A picture is worth a thousand words, so build yourself a library of memories by snapping your travels using these excellent camsWords: Amy Davies, Gavin Stoker Photography: Neil Godwin
After being cooped up indoors for the past what-feels-like-forever, this year’s holiday season feels sweeter than ever before. As such, you’ll want to capture all of those freedom memories in the best way possible. Sure, your phone can do an okay job – but if you want to really capture some snaps that will make all your pals still stuck at home jealous, picking up a dedicated camera is just the ticket. Read our Sony A7 IV vs Panasonic Lumix S5 vs Nikon Z 611.
There’s an incredible array of choice out there at the moment, with extraordinarily high-quality cameras being smaller and more affordable than they might have been in years gone by. You also no longer need to be a bona fide expert to get the best from these devices. In short, you no longer have to face such a compromise between portability, price and image quality -today’s cameras really can do it all.
All of the cameras featured in this round-up pack full-frame sensors, so you can be assured of the best image quality possible, across a variety of different and challenging shooting conditions.
Despite having that super large sensor, they’re all still very portable and should still fit very nicely in your hand luggage and not be too much of a burden to carry with you around the sights.
WHAT’S ON TEST..
Sony A7 IV
A fantastic all-rounder with a high-resolution 33MP sensor, robust build and an articulating screen perfect for those holiday selfies, the A7 IV is the latest in Sony’s mid-range full-frame series. There’s also 4K video, fantastic autofocusing. lOfps shooting, dual memory card slots, creative controls and a comprehensive set of lenses and accessories.
Sensor size Fullframe (35.9×23.9mm) Resolution 33MP Video 4K at 60fps Viewfinder 11mm electronic Screen l,036.8k-dot 75mm LCD Dimensions 131.3×96.4 x79.8mm Weight 658g
Panasonic Lumix S5
Squeezing a full-frame (24MP) sensor in a body as small as the S5’s is an impressive feat, making it ideal for taking when you’re on your travels. The camera is great to handle, and has fantastic 4K video specs plus an articulating screen. The bundled kit lens (20-60mm) is also neatly small and compact and is a great little all-rounder.
Sensor size Full-frame
24.2MP Video 4K at
OLED Screen l,84Ok-dot
75mm LCD Dimensions
Nikon Z 611
This full-frame mirrorless is a great balance between price and specifications. You get a well-performing 24.5MP sensor. 14fps shooting.
4K video and a body that handles well. There’s also decent autofocus, dual memory card slots and a decent range of compatible lenses. The electronic viewfinder is very good, while the tilting screen also comes in handy.
Sensor size Full-frame
24.5MP Video 4K at
60fps, FHD at 120fps
OLED Screen 2.lOOk-dot
80mm Dimensions 134x
100.5×69.5mm Weight 705g
This full-frame mirrorless cam appeals to photographers and videographers alike ony remains a respected force in photography and videography, with its latest full-frame mirrorless in the Alpha A7IV reaffirming the seriousness of its maker’s intent. With a new 33MP sensor and 4K video at 60 fps, it serves as a jack-of-all-trades, and a master of them too, without one or another feeling compromised, or second best.
Once again, we get a robust build and a design from the A7 series that resembles a downsized DSLR. It comes complete with a shooting mode dial, command wheel and various buttons and switches that will enable anyone trading in an old DSLR and swapping to this mirrorless system feel on fairly familiar ground as soon as they heft the Sony A7IV body from its box.
Flick the on/off switch ergonomically encircling the shutter release button and we’re nigh instantly up and shooting. Essentially, if we consider a potential picture when the Sony A7IV is switched off, there’s a good chance we’ll still be able to capture it before the scene changes.
As well as a newly developed 33MP chip, the Sony A7IV features the latest-generation Bionz XR processor to cope with all that extra data processing. Autofocus speed and accuracy has been an area that developers and engineers have keenly focused on – forgive the pun.
We’re pleased to report back that the Sony’s autofocus, whether trained on human or animal subjects, was frequently spot-on, while there’s also the ability to tap the screen and move the focus point around manually.
