It’s no secret that video has taken over. From TikTok to Times Square, it has infiltrated every corner of our lives. Meanwhile, the line between still photography and videography grows increasingly thin. You only need to glance at Instagram or Facebook to see this new order of things play out.
It’s no surprise that in the dawn of this new amalgam era, a certain class of cameras has emerged. As the name implies, hybrid cameras are adept at capturing video and stills. These cameras can serve as an entry point into video while still being capable of capturing decent still images. They may also be relied upon for recording b-roll video.
If this is an arena your loved one is interested in entering, here are a handful of hybrid cameras to get them started.
Canon EOS R5 C
You’d be hard pressed to find a truer hybrid camera than the Canon EOS R5 C.
Arguably the coolest feature of the R5 C is a switch that toggles seamlessly between video and photo modes. This means that the camera completely reconfigures itself to suit whichever mode you’re interested in utilizing. The buttons even have dual functions that change, depending on which mode you’ve selected.
From the outside, the R5 C looks like a stills camera. It borrows much of the tech from the mirrorless EOS R5, such as a 45MP full-frame CMOS sensor, 20 fps continuous capture, and 1,053 automatic AF zones. When you toggle to video, however, the R5 C becomes an 8K60 Cinema EOS camera, capable of recording 12-bit Cinema Raw Light footage. It also has 4K120 recording, HDMI RAW output, Canon Log 3 HLG/PQ support, unlimited recording time, Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus with face and eye detect, and time code input.
The R5 C comes with a range of video-monitoring tools, such as view assist for LUT preview, waveform and vector scope monitoring, false color (to help with LUT exposure), and focus guides, along with zebra and peaking. The only downside to recording video on the R5 C is that its battery can drain very quickly, so have extras on hand for heavy video use. The battery should be more than adequate when shooting in photo mode, though.
The R5 C gives you a professional level of flexibility that is rare in a hybrid camera. It has all the video capabilities that you would normally only find in a cine camera but with the bonus of functioning as a high-level, mirrorless stills camera. This would be a great addition to anyone’s camera bag, whether they are a photographer or videographer.
Last year FUJIFILM broke the mold with the release of the X-H2S. The beauty of the X-H2S is that it’s approachable for beginners, yet leaves ample room to grow.
Inside the sleek X-H2S is an APS-C 26.1MP X-Trans-stacked, back-side-illuminated sensor and a 64-bit X-Processor 5. The processor ensures that the X-H2S has quick, advanced autofocus, capable of not only face and eye detect (like previous models), but of detecting animals, birds, automobiles, motorcycles, bikes, airplanes, and trains. It’s also capable of picking up hair lines, eyeglasses, and face coverings.
Additionally, the X-H2S has up to seven stops of shake reduction in-body stabilization, critical for handheld shots or shooting stills in low light.
Where the X-H2S really shines, however, is in the video department. It can record ProRes 422 HQ with fourteen stops of dynamic range and can give you 6.2K raw output via a full-size HDMI 2.1 port to an external recorder.
The flexibility for external recording is a game changer. This is what allows filmmakers to record ProRes RAW externally, giving you more room to color-grade in post-production. It can be rigged up easily for high-end video production or stripped down for a single operator. It can also be used as a b-roll camera because it matches the look of a high-quality cine camera seamlessly. The X-H2S also records at a 3:2 ratio, meaning it is recording more visual information than you need, giving you a larger canvas to work with in post-production.
The X-H2S is so versatile that you could use it to photograph a wedding and then turn around and record a short film. And it's no slouch when it comes to stills, either.
It can record up to 40 fps and offers all of FUJIFILM's dazzling color profiles. The high-capacity buffer allows unlimited continuous writing of JPEG and RAW files to a high-speed memory card when using the mechanical shutter. There’s also a vertical battery grip, sold separately, that can contain three extra batteries.
So, if the recipient on your list is serious about getting into filmmaking while maintaining the ability to capture beautiful stills, the X-H2S might be the right choice for them.
The Nikon Z8 is a powerhouse of a camera. This is the type of camera you could rely on to shoot anything from sports to wildlife, weddings to documentary footage.
Building on the legacy of the Z9 and the D850, the Z8 has a classic body and button layout. In terms of technology, it’s nearly identical to the Z9, but thirty percent smaller and a pound lighter, making it more attractive for gimbal work.
Inside the Z8 is a full-frame 47.7MP back-side-illuminated, stacked sensor, and an EXPEED 7 processor. This processor gives the Z8 the power it needs to record 20 fps in raw or 120 fps when shooting JPEGs at 11MP. It also offers pre-release capture, enabling you to record a burst of frames for a full second before pressing down the shutter. The Z8 also has the same, 493-point phase-detection autofocus as the Z9, with the ability to recognize animals, people, and vehicles.
