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What Cameras Do Professional Photographers Use?

No doubt you hear the term ‘professional camera’ brandished about like a selfie stick. But what does this really mean? 

In a world where smartphones can produce feature-length movies, professional photographers can use a huge variety of pro cameras with stunning results. But professional photographers still favour certain still cameras and accessories. 

Thinking of embarking on a photography career or who simply want the same gear as the professionals? Here’s our list of the best pro cameras in 2021 (along with other essential accessories for the pros):

  • Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR camera
  • Nikon D850 DSLR camera
  • Sony A9 Mark II mirrorless camera
  • Canon EOS 1D X Mark III DSLR camera
  • Canon EOS R5 mirrorless camera
  • Sony A7R Mark IV mirrorless camera

The best cameras for professional photographers

Many professional photographers use high-end Canon or Nikon DSLRs, such as a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR camera or a Nikon D850 DSLR camera

These are the crème de la crème of cameras, designed to produce amazing results. Both cameras feature over 30MP, staggering autofocus, 4k video recording, great ISO sensitivity, excellent frame rates, and more.

The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

The 5D Mark IV features Canon’s latest cutting-edge technology, raising the overall performance from its predecessor. That includes a 30.4MP full-frame sensor and 4K video output, giving professional photographers beautifully crisp detail in every shot. 

With the 5D Mark IV’s high-speed readout technologies and DIGIC 6+ processor, you can shoot at 7 fps at full resolution, with full AF / AE tracking. 

An ISO range of 100-32000 (expandable to 50-102400) is combined with enhanced noise processing algorithms to further improve low light shooting.

For the avid videographer, the Canon 5D Mark IV delivers 4K shooting at up to 30 fps and the ability to extract 8.8MP JPEG images from 4K videos. 

A 61-point (41 cross-type) autofocus covers an expanded sensor area and delivers focus at EV-3 in viewfinder shooting mode, or EV-4 in Live View mode. 

With built-in Wi-Fi and NFC, you can operate the camera remotely and transfer files securely using the Canon Camera Connect app on your smartphone. 

Top three reasons we think you’ll love this camera:

  • Class-leading image quality
  • Excellent autofocus
  • Good in low light

Learn more about the Canon EOS 5D below:

The Nikon D850 DSLR camera

The Nikon D850 carries an FX-Format 45.7MP back-illuminated sensor, giving every image-rich and exquisite detail. 

An EXPEED 5 image-processing engine and an ISO reach from 64 -25,600 (expandable to 108,400) results in exquisite detail in some of the most compromising lighting conditions.

In addition to superb image quality, the D850 has a 153-point autofocus system that will let you freeze all of that detail with precision focus. This AF system complements an exceptional burst shooting mode of 9 frames per second. 

Videographers will be happy to film with full-frame 4K UHD video at 30p, which will bring about beautiful film quality in all lighting conditions when paired with the FX wide-angle lenses.

Top three reasons we think you will love this camera:

  • Massive megapixel count
  • A true multimedia DSLR
  • Great low-light performance

Learn more about the Nikon D850 below:

The Sony A9 Mark II

The Sony A9 Mark 2 camera for professionals with a slight side-on view, without the lens.

A particular favourite among professional sports photographers, the Sony A9 Mark II mirrorless camera has a 24.2MP full-frame sensor and 4K video capabilities

But what’s remarkable about this mirrorless camera is the blistering continuous shooting mode, nearly twice the speed of the original A9. 

You can capture up to 10 fps with a mechanical shutter and a whopping 20 fps with an electronic shutter—all without blackout so you don’t miss a shot. Burst shooting is silent and can go uninterrupted for up to 361 JPEGS in a row. 

A speedy, powerful 693-point on-sensor autofocus system easily keeps up with the burst shooting mode, with subject tracking improved as well so capturing lightning-fast subjects is a cinch. 

The camera boasts Gigabit Ethernet and 5GHz Wi-Fi, meaning you can transfer those large images faster than ever before. 

Top three reasons we think you will love this camera:

  • Serious usability and connectivity
  • Autofocus that can make you money
  • Speed gives you options. And options make you money.

The Canon EOS-1D X Mark III

The back of the Canon EOS 1D X Mark 2 professional camera

The deep learning autofocus system is what makes this DSLR camera stand out from the competition. This autofocus uses advanced AF algorithms to allow for accuracy previously unseen in DSLRs. 

Live View and video modes also have Dual Pixel CMOS AF across approximately 90×100 per cent of the sensor, with 525 AF areas. 

Accompanying the powerful AF is a full-frame 20MP sensor with 28 times more resolution than the predecessor, the 1D X Mark II. Along with a decent burst shooting mode of 16 fps in Live View Mode, this camera is capable of grabbing tack-sharp stills from fast action. 

Of course, uncropped 4K at 60p will be a big bonus for photographers who like to combine their art with video. 

Top three reasons we think you will love this camera:

  • 20.1MP full-frame CMOS sensor with a 16-point lowpass filter and DiG!C X processor for superior image quality and fast processing speeds
  • 16 fps shooting with the optical viewfinder and 20 fps live view shooting
  • 5.5K 60p RAW Movies and 4K 60p with no crop

The Canon EOS R5 mirrorless camera

The Canon EOS R5 professional camera without the lens

The most remarkable thing about the Canon R5 mirrorless camera is its ability to capture exceptionally sharp images, thanks to an impressive IBIS system, revolutionary autofocus system, and huge 45MP full-frame sensor

The 5-axis in-body image stabilisation is one of the best on the market right now, while a Dual Pixel CMOS AFII provides 100% autofocus coverage across a whopping 1052 focal points. 

