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Best cameras under $1500

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Best cameras under $1500


Updated: Nov 6, 2023

Spending $1500 – or the equivalent amount in your local currency – on a camera can seem like a daunting prospect, but this is the price bracket where the cameras start to get really good. The past few years have seen great advances in the power and simplicity of autofocus, and the cost of full-frame cameras has dropped, meaning there are some really capable options at this price.

The $1500 price bracket includes the more affordable full-frame cameras – so-called because their sensors are the same size as a piece of 35mm film – or some of the higher-end APS-C models.

With the right lenses full-frame can offer better image quality than an APS-C camera. But choosing a sensor size is a balance between size, price and image quality. An APS-C camera can be smaller, especially once you factor the lenses in, and one in the $1500 price range is likely to shoot faster and may have more sophisticated features than a full-frame model at the same price. After extensive use, the following cameras would be our picks, in this price range:


Our picks:


Best camera for under $1500: Canon EOS R8

24 MP full-frame CMOS sensor | 4K/60p 10-bit video recording | 8 fps burst shooting

The EOS R8 is one of the most affordable way to gain the image quality benefits of a full-frame sensor. Lens availability is a concern, but it’s a capable and enjoyable camera to use.

Photo: Richard Butler

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What we like:

  • Great image quality
  • Very good AF subject detection and tracking
  • Good starting price

What we don’t:

  • No in-body image stabilization
  • Short battery life
  • No AF joystick

The Canon EOS R8 is a surprisingly capable compact full-frame mirrorless camera that has the features and image quality of Canon’s EOS R6 II at a much lower price.

The EOS R8 has a comfortable grip and twin dials, giving a good level of direct control. There aren’t many buttons so more committed users may want to move up to the EOS R6 II, rather than rely on the quick menu for changing settings.

Autofocus is the R8’s strong suit: tracking and subject detection are simple to use and very effective. There’s no AF joystick, so you’ll have to use the touchscreen or select a subject and recompose. Battery life is very limited for an entry-level full-frame camera, though it can charge over USB, at least.

“If you’re partial to Canon and are new to full-frame mirrorless, the EOS R8 is a great place to start your photographic journey.”

The R8 shoots attractive video, including 4K footage at up to 60p. The lack of in-body stabilization means you’ll need a stabilized lens or a tripod to get the best results.

Photos are on par with more expensive full-frame cameras, with great high ISO performance, detail-preserving noise reduction, and Canon’s pleasing JPEG colors. The 40 fps burst mode is prone to rolling shutter distortion, reducing its usefulness for capturing action.

The EOS R8 offers the image quality and many of the features of Canon’s more expensive models but battery life and viewfinder resolution are part of the price you pay for that. The RF mount is still fairly new so it’s worth researching your lens options before buying, but an adapter allows the use of EF DSLR lenses if you have them.




Enjoyable to shoot with: Nikon Z5

24MP full-frame sensor | In-body image stabilization | 4K/30p video

The Nikon Z5’s view and autofocus aren’t as good as those of the Canon EOS R8 but it can be nicer to use in some regards, not least thanks to its larger battery and high-res viewfinder.

Photo: Dan Bracaglia

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What we like:

  • Excellent image quality
  • Superb build quality
  • Effective image stabilization

What we don’t:

  • 4K video has heavy crop
  • Heavy-handed high ISO noise reduction
  • Noticeable rolling shutter

We also really liked the Nikon Z5, which sells for around the same price as the Canon.

The Nikon Z5 is among the most affordable entry-level full-framer cameras ever released. It sports a stabilized 24MP CMOS chip with on-sensor phase detect AF, packed inside a robust, best-in-class body.

“The Z5 is good for anyone seeking a well-priced, stills-oriented full-frame mirrorless camera”

Its autofocus isn’t quite as reliable as the R8’s and its video is nowhere near as good, but if anything we find it a slightly more enjoyable camera to actually use and it offers in-body image stabilization, which the Canon lacks. It has a higher resolution viewfinder and a joystick for positioning its autofocus point, which makes a surprisingly big difference to usability. It also offers significantly better battery life than the Canon, which is another nice-to-have feature.




Other full-frame cameras we considered

We also considered the Sony a7 II, which is still available at some very tempting looking prices. This isn’t the bargain it might seem. The a7 II was launched in late 2014 and cameras have come a long way since then. Sony has updated the autofocus, menus and ergonomics of the a7 series significantly since the launch of the a7 II, and has adopted a much larger battery, all of which are worth spending more money to gain. Sony’s E-mount has the widest selection of lenses of any mirrorless system, but we’d recommend saving for an a7 III instead of buying the a7 II at this point.

It’s a similar story with the Sony a7C, at this point. The a7C includes many of the features of the a7 III in a smaller body, but its small, low resolution viewfinder and lack of a front command dial mean you pay a significant cost in terms of usability in that downsizing.


Most versatile option: Sony a6700

26MP BSI CMOS sensor | 4K/60p video capture | Fully articulating screen

The Sony a6700 combines all-round stills and video capabilities with class-leading autofocus. The standard 16-50mm kit zoom’s not great, though.

