It’s going to be a heck of a shopping season for photographers looking to join the ranks of the mirrorless. As Canon and Nikon both announce their new (and hotly anticipated) mirrorless cameras, pro photography’s largest manufacturers officially enter a competitive market space Sony and Fujifilm have dominated in recent years.
With pre-orders for Nikon and Canon’s new entries underway and Sony and Fujifilm sales continuing to surge, we wanted to take a moment to review the playing field so we asked Click Pros which camera brands they’re planning to buy and which features (new and existing) they’re looking for when they shop for a mirrorless camera.
Mirrorless is ideally suited for a photography market demanding consistent performance, top quality technology and pristine optical performance, all packaged in a portable and compact body. In other words, the race is on.
A busy year for mirrorless
In August of 2018, Nikon unveiled its much anticipated mirrorless system. Instead of one camera, the company surprised us with two new mirrorless models: the Nikon Z7 ($3,396.95) and Nikon Z6 ($1,996.95), also introducing an FTZ mount adapter and three new mirrorless S-mount lenses. Following just a few weeks later, Canon revealed its new full-frame mirrorless Canon EOS R camera ($2,299), three EF-EOS R mount adapters, and four new RF mount lenses, including a super fast zoom and 50mm prime.
Just a day after Canon’s introduction, Fujifilm announced an upgrade to its popular X-T2 camera, the new X-T3 ($1,499), evolving its X Series into its fourth generation.
Earlier in the year (February 2018), we saw the introduction of the beloved Sony a7 III (the Sony a7R III was released just a few months earlier in October of 2017). Loaded with features Sony fans couldn’t resist, the a7 III quickly became a golden child for the Sony brand and an easy entry point for Sony to woo new mirrorless enthusiasts at a reasonable price point of only $2,000. We saw Click Pros adopt the a7 III as their second camera system, some even ditching their DSLRs altogether in favor of this more compact and feature-loaded system.
Pros are looking for a lighter, more portable camera with brilliant design and great build quality.
Size and weight are big issues because we’re obsessed with carrying our cameras everywhere we go. You just never know when you’ll stumble upon a photo-worthy scene or a beautiful, fleeting moment. Best to have a camera on hand! Photographers who love capturing daily life (yes, even a routine trip to Target), love lighter, more compact cameras to carry in their everyday bags.
But photographers don’t want to compromise in terms of build quality, design, handling, or weather sealing options. Though smaller and more compact, an intuitive design with smart button placement, a comfortable grip, and solid build quality is just as important. Brand-loyal users want the camera to feel familiar in their hands, but innovation is indeed welcome. Ergonomics are key, because we need the cameras to feel like an extension of our minds.
Nikon Z7 and Z6
The Nikon Z7 and Z6 are reportedly “unmistakably Nikon” with similar button and dial placement as other Nikon DSLRs. The Z7 is 26 percent lighter than the D850 yet maintains outstanding handling and balance. The Nikon mirrorless cameras, lenses, and mount adapters are weather sealed against dust and moisture, just like other high-end Nikon DLSRs. The Z7 and Z6 weigh in at 20.7 ounces, and overall size is considerably smaller than the Nikon D850.
Canon EOS R
The dust- and weather-resistant Canon EOS R weighs approximately 23.4 ounces, which is quite a bit lighter than the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV (31.39 ounces) and the EOS 1D-X Mark II (53.97 ounces). The new Multi-Function bar on the Canon EOS R has our interest piqued. It appears that the bar will allow users to either slide or tap the bar to easily access to their customizable settings.
Sony a7R III and a7 III
The Sony a7R III weighs 23.2 ounces and the Sony a7 III is approximately 23 ounces. The a7 III has a cool feature which allows the user to choose up to 30 menu items to be registered for instant recall in “My Menu.” Bonus points to Sony for greatly extending battery life in the alpha III series cameras. We’re hearing reports of approximately double the amount of shooting time compared to older models. That’s impressive!