Images were as detail-packed and colour rich as we were expecting
The 14mm ‘G’ model lens we were sent was a bit of an unusual choice, as it is an ultra-wide specialist lens from the manufacturer’s premium G Series range. It’s most suited for shooting landscapes, which is what we did in the main. That said, thanks to the fast/bright f/1.8 aperture provided, it also proved useful for throwing the background out of focus when attempting close-ups.
Though on occasion we did notice some fall off of focus towards the extreme edges of the frame, images were detail-packed and colour rich. Most of us won’t require all 33 megapixels for everyday shooting, but wedding, portrait and fashion photographers – as well as travel photographers seeking to make wall art – will certainly fmd the specification of use. Like holiday insurance it’s good to know it’s there, even if we don’t make use of it.
The Sony A7IV sees the manufacturer stick to a tried and tested winning formula. It’s a robustly built camera that delivers swift, accurate responses and colour-accurate, detailed imagery, with the ability to expand the system beyond the camera body and the first lens you buy.
Everything is here at your fingertips as and when you want it to be: autofocus is excellent and you can tap the screen to move the focus point manually
Blending together the best of both worlds, this full-framer is what we’ve been waiting for from Panasonic
anasonic’s foray into full-frame territory has been met with a lukewarm reception. Despite a fantastic array of video specifications, those in the SI range have been criticised for unwieldy handling and slow autofocus. As such, the tech giant has tried its best to address those problems with its latest full-frame model: the S5.
A key advantage of mirrorless cameras is supposed to be that they can be smaller and lighter than their DSLR equivalents. With the original Sl/R/H series, Panasonic produced a megabeast of a camera that was in fact larger than some DSLRs. For the Panasonic S5, the design takes a much better direction, managing to fit everything into a body smaller than the Panasonic GH5 – a much smaller model with a much smaller sensor. Impressive.
The S5’s screen is fully articulating and touch sensitive. Joining it is a 2,360k-dot 0.74x OLED viewfinder, which is lower in resolution than the viewfinders you’ll fmd in the SI series, but that’s to be expected from a cheaper model.
The good news is that autofocus has definitely improved from the SI series. It’s effective in the majority of situations, and it is also decent at following subjects that are moving around in a reasonably predictable fashion. However, it’s still very much
Autofocus has definitely improved but it’s still very much bested by the A7IV
bested by other cameras on the market, particularly the A7IV.
It’s also a bit of mediocre performer in terms of burst shooting, offering 7fps shooting at full resolution. You can use Panasonic’s 4K/6K shooting options to capture images at 30fps, but then you don’t get the raw files – and it takes effort in camera to go through and extract the shot you want. In short, if you’re somebody that is regularly photographing action, sports and wildlife, this isn’t really the camera for you.
Sitting at the heart of the S5 is a 24.2 megapixel sensor – the same as the one found in its sibling, the SI. Again, there’s good news here as image and video quality proves to be great in the vast majority of situations.
Essentially what you get here is full-frame performance inside the body of a Micro Four Thirds camera, which makes it very appealing as an everyday or travel camera, for those wanting to keep size and weight to a minimum. But if you’re into action, burst speeds and autofocusing performance are not as good as you’ll find elsewhere.
There is a lot to like about the Panasonic S5 – it’s a good little hybrid camera available at an affordable and reasonable price
A set of mini-increments make the Z 611 an affordable all-rounder full-frame cam
or its latest duo of mirrorless full-framers, Nikon hasn’t gone all out with wild updates, instead producing modest refreshes that seek to enhance and refine the existing offering, while still appealing to anybody who liked the originals. Tire Nikon Z 611 is the more-affordable and more well-rounded model to its more-expensive sibling, the Z 711, and is available at a great price for the kit you get.
Most of the changes to the Z 611 come internally, while many of the best features remain the same as with the original Z6. The same 24.5 megapixel full-frame sensor as before is found here, which we already know to be a solid performer. However, there’s now two Expeed 6 processors (rather than one), which helps to bring a range of other improvements. For sports and action photographers, you can now shoot at a more useful 14fps (vs 12fps before). There’s also a better buffer (than the Z6), meaning the speed at which the camera clears so you can keep shooting for longer bursts.