Photo: Richard Butler

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What we like:

  • Front and rear command dials
  • Excellent AF in stills and video
  • 4K/120p capture (with crop)

What we don’t:

  • No AF joystick
  • JPEG sharpening can be aggressive

The Sony a6700 is an enthusiast-level APS-C mirrorless camera built around an image-stabilized, 26MP BSI CMOS sensor. It includes an impressive collection of features for both photo and video shooters.

The a6700 has a twin-dial interface missing from less expensive models. It’s just slightly larger than previous models in the line, but in exchange, you also get a fully articulating display. However, it lacks the AF joystick found on many cameras in its class.

Autofocus on the a6700 offers class-leading subject detection and tracking capabilities. Combined with a dedicated ‘AI’ processor, it effectively tracks subjects around the frame even when shooting at the maximum 11 fps burst shooting rate.

“Excellent photo and video quality with best-in-class AF in stills and video make it an excellent choice for enthusiasts.”

Image quality is very good in JPEG or Raw. JPEG colors are pleasing to the eye, though sharpening can be a bit aggressive. Base ISO noise levels are consistent with other modern APS-C models but in low light it exhibits a little more noise.

The camera produces very detailed 4K video up to 60p with 10-bit color, with good rolling shutter performance. There’s also a 4K/120p mode, albeit with a 1.58x crop. Autofocus performance is top-notch, with a well-designed touch interface. It’s a strong option both for videographers and vloggers.

Excellent photo and video quality, best-in-class AF in stills and video, and a deep set of features to support both make it an excellent choice for enthusiasts. Sony’s E-mount also includes a good range of available lenses.




The creative choice: Fujifilm X-S20

26MP X-Trans APS-C sensor | Up to 6.2K/30P 10-bit video | In-body image stablization

We found the X-S20 to be a capable stills and video all-rounder, though the autofocus tracking isn’t quite as reliable as its rivals’.

Photo: Brendan Nystedt

Buy now:


What we like:

  • Excellent still and video quality
  • Long battery life
  • Comfortable, simple ergonomics

What we don’t:

  • AF tracking still lags behind peers
  • Small electronic viewfinder
  • Micro HDMI instead of full-size

The Fujifilm X-S20 is a compact 26MP APS-C mirrorless camera with image stabilization that takes features of the company’s higher-end models and puts them into a DSLR-styled body with a large grip.

In most respects the Sony a6700 has the edge over the X-S20, particularly in terms of autofocus performance. But what the Fujifilm offers is a wide selection of photographer-friendly prime lenses, both from Fujifilm itself and companies such as Sigma and Viltrox. This, and the attractive Film Simulation modes, make it worth considering.

“The X-S20 delivers a long list of options to still shooters and vloggers alike, all while offering solid battery life.”

The X-S20’s video specs are impressive, with 10-bit 4K capture at up to 60p. Videographers will appreciate its F-Log capture, while the Eterna color profile is attractive if you want a simpler workflow. An optional fan extends record times but autofocus isn’t especially dependable.

The X-S20 takes Fujifilm’s higher-end still and video features and puts them into a simple, cleanly designed body with built-in image stabilization. Image quality is great, autofocus is good in most situations, and the breadth of video features is impressive.



The affordable kit: Fujifilm X-S10 with 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 OIS lens

26MP X-Trans CMOS sensor | In-body image stabilization | 4K/30p video capture

The X-S10 isn’t as sophisticated as the X-S20, particularly in terms of video capture, but the 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 OIS lens (pictured) is a really good lens, whereas some of the lenses included with other cameras are not.

Buy now:


The older Fujifilm X-S10 is also worth considering. It’s a little less sophisticated than the X-S20, with less reliable autofocus, less effective image stabilization, lower video spec and a smaller battery all making the newer model a better choice. Our reason for including it comes down to what you can get with it if you have a strict $1500 budget: a good lens. The other cameras here are typically only fit within the price range when bought body-only or with a rather basic zoom.

For less than $1500 you can buy the X-S10 with the 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 OIS lens. This is one of the best ‘kit’ zooms on the market: covering a useful range, offering good optical performance and letting in more light than is typical, which helps you access more of the camera’s image quality potential. An X-S20 with the 18-55mm is an even better choice, but it strays over this guide’s headline target price.




Other APS-C cameras we considered

Also available in this price range is the Canon EOS R7. It’s a very capable camera with impressive specs and the same highly effective autofocus system as the EOS R8. However, at present there are relatively few lenses available for it, and most of them are fairly slow aperture zooms or prime lenses with focal lengths that make more sense on full-frame cameras, effectively reducing the options further.

You can adapt Canon’s EF-mount DSLR lenses, but the extra depth of the adapter makes this rather unweildy. If you’re happy to stick with one of the rather pedestrian RF-S kit zooms, the EOS R7 is a lovely camera, but the Fujifilm and Sony currently offer so much more room to grow.

The compact option: OM System OM-5

20MP Four Thirds CMOS sensor | 4K/30p video | In-body stabilization rated to 6.5EV (7.5 with some lenses)

The OM-5 offers a smaller, more rugged alternative to APS-C or full-frame cameras.

