Whether you’re trying to find better images than a smartphone or camera offers, or you’re looking to find out or expand on your experience with photography, a mirrorless camera is perhaps the simplest choice for you. After quite 200 hours of research and testing over the past six years, including real-world shooting with four top contenders, we recommend the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III as a flexible, high-performing mirrorless camera that won’t break the bank. Its advanced features help capture reliably great-looking images altogether sorts of conditions, and its small size makes it easier to hold than most competitors.
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III doesn’t represent absolutely the pinnacle when it involves image quality, but it does capture great-looking images, and it excels in other areas that matter more once you want to urge the right shot. It’s compatible with quite 100 Micro Four Thirds lenses that each one work with its effective built-in image stabilization, which minimizes the consequences of shaky hands for clearer images. And its small size means you’re more likely to bring this camera with you than a bulky DSLR or maybe a bigger mirrorless camera. The camera’s autofocus (AF) system locks on to subjects quickly and accurately and remains accurate even in dimly lit situations that cause any AF system, including this one, to hamper.
Although the auto modes are reliably great, the E-M10 III also has manual control knobs and buttons and a tilting touchscreen, which makes this model one among the better-handling cameras in its class. Its built-in Wi-Fi allows you to transfer images to your phone to share together with your family, friends, and Instagram followers. you’ll also use the Wi-Fi to trigger the shutter and alter most of the settings from across the space using your smartphone. And despite its great performance and advanced features, it typically costs a few hundred bucks but its closest competitors.
If you’re stepping up from a smartphone or a point-and-shoot, the Fujifilm X-A7 Mirrorless Camera’s intuitive controls and menus, along with its Scene Recognition (SR+) Auto mode, let you start snapping right away without learning anything technical. Its DSLR-size, 24-megapixel sensor, and its 425-point hybrid autofocus system keep most shots sharp. Plus, full manual mode gives you room to grow when you’re ready to learn more. The 15–45mm electronic zoom lens gives you a useful range for everyday shooting, and the camera works with more than 40 lenses—from Fujifilm and other manufacturers—as you progress. The X-A7 is smaller than any DSLR, and it offers smartphone control, easy sharing of images over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, and a wide variety of filter functions.
If you’re serious enough to spend nearly $2,000 for a camera and lens bundle, we expect the Fujifilm X-T3 Mirrorless Camera is that the most suitable option to bring your photography to a better level. The sensor puts out surprisingly clean, detailed, color-accurate images even once you shoot in very dim lighting. The camera is rugged and weather-sealed, it’s one among the simplest electronic viewfinders you’ll get, and it can capture a number of the simplest 4K video of any mirrorless camera immediately.
Whether you would like to adapt old manual-focus lenses, shoot often in very dimly lit situations, or simply want the cachet of telling your friends that you simply shoot with a full-frame camera, the Sony α7 III Mirrorless Camera delivers images with the sharpest detail and therefore the least noise (tiny speckles that aren’t alleged to be within the image), especially at higher ISOs, of any mirrorless camera in its price range. Its tilting touchscreen, suitable grip, and easy-to-use controls make shooting pleasant. Plus, its battery life (710 shots per charge) and dual SD card slots are meaningful improvements over the other full-frame mirrorless camera under $2,500. Add its weather sealing, its 10-frames-per-second burst mode, and an autofocus system that covers 93 percent of the frame and performs also as or better than systems found in cameras that cost twice the maximum amount, and we’re comfortable saying that the α7 III is that the best full-frame camera for your money—if you’re willing to spend this much on a camera. most of the people don’t get to.
How we picked
We checked out all the mirrorless cameras currently available and took under consideration not only the requirements of the typical photographer but also those of individuals who haven’t used anything quite a smartphone or camera before, also as those of experienced photographers looking to require their shooting experience to a replacement level.
One of the large reasons to settle on a mirrorless camera over a smartphone is that the ability to vary lenses. But because some mirrorless systems, especially Canon’s and Nikon’s, are new, they don’t offer an outsized number of options compared with Sony, Fujifilm, or Micro Four Thirds systems from Olympus and Panasonic. In time there’ll be adequate lens offerings for all the various systems, except for now, although we did test some cameras from Canon and Nikon so we could get a way of how capable those camera bodies were, we are inclined to recommend systems with a far better sort of lenses over people who are still building out.
