Posts with «cameras & photography» label

Nikon's mirrorless Z30 is an affordable, lightweight vlogging camera

Nikon has unveiled the 20.9-megapixel APS-C Z30, its smallest and lightest Z-series camera yet. Designed for vloggers and creators, it offers a flip-out display, 4K 30p video and a long 125-minute video record time when plugged in — but lacks an electronic viewfinder. 

The Z30 is Nikon's third APS-C (DX) mirrorless camera so far, after the Z50 and Z fc models. It uses the same giant Z-mount as the company's full-frame models, which effectively dominates the relatively small body. It has a simple but effective control setup with a mode dial on top, front and rear dials to set exposure, a photo/video selector switch, and buttons for ISO, exposure compensation, AF-lock and shooting mode. A new feature over the other DX models is a tally light on front so vloggers can see when they're recording.

Nikon

The hand grip is deep for such a small camera, but due to the large mount, there's not a ton of room between the lens for your fingers. As mentioned, it has a fully-articulating 3.0-inch screen that activates self-portrait mode when flipped out, letting you set key controls like exposure compensation with the camera at at arm's length. Other key features include built-in stereo mics, a microphone input and a single UHS-I SD memory card slot. Unfortunately, it lacks a headphone jack which is a negative for video creators. 

The Z30 competes with Sony's ZV-E10 vlogging camera and has one advantage over its rival. It can shoot 4K at up to 30fps using the full width of the sensor, where Sony's model has a 1.23x crop at 30fps. That's fairly important for vlogging, as a crop makes it harder to get yourself into the shot. It can also shoot 1080p at up to 120 fps for slow-mo, but unlike the ZV-E10, doesn't support log capture — only a "flat" profile. Like its Sony rival, the Z30 has no built-in IBS — only electronic stabilization.

Nikon promises reliably fast and sharp hybrid phase-detect autofocus with face, eye and animal AI detection. It's likely similar to the AF on the Z50 and Z fc models, which are decent but lag behind Sony's APS-C cameras in terms of AF speed and accuracy. It offers a picture control auto function depending on the scene, along with 20 creative profiles. However, there's no one-click "product showcase" or bokeh options like Sony offers on the ZV-E10. 

It has a relatively small battery (the same on the other two DX models) giving it a 330 shot CIPA rating. Unlike the Z50 and Z fc which were limited to 30 minutes, the Z30 can record up to 125 minutes of 1080p video and about 35 minutes of 4K. To get those figures, though, you'll have to plug the camera's USB-C port to power. 

Nikon

Nikon promises good photography performance as well, but it's already behind the 8-ball in that area without an electronic viewfinder. Still, you get shooting speeds up to 11 fps (mechanical shutter, JPEG/RAW), hybrid phase-detect AF and even the ability to shoot a photo while recording video. 

The Z30 arrives in mid-July at $710 for the body only, $850 with a kit Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 lens, or $1,200 with the Nikkor Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 lens. Another option coming in November is the 14-140mm f/3.5-6.3 lens for $1,150. Nikon will also offer a Creators Accessory Kit for $150 with a SmallRig tripod grip, Nikon ML-L7 Bluetooth remote and a Rode VideoMicro microphone.

Along with the camera, Nikon also unveiled a new full-frame Z-mount lens, the Z400mm f/4.5 VR S. Nikon says it's the lightest lens in its class at 2.55 pounds, offers dust- and drip-resistant performance and a focus-breathing compensation function for video recording. It arrives in July 2022 for $3,250. 

How to buy a vlogging camera

With the explosion of TikTok and the growth of video on YouTube, Twitch, Instagram and other platforms, interest in vlogging has increased exponentially since we last updated our guide. If you’re one of those creators and a smartphone is no longer good enough, it may be time to upgrade to a purpose-built vlogging camera.

Some models are specifically designed for vlogging, like Sony’s ZV-E10 mirrorless camera that launched last year, or Panasonic’s compact G100. Others, like the new Panasonic GH6, Sony A7S III and Canon EOS R6 are hybrid cameras that offer vlogging as part of a larger toolset.

All of them have certain things in common, like flip-around screens, face- and/or eye-detect autofocus and stabilization. Prices, features and quality can vary widely among models, though. To that end, we’ve updated our guide with all the latest models designed for every vlogger from novice to professional, in all price ranges. Engadget has tested all of these to give you the best possible recommendations, and we’ll even discuss a few rumored upcoming models.

One caveat to this year’s guide is that a parts shortage has limited production of many cameras, causing shortages and higher prices. Sony, for one, halted production of the aforementioned ZV-E10 for a time, and models from Fujifilm and others are also hard to find. The good news is that the shortage appears to be easing, so hopefully we’ll see normal supply levels in the near future. 

What do you need in a vlogging camera?

Vlogging cameras are designed for filmmakers who often work alone and either use a tripod, gimbal, vehicle mount or just their hands to hold a camera. It has to be good not just for filming yourself, but other “B-roll” footage that helps tell your story.

The number one requirement is a flip-around screen so you can see yourself while filming. Those can rotate up, down or to the side, but flipping out to the side is preferable so a tripod or microphone won’t block it.

Steve Dent/Engadget

Continuous autofocus (AF) for video with face and eye detection is also a must. It becomes your camera “assistant,” keeping things in focus while you concentrate on your content. Most cameras can do that nowadays, but some still do it better than others.

If you move around or walk a lot, you should look for a camera with built-in optical stabilization. Electronic stabilization is another option as long as you’re aware of the limitations. You’ll also need a camera with a fast sensor that limits rolling shutter, which can create a distracting jello “wobble” with quick camera movements.

4K recording is another key feature. All cameras nowadays can shoot 4K up to at least 24 fps, but if possible, it’s better to have 4K at 60 or even 120 fps. If you shoot sports or other things involving fast movement, look for a model with at least 1080p at 120 fps for slow-motion recording.

Video quality is another important consideration, especially for skin tones. Good light sensitivity helps for night shooting, concerts, etcetera, and a log profile helps improve dynamic range in very bright or dark shooting conditions. If you want the best possible image quality and can afford it, get a camera that can record 4K with 10-bits (billions) of colors. That will give you more options when you go to edit.

Don’t neglect audio either — if the quality is bad, your audience will disengage. Look for a camera with a microphone port so you can plug in a shotgun or lapel mic for interviews, or at least one with a good-quality built-in microphone. It’s also nice to have a headphone port to monitor sound so you can avoid nasty surprises after you’ve finished shooting.