We’ve always been fond of the aesthetics of Fujifilm cameras. The styling reminds us of our favorite classic film cameras, and we love the look of the silver and black together. The X-T3 has popular design features such as dials on the top panel, a central viewfinder style, and excellent grip comfort. The Fujifilm X-T3 weighs approximately 19 ounces, while the medium format Fujifilm GFX 50R is 29.1 ounces.
Prioritizing full-frame sensors, fast image processors, and great image quality at high ISOs.
While cameras with APS-C sensors are highly desirable for many photographers to use for everything from professional shoots to everyday use, we’re seeing a lot of pros opting for full-frame mirrorless cameras for a variety of reasons. Pros want the best image quality possible in the best package with the best features. For natural light and low light shooters, being able to shoot at a high ISO and create a clean, high quality image is crucial. And for landscape, documentary and outdoor shooters, the broad dynamic range offered by large image sensors is key. And of course portrait photographers love the pairing of full frame cameras with fast lenses to create gorgeous shallow depths of field. When comparing systems there are always trade-offs, but we’ve seen our share of pros say they are unwilling to compromise when it comes to full-frame sensors and lightning fast image processors.
Sony has a reputation for amazing sensors. Both the Sony a7 III and the Sony a7R III have a 35mm full frame Exmor R® CMOS sensor, and 24.2 effective megapixels and 42.4 effective megapixels, respectively. Sony reports that their new generation image processing system paired with a new sensor achieves up to a 1.5-stop improvement in image quality. In addition, a wide ISO sensitivity range of up to ISO 51200 is standard, and approximately up to 15-stop dynamic range at low sensitivity settings is achieved.
The Fujifilm X-series mirrorless cameras have high quality APS-C sensors, and the X-T3 in particular features a 23.5mm by 15.6mm (APS-C) X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor with 26.1 megapixels. This sensor uses a unique color filter array to control moire and false color without the use of an optical low-pass filter. The X-T3 has a new X-Processor 4 image processing engine, ushering in a new, fourth generation of the X Series.
The Nikon Z7 has an FX format CMOS sensor with 45.7 megapixels, whereas the Z6 has an FX format CMOS sensor with 24.5 effective megapixels. The Z7 offers ISO 64 to 25600 in steps of 1/3 or 1/2 EV. The Z6 offers an ISO range of 100 to 51200 in steps of 1/3 or 1/2 EV. The new EXPEED 6 image-processing engine is ideal for sharp and clear images.
The Canon EOS R has a 30.3 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor, which means large individual pixels for great image detail and low noise (ISO 100 to 40000 in 1/3-stop or whole-stop increments). It’s powered by the DIGIC 8 Image Processor, which turbocharges operations for great performance and enhances image stabilization.
An accurate, fast, advanced focus system is EVERYTHING.
Some of the most exciting advancements we’ve seen recently have come in focusing systems. The systems are faster and more accurate and have sweet options like focus peaking, eye autofocus (AF), and loads more selectable focus points. One thing’s for sure, we’re smitten with these new advancements and can only imagine they are here to stay.
Sony has been wooing customers with their advanced focus system options for stills and video shooters for quite some time, and they’ve won over a large contingent of fans who couldn’t imagine living without Sony features. We can’t wait to learn more about how the new Nikon and Canon introductions will perform in comparison — we expect Canon and Nikon will be great performers in this arena.
When it comes to autofocus, Sony has a lot to boast about. We’ve been hearing rave review from pros for quite some time, especially when it comes to focus peaking and eye AF. The Sony a7 III features 693 phase-detection AF points and 425 contrast-detection AF points for high-density, wide-area coverage. We also love the super fast AF and more precise AF tracking performance in this model. Eye AF newly supports AF-C mode with greater precision that dramatically enhances portrait shooting, plus higher AF speed that makes it easier to shoot a portrait of a moving subject, even if the subject looks down and away from the camera or is backlit with their face in partial darkness. How cool is that?!
Kaela L Elliott: “I love my Sony a7 III! I love the size, the focus peaking, and the eye AF! Eye AF will find the eye of a person and follow it even when the person is wearing glasses and they are moving around. It’s so cool!”
