Best New Cameras 2019: Sony A7000, Panasonic S1, Olympus OM-D E-M1X, Fujifilm X-H2 and more
Last year was a huge one for new cameras. We saw companies other than Sony starting to make full-frame compact system cameras, which could see many photographers migrate to mirrorless.
But does that leave anything in the tank for 2019? The Photokina 2019 photography show has been pushed back to 2020, seemingly confirming next year won’t be quite as momentous.
Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll find a whole toy box of exciting models either confirmed for release, or strongly rumoured for release, in 2019.
Panasonic will catch up with its rivals, with two of the most compelling full-frame mirrorless cameras to date, you’ll be able to buy Fujifilm’s 100-megapixel medium format GFX 100S and Olympus will carry on pushing Micro Four Thirds.
Here are the 2019 cameras we have to look forward to.
Canon EOS R Pro
What is it? A top-end full-frame mirrorless camera
The Canon EOS R was Canon’s most important camera of 2018. It was the company’s first full-frame mirrorless camera, and marked the start of a brand new lens family called “RF”.
However, in some ways it wasn’t quite the zero-compromise model some expected. The EOS R does not have in-body image stabilisation and resolution is a fairly conservative 30 megapixels. There’s room for an even higher-end camera, which some expect to be called the EOS R Pro.
For the way we like to shoot most of the time, in-body stabilisation would be the biggest upgrade here, letting you use non-IS legacy Canon lenses (with an adapter) and still get stabilisation. This is important for handheld shooting.
Some believe there may even be two new EOS R models in 2019, one focusing on very high megapixel shooting, with a sensor of 75 megapixels or more. This sounds extremely ambitious, the sort of resolution you might see in a medium format model rather than a full-frame one.
This would direct it to quite a narrow audience. Even the high-resolution Sony A7R III sticks to a less ambitious 42.4 megapixels, and such a megapixel count would affect performance in higher ISOs. But for shooting in a light controlled studio? The results could be impressive.
Rumours suggest we may see the next EOS R camera in early 2019, ahead of the CP+ photography show.
Fujifilm GFX 100S
What is it? A 102-megapixel medium format mirrorless camera
There’s no need to trade in rumours with the Fujifilm GFX 100S. FujiFilm has already announced the camera’s development, and that we can expect it in 2019.
It is the big brother to the GFX 50R, a 50-megapixel medium format model announced at the same time, during Photokina 2018.
The Fujifilm GFX 100S is more than just that camera with more megapixels crammed-in, though. It will have in-body stabilisation, because FujiFilm says the sheer resolution will otherwise make taking sharp images handheld too difficult.
It will have phase detection across the sensor, and a body comparable in size to a traditional full-frame pro-style DSLR. At first, its $10,000 price sounds intimidating. However, compare its obvious rival, the Hasselblad H6D-100c, and it starts to seem a great deal. That camera costs £31,080. And its modular design is far more unusual.
The Fujifilm GFX 100S will also shoot video at up to 4K resolution, 30fps.
What is it? A video-focused high-end alternative to the X-T3
Medium format cameras do not have a huge mainstream appeal. They’re pricey and large. Which is why many might prefer to get their hands on the FujiFilm X-H2 in 2019.
Right now, the latest rumours suggest it might not be out next year. This is no huge surprise when the precursor X-H1 was only announced in February 2018, and would need to offer significant abilities the brilliant FujiFilm X-T3 does not have.
Granted, in-body stabilisation is one of the most important, missing from the X-T3. It does make sense for FujiFilm to wait a little longer, though, until video recording more advanced than 4K/60fps is possible. But there is still a chance it’ll arrive later next year.
Olympus OM-D E-M1X
What is it? A top-end sport shooter-style MFT model
Some of you might be holding out for a full-frame Olympus mirrorless camera. Everyone else is doing it, why not Olympus? In an interview with Image Resource, Olympus America’s new VP of sales and marketing Aki Murata firmly denied such plans.
He said portability is in Olympus’s DNA. And while full-frame mirrorless models are smaller than full-frame DSLRs, they’re not super-portable, are they?
In 2019, then, we’ll get a new version of Olympus’s top-end Micro Four-Thirds model rather than something more disruptive – the Olympus OM-D E-M1X.
A pre-production model and teaser video suggests the Olympus OM-D E-M1X will have a built-in battery grip. That’s very odd for a Micro Four-Thirds camera, and actually goes against Olympus’s own reasoning for sticking with MFT sensors. This camera does not look ultra-portable.
It may be a strange camera, but you can expect ultra-fast burst shooting. It’s a pro style sports shooter, although the real pros may want a large sensor for better low-light performance. We expect to see the Olympus OM-D E-M1X in late January 2019.
What is it? Panasonic’s first full-frame mirrorless camera
The Panasonic S1 may have already been announced, but we don’t know every single detail just yet. This is the company’s first full-frame mirrorless camera, following Sony, Canon and Nikon.
It has a 24-megapixel sensor, matching the Sony A7 III. You might think Panasonic would have a tough time, arriving after the other big names. There are a few intriguing unique selling points here, though.
The Panasonic S1 has dual image stabilisation, using motors in both the lenses and the body. Panasonic will also offer class-leading video, a huge advantage. The S1 can shoot at up to 4K resolution, 60 frames per second. Today’s standard is still 30fps max for full-frame models.
If the Panasonic’s S1 video performance is as good as hoped, it could be a brilliant choice for videographers. This has become a big part of Panasonic’s camera identity, following the excellent Lumix GH4 and GH5.
What is it? The higher-res alternative to the S1
If the Panasonic S1 is the equivalent of the Sony A7 III, the Panasonic S1R is its Sony A7R III alternative. It’s still a full-frame mirrorless camera but the sensor is of a much higher resolution: 47 megapixels instead of 24 megapixels.