You’ll also want good battery life and, if possible, dual memory card slots for a backup. Finally, don’t forget about your camera’s size and weight. If you’re constantly carrying one while shooting, especially at the end of a gimbal or gorillapod, it might actually be the most important factor. That’s why tiny GoPro cameras are so popular for sports, despite offering lower image quality and fewer pro features.

The best action and portable cameras

If you’re just starting out in vlogging or need a small, rugged camera, an action cam might be your best bet. In general, they’re easy to use as you don’t have to worry about things like exposure or focus. Recent models also offer good electronic stabilization and sharp, colorful video at up to 4K and 60 fps. The downsides are a lack of control; image quality that’s not on par with larger cameras; and no zooming or option to change lenses.

DJI Pocket II

DJI

Last time around we recommended the original Osmo Pocket, but the Pocket II (no more “Osmo”) has some big improvements. As before, it’s mounted on a three-axis gimbal and has impressive face tracking that keeps your subject locked in focus. However, the new model has a larger, much higher resolution 64-megapixel sensor, a faster lens with a wider field of view and improved microphones. As before, you can get accessories like an extension rod, a waterproof case and more.

What really makes the Pocket II great for vlogging are the follow modes combined with face tracking. If you’re working solo, you can simply set it up and it’ll rotate and tilt to follow you around. That also applies for walk-and-talk vlogging, so you don’t have to worry about focus or even pointing the camera at yourself. For $346, it’s not only good for beginners, but is a handy tool for any vlogger.

Buy DJI Pocket II at Amazon - $349

GoPro Hero 10 Black

Engadget

The Hero 10 Black is what we called a “big, invisible upgrade” over the Hero 9, itself a much improved camera over the Hero 8 Black we recommended last time. That’s largely due to the new processor that unlocks features like higher-resolution 5.3K 60p and 4K 120fps video, much improved Hypersmooth 4.0 stabilization, an improved front-screen and more. All of that makes it ideal to mount on a drone, vehicle, helmet, bicycle and more, at a very manageable $350 price with a 1-year GoPro subscription.

Buy Hero 10 Black bundle at GoPro - $350

DJI Action 2

DJI

DJI took a much different approach compared to GoPro with its latest Action 2 camera – no with more Osmo branding. Rather than being a standalone camera, it’s a modular system with a magnetic mount that lets you add a touchscreen module with a secondary OLED display and three additional microphones, or a battery module for longer life and an extra microSD slot. As with the Pocket 2, it offers tons of accessories like a 3-in-1 extension rod and more. It’s a versatile option if you do more than just action shooting, and is priced well starting at $399.

Buy DJI Action 2 at Amazon - $399

The best compact vlogging cameras

Compact cameras are a step-up option from smartphones or action cameras, with larger sensors and much better image quality. At the same time, they’re not quite as versatile as mirrorless or DSLR cameras (and not necessarily cheaper) and they lack advanced options like 10-bit video. For folks who want the best possible quality without needing to think too much about their camera, however, it’s the best option. 

Sony ZV-1

Steve Dent/Engadget

Sony’s ZV-1 came out in 2020 and it’s still the best compact vlogging camera available. Based on the RX 100 V, it has a decently large 1-inch 20.1-megapixel sensor and fixed 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8mm equivalent lens. Based on the RX100 V, it has a 1-inch 20.1-megapixel sensor and fixed 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8mm (equivalent) lens. It also offers a lightweight body, built-in high-quality microphone (plus a microphone port), flip-out display, best-in-class autofocus and excellent image quality. It also has vlogging specific features like “product showcase” and background blur.

While the $799 ZV-1 can’t shoot 10-bit video, it comes with Sony’s S-Log picture profiles that give you increased dynamic range for shooting in challenging lighting conditions. The flaws include a lens that’s not quite wide enough when you’re using electronic stabilization, mediocre battery life and the lack of a true touch display and headphone port. That aside, if you’re looking to step up from a smartphone, it does the job nearly perfectly.

Buy Sony ZV-1 at Amazon - $799

Canon G7 X Mark III

Engadget

Canon’s G7 X Mark III should also be front of mind for vloggers looking for a compact option. It also packs a 20-megapixel 1-inch sensor, but has a 24-100 mm f/1.8-2.8 35mm equivalent zoom — quite a bit longer than the ZV-1 at the telephoto range. It can shoot 4K at up to 30 fps, while offering optical image stabilization, a microphone input (though no headphone jack) and even the ability to livestream directly to YouTube. The downsides are contrast-detect only autofocus and a screen that tilts up but not to the side. For $749, it’s still a great option, though.

Buy Canon G7 X Mark III at Amazon - $749

The best mirrorless/DSLR vlogging cameras

This is the class that has changed the most over the past couple of years, particularly in the more affordable price categories. Interchangeable lens cameras give you the most options for vlogging, offering larger sensors than compact cameras with better low-light sensitivity and shallower depth of field to isolate you or your subject. They also offer better control of your image with manual controls, log recording, 10-bit video and more. The drawbacks are extra weight compared to action or compact cameras, extra complexity and higher prices.

Fujifilm X-S10

Jonas Dyhr Rask/Fujifilm

Fujifilm’s X-S10 has displaced the X-T4 as the best vlogging camera out there, thanks particularly to the more affordable price. It ticks all the boxes for vloggers, offering in-body stabilization, 10-bit 4K external video with F-Log recording (at up to 30fps) along with 1080p at a stellar 240 fps, a screen that flips out to the side and easy-to-use controls. It also comes with a headphone jack and USB-C port that doubles as a headphone jack. The main downside is the limited touchscreen controls, but you get a lot of camera for just $1,000.

Buy Fujifilm X-S10 at Adorama - $999

Sony ZV-E10

Sony

The best Sony APS-C camera for vlogging is now the ZV-E10. While using many of the same aging parts as the A6100, including the 24.2-megapixel sensor, it has a number of useful features for self-shooters. High on the list is Sony’s excellent autofocus, which includes the same background defocus and Product Showcase features found on the ZV-1 compact. It also offers electronic SteadyShot, a fully articulating display and more. The biggest drawback is rolling shutter that can get bad if you whip the camera around too much. If you can find one, it’s priced at $700 for the body or $800 in a bundle with Sony’s 16-50mm F/3.5-5.6 power zoom lens.