Given that the requirements of various levels of photographers vary, we primarily checked out three different groups:
Beginners: We prioritized cameras that have teaching modes built into the camera, are smaller in size than most other models and operate largely through a touchscreen interface. Since beginning photographers aren’t used to an electronic viewfinder (EVF) and certain value a smaller camera size quite a viewfinder, we didn’t make the presence of 1 a priority.
Average shooters: We searched for the simplest balance of price and features that are more important to people that are more serious about learning photography as a hobby. A high-resolution EVF allows you to shoot with the camera delayed to your eye to raised steady the camera and make it easier to border photos on very bright days when the camera’s main screen could be washed out by the sun. Ample external control dials assist you to change settings more quickly, without having to require the camera far away from your eye. A tilting or rotating screen helps you shoot comfortably, even with the camera in a clumsy position. We also searched for a hot-shoe so you’ll add lighting accessories for professionally lit photos, also as a burst rate fast enough to stay up with busy kids and pets.
Advanced photographers: Since advanced photographers are likely to draw a bead on longer lengths of your time, or maybe all day long, we searched for models with an easier grip and longer battery life. We made a second card slot mandatory since advanced shooters might want to save lots of raw files to at least one card and JPEGs to the opposite, assign videos to at least one card and stills to the opposite, or simply have the peace of mind of mirroring everything between the 2 cards. Autofocus tracking is more important here because advanced photographers are more likely to shoot fast-moving sports, which also makes fast burst speeds a better priority. Extensive weather-sealing is additionally something that photographers of this level value because it lets them venture into situations that less-dedicated photographers won’t endure.
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How we tested
We took the cameras we tested out into the streets and parks of New York City and used them with their kit lenses in a wide variety of situations, taking note of how they functioned in full auto mode as well as in other shooting modes. For beginner-level cameras, we used each model in teaching mode to see how well it explained the camera’s controls with commonly understood terms. We wanted to make sure that, even if you don’t have much experience with a camera of this level, you’d be able to take good-looking photos right away.
We paid attention to the camera’s autofocus system, noting how easy it was to select where we wanted to focus and how well the camera could keep focusing continuously and track subjects. We checked out the menu systems to see how easily we could find the settings that you’d want to adjust, though all cameras at this level have so many settings that any menu system will feel somewhat overwhelming. We paired each camera with our smartphone to make sure that the process of connecting is simple, to see how much control over the camera you have when operating it remotely, and to determine whether transferring images to a phone isn’t too complicated.
Of course, we also paid close attention to image quality, though all of these cameras can capture beautiful images.
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Our pick: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Mirrorless Camera is that the camera we recommend for people trying to find the simplest bang for his or her buck from a mirrorless camera with semi-professional features. The E-M10 III features a fast autofocus system, a high-resolution electronic viewfinder, and movable touchscreen, and therefore the ability to shoot 4.8 photos per second until the SD card fills up, and it produces images with many details and pleasingly vibrant colors. The Micro Four Thirds system now encompasses quite 100 lenses, and therefore the camera body’s built-in image stabilization can work with any of them. We also just like the E-M10 III’s customizable controls, which allow you to easily change settings by touch and feel rather than having to navigate menus.
As a Micro Four Thirds camera with a rather smaller sensor, the E-M10 III Mirrorless Camera can’t quite match the image quality of a number of its larger-sensor competitors, but it comes close enough that the majority of people wouldn’t be ready to see a difference in most photos. Images shot in good lighting closely match what most similarly priced competitors can do, though the E-M10 III shows a touch more noise when shooting at higher ISOs. Its compact size and simple use outweigh any of its very mild shortcomings in image quality.
As a part of the Micro Four Thirds camera system, the E-M10 III can accept any of quite 100 lenses from Olympus, Panasonic, and third-party lens makers like Sigma, Tamron, and Tokina, among others. Obviously, there’s overlap in terms of focal lengths and zoom ranges among the optics available from the varied manufacturers, but you’ll have ample options when expanding your lens collection. The lenses range from a 16mm-equivalent fish-eye up to an 800mm-equivalent telephoto zoom lens.
