Despite the startling inroads made by smartphones in the digital photography business, there’s still a lot to be said for buying a proper camera. If you’re serious about photography and only the best will do, these cameras will serve you very well.
This is a camera that, with a Leica lens, will cost you as much as a family sedan. It doesn’t have a touchscreen, autofocus or video shooting. The auto exposure system isn’t half as good as other high end cameras, and its metering system is almost prehistoric. There’s no USB port. It’s next to useless for shooting fast-moving action, and it can take ages to master the art of shooting with it properly. Why, then, would you buy one? Because it’s a Leica. Because it’s built like a Panzer tank. Because it’s beautiful. Because the photographs that it produces are fantastic. It’s smaller and lighter than its predecessors, its full-frame sensor is a marvel and it’s a camera that really makes you slow down and think about what you want to shoot. It’s not perfect, and it’s definitely not for everyone, but it’s unlike any other camera you’ll ever shoot with. $6,895 (body only)
If you’re a sports photographer (or shoot mainly moving objects), the D5 is the current king of the hill. It has a staggering 153 autofocus points and, combined with a 12fps continuous shooting capacity, it’ll literally track anything you point it at and keep it in sharp focus, while it’s moving. It also has top-notch low-light capabilities, with images shot at 102,400 ISO coming out perfectly usable (you can push it to a ridiculous 3,276,800 ISO, but the images will be useless); the out-of-camera JPEGs are brilliant, too. The battery is rated for almost 4,000 shots, and its build quality is second to none, which means it’ll take a real beating and keep going. Combine the body with any of Nikon’s extensive lens lineup, even older lenses, and you’ll have a rig that’s absolutely state of the art. Rs 4.35 lakh (body only)
You’re either a Canon person or a Nikon person, and if it’s the former, the 1D X MkII is the cream of the crop. This is possibly the best all-round professional DSLR in the world at the moment (and definitely the fastest, with a 14fps burst rate, combined with full autofocus tracking and auto exposure for each frame). You also get 4K 60P video, the unique ability to shoot through flickering LED/fluorescent lights (no more random dark frames), a near-unlimited RAW buffer at 14fps (unlimited for JPEGs), unmatched RAW image quality, superb low light performance and AF tracking and dual memory card slots, among others. Needless to say, the body is built to withstand extreme usage, and Canon makes some of the world’s best lenses. Rs 4.56 lakh (body only)
The GH series of cameras quickly became favourites with video shooters the moment they were first launched, and not without reason. Since they’re mirrorless, they’re light and compact, making for easy portability, and the latest in the series ups its stills game as well. The 20MP sensor gives you 4K/60P, 4:2:2 10-bit colour video capture with oversampling, leading to great detail in your broadcast-quality footage. A large, hi-res viewfinder makes framing a breeze, and you get a flip-out LCD touchscreen, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, weather-sealing, a 6K photo mode, 5-axis image stabilisation and super-fast AF. Coupled with the Leica-designed Lumix lenses, the GH5 is the perfect video-focussed DSLR. Rs 1.44 lakh (body only)
This one’s the dark horse of the lot. It’s a camera that’s been designed by photographers, for photographers, and nowhere is that more evident than in the dials it has on its body – dedicated ones for ISO, exposure compensation, metering modes and shutter speed, in addition to the lenses having proper, oldschool aperture dials (and the new Fujinon lenses are exceptionally good). The weather-sealed body is made entirely of metal, so it’s very tough, and the OLED viewfinder, with eye-control, is simply fantastic. The 24.3MP APSC sensor has no anti-alias filter, so you get really sharp, beautifully vivid images – some of the best colours on any DSLR system. You also get twin SD card slots, 4K UHD video shooting, 8fps/14fps burst rates (mechanical/electronic shutter) and a 325-point AF system. Rs 1.15 lakh (body only)
The legendary Japanese company was in trouble until it released the first of its series of mirrorless DSLRs a few years ago, and it hasn’t looked back since. Like all mirrorless cameras, the E-M1 is lighter and smaller than ones with mirrors – and it packs a massive amount of cutting-edge tech. Its magnesium-aluminium body is tough and weather-sealed, and its video/stills image stabilization is class-best. The new 20MP sensor offers better resolution without an impact on noise levels, the hybrid AF is super-fast, the EVF is one of the best ever made, the menu is endlessly customizable and battery life is really good. Olympus now makes some of the best, most compact lenses in the world, so that’s an added bonus. Rs 1.44 lakh (body only)
Sony started out a little late in the DSLR game compared to its rivals, but the quantum leaps it has made since are quite amazing. It has a line of superb mirrorless cameras, but the A99 is its flagship model. The 42.4MP full-frame sensor captures RAW files at 12fps with continuous auto focus, making it the only camera in the world to be able to do so. It also has an amazing Eye AF mode, which auto-focusses by tracking the movement of your eye in the viewfinder. Both stills and video are of exceptional quality, especially video, which can be shot in 4K Ultra High Definition. The body is rugged and weather-sealed, the battery life is very good and you get in-body image stabilization for any lens. The relative drawback is the somewhat limited range of Sony A-mount lenses, but that’s not a dealbreaker. Rs 2.5 lakh (body only)