Buy Sony ZV-E10 at B&H - $698

Panasonic GH6 and GH5

Steve Dent/Engadget

Panasonic’s GH5 was an incredibly popular vlogging camera for a very long time and was actually replaced by two cameras, the $2,200 GH6 and more budget-oriented $1,700 GH5-II. The GH6 is a large upgrade in nearly every way, offering 5.7K at 60 fps and 4K at up to 120 fps, along with ProRes formats that are easy to edit. It also comes with the best in-body stabilization on any camera and great handling. The downside is sub-par contrast-detect autofocus and battery life that’s not amazing.

It’s also worth a look at the GH5 Mark II, which is not only $500 cheaper but particularly well suited for live-streamers. It’s not a huge upgrade over the GH5, but does more than most rival cameras for the price, offering 4K 10-bit 60p video, a fully articulating display and excellent in-body stabilization. As with the GH6, the main drawback is the contrast-detect autofocus system.

Buy Panasonic GH6 at Amazon - $2,200Buy Panasonic GH5 at Amazon - $1,700

Panasonic G100

Panasonic

Panasonic’s G100 is purpose built for vlogging like the ZV-1, but also allows you to change lenses. It has a fully-articulating flip-out screen, 5-axis hybrid (optical/electronic) stabilization, 4K V-Log-L video at up to 30 fps (though sadly cropped at 1.47X for 4K video), 1080p at up to 60 fps, and contrast detect AF with face/eye detection. The coolest feature is the Nokia OZO system that can isolate audio to a specific person via face-detection tracking — something that can theoretically improve audio quality. Best of all, you can grab it right now with a 12-32mm lens for $750.

Buy Panasonic GH100 at Amazon - $750

Canon EOS M50 Mark II

Canon

Another good buy if you’re on a budget is Canon’s EOS M50 Mark II, particularly if you’re okay with 1080p video only. While not a huge upgrade over the original M50, Canon has made it more compelling for vloggers with a fully-articulating display, continuous eye-tracking in video and live streaming to YouTube. It does support 4K, but with a heavy 1.5 times crop and contrast-detect autofocus only. Still, it’s a good option for folks on a budget, selling for $699 with a 15-45mm lens.

Buy Canon EOS M50 Mark II at B&H - $699

Canon EOS R6

Steve Dent / Engadget

If you’ve got the budget for it, Canon’s EOS R6 offers nearly every feature you need in a vlogging camera. You can shoot 10-bit 4K video at up to 60 fps, and the Dual Pixel autofocus with eye and face tracking is incredibly reliable. It also offers 5-axis optical stabilization, a flip-out display and a relatively compact size. As you may have heard, overheating can be an issue, but firmware updates have improved that issue and it only applies to the more demanding video settings.

Buy Canon EOS R6 at Amazon - $2,500

Fujifilm X-T4

Steve Dent/Engadget

The Fuijfilm X-T4 is a great all-around mirrorless camera for vlogging. It has everything you need, including a fully-articulating display, continuous eye- and face autofocus, 10-bit 4K log recording at up to 60 fps, 5-axis in-body stabilization, microphone and headphone jacks (the latter via USB-C) and lower noise in low light.

Image quality, especially in the skin tones, is lifelike and the sensor has minimal rolling shutter. It also offers good battery life and comes with dual UHS-II card slots. Finally, it’s fairly light considering all the features, and Fujifilm has a good selection of small lenses ideal for vlogging. What I don’t like is an autofocus system not quite as fast or accurate as Sony’s and the fairly steep $1,700 asking price for the body only.

Buy Fujifilm X-T4 at Amazon - $1,700

Nikon Z fc

Nikon

If you want to look great while vlogging, check out Nikon’s stylish Z fc. It’s largely identical to the Z50, with features like a 20.9-megapixel APS-C sensor, 4K at 30 fps and a reliable phase-detect autofocus system with face detection. However, the Z fc brings a vari-angle touchscreen to the party and has a beautiful vintage body covered with convenient manual controls. It doesn’t have built-in optical stabilization, but you can get that via a lens. The best feature, though, is the price – you can get one for $1,100 with a 16-50mm lens.

Buy Nikon Z fc at B&H - $1,100

Upcoming cameras

If you’re not quite ready to buy, there are some interesting options on the horizon. Canon just announced the EOS R7, a mirrorless EOS R version of its popular EOS 7D DSLR. It has an APS-C sensor and all-new RF-S lenses, meaning that it might replace Canon’s current M-series cameras. Specs include a 32.5-megapixel APS-C sensor, 4K 60 fps video, an articulating display and more. All of that will make it a top vlogging option, if our upcoming review confirms the hype.

On top of that, Canon also announced a cheaper EOS R10 model with a 24.2-megapixel sensor that could also be an ideal vlogging camera. Both cameras are coming out towards the end of 2022.

In addition, Fujifilm just launched the X-H2S, its new $2,500 flagship mirrorless camera. With a 26.2-megapixel stacked and backside-illuminated sensor, it offers a raft of impressive features. Some of the highlights include 40 fps blackout-free burst shooting, faster autofocus, 6.2K 30fps video, a flip-out display and 7-stop in-body stabilization. If you’ve got the budget, this could be a solid vlogging choice when it arrives on July 7th.

Blackmagic's second-gen Pocket Cinema Camera 6K has a larger battery and a lower price

Blackmagic is finally updating the base Pocket Cinema Camera 6K with some welcome (if not earth-shattering) refinements. The company has introduced the Pocket Cinema Camera 6K G2 with features borrowed from the Pro model, including its larger battery, swivelling touchscreen and support for a 1,280 x 960 OLED viewfinder. You can record video for longer while improving the composition of your shots, to put it simply.

The G2 otherwise sports the same capabilities as the original Pocket Cinema Camera 6K. You'll find its namesake 6,144 x 3,456 Super 35 image sensor with 13 stops of dynamic range and a peak dual native ISO of 25,600. A Canon EF mount gives you a wide selection of potential lenses, while mini XLR inputs provide high-quality audio. PetaPixelnotes you won't get the Pro's ND filters, however, and the conservative update means you won't find continuous autofocusing or in-body stabilization.