Ebony Logins: “I can’t get over Sony’s eye-aware focus system. It is a lifesaver at weddings and I’m so pleased with this feature! Now that I’ve gotten to work with it, I don’t think I could ever go without it!”
The new Fujifilm X-T3 is definitely a jump up from the X-T2 when it comes to autofocus. The X-T3 now has a phase detection AF area that covers the entire frame, and the low-light AF sensitivity has been extended from -1EV to -3EV. It also has substantially improved performance when using face-detection AF on a moving person, and eye-detection AF now works in AF-C mode.
Nikon’s new mirrorless cameras feature impressive hybrid phase-detection/contrast AF systems. The Z7 has 493 focus points and the Z6 has 273 on-sensor AF points which cover approximately 90 percent of the frame. The new subject tracking AF means the camera can smoothly track your subject’s face, even when it’s one of many.
The Canon EOS R features Dual Pixel CMOS AF, with tons of great features like a whopping 5,655 manually selectable AF points, a focus area that covers approximately 88 percent horizontal and 100 percent vertical, brilliant low light autofocus, lightning fast autofocus of 0.05 seconds, and a variety of AF modes. It has touch and drag AF, meaning that you can select a focus point on the touchscreen LCD which then shows up in the electronic viewfinder (EVF). It also offers Eye Detection AF, which means the camera automatically uses the subject’s eye as the autofocus point and maintains focus as the subject moves through the frame.
Fast lenses with superb optical performance are at the top of our wish list.
If there’s one thing we know about pro photographers, it’s that almost all of us suffer from lens lust. Great quality glass is a top consideration when choosing a camera system. Pros are considering what lenses are already available, what will be released, and how adapters will function with lenses they may already own and love.
Given that Sony has been in the mirrorless market for years, they already offer a full range of top quality prime and zoom lenses. In addition, Zeiss manufactures an impressive lineup of compact, high-performance lenses for Sony E-mount cameras that pros love.
We are also big fans of Sigma and Tamron lenses, and both companies are making pretty sweet options for Sony E-mount cameras that have been very well received. It will be some time before these companies begin offering lenses compatible with the new Canon and Nikon mirrorless cameras. If you want a full range of lens options without the need for an adapter, you’re wise to check out the many options available for Sony E-mount cameras. You can also read about a few of our fave new lenses here.
Like Sony, there are lots of Fujinon lens options available for Fujifilm cameras. They have a great range of fast primes and useful zooms. X-mount lenses are known for their top of the line optical performance.
Nikon and Canon are also developing lenses for their mirrorless systems that will push the boundaries when it comes to optical performance. With the larger lens mounts and shorter flange distances, the future looks bright for new lens development from both brands. The new Canon RF mount features a high-speed 12-pin communication system that provides faster and more in-depth communication between the camera and lens over existing Canon mount systems. RF lenses will incorporate a control ring on the lens barrel that can directly adjust numerous settings including shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation and more.
We also think it’s pretty cool that the EOS R camera can display lens information right in the viewfinder (super handy for zoom users). And last but not least, select RF lenses feature optical image stabilization technology to reduce camera shake blur in stills and video.
New Canon RF-mount lenses
Canon is releasing four lenses this fall, including the RF 28-70mm f/2 L USM ($2,999), RF 50mm f/1.2 L USM ($2,229), RF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM ($1,099), and RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM ($499.99). We’ve already seen pros expressing serious interest in the 50 f/1.2 and the f/2 zoom.
Jaye Murphy McLaughlin: “A zoom that opens up to f/2.0? That’s what blew my mind… I already have a Fujifilim X-T2 for personal use, Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and alllll the lenses for work, but I’ll be watching this for sure.”