Photo: Shaminder Dulai

Buy now:


There’s a third option when it comes to striking the size/price/image quality balance of sensor sizes: Four Thirds. The Micro Four Thirds system uses a sensor one quarter the size of that in ‘full-frame,’ which means there’ll be an appreciable image quality hit in many situations and it’ll be harder to achieve the blurry backgrounds that full-frame can give. The flipside, though is a significantly smaller system for which some of the lenses are much less expensive.

What we like:

  • Attractive JPEG output
  • Selection of clever photo features
  • Excellent image stabilization
  • IP53 rating supports claims of weather sealing

What we don’t:

  • AF tracking is disappointing
  • Image quality is behind larger sensor cameras

The OM System OM-5 is a compact 20MP image-stabilized Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera.

The OM-5 has a compact body but a decent number of control points and offers a high degree of customization. Its menu system is quite cluttered by the camera’s extensive array of features. Viewfinder and rear screen are typical for the price.

It has good phase-detect autofocus with face detection, but tracking for other subjects is distinctly unreliable. Using a single point or zone of focus and trying to keep up with the subject yields best results, but is somewhat awkward due to the lack of an AF joystick.

“Its combination of IP-rated weather sealing, image stabilization and compact size helps the OM-5 offer something different”

Image quality is good for its sensor size, with attractive JPEGs and flexible Raw files. A 12-shot handheld high-res mode lets it punch above its weight if your scene has relatively little movement. Excellent image stabilization expands the camera’s working range, and unique features like Live ND mean you rarely need a tripod.

The OM-5’s 4K video isn’t the most detailed, but this is made up for by some of the best image stabilization on the market, making the OM-5 a competent hand-held video option. Video AF tracks faces and people decently, but can struggle with other kinds of subjects.

The OM-5 offers strong all-round capability with excellent image stabilization in a compact IP53-rated weather-sealed body and access to one of the largest mirrorless camera lens systems.




Why you should trust us

This buying guide is based on cameras used and tested by DPReview’s editorial team. We don’t select a camera until we’ve used it enough to be confident in recommending it, usually after our extensive review process. The selections are purely a reflection of which cameras we believe to be best: there are no financial incentives for us to select one model or brand over another.



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Ricoh launches Pentax 17 half-frame fixed lens film camera

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Ricoh launches Pentax 17 half-frame fixed lens film camera



Ricoh has revealed the Pentax 17, the half-frame film compact with a manual focus fixed prime lens.

The Pentax 17 has a 25mm F3.5 lens which works out at 37mm equivalent, and derives its name from the horizontal width of the 17 x 25mm frames it captures. The company says the vertical format makes it similar to images shot by smartphones.

It has a manual focus lens that can be set to one of six preset distances, from 0.25m to infinity, indicated with icons on the top of the lens. The company says the lens is based on the design of 1994’s Pentax Espio Mini and features three elements in three groups. It features a leaf shutter that gives a circular aperture shape all the way from F3.5 to F16, and gives a shutter speed range from 1/350 sec to 4 seconds, and offers a Bulb mode for longer exposures.

The company says its targeting a younger audience who enjoy the experience of shooting film and will appreciate the cost-savings of shooting two exposures on each 36 x 24mm frame. The 17 will also provide the certainty of a full warranty with good availability of spare parts, which second-hand cameras lack. It will come with a one year warranty and, in the US at least, the option of a second year of coverage.

The camera features magnesium alloy construction and uses a standard CR2 lithium battery to power its flash, light meter and viewfinder indicators.

The 17 will be available from late June 2024 at a cost of $499.95.

Press Release:

Ricoh announces the PENTAX 17 compact film camera

PARSIPPANY, New Jersey, June 17, 2024 — Ricoh Imaging Americas Corporation today announced the highly anticipated PENTAX 17 compact film camera. The PENTAX 17 is a half- frame camera, capturing two 17mm x 24mm pictures within a single 35mm-format (36mm x 24mm) film frame. It produces vertical-format pictures, with similar ratios to those captured by smartphones, for seamless sharing on social media after the film is developed and scans are produced by a film lab.

The popularity of film cameras has grown rapidly in recent years — especially among young photographers — because of the distinctive, somewhat nostalgic experience provided that is so different from using digital cameras. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the global film camera market is projected to be 5.2% through 2030 and a quick search of the hashtag #filmphotography on Instagram pulls up more than 42.6 million posts.

Borne out of the PENTAX Film Camera Project, a concept first announced in December of 2022, the new camera resulted from a close collaboration between Ricoh Imaging and PENTAX experts and younger engineers. The experts shared their vast knowledge and decades of experience in film and imaging technology with the current team members to design a film camera that would allow photographers to express their originality and creativity by leaving some room for manual operation, rather than making it a fully automatic camera.

| Design merges manual operation and ease of use for maximum creative expression |

The design of the PENTAX 17 was inspired by the PENTAX brand’s heritage, incorporating manual operations unique to film photography that are gaining a loyal following in today’s digital world. This includes a selectable zone-focus system, manual film winding, manual film advance lever, and exposure compensation and ISO sensitivity adjustments, each with their own dials. The classic design of the camera body was developed with high-quality materials; the top and bottom covers are made of solid, lightweight magnesium alloy and the 40.5mm filter mounting thread enables the use of a range of filters.