Because Olympus gave the camera body built-in stabilization, it can reduce the consequences of shaky hands with any of these lenses. Other camera makers, like Canon, Nikon, and Fujifilm, put their image-stabilization systems inside their lenses, which adds to the value of the latest lenses. In practice, stabilization allows you to require sharper photos in dimly-lit conditions and when you’re employing a lot of zooms.
The general rule of thumb for handheld shooting: For sharp images, you ought to use a shutter-speed denominator adequate to or faster than the lens’s equivalent focal distance. If your lens is about to a 50mm-equivalent focal distance, for instance, your shutter speed should be 1/50 second or faster. With the E-M10 III, we were ready to get usably sharp images shooting handheld at shutter speeds four stops slower than this 1/focal length standard. In our 50mm lens example, you ought to be ready to use shutter speeds as slow as 1/3 seconds. That’s an excellent result that might rather be difficult to realize without the support of a tripod.
After shooting with the E-M10 III around NY City throughout a couple of weeks, we will say that the camera is comfortable to use. The grip, while still minimalistic, is more prominent and better sculpted than that of its predecessor, which was our previous top pick. The dials for adjusting exposure settings remain readily accessible, even when you’re using the viewfinder. Although the amount of physical customizable buttons has decreased from six to 2, Olympus gives you many options on what to assign to them. Plus, you’ll customize the instrument panel on the tilting touchscreen, and there’s even a touchscreen lock just in case you’ve got a bent to trigger touchscreens accidentally.
The E-M10 III’s built-in Wi-Fi allows you to use your iOS or Android smartphone to transfer images and control the camera remotely, as well. The setup process is simple: Tap the E-M10 III’s on-screen Wi-Fi icon, and a QR code appears on the rear screen. After downloading and installing the Olympus OI. Share app simply points your phone’s camera at the code, and therefore the default user and password settings are automatically configured. There’s no manual entry involved, and you would like to try to do this just one occasion per device because that configuration is going to be stored on your phone. (Because my iPhone was already connected to my home network, I had to require the extra step of choosing the camera’s SSID in my phone’s Wi-Fi settings menu. Android users can connect directly from the setup screen.)
Once your camera and phone are connected, you’ll use your phone to regulate a comprehensive set of camera functions. Beyond setting focus and adjusting exposure settings, you’ll switch the camera among manual shooting modes, iAuto, art filter, and movie-shooting modes. you’ll zoom the lens with a good amount of precision (so long as it’s an Olympus EZ lens), tap the screen to line focus, and adjust burst or timer modes, white balance, ISO, shutter speed, aperture, and exposure advantage. In live-view mode, Olympus’s app allows you to control any shooting parameter you’ll reasonably need from your phone.
The autofocus, especially on nonmoving subjects, is remarkably fast and accurate. In situations with good light, press the shutter button down halfway, and therefore the AF confirmation beep sounds almost instantly. If you discover that sound annoying, you’ll turn it off. like all AF systems, the autofocus on this camera slows down in dimmer light, but no quite most of its competitors. within the course of our testing, we didn’t get any blurry shots thanks to an autofocus error.
The E-M10 III sports a high-resolution OLED viewfinder that allows you to hold the camera up to your face, a more stable and immersive thanks to shooting while framing your image. It isn’t the simplest one we’ve used (the panel on the high-end Fujifilm X-T3 is better), but it does rank near the highest of the category for cameras during this price range. The camera’s 3-inch rear-tilting touchscreen allows you to move the AF point just by touching the screen, as you’d on a smartphone camera. you’ll also enable a feature that allows you to use the touchscreen as a trackpad for adjusting focus while rummaging through the viewfinder. Most cameras allow you to try to do this using the camera’s directional pad (and the E-M10 III gives you that option, as well), but touching the screen is a neater and faster thanks to doing an equivalent thing and ingenious use of the touchscreen. Olympus calls this the AF Targeting Pad feature within the menus.
