Photography / Buying Guide

16 Recommended Stylish Cameras

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I am a sucker for design. Style is subjective. Design is art and, therefore, subjective. Does form follow function, or does function dictate form? In the world of photography, just like in many product lines, the camera has run the gamut, from utilitarian tool to work of art. Some of those utilitarian cameras were unintentionally beautiful and some cameras had attractive designs that got in the way of function. Regardless of success or failure, almost every major camera manufacturer has pushed products with radical designs.

Sometimes, a change of color takes a camera from everyday to something eye-catching. To me, the new skin has to fit over a design already worthy of my eye. Design beauty is more than skin deep to me. Black is the new black, and if the camera looks great in black, it probably looks good in other colors, too. Conversely, slapping a pastel skin on an ugly camera probably makes it worse, in my opinion.

Is what you are about to read a comprehensive list of “chic cameras?” Absolutely not. In fact, I encourage you to add your own thoughts to the Comments section, below. But, before you share your ideas, let’s kick off the conversation with this list of 16.

1. Hasselblad X1D-50c

Brand new and gorgeous, the first medium format mirrorless camera is the Hasselblad X1D-50c, and it is a stunning design. Its body is ultra clean, yet obviously functional. Here is a camera that you cannot globally compare to any other camera. It is ushering in a new genre of digital medium format photography and it is doing so with a unique look. With “Hasselblad” engraved on the front and “HANDMADE IN SWEDEN” etched into the top plate, you can be assured that the knowledgeable passerby will recognize that the photographer cradling this camera in his or her hands is making art with a work of art.

Hasselblad X1D-50c

2. Leica M-D (Typ 262)

The basic shape of the Leica 35mm rangefinder camera is one of those designs that will never go out of style, even without the film advance/shutter cocking lever. It has been mimicked and copied, but never rendered obsolete. It is either a Leica rangefinder, or it’s an attempt to be one. The M-D (Typ 262) is digital, but the only thing that gives that away is the absence of a film door or cocking lever. To clean up the design and throw back to the days of film, there is no LCD on the rear of the camera to view your images. In place of the LCD screen we have a tasteful ISO selection dial engraved with the gorgeous Leica numerical font. With Leica, be sure to keep an eye out for even more stylish limited edition versions of film and digital rangefinders.

Leica M-D (Typ 262)

3. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX80

Simplicity has an elegance all its own and the front view of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX80 has a beautiful sparseness. The rear of the camera is decidedly busier, but the large size of the LCD screen dominates that view; echoing the clean lines of the front. Holding the camera, the grip is simply classy and has an aesthetically pleasing texture. I also really enjoy the way that the circular lenses live beneath the rectangular front opening. In the product photos, this catches my eye.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX80

4. Canon PowerShot G9 X

There are many point-and-shoot cameras on the market, and many of them try to push design boundaries, while others seem to come from the same cookie-cutter molds that other point-and-shoot cameras embrace. Occasionally, some cross the line from standard to eye-catching. The Canon PowerShot G9 X digital camera looks stunning in silver with its brown, textured grips. Compared to the black model, the silver version is most likely the camera with which you’ll want to accessorize.

Canon PowerShot G9 X

5. Fujifilm X-Series

Retro does not always translate to “stylish,” but sometimes it definitely works. When the Fujifilm X-Pro1 was released, its design gave a definite nod to the rangefinders of the past with a touch of modern curves. The X-Pro2 is the evolutionary successor to the X-Pro1. The point-and-shoot X100T echoes this design goal and does so with a stellar reputation as a photographic tool. Accompanying you on your photographic expeditions is a camera that might make those “in the know” take a second admiring glance over their shoulder at your stylish picture-making tool.

Fujifilm X-Pro2
Fujifilm X100T

6. Canon PowerShot N2

Subtly breaking with the aforementioned point-and-shoot, cookie-cutter mold, I really enjoy the circle-on-a-squared-off-rectangle symmetry of the Canon PowerShot N2 digital camera. An ultra-clean design enables you to slip it into your tuxedo pocket for a black tie or white tie affair and blend in, stylishly, with the crowd.

Canon PowerShot N2

7. GoPro Hero5 Black

A relatively new area of photography has been created with the “action cam.” The field is now crowded and, from a design aspect, there has been no lack of interesting design solutions surrounding the action-cam market. Recently announced, the GoPro HERO5 Black and its partner, the HERO5 Session are design masterpieces; taking the already elegant GoPro into an even more visually pleasing direction. You almost don’t want to put these cameras in their protective housings and take them skydiving, surfing, or skiing in the fear that they will lose their good looks once they get abused.

