Sometimes, only the highest-resolution cameras will do. While modern cameras have many great features, such as super-speedy burst rates or hyper-accurate autofocus, here we've collected the cameras that are best for those who want megapixels above all else.
Having the most megapixels confers two main advantages. Big-resolution sensors produce images with extraordinary detail that can be printed at extremely large sizes, and can also be cropped into for a closer perspective, with little to no loss in image quality.
So what are the highest-resolution cameras available right now? Well, our list tops out with the Hasselblad H6D-400C Multi-Shot, which is capable of producing 400MP images! Now, this is arguably a bit of a cheat, and there's been a fair bit of heated discussion about it in the DCW offices; the H6D-400C "only" has a 100MP sensor, and produces its astonishing images via shooting six images in quick succession and creating a composite of them. This is such an intensive process that it requires the camera to be tethered to a computer! So while it's not technically the highest native resolution on our list (that honour belongs to our second pick, the Phase One XF IQ4 150MP Camera System), it is the camera capable of producing the highest-resolution images.
Something worth noting here: we're only including on this list cameras that a normal person can purchase with reasonable ease. There are industrial cameras, prototypes and made-to-order cameras that can achieve higher resolutions, but the majority of people will never be able to access such cameras. We're sticking here to stuff that's commercially available. Of course, that doesn't mean that it's cheap, and some of the prices on this list will likely make your eyes water.
As you go down the list, you start to see full-frame consumer models like the Sony A7R Mark IV and Sigma fp L are the highest resolution cameras with full-frame sensors – which are some of the best professional cameras you can get right now. There are also plenty of medium-format cameras on the list, and even some older DSLRs.
We've also not picked every single model and variation from the big makers. We could have populated this entire list with Phase One and Hasselblad, but it makes more sense to give you a broader overview of the different types of high-resolution cameras available from different manufacturers. It's a big, beautiful world out there for megapixel counters.
So here goes…
The argument is based around the capture system. The H6D-400c uses a pixel-shift capture system to achieve 400MP output from its 100MP sensor. Lots of other cameras have pixel-shift systems like this. The ONLY reason the H6D-400c is included is because it's built for 400MP capture and it's not just an incidental operating mode – it is in the camera model name. Multi-shot captures use six different exposures and require a tethered connection to a computer. This makes them suitable only for static subjects and important archiving work for example. So while the H6D-400c might have the biggest megapixel count in this list, it does not have the highest native resolution. If that's what you came here for, you need to straight to number two...
Crazy money? For an amateur, maybe, but for a high-end commercial or fashion photographer, its a business decision like any other, like leasing premises or buying commercial vehicles. The Phase One XF IQ4 needs careful handling and considerable investment. It’s not a walkaround camera you can stuff into a backpack. But this, and high-end medium format cameras like it, can achieve a level of quality, precision and control you wouldn’t believe. The XF 1Q4 system is so exclusive that you can't just go on Amazon and buy one – you have to go through Phase One's specialist dealer network.
The Phase One XT is an extraordinary camera. Phase One doesn't want to call it a 'technical' camera, or a 'field' camera, but that's the closest description. It's an extremely compact modular system that takes the same IQ4 digital backs as the Phase One XF system, above, but is designed for portability and travel. It has its own built-in lens movements for perspective correction, and relies on the LCD display on its digital back for composing images. It also uses its own lens mount and lenses, so the purchase cost of the XT itself is just the start.
The Fujifilm GFX 100 narrowly beats the Hasselblad H6D-100c (below) at one third the price – and the cheaper, smaller Fujifilm GFX 100S costs even less. This is how far affordable medium format cameras have come! Having said that, sensor size gets you bragging rights in medium format just like anywhere else – and the Hasselblad and PhaseOne have ‘full size’ medium format sensors, while the GFX 100 has a smaller sensor mid-way between this and regular 35mm full frame. But look – the GFX100 is a 100-megapixel camera at less than a third of the price of the others. That in itself is amazing, as is the fact that this is a camera you can use handheld, with lenses you can actually afford!
