Best DSLR & ILC Cameras: Advanced & Pro Level

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Welcome to our annual Holiday Gift Guide. For 2016, we've decided to segue from wholly budget-based recommendations and instead focus on different camera categories.

Here we are at the top of the photography food chain. The best of the best. A series of rugged DSLR and ILC cameras that offer the most performance capabilities along with superb image quality, not to mention higher bit-rate 4K video recording. If you absolutely adore photography and find yourself in challenging shooting conditions where you need to focus and shoot quickly, if you're a professional who needs to reliable gear, if you already own top quality glass but have found your camera body showing its age, then these are all extraordinary cameras well worth your consideration. They're not cheap -- with prices ranging from around $2,000 to $6,500 -- and don't all offer the same levels of performance or image sensors, but they each shine in their own way.

Here are our picks for the Best Advanced or Pro Level DSLR & ILC Cameras for 2016.

 

COlympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

With a 20.4 megapixel Live MOS image sensor, 5-Axis Image Stabilization, a TruePic VIII image processor, Dual Fast AutoFocus, and DCI 4K Video Recording, Olympus built staggeringly quick new flagship for 2016. How fast? Try 60 frames-per-second continuous shooting at full res RAW + JPEG with AF & AE locked or up to 18fps with Continuous AF engaged. The OM-D E-M1 Mark II is also one of those most rugged cameras available today and can operate in extreme temperatures and/or drenching conditions. Add in features like High Res Shot Mode, Live Composite & Live Time, dual SD Card slots, improved ISO response, and access to an incredible family of M.Zuiko M4/3 glass, and you have a recipe for the best overall camera you can buy for less than $2,000.

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Nikon D500

Nikon D500

Speaking of sub-$2,000.00 bargains, the Nikon D500 may not be as fast as the E-M1 Mark II, but its 20.9-megapixel DX-format (APS-C) CMOS sensor has our vote for best image sensor of the year, producing colorful and painterly images with good contrast alongside endless latitude and dynamic range. To this we add in weather sealing from the D810, the awesome Multi-CAM 20K 153-point AF system, and UHD 4K video capture at up to 30fps. This is an extraordinary APS-C camera designed to keep up with much more expensive Full Frame models. Simply pair it with your favorite NIKKOR glass and you're good to go.

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Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

The legendary EOS 5D series gets a refresh for 2016 with the new Mark IV. The 5D Mark IV's 30.4MP 35mm Full Frame Canon CMOS sensor and DIGIC 6+ Image Processor are capable of shooting up to 7 frames-per-second at full res RAW + JPEG with Continuous AF, record up to DCI 4K video at 30fps MJPEG and 500Mbps, and can capture handsome images at an insane ISO 32,000. If you need to capture highly resolute images with loads of dynamic range on a camera system capable of exceedingly shallow depth of field, this the 5D Mark IV is for you. The MSRP on this one is $3,499 for the body-only, but for my two penny's I'd upgrade to the $4,599.00 (MSRP) kit that includes the extremely versatile Canon EF24-105mm f/4L IS II lens.

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Sony a99 Mark II

Sony a99 Mark II

While we haven't gotten to test Sony's new flagship DSLR, we have stratospheric expectations for this one when it releases later this month. This is likely the Full Frame DSLR against which many others will be judged. At its heart, we have a 42.4-megapixel Exmor R CMOS image sensor and the latest gen BIONZ X image processor which, together, are capable of shooting 12fps continuous shooting (with AE/AF tracking) at full resolution and Super 35mm or full-frame 4K video recording, all in expanded sensitivity range of ISO 50 - 102.400. Add in the new 4D FOCUS system that utilizes 79 hybrid cross-type AF points, dust and moisture resistance, and a rare-for-DSLRs 5-axis SteadyShot INSIDE image stabilization system and you have one heck of a capable camera system. Pre-order your Sony a99 Mark II (ILCA99M2) today for less than $3200, which is a relative bargain especially when you compare this camera to our final entry below.

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Nikon D5

Nikon D5

This beast of a camera is Nikon's flagship model. The body alone will set you back almost $6,500, which may be a little hard to swallow after reading about the Sony a99 Mark II, but if you're already heavily invested in high-end NIKKOR lens, this is the ultimate Nikon experience for the foreseeable future. The D5 boasts a 20.8MP FX-Format (full frame) CMOS Sensor and EXPEED 5 Image Processor capable of shooting 12 fps Shooting for 200 Shots with AE/AF engaged as well as 4K/30p UHD videos. Other top-of-the-line features include the Multi-CAM 20K 153-Point AF System as well as an ISO range that can be expanded up to 3280000 (!!!). It's simply the most capable camera Nikon's ever built. Pick yours up today for less than $6,500.

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