The 6K G2 is available now for $1,995, or $500 less than its predecessor cost when new. You'll also get the full DaVinci Resolve Studio to edit your work. This is clearly a better bargain if you're looking for a reasonably compact video-focused mirrorless camera, although you may still want to look at competition like the Sony A7 IV (with continuous autofocus and built-in stabilization) if you're equally interested in taking photos.

DJI's RS3 mirrorless camera stabilizer unlocks automatically and is easier to balance

DJI has significantly expanded its gimbal lineup with the RS3 and RS3 Pro models designed for mirrorless and cinema cameras. It also launched some other interesting cinema products derived from the innovative Ronin 4D camera gimbal, including a LiDAR focusing system and "DJI Transmission" for remote monitoring and control of compatible gimbals. Finally, it announced that it has joined Panasonic and Leica's full-frame L-Mount alliance and unveiled a compensation for removing ProRes RAW from the Ronin 4D. 

DJI's flagship mainstream gimbal is now the DJI RS3. The key new feature over the RSC 2 is an automatic locking system that releases and unfolds the gimbal when it's turned on, then folds and locks it when turned off. That avoids the usual dance of steadying the camera by hand when turning off the gimbal, then manually locking three separate axes. 

DJI

Tapping the power button sends it into sleep mode, "which makes powering on the device, stowing it away and relocating much faster," DJI notes. It also uses quick-release plates for "position memory" so in theory, you only have to balance your camera once. 

It weighs in at just under 2.8 pounds but can handle a payload of 6.6 pounds, enough to support most mainstream mirrorless cameras. The 3rd-generation stabilization algorithm offers a 20 percent improvement over the RSC 2, so it's easier to shoot low angles, running or filming from a moving vehicle. For longer lenses up to 100mm, SuperSmooth provides further electronic stabilization. 

DJI

It has a Bluetooth shutter button that supports automatic connection without the need for a camera control cable, along with a 1.8-inch full-color OLED display with 80 percent more surface area than the RSC 2. That screen allows a full gimbal setup in most scenarios without connecting the mobile app, while the redesigned UI and control layout makes it easier to operate. Part of that is a new physical gimbal mode switch that lets you select pan follow, pan and tilt follow and FPV modes instantly. 

Finally, a new battery grip provides up to 12 hours of battery life and can be easily changed out via a quick release system. It supports PD fast charging at 18 watts and can be charged independently or during use for non-stop operation. The DJI RS3 gimbal is now available from authorized retailers and at DJI's store priced at $550 for the standalone gimbal and $720 for the DJI RS3 Combo that adds a briefcase handle, focus motor, second control cable and a carrying case. 

DJI

Next up is the RS3 Pro, another technological tour de force from DJI. It's built from carbon fiber so it weighs just 3.3 pounds, but can handle up to 10 pounds of payload — enough for pro cinema cameras like the Sony FX6, Canon C70 and RED Komodo. Like the RS3, it also has the new automated axis lock system, Bluetooth shutter button, 1.8-inch OLED touchscreen and gimbal mode switch. 

The RS3 Pro borrows a key feature from the Ronin 4D, the optional DJI LiDAR Range Finder. It projects 43,200 ranging points within a 46 foot indoor area, and powers a next-generation focus motor with extra torque and one-step mounting. That allows for "autofocus on manual lenses with no need for repetitive calibration," according to DJI. 

DJI

The LiDAR Range Finder has the same chip as the one on the Ronin 4D and a built-in 30mm camera, giving similar ActiveTrack Pro focus and gimbal tracking capabilities. That will allow pro cameras to maintain steady, clear shots in "even more dynamic scenarios," DJI says. The RS3 Pro is now available starting at $870 or $1,100 in a combo with an extended quick release plate, phone holder, focus motor and kit, Ronin Image Transmitter and more. The LiDAR Range Finder will be sold separately priced at $660. 

DJI has also announced that it's selling the DJI Transmission remote control/monitor seen with the Ronin 4D as a separate device. It uses DJI's O3 tech used on drones like the Mavic 3, transmitting video in 1080p/60fps at a ground range of up to 20,000 feet with end-to-end ultra-low latency. Monitoring is done via the 7-inch, 1,500-nit High-Bright Remote Monitor. 

DJI

With compatible devices like the RS3 Pro, you can not only monitor and record video output but also control the gimbal, camera recording and more, using the DJI Master Wheel and Force Pro. It also adds a DFS band that allows for up to 23 channels, letting large crews work simultaneously with ten or more transmitters. The DJI Transmission arrives this September for $2,500 or you can purchase the High-Bright Monitor separately for $1,700. 

Finally, DJI announced that it's now a member of the L-Mount Alliance and has partnered with Leica on the Zenmuse X9 L-Mount unit that's compatible with Leica, Panasonic and Sigma L-Mount lenses. And for any Ronin 4D buyers disappointed with the removal of Apple ProRes RAW support, DJI announced that it will support Apple ProRes 4444 XQ, the highest-quality ProRes codec short of ProRes RAW. 

The best camera and photography gift ideas for dad

When your dad decides to take his photography game to a new level, a smartphone may no longer be enough. Some may want a sports camera to capture their adventures while others may need a mirrorless camera for better family photos, films or artistic shots. Thanks to the rapidly advancing technology, they keep getting better with faster shooting speeds, sharper video and incredible autofocus. We found five of the best models for budgets ranging from $350 to $2,500, along with some accessories to complement the gear your old man already owns.

GoPro Hero10 Black

GoPro

If your dad would rather star in his own sports adventures than watch them on TV, the Hero10 Black is the camera he needs. It has all of the stellar features its predecessor did, plus a new GP2 processor that brings faster performance and a boost in frame rates. We were impressed by its speedy user interface, the improved image quality and the new “hydrophobic” lens coating that makes the camera a bit more water-resistant than previous models. (We would still recommend dad being careful with it, though.) Best off, it can be yours for $350 with one-year GoPro subscription — a discount of $200 off the regular price without a subscription.

Buy Hero10 Black bundle at GoPro - $350

Canon EOS M200

Canon

So your dad is taking up photography? An entry-level camera is a good way to start out, and the best one out there is Canon’s EOS M200. With a 24-megapixel sensor and Canon’s skin-friendly colors, it delivers great photos. They’re also easy to capture thanks to an intuitive smartphone-like interface, fast autofocus speeds and great eye-detection performance. He’ll also be able to shoot 4K 24p video (albeit with a 1.6 times crop), along with full-sensor 1080p at 60 fps. And it’s available for significantly less than most other mirrorless cameras at $549, complete with an EF-M 15-45mm kit lens.

