Over the past two years, we’ve seen several new mirrorless full-frame cameras released. While a lot of these cameras are similar, there are technologies that make them stand apart from their competitors, too. With so many options to choose from, which camera should you go with?
First, let’s look at the cameras in question. For the sake of this argument, I’m looking at more budget-friendly options — namely those that cost $2500 or less. For the latest pricing on all of these cameras, visit B&H Photo.
Sony Alpha a7 III
The a7 III has been around for two years now, but is still a workhorse. Featuring Sony’s leading eye/face autofocus, which has been expanded to include animals, the a7 III is one of the most popular Sony cameras out there.
Featuring a 24-megapixel full-frame sensor, it’s a beast in low light, while also giving a high resolution output.
- Pros: Improved ergonomics, autofocus and low-light capabilities, small size, lots of third-party lens options
- Cons: Confusing menu system, questionable weather sealing
Canon EOS R6
The latest camera in this lineup is the EOS R6 — a full-frame camera that has a sensor similar to Canon’s DSLR flagship, the 1D X Mark III. It’s the only camera on this list that shoots full-frame 4K 60p, 4:2:2, 10-bit video internally.
On the stills front, the R6 boasts a 20.1-megapixel sensor, meaning it should have great low light capabilities. It has high expectations for autofocus, as Canon made sure to talk about its deep learning focusing technologies that lets the camera track eyes, faces and heads. It remains to be seen if it’ll be on par with Sony’s industry leading eye/face autofocus.
- Pros: Fast 12fps mechanical frame rate, autofocus and low-light capabilities, impressive 4K video capabilities, in-body stabilization of up to 8EV of correction
- Cons: No third-party lens options (yet), higher price ($2499), overheating concerns with 4K video
Panasonic Lumix S1
Panasonic has been known for its video capabilities in its micro four-thirds cameras for years, and they’ve brought that to the full-frame market with the introduction of the Lumix S1. The camera has a 24-megapixel sensor and feels most like a traditional DSLR of any of the cameras listed here.
It has one major flaw though — the lack of phase detection autofocus. The S1 only has contrast detection autofocus, while other cameras typically combine phase and contrast detection. With that note, autofocus may be questionable depending on what you’re shooting.
- Pros: Great video performance, ability to make high-resolution photographs of 96 megapixels (through sensor-shift technology), powerful lens lineup
- Cons: Big and heavy body, lack of phase detect autofocus
Nikon Z 6
The Z 6 is a camera I struggle to recommend unless you’re already in the Nikon ecosystem. Nikon has showed that, while it can produce a great camera, it struggles with its lens lineup. While the inclusion of an FTZ mount adapter helps, having a lack of native lenses geared toward pros might be a dealbreaker for some. There’s still no native wide-angle f/2.8 lens, which is surprising given Nikon’s success with the F mount Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 lens. Compared with Canon — which released its EOS R at the same time — Nikon is significantly behind in producing lenses.
That said, the Z 6 is still a powerful camera, featuring a 24.5-megapixel sensor and some powerful 4K video features that you wouldn’t expect to come from Nikon.
- Pros: Includes a FTZ mount adapter, small footprint, strong video capabilities
- Cons: Only one memory card slot (XQD), no third-party lens options (yet), lack of pro lens options
Which should you go with?
There’s a lot to consider here. While I’m not satisfied with the capabilities of the Nikon Z 6 because of its lens lineup, it’s still a great camera. The Sony a7 III is a great all-around camera and the most proven of the four I listed above. The Lumix S1 is great if you’re primarily a video shooter, whereas the Canon EOS R6 is quite impressive and has a quickly growing lens lineup.
It really depends on what you have currently.
All-purpose, everyday photographer
The Sony a7 III would be my top pick if you don’t have a defined genre. The a7 III does great at capturing stills no matter the lighting conditions, and does well in terms of video, too. It’s comfortable in the hands with its improved ergonomics, and it has a lens lineup unlike any others you’ll see here (plus a ton of third-party options).
Sports or action photographer
The Canon EOS R6 makes sense to go with here. With its fast frame rate and buffer capabilities, you’ll never struggle to keep up. It’s also the only camera on here with two UHS-II SD card slots.
This is where the Nikon Z 6 makes sense. Nikon has pretty good color science, in my opinion, and has improved its autofocus quite a bit since the launch of this camera. The system also has a series of f/1.8 primes, and if you really want to go crazy, you can invest in the 58mm f/0.95 S Noct for the ultimate bokeh experience.
This one is a toss-up. The Canon EOS R6 has impressive video specs, but the Lumix S1 is known to be a great video camera. Panasonic invests heavily in its videography features, and the S1 is no exception.
So what do you think? Are you planning on investing in a new mirrorless full-frame camera soon? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.