The PENTAX 17 features a newly-developed 25mm F3.5 lens (equivalent to a 37mm lens in the 35mm format). Further building on the PENTAX brand heritage, the lens is based on optics incorporated in the acclaimed PENTAX Espio Mini — which was marketed in 1994 —redesigned to support the half-frame format. The lens is treated with HD (High Definition) coating to optimize the clarity and sharpness of the half-frame photos. In a nod to Ricoh’s rich history in optics and photography, the designers based the lens design on the lens in the RICOH Auto Half – a best- selling half-frame model first marketed in 1962 – incorporating the angle of view and focal length to make casual, everyday picture-taking simple and flawless.

The camera’s zone-focus system is divided into six focus zones that can be selected on the zone focusing ring to capture subjects at a long distance or as close-up as 25 centimeters away in the macro zone. Its bright optical viewfinder features a bright, Albada-type frame finder to facilitate framing a scene as well as a close-up visual field compensation frame to help users more easily compose close-up images. The zone focus marks can be seen directly through the viewfinder to further support composition.

The PENTAX 17 has seven shooting modes to accommodate different applications and scenarios. It automatically adjusts exposure settings based on lighting data collected by its metering sensor. In addition to the Full Auto mode in which all exposure settings are selected by the camera, it provides six other shooting modes including: Slow-speed sync, which is useful in twilight photography; and Bulb, a long-exposure mode useful for photographing nightscapes and fireworks.

The camera supports a wide selection of ISO film speeds and features a note holder on the back cover where the end of the film package can be inserted for at-a-glance confirmation of the film in use, three strap lugs to accommodate both horizontal and vertical suspensions, and compatibility with the optional CS-205 Cable Switch for use in extended-exposure photography in Bulb mode.

| Industry support for PENTAX 17 |

“Film photography has been growing in popularity over the past decade and especially recently! The new PENTAX 17 film camera is going to kickstart an entirely new generation of film shooters,” said Philip Steblay, Cofounder of The Darkroom, an online film developing service. “This terrific new camera will add to the great pleasure and enjoyment of shooting film. The PENTAX analog functionality, film selection process and thinking more carefully about your shots will enhance the fun of photography. This, coupled with the anticipation that comes with waiting for your images to process, adds to the joy of photography. With new cameras and film coming to market the future of film photography looks bright.”

“The PENTAX 17 is a stunning camera, both in form and function,” said Kyle Depew, founder, Brooklyn Film Camera. “Its design is handsome and classic, yet it features elements that are delightfully unique and innovative. It’s amazing to see modern PENTAX engineering applied towards a new film camera. We couldn’t be more delighted.”

“The film photography community is vibrant and growing, and we are thrilled to see Ricoh Imaging recognizing this and creating new products for this market,” said Meredith Reinker, managing partner, Roberts Distributors LP. “Film photography has been growing in popularity over the last several years and supporting this community is supporting a growing industry as well as supporting the arts. We are honored to be partnering with Ricoh to make this camera available through our distribution channel of independent, local and analog-focused businesses. We look forward to watching the analog community embrace this exciting announcement as we all have a shared goal of keeping film photography alive and accessible.”

“This camera has been a reminder to have fun and not take things too seriously,” said Matt Day, photographer. “It’s fun to shoot with, it’s compact enough to carry anywhere, and double the amount of exposures makes it easier to shoot more.”

“Many photographers were first introduced to the joys of photography using a PENTAX film camera. We’re hoping to introduce a new generation to the world of film photography with the PENTAX 17,” said Ken Curry, president, Ricoh Imaging Americas. “It is an ideal model not only for film camera enthusiasts who have enjoyed film photography for years, but also for photographers who are excited about trying film photography for the first time.”

| Pricing and Availability |

The PENTAX 17 will be available late June at www.us.ricoh-imaging.com as well as at Ricoh Imaging-authorized retail outlets nationwide for a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $499.95.

| Main features |

1. Half-size format

The PENTAX 17 features the half-size format, in which two 17mm x 24mm pictures are captured within a single 35mm frame (36mm x 24mm). It also employs a manual film advance lever. When holding the camera in traditional orientation, the PENTAX 17 captures vertical-format pictures, similar to the familiar images captured by smartphones, which are commonly used today for picture-taking.

2. Manual camera operation unique to film cameras

The PENTAX 17 features a manual film-winding mechanism based on those incorporated in PENTAX-brand single-lens reflex (SLR) film cameras. The film advance lever lets the user enjoy the film winding action and a wind-up sound after every shutter release. An easy-loading system is designed to prevent film-loading errors, especially for first-time film camera users. It also features other mechanisms unique to film cameras, such as manual film rewinding operation using the rewind crank; exposure compensation via the exposure compensation dial; and ISO sensitivity setting via the ISO sensitivity dial.

