The Most Innovative Cameras We’ve Seen Recently

There are cameras that claim to be innovative, but many are not. And we know most consumers want only the best and the most cutting-edge. So we’re rounding up the most innovative cameras that we’ve used in recent times. These cameras include some pretty exclusive things that make their companies so great. Want to know who’s at the top? Well, you’ll see in this roundup!

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How We Select the Most Innovative Cameras

Here’s some insight into our selection of the most innovative cameras:

  • When it comes to innovation, we mean that the camera is the very first to do something we’re pretty sure won’t be superseded for a long time.
  • The most innovative cameras are ones you can be very happy with for a very long time.
  • We’ve reviewed these cameras ourselves and we’re including links to our full reviews. We wouldn’t call these the most innovative cameras without testing them first.
  • These cameras all have features you’ll use in some fashion or another. But for example, Canon’s Eye-Control AF isn’t a feature for everyone.

Canon EOS R3

Pros

  • Impressive autofocus performance with both action and low light
  • Face recognition works phenomenally well, even on birds and in dark scenes
  • Reduced rolling shutter distortion and 1/180 flash sync with electronic shutter
  • Excellent noise reduction at high ISOs
  • Eye Control AF
  • Built-in vertical grip
  • Lots of great controls
  • Weather-sealed

Cons

  • Resolution is lower than competitors (but this is partially why low light quality is so great)
  • Higher learning curve
  • Hot shoe adapter recommended for weather-sealing with older flashes
  • Heavier and larger than the R5 and R6
  • Pricey

Innovations

In our review, we state:

“Canon wasn’t the first to announce a sports-focused, mirrorless flagship; it competes with the speed of the Sony A1 and the Nikon Z9. But, there’s still a lot of innovation here. Canon has included Eye Control AF, which was previously on some of their film cameras. This moves the autofocus point to whatever part of the frame your eye is looking at. The processor that’s behind the 30 fps top burst speed also reduces rolling shutter distortion with faster image processing.”

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OM-System OM1

Pros

  • This new menu system is amazing.
  • So much autofocus versatility with scene selection!
  • So small and well built!
  • A great amount of buttons, but it probably could’ve done with even more
  • There’s finally a rating system that’s easy to access!
  • Weather sealing is some of the best on the market.
  • An incredibly lightweight camera with OM’s lenses
  • When the autofocus sensitivity is increased, this camera is a beast at photographing and locking onto birds (but still not on par with Sony and Canon).
  • Autofocus is better for moving vehicles than flying birds simply because birds are typically a smaller part of the frame.
  • Dramatically improved high ISO output
  • Autofocus tracked a cat walking towards me pretty well. It works, but it’s buggy at times just like Sony, Canon, and Nikon.
  • The cameras computational photography capabilities are so incredibly fun.
  • The cleanest high ISO print we’ve ever gotten from a Micro Four Thirds camera at ISO 6400
  • Face detection is better than Nikon, Fujifilm, and Panasonic, but not quite on par with Canon, Sony, and Leica.
  • Low light AF sensitivity works well, but that’s because it negates the exposure preview setting after a while.
  • THEY FINALLY FIXED FOCUS PEAKING ZOMGWTFBBQ!!!!

Cons

  • Olympus made an awesome menu system, but didn’t make it touch compatible.
  • Separates bird and animal detection
  • Bird detection is difficult to use when a teleconverter is attached.
  • Animal and bird detection is a bit better than with Nikon and Panasonic, but still behind Canon and Sony.
  • There is no sensor protection when the camera is turned off. Come on, folks! How do you make a camera with an insane IP durability rating and not protect the sensor?
  • C-AF with Tracking isn’t the best. Tracking moving birds is tough.
  • Image stabilization at very slow shutter speeds doesn’t seem as great as previous Olympus cameras, but is still very good.
  • Need to use their software to get the most from the color capabilities of the raw files.

