The best hybrid cameras are the perfect solution for content creators who do a bit of everything. Equally adept at shooting pin-sharp stills and dynamic video, these models give you the ultimate flexibility, letting you switch from one mode to another in an instant.
If you create imagery professionally, then the ability to shoot both stills and video is a professional boon that can make you a lot more attractive to clients – whether it’s the ability to grab a bit of video at a wedding, or capture behind-the-scenes stills at a music video shoot. In the past, being this versatile would have required toting around two heavy camera setups – now, a good hybrid setup can make you more agile than you would have believed.
The best hybrid camera, then, needs good enough spec in both departments to be worth buying, which is tricky to accomplish. You need decent video resolutions and frame rates – when making our picks, we’ve made 4K a prerequisite, as even though not every job will require it, you do need to at least have the option. A mic input is highly desirable, as is a vari-angle LCD screen for different shooting angles.
On the stills side, a good hybrid camera should pack a decent burst-shooting rate, an autofocus system that can keep up with fast-moving subjects, and enough megapixels to make a decent print of an image. There are also features that will benefit both functions, like an extra card slot and a broad lens selection.
So, it’s a tall order. Which cameras thread the needle? We’ve had a debate in the DCW offices, and narrowed it down to just a few, covering a range of price points. Read on to get started, or check out our guides to the best cameras for photography (opens in new tab) and best cameras for video (opens in new tab) for some suggestions of models that specialize one way or the other.
The best hybrid cameras: our full list
The Panasonic Lumix GH5 II may not be the flagship in its series, an honor that belongs to the Panasonic Lumix GH6 (opens in new tab). However, we think it offers the best balance of price and functionality for hybrid users right now. As is standard for GH cameras, the GH5 II boasts standout video specs, with 4K 60p video and 10-bit internal recording, as well as the flat V-Log L profile.
However, Panasonic has also made sure the GH5 II has a lot to offer stills-wise, as we were sure to note in our full review of the camera. No one is going to argue with 12fps burst shooting, but what really impresses is the huge stills buffer – you can burst-shoot about 108 RAW files or more than 999 JPEGs without the camera needing a break. And when you combine all this with the 6.5-stop image stabilization, you start to see what an incredible hybrid proposition the Lumix GH5 II really is.
Yes, we know, it’s another Panasonic camera, but there’s a reason. Panasonic has been leading the way in hybrid cameras for some years now – long before other firms got their act together – and the full-frame Lumix S5 is an ideal choice for those who refused to consider a Micro Four Thirds-sized sensor.
It’s a superb camera all-around, capable of capturing gorgeous 4K/60p 10-Bit 4:2:0 video internally, with a data rate of 200Mbps, and even more impressive if hooked up to an Atomos video recorder. Panasonic has also added some clever stills features – you can bolster the burst mode to 30fps by using the 6K Photo mode, and you can create incredible 96MP images with the sensor-shift compositing mode, in both RAW and JPEG formats.
We only docked it points in our review for a couple of features that are showing their age, most notably the UHS-I card slot and the contrast-detect autofocus system, which isn’t as fast as rivals’. But this is a stunner of a camera nevertheless.
Read more: Panasonic Lumix S5 review (opens in new tab)
A solid refining of a camera that was already working well, the Nikon Z6 II ensures impressive shooting speeds in all modes by virtue of packing in two processors under its weather-proofed body. With a chunk of extra horsepower, it can capture stills at up to 14fps, and shoot 4K 60p video. In a nifty addition, it also features ‘hot-charging’ via USB-C, which in layman’s terms means you can charge the battery while using the camera, likely using a power bank or similar.
Nikon is clearly wooing filmmakers with this camera, so much so that it has also been released with an “essential movie kit” of accessories, including an FTZ Mount adaptor, an Atomos Ninja V monitor/recorder, a SmallRig quick release cage and some other sundries. The Ninja V in particular expands the utility of the Z6 II, granting access to 10-bit 4:2:2 recording via HDMI, 12-bit ProRes RAW and more.
Sony should be commended for keeping older cameras in circulation even when new models come out to supersede them. As such, even though there’s been a Sony A7 IV (opens in new tab) released since, we’re picking 2018’s Sony A7 III for our hybrid cameras round-up, as it’s a superb proposition at the price, and is only getting cheaper as time goes on and cameras keep coming out.
