll get to a one-stop camera. While it’s limited by the fact that it’s a fixed lens, the market remains full of low-end, consumer grade cameras that are nowhere near as capable as this model. It’s a clear leader in the best camera of 2018.
Much of choosing the best camera for 2018 has to do with your needs. If you’re already an enthusiast of a certain brand, then there are definite advantages to being able to continue using the same gear. However, it’s clear that Sony is going to be the brand to watch in 2018. Their push for innovation has pulled them ahead of more traditional brands. At least this year.
Here is a summary of our recommendations
- The best professional camera of 2018: Canon EOS 5d Mark IV
- The best mirrorless camera of 2018: Sony ἀ9
- The best fixed-lens camera of 2018: Sony RX100V
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