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The Best Cameras for Family Photography

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cameras for family photography.
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: In this article, we explore the top 6 best cameras for your family photography. We explore features such as stabilization systems, lens compatibility, colour composition, and brands.

As a family photographer, one of the most important tools for us is our camera gear. Having the right camera can make it easier for you to take a family photograph with the best results.

The right cameras give photographers access to the best colour science, high dynamic ranges, and advanced sensor technologies, all used as pieces of a puzzle to capture the right heartfelt family moments.

What Factors Should You Consider Before Purchasing a Camera for Family Photography?

Before we list the best cameras to use for family photography, let’s first go through a few important factors to consider before buying a camera.

Focal Length

Having the right focal length is crucial for capturing images, especially for capturing those little smiles or unique expressions. For example, a fast aperture is perfect for capturing those fast-moving shots and adding a stunning bokeh effect to really isolate the subject.

Advanced Autofocus Detection

As a photographer, I know the importance of advanced auto-focus detection. It’s one of the most fundamental attributes a camera can have. It is especially important for the autofocus system to have versatile tracking, including face, eye, and body tracking. Why? Children are always running around and playing, so it’s hard to ask them to stop. You need to be able to capture them at the moment spontaneously and to do that, you need autofocus that can handle that. Not investing in auto-focus can be one of the biggest mistakes to make as a photographer, which can lead you to miss important moments and even result in blurry photographs. 

Price Tag

When selecting a camera for family photography, consider the price tag and find a balance between performance, features, and affordability. Your budget and total cost of ownership, including lenses and accessories, should factor into your decision. Keep in mind that high-end cameras may have a steeper learning curve, while more affordable, user-friendly options may better suit your needs. Ultimately, your skills as a photographer and your ability to connect with your subjects are equally important.

6 Best Cameras for Family Portraits

In our quest to find the perfect camera for family portraits, we have compiled a list of top contenders, factoring in budget-friendly options and suggested portrait lenses for each camera.

1. Sony A7RV

Working as a family photographer in London, I found the Sony A7RV stands out as the ultimate choice for capturing unparalleled detail in their family portraits. Boasting a remarkable 61MP sensor, this camera offers the highest resolution available without venturing into medium format territory, which can get very pricey.

Sony A7RV camera.

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • Type: Mirrorless
  • Sensor: 61MP Full-Frame Exmor R CMOS
  • Lens Mount: Sony FE
  • Autofocus: Fast Hybrid AF with Eye AF
  • Viewfinder: 0.5-inch, 9.44k-dot OLED
  • Screen: 3.1-inch, 2,095k-dot tilting touch-sensitive TFT LCD
  • User level: Expert

PROS:

  • Astounding high-resolution sensor with a large number of photosites
  • Extensive lens range
  • AI-powered AF
  • Large High Dynamic Range
  • 61MP provides an unrivaled level of detail in family portraits

CONS:

  • Very expensive camera
  • Multi-shot requires desktop stitching software
  • 61MP is overkill for most photographs

One powerful feature of the A7RV is the Eye AF technology which is known as a real game changer. In my experience, this piece of tech is a huge advancement. It not only recongises human eyes but also those of animals – so you’ll even be able to snap concrete portraits of the family pet. Another benefit of AI-powered autofocus is that it further enhances subject detection by recognizing limbs and body shapes. However, it’s worth noting that the camera’s IBIS system is less effective compared to other major brands.

The A7R V also features a high-resolution viewfinder which is very handy when shooting out in the daylight as you can clearly see your subjects. While the price is on the higher side, the camera’s exceptional capabilities justify the investment. The more affordable Sony A7 IV is an alternative, but it can be challenging to find.

2. Sony A7IV

Testing the Sony A7 IV, I found it to be a lightweight and versatile partner. It comes packed with a 33MP full-frame sensor which manages to provide a great balance of detail and image size. Whilst the camera manages to capture a great level of detail, it does not do so at the level of A7RV.

Sony A7IV camera.

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • Type: Mirrorless
  • Sensor: 33MP Full-Frame Exmor R CMOS
  • Lens Mount: Sony FE
  • Autofocus: Fast Hybrid AF with Eye AF and Real-time Tracking
  • Viewfinder: 0.5-inch, 3.68k-dot OLED
  • Screen: 3.0-inch, 1,440k-dot tilting touch-sensitive TFT LCD
  • User level: Enthusiast/ExpertParagraph

PROS:

  • Powerful full-frame High-resolution sensor
  • Impressive autofocus performance
  • Excellent 4K video capabilities

CONS:

  • Limited touchscreen functionality
  • Slightly lower resolution compared to A7R V

To elaborate further, while the 33MP resolution has served me well for most print sizes, there have been instances where I required an even higher resolution for exceptional detail. When creating large-format prints for wall displays or gallery exhibitions, I’ve noticed that the 33MP sensor might fall short of providing the finest level of detail. In such cases, I’ve considered using a higher resolution camera like the Sony A7R V, which boasts a 61MP sensor, offering superior detail for large prints.

