6 best Canon cameras released in 2021 – the best Canon gear of the year

Gear of the year 2021

It’s a tough job but someone has to do it. We’ve been ‘burdened’ by a dazzling array of Canon photo gear over the last year, arduously putting it through our stringent lab-testing regime, taking it out on the town and into the countryside, and generally reveling in photo opportunities aplenty.

With manufacturers needing to deliver something special to make a splash in a highly competitive marketplace, and with not as much kit as usual being launched due to obvious reasons and global parts shortages, all of the new Canon EOS cameras, lenses and accessories we’ve tested over the last year have been top notch. 

Our best-on-test gear has really stood out, impressing us with spectacular performance, often at bargain prices. Here are the best Canon cameras released this year – to see our picks for the best Canon lenses, best Canon RF lenses, best tripods, accessories and more, make sure to check out the latest issue of PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine

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Best mirrorless camera

(Image credit: Canon)


What we love
Sometimes size really does matter. A full-blown Canon camera kit with multiple lenses can weigh you down but we love the unfeasibly compact build of the M50 Mark II. Even with a trio of zooms like the similarly diminutive EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM, EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM and EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM, plus maybe the EF-M 22mm f/2 STM ‘pancake’ prime, you can shoehorn a comprehensive kit into a tiny bag and be ready for pretty much any photo opportunity. Extra bonuses include a great vari-angle touchscreen, eye/face-detection autofocus and 4K movie capture.

What’s missing? 
Like many cameras, 4K movie capture is only available in crop mode, slightly limiting the wide-angle potential.

Why upgrade?
The perfect upgrade from a smartphone or fixed-lens compact camera, the versatility will unleash your creative potential.


(Image credit: Canon)


What we love
The EOS 90D might be old but it’s still relevant and still, in the minds of the PhotoPlus team, the best APS-C format DSLR in the world, ever. Compared with mirrorless alternatives, it’s a handful but in a good way. We love the way it feels so natural to shoot with, especially for wildlife and action sports, effectively boosting the telephoto reach of lenses so 200mm becomes 320mm with the 1.6x crop factor. The fast 10fps continuous drive rate, agile AF system and relatively monstrous 1300-shot battery life (compared with a mirrorless camera) all add to the attraction.

What’s missing? 
As with any DSLR, the optical viewfinder can’t give you an exposure preview, but the 90D works great in Live View with its vari-angle screen.

Why upgrade?
High-end handling characteristics and epic performance make this a DSLR that’s enormously versatile, complete with a 32.5 megapixel sensor and 4K video.

Best mid-range camera

(Image credit: Jon Sparkman)


What we love

Launched at the same time, the Canon EOS R5 stole most of the headlines but the R6 is a sporty little mirrorless. Although it has ‘only’ 20 rather than 45Mp, it puts them to epic use. We’re blown away with its ‘deep-learning’ artificial intelligence AF system, which tracks moving humans, animals and birds with the tenacity of a bloodhound and the speed of a cheetah. Car-chasing AI autofocus tracking is now also available and, whereas the R5 also has these, the R6 actually has more phase-detection AF points and is better at ‘seeing’ in the dark, along with superior noise-suppression at super-high ISO settings.

What’s missing? 
The top-panel controls have a more consumer-grade layout than in the fully pro-oriented design of the EOS R5.

Why upgrade?
If you don’t need the mighty megapixel count of the EOS R5, the R6 is a fabulous camera with distinct advantages, at not much more than half the price.

Best mirrorless pro camera

(Image credit: Canon)


What we love
A mirrorless camera that has stolen the hearts of demanding pro photographers, the EOS R5 is a real game-changer. Along with the EOS R6, it ushered in sensor-shift image stabilization that works flawlessly on its own, and is even more incredible when joining forces with the optical stabilization of ‘IS’ lenses. Handling and build quality are terrific, and there’s the much-publicized 8K video capture. One less talked-about feature that we love is that the 45Mp sensor enables shooting in 1.6x crop mode and still getting high-resolution 17Mp stills, giving dual focal lengths to prime lenses and extending the reach of zooms.

What’s missing? 
High-ISO images aren’t as squeaky-clean as from the EOS R6 but if you down-sample them to the same megapixel count, they look very similar.

Why upgrade?
Combining a huge megapixel count with a fast 12/20fps stills drive rate and 8K video capture, the EOS R5 is a class-leading, consummate all-rounder.

Best pro sports camera

(Image credit: Alistair Campbell)


What we love
There’s so much to love about the new super-sporty EOS R3. Of course, we’re massive fans of the fully pro-grade handling and super-sturdy build quality, but it’s what lies beneath that’s most impressive. A real speed demon, the R3 can shoot stills at 30fps with an electronic shutter, along with 6K 60p and 4K 120p video. The clincher is that, thanks to a revolutionary stacked image sensor and ultra-fast DIGIC X processor, data throughout is fast enough to make rolling shutter effect a thing of the past. Then there’s the amazingly intuitive Eye Control AF and the incredible AF and in-body image stabilization (IBIS) systems, and a whole lot more to make your life easier.

What’s missing? 
The R3 lacks the kind of battery life you get from a DSLR, with only around 440 shots per battery, rising to 620 shots in ‘power saving’ mode with a reduced viewfinder frame rate.

Why upgrade?
If you really feel the need for speed, not a huge megapixel machine, the 24Mp R3 is the camera of the future, today.

Most innovative camera

(Image credit: Canon)


What we love
Have you ever felt that photography was a bit of a chore? We love the way this novel camera lets you immerse yourself in special family occasions and be fully part of the moment, without removing yourself from the scene and reporting for shooting duty. With its clever motorized pan, tilt and artificially intelligent head, this camera can automatically compose photos and videos of precious moments, snapping away and recording life’s highlights, while leaving you to enjoy them.

What’s missing? 
Without the ability to intelligently fly around the room or garden, it relies on you to move its physical location.

Why upgrade?
Left to its own devices or voice-controlled, this Wi-Fi connected camera is like having your own personal photographer.

Read more: 

Best Canon cameras
Best Canon lenses
Best Canon RF lenses

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PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine is the world’s only 100% Canon-focused title on the newsstand. Launched in 2007, for 14 years it has delivered news, reviews, buying guides, features, inspirational projects and tutorials on cameras, lenses, tripods, gimbals, filters, lighting and all manner of photography equipment. 

Aimed squarely at enthusiast photographers who use the Canon DSLR or mirrorless camera systems, all content is tailored to Canon users – so everything from techniques to product tests are tailored to those using the EOS camera system.

Editor Peter Travers brings 14 years of experience as both a journalist and professional photographer, with Technique Editor Dan Mold shoring up the magazine with his 6 years of expertise.