The 6 biggest camera breakthroughs in 2021

Technology is moving at an incredible pace, but for years it felt like the world of photography was moving at a comparative crawl. It’s been 13 years since the first commercial mirrorless camera came out (the Panasonic G1) – yet many of us still use cameras with mirrors.

While there have certainly been innovations since then, the past few years have felt more like the biggest players in the industry catching up in the mirrorless stakes rather than pushing through radically new technologies.

• Continue reading: Best cameras for photography

However, this was not the case in 2021. This year there have been some amazing breakthroughs in both imaging technology and application. Of course, it helped that both Canon and Nikon brought flagship cameras to market with the latest features.

However, it’s not just big-budget professional cameras that heralded the innovation; even analog instant cameras (arguably the original mirrorless cameras) have exceeded their limits in the past 12 months. Ultimately, of course, unusual technology does not automatically mean unusual images.

However, these new developments mean that certain aspects of photography and videography are now easier than they were before. Here are our tips for the biggest camera technology breakthroughs in 2021 …

Super fast frame rates

(Photo credit: Digital Camera World)

It all started in January of this year when Sony launched the Sony A1 with its 30fps continuous shooting, although this super speed was then achieved by the Canon EOS R3 in October. In November, however, Nikon overtook both rivals by putting all of Sonic the Hedgehog on us and launching the Nikon Z9, which can shoot stunning continuous bursts of 120 frames per second.

Eye Control AF

(Image credit: Canon)

No, it’s not a gimmick! Though Canon launched it years ago with little success, it’s back and this time around, it’s really working. The Canon EOS R3 has eight infrared blasters in the electronic viewfinder that map your eye, track where it is looking and put a focus point on whatever you are looking at. It’s an abbreviation between auto focus and manual focus that we never knew we needed.

Pocket-sized Polaroids

(Photo credit: Emma-Jayne Simmonds)

The fun isn’t limited to big expensive mirrorless cameras; even the humble Polaroid, whose core photochemical technology hasn’t changed much in decades, has done something drastically different. The Polaroid Go is an instant camera that was literally designed to fit in your pocket. While the Instax Mini 11 is a pretty small camera, the Go has a positive pint size.

Cinematic video

(Photo credit: James Artaius)

It’s not just traditional cameras either – phone cameras have made great strides in 2021, too. The most important development is the Apple iPhone 13, which now has a cinematic video mode. A time-of-flight sensor with depth detection and clever software are used to simulate a shallow depth of field and slow, cinematic focus pulls, which enable the user to create breathtaking video material.

Stereoscopic 8K 3D VR

(Image credit: Canon)

We scratched our heads when we first saw the Canon RF 5.2mm f / 2.8L dual fisheye lens, but it’s at the heart of the new EOS VR system. When mounted on the Canon EOS R5, you can record 180 ° 3D stereoscopic footage in 8K resolution, so you can control the camera position at a ridiculous resolution during playback in video and VR applications.

Adios, mechanical lock

It started in 2008 when Panasonic ditched the mirror, and now manufacturers are ditching the shutter too. Okay, technically the Nikon Z9 isn’t the first interchangeable lens camera to do away with the mechanical shutter, but thanks to the ultra-fast stacked sensor, it’s the first to do so without any obvious compromise on the rolling shutter.

Continue reading:

The best cameras for sports photography
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The best camera phones
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