Nikon has kept the same viewfinder and screen set up as the original Z6, which again is no bad thing. While the 0.5-inch, 3,960k-dot OLED viewfinder is no longer class-leading, for the price point oftheZ6II, it’s a very good specification. Meanwhile, the 3.2-inch, 2,lOOk-dot touch-sensitive screen is also great to use, with the tilting mechanism being useful for awkward compositions.
Videographers and selfie-lovers might be disappointed that the touch-sensitive screen doesn’t face forward, but it’s still great to use
Having fewer pixels makes the Z6II better at low-light shooting
Despite being roughly half the resolution of the Z 711, images from the Z 611 are still nicely detailed. Having fewer pixels also makes the Z6II more adept at low-light shooting, with usable images all the way up to ISO 25600.
Colours are nice and vibrant in most conditions, while the automatic white balance setting gets the job right on-the-whole. Similarly, the all-purpose metering setting produces balanced exposures in all but very high contrast situations.
Autofocusing benefits from the improvements that have been made, and if you’re photographing a fairly predictable moving subject you generally get good results. For faster – or more erratic – subjects, the results are a little more mixed. If you’re primarily shooting sports and action, there are better options out there.
With the updated iteration of its fantastic all-rounder camera, Nikon has made the Z 611 even more appealing than before by making some much-welcomed tweaks. If you’re looking for a camera suited to a wide range of different subjects, this could be the one for you – with the possible exception of those who have an interest in shooting fast-moving sports and action.
THE OVERALL WINNER IS…
NIKON Z 611
WE’RE IMPRESSED Double card slots; great value for money; great handling.
WE’D IMPROVE Screen doesn’t articulate; better tracking focus available elsewhere; only a light refresh of the original Z6.
THE LAST WORD Nikon won over a lot of fans with its original Z6. A nicely designed body, a good all-rounder which is well-suited to a variety of subjects, and an affordable price. Nikon sticks closely to that idea for the Z6’s successor, with the Z 611 including a number of welcome upgrades for a refresh that is worthy of your attention. For many though, sticking with the Z6 will be better for their wallets.
WE’RE IMPRESSED 33MP full-frame sensor; robust build; 4K video; plenty of hands-on creative control.
WE’D IMPROVE Not actually that compact; could be more lightweight: not the most inconspicuous of shooters.
THE LAST WORD High quality from the get-go from a semi pro-level mirrorless camera.
WE’RE IMPRESSED Great handling: fantastic video specs; fully articulating touch-screen. WE’D IMPROVE No full-sized HDMI port; compatible lenses are large compared to the body. THE LAST WORD A full-frame sensor in a small, light and ergonomic body makes this a fantastic hybrid model – but it could be too little too late.
HOW TO PICK THE PERFECT TRAVEL CAMERA
Not all cameras are created equal, and there’s lots to think about when choosing the best one for you. Here are some essential specifications to consider when heading out to do your shopping.
BIGGER IS USUALLY BETTER
A full-frame sensor is many times larger than a smartphone’s. It’s therefore better at capturing light and detail and for creating certain ’looks’ such as a shallow depth of field. Other sizes, such as Four Thirds and APS-C, generally allow for a smaller camera body but with a reduction in image quality.
HOW MANY PIXELS?
A huge pixel count isn’t necessarily a good thing. Super-high-resolution cameras mean huge file sizes, and can also be detrimental to things like low-light shooting or fast burst speeds. Look for around 24 megapixels for a reasonable compromise.
HOW DOES IT FEEL?
There’s no one-size fits all, but think about how big the grips are, how well the buttons and dials are spread out across the body, and whether it offers things like an articulating screen and an easy-to-understand navigation menu.
IS IT REALLY TRAVELFRIENDLY?
Full-frame mirrorless cameras are typically a good amount smaller than their DSLR counterparts, which is great for travel. But if you want to stay as light as possible, think about which system has the heaviest lenses and accessories, as this can really add bulk and weight.
WHAT CAN IT TACKLE?
Travel photography tends to encompass lots of different genres; landscapes, portraits, action, low-light. Any travel camera needs to offer something that ticks a lot of boxes. The best travel cameras will be all-rounders with a good deal of versatility.