Mirrorless cameras, (also known as MILCs: Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras), offer a great compromise between size, features, image quality, and price. Amateur photographers looking to up their game from a point and shoot can get the hang of them quickly, and prosumers looking for portability without sacrificing options love them too. So which are the best? We asked you, and here are five of the best, based on your nominations.
Earlier in the week, we asked you which mirrorless cameras were the best of the breed. We’ve mentioned before how to pick a camera based on your needs, but we wanted your nominations. You responded, and now we’re back to look at the top five models.Do you want to know all about the best camera lens brands in today’s market?
You’ve come to the right place. Because this article will tell you everything, you need to know about the best camera lens manufacturers.
Capturing memories through photos is something that nearly all of us do while travelling, and an increasing number of people are taking better cameras along for the ride.
The popularity of detachable lens cameras such as DSLRs and Micro Four-Thirds has allowed us to take much better photos than in the past. At the same time, it’s also given us more options and decisions to make than we can sometimes handle.
When we travel with a camera, we want flexibility. Not the body-bending type (though that doesn’t hurt), but instead a way to handle a variety of shooting conditions with the least amount of gear.
It’s with that flexibility in mind that we’ll try to find the best one for your needs. It’s worth saying that life is about compromises, and so are lenses.
As part of a new series aimed at those taking the next step with their photography gear, we aim to help make sense out of all the options out there. With that, we’ll try to keep the jargon to a minimum. And stick to the basics and what matters most.
This is where we round-up the best DSLR cameras available to buy today.
DSLR cameras – which stands for digital single-lens reflex – have removable lenses so that different optics can be attached in order to give a different view onto the world. This potential variety allows you to start small and build-up to the more different, sharper and desirable featured lenses as you go along.
We’ll guide you through the hottest cameras available – using only models that we’ve handled – to save you time when it comes to working out what the best options are.
Whether you’re new to DSLRs, looking to upgrade, know plenty about cameras already, or are considering a more pro option, we’ve broken down our list of great DSLR cameras into sub-headed categories to make things easier to digest.
Don’t confuse them with the newer breed of mirrorless cameras (sometimes called compact system cameras) which we have covered in a separate feature.
If you’re a video shooter now is a good time to be shopping for an upgrade, or perhaps to transition from DSLR to mirrorless, or, as the case may be, to jump into videography for the first time.
I’ve been shooting videos here on Stark Insider for about ten years now. I started with a basic camcorder, then jumped into DSLR with the Canon Rebel T2i. Soon after I was riding the upgrade train, first the EOS 60D, then a few years later the fantastic 70D, and earlier this year to the 80D. Along the way I also shot on RED (Raven), Canon EOS Cinema (C100 II), Blackmagic (Micro Cinema Camera), and mirrorless cameras too (Sony a6000, Panasonic Lumix G7, Olympus EM-10). Regardless, to me at least, it’s the story that matters most; to draw people into your video.
Table of Contents
- 1 What to Consider before Buying Interchangeable Lens Camera?
- 2 What is the Best Camera With Interchangeable Lens?
- 3 What is best Camera Brand Lens Today?
What to Consider before Buying Interchangeable Lens Camera?
Are lenses within your budget? Can you find the lenses for the mount that meet your needs?
First thing’s first: cameras don’t work in a one-size-fits-all way. Brands like to keep their own heritage and, as such, each manufacturer has its own lens mount.
For Canon it’s EF-mount (including EF-S), for Nikon it’s F-mount, for Pentax it’s K-mount, and Sony has A-mount. There are some additions and exceptions, but those are the current main four. Don’t fall into the trap by buying the wrong lenses just because the brand names match up.
I’ll also talk about the lens mounts each brand uses, so you can be certain that the indicated brand is compatible with your camera.