Buy Canon EOS M200 at B&H Photo - $549

Sony A6100

Sony

Sony cameras generally make great gifts and the best value right now is the A6100. It features class-leading autofocus and eye-tracking performance for humans and animals, ensuring your sharp shots, even with fast moving subjects. Sony has also improved the color science and low-light capabilities, so family photos will be sharp and color accurate, even in dimly lit environments. The drawbacks are bad rolling shutter that can cause video wobble and a low-resolution electronic viewfinder. Still, for $748 (body only) the A6100 is the best mirrorless camera in its price range.

Buy Sony A6100 at B&H Photo - $748

Fujifilm X-T4

Fujifilm

Fujifilm’s X-T4 is the best crop-sensor camera on the market, making it a desirable gift for any lucky father. It’s notably improved over the X-T3 with the addition of in-body stabilization and a fully articulating screen. At the same time, it has the best video features for an APS-C camera, with sharp 4K video at up to 60 fps, along with 1080p at 240 fps. Both photo and video quality are outstanding, with great skin tones second only to Canon’s models. But the autofocus, with tracking and eye-detection, is good but not quite up to Sony’s standards. And while the generous manual controls deliver great handling, it’s less compact than before. It’s not cheap at $1,700, but it can hold its own against far more expensive full-frame cameras.

Buy Fujifilm X-T4 at B&H Photo - $1,699

Canon EOS R6

Canon

For dads who can’t decide between photos and video, Canon’s EOS R6 does both things well. The 20-megapixel sensor lacks resolution compared to rivals, but it offers killer specs like in-body stabilization and Canon’s fast and accurate Dual Pixel autofocus for video and photos, along with sharp 4K video at up to 60 fps. Other features include a flip-out display, relatively compact size and skin tones that will flatter your dad’s subjects (you, possibly). It does suffer from overheating issues with video, but that’s only likely to affect pros who shoot for long stretches at a time. Overall, it’s currently our best pick for under $2,500.

Buy Canon EOS R6 at Amazon - $2,499

DJI OM5

Engadget

Smartphone stabilizers are fine, but nothing tops a gimbal for tracking shots. The best deal out there for mobile devices is DJI’s OM5, ideal for your dad if he’s tired of jerky tracking shots. This model rocks a magnetic mount system that makes attaching your phone faster and easier, plus a smaller design with a built-in extension rod. It also has features like “dynamic zoom” and “spin shot” that will give your dad a new repertoire of moves. As with other DJI gimbals, it delivers smooth, reliable performance and has a solid app that’s easy to use. It’s also relatively affordable: You can grab one now with a grip and tripod for $159.

Buy DJI OM5 at Amazon - $159

Peak Design Everyday Messenger

Peak

With its rugged, practical design, Peak Design’s Everyday Messenger Bag is an ideal gift for adventurous or photo-shooting dads. It’s built with a lightweight yet durable 100-percent waterproof recycled 400D shell with the ingenious Flexfold dividers in the main storage area. It also offers a pair of zipped pockets, two elastic side pockets and a compartment big enough for a 13- to 15-inch laptop. I own one myself and find it practical both for work and daily activities, letting me fit a camera, lens and laptop along with my wallet and keys. At $230 it’s not the cheapest bag out there, but your dad won’t have to buy another for a good while.

Buy Everyday Messenger at Peak Design - $230

Magnus VT-4000 tripod

Magnus

For dads serious about video, the Magnus VT 4000 is the best budget tripod option. It’s stout enough to handle a mirrorless camera and accessories weighing up to 8.8 pounds, more than the eight-pound weight of the tripod itself. That lack of heft makes it practical for travel, while the fluid head helps you tilt and pan smoothly. Other features include a middle spreader to keep things steady and legs that extend up to 64 inches so you can match the eyeline of your subjects. All of these features come for $199, a relative steal considering the quality.

Buy Magnus VT-4000 at B&H Photo - $199

Joby GorillaPod 3K mini tripod

Joby

The most useful accessories out there for vlogging dads are Joby’s famous mini-tripods, and the best one for the money is the GorillaPod 3K. Attaching your camera couldn’t be easier thanks to the secure clip-in mounting plate with a built-in level. The flexible also lets let you set your camera anywhere to shoot, or even wrap it around a tree or other object. And, of course, you can bend them out for the ideal vlogging angle and steady out your shooting, to boot. It's $57 at Amazon right now, a bargain for such a versatile tool.

Buy Joby GorillaPod 3K at Amazon - $57

SanDisk Extreme Pro SD card

SanDisk

Camera-loving dads can never get enough memory cards, but they can be a pretty pricey gift. One of the best budget options is SanDisk’s ExtremePro UHS-I SD cards. While they don’t offer the top 300 MB/s speeds of UHS-II cards, they’re far cheaper, and the 90 MB/s read/write speeds are fast enough for most types of photography and video. What’s more, you can transfer files at speeds up to 170 MB/s with a compatible reader, and SanDisk is known for producing reliable cards. SanDisk has models for all budgets, with the 256GB version in the sweet spot at $100. If that’s too much, the 128GB version is $45 and the 64GB model a mere $25.

Buy SanDisk Extreme Pro (64GB) card at Amazon - $25

Fujifilm's flagship X-H2S camera offers 6.2K video and 40 fps burst shooting

Fujifilm has launched its new flagship APS-C mirrorless camera, the $2,500 X-H2S, with an all-new 26.2-megapixel (MP) stacked BSI CMOS sensor and a raft of impressive features. Some of the key highlights include 40 fps blackout-free burst shooting, 6.2K 30fps video and 7-stop in-body stabilization. 

The X-H2S is the long-rumored successor to the X-H1, released over four years ago. However, it bears little resemblance to that model (apart from the top LCD display) with a substantially different grip and button layout. It's also lighter at 660 grams compared to 673 grams. Unlike the tilt-only display on the X-H1, the X-H2S has a fully articulating 1.62-million dot rear display, making it far better for vloggers and solo video shooters. The 5.76-million-dot 120Hz EVF outclasses other APS-C cameras and hopefully addresses EVF performance issues on the X-T4.

It's the first Fujifilm camera with a stacked, backside illuminated sensor (the X-Trans 5HS) and new X-Processor image processor — though the 26.2-MP resolution sensor is the same we've seen on models as far back as the X-T3. By contrast, Canon's new EOS R7 APS-C camera has a 32-megapixel sensor, but it's neither backside illuminated nor stacked.