The superb autofocus system is a standout on this camera, with 693 phase-detection AF points covering 93% of the frame, and 425 contrast-detect AF points. It was one of the most powerful ever made when the camera was released, and still impresses now. The A7 III is small even for a mirrorless camera, which some users like, but others find can easily result in an unbalanced setup, though this will only likely be a factor if you tend to use larger lenses.
Read more: Sony A7 III review (opens in new tab)
So far, we’ve been covering hybrid cameras that are going to be reasonably affordable for a lot of people – the Sony A1 is the camera for top-of-the-line pros who need the best, regardless of price. It is a powerhouse of a camera: on the video side, it can shoot 8K video at up to 30p, or 4K at a highly impressive 120p. Stills-wise, meanwhile, it’s got a 51.4MP sensor, the ability to burst-shoot at up to 30fps, and a big buffer capacity to boot. All this is is encased in a body with absolutely superb handling, including one of the best electronic viewfinders ever to grace a mirrorless camera.
Of course, all this comes at a cost. The Sony A1 costs about as much as any two other cameras on this list combined. If you don’t need absolutely everything it can do, then it simply isn’t worth it. But if you do – well, you’ve got a spectacular camera at your disposal.
Read more: Sony A1 review (opens in new tab)
At the other end of the scale from the Sony A1, we have this lightweight offering from Canon. The EF-M series has often felt like a bit of an unloved child in the past, but it has come into its own and blossomed into an enduringly popular series of small mirrorless cameras for those who like to shoot photos and video. As such, this camera impresses with its specs in both directions, from the Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus that ensures pin-sharp stills, to the clean HDMI out that gives video users the option to broadcast live.
Just be forewarned – the 4K on the EOS M50 Mark II is viciously compromised, with only the inferior contrast-detect system for autofocus, and a nasty 1.6x crop. Shooting in Full HD corrects both of these problems, so in most situations, there’s no reason to do anything otherwise.
In Canon’s flagship EOS R series, cameras like the EOS R5 (opens in new tab) and EOS R3 (opens in new tab) may hog the headlines and the limelight, but in the meantime, the EOS R6 quietly goes about its business of being one of the best hybrid cameras you can buy. As we said in our review, it shoots pretty much anything, and thanks to its otherworldly autofocus and supreme in-body image stabilisation, you can all but guarantee you’ll never miss the moment. The selection of RF lenses is filling out deliciously too, so you’ll have no shortage of glass to choose from.
Some stills photographers may bemoan the fact the 20.1MP is a few pixels under the average for a camera of this class, while video users may chafe against the 4K recording limits. But if neither are deal-breakers for you, this is a hell of a camera.
Read more: Canon EOS R6 review (opens in new tab)
Our affair with the Fujifilm X-T4 was love at first sight, and even though it’s been a few years since this camera came out, our appreciation hasn’t diminished. Equipped with the retro-style dial-based controls that have become a hallmark of the X series, the Fujifilm X-T4 is just a pleasure to use, whether you’re capturing gorgeous stills using Fuji’s famous Film Simulation modes, or shooting 60p 10-bit 4K internal video. The X series of lenses are also absolutely gorgeous, some of the sharpest in the business, and when you add in high-end features like 6.5-stop image stabilization and 600-shot battery life, you have to ask yourself – who the hell needs full-frame, anyway?
It’s not completely perfect. Video users might be annoyed that Fuji stripped away the headphone socket, and stills shooters might find themselves bumping up against the buffer depth in continuous shooting mode more often than they’d like. But the Fujifilm X-T4 is still an outstanding camera for basically anyone.
Read more: Fujifilm X-T4 review (opens in new tab)
How we test cameras
We test cameras both in real-world shooting scenarios and, for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, in carefully controlled lab conditions. Our lab tests measure resolution, dynamic range and signal to noise ratio. Resolution is measured using ISO resolution charts, dynamic range is measured using DxO Analyzer test equipment and DxO Analyzer is also used for noise analysis across the camera's ISO range. We use both real-world testing and lab results to inform our comments in buying guides.
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