Best Camera for Creative Content

Which is the best hybrid camera for content creation if you don’t shoot large prints or film while also taking into account cost and value?

A camera is maybe the most important component in the toolset of a content creator. It will take photos of your products, promotional material, textures or stock photos for your art etc. Then there’s video for using YouTube to help build your business.

If you’re in a rush and want the TL;DR version, the best camera for content creation is the Canon EOS R6, and if you read on, I’ll explain why:

Canon EOS R6 Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera with 4K Video, Full-Frame CMOS Senor, DIGIC X Image Processor, Dual UHS-II SD Memory Card Slots, and Up to 12 fps with Mechnical Shutter, Body Only, Black
  • High Image Quality featuring a New 20 Megapixel Full-frame CMOS Sensor.
  • DIGIC X Image Processor with an ISO range of 100-102400; Expandable to 204800.

Last update on 2021-07-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Along with a computer or laptop, a camera is one of the first essential tools for your content creation, so making sure you get the best camera for creative content is a step you need to get right the first time, because cameras can get very expensive!

What Features Does a Creative Content Camera Need to Have

You will need a camera for two things: photo and video. There are cameras that focus on one or the other and some that have an imbalance of the two.

You should buy a camera that covers both photo and video equally for creative content. These are some specs that the camera should have:

  • More than 18MP
  • 4K video resolution
  • Video Autofocus
  • Photo RAW
  • Interchangeable lens capability
  • External Mic jack input
  • Flipscreen
  • IBIS

As the cameras get more expensive in the upper levels, the more premium features you’ll get, like more megapixels, zebras and focus peaking, eye autofocus, faster FPS etc. but none of these extras are deal breakers that are essential for you to create content.

They just make creating content easier.

Everything on the list above is for me essential, deal breakers, must-haves.

But for 10 years I used my trusty Canon EOS 5D Mark II which only had half of the features listed above I’ve stated are essential. Yet I created a full time income from this camera by working around the camera shortcomings.

What is Important for a Creative Content Camera to Have

Unlike a photographer or videographer a camera for a content creator has to be a jack of all trades, it needs to be good to great at everything.

If you’re creating a business around your creative passion you will be building a website, a shop, and one or two social medias. And if you’re following my strategies in my ‘How to Start a Creative Business‘ the first social media platform you will be concentrating on is YouTube.

So for a website and YouTube there are so many ways in which you will need a camera, and for illustration purposes I will highlight just a few of the things I need my camera for:

  • Website photos for featured images
  • Stock images for articles
  • Textures for art
  • Product photos
  • YouTube talking head shots
  • Timelapses
  • Stop motion

There are lots more than this, and there are even more ways in the future that I will need a camera for example podcasts or livestreams.

To cover all those bases and more the best camera for creative content could easily be one of the top tier cameras like the new Canon EOS R3, or R5, or the Sony A1. But these cameras are absolutely overkill for most artists’ needs.

For a website and YouTube a mid tier camera will more than cover all your needs. I used to have this need to get the best of best, a type of gear acquisition syndrome.

But if you really analyse your needs, you’ll realise the requirements for video on YouTube and the size of photos you need for the internet are more than covered by cheaper cameras than the R3 and A1.

A Canon EOS R5/R3 or Sony A1 are creating content that will be better than the cameras below them, but only at a marginal scale.

On Instagram and YouTube, after going through their upload compression, you would be hard pressed to notice the difference between some top tier cameras and the mid-level ones.

How Much Should a Creative Camera Cost?

When we’re talking about economies of scale, there comes a point where you need to spend huge amounts of money for smaller increases in quality. The sweet point or the tip of the curve is in my opinion below the Canon R5 and Sony A7SIII.

Cost played the huge factor in my decision for a camera. Just to be clear I can afford an R3 or A1, and a younger me would and did get the best camera at the time, the Canon EOS 1DX2.

But I realised very quickly that I didn’t need to spend twice as much on a camera body for what would not be a double increase in quality. At that time I should have purchased the Sony A73 at half the price.

The Canon EOS 1DX2 was £4600 when I purchased it, it’s mirrorless successor is the R3 (in lieu of the R1) which is close to £6K. Now my Canon R6 is a third of that price. A third!

I firmly believe that unless you need niche requirements like large billboard print sizes or high end video for film then you do not need to spend a fortune.

If your content is meant to be seen on a website and social media only, you don’t need a high end camera.