All Olympus mirrorless cameras allow you to apply the company’s “art filters” to make various effects, like Pin Hole, Diorama (a tilt-shift simulation), and various Monotone (BW) filters. Some of the filters are a bit extreme or campy, but some of them can be fun. You can preview the conclusions on the LCD or EVF before you shoot, or apply them to raw images after the fact.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
One of the biggest complaints reviewers had about the E-M10 II concerned its vastly extensive and labyrinthian menu system. Olympus has redesigned and simplified the menus in the E-M10 III. In some respects the redesign results in your having less control—for example, you get fewer customizable buttons—but our shooting experience was not hampered by any of the changes. We also don’t think that most people will find the new menus significantly less annoying, as we’ve never encountered a menu system in a camera of this class that doesn’t garner lots of complaints. With the complexity of cameras, and with customers’ demands to be able to control a wide variety of things in their cameras, photographers will likely never rid themselves of complex menu systems.
The biggest common weakness of mirrorless cameras is their battery life. The E-M10 III isn’t significantly worse than any other cameras in this category, but its 330-shot battery life pales in comparison to the 1,100 shots per charge you can get from our midrange DSLR pick, Nikon’s D7200. While it’s always a good idea to have an extra battery for any camera, it’s even more important to have one in your camera bag when you’re shooting with a mirrorless camera.
Although the E-M10 III locks focus quickly and accurately on static subjects, its performance is less reliable when trying to track a subject around the frame. DPReview, in its tests, found that the E-M10 III did well at continuously tracking a subject moving straight toward the camera, but once that subject began moving around the frame, things changed. “We found it would sometimes track pretty tenaciously, at which point we’d get around 2/3rds of the image in useable or perfect focus,” note Richard Butler and Carey Rose. “However, on other occasions the camera would lose the subject and revert to focusing on the background.”
Although the E-M10 III prominently advertises a top burst rate of 8.6 shots per second, it isn’t the best choice for fast-paced sport shooting. You can obtain that 8.6 fps top speed only by disabling continuous autofocus tracking. That’s fine if you’re shooting a sequence in which a subject moves horizontally across the frame without getting closer or farther away, such as a golfer swinging a club. But if you want continuous AF while bursting, as you would when trying to photograph a running dog or child, you have to dial down to the slower, 4.8 fps burst speed. Even then, this model is not as quick to react as some other cameras we’ve tested, such as the Sony α6300.
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Also great for beginners: Fujifilm X-A7
If you haven’t used a mirrorless or DSLR camera before, you’re likely to prefer something that will take great pictures with just a press of the shutter button and will help you as you learn more about photography. The Fujifilm X-A7 captures great-looking images right out of the box thanks to the camera’s Scene Recognition (SR+) Auto mode, and it’s small and lightweight enough that you won’t mind bringing it with you anywhere. It’s easy to operate, and it has on-screen prompts that explain what different settings do in simple language anyone can understand. The screen can face all the way forward for simple selfies, and you can connect the camera with your smartphone through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Plus, when you use it in economy mode, the battery will last for more than 400 shots.
The hybrid autofocus (AF) system in the X-A7 has 425 contrast- and phase-detection points covering a larger portion of the frame than on most entry-level DSLRs. It focuses faster than the AF on any of Fujifilm’s other X-A cameras so far, and we already thought those cameras focused plenty fast. The continuous AF performed well in our field testing, proving fast enough to keep subjects in focus even at its top burst rate of 6 fps, which should make it fast enough to keep up with kids sports.
The X-A7 has a large, 24-megapixel sensor that is the same size as the ones in most affordable DSLRs. It captures plenty of detail with a wide range of tones from dark to light, and it does a good job of keeping the noise down when shooting in dim lighting conditions. You can count on getting usable images even with the sensitivity setting as high as ISO 6,400 (though you can set it as high as ISO 51,200).
The 15–45mm electronic zoom lens (Fujifilm labels these “PZ” on the lens) that comes with the kit includes optical image stabilization and covers a range that should be enough for most casual shooting. If you want to shoot sports, you have a good number of telephoto zooms to choose from among the more than 40 lenses Fujifilm makes for its mirrorless cameras. You should probably make a point of choosing one that has optical image stabilization since the camera body doesn’t have stabilization built-in.
The X-A7 is designed to be controlled through the wide 16:9 touchscreen and provides plain-language guidance for anyone who isn’t versed in the jargon of the camera world. At the same time, two dials sit atop the camera, so if you’re inclined to learn more about photography, you’ll still be able to use the camera even if you controlling shutter speed and aperture manually. A small joystick on the back of the camera makes it easy to select a different focusing point, though you can also do that by tapping the screen. Connecting the X-A7 to your smartphone via Fujifilm’s Camera Remote app is a simple process, though iOS users will have to remember to disconnect from whatever Wi-Fi they’re connected to and then connect to the camera directly.