Canon and Nikon have been duking it out for years in the DSLR market, but in the world of medium format it’s Phase One vs Hasselblad. The H6D-100c is the latest in Hasselblad’s long-running modular medium format system, and while Hasselblad can’t match the Phase One for megapixels without resorting to multi-shot models like the H6D-400c (pictured), it does have the cachet and customer loyalty of the Hasselblad brand, and the company has been extremely good at combining its new tech with its much-loved legacy products. Should it really be in third place behind the GFX 100? Only for megapixels – it’s very a different kind of camera.
Sony wants users to see the Sony A7R Mark IV as a medium format rival – and if you judge it on megapixels alone, it’s right in there. It beats base-level 50MP medium format models by some margin and is nipping at the heels of some very big and expensive cameras indeed. However, although Sony’s excellent G Master lenses are fast enough to match the shallow depth of field of bigger but slower medium format lenses, there’s still a magical X-factor that comes from bigger sensors.
Packing the same number of megapixels as the Sony A7R IV in a body that's smaller, lighter, cheaper and expandable, the Sigma fp L is a remarkable piece of technology. That said, its size and modularity mean that it's not as elegant a solution straight out of the box – it lacks an electronic viewfinder, the touchscreen is fixed and there is no grip, so the camera can be hard to wield without cages or other accessories. Still, you won't find a 61MP camera anywhere else that can literally slip into the pocket of your jeans!
Never forget Pentax! The 645Z has been around for so long it’s easy to overlook the fact this is the camera that made medium format affordable and is still amongst the best Pentax cameras. These days, its DSLR construction, size, 3fpx maximum burst speed and full HD video make it feel dated and increasingly irrelevant – but its resolution still puts it in the top half of our all-time highest-resolution list, and if you like an old-school approach, its design could appeal to you a lot more than its recent mirrorless rivals.
Megapixels cost money, especially when you move up to a medium format camera. But now you can get that medium format x-factor in a camera that feels about half the size and is certainly less than half the price. The Fujifilm GFX 50R doesn’t have the megapixels, phase detection AF or in-body stabilization of the GFX 100/S, but it’s not much more expensive than a premium full-frame camera – and gives you a completely different picture-taking experience and superb RAW files.
The revamped Hasselblad X1D II 50C is a super-stylish snapper with its own range of lenses and its own minimalist finesse. We found the original model lovely to look at but a little flaky in its operation, but while the new mark II does improve many of these foibles it is still stubborn in others (autofocus speed, we're looking at you). Its 50-megapixel resolution is starting to look a little ordinary (barely earning it tenth place in this list!), but Hasselblad’s lenses and image quality are beautiful – not least because of this camera’s 16-bit RAW files. It’s not the fastest camera to use, but it’s got to be one of the prettiest.
For a long time now, this has been the highest-resolution full-frame DSLR you can buy. But apart from bragging rights, it doesn’t seem to have got Canon very far as the overall response to the Canon EOS 5DS appears to have been lukewarm. The fact is, resolution aside, this is a pretty old design, with no Dual Pixel CMOS AF and no 4K video. In fast-changing mirrorless world, the EOS 5DS/R feels a bit of a dinosaur, and even its 50 million pixels can’t change that – especially with the 45MP Canon EOS R5 knocking on its door.
Don't get used to it – the Sony A1 is so good that you won't be seeing it at the bottom of many lists. However, despite it being the most technologically advanced camera here – with 8K 30p video and a belief-beggaring 30fps continuous shooting speed – its 50.1MP are only just enough to scrape through by the skin of its teeth. The A1 is the most advanced camera ever made and can turn its hand to literally any situation. However, it comes with obvious foibles like the huge price tag (for less money you can get twice as many megapixels in the GFX 100S) as well as less obvious ones like the non-articulating screen and Sony's frustrating menu structure.