New Nikkor Z-mount lenses
The new generation of Nikkor lenses for mirrorless cameras will have the revolutionary Z mount. The larger mount and short flange distance means Nikkor Z lenses can gather substantially more light and have maximum apertures of up to f/0.95. Nikon is also touting the fact that these new lenses will be sharp edge to edge and just as sharp wide open as at any other f-stop (we love that!). These lenses also offer a customizable control ring that can be used for manual focusing, aperture control, or exposure compensation. Even at their widest apertures, Z lenses supposedly show no distortion. Paired with the Z series cameras’ in-camera image stabilization system, we can’t wait to see how these lenses perform for video.
Nikon is releasing three Z-mount lenses this fall, including the NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S ($999.95), NIKKOR Z 35mm f/1.8 S ($849.95), and NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S ($599.95). Nikon also released a projected timeline of numerous additional lenses planned to be released over the next several years.
Of note, especially for those who love wide maximum apertures, Canon is releasing a super-fast RF mount f/1.2 lens at the same time as the EOS R camera. In contrast, Nikon won’t be releasing a Z-mount f/1.2 lens until 2020, according to their projected lens launch timeline. However, Nikon does plan to release the much anticipated NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct in 2019, and consumers are already excited to see how this super fast manual focus lens performs in the field.
Mount adapters from Nikon and Canon are a game changer.
Nikon and Canon shooters are so pumped about the mount adapters that will allow them to use the glass they already own and love on a new mirrorless camera. Canon has created mount adapters to offer seamless connection from the EOS R to EF and EF-S lenses with all functions intact. Likewise, Nikon created the FTZ Mount Adapter ($249.95) so Nikon users can use all F-mount lenses on the Nikon Z system mirrorless cameras. This opens up a world of possibilities for Nikon and Canon shooters, and makes entry into the mirrorless world a little less expensive – they just need to purchase a camera and a mount adapter and they’re off. This is a big bonus for those who want to dip their toes into mirrorless without fully committing to purchasing a body and multiple lenses. (Of course there are third party adapters that allow Canon and Nikon lenses to be used on Sony mirrorless cameras, for example, but we’ve also heard those can come with some loss of functionality or glitches.) Nikon reports that the FTZ adapter is especially ideal for use with over 90 E, G, and D-type lenses, where it fully maintains autofocus and auto-exposure capabilities.
Canon went one step further than Nikon by offering not one but three optional mount adapters: the Mount Adapter EF-EOS R ($399), the Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R ($199), and the Drop-in Filter Mount Adapter EF-EOS R ($299). Canon EF lens users can take full advantage of the EOS system by using any EF/EF-S lens with the EOS R camera if they purchase any of the mount adapters, including one featuring a customizable control ring and another allowing you to drop in a circular polarizing or variable ND filter.
Margaret Albaugh: “I’m considering [a Nikon mirrorless] but apparently it doesn’t have dual cards and I don’t like that I need an adapter. I could use an adapter with a Sony just as easily. I’ve heard, though, that the adapter for Sony slows the AF so people tend to miss focus. I’m worried that’ll be the case with the Nikon adapter. So I’m gonna wait and see how the reviews are.”
Dual card slots are a must for many.
Dual card slots aren’t just a modern convenience for many photographers, they are a necessity. Shooting a wedding, birth, and other once-in-a-lifetime event without the ability to redundantly record precious data is considered unacceptable by many pros. And even many who shoot wildlife, family or child portraits, or other client work won’t consider a camera with a single slot.
While Sony and Fujifilm listened to customer feedback and have incorporated dual card slots into some of their cameras, Canon’s EOS R camera and Nikon’s Z6 and Z7 cameras both have single slots. Canon opted for an SD memory card slot and Nikon went with an XQD memory card slot. Some are speculating that Canon and Nikon didn’t want to cut into their pro-level DSLR sales and reserved certain pro features for bestsellers like the Canon 5D Mark IV and the Nikon D850. We shall see what Canon and Nikon choose to do in future mirrorless models with regard to single vs. dual card slots. The Sony a7 III has two slots, one for SD (UHS-I/II compliant) and one multi slot for Memory Stick Duo™/SD (UHS-I compliant). The newest mirrorless from Fujifilm, the X-T3, has dual UHS-II SD card slots. The Fujifilm X-H1 also features dual card slots.