Innovations

In our review, we state:

“There’s a lot that’s innovative about the new OM System OM1.

  • First off, there’s cross quad-pixel autofocus that works pretty well most of the time.
  • There’s a brand new menu system that rival’s Canon’s as being the easiest to navigate. If the OM System OM1 had a touchscreen menu, it would be on par with Canon’s.
  • It’s the first camera to use the new BLX-1 battery, which lasts an incredibly long time. I went nearly four days without charging.
  • IP53 weather sealing rating
  • 50 fps shooting in continuous autofocus potential
  • 120 fps shooting in single autofocus potential
  • LiveND 64 cuts down so much light and lets you keep the aperture a bit wide to prevent diffraction.
  • Live Composite is still as awesome as it ever was, though Panasonic has it now with their cameras too.
  • ISO 25,600 is sort of usable, which is rare for a Four Thirds sensor.
  • This sensor gives us the cleanest high ISO prints we’ve gotten at ISO 6400 and at 17×22 inches.
  • The metering is a little weird.”

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Nikon z9

Pros

  • High Speed sync works to 1/8000 and possibly beyond.
  • The Nikon z9 genuinely feels like the first serious camera for a professional photographer along with the Canon EOS R3.
  • Nikon’s absolute best autofocus
  • Once you get the hang of it and set everything up the way you want, it’s an excellent camera.
  • Light up buttons are the absolute best thing.
  • Lots of customization options
  • Fast and quiet shooting
  • 3D tracking is great for animal photography.
  • Auto subject detection is quite good.
  • Nikon’s in-camera cropping feature is wonderful to get more reach from your lenses.
  • The world’s first camera for photographers without a physical shutter
  • I had zero camera shake issues. Anything pertaining to it would’ve been issues with using a slower shutter speed.
  • Rolling shutter is considerably eliminated, and it’s only visible if you pixel peep.
  • Pretty good tracking autofocus in low light!
  • The vertical grip is a nice addition.
  • Tons and tons of buttons that can do virtually everything

Cons

  • The AF illuminator dramatically slows down autofocus.
  • I’ve surely seen better high ISO results.
  • The exposure preview setting has been completely changed.
  • Heavy, but that’s to be expected
  • Noise reduction is very strong.
  • I wish all the buttons lit up, not just a few. What about the buttons on top?
  • Animal autofocus is good but not as good as Canon or Sony.
  • Nikon still doesn’t have anything unique about their image quality that would make me buy it over Canon or Sony.
  • Pushing the shadows introduces a significant amount of noise even if you’re not looking at the image at 100%.
  • Editing Nikon’s colors in mixed lighting is a nightmare I never want to go through again.
  • At this level, the in-camera multiple exposure feature should make the files into RAWs and not JPEGs.
  • 17×22 prints are a bit soft if you’re looking super close. You’ll also see grain at ISO 6400, unlike we’ve seen with a few others. But it’s acceptable.
  • Pricey, but not as expensive as competitors for sure.

Innovations

In our review, we state:

There’s a pretty extensive list here. But let’s tackle the innovations in the Nikon z9.

  • The first professional-grade camera meant for stills photography that doesn’t have a physical shutter. We know Sigma has options, but they’re not really professional grade.
  • Nikon’s first camera to bring a shield down over the shutter. While the technology itself has been around for many years, it’s new to a Nikon.
  • Vehicle, animal, and human autofocus detection in one-camera. While the Canon EOS R3, Canon EOS R5, and Canon EOS R6 can do this, Nikon is the first to offer a truly automatic mode for it.
  • Nikon’s first good mirrorless camera to implement 3D tracking.
  • Nikon’s first mirrorless camera with illuminated buttons.
  • For work in low light, the new “starlight” mode enhances the camera’s ability to focus down to a faint -8.5 EV, while illuminated buttons help.
  • The first camera with an electronic shutter that can sync with a flash at any shutter speed.

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.