3. Newly developed lens combining time-proven optics and the latest lens coating technology

The PENTAX 17 features a newly developed 25mm F3.5 lens (equivalent to a 37mm lens in the 35mm format). Based on the optics incorporated in the acclaimed PENTAX Espio Mini (marketed in 1994), it has been redesigned to fit perfectly in the half-size format. It is also treated with HD (High Definition) coating — a highly acclaimed multi-layer coating — to optimize the clarity and sharpness of half-size pictures. Using the lens used in the RICOH Auto Half (a best-selling half- size model first marketed in 1962) as a reference, the angle of view and focal length were selected to make casual, everyday picture-taking simple and flawless.

4. Zone-focus system to switch the in-focus area via simple selection of zone marks

From close-ups to long distances, the PENTAX 17’s zone-focus system can handle it all. The system is divided into six focus zones, indicated by marks that signify each zone. All the user has to do to set the camera’s focus is select the mark best suited for the subject distance on the zone focusing ring. In the Macro focus zone, the user can capture a close-up photo from approximately 25 centimeters away. The hand strap (included as a standard accessory) lets the user measure subject distance more accurately.

5. Bright optical viewfinder for real-time confirmation of a subject image

The PENTAX 17’s optical viewfinder features a bright, Albada-type frame finder that helps to facilitate framing a scene. It also comes with a close-up visual field compensation frame to help the photographer more easily compose close-up images. It is possible to check the zone marks directly through the viewfinder.

6. Seven shooting modes to accommodate different applications

The PENTAX 17 automatically adjusts exposure settings based on the lighting data collected by its metering sensor. In addition to the Full Auto mode in which all exposure settings are selected by the camera, it provides six other shooting modes, including Slow-speed sync, which is highly useful in twilight photography; and Bulb, a slow-shutter speed mode that comes in handy for photographing nightscapes and fireworks. The PENTAX 17 also features an independent exposure compensation dial, which allows the user to swiftly shift the exposure level to accommodate different types of subjects or express the user’s creative intentions.

7. High-quality body with meticulous attention to every detail

The PENTAX 17’s body has a classic design, reminiscent of traditional film cameras. The top and bottom covers are made of a solid but lightweight magnesium alloy to optimize the camera body’s rigidity. The 40.5mm filter mounting thread allows the user to mount a range of filters, which are available for purchase on the market. With meticulous attention paid to every single detail, the PENTAX 17 is designed to be a joy to own.

8. Other features

  • A wide selection of ISO film speeds (50, 100, 125, 160, 200, 400, 800, 1600 and 3200)
  • Note holder on the back cover, into which the end of the film package can be inserted for an at-a-glance confirmation of the film in use
  • Three strap lugs to accommodate horizontal and vertical camera suspensions, to best suit
    the user’s shooting style
  • Compatibility with the optional CS-205 Cable Switch, which comes in handy for extended-exposure photography in the Bulb shooting mode



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Nikon Z6III initial review

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Nikon Z6III initial review


Product Photos by Richard Butler

The Nikon Z6III is the company’s third-generation full-frame mirrorless camera, bringing a faster 24MP sensor that boosts the autofocus and video capabilities of this stills/video hybrid.

Key specifications

  • 24MP “Partially Stacked” CMOS sensor
  • 14fps with mech shutter, 20fps e-shutter up to 1000 Raw files
  • In-body image stabilization rated at up to 8.0 stops
  • 5.76M dot EVF with high brightness and wide color gamut
  • Fully articulated 3.2″ 2.1M dot rear screen
  • 6K/60p N-Raw video, 6K/30p ProRes Raw
  • 5.8K/60p H.265 video
  • Pre-burst capture, pixel-shift high-res mode

The Nikon Z6III will be available from late June at a price of $2500. This is a $500 increase over the previous Z6 models but brings it into line with the likes of Canon’s EOS R6 II and Sony’s a7 IV, with which it directly competes.


What’s new

24MP “Partially Stacked” CMOS sensor

Nikon’s image of the Z6III’s sensor, showing the extensive readout circuitry above and below the sensor.

Image: Nikon

The sensor at the heart of the Z6III is responsible for much of what the new camera brings. Nikon uses the term “Partially Stacked” to suggest it has some of the performance benefits of the Stacked CMOS chips it uses in its Z8 and Z9 models, but without the associated cost.

Nikon hasn’t given us precise detail but it appears the readout and analog-to-digital conversion circuitry around the edge of the chip is stacked, allowing it to be both more sophisticated and closer to the pixels themselves, delivering faster readout.

The effect result is that the camera can read out its sensor fast enough to deliver full-width 6K video at up to 60p in N-Raw mode and a flash sync speed of 1/60 sec. This means it must be able to read the entire sensor in less than 1/60 sec,

However, that maximum sync speed of 1/60th is around a quarter of the speed of true Stacked CMOS sensors and not a vast leap forward from the previous generation of sensors. It should improve AF performance and video capabilities but won’t deliver the blisteringly fast performance of the likes of the Z8.

Improved AF

Along with the faster sensor, the Z6III also gains the autofocus improvements seen in Nikon’s recent models, including 3D Tracking and subject recognition. The company says AF is up to 20% faster than it was in the Z6 II, and that the performance is comparable with the Z8 and Z9.