You see, the way a lens attached to a camera body called lens mount, and every lens is made to attach to a specific camera mount. It’s not possible to attach a Canon EF lens to a Nikon F -mount camera, because EF lenses aren’t made for the Nikon F-mount. And it’s not possible to attach a Sony FE lens to a Canon EF – mount camera, because Sony FE lenses aren’t made for Canon EF – mounts.
(The exception to this is when you place an adapter between the lens and the camera, but these aren’t available for all camera/lens combinations).
Second, the equation is sensor size. Entry and mid-level cameras typically have what’s called an APS-C size sensor. Some pro-spec cameras have full-frame sensors that, because they’re physically larger, need specific (typically pricier and more advanced) lenses that are capable of covering these larger dimensions. Typically these sensor types aren’t interchangeable across the lens range: you’re either using APS-C, or you’re using full-frame.
There are plenty of things to consider with lenses, and this all depends on the type of photography you are planning on doing. If it’s all about portraits, you’ll want something around the 50mm or 75mm mark. If you are trying to snap that lion on the Savannah and don’t want to get eaten then you’ll want something with a long zoom, say, closer to 300mm or greater.
Is a weather-sealed camera important to you? If you’re shooting in the rain, snow, or in extreme climates, you may want to consider the only weather-sealed camera.
Is high resolution 4K important to you? If you’re only shooting for YouTube, it may not matter, and 1080p may be good enough. But if you want to stabilize footage or “punch in” the additional resolution could be very helpful. Just mind the extra storage and processing power needed!
Vlogging? You’ll want a camera with a fully articulating LCD. Some, like the Sony 6500, only tilt up and down and aren’t ideal for solo shooters.
Canon DSLRs are renowned for their long battery life. The downside? Generally fewer features (4K video, for example) then their mirrorless counterparts. Go Sony, though, and be prepared to have a few spare batteries on hand to make it through a day of shooting.
What is the Best Camera With Interchangeable Lens?
Sony Alpha a6500
It looks like a point-and-shoot camera, but don’t let that fool you. The Sony Alpha a6500 is a serious bit of kit. Building off the success of the a6000 and a6300, the new a6500 adds in-body stabilization and a bunch of other goodies that make it a worthy choice for best of 2016. E-mount lens selection can be limited (and expensive compared to other mounts), but there are plenty of low-cost adapters that enable you to use your existing Canon or Nikon glass. Shoot in S-log3 if you like, and you’ll be in colour grading heaven. Get in line now. I hear demand is through the roof. For a good reason, the Sony a6500 is a slick, pocketable powerhouse of a mirrorless camera.
The Sony NEX line of cameras is some of the most popular MILCs on the market and for a good reason. They have broad lens selection, adapters for other lens types, unparalleled image quality, tons of settings and options, and more. All of the NEX models earned high praise from many of you for their price point, portability, and image quality. The NEX-5N is no longer available from Sony (although you can still find them on Amazon, $599 body only/$699 with an 18-55mm lens), replaced now by the NEX-5R ($649 body only/$749 with an 18-55mm lens, both models much cheaper at Amazon), both of which many of you said hit the sweet spot of price to performance in the NEX line. One step up is the higher-end NEX-6 ($849 body only/$999 with a 16-50mm lens, also available at Amazon.) All of the models bring a Sony 16.1 megapixel alpha sensor to a smaller, portable frame. They shoot full HD video, sport a live-view LCD (note: The NEX-6 does not have a touch-screen LCD) on the back that’s also a touch-screen, and feature tons of options and the corresponding physical controls to manage them. The 5R and six even pack built-in Wi-Fi for geotagging and automatic photo uploads. For more info, check out DPReview’s review of the NEX-5N, preview of the NEX-5R, and a preview of the NEX-6.