GoPro HERO5 Black

8. Minox DCC 14.0

Sometimes, in the world of design, small equals stylish. Minox has been making tiny “spy” cameras for years, and its Minox DCC 14.0 digital camera is the latest edition of the company’s digital camera with a 14MP sensor, packed into a tiny classic-looking rangefinder. Available in black or silver, this diminutive camera will definitely not weigh down your bag.

Minox DCC 14.0

9. Sigma sd Quattro

The design team at Sigma appears to be working overtime with its new sleek Art lenses and the Quattro family of cameras. The Art lenses and the dp Quattro camera line emphasize a clean design aesthetic, but the new sd Quattro mirrorless digital camera takes Sigma design in a different direction. Can clunky be graceful? With the sd Quattro, I think, “Yes.” The camera’s design is unique and it stands out on that merit alone. You can tell that a lot of thought went into the design, from its deep handgrip with the scalloped finger rest area to the oh-so-slight downward angle of the front command dial.

Sigma sd Quattro

10. Nikon 1 J5

Color can play a big part in style. The design of the Nikon 1 J5 mirrorless digital camera is striking, but I find the silver edition to be more attention-grabbing than the black version. The white version is a close second, with a subtle contrast between the metal and white portions, but it is the contrast between the brushed metal and dark black that looks sharpest here.

Nikon 1 J5

11. Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100

Another take on the iconic rangefinder, there is no denying that the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 digital camera gives a nod to the form. But its lack of viewports and other front-facing windows show it to be a totally different animal. The silver version is particularly attractive, with its contrasting handgrip.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100

12. Olympus PEN F

Built for the same Micro Four Thirds mount, the silver Olympus PEN-F features a very stylish Creative Control dial on the front for selecting creative image-simulation modes. A very beautiful engraving job that tells the shooter what they are holding in their hands every time they look at the camera’s top plate. The PEN-F is available in black, as well, but the silver version looks super sharp. The PEN-F’s smaller stablemate, the new PEN E-PL8 is also a head turner, with its simulated leather front, available in either coppery brown or black.

Olympus PEN-F

13. Lytro Illum

Introduced with game-changing light field technology, the Lytro brought something radically different to the world of photography—the ability to change focus after the image was captured. With a form that disguises its capabilities, the original Lytro looks like the kind of camera you would see mounted in the corner of a convenience store; pointed at the cash register. The new Lytro Illum is barely more traditional in the photographic sense (there is a designated place to hold the camera), yet appears as a stunning design.

Lytro Illum

14. Pentax K-S2

One thing that I like about the complete lineup of Pentax DSLR cameras is their consistent use of sharp lines. The cameras have a purposeful look to them. The new full-frame Pentax K-1 has a beautiful pointed prism housing and the Pentax 645Z medium format DSLR announces its presence with the bold metal Pentax name plate on the front. But, when it comes to everyday style and personality, the multiple color options of the K-S2 DSLR camera make the camera a customized companion. It even comes with racing stripes.

Pentax K-S2 DSLR Camera

15. Nikon Df

Another definite nod to “retro,” the Nikon Df looks like the Nikon F series of years past, with all the digital bells and whistles of the modern digital camera integrated into control dials and buttons. In black or silver, the classic design of the Df, including the older, non-italicized “Nikon” logo, brings classic looks to full-frame digital. Passersby might think you are out on a retro walk with your Nikon FM2 or another classic Nikon film SLR.

Nikon Df

16. Leica X (Typ 113)

Leica’s entire line probably appears on different lists of stylish cameras, from its Leica SL (Typ 601) to the chiseled-from-an-aluminum-block Leica T and TL mirrorless cameras to the titanium-topped Leica Q (Typ 116), but when it comes to a modern Leica that I simply enjoy looking at, the Leica X (Typ 113) looks absolutely fantastic in silver. If you want more even more style points, you can grab the Leica X-E (Typ 102) version that features a very attractive two-tone design.

Leica X (Typ 113)

Now it is your turn to share your ideas and examples of what makes a stylish camera, in the Comments section, below. Thanks for reading!

Discussion 32

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Great list. The Nikon DF is my current stylish shooter. Just picked up the Leica Sofort as my eyecandy instax shooter.

That is high-style, indeed, Style Cruise!

How do you like the Sofort?

Thanks for reading!

Last month, my wife and I were in Florida for the nearly week-long National Beagle Club Specialty and one of the official photographers was shooting with a chrome-top Nikon. That could only be the Nikon Df. I asked and he confirmed that it was his favorite camera.