On top of this, the camera can focus at down to –10EV without you having to engage the Starlight AF mode (though it’s worth noting that this figure is predicated on an F1.2 lens being attached). It also gains most the subject recognition modes from the Zf, though lacks the dedicated bird detection mode that the Z8 and Z9 have recently gained.

Subject detection modes
  • People
  • Animals
  • Vehicles
  • Airplanes
  • Auto

(Dogs, cats, birds)
(Cars, motorbikes, trains, airplanes, bicycles)

These all reflect a significant improvement over the Z6 II. The 3D Tracking system resembles those on Nikon’s DSLRs: pick an AF point and the camera will follow whatever’s under that point when you hold the shutter half depressed or the AF-On button. As soon as you release it reverts to your previously chosen position. Unlike the Z6 II’s system you don’t need to press a button to cancel tracking and it doesn’t revert to the center.

But as well as this increased ease-of-use, the interface controls a much more effective and reliable tracking system that’s much less likely to lock onto the wrong thing or just lose it completely (which was not uncommon, especially in movie mode, on the preview generation of cameras). Add to this the camera’s ability to recognize a series of subjects near your chosen AF point and the Z6 III should be much quicker and easier to work with than previous mid-level Nikons.

Video

The faster sensor sees the Z6III’s video capabilities gain a significant upgrade, compared with its predecessor. It’s too soon for Nikon’s purchase of cinema camera maker RED to have played into this camera’s development, but it relieves any uncertainty around the inclusion of onboard capture of both N-Raw and ProRes Raw video formats.

All of the codecs offer both UHD 4K and a higher-resolution capture mode, all of which use the full width of the sensor. The Raw modes offer 6K or 4K capture, while the gamma-encoded modes (ProRes 422, H.265, H.264) offer 5.4K or 4K recording.

Codec Resolutions and max frame rates
N-Raw 6K/60p
UHD 4K/60p
ProRes RAW 6K/30p
UHD 4K/60p
ProRes 422 5.4K/60p
UHD 4K/60p
H.265 5.4K/60p
UHD 4K/60p
H.264 UHD 4K/30p

Like the Z8, the Z6III includes shooting aids such as waveforms, zebras and focus peaking.

The Z6III also becomes the first Nikon to accept a line-level input over its mic socket. It’s also compatible with Atomos’ AirGlu, a Bluetooth-based Timecode sync system.

Additional functions

The Z6III also gains all the other functions that have been added to Nikon cameras since the launch of the Z6 II, including pre-burst capabilities and multi-shot high resolution modes.

It also has the image stabilization system that centers its correction on your chosen AF point. This is particularly valuable if you’re focused in the corners of wide-angle shots, where the required pitch and yaw correction is significantly different from that needed at the center of the image.

In addition, like the Zf, the Z6III can use its subject recognition system even if you’re in manual focus mode. This means that engaging magnified live view will punch in on your subject’s eye, as you check focus, rather than you having to navigate around the scene to find it.

Finally, the Z6III will be compatible with a “Flexible Color” tool that will be added to Nikon’s NX Studio software, which provides an enhanced set of color tools for creating custom Picture Control color modes to install on the camera.

Cloud access

The Z6III will be the first Nikon camera to use the Nikon Imaging Cloud service. This will fulfill a series of functions. At its most basic it’ll be a service to which images can be uploaded and then sent on to other storage and social media services (rather than the camera itself having to know how to connect to multiple services).

It’ll also be a source for “Imaging Recipes,” which are camera settings intended for taking specific types of image, created with the help of Nikon’s sponsored creators. There will also be “Cloud Picture Controls” presets that can be downloaded. This service isn’t available yet, so we won’t be able to assess its usefulness until it is.


How it compares

The $500 price hike brings the Nikon directly into line with the MSRPs of its two most comparable competitors: Sony’s a7 IV and Canon’s EOS R6 II. All three cameras are highly capable stills and video machines with strong AF systems. We’ve included the more expensive Panasonic DC-S5II X here because its video capabilities and price are closer to those of the Nikon.

Nikon Z6III Canon EOS R6 II Sony a7 IV Panasonic Lumix DC-S5II X Nikon Z6 II
MSRP $2500 $2500 $2500 $2500 $2000
Sensor type “Semi-stacked” BSI CMOS Dual Pixel AF FSI CMOS BSI CMOS BSI CMOS BSI CMOS
Resolution 24MP 24MP 33MP 24MP 24MP
Maximum shooting rate 20fps (Raw)
60fps (JPEG)
40fps (12-bit Raw or JPEG) 10 fps (lossy Raw) 30fps (e-shutter) 14fps
10fps (14-bit Raw)
Rolling shutter rate (ms) ∼14.6ms
(14-bit)
∼14.7ms
(12-bit)
∼67.6ms (14-bit) ∼51.3ms
(14-bit)
∼50.8ms (14-bit)
Video resolutions 6K (Raw)
5.4K
UHD 4K
6K (Raw over HDMI)
DCI 4K
UHD 4K
UHD 4K 6K
5.9K
5.9K (Raw over HDMI)
DCI 4K
UHD 4K
UHD 4K
Uncompressed video N-Raw
ProRes RAW
Over HDMI Over HDMI Over HDMI
Viewfinder res/ magnification/ eye-point 5.76M dot OLED/ 0.8x/
21mm