Fujifilm

The stacked sensor allows for some impressive shooting speeds. It can hit up to 40 fps in silent electronic shutter mode with no blackout, or 15fps in mechanical shutter mode (at 1/8000th maximum), both with autofocus and auto-exposure enabled. It comes with a high-capacity buffer, allowing you to capture 175 compressed RAW frames in 40fps ES mode (4.4 seconds worth) and 400 compressed RAW frames in mechanical shutter mode. 

Fujifilm promises much-improved phase-detect autofocus (AF) performance over the X-T4, with three times the speed and improved accuracy. Meanwhile, the AF algorithms can do prediction for moving subjects, while allowing for zone AF subject detection and low-contrast situations. On top of recognizing humans (face/eye), it can also detect animals, birds, cars, bikes, airplanes and trains. 

Also enabled by the faster sensor/processor is a big jump in video specs over the X-T4. The X-H2S supports 6.2K video at 30 fps, DCI 4K (4,096 x 2,160 pixels) at 120 fps and Full HD at 240 fps, with no cropping or sub-sampling on all video modes up to 60 fps. 4K at 120p is mildly cropped at 1.29x, but it's still oversampled with no pixel binning or line skipping.

Fujifilm

It's also the first Fujifilm APS-C camera to support ProRes (ProRes422, ProResHQ, ProResLT and ProResProxy), along with H.264 and H.265 video. All of those resolutions can be recorded at 4:2:2 10-bit quality, and Fujifilm has introduced F-Log2 recording that allows for 14+ stops of dynamic range below 30 fps and 13+ stops at higher frame rates (with settings at or above ISO1250) — impressive, if accurate.

External recording via the full-sized HDMI 2.1 port is equally impressive. On top of all of the above settings (6.2K/29.97P, 4K/120P 4:2:2 10bit), you can record ProRes RAW at 6.2K/29.97P and 4.8K/59.94P, both at 4:2:2 12bit with 13 stops of dynamic range. External recording with ProRes RAW means that Fujifilm won't need to deal with RED RAW patent lawsuits, like the one recently slapped on Nikon's Z9

Like other stacked sensor cameras, the X-H2S promises well-controlled rolling shutter at 1/90th of a second (11 ms) for video under 30fps and 1/180th of a second (5.6 ms) for higher framerates. That's right up there with other stacked sensor cameras like Sony's A1 or the Canon R3, meaning you should see minimal jello or wobble in video, particularly at higher framerates.

Fujifilm

Overheating doesn't appear to be much of an issue at normal temperatures, with a promised four hours of 4K60p shooting at 25 degrees C (77 degrees F). That drops to 20 minutes at 40 C (104 F), but you can boost that to 50 minutes with an optional $199 cooling fan. 

The X-H2S has improved in-body stabilization over past Fujifilm cameras, as well. It delivers 7 stops of shake reduction compared to 6.5 stops on the X-T4, which should help smooth videos and reduce blur on photos. 

Other key features include both CFexpress and SD UHS II card slots, a USB 3.1 gen 2 (10Gbps) port with a handy cable lock screw, 3.5mm microphone/headphone jacks, 10-bit HEIF photo support and an optional $400 vertical grip. It also supports wireless and wired functions like live streaming, tethered shooting, webcam functions (no app required) and cloud storage uploads. CIPA battery life is 610 shots max with the EVF, or 1,580 shots with the vertical grip. 

Fujifilm

Along with the camera and accessories, Fujifilm has launched two new lenses, the XF150-600mm f/5.6-8 R LM OIS WR zoom telephoto (left), arriving on July 7, 2022 for $2,000. It's also introduced the XF18-120mm f/4 LM PZ WR (right), a versatile wide-telephoto zoom coming in September 2022 for $900. Meanwhile, the X-H2S will be Fujifilm's most expensive APS-C camera to date, arriving on July 7th for $2,500 — the same price as Canon's full-frame EOS R5. 

Panasonic and Leica unveil 'L squared' project to jointly develop cameras and lenses

Panasonic and Leica have formed a new collaboration called L² (L squared) that will see them jointly develop cameras, lenses and imaging technology, they announced. Both companies are already part of the L-Mount mirrorless alliance (along with Sigma and Leitz) and Panasonic has loaned its camera tech to Leica. However, the new partnership goes deeper, as they'll use "jointly developed technologies" in their respective lens and camera products, while the L² branding will feature in future marketing activities. 

"Through this collaboration, the two companies will jointly invest in new technologies that can be incorporated into camera and lens products, and will incorporate jointly developed technologies into each other's Leica and Lumix products to further enhance their product capabilities," the press release states. "Going forward, Leica and Lumix will utilize L² Technology, which will open up new possibilities for creative camera users, in their marketing activities in order to develop a collaborative system over the long term."

There's no word on when we'll see the fruit of this collaboration. It does make some sense, though, as Panasonic tends to get overshadowed by Canon, Sony and Nikon, despite producing good cameras — especially for video. Meanwhile, Leica has a sterling reputation for lens quality, but gets far less respect for its mirrorless cameras because they're mostly rebadged, overpriced Panasonic models. By collaborating, Panasonic could gain some prestige off Leica's iconic reputation and lens quality, while Leica will get access to Panasonic's technological chops. 

Canon's EOS R7 and EOS R10 are its first EOS R crop-sensor cameras

Canon has launched its first EOS R APS-C crop sensor cameras, the 32-megapixel EOS R7 and 24-megapixel EOS R10. The new models bring Canon's APS-C and full-frame RF series in alignment, so you can finally use lenses interchangeably, much as you can with its EF and EF-S DSLR cameras. More importantly, they carry impressive specs like 15 fps mechanical shutter shooting speeds, 4K video at up to 60fps and Canon's impressive Dual Pixel autofocus. Both are reasonably priced, as well. 

Canon EOS R7

Canon

The R7 is the higher-end option and has an all-new body with some design features we've not seen on any camera before. Rather than the typical two dials on top and one on back, it has just two. The second dial sits on back but at the top, wrapping around the focus point joystick. It looks like it could work, but Canon has had mixed success when messing with its camera layouts — the touch bar on the EOS R was not a popular feature, for instance.