The camera can also shoot bursts at up to 20 fps with the electronic shutter and 12 fps with the mechanical shutter so you can easily capture high-speed action.

Combining the huge sensor with the camera’s outstanding 8K recording makes the R5 a fantastic hybrid camera for photography and videography. 

The impressive addition of 8K video means you’re able to capture 4 times the amount of detail. But the camera can also capture slow motion with 4K at 120p.

Top three reasons we think you will love this camera:

  • 45MP full-frame CMOS sensor with DiG!C X processor for superior image quality and fast processing speeds
  • Scorching 8K video capability 
  • 5-axis in-body image stabilisation

Learn more about the Canon R5 mirrorless camera below:

The Sony A7R Mark IV mirrorless camera

sony a7r mark iv mirrorless camera for professionals

We can’t say any more about the Sony A7R Mark IV mirrorless camera until we first marvel at the whopping 61MP full-frame back-illuminated sensor, the largest on this list and one of the largest on the market today. The sensor is capable of reaching 15 stops of dynamic range

Alongside an unbeatable sensor is the 567 on-sensor phase detect autofocus points capable of tracking subjects with extraordinary accuracy. Suffice to say, the image resolution and quality this camera produces are unparalleled.

Yet even with such a huge sensor, the mirrorless camera is remarkably compact. And despite the record-breaking megapixel count, the camera can still shoot in burst mode at 10 fps. 

Of course, Sony always delivers with video and the A7R IV doesn’t disappoint with 4K recording capabilities up to 30p. 

Top three reasons we think you will love this camera:

  • Massive megapixel count
  • Super professional features to enhance workflow
  • Speed and reliability

Learn more about the Sony A7R Mark IV mirrorless camera below:

There are many camera options for professionals

The cameras we’ve listed above are the best cameras out there for professionals today. But this isn’t to say that you need an expensive camera to be a pro photographer. Some pros are more than happy with a mid-range option like a Canon EOS 90D DSLR, or a Nikon D7500 DSLR.

Your choice of camera comes down to the type of professional photography you want to do too. A professional sports photographer might carefully consider the FPS specs to ensure the camera can handle the fast-moving athletes. Meanwhile, a photojournalist might prefer a rugged, compact camera body that can endure extreme conditions. 

Generally, professional photographers in all fields will look for cameras with:

  • Large pixel size
  • A high ISO and low image noise
  • Fast, effective focusing
  • Fast shutter speed
  • Weight balance between the camera body and large lenses
  • Colour accuracy
  • Camera durability

The best camera lenses for professionals

Professional photographers will likely spend more and focus more attention on camera lenses than the camera body.

The number of lenses you need depends on your budget and the type of photography you want to undertake. Some pros pack an arsenal of lenses. Others prefer to pack light and take a couple of versatile options.

A professional Canon telephoto lens for sports photographers

Here is just an example of some of the most popular lenses for professional photographers:

  • An EF 16–35mm f/2.8L lens is an impressive example of a wide-angle lens that delivers low-light performance and depth-of-field control for most types of professional photography.
  • An EF 24–70mm f/2.8L all-rounder lens is known for its image quality and versatility. It can be used equally well for indoor event photography as outdoorsy landscape photography.
  • A Panasonic DMW-LT55E telephoto lens allows you to get up close and personal with nature or sports. Plus the modern versions come equipped with powerful image stabilisation and ultrasonic focusing technology. Sports photographers may also want a super-telephoto lens of 300mm or 400mm.
  • A 50mm F1.2 GM prime lens is a photographer’s favourite and a great tool to have in your toolbox. The focal length, when combined with a full-frame sensor, most closely resembles the perspective seen by the human eye.

The photography equipment every professional needs

One major difference between professional and enthusiast photographers is the sheer amount of photography equipment they carry. Full-time photographers should be prepared for any situation and, as such, often carry around an array of accessories.

Tripods

A reliable tripod you can set up quickly is an essential item for professional photographers. You never know when the need for a long exposure or a remote-triggered composition will strike.

Batteries

Almost every professional photographer will have a horror story about losing battery at a pivotal moment (read our tips on how to conserve battery life to ensure this doesn’t happen to you). Almost every one of them will then extol the virtues of carrying at least one spare battery in their camera bags at all times.

Memory cards

Photographers will often carry three or four storage cards with them. And not just any storage cards. Unbeknownst to some, there is a huge gulf in quality among memory card classes so make sure your cards are capable of handling the speeds of your camera.

Lighting

Wedding, event and portrait photographers in particular like to be able to control light, and a light meter can help determine an accurate flash exposure for your environment. Consider investing in a softbox, reflector or umbrella to soften the light and manipulate it to your desires.

Bags

All these key photography accessories, plus your other optional extras like a remote or lens hoods, lens caps, and filters, need to go somewhere. That’s why your camera bag is so crucial. You want it to fit and for all your tools to be readily accessible, in a logical, organised manner that works for you.

A Parisian waterfront in black and white with a man walking alongside the wall

Get all your professional photography camera and equipment needs at Camera House!

Read more Camera House blog posts for professional photography tips or get the gear the professionals use by shopping the huge range of camera products now.

Talk to our friendly team of camera experts to find the perfect camera for your needs. Whether you are a professional or want to take your photography to the next level, Camera House is here to support you through your photography journey!

Discover more useful articles below:

The Best Nikon Cameras for Beginners, Enthusiasts & Professionals

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The 5 Best Zoom Cameras

Prime Lenses vs Zoom Lenses: Which Should I Buy?

The Best Affordable Mirrorless & DSLR Cameras

The 6 Best Slow Motion Cameras

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