3.69M dot OLED/
0.76x/
23mm

3.68M dot OLED/ 0.78x/
23mm
3.68M dot OLED/
0.78x/
21mm
3.69M dot OLED/ 0.8x/ 21mm
Rear screen 3.2″ fully-articulated 2.1M dot 3.0″ fully articulated
1.62M dot
3.0″ fully articulated
1.04M dot
3.0″ fully articulated
1.84M dot
3.2″ tilting 2.1M dot
Image stabilization Up to 8.0EV Up to 8.0EV Up to 5.5EV Up to 5.0EV
Up to 6.5EV with Dual IS 2 lens
Up to 5.0EV
Media types 1x CFe B
1x UHS II SD
2x UHS II SD 1x CFe A / UHS II SD
1x UHS II SD
2x UHS II SD 1x CFe B
1x UHS II SD
Battery life EVF / LCD 360 / 390 320 / 580 520 / 580 370 / 370 360 / 420
Dimensions 139 x 102 x 74mm 138 x 98 x 88mm 131 x 96 x 80 mm 134 x 102 x 90mm 134 x 101 x 70mm
Weight 760g 670g 659g 740g 705g

What the table can’t capture is the subtle differences in performance between these models, which is increasingly what it comes down to, in this most competitive of classes. Our early impressions are that the Z6III matches the Canon and Sony in terms of autofocus tracking performance and usability, wheres the Panasonic lags a little and the Z6 II feels like it’s left significantly behind.

Likewise the new Nikon and the Canon stand ahead in terms of video performance, as they offer faster video capture with less rolling shutter, especially compared with the rather slow Sony. We’ll need to shoot the Nikon more to know whether it can outdo the Canon’s video AF, which isn’t the most dependable.

The stills stabilization figures do nothing to convey the smoothness of video stabilization, either, with the Panasonic doing particularly well in this regard. Increasingly, choice and availability of lenses will be the critical deciding factor for a lot of people.


Body and handling

The Z6III looks, at first glance, a lot like the existing Z6 and Z7 models, with a familiar low-height camera with significant hand grip and viewfinder hump extending from it. But if you put them side-by-side you find that the Z6III is a very different body, even if it uses the same styling cues.

It’s a larger camera than its predecessors and heavier. However, it’s much closer in size to them than it is to the Z8. It’s wider and thicker but maintains a solid, comfortable grip. The button positions are essentially unchanged, compared to the previous cameras, with twin function buttons on the front and an AF joystick on that back.

Viewfinder

The Z6III is a larger, heavier body than its predecessor, but the controls are essentially the same. The Playback and drive mode buttons have been swapped, but that’s the most significant change. There’s also a button on the top plate to illuminate the settings panel.

The Z6III becomes the first Z-series camera to move beyond the 3.69M dot panels used so far. It sees a jump to 5.76M dots but, more importantly, also gains a significant brightness boost. The panel can go as bright at 400nits and can cover the full gamut required for HLG.

You’ll need to manually push it to its brightest setting to get this full brightness but it means the camera can represent true HDR capture when shooting in HEIF mode, and generally give a viewfinder that differs less in brightness, relative to the real world.

Articulated rear screen

The Z6III becomes the first mid-range Nikon to gain a fully-articulated screen, rather than the tilting panels that the previous models have had. It’s a 3.2″ LCD panel with 2.1M dots.

The hinge is very close to the camera’s (full-sized) HDMI port and only a little in front of the mic and headphone sockets, so expect it to be a little awkward to use if you’ve got a lot of things plugged into the side of the body.

Battery

The Z6III uses the same EN-EL15c battery as its predecessor, and is rated as delivering a similar number of images. In standard mode it is rated to give 390 shots per charge if used via the rear LCD, and 360 shots through the viewfinder. Move into power saving mode and these numbers increase to 410 and 380 shots per charge, respectively.

As always, these numbers tend to significantly under-represent the number of shots most people will achieve. Getting twice the rated figure isn’t unusual, and more if you shoot a lot of images as bursts.

A battery grip with vertical controls and space for two, hot-swappable, batteries has been created. The MB-N14, which will be available in summer 2024, has been designed so that it’s backward compatible with the Z6 II and Z7 II. This grip displaces the internal battery, meaning you end up with two batteries in total. It has its own USB-C socket for charging the batteries even with the grip detached.


Initial impressions

By Richard Butler

The Z6III closely resembles the Z6 II (and Z7 II, pictured), but is slightly deeper, and has a larger top-plate settings panel.

The dullest possible reaction to the Z6III would be to take a quick look and conclude it’s all about video. Because, while there are plenty of video improvements, the Z6III is also a much better stills camera than we’ve seen from the company at this level. After the rather subtle refresh of the Z6 II, the III represents a much more significant step forward.