Among the things that Fujifilm fans like the most about their cameras are the film simulation modes that let you apply a variety of effects and choose from looks inspired by Fujifilm’s analog films. So if you love to play with filters on your smartphone, you’ll likely find some fun ways to play with the images you shoot with the X-A7 before you port them to your phone to mess around some more. All mirrorless cameras have some level of image adjustments that you can apply as you shoot; Fujifilm’s film simulations do the best job of mimicking what most people love about a film without degrading the image quality in any noticeable way.
Video from the X-A7 tops out at 4K resolution and a frame rate of 30 frames per second, though you can record only up to 15 minutes at those settings. The video itself looks great, though. If you want to record up to 30 minutes per clip, you can opt for HD resolution, which we think is enough for most people and will let you bump up to 60 fps for smoother-looking footage of fast-moving subjects. The 4K video represents a step up from our previous beginner’s pick, the X-A5, which could do 4K only at a choppy 15 fps. If the 15-minute limit bothers you, and if you don’t mind a larger camera body, take a look at the Panasonic DMC-GX85.
Although the X-A7’s battery life is only 270 shots per charge in its standard operating mode, you can set it to economy mode to extend that to 440 shots. In this mode, the preview of your shot dims after a second or so to reduce the amount of power necessary to keep the screen on. At first, this effect felt a bit jarring, but once we got used to it, we didn’t mind much. Since the camera doesn’t have a viewfinder, you have to use the screen to frame your shots. The screen flips out to the side and rotates so that it can face completely forward, so you should be able to frame shots even if you need to hold the camera out for a selfie, up high over a crowd, or down low to the ground.
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Upgrade pick: Fujifilm X-T3
Fujifilm’s X-T3 captures professional-level stills and video, and it offers a stylish, weather-sealed, metal camera body that is comfortable to use for all-day shooting sessions, even if you’re trudging through a rainforest. The X-T3’s 11-frames-per-second burst shooting is more than fast enough to capture sports, and its continuous-tracking autofocus also keeps up with the action. Dual SD card slots let you arrange your photos and video over two cards, or you can copy to both cards for instant backups. The dual-hinged rear screen helps you tackle odd shooting angles, while the camera’s 4K 60 fps video capture is made even better by both headphone and microphone jacks, which enable you to utilize a professional-level mic and monitor it while you shoot. Plus, the Fujifilm X line of lenses has some of the best optics you can find for mirrorless cameras (even if they are a tad pricey).
One of the best things about Fujifilm cameras is the high quality of the JPEG images they capture. The X-T3 is no exception, capturing images with plenty of detail (but not oversharpened), a wide range of contrast, accurate-looking colors even at high ISOs, and relatively low noise at all but the highest ISO settings. As always, if you want to have the most control over the look of your images, you can shoot raw images and convert them using image editing software. DPReview’s image-quality comparison tool shows that at ISO 12,800 the images from the Fujifilm X-T3 are noticeably better than those from the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III but can’t quite match what the more expensive full-frame Sony ɑ7 III can capture.
Autofocus in the X-T3 relies on a 425-point hybrid phase- and contrast-detection system that is embedded in the imaging sensor and is very fast to lock focus. You can set it to continuously focus on the subject closest to the camera, to track a subject around the frame, or to detect a face in the scene and focus on that. The face detection does a good job of finding faces but has a tendency to choose the face closest to the center of the frame if multiple faces are in view. When you use the feature for single-person portraits, you can adjust the settings to tell the camera to focus on either the left or right eye, or you can let the camera decide. Ultimately there are so many options to adjust for autofocus that it can be a tad intimidating, but we think photographers who buy a camera of this complexity will take the time to learn to adjust it to their liking.