Ebony Logins: “[Single card slots are] totally a deal breaker for me! Not many mirrorless cameras are made with wedding photography in mind. I’m so happy with my Sony a7R III.”
Kate Luber: “I’m definitely intrigued [by this new Nikon mirrorless]. I currently only have one Nikon body and have to rent a backup for events and I’m seriously considering this as my backup. [The single card slot] is a biiiiiig factor for me. I like safeguards. If it had two slots, I would order today.”
Amy Fuller Ames: “The idea of one card slot terrifies me.”
Lynette Clark Davis: “No dual card slots! 😭😭😭 While I only photograph portraits — things that can be re-done — I recently lost a card with my great-aunt’s portrait on it and I still haven’t completely recovered. I am so torn! Because I love the idea of a mirrorless Nikon.”
Give us bright, high resolution touchscreen LCD monitors.
Oh, how we love bright and brilliant LCD monitors! All the newest mirrorless options we’re covering in this post offer touchscreen technology, and they tilt or swivel to some degree. We’re giving the nod to the Canon EOS R for most exciting screen of the recent launches. Not only does it offer an impressive 2.1 million dot resolution, but it’s a 3.15 inch Vari-Angle LCD, which means you can actually swivel the screen out to the side and flip it so it’s facing the same direction as the lens. Vloggers, video shooters, and self-portrait lovers will adore this feature.
Both the Nikon Z6 and Z7 have tilting touch-sensitive LCD monitors, 3.2 inches on the diagonal, 2.1 million dots (thank you, Nikon!), and an impressive 170 degree viewing angle (up and down tilt). The Sony a7 III offers a 2.95 inch wide tilt screen (tilts up by approximately 107 degrees and down by approximately 41 degrees), and 921,600 dots. At less than half the resolution of the Canon and Nikon mirrorless, you will definitely notice (especially video shooters who rely on a bright screen for recording outdoors). The Sony a7R III does better on resolution with 1.44 million dots. The new Fujifilm X-T3 has a 3.0 inch, 1.04 million dots touchscreen color LCD monitor, and bonus that the touchscreen panel tilts in three directions.
A camera that is perfect for shooting both stills and video? Yes, please.
It’s no secret that video shooters have been flocking to Sony mirrorless for a number of reasons, but the new Fujifilm, Nikon, and Canon mirrorless cameras will have videophiles considering these new options. In this new wave of mirrorless cameras, be prepared to be wowed by the video capabilities. These cameras are being manufactured with filmmakers in mind, and that is a great thing for everyone combining film and stills in a single session, birth photographers, and those creating family or adventure films.
Sony a7 III video
Let’s start with the Sony a7 III. The powerhouse offers 4k (3820 by 2160 pixels) video across the full width of the sensor. It offers an HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) picture profile to support HDR workflow (great for maintaining detail in highlights and shadows). Both S-Log2 and S-Log3 are available for increased color grading flexibility, as well as Zebra functionality, Gamma Display assist, and proxy recording. The a7 III can record full HD at 120 fps, allowing for beautiful slow motion in full HD with AF tracking. It’s handling is great for video shooters with huge gains in battery performance, and the in-camera image stabilization is certainly appreciated.
Fujifilm X-T3 video
Fujifilm’s new X-T3 is being heralded as the best camera Fujifilm has released when it comes to video performance, and it’s the first APS-C mirrorless to record in 10-bit internally. That’s important to note because 10-bit color depth has 64 times the color information versus an 8-bit depth system. The X-T3 supports 4k/60p 10-bit HDMI output and 4k/60p 10-bit internal SD card recording simultaneously, which means you can record backup video or attach an external monitor and see 4k/60p footage. These features paired with improved low light capability, 120fps in full HD mode, and an excellent AF system with eye-detection/face-detection in video mode makes this a strong contender for filmmakers.
