Thanks to the fast technology development and their dominance in the market, hybrid cameras have become the most popular among filmmakers and photographers (and hybrid shooters).
Having the best of 2 worlds in 1 body is a logical choice, especially in an era that demands versatility in the professional and hobbyist area.
What is a hybrid camera?
A hybrid camera is a camera that shoots pictures and video. While some people could think that almost every camera (and smartphone) do that, the reality is that it was impossible to do both things with the same camera not many years ago.
When mirrorless cameras appeared, they were defined as ‘hybrid’. If you look online, you will find that some people identify hybrid with mirrorless. However, you can find mirrorless cameras that only take pictures and DSLR cameras that do both. The revolution started in 2008 when Canon launched the Canon 5D MarkII. The Nikon D90 was the first DSLR to shoot video, but not with the same quality-. So creators started to use the Canon 5D Mark II video possibilities to produce pro video thanks to its full-frame sensor, interchangeable lenses and low light capabilities. Suddenly, we had a photo camera with a filmmaking beast inside.
Anyways, it’s true that the majority of the hybrid cameras we know today are mirrorless. Many filmmakers prefer to shoot with mirrorless cameras instead of dedicated video cameras because they are smaller and more versatile. In addition, most of them have IBIS and autofocus, and you can film unnoticed and take pictures if needed.
Photographers take advantage of their portability (smaller system than DSLRs) and shoot video if required. Also, in the last decade, the line separating photographers and filmmakers has been disappearing because clients and companies hire people to do both things. Social media content comes in both flavors too. In my opinion, hybrids have made photographers better filmmakers and vice versa.
What to look for when buying a hybrid camera
When searching for a hybrid camera, some things to look for are clear-image quality, megapixels, features, etc. But there are some other characteristics that you need to consider when making your decision.
Sensor size will affect the image quality, and full-frame hybrid cameras will have better image quality and low-light performance. However, it will also affect the size and weight of your entire system. Full-frame cameras will be generally bigger than MFT cameras. This is also true for lenses, which will be bigger and more expensive in a full-frame system than in an APC-S or MFT.
Depending on your shooting needs, you should have a clear idea of the lenses you will need, and some systems have fewer lenses to choose from. Check the brand’s catalog and third-party compatible options to make sure you will find all you need.
A full-frame system will make your life easier if you need to shoot mainly with wide-angle lenses. However, if you need to shoot nature or sport with telephoto lenses, choosing an MFT will give you more flexibility and cheaper options.
If you are a hybrid shooter, you will likely have to carry all your equipment yourself, so the fewer external elements, the better. With IBIS and stabilized lenses, cameras will add quality to your photos and videos without needing a gimbal.
A decent autofocus system is a must for a hybrid camera. Some shooters prefer manual focus over autofocus, but let’s be honest, in the real world, many situations will benefit from fast and accurate autofocus, with eye-tracking and adjustable features. If you are a self-shooter, this is essential.
Screen and EVF
Depending on your shooting style, you need to trust your screen and viewfinder. The screen should be bright enough to allow you to see outdoors on sunny days. The EVF should have enough resolution to make you see things correctly. Also, using the EVF will make your shots and pictures more stable as it adds another point of contact to your body.
Best hybrid cameras
Finding the best hybrid camera is not always easy, with so many options on the market and so many personal needs. Nevertheless, these are some of our favorite cameras for video and photography, sorted by price.
The best budget camera for photos and video
Having many of its bigger sisters’ features, this APC-S camera may offer the best price-quality balance on this list. And ‘balance’ could be the word to describe its characteristics since everything on the a6400 seems to be at the same level. In addition, its size makes it perfect for vlogging and everyday use.
The best smartphone for stills and videos
iPhone 13 Pro
A smartphone on this list? If you watch some of the videos and pictures it can produce, you may change your mind. Of course, this is not perfect filmmaking and photography tool, but maybe you are a creator who needs to create social media content, travel light, have infinite tools in your hand and make phone calls. With 3 lenses, dual optical image stabilization, photographic styles and portrait and night modes, you could have all you need for your creations. Also, the iPhone 13 Pro cinematic video mode with selective focus will blow your mind when you learn how to use it and make it look natural.
Need proof? Here is a commercial we filmed at JRVISUALS with the iPhone 13 Pro.
The best hybrid camera for medium budget
If your main focus is video, but you still need to take decent pictures, this could be a perfect choice. Sony updated all the features of the Sony A7sII by releasing this beast in such a small body. Its low-light capability, video quality, autofocus, eye-tracking and overall performance will give you all you need to produce excellent quality content. No wonder the A7s III was voted the favorite mirrorless camera among the filmmakers.
The best overall camera for photos and videos
This runner-up in our favorite mirrorless camera showdown will give you the best of both worlds in a small camera body. Its capabilities, autofocus, Canon’s color science and ease of use make the Canon R5 a fantastic hybrid camera with a good balance between video and stills capabilities.
Times have changed, and when you look for the best cameras for photography and video now, you are looking for one camera. With the growth of social media, where stills and video blend, and the constant need to produce content in both formats, hybrid cameras are here to stay.