You can find plenty of dials and buttons on the X-T3, a good number of which you can customize, though for the core controls of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, you can use dials on top of the camera and the aperture ring found on many of Fujifilm’s lenses, including the 16–80mm f/4 kit lens. Using the dials, you can adjust those settings before you even turn the camera on, and in the case of ISO and shutter speed, those dials have locks so you can shoot without worrying about nudging them accidentally. Of course, if you prefer, you can choose to use the front and rear common wheels to change shutter speed and aperture, as you would with a DSLR, so in the end, you can have the best of both DSLR- and rangefinder-like shooting in one camera.
If you’re serious about photography, you probably like to use a viewfinder to frame your shots. Holding the camera up to your face makes it easier to hold it still than when you hold it out in front of you to use the screen instead. When we tested the X-T2, we noted that its EVF was one of the best that you could get, and Fujifilm has updated it such that the X-T3’s finder still offers a class-leading experience. It provides a large view of the scene and gives all the information that you could want to see while shooting. In manual focus mode, it shows the distance that the lens is focused to and can automatically enlarge the portion of the frame around whichever AF point you’ve selected. You can enlarge it a step further by scrolling the rear command wheel. Like many mirrorless cameras, it also has focus peaking, which uses a color overlay to highlight areas with sharp edge contrast to show what is in focus. There are also the split-view and micro-prism focus assist tools, which overlay horizontal stripes or a grid of squares, respectively, to help you manually align the phase of light coming into the camera, but we didn’t find these tools quite as useful as the peaking or magnification features.
As DPReview notes in its review, “the X-T3 Mirrorless Camera shoots stunning video.” We agree. It can capture 4K 30 fps video using the entire width of the camera sensor or 4K 60 fps with a 1.18x crop of the frame. In either case, the camera uses 10 bits per color channel, compared with the 8-bit capture you typically see from mirrorless cameras that capture 4K video. This means that it’s capturing significantly more information, which directly translates to better-looking colors and more detail in the videos. You also have the option for HD video at up to 60 fps, or if you accept a 1.29x crop you can shoot at 120 fps for varying degrees of slow-motion video by letting the camera output the final video at anywhere between 24 fps and 60 fps.
In addition to the various resolution and frame-rate options, the X-T3 has both microphone and headphone jacks, so you can use a professional-grade microphone and monitor the sound with headphones in real-time. If you often use an external video recorder such as the Atomos Ninja V Mirrorless Camera, the X-T3 can send a clean HDMI feed to the recorder for even higher-quality results. High-end video shooters will also appreciate that the camera includes various “Log” settings that let you have an enormous amount of control over colors (through a process called color grading), but if you’re not at that level of videography, know that you’ll need to do a good deal of learning before you can take advantage of that.
As is typical for mirrorless cameras, you can connect the X-T3 to your smartphone to control the camera from a distance or to transfer images to your phone so that you can share them right away. Setup is simple, though you have to remember to select the camera’s Wi-Fi signal instead of any router that you might have the phone connected to before using the QR code displayed on the camera screen to establish the connection. This means you won’t have to enter any information on the camera, and you’ll have to do this only once per device; after that, you’ll be able to control all the most important camera settings, see a live preview of the image to be captured, and tap the screen to focus or to capture the image.
Like the X-T2 before it, the X-T3 boasts a high level of weather sealing, so you should be able to take it out in severe weather conditions without worrying about anything other than a slew of water droplets bombarding the front of your lens and getting in the way of whatever you’re trying to shoot. The images you snap might end up humdrum, but that’s through no fault of the camera, and the gear should remain safe and ready to use another day. We didn’t get to test the weather sealing, as we were unable to get outside during a sufficient rainstorm here in New York City during our field testing, but we can point out that Dave Pardue of Imaging Resource took the X-T2 out to shoot during a tropical storm, and the camera withstood that challenge with aplomb. We expect that the X-T3 would fare just as well.
Other benefits of the X-T3’s Mirrorless Camera body include a dual-hinged screen that tilts up and down and can angle to the right so that you can shoot low to the ground or from the hip level with the camera in portrait position. Plus, the camera has two UHS-II–compatible SD card slots so you can assign JPEG images to one card and raw images to the other, split between stills and video, or just write all data to both cards together for an instant mirrored backup. This is a feature that you won’t find on less expensive models but is helpful to professionals and semi-pros for organizing or for peace of mind in the event of card failure. Also, you can set the camera to use the second card as overflow should the first card fill up, though high-capacity cards make this problem nearly moot. together
Despite all the great things about the X-T3, we have a few minor gripes. First, the two highest sensitivity settings of ISO 25,600 and ISO 51,200 are considered “extended” in Fujifilm’s opinion, so you have to go into the menu and select one of them to assign to the ISO dial. Since the ISO dial has only one position beyond ISO 12,800 and it’s labeled “H,” you have to choose one or the other of the extended ISOs.
