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It seems mirrorless camera technology has finally come of age, with new cameras in this segment dominating headlines over their heftier older sibling, the DSLR. Many of these cameras feature some incredible or even revolutionary features that potentially put them at the top of the pack once dominated by larger cameras. So, let’s just jump right in and take a look at fifteen of the latest and most impressive releases from the past year.
Making a huge splash in the mirrorless pool was Leica, who recently released an incredibly well-designed, full-frame mirrorless camera: the SL (Typ 601). This model raises the bar on numerous fronts with a best-in-class 4.4MP EyeRes electronic viewfinder with 0.8x magnification, internal DCI 4K video recording with the V-Log L gamma, and phenomenal 24MP images at up to ISO 50000, with a burst rate of 11 fps. Also, Leica is claiming to have the fastest AF system available in a full-frame camera.
Along with the excellent feature set, the SL (Typ 601) benefits from Leica’s made-in-Germany aesthetic and build quality, with a large grip, a top LCD, and rear LED touchscreen. The body is also weather resistant and made from two blocks of solid aluminum alloy. Connectivity is taken seriously, as well, with two SD card slots (one featuring the super fast UHS-II standard), USB 3.0, a full-sized HDMI port for 4:2:2 10-bit video output, and built-in Wi-Fi and GPS modules.
After successive years of spectacular and surprising releases, Sony has yet again brought to the table a revolutionary new model that took the market by storm: the a7R II. This, of course, is going to sit at the top of many mirrorless lists with its world’s-first back side illuminated full-frame Exmor R CMOS sensor that can create impressive 42-megapixel images at sensitivities up to an incredible ISO 102400. On top of this, the a7R II takes things a step further with internal 4K UHD recording, a 5-axis SteadyShot INSIDE stabilization system, and a revamped 399-point phase-detect AF system.
Following up on the a7R II and a7 II, Sony completed its update cycle by releasing the a7S II, which takes the 12-megapixel Exmor CMOS sensor and adds internal 4K UHD recording, S-Log3 with Gamma Display Assist, and a Fast Intelligent AF system with 169 points. It also gains the 5-axis SteadyShot INSIDE stabilization system and the spacious EVF found in the a7R II. Users looking for even more video-centric benefits will be pleased to hear that Full HD 1080p recording is now possible up to 120 fps for capturing slow motion.
Continuing their drive for high-quality APS-C format mirrorless bodies, Fujifilm took its flagship X-T1 and shrunk it down into the much more affordable and slightly slimmer X-T10. This model shares the 16.3MP X-Trans CMOS II sensor of its bigger brother, along with Full HD 1080p video at up to 60 fps, a Hybrid AF system, and 8 fps burst shooting with sensitivities up to ISO 51200, granting users the ability to create images of similar quality. Also, it takes advantage of Fujifilm’s Film Simulation modes, which mimic the look and feel of many classic film stocks.
Another surprising release this year was the X-T1 IR, an infrared-sensitive model that is optimized for specialized photographic applications. This modified design is sensitive to light in the 3800-1000nm range, compared to the usual 400-700nm range in most cameras, which is ideal for fine art photography, as well as crime scene investigation and healthcare applications.
Jumping in early this year was Samsung, with its super-compact NX500, which many dubbed a mini NX1. Sharing the same image sensor and processing power as its older sibling, this camera offered a lot of great features in a very small body, including 4K video using HEVC (H.265) compression. At its core is a 28.2MP back side illuminated APS-C CMOS sensor for high-resolution imaging with improved low-light performance up to ISO 51200. Being paired with the DRIMe V processor imbues this camera with incredible speed in the form of 9 fps burst shooting and a 205-point Phase-Detection AF system. Also, the small body manages to fit dual command dials and a 3.0" 180° tilting touchscreen for hybrid controls.
It has been a year of upgrades for Olympus’s Micro Four Thirds line with the release of both the 16MP OM-D E-M5 Mark II and OM-D E-M10 Mark II cameras. The E-M5 Mark II improves upon its predecessor with better weather sealing, time-lapse shooting, a 40MP High Res Shot mode, and faster overall performance. This is thanks to the TruePic VII processor, which also improves the shooting rate to 10 fps and ups Full HD 1080p video to 60 fps. The body has been refined, while both the rear Vari-Angle touchscreen and electronic viewfinder got nice bumps in resolution. The E-M10 Mark II has many similar upgrades, though it only hits 8.5 fps in burst shooting and omits the new 40MP High Res Shot, weather sealing, and time-lapse mode.
Alongside these more traditional cameras, Olympus also developed the Air A01 Micro Four Thirds camera. This mirrorless camera has a lens-style body and is designed to be paired with a smartphone for a truly connected and powerful imaging system. It uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for almost seamless connectivity with your phone or tablet, ensuring use is not interrupted during shooting.
Not many of these types of cameras are out right now and Olympus is making a very nice model with a 16MP MFT sensor and TruePic VII processor, which enable an electronic shutter up to 1/16000 second, Full HD 1080p video, and a FAST AF system with 10 fps shooting.
After a few years of silence following its first mirrorless, Canon is getting back into the game in a big way with the release of the EOS M3 and EOS M10 this year. The M3 is a direct successor to the earlier models and sees a much-improved 24-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, a redesigned body, and the DIGIC 6 image processor. This model offers full HD video, a Hybrid CMOS AF System with 49 points and built-in Wi-Fi connectivity with NFC, as well. The EOS M10 gives some depth to the line by being an entry-level option. It is equipped with many similar features, though it uses an 18MP ASP-C CMOS sensor and a much smaller body that forgoes a large grip. Also, the touchscreen on the M10 can tilt up 180° for selfies.
Long-awaited and desired, Panasonic released the Lumix DMC-GX8 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds camera this year with an impressive list of upgrades. The rangefinder-styled camera sees a brand-new 20.3MP Digital Live MOS sensor for higher resolution imaging along with UHD 4K video at up to 30 fps. It has a tilting screen and rear touchscreen for composition, along with a DFD AF system and multiple 4K Photo Modes. This model also benefits from the incorporation of an in-camera stabilization system and Dual I.S. with compatible lenses.
Another UHD 4K camera released this year was the Lumix DMC-G7, which leverages the combined power of the 16MP Live MOS Micro Four Thirds sensor and Venus Engine 9 processor to speed up operation and quality. This results in burst shooting up to 8 fps, sensitivities up to ISO 25600, and an SH mode that uses an electronic shutter to hit 40 fps. Also, its 4K UHD video is available at 30 or 24 fps at 100 Mbps in the MP4 format, as well as providing access to multiple 4K Photo Modes.
Relatively quiet in the mirrorless arena this year, Nikon did keep its presence known with the release of the 1 J5, a super compact mirrorless with a 20.8-megapixel CX-format BSI CMOS sensor that will deliver images with fine detail up to ISO 12800. Satisfying video shooters, this model offers internal 4K UHD recording up to 15 fps, as well as Full HD 1080p at up to 60 fps. Along with excellent video specs, photographers can take advantage of the EXPEED 5A processor’s speed with continuous shooting up to 60 fps, or 20 fps with continuous focus using the Hybrid AF system with 105 phase-detect areas. And, it features a tilting 3.0" 1,037k-dot touchscreen for control and has Wi-Fi connectivity with NFC.