Imaging Resource Camera of the Year 2020: Best Enthusiast Full Frame, Crop Frame, and Professional
posted Tuesday, November 17, 2020 at 12:00 PM EDT
Our 2020 Camera of the Year train rolls forward today as we move up into the enthusiast and professional realms of the photographic world. This is the territory most frequented by our long-term readers... the gear that aims to do it all!
To be clear on our definition of "enthusiast," we'll call it someone who's practiced their craft for many years, perhaps even decades. This is way beyond amateur, even beyond "hobbyist" and right on the heels of a professional. An enthusiast will often spend more than $1500 on a new camera body and sometimes far more. In fact, we're talking about the IR Review team as well!
Without further ado, we present our Best Enthusiast and Best Professional cameras of 2020.
Best Enthusiast Crop-Frame 2020: Olympus E-M1 Mark III
This category was a super-close race, and it came down to the wire. The predecessors for both the E-M1 III and the X-T4 both won our Best Overall Camera for the years they were unveiled (2016 and 2018, respectively). Each model is so good, so seasoned as an awesome photographic tool, so well-balanced and also well-priced. What a decision!
And yet we feel that the Olympus E-M1 III yields the most as an overall package. The size and the ergonomics are both wonderful. The feature set is imminently usable and well-thought-out. The lens selection is simply unreal, too. And on top of all that, the E-M1 III has the best overall in-body image stabilization currently made.
As the desire to shoot more and more video grows, and as more birding and wildlife photographers come into the fold, having terrific IS just escalates in importance for both endeavors. Other camera makers claim certain IS ratings, but we found the E-M1 Mark III to best them all in both the crop-frame and the full-frame worlds in our rigorous testing.
If you need a simply fantastic enthusiast camera body, you can't go wrong with the Olympus E-M1 Mark III.
Olympus E-M1 III Best Prices • Gallery
Enthusiast Crop-Frame Camera of Distinction: Fujifilm X-T4
The Fujifilm X-T3 was so close to perfect in our book back in 2018, and the only thing really missing was in-body image stabilization. This year brought forth the X-T4 and now IBIS is here, along with a wealth of wonderful video chops as well. We've long since come to absolutely love this line of cameras for the terrific stills image quality, and now it's become a true hybrid powerhouse.
Sporting 4k/60p video, 15fps mechanical shutter, 5-axis IBIS, and excellent low-light AF prowess and IQ, this camera knows how to get the job done in so many different areas. It's also well-armed in the weather sealing department, and so you'll be ready no matter the shooting circumstances. And of course, it retains the wonderful array of retro controls and the unique film simulations that we've come to love from the X Series.
Fujifilm X-T4 Best Prices • Gallery
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Best Enthusiast Full Frame 2020: Panasonic Lumix S5
Hybrid content creators have long since loved Panasonic for their awesome GH line, and were wowed initially by the Full Frame S-series in 2019 for performance, but not for the weight of the bodies themselves. In 2020, the S5 came along and changed all that, leaving all the wonderful features in the stills and video arenas, and yet shaving off almost a third the weight. Meet the Best Overall Hybrid Camera for 2020, the Panasonic S5.
The Lumix S5 has so much to love it's hard to know where to begin. In addition to high-quality 4k/60p video, it can shoot 4k/30p for an unlimited time, which is still a rare feature these days. And in addition to all the common amenities, it has a terrific array of niche features such as a super-useful 96MP High Res mode, Dual-native ISO, excellent in-camera timelapse features and even the first-ever Live Composite mode for a Full Frame camera.
If you're looking for a Full Frame Hybrid Camera that does quite literally everything currently offered, the S5 is it.
Panasonic S5 Best Prices • Gallery
Enthusiast Full Frame Camera of Distinction: Canon EOS R6
The sibling to the higher-end and higher-priced EOS R5, the new Canon EOS R6 checks off so many boxes for excellence in the enthusiast camera category. With a 20MP full-frame sensor, fast DIGIC X image processor and a more palatable $2,500 USD price, the Canon R6 is designed as an enthusiast photographer's dream camera -- rugged design and ergonomics combined with fantastic image quality, performance and speed.
In addition to great stills performance, the R6 is quite capable on the video front, with 4K video up to 60p and Full HD up to 120fps. For the Canon shooter looking for a full-frame hybrid camera, the R6 is certainly one to consider.
Canon R6 Best Prices • Gallery
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Best Professional Camera 2020: Canon EOS R5
With a new 45MP full-frame sensor, super-fast DIGIC X image processor, updated Dual Pixel CMOS AF system, swift performance, IBIS, and 8K video shooting all packed into a comfortable and rugged body, the Canon EOS R5 is one incredibly capable camera for the professional photographer (and video creator, too). The R5 is Canon's most advanced, most top-of-the-line R-series mirrorless camera to date, and it offers both features and performance for the professional photographer of all disciplines.
Despite the high-resolution sensor, the performance is up to the task for demanding, high-speed situations, too. So whether you're a landscape photographer looking for detail, resolution and dynamic range, or an action or wildlife photographer looking for speed and performance, the Canon R5 has something for everyone.
The R5 looks and feels just as we would expect a high-end Canon camera to feel: comfortable, durable and familiar, with lots of controls and customization. The camera is also extremely nimble and the new 45MP sensor captures beautiful photos with excellent fine detail and dynamic range.
Canon R5 Best Prices • Gallery
Professional Camera of Distinction: Sony A7S III
It was a long time coming, but Sony's latest-generation "high-sensitivity" Alpha 7 camera is finally here. The Sony A7S III sports a familiar design in many ways and also maintains the same 12-megapixel sensor resolution. However, there have been quite a number of changes under the hood: Updated 12MP sensor with faster readout performance, an all-new image processor, vastly upgraded AF system and more. It's an all-around faster, higher-performing full-frame camera for those that want enhanced dynamic range, high ISO performance, and of course, video shooting capabilities.
While it's certainly capable as a photo camera, the biggest focus of the A7S III is arguable in video recording. The Mark III has been designed for an excellent 4K video shooting experience. Offering 4K recording up to 120fps with full pixel readout and no pixel binning, various recording formats -- including an ALL-I option with up to 600Mbps bitrate -- plus 4Kp60 16-bit RAW video out via HDMI and 4:2:2 10-bit options for all recording modes. If you shoot 4K video, the A7S III has plenty of amenities, as well as quality, for the professional video creator.
Sony A7S III Best Prices • Gallery