Our second gripe is that you have to tunnel through the Set-Up menu to a submenu called User Setting if you want to format an SD card in the camera. Since it’s always best to format your card before you go out shooting and then try to offload your images at the end of the day, this menu item should have a home where it’s more easily found.
Third, though it’s common for cameras of this level not to include a flash, we wish the X-T3 Mirrorless Camera had one. A pop-up flash isn’t necessarily the best way to light a photo, but it can come in handy to fill out shadows in a portrait on a sunny day. Plus, a pop-up flash can work to trigger accessory lights. If you think you’ll need a flash, you have to opt for an accessory flash from either Fujifilm or a third party.
Last, the battery life, though not awful, is only 390 shots per charge, and to attain that the X-T3 slightly dims the screen and reduces its refresh rate if you’ve left the camera on but haven’t done anything with it for more than 12 seconds. We’d prefer to have a choice of whether to use that kind of energy-saving mode, and we also wish the shots per charge were more in the range of the high 400s or more.
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Our full-frame pick: Sony ɑ7 III
Generally, we don’t think most people need a full-frame camera, but if you really want one to shoot in very low light or to use adapters to shoot with vintage manual-focus lenses, the Sony ɑ7 III Mirrorless Camera is the best option at the moment. Its 24-megapixel sensor captures more than enough fine detail to make very large prints, even at the relatively high sensitivity (aka ISO) settings that lead some cameras’ images to become too noisy. It’s also the camera that our photo and video team uses: Most of the product images in our current guides have been shot with a Sony ɑ7 III Mirrorless Camera.
The physical controls on the camera aren’t overwhelming, but they give you quick access to everything you need to reach when you’re shooting. This most current version of the ɑ7 adds a joystick control for you to move your autofocus point around the frame without having to press any buttons first. Some competitors have joysticks, but most make you press one or two other buttons before you can move the focusing point. The joystick is easy to find by feel, so you don’t need to pull your eye away from the electronic viewfinder (EVF) to find it. Plus, that EVF has a large magnification (0.78x), so it really fills your view when you look through it. A dedicated dial for exposure compensation lets you easily brighten or darken the exposure when you’re shooting in modes other than auto or full manual; many competitors use a combination of a button press and a flick of the command wheel for exposure compensation, which is slow by comparison. The Fn button brings you to a quick menu where you can change all of the most important settings. If you want to have any particular settings one button press away, the camera offers four customizable buttons that allow you to assign any of 79 functions; you can also customize any of the directional controls on the scroll wheel on the camera’s back. While the number of customizable buttons is comparable to what its rivals offer, the breadth of functions you can assign helps the ɑ7 III stand out.
Also new to this version of the camera is the touchscreen. Although the previous version had a tilting LCD screen, it wasn’t a touchscreen. Even if you prefer to frame your subjects by looking through the EVF, you can benefit from the touchscreen because you can set it to act as a trackpad (using the Touch Panel/Pad setting in the Setup 3 menu) so that you can slide your thumb across the screen to move the autofocus point. If you prefer to focus on your subject by touching the screen as you would on your smartphone, you can do that, or you can set it to also take the picture when you tap your subject. Other than that, you can slide to move from one image to another in playback and pinch to zoom as you would on a smartphone.
One of the biggest drawbacks to mirrorless cameras is their anemic battery life, but the ɑ7 III ranks among the first cameras to break that stereotype. At 710 shots per charge, it offers a better battery life than that of any other mirrorless camera in this price range—only Sony’s latest-generation and much more expensive, cameras have comparable battery life. No other full-frame mirrorless camera can declare more than 400 shots per charge, not even Canon’s EOS R (370 shots) or Nikon’s Z7 (330 shots) Mirrorless Camera. If you think you might not remember to charge your camera all the time, you still might want to get an extra battery, but with a full charge, you’ll be able to get through a child’s field hockey game, say, without running out of juice (unless you use burst mode irresponsibly).