But I still stand by my nomination of the Canon New F-1. Classic black is always in style; plus the controls are easy.

Hey Ralph,

I've been wanting to pen a controversial article called, "The Best Looking Camera Ever Made." Would the F-1 be your nominee?

Thanks for reading!

Hi Todd,

Bring it on! The F-1 is my nominee for Best Looking Camera.

Your vote has been counted! Thanks, Ralph!

Out of all cameras, Pentax is the only one with no product image. Pentax rasist? :-)

Yikes!

Nope...it was an honest mistake that we are remedying as I type this. We love Pentax and apologize for the oversight!

Thanks for keeping us on our toes!

My vote goes to the Olympus Pen F - can't believe it didn't make the cut.

Hey Mike,

Spoiler alert!

The PEN-F came out after I wrote this article...and I am literally re-writing it now and including the PEN-F. The timing of your comment is uncanny and a bit creepy...are you reading over my shoulder as I type the article? The PEN-F was on my second screen when your comment came in.

Stay tuned for a re-fresh of this article sometime in November!

Thanks for reading!

Haha!  I didn't even look at the date - just saw it on my Twitter feed.  Great article - looking forward to the re-write!

:)

No worries! Always keep us on our toes!

Saving my pennies for a Nikon DF and 1 J5!  Stunning specs and timeless bodies!  Shooting in style and manually...

Good luck, Shawn! You will need a lot of pennies!

is good camera thank you dear nice day

Hi mugisha,

Thank you, for reading, dear!

I've been eyeing the x100t for quite some time. Was hoping to see it go on sale during your Black Friday specials. Any chance it will go on sale before Christmas? That way I can beging taking pics with it for my website.

Hi Joe,

Sorry, sales and specials aren't my department and I am not privy to upcoming price adjustments.

Good luck and thanks for reading!

Hi Todd, thanks for this great article.  I really enjoyed reading it and seeing the images of all of the new retro cameras out there.  Does Canon make any retro cameras, or any retro looking DSLRs that take lenses?

Hey Stephen,

Thanks for the note! Nope, I can't think of any retro-designed Canon DSLR's off the top of my head. I do know a great many photographers who would love a digital version of the venerable AE-1! 

I am sure the higher-ups at Canon are reading this (why wouldn't they be?) ...so start getting all of your friends to leave comments!

Thanks for reading!

No Lumix GM1??

Hey Richard,

No GM1 until you mentioned it! Sorry!

But, since you brought it up, let us talk about it!

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 is definitely a stylish number, especially when you see its size. The standard package is a sharp silver/black version, but I have enjoyed the warm tones of the orange model as well. If you prefer cool to warm, try it in blue!

Thanks for adding to the conversation and thanks for reading, Richard!

My favorite camera, style-wise is the film-based Olympus OM-1.  This capable item was tiny by slr standards of the 1970s, but its main set of controls could be easily grasped by even the largest hands, making for quick shooting for an all-manual camers. 

Hey Marshall,

I agree. Great camera and great looks! I like its angular surfaces and purposeful design. Thanks for reading and sharing!

Fujifilm XT1 should be near the top. Fujifilm makes some pretty cameras.

Hey Russell,

Its in the article, but not near the top. Sorry!

If I were to pen the X-T1, I might have changed the "mirror" box a bit..maybe make it a bit deeper instead of flat-fronted. But, that is just me!

Thanks for reading and writing in!

i would have expected to see the Olympus PEN E-P5 on this list. Just got one and can't express how much I appreciate the stylish retro aesthetic. I always thought I didn't care to much about looks. My E-M1 is the essence of function-first style but I can't believe how retro cool and classic the PEN E-P5 looks. 

Hi Hawkeye,

The PEN E-P5 is on the list, but not shown in a photograph. It gets mentioned in the paragraph with the Panasonic.

I agree that it is a great looking camera! Sorry we didn't share an image of it!

Thanks for reading!

The camera that i considire stylus isn't new. It was made from 1981 to 1991, the Canon F-1N; plus it comes in classic black.

Hey Ralph,

Good choice! In the original draft, I had a list of classics. Unfortunately, that list made it to the cutting room floor, but may surface in a future article!

I'll add the F-1N to the list! By the way, I think the Dassault F-1 aircraft (of the same era) is one of the best looking jets ever to take to the skies! Are the two F-1's related? You never know!

Thanks for reading!

Hi Todd,

I'm looking forward to a future article about classic cameras.

Ralph

Thanks, Ralph! Me too! 

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