Despite this limitation, the A7 IV’s Fast Hybrid AF system, featuring Eye AF and Real-time Tracking, has allowed me to concentrate on capturing those special moments without the worry of missing the perfect shot. Additionally, the camera’s impressive 4K video capabilities have brought my family’s story to life in vivid detail, setting it apart from many other cameras I’ve used in the past.

Equipped with a 0.5-inch, 3.68k-dot OLED viewfinder and a 3.0-inch, 1,440k-dot tilting touchscreen, the A7 IV is a comfortable shooting experience, particularly due to its screen. It’s very nifty because it has a vibrant colour range whilst balancing a great-sized screen.

In comparison to other cameras I’ve tried in its category, such as the Nikon Z6 II or the Canon EOS R6, the Sony A7 IV stands out particularly due to its advanced autofocus system, which the other brands seem to fall short of, which is vital in capturing those fleeting moments. This particular point and its competitive pricing make it one of the reasons I would consider it over many rivals.

3. Canon R5

My experience with the Canon R5 has been excellent. It is a camera that definitely lives up to its name. In particular, I would say the autofocus system leaves a lot of competitors in the dust, which is very important when you’re trying to snap kids as you jog around to follow them.

Canon R5 camera.

Another highlight of the R5 is its 45MP sensor. Although not as much of a beast as the 61MP A7RV, it is more than enough for most occasions, whether you’re looking to print jumbo 60×40 frames or just high-quality prints for your customers.

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • Type: Mirrorless
  • Sensor: 45MP Full-Frame CMOS
  • Autofocus: Dual Pixel AF II with Eye Detect AF
  • Image Stabilization: Up to 9 stops of in-body image stabilization

REASONS TO BUY:

  • Exceptional image quality
  • Best-in-class AF detection and tracking
  • Versatile cropping options due to high resolution
  • Frame Grab feature for extracting stills from 8K video
  • Dual card slots for added reliability

REASONS TO AVOID:

  • Expensive compared to other options
  • It may require additional investment in RF lenses
  • Gets very hot when using 4k Video

I’ve found the R5’s 45MP sensor to produce incredibly detailed images. With its class-leading autofocus system and 5,940 AF points, capturing sharp, focused portraits has never been easier, even when photographing pets, thanks to its animal eye AF deep learning.

The joystick is a convenient addition that allows me to take quick manual control over focus points, a feature I’ve found invaluable during shoots. The R5’s high resolution offers flexibility in cropping, enabling me to transform a three-quarter portrait into a tight headshot without sacrificing quality.

One of my favourite features of the R5 is the Frame Grab, which has proven to be incredibly useful for capturing unexpected moments. This feature allows me to extract high-resolution 35.4MP stills (as JPEGs) from 8K video footage. One handy example is when I was photographing a family reunion for this cute family in Hammersmith. I decided to play around with the video function on the R5 and recorded a shot where some petals flew across the frame. This was perfect as it gave me a chance to use the frame grab feature, otherwise I may not have even been able to snap them unless shooting in burst mode.

Another good but standard feature is the dual card slots. These dual card slots are good as they protect against card failure, which in the past has led to a lot of trouble because in many camera systems, if card failure occurs in one slot, it also does in the other slot.

The Canon R5’s in-body image stabilization (IBIS) system has been a game-changer for me as a photographer. Boasting an impressive nine stops of stabilization, it provides a significant advantage when shooting in challenging conditions or using longer focal lengths.

This superior IBIS system has allowed me to capture consistently sharp images, even when shooting handheld or focusing on fast-moving subjects. The nine stops of stabilization offer the flexibility to use slower shutter speeds in low-light situations without compromising image sharpness, something that isn’t always possible with lesser stabilization systems. Now, let’s compare the R5’s IBIS system to the Sony A7R V, which offers 5.5 stops of stabilization. While this is still a respectable amount, the 3.5 stop difference becomes noticeable when shooting in certain conditions. The R5’s additional stabilization ensures clearer images, even when the A7R V might struggle to achieve the same level of clarity due to its lower level of stabilization.