It has a decent sized grip and weighs in at 612 grams (21.6 ounces), quite a bit more than Sony's 503 gram A6600. Vloggers get a fully articulating 3-inch 1.62 million dot display and a 2.36-million dot OLED EVF, which is sub-par compared to the 3.69 million dot EVF on Fujifilm's rival X-T4. The R7 offers 5-axis in-body stabilization rated up to 7 stops, the best in its category. Other key features include dual UHS-II card slots and both microphone and headphone ports. It uses the same LP-E6NH batteries as the R6 and R5, with Canon promising an excellent 660 shots per charge with the EVF enabled.

Canon

The R7 has a 32-megapixel sensor that's neither stacked nor backside illuminated. However, it is new and not the same as found on other Canon APS-C cameras like the M6 Mark II. Much like that model, it allows for some seriously fast shooting, with 30 fps in electronic shutter mode and a superb 15 fps in mechanical shutter mode — all with continuous autofocus and auto-exposure enabled. You can capture compressed RAW photos for about six seconds (100 shots) before the buffer fills in mechanical shutter mode, or 65 shots at 30 fps in electronic mode.

Autofocus is powered by Canon's excellent Dual Pixel system for both photos and videos. Canon says it inherited the system from its flagship R3, including the new subject-, eye- and face-tracking features (it doesn't have the eye-tracking Eye AF option, though). That means you should see AF performance on par with what Sony offers and superior to Nikon and Fujifilm's systems. 

As for video, you can shoot 4K at up to 30p using the full 7K sensor area, which should allow for extremely sharp video, though recording time is limited to 30 minutes due to thermal limits. It can also handle sub-sampled (line-skipped) 4K at 60 fps, or do the same with a considerable 1.81x crop, with no overheating time issues. It can shoot 1080p at up to 120 fps. 

You can shoot HDR PQ video if you want to create HDR content, or capture 10-bit footage in the C-Log 3 profile for extra editing and color correction flexibility. That feature, combined with the flip-out display, in-body stabilization and 4K modes, makes the R7 is one of the most capable APS-C cameras out there for video or vlogging.

Canon EOS R10

Canon

The EOS R10 dials the feature set back a bit from the R7, but it's still a very capable mirrorless camera. The biggest difference is in the resolution, with the R10 offering 24 megapixels rather than 32. It also lacks in-body stabilization, so you'll need to rely on stabilized lenses for that. And while it has a flip-out display like the R7, the resolution is lower at 1.04 million dots (the 2.36 million dot OLED EVF is the same). 

As with the R7, it can shoot continuous bursts at up to 15 fps with the mechanical shutter, or 23 fps in silent electronic mode. However, the buffer will fill quicker, allowing for only about 30 shots in mechanical mode or about 26 shots in silent mode. 

Canon

The body design is different, with a more typical two-dial layout on top. It's considerably smaller than the R7, weighing just 426 grams (15 ounces). The grip is slightly smaller, and there's less space for your hand between the grip and lens. 

On the video side, you're not giving up too much. It can also shoot oversampled 4K video at 30fps using the full sensor width, or 4K 60p video with a 1.56x crop. It can capture 10-bit video in HDR PQ mode, but doesn't offer any log settings. It comes with a microphone port, but no headphone jack. 

Pricing, lenses, availability

Canon

By using the superior RF mount, the new cameras make Canon's lineup less confusing and should help it better compete against APS-C models from Nikon and Sony. However, it begs the question of what Canon plans to do with its current EF-M APS-C mirrorless cameras. Given the more versatile and future-proof EOS R system, it's hard to imagine that Canon will keep both around.

Canon launched its first RF-S lenses along with the new cameras, optimized for the smaller APS-C sensor sizes. They're pretty basic kit-style lenses that won't exactly set the camera world on fire, but you can use RF full-frame lenses as well. The two models are the $300 RF-S18-45mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM and $480 RF-S18-150mm IS STM, with a 35mm field of view of 29-72mm and 29-240mm, respectively. Both can be used on full-frame EOS R models, albeit with a 1.5x crop. 

The EOS R10 will cost $980 for the body only, or $1,100 with the RF-S18-45mm lens and $1,380 with the RF-S18-150mm lens. The R7, meanwhile, will sell for $1,500 for the body only, or $1,900 with the S18-150mm lens. Both cameras and the lenses will arrive in "late 2022." 

Sony's Xperia 1 IV smartphone features 'the world's first true optical zoom lens'

Sony has heavily leveraged its camera expertise to create its upcoming flagship smartphone, the Xperia 1 IV, it announced. It offers a slew of innovative, image-oriented features including what it calls the "world's first true optical 85-125mm zoom lens, true 4K at 120fps, livestreaming and external monitor capabilities and a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 mobile platform chip. 

The key feature of the Xperia 1 IV is the telephoto zoom that offers an 85-125mm equivalent zoom range, enough for sports, wildlife and more. Sony didn't say how it achieved that, but other companies like Huawei have used 90-degree periscope style systems to create optical zooms on smartphones.

Sony

On top of the telephoto zoom, has 16mm and 24mm lenses (35mm equivalent), along with a time-of-flight sensor, and all cameras use a 12-megapixel Exmor RS sensor with readout speeds of up to 120 fps. That allows the phone to record 4K 120 fps video, or the equivalent of 5x slow-motion at 4K. 

Other camera features include real-time Eye AF and real-time tracking with every lens, along with an Optical SteadyShot system. All the lenses use Zeiss optics with a Zeiss T* coating designed to boost contrast and sharpness while reducing reflections. The front camera uses a new 12-megapixel Exmor RS sensor that's larger than on previous models, allowing you to shoot selfies with less light. 

Sony also added some apps and software features to add video content makers. Much like on the Xperia 1 Pro, that allows users to manually adjust settings like focus, exposure and white balance, even while recording. It also features 4K HDR multi-frame shooting, allowing for videos with wider dynamic range without any loss of resolution. 

Sony is also promising "the ultimate mobile gaming experience" with the Xperia 1 IV, thanks to a 120Hz HDR display with 240Hz motion blur and a 240Hz touch-scanning rate. It's powered by a Snapdragon Gen 1 Mobile Platform and uses Qualcomm's Snapdragon Elite Gaming to improve performance. It also has what Sony calls "Heat Suppression power control" that automatically reduces performance at high temperatures, "even during gameplay when connected to a charger." 