Of the full-frame mirrorless cameras we tested, the ɑ7 III is the only one with two SD card slots. Dual card slots let you write a backup of everything you capture to a second card, a convenient feature if you’re worried about one of those cards failing and thus losing the images of a once-in-a-lifetime moment, or worse yet, images you were paid to shoot. Alternatively, you can fix the camera to move from one card to the next once the first card is completely full, or you can store the video to one and stills to the other, or save JPEGs to one and raw images to the other. Dual slots are definitely a feature that appeals more to advanced shooters and pros, but if you’re willing to throw down this much money on a camera, we’re assuming that you’re planning to become more serious about photography if you’re not serious already.
The ɑ7 III’s autofocus system is essentially borrowed from the company’s $4,000 (body only) pro-level, sports-oriented ɑ9. Thanks to a bit more processing power, the ɑ9 slightly outperforms the ɑ7 III, but most non-pro shooters would be hard-pressed to notice the difference. The ɑ7 III has 693 AF points that cover 93 percent of the frame, so even if you’re tracking a subject that gets out to the edge of the frame, you likely won’t lose focus. Most DSLRs, and even a lot of mirrorless cameras, cluster their AF points around the center of the frame, making it harder to focus on subjects in the corners of the image.
The ɑ7 III’s top burst speed of 10 fps (in the Hi+ burst mode) is more than any amateur photographer needs to capture fast action, including any amateur sports. That mode also burns through shots really quick and ends up slowing down after about three seconds if you’re capturing both raw images and JPEGs simultaneously. If you capture only JPEGs, though, you can snap up to 163 shots before the burst slows.
Low-light shooters will appreciate that the ɑ7 III’s top sensitivity setting is ISO 204,600, which will let you shoot in extremely low light, though if you’re inclined to zoom in all the way to a 100 percent view on a computer monitor to judge an image, you’ll likely find that the top setting produces too much noise. Even picky shooters will likely agree that you can get extremely nice images up to ISO 25,600 with the ɑ7 III. If your plan is to share images on social media and view them on smartphones, or without taking up the whole screen, you can feel free to use the entire ISO range. Sony is able to keep noise to a minimum thanks in part to the fact that it put all of the sensor’s circuitry on the back of the chip, so the pixels that capture the light can be physically larger—photo geeks refer to this design as backside illumination (BSI).
The ɑ7 III captures extremely good-looking video that’s similar in quality to footage from the Nikon Z6 but sharper than that of the Canon EOS RP. Topping out at 4K capture at 30 frames per second, it uses the full width of the sensor to capture the equivalent of 6K video, which it then scales down to 4K so that there’s more detail to the scene than you get from a lot of other cameras that record 4K. It can capture HD footage at up to 120 fps, so you can get up to 4x slow motion if you know your way around video editing software. All of the videos in our tests looked extremely nice, with plenty of detail and pleasing colors.
You can still buy both the ɑ7 Mirrorless Camera and the ɑ7 II Mirrorless Camera, and although we fully admit that they are both very good cameras, we think the ɑ7 III is worth the extra money over either one.
Like most cameras of this class, the ɑ7 III lacks a built-in flash, so if you want to be able to add a burst of light when shooting, you have to buy an accessory flash. Also, as on a lot of cameras, the ɑ7 III’s menus give you a vast amount of control over what the camera can do and how it can do those things, but that also means you have a ton of menu pages to wade through. They’re pretty well organized, but at some point you may get a little lost.
Although the top burst speed of 10 fps (Sony calls it Hi+) is nice, the EVF doesn’t maintain a live preview at that speed; instead the camera shows the last image you shot as you capture them. If you want to maintain a preview, you can slow the burst to 8 fps (aka Hi), which may make it easier to pan along with a moving subject.
We love that Sony finally included a touchscreen on this model, but we’re a bit disappointed to see that it doesn’t let you control the menus by touch. Instead, you have to use the scroll-wheel control pad on the back of the camera. This may be because Sony was concerned that you might accidentally trigger the screen with your nose when looking through the finder, but other camera companies have solved this problem by placing a touch on/off button at the edge of the screen so you can disable it quickly and easily when you want to shoot while looking through the finder.