Fujifilm X-Pro 1/X-E1
Fujifilm’s X-series is another great-looking, highly-featured series of MILCs that take great photos while appealing to photographers who appreciate a little retro design in their camera bodies. Those of you who nominated it noted that you put down full-on DSLRs and picked up your X-Pro 1s and X-E1s instead, partially for portability. The X-Pro 1 is the high end of the X line, retailing for $1400 body only (a bit less at Amazon) and the X-E1 is it’s more affordable (but sporting the same sensor) cousin at $999 body only/$1400 with an 18-55mm lens (also available at Amazon.) Each model packs a 16.3-megapixel sensor, an LCD on the back, a slim form factor, and some pretty hefty and detailed options and features. Some people report the X-Pro 1 and the X-E1 have a steeper learning curve than others, but it’s worth learning. For more information, check out DPReview’s review of the X-Pro1 and of the X-E1.
Panasonic Lumix G85
Best for: indie filmmaking, run-and-gun, learning about videography (touch screen and UI are easy and intuitive) Panasonic, like Sony, is killing it when it comes to features at reasonable prices for video shooters. The GH4 took the indie filmmaking world by a storm a few years back. Its sequel — the GH5 — is due next year. But it will be pricey. I’m sure it will be well received. However, there’s a lot to like about this new Lumix G85 from Panasonic. Think of it almost as a GH4.5. Easy to grip. Cinema picture profiles. Filmmaking tools (histogram, focus peaking, etc.) Sharp UHD 4K video and burst modes. Touch screen simplicity. Decent battery life. Under $1,000. Excellent stuff. You could use the G85 to shoot a music video, a wedding, birthday party. Lightwell, and you can shoot your first film, or a television commercial, or just have fun experimenting. Small and ready to go, the G85 builds on years of Panasonic’s video pedigree, and the results are outstanding. Bonus: a lens for the micro four-thirds mount is inexpensive and light.
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II
Best for: professionals, landscape and travel shooters, journalists, those who demand the absolute best image quality in a relatively compact package. An interesting thing is happening in the world of APS-C (crop sensor) mirrorless cameras. Prices are going up. At least, for flagship models. About $2,000 is becoming the norm for a flagship APS-C camera. Spend a thousand more, and you’re at full-frame (Sony A7S II or Canon 5D IV, for example). In terms of that trend, Olympus is perhaps pushing the envelope more than anyone. With the OM-D E-M1 Mark II, Olympus on a mission to prove that MFT can compete with full-frame. This is one serious camera. Headlining a feature list too exhaustive to list here is a new 20.4MP sensor — compared to more traditional, lower-res 16MP sensors found in typical MFT cameras. There’s a new processor, improved frame rates, high-performance AF (121-point dual), and, as we’re accustomed to seeing these days, in-camera 5-axis image stabilization. Bonus: it looks very cool with that retro design.
Canon EOS 80D
Best for: all-around run-and-gun, weddings, events, scenes with fast-moving actions which require accurate auto-focus, hobbyists, those also interested in taking quality stills
Canon doesn’t win the spec wars (especially against the likes of Sony), but what it does do: release rugged, reliable, easy-to-use cameras that get the job done. The new EOS 80D is a great example. You won’t find 4K. No fancy stabilization. And, a shortage of high frame rate options. What you get is a camera with an amazing auto-focus system. It’s called DPAF – Dual-Pixel Auto Focus. And Canon has it perfected. No one comes close, yet. Touch the LCD on a moving subject, and the 80D does the rest, tracking the subject across the frame. This feature is great for sports, auto-racing, or any other situation where you want to focus on a specific subject. Bonus: the 18-135mm telephoto kit lens is virtually silent, and focus locks in the blink of an eye.
Best for: street shooters, those who want good video (1080p only) and high-quality stills in a discrete and pocketable body. If you work on the streets a lot, consider the new Olympus PEN-F. The tiny body makes it ideal for discretely capturing action without drawing attention to yourself. Add a quality lens, like the Lumix G 12-32mm f/2.8 (one of my favourites), and you may be surprised: you can get quality without carrying the bulk. The rangefinder design (no pentaprism) may not be for everyone as it doesn’t offer as much grip as a larger camera, but keep in mind you gain portability and probably won’t need to think twice before tossing this one into your bag. A high-performance camera thanks to the 20.3MP sensor. Just remember, this one doesn’t have 4K video. Then again, for YouTube shooters, it’s not always worth the storage and processing hassle. With the PEN-F (and new OM-D EM-1 II) Olympus is hoping to get back on track after losing ground to others, most notably Sony. I think they’re off to a good start.