Despite being marketed for photographers, the Z8 also contains some very attractive video capabilities. It can record 4K at 120 fps, ProRes RAW at up to 60 fps, and 12-bit 8K N-RAW at up to 60 fps. It also has some handy monitoring features such as waveforms, histograms, focus peaking, and zebras. The recording times are also impressive. The Z8 gives you up to 125 minutes of recording at 4K 60 fps or 95 minutes of recording at 8K 30 fps.
Like the FUJIFILM X-H2S, the Nikon Z8 has a full-sized HDMI port for outputting video to an external recorder or monitor, as well as two USB-C ports for file transfers, tethering, power delivery, and charging. There are also two 2.5mm headphone and microphone ports for attaching an external microphone and monitoring audio levels. The one downside of the Z8 is its lack of a fully articulating screen, something that might be a deal breaker for vloggers.
Finally, the Z8 has impressive 5-axis in body stabilization, important for getting handheld shots or photographing in challenging light. The Z8 is as stable and reliable as the brand Nikon itself. Its rugged body also features weather sealing, making it capable of operating in a variety of conditions.
So, if you’re looking for a camera that’s just as capable of taking photos as it is of capturing sharp video, then the Z8 might be the right choice for you.
Panasonic Lumix S5 II and S5 IIX
Strong contenders in the hybrid camera market are the Panasonic Lumix S5 II and the Lumix S5 IIX. The two cameras are nearly identical. They both contain newly designed 24.2MP sensors and processors, dual native ISO, and 5-axis Sensor-Shift Image Stabilization. The S5 IIX, however, offers some bonus video recording options, such as raw video output and All-Intra and internal ProRes recording to an external SSD via USB.
Panasonic fans have been waiting for years for the company to embrace phase-detection autofocus and, with this second-generation of S5 cameras, Panasonic included a new state-of-the-art phase hybrid auto-detection system. It’s a vast improvement over Panasonic’s older cameras. The new autofocus system relies on 779-point detection, compared to the 225-point contrast autofocus system found in the first-generation S5. The improved autofocus will be especially noticeable in low-light scenarios and situations involving multiple subjects.
As far as video goes, both the S5 II and S5 IIX can record 4K 30 fps and 6K 30 fps in full frame and will crop to APS-C size when shooting 4K at 30 fps. They both also feature 3.3K anamorphic mode and can shoot 120 fps at 1080p. However, only the S5 IIX will be able to capture 5.8K ProRes to an SSD with All-Intra compression and ProRes RAW to an Atomos recorder. Videocentric shooters would surely appreciate the S5 IIX's higher maximum bitrate, USB tethering, and wired and wireless IP streaming.
A clever built-in heat dispersion fan allows for unlimited recording in 4K, but caps recording time at thirty minutes for anything above 4K. Internal audio can be recorded at 48kHz/24bit by using the built-in microphone. You will find two 3.5mm jacks to connect headphones and an external mic. Both cameras include live cropping, adjustable waveforms, and vectorscopes.
The Panasonic S5 II and S5 IIX are extremely versatile, powerful cameras. The improved autofocus and excellent image quality have catapulted these two to the forefront of the hybrid camera market. Either camera would be a great jumping-off point for someone looking to dive into hybrid cameras.
Our final camera is, by far, the smallest. With the ZV-E1, Sony’s goal was to make a capable vlogging camera that was loaded with professional-level video features. And by most measures, the brand succeeded.
The compact ZV-E1 has a 12MP full-frame back-illuminated CMOS sensor with a BIONZ XR image processor and new AI processing unit. It demonstrates increased abilities in low-light situations, with an extended ISO range up to 409,600 and 15+ stops of dynamic range.
The ZV-E1 targets the vlogging community directly, with a fully articulating screen and 5-axis image stabilization. These features make it a great example of a purpose-built camera whose performance isn’t hampered by its specialization.
In terms of video recording capabilities, the ZV-E1 is impressive. Despite its small stature, it can do UHD 4K at frame rates up to 120p, Full HD recording up to 240p, and supports 10-bit recording. As we mentioned before, the ZV-E1 comes with 5-Axis SteadyShot image stabilization, giving it a near-gimbal-level of stability. It can also do 4K 30 livestreaming and has a multi-interface hot shoe into which a microphone can be plugged. Additionally, it features a directional internal microphone with an auto-subject detection feature.
The only downside to the ZV-E1’s size is that it tends to overheat easily. This won’t be an issue for vloggers recording short segments but, if you’re planning to use the ZV-E1 for longer interviews or in warmer climates, you might be better off choosing another camera.
One other aspect of the ZV-E1 to keep in mind is that, despite being one of the best vlogging cameras on the market today, it is a less robust stills camera than the other cameras on this list. It's certainly capable of recording photos in a pinch, but the lower megapixel count and lack of a viewfinder make it a camera that leans more toward the video realm of hybrid than the photo side.
Regardless, the ZV-E1 is marvelous in many ways: it has impressive full-frame video capabilities, great body design, cutting-edge autofocus, and a pocketable size. If you have a vlogging specialist on your list this year, the ZV-E1 would be a delightful gift.
Do you have any other suggestions for hybrid cameras this holiday season? Leave a comment in the section below.