Admittedly, the video improvements are easier to spot. Internal Raw video, a full-sized HDMI socket, that fully-articulating LCD, waveforms, full-sensor 4K and 6K/60p: these collectively move Nikon from bringing up the rear of this class to arguably leading it. It’s striking that this mainstream class of cameras now offers the kinds of capabilities you’d previously have found only in dedicated video cameras like Panasonic’s GH series.

Part of this feature set has trickled down from capabilities developed for the Z9 but a lot of it comes from the new, faster sensor. And that faster sensor is a benefit to stills shooters, too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-Rxu4mUxuM

The faster shooting rates are the most obvious sign of this, but the autofocus is also improved. The addition of 3D Tracking and Subject Recognition make the system more powerful and quicker to use, but according to Nikon the faster readout also means the Z6III will outperform the Zf, which has the same processor and interface.

But the improvements for photographers go beyond the performance boost: the higher-resolution viewfinder that can more closely match the brightness of the real world, and can better preview HDR shooting is a major benefit for photographers. Then there’s the addition of options such as pre-burst capture and the multi-shot high-res mode, for those who find them useful.

The Z6III doesn’t (at launch, anyway), have the standalone ‘Bird’ detection mode that has been added to the Z8 and Z9, but it can detect them in its Animal mode.

Nikkor Z 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 VR S with Z TC-1.4 | ISO 1250 | F7.1 | 1/640
Photo: Richard Butler

And for every photographer disappointed about the move to a fully articulating rear screen, there may be another who appreciates this as being the only camera in this class to have a top-plate settings display. Nikon has made the camera a little larger but it hasn’t spoiled the ergonomics that we’ve always rather liked.

It’s interesting to look back ten years to the launch of Nikon’s D750 DSLR, a camera that seemed to offer everything a keen enthusiast photographer would want. Image quality hasn’t improved radically since that point: we’d expect the Z6III’s high ISO performance to be a little better, as the D750 pre-dates dual-gain chips, but it won’t be a radical difference. But everything else is unrecognizably better. Modern lenses are sharper and more consistent, autofocus is quicker, more precise and easier to get the most out of, the Z6III is more compact yet will merrily outperform the D750’s pro-sports contemporary, the D4S, in speed and AF while showing less viewfinder blackout. And that’s before we even consider what happens when you press the red REC button.

It would absolutely be possible to take this photo using a Nikon D750, with enough practice and patience, but the Z6III makes it significantly easier.

Nikkor Z 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 VR S with Z TC-1.4 | ISO 450 | F8.0 | 1/500
Photo: Richard Butler

I’ll admit that, having seen how much Nikon had squeezed out of the existing sensor with the Zf, I thought the Z6 III might simply be a repackaged version of that camera, especially as Panasonic’s S5 II twins also continue to rely on that same chip. But the Z6III is much more ambitious, and something that brings Nikon into serious contention in terms of both specs and performance, in what’s probably the most competitive sector of the market.

Pre-production sample gallery

Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter/magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review); we do so in good faith, so please don’t abuse it.

All images taken using a pre-production Z6III, from which we can only publish the out-of-camera JPEGs.



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DPReview Rewind: Nikon D1, the first in-house DSLR

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DPReview Rewind: Nikon D1, the first in-house DSLR


The Nikon D1 was the first DSLR developed in-house by a camera maker and the first to generate JPEGs internally.

Photo: Phil Askey

In 1999, you could already buy an F-mount DSLR: Kodak had been selling modified Nikon SLRs since the DCS100 in 1991. But at the turn of the century, its prime offering was still a rather inelegant combination of a Nikon F5 film camera and a bolted-on digital imaging unit called the Kodak Professional DCS-620.

The camera Nikon revealed on June 15th 1999 was arguably the first ground, up digital SLR: still borrowing heavily from the F5 and F100 film models, but clearly designed as a coherent whole. Everything was crammed into a conventional two-grip professional body of the kind that’s still made today.

The D1 had a recommended retail price of $5,500, body only, meaning it cost around half as much as the DCS-620. And its APS-C CCD boasted 2.62 megapixels, to the Kodak’s 1.99MP. It was also the first DSLR to natively shoot JPEG: another feature that, for better or worse, is still recognizable.

DPReview founder Phil Askey got his hands on an early sample around three months after this announcement, but his (and the site’s) move from Singapore to London caused a significant, and understandable, delay in the review.

By the time he was able to complete his write-up, the Nikon had serious competition, not from Kodak but from Canon’s $3000 EOS D30 with its 3.2MP CMOS sensor and single grip design, and from the Fujifilm S1 Pro, which was another Frankencamera, grafted into Nikon N60/F60 body but promising 6.13MP images from its 3.07MP Super CCD sensor, at a cost of $4000.

Even before these players entered the market, Phil noted in his review that he’d spoken to Kodak employees who seemed “blasé” about the threat that the D1 represented. Quarter of a century later and Kodak’s only presence in photography is via companies licensing its name.

Even in the light of the new contenders released since its launch, DPReview considered the D1, with its “ultra-fast AF,” to be “the digital tool for professional photographers.” After we’d explained the impact of the APS-C sensor on full-frame lenses.

Read our original Nikon D1 review

Nikon D1 sample gallery



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