Now there are quite a few cameras that will tick most of that list and be suitable for your needs. Like the Canon EOS M50 II or the Canon EOS 90D, or the Sony A73, which are all mid tier cameras.

But the best of the mid tier category is the Canon EOS R6.

Why the Canon R6 is the Best Camera for Creative Content

I’ve gone back and forth in my research, and I’ve tested out a few brands (not all), and I firmly believe Canon have an absolute gem in the R6.

It packs so much punch for $2499.

The Canon EOS R6 is essentially the Canon EOS 1DX Mark II in mirrorless form, at half the price

There are a few cameras that are technically better than this camera for sure. The best being the R5 or maybe the Sony A7S III, although the latter takes 12MP photos which is not enough for some content I create.

These two premium cameras are not just expensive for just the camera body, but for accessories too. You will have to buy the incredibly expensive CFExpress Type A or B cards that can go for $500 each, and then there’s a computer that you will need to edit the content these cameras create.

The new MacBook Pros will bring back the SD card slot which is great for R6 users. But obviously not great for R5 owners, so that will be another expense.

That all adds up to a major investment. That’s too much money if what you are creating is for a website and social media.

The Canon R6 has smaller file sizes and it takes regular SD cards, which most camera owners will already own.

So when you factor in cost, which everyone seems to forget, The Canon EOS R6 is the best value camera for content creation.

The features it has are incredible for essentially half the price of the R5 and A7SIII.

If you’re turning your creative passion into a business, you will almost certainly not need 45MP photos or 8K RAW video.

You will want at most 4K video, and if you have a regular powered computer or laptop, you won’t want to edit 8K video or 45MP RAW photos.

The R5 has a few more great features over the R6 and I think one in particular, 8K RAW, has completely overshadowed the R6.

The R6 has a small crop of 1.07x, so the R5 will film a slightly bigger 4K image called DCI 4K. But again we are talking about small differences that will be barely noticed.

There simply won’t be that big a jump in visible quality on YouTube for video, or Instagram for photos, when they get compressed.

So why spend the extra money when the R6 delivers almost the same high quality content?

Let’s list everything the Canon EOS R6 can do that you need for building a business around your creativity:

  • 20.1MP RAW Stills
  • 4K Video up to 60p
  • 10 bit video
  • Clog 3 Video
  • FullHD 120p
  • Flipscreen
  • Timelapse movie mode
  • 2x SD Card slots
  • RF and EF (with mount) lenses compatibility
  • Dual Pixel Autofocus (fastest AF for a camera system)
  • Focus peaking and Zebra exposure indicator
  • Built in WI-FI

There was a time in the camera world when Canon was regularly called out for not delivering the needed tools in their camera, and essentially crippling their cameras to protect their cinema line.

This R6 is like a little Canon 1DX 2 or 3 with extra tools that were usually left out. The only thing someone could maybe have a gripe about is having more resolution.

I’m honestly a little confused as to why more content creators aren’t considering the R6; the features and price are such a slam dunk for us creators.

I think the mind boggling features of the R5 have simply stolen the spot light, with the R6 as more of an afterthought.

So while lots of R5 users are struggling to edit their 45MP photos or upgrading their computers to handle them, there’s the R6 which would be the better choice.

I am certain many R5 video users are not using much 8K RAW, in fact I have seen many users state they don’t even use the 4KHQ (down sampled from 8K) and use the regular 4K which has little difference, if any, to the R6’s 4K.

You should only get the R5 if you are maximising the top end features otherwise it makes much more sense to choose the R6.

Why I Didn’t Choose Sony

Sony are no doubt the trailblazers in the mirrorless camera market. Canon have the biggest overall market share, but it’s been Sony leading the way.