What is best Camera Brand Lens Today?
These days, Canon is known as the photography powerhouse, but it wasn’t always that way. Back in 1937 and throughout the 20th century, the market was dominated by companies such as Eastman Kodak.
It wasn’t until recent years that Canon claimed the lens production throne, and the company now offers the largest lens lineup available.
Canon’s current lens options include EF lenses, which work on Canon full-frame and APS-C DSLRs, as well as EF-S lenses, which only function on Canon’s APS-C offerings. Some of the EF lenses are dubbed as “L,” or “Luxury,” to indicate superior sharpness, autofocus, and build quality over its other equipment.
And it’s Canon’s “L” lenses that have managed to capture the hearts and minds of professional photographers; Canon’s EF, L-designated lenses are a favourite of sports and wildlife shooters in particular, even as the industry moves in the mirrorless direction.
Canon’s growing RF lens lineup is something to keep an eye on over the next few years, as the imaging giant tries to outcompete Sony in the mirrorless arena.
Nikon was founded in 1917 and was a prominent lens producer throughout much of the 20th century. For years, the imaging corporation fought with Canon over the top spot (though Canon maintained a noteworthy lead)–but it wasn’t until the last decade or so that Sony crept into the mix, upsetting Nikon’s position as second in line to the throne.
While Nikon may not offer quite as impressive a lens selection as Canon, the company is known for its stellar quality lenses. In particular, Nikon’s FX lenses (produced for full-frame DSLRs) and DX lenses (produced for APS-C DSLRs) are consistently top tiers.
In terms of mirrorless lens production, Nikon was late to the game compared to companies like Canon and Sony but has taken major strides in recent years. The Nikon Z-mount lenses may be a game-changer for Nikon fans, and Nikon is working to produce a number of high-quality Z-mount lenses over the next few years.
Out of the big three lens manufacturers, Sony is a relative latecomer. While Sony has been around for the better half of the 20th century, the company wasn’t known for its lens (or camera) production.But then, in the early 2000s, Sony acquired Konica Minolta–and the first noteworthy Sony cameras were born.
It was from Konica Minolta that Sony acquired the A-mount, which is incorporated into its first DSLRs, and used to create lenses. The A-mount, however, didn’t last long, with Sony moving onto its current E-mount system.
Note that Sony has several categories of lenses, including FE lenses (for its full-frame mirrorless cameras), and E lenses (for its APS-C mirrorless cameras).
Sony also produces G Master (GM) series lenses, which are designed to offer incredible build quality, impressive resolution, and more–though they do come at a premium.
And Sony creates some lenses in partnership with Zeiss, another leading lens manufacturer (one particularly known for its high-quality lenses).
These days, Fujifilm is a dark horse in the lens manufacturing industry. For years, the company was one of the major players in the camera business, especially in Japan, though Fujifilm successfully expanded into the US in the late 1900s.
Fujifilm doesn’t offer the same number of lens options compared to Canon or Nikon, but the corporation is famous for producing the best lenses for crop sensor cameras. In fact, Fujifilm produces no full-frame cameras, choosing to focus only on APS-C and medium format bodies.
Fujifilm’s APS-C cameras use X-mount lenses, which are designed for mirrorless bodies such as the acclaimed Fujifilm X-T3 and X-T30.
Fujifilm also produces G-mount lenses for its medium format cameras, such as the GFX 50R body.