Nikon Z6 video
The Nikon Z6 is described as a “portable cinematic powerhouse.” It can capture 16:9 4k UHD/30p video in full frame using the total width and resolution of the sensor. There is no crop factor when using full-frame Nikkor Z and F-mount Nikkor lenses with the FTZ adapter. We love that it offers focus peaking in both 4k and 1080p recording. Pros will appreciate advanced features like 10-bit N-log for 12-stop dynamic range, timecoding, electronic vibration reduction, and 10-bit HDMI output. Plus the control ring built in Nikkor Z lenses can be used to quietly and smoothly adjust settings such as aperture and exposure compensation.
Canon EOS R video
Canon’s EOS R camera offers lots of sweet options for filmmakers, too. We see focus peaking in video mode and the super cool Dual Pixel Focus Guide feature, which displays where the position of focus is relative to the subject. The camera includes 4k 30fps, full HD 60fps, and HD 120fps, plus built-in Canon Log gamma for image quality with 12-stops dynamic range. The EOS R has an HDMI port for outputting recorded video directly to an external drive at 10-bit when shooting with Canon Log.
Will pros jump in right away or hold out? Will they make a switch to a different brand?
For the die-hard, brand-loyal holdouts who have been enviously watching the mirrorless rollouts by Fujifilm and Sony, the recent Nikon and Canon news was definitely exciting. Are these new entries enough to keep Canon and Nikon users with their own brands? Or will they look to Fujifilm and Sony for tried-and-true mirrorless alternatives?
We’ve seen our fair share of pros jump right on a pre-order list for both Canon and Nikon, but some are saying they are going to wait for more in depth reviews once the camera is actually in the hands of a lot of users. Eager to avoid the kinks that sometimes come with early adoption of a new technology, some are opting to wait six months or so before making a decision.
Many photographers who wanted to jump in with a mirrorless system have already done so with Sony or Fujifilm since they’ve had great options available for a couple years now. We’ve seen many Sony and Fujifilm users say that they love their cameras and that the new Canon and Nikon options won’t lure them to switch.
There’s one thing we know for sure: The mirrorless revolution has ignited a whole wave of exciting innovation and strong interest from pros. Whether they are planning to stick with a beloved DSLR system or not, everyone is curious, asking questions, and having conversations about mirrorless cameras. And we love it!
Dawne Carlisle: “Now that I’ve read the specifics I’m really interested in the Canon EOS R. The range of lenses offered looks interesting; 24-105mm is my hands down favorite travel lens of all time. The 50mm f/1.2 would be a great portrait lens. And the fact that I can use the adapter is an added bonus for our other Canon lenses such as my beloved macro.”
Caroline Jensen: “I think Sony is still years ahead of the competition and they continue to release cameras and lenses that meet my every need as a photographer! I love Zebra stripe metering, color customization, and especially Eye-AF, which totally changes the playing field for composing and focusing while interacting with your subject.”
What are Click Pros saying?
Erin Wagnild: “Yasss!! I’ve been waiting for this. Pre-ordered the Z6 and adapter.”
Kathleen Cashman: “My knees are shaking. I am a luster of gear, and I lust for the Nikon Z7. Of course I’m going to order.”
Deborah Koch: “I like to let everyone get if first and tell me how amazing it is. I never get the latest product when it comes to technology. One, because it’s always expensive when comes out, and two, because I think it will have an issue that will need to be fixed.”
Nina Mingioni: “I have been a Canon gal for a long time. I have been holding out for a Canon full frame mirrorless and will be trying this one for sure.”
Michelle Turner: “My Fujifilm cameras are everything I need and more. They let me fully realize my artistic vision while allowing me to travel light and remain unobtrusive at the same time. I also find that I spend so much less time post-processing because the images are just gorgeous straight out of the camera.”
What’s coming next?
That’s always the big question. We can anticipate more innovation, more advanced features, and more new cameras and lens introductions. But for now, we’re so happy with what we’re seeing. We are just as eager as you are to get our hands on these new cameras!
We will update this post as we are able to review test models, more cameras hit the market, and more users share real life testimonials about these new mirrorless cameras.
What features are you loving? What could you never live without? Most of all, what system are you going to go with?! Tell us what you think in the comments!