These are the best digital cameras for 2019.
From DSLRs to mirrorless, these are the best cameras you can buy right now.
If money is no object, the best digital camera you can buy is the Sony A7R IV Despite more competition in the full-frame space than ever before, Sony still delivered a winner with the fourth generation of its high-resolution mirrorless camera, which now boasts 61 megapixels. It also features the best autofocus system we’ve ever seen, effortlessly tracking eyes, faces, and other moving subjects for tack-sharp results in virtually any situation. While cost will keep it out of reach of many photographers, it’s worth it for those who want to experience the pinnacle of imaging technology.
There are more choices in cameras than ever before, and there is no shortage of great ones. Here are a few of our favorites, from compact point-and-shoots to professional DSLRs.
At a glance
• Best digital camera overall: Sony A7R IV.
• Best 4K full-frame camera: Panasonic Lumix S1
• Best full-frame camera for beginners: Sony A7 III
• Best DSLR: Nikon D850
• Best point-and-shoot camera: Sony RX100 VII
• Best travel camera: Olympus Tough TG-6
• Best camera for beginners: Sony A6100
• Best still camera for video: Panasonic Lumix GH5
• The best digital camera overall: Sony A7R IV
Why should you buy this: 61 megapixels of full-frame glory
Sony A7R IV
Crop to your heart’s content with impressive resolution that still won’t slow you down
Who’s it for: Professional and enthusiast photographers that like big prints, big details, or big crops
Why we picked the Sony A7R IV:
Remember when 45 megapixels was a big deal? The Sony A7R IV packs in 61, offering more resolution than an 8K TV. That’s enough to make very detailed 30-inch prints, or crop a photo significantly and still get a sharp result. But while many high-resolution cameras will slow you down, the A7R IV can fire away at a 10 frames per second. That won’t win a race with the sports-oriented A9, but it’s plenty of speed for most users.
If somehow 61 megapixels isn’t enough, a pixel shift mode can be used to create a 240-megapixel image, although you’ll to stitch it together later using Sony’s proprietary software. Equally impressive are the 15 stops of dynamic range that will help keep more details intact in high contrast scenes.
Sony A7R IV also packs in the same old features that have kept the entire A7 series at the top of our lists for years. Five-axis stabilization is built into the body, the autofocus system is the best in the business thanks Real-Time Tracking and Real-Time Eye AF, and it can shoot decent, if not class-leading, 4K video.
Those features are wrapped up in a body that’s familiar to anyone who’s handled a Sony mirrorless camera before, but Sony has made some small enhancements. The grip is a bit deeper on the A7R IV and the weather sealing has been improved. The body houses a 670-shot battery which is leagues ahead of the mirrorless competition at this point.
You’ll need perfect focus and technique to actually take advantage of all those megapixels, but the A7R IV makes this as easy as possible. No, it’s not cheap, but for the most demanding photographers, the Sony A7R IV is worth it.
The best 4K full-frame camera: Panasonic Lumix S1
Why you should buy this: Impressive image quality, robust design, and functional controls
Panasonic Lumix DC-S1
The Lumix S1 is a stunning example of a first-generation product that impresses on all fronts.
Who’s it for: Professionals, landscape photographers, and serious photo enthusiasts
Why we choose the Panasonic S1:
The Panasonic Lumix S1 isn’t exactly what we expected from a mirrorless camera — but in many ways, it exceeded those expectations. Besides the excellent image quality coming from the full-frame 24-megapixel sensor, a 96-megapixel high-resolution mode lets you capture even more detail when using a tripod (and doesn’t require proprietary processing software like the Sony A7R IV’s high-resolution mode). We were very impressed with the out-of-camera JPEG image quality, which produces excellent color and contrast, while the RAW images offer plenty of flexibility and strong high-ISO performance.
The S1 uses contrast detection autofocus instead of the usually faster phase detection, but Panasonic narrowed the gap thanks to its proprietary Depth From Defocus technology. Autofocus tracking and subject recognition are good — if not quite to the level of Sony’s more advanced Real-Time Tracking — and while speed is often indistinguishable from competing phase-detection systems, we did notice some occasional misses that cropped up seemingly at random.
The control scheme doesn’t skimp on anything and is highly customizable, offering more direct-access control than mirrorless cameras from other brands. It also offers both SD and XQD card slots, with support for even faster CFExpress cards coming in the future. The body is fully weather-sealed and houses the same electronic viewfinder as the A7R IV, with 5.7 million pixels and a refresh rate of 120 frames per second.
On the video front, the S1 was the first full-frame camera to record 4K video at up to 60 frames per second (alongside its sibling, the Lumix S1R). But that’s not all. A paid firmware upgrade takes the camera to the next level, unlocking full V-log recording and 10-bit 4:2:2 color. The camera can also output a clean video signal over HDMI for even higher-quality recording with an external video recorder. For the aspiring filmmaker, the S1 has a big edge over the competition.
On the downside, all of this makes the camera quite heavy. At about 2.25 pounds, it weighs more than some full-frame DSLRs.
The Lumix S1 may not be the best camera for travel photography because of that, but it is otherwise a tremendous achievement that leaves very little to be desired.