Canon’s RF lenses, such as the Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L USM, are a fantastic addition to this camera. Although the lens is pricey and substantial, the combination delivers unparalleled portrait results. Plus, the ability to adapt Canon’s vast range of EF-mount DSLR lenses is a bonus.

4. Canon EOS R3

One of the most eye-catching features of the Canon R3 camera is its Dual Pixel CMOS AF system, which impressively outshines its rivals in swiftly capturing fleeting moments, an essential trait when you’re on the move capturing fast-paced action.

Canon EOS R3 camera.

The EOS R also boasts a 30.3MP full-frame sensor. While not as powerful as the 45MP R5, it remains a solid choice for most photography needs, whether you’re planning to produce large scale prints or simply need top-notch quality for your clients.

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • Type: Mirrorless
  • Sensor: 30.3MP Full-Frame CMOS
  • Autofocus: Dual Pixel CMOS AF
  • Image Stabilization: Digital, 5-axis (video only)

REASONS TO BUY:

  • Excellent image quality
  • Superior AF speed and accuracy
  • Ample resolution for various applications
  • Touch and Drag AF for intuitive focus control
  • Single card slot for simplicity and ease of use

REASONS TO AVOID:

  • No in-body image stabilization for stills
  • Investment in RF lenses may be required
  • Battery life is fairly short, and you may need to carry additional batteries

The EOS R’s 30.3MP sensor delivers sharp and richly detailed images. Its standout Dual Pixel CMOS AF system, with up to 5,655 manually selectable AF points, ensures razor-sharp focus, making portrait sessions a breeze, even when photographing your furry friends, thanks to its face and eye detection feature.

The multi-function touch bar is a novel addition that allows for swift and easy manual control over various settings – a tool I’ve found invaluable during shoots. The EOS R’s resolution offers ample flexibility for cropping, allowing for the transformation of a wide shot into a closer composition without significant loss of detail.

The EOS R does not include a frame grab feature like the R5, but its 4K video capabilities still provide a high level of detail and the ability to capture cinematic footage. The camera’s single card slot might be seen as a limitation for some, but it does simplify file management and reduces the risk of confusion when switching between cards.

While the Canon EOS R doesn’t feature in-body image stabilization for stills, it does offer digital, 5-axis stabilization for video shooting. This is a boon for vloggers or those shooting handheld video, helping to smooth out any jitters and shake.

Comparing the EOS R to Sony’s A7 III, which offers 5-axis in-body stabilization for stills, the lack of similar functionality on the EOS R might be a letdown for some family photographers. However, many of Canon’s RF and EF lenses feature optical image stabilization, which can still provide a level of stabilization when shooting stills.

Canon’s RF lenses, like the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM, pair excellently with this camera. While these lenses can be an investment, they deliver extraordinary results that justify the cost. Plus, with the use of Canon’s Mount Adapter EF-EOS R, you can use the extensive range of Canon’s EF-mount DSLR lenses, providing an added layer of versatility.

5. Nikon Z7II

My experience with the Nikon Z7 II has been pretty good. In my opinion, the standout feature of this camera is its swift and accurate autofocus system, which outperforms many of its competitors, making it an essential tool for capturing fast-paced moments or tracking unpredictable subjects.

Nikon Z7II camera.

The Z7 II is equipped with a 45.7MP full-frame sensor, delivering exceptional image quality for a wide range of applications, from large prints to high-quality work for clients.

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • Type: Mirrorless
  • Sensor: 45.7MP Full-Frame BSI CMOS
  • Autofocus: Hybrid AF with 493 phase-detect points
  • Image Stabilization: 5-axis in-body image stabilization

REASONS TO BUY:

  • Outstanding image quality
  • Responsive and precise autofocus system
  • Versatile resolution for various needs
  • Dual card slots for added reliability
  • In-body image stabilization for steady shots

REASONS TO AVOID:

  • Expensive compared to some alternatives
  • Additional investment in Z-mount lenses may be required

The Z7 II’s 45.7MP sensor produces sharp and beautifully detailed images. Its reliable autofocus system, with 493 phase-detect points, ensures consistently accurate focus, making portrait sessions a breeze even when photographing moving subjects, thanks to its subject-tracking capabilities.

The joystick is a welcome addition that allows for easy manual control over focus points, a feature I’ve found invaluable during shoots. The Z7 II’s high resolution offers ample flexibility in cropping, allowing photographers to turn a wider shot into a closer composition without losing significant detail.

The Nikon Z7 II doesn’t have a frame grab feature like the Canon R5, but its 4K video capabilities provide a high level of detail, making it suitable for capturing cinematic footage. The camera’s dual card slots offer added reliability and the ability to manage different file types or create backups.

