Best Camera 2017
With 2017 is more than half over, a number of new, innovative cameras have hit the market. We're already seeing cameras with uber faster frame rates (We're looking at you, Sony a9) and even a medium format mirrorless without the medium format price tag. But with so many new cameras comes a whole lot of decisions -- so what's the best camera for you? We've rounded up the top performers of the year. A few of these are hold overs from 2016, either because they have not yet been updated or because the upgrade really isn't worth the higher price. While there's a short window for some newcomers to update the list, here are the best cameras of 2017 so far.
The Panasonic FZ80 has a whole lot of things going for it, considering it still sells for less than $400. The camera has the typical 1/2.3" CMOS sensor, but what's not so typical is the bright f/2.8 - 5.9 lens with a whopping 60x optical zoom. That brigther lens helps in low light, as well as creating those softer backgrounds. The lens isn't the only stand-out feature of the FZ80 though -- the 10 fps burst speed is excellent and there's also 4K video. Panasonic also offers 4K photo modes which essentially pulls stills from that high resolution video. Those files have a lower resolution, but it allows you to do things like take a 30 fps burst or even adjust the focus after you've already taken the shot. If you need a good zoom but don't have a penny more than $400 to spend -- the Panasonic FZ80 is an excellent super zoom camera.
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2017 hasn't yet brought us a new winner in the compact zoom category, so for now, the Panasonic ZS60 is still holding on, though that could certainly change by the end of the year. The ZS60 takes this slot over other small zoom cameras because of, well, some of the same reasons the new but heftier FZ80 takes the best super zoom -- a good lens, a 10 fps burst mode and 4K video with some pretty neat 4K photo modes.
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- Nikon COOLPIX A900
The Sony RX10 series has long been an excellent but expensive option for advanced compact cameras with a solid zoom lens, but the Sony RX10 IV makes a serious step up with an outstanding 24 fps burst speed. Sony is also claiming a .03 second autofocus on this beast. The one-inch sensor and manual controls puts it in the advanced category and gives the RX10 IV some serious imaging power, while the bright 25x zoom lens means some pretty wide versatility. Sports, travel, kids, the RX10 IV can keep up with it. The downside? A $1700 price point. Can't swallow the cost? Last year's winner the Panasonic FZ2500 isn't as fast but is the closest competitor with a lower price point.
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- Panasonic Lumix FZ2500
The Olympus TG-5 and it's predessors have taken the top waterproof title for several years in a row now, thanks to a bright f/2.0 lens and a rugged mirrorless body. The 2017 update to the series, the TG-5, brings 4K video, an updated processor, a faster electronic shutter burst mode and a new sensor designed for better low light performance. The camera continues with the series' bright lenses, semi-manual modes and RAW shooting, along with adding a new Live Composite mode for light painting and a Focus Stacking mode for macro. The update also brings the sensors from the TG-Tracker action camera, so users can see where their shots were taken and even the path it took to get there.
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- Ricoh WG-5
The Fujifilm X70 is a compact that performs like a DSLR -- that's because it has a large, DSLR sensor inside. While the Fujifilm X70 isn't as versatile as a DSLR because of a fixed lens, it will get you images similar to the excellent Fujifilm X mirrorless camera line. That lack of a zoom may not make it the best camera for travel, but it's a solid street shooter for the price, particularly for those turned off by the Fujifilm X100F's high price.
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- Ricoh GR II
Sony's RX100 line has long impressed -- and their latest option could also win a race with an impressive 24 fps burst speed and quick autofocus. That's combined with a one inch sensor and a small body that's still large enough to accommodate a viewfinder. If you need speed, portability and quality, the RX100 Mark IV certainly fits the bill, though there are other compacts with better sensors (read: better images) like the Fujifilm X100F, they just don't have near the same speed. Keep in mind, $1,000 is enough to pick up a DSLR -- so settle on this one only if you really need a little camera with big performance.
The Fujifilm X100F gets a nod here too for a larger sensor and a design that makes minimalist photography fun.
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- Fujifilm X100F
Budget doesn't mean you have to skip out on 4K video or extras like image stabilization and an electronic viewfinder when you pick the Olympus OM-D EM10 Mark III, which lists for $800 with a lens. The Micro Four Thirds sensor isn't as large as the likes of Fujifilm and Sony, but offers excellent image quality for the price and decent video with a high 4K resolution as well. Despite the lower price, Olympus' excellent 5 axis stabilization system is still included, a big help for video and low light. While the body isn't weather-sealed and burst speed with continous autofocus is just 4.8 fps, the features are pretty hard to beat without spending more.
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The Panasonic GH5 is bringing 60 fps 4K video to mirrorless cameras -- and without short recording limits. The GH5 appears to be every bit a video camera as it is a still shooter with a solid 20 megapixel micro four thirds sensor and 12 fps burst speed. That imaging capability is wrapped up in a weather-sealed body. If you like to get your hands dirty in both stills and video, the GH5 mixes the best of both worlds. If you're rather indifferent about the number of pixels in your video, consider the Sony A7 series, or, for more tighter budgets, the Fujifilm X-T20.
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Sony's full frame mirrorless cameras have long been an impressive option, but the a9 sets a new standard in speed. Becuase of Sony's statcked sensor design first introduced in compact cameras, the camera can handle data at a faster rate, which gives the a9 its biggest edge: a 20 fps burst mode. Finally, the lack of a mirror is starting to really show some speed advantages without making big sacrifices on quality. Image stabilization, 693 focal points, 4K video and weather sealing help solidify the Sony a9 in the top mirrorless slot for 2017. If speed isn't essesntial, the a9's little siblings offer more resolution without that big 20 fps burst, while the Fujifilm X-T2 sits as an excellent high-end APS-C mirrorless option. If the price is too high, or the resolution is too low, the Sony a7R III is an excellent option as well, with only half the speed but a 45 megapixel sensor. Of course, the medium format Fujifilm GFX 50S can't go without a mention here -- but while the price is excellent compared to the competition, the $6K+ price tag makes in inaccessible to many.
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The Nikon D5600 is a relatively low key update to the D5500, adding Bluetooth and time lapses, but it still beats out Canon's models at similar price points. The D5600 and D5500 use 24 megapixel APS-C sensors and shoot at up to five fps. One of the biggest perks for choosing the D5600 over the cheaper D3400 is a tilting LCD screen, though the autofocus is a bit nicer as well. Nikon's entry-level DSLRs offer excellent image quality for the price, and while they may not have the speed and extras of their pricier options, are easy to use and also have excellent battery life. (If you don't care much about the Bluetooth or time lapse feature, look at the price difference on the older D5500).
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- Nikon D3400
Both Nikon and Canon updated their flagship DSLRs last year with two excellent cameras -- and since these top-of-line cameras don't get a refresh every year, both are still excellent options. But the Nikon D850 is giving pros fewer reasons to choose the D5 with a much higher 45 megapixel resolution without a huge speed drop and with similar autofocus speed. The D850 isn't excellent becuase of one particular feature, it's excellent becuase finding a camera that does both the super high resolution and solid speed is tough to do. And becuase it's not $5K Nikon's flagship, the $3,300 price point isn't bad either.
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