It's designed to simplify livestreaming as well, as you'll have access to the Eye AF and object tracking features when using the Videography Pro mode. It can also be used as an external monitor if you're livestreaming from any compatible Alpha camera and when paired with Sony's Vlog Monitor, "users can livestream content by using the rear cameras," Sony said. 

Other features include 5G with sub6/mmWave, WiFi 6E, 12GB of RAM, 512GB of storage with a microSD card and a 5,000 mAh battery. The price, as you'd expect from all that, will not be cheap. It's arriving on September 1, 2022 for "approximately" $1,600 to Sony dealers around the US, with the purple color available exclusively at Sony's website

DuoVox Mate Pro: A fun but imperfect night vision camera

Smartphones and cameras are better than ever for night shooting, but there are still a lot of caveats. You have to hold your phone still to get decent photos as multiple exposures are added together, and video is out of the question. However, there’s an emerging category of cameras dedicated to shooting in the dark using sensitive CMOS sensors and even infrared capability.

Some of those models are designed for commercial or military purposes, like SPi Infrared’s incredible X27 color night vision camera, but a few new models are aimed at consumers. One is the DuoVox Mate Pro, featuring a Sony STARVIS 2 CMOS surveillance camera sensor that’s supposedly a thousand times more sensitive than the latest smartphone sensors.

It promises clear colors images in extremely low light, where a smartphone or your eyes would see nothing. It also offers features like face detection, 2K video and more. It just launched on Kickstarter for $599, a fair amount of cash, so how does it work? I was able to get my hands on one to test it out.

Body and features

The camera is small and light but somehow bulky, weighing just 216 grams and measuring 4 inches wide by 2.1 inches tall. However, the lens juts out three inches, so it’s not even remotely pocketable. You wouldn’t want it in your pocket anyway, as it doesn’t come with a lens cap.

Controls are pretty simple, with a power button, shutter release and four directional buttons that activate different menu settings. You also get a microSD slot that supports up to 512GB cards, plus a USB-C port for charging, powering the camera and file transfers. Most control is done using the three-inch fixed touchscreen that’s bright enough to use in sunlight, which is nice but ironic for a night vision camera.

The settings are specific for night-type shooting, so they’re not what you’d find on a typical camera. For example, it has an instant recording video mode that starts the moment the camera is powered up, in case you see a deer and want to shoot quickly. It also uses a wayback mode that records continuously, but only keeps the footage if you hit the record button. Other video settings include a loop mode, timelapse mode and motion detection (for wildlife traps, for instance).

For photos, you get a quick capture mode that takes an image when the camera is powered on and face detection that automatically takes a photo when specific people are detected. You can also set things like screen brightness, quality and more.

The Mate Pro also has some decent wireless features. By setting it as a hotspot, you can connect your smartphone and use the accompanying Roadcam app to transfer images and control the camera remotely. I used it when I attached the camera to the hood of my car so I could trigger video recording remotely.

Image and video quality

The main attraction of this camera is the 1/1.8-inch Sony Starvis 2 CMOS sensor that’s far more sensitive than conventional sensors. It lets you shoot 3,200 x 1,800 images and 2,560 x 1,440 video at 30 fps. It’s not an infrared camera, but it can detect near-infrared light and is sensitive down to .0001 lux, equivalent to a moonless overcast night sky.

Bear in mind that the sensor is designed for security cameras, so image quality likely wasn’t Sony’s first priority. DuoVox does use AI stacking to get the best exposure and keep noise down, but it’s essentially shoehorning an industrial part into a consumer product.

The 7-element lens has a fast f/0.9 aperture and equivalent full-frame focal length of about 70mm. That’s very long, and the minimum focus distance is also very long, somewhere between 10-20 feet – so it’s not at all useful for shooting close objects. If you’re in a very low-light situation, it has a powerful built-in light with three different brightness levels.

I took the DuoVox Mate Pro out at night in a variety of situations to test it out. I had clear skies but no moon, so it was pitch black outside of any towns.

As I quickly discovered, this camera needs some light to work. When I pointed it at some trees, a field and a sky, everything was pitch black except for the sky. It could see stars and clouds, but the image was extremely grainy.

If you’re planning to use it for purposes like wildlife spotting or night photography with no sources of artificial light, as DuoVox touts on its Kickstarter page, you’ll need at least some moonlight to do so.

With a bit more light, it can produce surprisingly bright images with reasonably accurate color fidelity. One shot of a town was bright enough to clearly see the scene, but almost completely black on a smartphone. I mounted it to my car and took a ride, and everything was lit up like daytime.

Even with enough light for a scene, there are some pretty large drawbacks, though. The image is clearly boosted electronically, so the less light you have, the noisier it becomes. The grain clears up with more light, of course, but at that point you could just use your smartphone or a camera.

In addition, the focal length is impractical and the focal distance too long for indoor shooting, unless you have a large room. That issue can also make it difficult to use as a wildlife trap, as any animal approaching it would go out of focus. It’s also prone to strobing with artificial light sources, including its own light. And finally, it has no stabilization of any kind and severe rolling shutter. As such, you can’t shoot video handheld unless you have steadier hands than I do.

Wrap-up

Steve Dent/Engadget

The DuoVox Mate pro costs $600, with the price supposedly doubling to $1,200 once the Kickstarter campaign ends. It appears to be a success so far, with around $175,000 raised. But will buyers get what they expect for their purchase?

From what I’ve seen in the Kickstarter comments and elsewhere, many probably will. And the company does have a track record, having delivered previous night vision products including the Duovox V9, V8 and S1.

However, some backers may be disappointed, because DuoVox has no video that shows the true (noisy) image quality in low light. The company’s campaign really should include more images and video samples in very low light conditions, so backers have a better idea of what to expect.

That said, there are very few devices that deliver bright, full-color images in very dim light. One of those is the $800 Sionyx Aurora, which promises color images using visible and infrared light. It doesn’t offer the same color fidelity with infrared, but that feature appears to give it superior low-light sensitivity.

You could also just use a Sony A7S-series or other low-light camera and crank up the ISO to the max, then boost the signal further in post. It wouldn’t work as well in really dark conditions, but image quality would be far better.

If you’re looking for a night vision camera for travel, security or other purposes, and image quality is secondary, it is worth taking a look. DuoVox expects to start shipping in October, but keep in mind that with Kickstarter, there are no guarantees you’ll receive the product and you may lose all your money.