The Nikon Z7 II’s in-body image stabilization (IBIS) system has been a game-changer for me as a photographer. With its 5-axis stabilization, it provides a significant advantage when shooting in challenging conditions or using longer focal lengths, allowing me to capture consistently sharp images, even when shooting handheld or focusing on fast-moving subjects.

Comparing the Z7 II’s IBIS system to the Canon EOS R, which does not offer in-body image stabilization for stills, the Nikon Z7 II’s stabilization provides a clear advantage for photographers who need extra support for steadier shots in various conditions.

Nikon’s Z-mount lenses, such as the Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S, are a fantastic addition to this camera. While these lenses can be an investment, they deliver outstanding results that justify the cost. Plus, with the use of Nikon’s FTZ adapter, you can use a wide range of Nikon’s F-mount DSLR lenses, providing an added layer of versatility.

6. Fujifilm XT-5 (Crop Sensor Camera)

The XT-5 is a very versatile crop-sensor camera. Even though it’s not a full-frame camera, it definitely holds its own with many full-frames. One of the most stand-out features would be its film simulation modes which emulate the look of classic Fujifilm analog films. This feature has offered me an entirely new level of creative flexibility in-camera, with effects that would usually require post-processing to achieve.

Fujifilm XT-5 camera.

The X-T5 also comes packed with a versatile 26.1MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor. Although it doesn’t quite match the resolution of full-frame workhorse like the Z7II, it still provides great detail for the size of its sensor. You will still be able to get great quality prints for large canvasses, so you won’t need to worry about larger prints being blurry. 

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • Type: Mirrorless
  • Sensor: 26.1MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS 4
  • Autofocus: Intelligent Hybrid AF (TTL contrast AF / TTL phase detection AF)
  • Image Stabilization: 5-Axis In-Body Image Stabilization (up to 6.5 stops)

REASONS TO BUY:

  • Excellent image quality
  • Impressive AF performance
  • Great resolution for different uses
  • Film Simulation modes for creative flexibility
  • Dual SD card slots for backup and organization

REASONS TO AVOID:

  • APS-C sensor may not be suitable for all types of photography
  • May require investment in XF lenses

The X-T5’s 26.1MP sensor consistently produces detailed and vibrant images. Its impressive Intelligent Hybrid AF system, with TTL contrast and phase detection AF, ensures every frame is in sharp focus. This has been a game-changer during my portrait sessions, and the advanced Face/Eye detection has made pet photography a breeze.

The X-T5 introduces a new feature: the AF lever, which offers quick and convenient control over focus points – a tool that I’ve found invaluable during hectic shoots. The camera’s resolution provides plenty of leeway for cropping, allowing me to transform a wide shot into a closer composition without a noticeable loss of detail.

The dual SD card slots are a very handy addition, as they provide a great sense of security, considering if one card fails, you always have the other. No doubt, this is very important as technology can sometimes fail. You don’t want to be left in the middle of a shoot with a dysfunctional memory card slot.

The X-T5’s in-body image stabilization (IBIS) has proven to be a major advantage, providing up to 6.5 stops of stabilization. This has significantly improved my ability to capture clear, sharp images in challenging conditions or with longer focal lengths.

Fujifilm’s XF lenses, such as the Fujifilm XF 56mm F1.2 R, pair exceptionally well with this camera. While these lenses may require an additional investment, the superior results they deliver make it worthwhile. And let’s not forget the X-T5’s compatibility with a wide range of X-mount lenses, which adds to its versatility.

Final Thoughts: Best Overall Camera for Family Photos

After looking at all aspects of the cameras above, in my professional opinion, the Sony A7RV stands out as the most fitting choice for family photography, with the Canon R5 as a close runner-up and the XT-5 being the most balanced for pricing/cost.

family photographer taking pictures using a digital camera.

The Sony A7RV has shown itself as one of the best cameras in the market at the moment, regardless of the photography genre. Its super high resolution is one of the primary reasons why it has an edge.

Not only does it allow for detail-rich and vibrant photos, but it also provides the flexibility to crop images while still maintaining high quality. This feature can be particularly useful in family photography, where capturing spontaneous moments and then adjusting the framing in post-production is common.

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Adam is the founder of WeShootYou photography. A photography company located in the UK which specialises in family photography and other services.
Adam is the founder of WeShootYou photography. A photography company located in the UK which specialises in family photography and other services.
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  1. Thanks Adam for your interesting article. I realize that you recommend higher megapixel cameras. I am currently shooting at 24 MP, but am currently considering an upgrade to 46 MP. Very helpful, thanks

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