My favorite camera in 2015, and I put my money where my mouth is to make it my personal stills and video camera. It’s unbeatable at the price – frankly, nothing short of an a7r II would get me out of it, including anything from Canon, Panasonic, Samsung, or anybody else. Really. Hybrid functionality is stellar, Sony’s popping out great lenses now, and with any number of adapters you have almost unlimited lens choices including anything from Canon (like their outstanding telephotos) or Nikon. Except micro 4/3 lenses like the outstanding Voigtländer Nokton series). Who cares if it doesn’t have a mic or headphone jack? I use the on-board mic for reference audio only, and synching is a breeze these days with dedicated audio.
I was able to muck around with the FS7 over a weekend, but I am not a dedicated camcorder shooter. With this written, it was plain as the nose on my face if your work requires this kind of camera, the FS7 is, like its little cousin the a6000, also unbeatable at the price.Do internal 4K 12-bit RAW recording (with 10-bit 4:2:2 Full HD and pretty much everything in-between), S-log3 at ISO 2000, internal ND filter, up to 3 hours recording time per battery,no need for a separate audio recorder, shoulder mount, and up to 180fps in FHD sound good to you? Canon’s closest competitor is the C300 Mark II at precisely twice the price of the FS7 – and there’s no Canon lens you can’t use on the Sony with an adapter (these days a Metabones adapter is included in the purchase price). Sure, a Canon lens will autofocus faster on a Canon body than on a Sony body, but are you going to spend this kind of dosh on a camera and then leave it to autofocus?
If I were to have only one camera to do it all, it would be the Sony a7R II, hands-down. There’s nothing from any other camera manufacturer that can touch it as a hybrid, full stop. But it’s pretty awesome as a stills OR video camera on its own. With its 42mp backside illumination sensor, it has just been crowned as the #1 camera in DxOMark tests, with a low-light score bested by a small fraction over its high-ISO dominating brother, the original a7s. Add 5-axis in-body image stabilization (IBIS), internal 4K recording, focus and exposure assists that no DSLR can touch, fast autofocus if you want it, and a rapidly expanding set of outstanding lens options, and you’ve got the camera that single-handedly raises the bar for the entire industry – an overblown overheating issue notwithstanding (minor, in my book, except for equatorial, lengthy interviews).
If I could have only one non-interchangeable lens camera, the Sony RX100 Mk IV would be it.I haven’t held this latest version of the RX100 in my hands, but I was impressed with the original a couple of years ago, own its bigger interchangeable lens cousin the a6000, and am gobsmacked by the Mark IV’s features. If you want a point and shoot (at least in terms of size and inconspicuousness) this is it. Yes, I’m on a Sony tear, but there’s a reason for it: Sony is THE hot hand right now, and this little cam will give you outstanding images both still and video, with internal UHD 4K recording, S-Log2, a 2+ megapixel pop-up viewfinder, and built-in 24-70mm full frame equivalent lens by Zeiss. Is the sensor nearly as good as the Sony a6000? Technically, no: the a6000 is crazy good, and blows away much larger and more expensive cameras. But the even smaller RX100 Mk IV in turn crushes its own competitors, and is literally more than twice as good as my old point and shoot standby for many years, the Canon S90.
If I wanted an interchangeable lens, internal 4K recording hybrid camera for under $2,000 – or were invested in Micro Four Thirds lenses or in love with the Voigtländer f/0.95 Nokton lenses (which I am), the Panasonic GH4 is the camera I’d buy. I had occasion to test one earlier this year, and it was lovely.
If you want an action cam, the GoPro is the go-to solution. I own the HERO3+ Black, but this is no longer being made, supplanted by the new HERO4. Still, if you’re not doing 4K, save yourself some bucks (so that you’re well on your way to buying TWO) an by the the HERO3+ Silver which is still available.
What has 15 stops of dynamic range, switch-selectable rolling or global shutter, internal RAW 4K recording, active Canon EF lens mount, has a pair of XLR inputs and decent on-board pre-amp, and costs just under $5K? Got your attention? Welcome to the URSA Mini 4.6K. At the time I’m writing this, Mini 4.6K is not out yet – and no version of it comes with internal ND filters – but I’ve hoisted a pre-production unit on my shoulder during an interview with Blackmagic Americas President Dan May and you can color me intrigued. It’s about the size and form factor of the Sony FS7, and while the URSA Mini is heavier, it also sits more naturally on my shoulder. The 4.6K version is the ticket, which Dan assures me has cured the fine patterned noise (FPN) and “black sun” issues of the 4K sensor found in some of their other cameras as well as the base version of the URSA Mini.