While you’d be hard-pressed to label Olympus as a ‘dominant force’ in the camera lens manufacturer industry, the company has managed to survive plenty of market upheaval, including the transition from film to digital and the transition from digital to mirrorless.
Back during the DSLR heyday, Olympus and Kodak together developed the Four Thirds system, which used smaller-than-APS-C sensors to produce a brand-new cameras system. This was then expanded (with the help of Panasonic) to become the Micro Four Thirds system, which is used for Olympus and Panasonic lenses.
In 1918, Panasonic started as an electric company–but eventually grew into the corporation you see today, with a robust full-frame mirrorless camera lineup, and the co-developer of the Micro Four Thirds system.In recent years, Panasonic partnered with Leica to create Lumix Leica lenses (designed for its full-frame L-mount mirrorless cameras). But the primary Panasonic mount is the Micro Four Thirds; Panasonic uses this in conjunction with its Micro Four Thirds mirrorless cameras.
Leica is one of the oldest lens manufacturers on this list; the company dates all the way back to 1869 and is known for its high quality (but pricey) lenses.
These days, Leica produces L-mount lenses alongside Panasonic, and these can be mounted on Panasonic full-frame mirrorless bodies, as well as Leica’s mirrorless full-frame and APS-C offerings.
While Leica’s history is rich and its lenses are breathtaking (both in terms of optics and aesthetics), its high prices prevent most consumers from adopting the Leica brand.
Carl Zeiss AG is the oldest company on this list, going back to 1846–but while the company has produced cameras in the past, these days it’s known in the camera world as a third-party lens manufacturer.
In this, Zeiss is quite prolific, offering dozens of Zeiss cinema lenses, medium format lenses, large format lenses, Sony full-frame lenses, and even ZF and ZE lenses for the Nikon F-mount and Canon EF-mount cameras, respectively.
While Zeiss lenses are recognized for their high-quality optics, they’re also incredibly pricey, making them less popular among consumers.
Sigma is a relatively new lens manufacturer, having been founded in 1961 as a family business. It grew to become the largest independent producer of lenses in the world.
Sigma does produce cameras of its own, but its greatest claim to fame is its third-party lens lineups; the company produces Canon EF-mount lenses, Sony A-mount lenses, Sony E-mount lenses, Nikon F-mount lenses, Four-Thirds lenses, and Pentax K-mount lenses.
In particular, Sigma is known for its line of ART lenses, which produce stellar images and provide fantastic build quality while offering impressively fast apertures. Note that Sigma recently announced the development of ART L-mount lenses, which can be used on Leica, Panasonic, and Sigma cameras.
While Sigma is the largest third-party lens manufacturer out there, Tamron is one of its main competitors, along with Tokina and Rokinon (below).
The Tamron company was originally developed as a camera lens and binocular producer, but it’s most known for its interchangeable lens lineup.
Tamron lenses are generally offered for Canon EF-mount cameras, Nikon F-mount cameras, Sony A-mount cameras, and Pentax K-mount cameras. Though Tamron isn’t known for its build quality, the company is famous for its low-priced and surprisingly high-quality third-party optics.
Tokina is the oldest of the third-party lens manufacturers, having been founded back in 1950 (though it experienced some turbulent early years, and didn’t start creating lenses until the 1960s).
While Tokina’s lens lineup isn’t particularly large, it is versatile, including options for full-frame and APS-C cameras, compatible with Canon, Nikon, and Sony bodies.
Samyang / Rokinon
In recent years, Samyang has garnered attention thanks to its high-quality prime lenses. However, the Rokinon label is part of Samyang Optics (a relatively new company in the third-party lens industry).
Under the Rokinon name, Samyang has produced autofocus lenses for Sony E-mount cameras, Canon EF-mount cameras, and Nikon F-mount cameras. And Rokinon’s manual focus lenses have been manufactured for Canon RF mounts, Pentax K mounts, Fuji X mounts, Micro Four Thirds mounts, Nikon Z mounts, and more.