Best Value
Canon EOS R6 Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera with 4K Video, Full-Frame CMOS Senor, DIGIC X Image Processor, Dual UHS-II SD Memory Card Slots, and Up to 12 fps with Mechnical Shutter, Body Only, Black
Ultimate Hybrid
Canon EOS R5 Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera with 8K Video, 45 Megapixel Full-Frame CMOS Sensor, DIGIC X Image Processor, Dual Memory Card Slots, and Up to 12 fps Mechnical Shutter, Body Only
Best for Video
Sony Alpha a7S III Mirrorless Digital Camera Body 160GB CFexpress Type A Tough Memory Card
Sony a7 III ILCE7M3/B Full-Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Camera with 3-Inch LCD, Black
Canon EOS R6 Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera with 4K Video, Full-Frame CMOS Senor, DIGIC X Image Processor, Dual UHS-II SD Memory Card Slots, and Up to 12 fps with Mechnical Shutter, Body Only, Black
Canon EOS R5 Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera with 8K Video, 45 Megapixel Full-Frame CMOS Sensor, DIGIC X Image Processor, Dual Memory Card Slots, and Up to 12 fps Mechnical Shutter, Body Only
Sony Alpha a7S III Mirrorless Digital Camera Body 160GB CFexpress Type A Tough Memory Card
Sony a7 III ILCE7M3/B Full-Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Camera with 3-Inch LCD, Black
Resolution
20.1MP
45MP
12.1
24.2MP
4K 10bit Video
Video Autofocus
Flip Screen
2 Card Slots
Focus Peaking/ Zebras
IBIS
Low Light Performance
Good
Average
Best
Good
$2,499.00
$3,899.00
$4,798.00
$1,998.00
-
-
Best Value
Canon EOS R6 Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera with 4K Video, Full-Frame CMOS Senor, DIGIC X Image Processor, Dual UHS-II SD Memory Card Slots, and Up to 12 fps with Mechnical Shutter, Body Only, Black
Canon EOS R6 Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera with 4K Video, Full-Frame CMOS Senor, DIGIC X Image Processor, Dual UHS-II SD Memory Card Slots, and Up to 12 fps with Mechnical Shutter, Body Only, Black
Resolution
20.1MP
4K 10bit Video
Video Autofocus
Flip Screen
2 Card Slots
Focus Peaking/ Zebras
IBIS
Low Light Performance
Good
$2,499.00
Ultimate Hybrid
Canon EOS R5 Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera with 8K Video, 45 Megapixel Full-Frame CMOS Sensor, DIGIC X Image Processor, Dual Memory Card Slots, and Up to 12 fps Mechnical Shutter, Body Only
Canon EOS R5 Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera with 8K Video, 45 Megapixel Full-Frame CMOS Sensor, DIGIC X Image Processor, Dual Memory Card Slots, and Up to 12 fps Mechnical Shutter, Body Only
Resolution
45MP
4K 10bit Video
Video Autofocus
Flip Screen
2 Card Slots
Focus Peaking/ Zebras
IBIS
Low Light Performance
Average
$3,899.00
Best for Video
Sony Alpha a7S III Mirrorless Digital Camera Body 160GB CFexpress Type A Tough Memory Card
Sony Alpha a7S III Mirrorless Digital Camera Body 160GB CFexpress Type A Tough Memory Card
Resolution
12.1
4K 10bit Video
Video Autofocus
Flip Screen
2 Card Slots
Focus Peaking/ Zebras
IBIS
Low Light Performance
Best
$4,798.00
-
Sony a7 III ILCE7M3/B Full-Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Camera with 3-Inch LCD, Black
Sony a7 III ILCE7M3/B Full-Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Camera with 3-Inch LCD, Black
Resolution
24.2MP
4K 10bit Video
Video Autofocus
Flip Screen
2 Card Slots
Focus Peaking/ Zebras
IBIS
Low Light Performance
Good
$1,998.00
-

Last update on 2021-07-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

There are three cameras I was looking at, and one in particular which I was considering.

The first is the Sony A1. This camera shoots 50MP at 30FPS and 8K video. It’s essentially the R5 and R3 rolled into one. At a price of $6498 it’s also more expensive than the R5 and I that’s too expensive for my needs.

Sony Alpha 1 Full-frame Interchangeable Lens Mirrorless Camera
  • 50.1MP* full-frame stacked Exmor RS CMOS sensor w/ integral memory
  • 8x more powerful*, next generation BIONZ XR image processing engine

Last update on 2021-09-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The next camera was the Sony A7S III and I heavily considered this camera. The video capabilities on this camera make it essentially a mini Cinema camera.

The A7S line has always been popular with small filmmakers, and rightly so. But the 12MP resolution, which means great low light capture, is too small for my photography needs.

12MP is the equivalent of 4K (4247 x 2826px), which means you can’t crop in at all. The R6 has double the resolution, which at 20.1 is still considered just enough.

The A7S III is a film focused camera, and not a photography camera. Sony’s lineup strategy is for an A7S III user to get a A7R camera to use for photos if that is required. I don’t want two bodies. I wanted a camera that do both photo and video equally well. So this ruled out the A7S III.

