Mirrorless Cameras, The 2018 Year in Review

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Mirrorless cameras dominated this year. Nearly every manufacturer released something and, in most cases, it was something extraordinarily significant. Full-frame models made the greatest impact, although there are plenty of smaller options sneaking through that we want to make sure are mentioned. Here’s a rundown of all the exciting new mirrorless cameras that were released in 2018.

Sony

I would argue that we all have Sony to thank for this explosion in mirrorless development, sparked by the original a7. Surprisingly, Sony had a relatively quiet year, but the one camera the company did release elevated what it meant to be entry-level. The a7 III, which we reviewed here, turned out to be surprisingly good. This isn’t meant to be insulting—it’s simply the feature set Sony delivered here is astounding, considering the price. The key to this camera’s success is the newly implemented full-frame 24.2MP Exmor R BSI CMOS sensor. It unlocks an array of high-end functions, including a 693-point hybrid AF system, UHD 4K30 video recording with HLG HDR and S-Log2/3 gammas, and sensitivities up to ISO 204800. Other tweaks were made, adding 10 fps shooting, an enhanced SteadyShot INSIDE system, dual SD card slots, and a USB Type-C port. This camera has become insanely popular because of these features, and its usefulness, in a wide range of shooting situations.

Sony Alpha a7 III Mirrorless Digital Camera

Fujifilm

Another mirrorless champion, Fujifilm was very active this year with the official release of five new cameras, plus one that is coming soon. You could almost be forgiven for forgetting that Fujifilm announced a new APS-C series—the X-H1. A bigger body, faster processing, and in-body image stabilization separate this from the usual fare and seat this camera clearly on top. A top LCD, large 3.69m-dot EVF, and articulating 3" touchscreen make it wonderful to use, while the 24.3MP APS-C CMOS sensor with X-Trans color filter array brings the Fujifilm magic.

Fujifilm X-H1 Mirrorless Digital Camera

The earliest release of the year is the accessible X-A5, a fun, colorful camera with a 180° flip-up screen that is perfect for selfies. Bringing an upgraded 24MP APS-C sensor featuring phase-detect AF will mean significant speed gains. It also has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for fast sharing. The other entry-level, or possibly mid-range, release is the X-T100. This highly capable offering is SLR-styled, with an EVF and 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor. The AF system sports 91 phase-detect points, and plenty of Fujifilm’s Film Simulation modes are available.

Fujifilm X-A5 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 15-45mm Lens

September saw the biggest news for Fujifilm fans. Photokina brought with it the X-T3, the most significant upgrade to this line. A brand-new 26MP APS-C CMOS and processor brought the speed, as well as a 2.16m-point AF system, 30 fps shooting mode, and impressive sensitivity range of 80-51200. Video is also a highlight with UHD 4K, at up to 60p, F-Log gamma, and even 10-bit output over HDMI. This is a powerhouse of a camera. The only other model that can compete in terms of new is Fujifilm’s other September release: the GFX 50R. Fujifilm has not only made medium format smaller (again), the manufacturer has made it cheaper. Comparable to many high-end full-frame systems, the GFX 50R and its compact rangefinder-styled design (à la the X-Pro series) is a huge release. It sports the same 51.4MP 43.8 x 32.9mm CMOS as the 50S, along with all the same image quality and functions you have come to expect. One side note: Fujifilm did announce that it is developing a 100MP version of these medium-format cameras, with even better performance.

Fujifilm X-T3 Mirrorless Digital Camera

Panasonic

Full-frame? From Panasonic? Yup. At photokina, Panasonic announced it is developing the S1 and S1R cameras, full-frame mirrorless offerings with 24MP and 47MP resolutions, respectively, and all the video goodness you can imagine. They also join the newly founded L-Mount Alliance, made in partnership with Leica, the original L-mount user, and Sigma, who promises more glass for the system. Unfortunately, these cameras aren’t slated to be released until next year, so check back in with us then for more details.

Released this year were the GH5S and GX9. The GH5S is an even more video-centric take on Panasonic’s renowned GH-series Micro Four Thirds cameras. A 10.2MP Multi-Aspect sensor is the key motivator here, because it boosts processing speed and low-light performance with ease. V-LogL is built-in to the GH5S, although it does give up the in-body stabilization to cater more to professionals working with separate stabilizer systems. DCI 4K at 60p, 10-bit recording, and high bitrate options all solidify this model as the definitive MFT choice for videographers. On the other hand, the GX9 provides photographers with a compact and comfortable choice. Using an upgraded 20.3MP sensor and featuring a rangefinder-esque design, the GX9 is appealing to those who want a lighter kit. The camera also boasts a tilting 2.76m-dot 0.7x EVF, UHD 4K30 video, 5-axis Dual I.S.2 stabilization, and comes bundled with a 12-60mm lens.

Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera

Canon

Venturing into the full-frame mirrorless arena, Canon has released the EOS R, the first of an upcoming system. It is a capable camera and uses a versatile 30.3MP CMOS with Dual Pixel technology to deliver speed and performance. The camera can focus in as fast as 0.05 seconds and work in light levels as low as -5 EV. It also has an expandable sensitivity range up to ISO 102400. For video applications, the camera supports UHD 4K30 with Canon Log support and the ability to output 10-bit 4:2:2 over HDMI. For handling, the EOS R has a 0.5" 3.69m-dot OLED EVF and a 3.15" 2.1m-dot vari-angle touchscreen. A new addition is a touch-sensitive multi-function bar. Overall, this makes the EOS R a perfect generalist’s camera with a very balanced set of features and functions. Backing this camera up is a notable lens line, including a 28-70mm f/2, 50mm f/1.2, 35mm f/1.8 Macro, and 24-105mm f/4.

Canon EOS R Mirrorless Digital Camera

While the EOS R gets all the attention, we can’t forget about Canon’s first 4K-shooting mirrorless: the EOS M50. It’s a quite versatile option with just enough to satisfy enthusiasts looking for a solid mirrorless camera. The key specs are a 24.1MP APS-C CMOS sensor with Dual Pixel CMOS AF, including Eye Detection AF. The processing has been enhanced with an extended sensitivity range of up to ISO 51200 and UHD 4K video at 24p. Additionally, it has a 2.36m-dot OLED EVF and a vari-angle touchscreen.

Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless Digital Camera

Nikon

Mirrorless reinvented. At least this is what Nikon claims with the Z Series. It looks like the full-frame Z6 and Z7 are going to be well received, especially with the specs we have seen. Equipped with the large Z mount, Nikon wants us all to know that this system opens the door for outstanding new glass. The two cameras are essentially the same besides the sensor. A 45.7MP BSI CMOS resides in the Z7, while a more conservative 24.5MP sits in the Z6. Labeled “The Perfectionist,” the Z7 is the current flagship, with its high-res sensor and other top-notch features. This includes 493 phase-detection AF points with 90% coverage, a native sensitivity of ISO 64-25600, and continuous shooting up to 9 fps, as well as an in-body image stabilization system. As “The All-Arounder,” the Z6 has a 273-point AF system, though its lower resolution means faster performance with a native sensitivity of ISO 100-51200 and 12 fps shooting. Both cameras feature UHD 4K video with 10-bit output over HDMI and N-Log gamma. As for the body design, they are the same, with a top LCD, a 0.80x 3.6m-dot EVF, and a 3.2" 2.1m-dot tilting touchscreen. The first round of lenses released for the Z system include a compact 24-70mm f/4, a 35mm f/1.8, and a 50mm f/1.8, with a 58mm f/0.95 Noct on the way.

Nikon Z6 Mirrorless Digital Camera

Olympus

Quite quiet this year was Olympus, whose sole release was the fashionable PEN E-PL9. Super small and using a 16.1MP Four Thirds sensor, this camera is meant for everyday carry. It offers respectable specs, as well, with an 8.6 fps continuous shooting rate, sensitivity of ISO 25600, UHD 4K30 video, and 3-axis sensor-shift stabilization. It also has a 180º tilting touchscreen and plenty of Art Filters for fun effects.

Olympus PEN E-PL9 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera

Leica

I know, the M10-P is not truly a “mirrorless” camera. It’s a rangefinder. However, the fact that it does lack a mirror means that the mirrorless category is the best place for it. This is a simple update to the well-received M10. The P goes for a sleek look without the distinct red logo, has the quietest shutter ever found in a Leica camera, and implements a touchscreen. Check out some samples from the camera right here!

Leica M10-P Digital Rangefinder Camera

Quite recently, Leica introduced yet another variant of their flagship rangefinder: the M10-D. This is a digital camera without an LCD and with a film advance lever! Granted, the lever is not functional beyond serving as a thumb rest, but it does signify Leica's desire to create a digital camera with an analog heart. The M10-D also has built-in Wi-Fi, so you can use the Leica FOTOS app to make plenty of adjustments and get a live view image if you so need.

Wow. Mirrorless had a huge year. If you have any questions about these cameras or want to share your own thoughts and experiences be sure to leave a comment below!

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