This is a rather blocky-looking camera, but it is certainly serious and has the potential to be a contender for the best-in-class tag when it arrives in “early 2019”.
What is it? A no-nonsense full-frame DSLR
The Nikon D750 is one of our favourite full-frame DSLRs. At four years old, it’s due for a replacement, though. And 2019 looks to be the time, with plans for a Nikon D760 rumoured.
When you replace a camera of such vintage, it’s not hard to find ways to make it more advanced. The Nikon D750 has 51 focus points, up to 6fps burst and video that caps out at 1080p, 60 frames per second.
All of these have been beaten by the Nikon D850, but that’s a higher-end model. What can we expect in the Nikon D760? 4K video capture seems like a must now that it’s standard in mirrorless models. The more recent Canon 6D Mark II doesn’t, but this now seems a missed opportunity.
Given the Nikon D750’s excellent ergonomics, we hope Nikon doesn’t change too much.
Sony A7S III
What is it? A videographer’s full-frame mirrorless
Sony’s reign as the king of full-frame mirrorless cameras is coming under fire. It has more experience than anyone else, so you’d hope it will come up with something special to take on the competition from Panasonic, Canon and Nikon.
The most likely camera to turn up next is the A7S III, the video-focused sibling of the Sony A7R III and A7 III. There’s quite a lot of chatter online about both this camera and the follow-ups to the current models, the A7 IV and A7R IV. These are expected in 2020-2021, though, and with Panasonic’s full-frame models on the way, Sony’s S-series model is the most pressing issue.
The current Sony A7S II can only shoot 4K video at up to 30fps, which Panasonic will beat in 2019. 60fps 4K is expected in the A7S III, and some even suggest 8K (30fps) capture is a possibility.
Sony has said “it will take some time” to prepare the A7S III, though. There’s every chance it may slip into 2020 along with the A7 IV, but we remain hopeful of seeing it in 2019.
Sony Alpha A7000
What is it? Higher-end APS-C mirrorless camera
The follow-up to the Sony Alpha A6500 mirrorless camera is not overdue just yet, but rumours suggest a Sony A7000 or A6700 is on the way. For a while it seemed the camera might even arrive in 2018. There has been little news since then, but a 2019 release seems plausible.
The current A6500 is an APS-C mirrorless camera, the highest-end model of this kind Sony makes. Sony calls it the “palm-sized all-around all-star”, but a few upgrades are needed to let it maintain that reputation.
Rumoured specs include up to 20fps burst shooting, 4K video capture at up to 60 frames per second and a 32-megapixel sensor. This is a fairly high megapixel count for an APS-C model.
Sony RX100 VII
What is it? Sony’s best compact, with bonus extras
The Sony RX100 is perhaps the most regularly updated camera line of the moment. We usually get a new model every year, with just the one gap in 2017 since the first RX100 in 2012.
Sony is expected to use its IMX 383 sensor in the next version. And this chip is already on the Sony sensor division’s books.
It’s a one-inch sensor, the size of all RX100 sensors, and has resolution of 20 megapixels. Again, this is nothing new. It is the same resolution as the current Sony RX100 VI.
However, further improvements in shooting speed are expected. The RX100 VI can already shoot at a blistering 24fps, but the IMX 383 increases this ceiling to a theoretical 50fps. That’s at full resolution, too. The other likely upgrade is 4K, 60fps video capture.
What is it? Leica style rangefinder without a screen
Every so often a camera from a start-up appears that has real enthusiast appeal. Pixii is one of 2019’s off-kilter choices. It’s a rangefinder in the vein of a Leica M10, and uses Leica’s M-mount lenses. The Pixii looks charming too.
However, it’s unusual. There’s no display on the back. Instead, it connects to your phone to let you review images.
Thankfully, there’s a small monochrome screen on the top so you can view certain settings, and the battery life. At around 3500 Euros (£3163), the Pixii is quite pricey for an unknown brand’s camera, but is still substantially lower-cost than a Leica. Then again, most things are.
What is it? Top-end fixed-lens compact
Compact cameras outside of hero models like the Sony RX100 don’t get all that much attention these days. But the Zeiss ZX1 is rather special, a direct rival to the Sony RX1R II, which is now more than two years old.
It has a 37.4-megapixel full-frame sensor with a fixed 35mm f/2 lens. Image quality per cubic inch should be fantastic. It also has an advanced Full HD OLED EVF and a 4.3-inch 720p rear display.
The basic concept is very similar to other full-frame compacts. And while we don’t know the price, you can bet the Zeiss ZX1 will be very expensive, likely more than £2500, perhaps substantially so. However, it also has “built-in” Adobe Lightroom software, which should let you process RAW images without transferring them to a laptop.
Ricoh GR III
What is it? Compact 28mm street camera with APS-C sensor
The Ricoh GR III was announced at Photokina 2018, but will be available to buy in 2019. This is a fairly long-awaited model. The GR II was revealed in 2015, and this category is not particularly well-served.
It’s a compact camera with an APS-C sensor, able to provide excellent low light performance in a compact shell. The sensor is perhaps the most obvious improvement, moving from 16 megapixels to 24. However, the new stabilisation may actually be more useful when out shooting. The GR II did not have any stabilisation, so the shutter speeds you could reliably use handheld were limited.
Minimum focal distance has been shortened to 6cm and the design has been simplified a little, in favour of what appears to be a somewhat touchscreen-led approach. And camera width has been substantially reduced. The spirit of the GR series remains, though. The Ricoh GR III still has a 28mm fixed lens. It’ll work best as a street photography camera you can take anywhere.
Pricing has not yet been announced, but is expected to be under 1000 Euros (£903). It will be available in “early 2019”.