Sony Alpha a7S III Mirrorless Digital Camera Body 160GB CFexpress Type A Tough Memory Card
  • Alpha a7S III Mirrorless Digital Camera Body - Rechargeable Battery (NP-FZ100) - Battery Charger (BC-QZ1) - Power Cord - Cable Protector - Shoulder Strap - Body Cap - Accessory Shoe Cap - Eyepiece Cup - USB-A to USB-C Cable (USB 3.2) - Sony 1 Year Limited Warranty - Sony 160GB CFexpress Type A TOUGH Memory Card
  • 12.1MP Exmor R sensor, optimized for 4K, sensitivity and speed

Last update on 2021-09-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

So the last camera is the A7III, which is a camera that does focus on photo and video. This is actually a great camera that I would recommend.

It’s a bit cheaper than the R6 and has 24MP, so 4MP more than the R6. It has IBIS, great autofocus and shoots 4K.

Sony a7 III ILCE7M3/B Full-Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Camera with 3-Inch LCD, Black
  • Advanced 24.2MP BSI full frame Image Sensor w/ 1.8X readout speed
  • 15 stop dynamic range, 14 bit uncompressed RAW, ISO 50 to 204,800. Compatible with Sony E mount lenses. Can be connected via Bluetooth with smartphones featuring (as of the date of release)- Android (Android 5.0 or later, Bluetooth 4.0 or later), iOS (Bluetooth 4.0 or later)

Last update on 2021-09-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

But it’s going to replaced soon with the A74. Some more downsides are that it doesn’t have the flip out screen like Canon’s. There’s only one UHS-II SD card slot. This Sony also has the horrible menu system.

This will no doubt all be rectified with the Sony A74, making it very likely a better choice over the R6.

And finally, I prefer Canon color science to Sony. Sony has got a lot better with recent cameras, but Canon’s colors just look superior to my eye. This is a subjective point, and you may think differently.

There are other contenders like the Nikon Z6 and Z7 and the Panasonic S1 series, but these cameras have generally poorer autofocus video features than Canon and Sony, so they were never a consideration for me.

What the Canon R6 is Capable Of

In this section I want to highlight and talk about what the Canon EOS R6 is capable of.

I’ve tried to cover as much as I could in one video to show how capable this camera is in so many areas.

As you can see there’s stop motion, there’s timelapse using photos, timelapse using the in camera timelapse mode, and even some hyperlapse. You’ve got CLOG 3 footage, graded for increased dynamic range. There’s that 120fps buttery smooth slow mo.

It does everything I need it to do. I think this video really shows what the R6 capable of.

Now let’s talk a little more about some of these features.

Resolution

The Canon EOS R6 has a 20.1MP Full Frame sensor, which produces a 5472x3648px image. Instagram images are recommended to be exported and uploaded at 1080x1380px or 1000x1000px.

As you can see, that is plenty of enough resolution for Instagram.

The video resolution is 3840x2160px, so if you’re creating a time lapse from photos at 5472x3648px then you can recompose or push in.

Autofocus

In between selling my 1DX2 and the R6 I was making do with my trusty Canon EOS 5D Mark II which only has manual focus.

I have used Canon’s Dual Pixel autofocus since the Canon EOS 80D, and the current version with Eye and Animal Autofocus is just so quick, it’s almost pin point accurate, and stays locked on.

When I tried out the Sony which some say is only just superior to the Canon AF, I have to say I think both are as good as each other.

The main thing I enjoy is that I don’t need to think about focus anymore. I know the R6 will get it right provided the shooting scene is well lit.

IBIS

This is the first time Canon has implemented IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization) and so far, like the Dual Pixel AF, I’ve switched the IBIS on when needed and not had to think about it. The IBIS works great and makes my DJI Ronin S almost obsolete.

I have noted some R6 users have encountered a warp issue with the IBIS when fully wide on a 15-35mm zoom lens, but I never shot like that so I have not encountered the issue myself. And this is something that will most likely be corrected with a firmware update.

Finally

I can’t repeat enough, the R6 has everything you need for creative content. It is not missing a single feature that I actually need, just the odd one I would like to have.

I’ll say it again, it’s like the Canon 1DX 2 but lighter, with a flip screen, IBIS, CLOG, and peaking/zebras. It’s just missing the fast FPS for sports.

It’s not too expensive for what you can achieve with it. For content for a website and YouTube or Insta this is the best camera for value.

Links

Check out my Canon EOS R6 content on my YouTube and my photography on my Instagram.