These seven digital cameras were never given the mainstream attention they deserved, and that’s shocking because they are fantastic!
As soon as some digital cameras are released, they send shockwaves through the industry and forever go down as instant classics. And then there are some that slip through the cracks. It’s not until a good few years down the line that we start to appreciate just what these overlooked and underappreciated cameras were about and just how fantastic they were for their time. After the break, we will take a quick look at seven seemingly forgotten digital cameras that deserve your loving gaze today.
The digital cameras in this piece are truly fantastic. Some might be a little older than others. Still, if you want an excellent camera that somehow slipped under the radar, these are the seven most overlooked and underappreciated digital cameras that are worthy of your time.
Fujifilm X Pro 1
The X-Pro 1 did gain a cult following, but the product line never really went mainstream until the X-Pro 2 started rolling out of Fujifilm’s factories. The X-Pro 1 is perhaps one of Fujifilm’s most underappreciated digital cameras, but that is beginning to change. You see, the X Pro 1 can render images unlike any other X-Pro camera that has followed in its footsteps.
The 16.3MP sensor produces images that closely resemble pictures captured on film more than any other Fujifilm camera. Used prices are starting to climb on this gorgeous camera for good reason, so, if you want one, grab one while the prices are still on your side. The X-Pro 1 had a slow start, but it will go down as a classic. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:
- Excellent ergonomics
- Consistent performance improvement via firmware updates
- Autofocus speed has vastly improved
- Superb image quality and probably the best APS-C sensor currently in the industry
- RAW file versatility improved with further Adobe and Capture One updates
- Manual focus peaking implemented
- Autofocus still isn’t as fast as that from Sony and Olympus. It is about on par with Samsung
Buy now used: From $498
The Samsung NX1 reminds me of that scene in Back to The Future, where Marty McFly starts playing rock ‘n’ roll during the prom in 1955. The music was excellent, but the crowd just wasn’t ready for that amount of awesome at the time. The Samsung NX1 was a powerhouse back in 2015, and it still is even by today’s standards, we just weren’t ready for it, or didn’t appreciate it then.
This digital camera rocked a huge 28.2MP BSI APS-C sensor, it could shoot 4K 24fps video, it had a 2.36m dot EVF, a fantastic touch screen, 205 phase-detect AF points, and it could rattle off 15 frames per second. The NX1 was close to the perfect camera. Come back, Samsung. We need this level of innovation again. You can find these models used, but you’re going to have to pay quite a bit for them. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:
- Buttons and buttons and buttons: a camera that feels like a camera
- Large, flexible RAW files make for easy editing
- Excellent colors and crisp JPEGs
- The big, bright viewfinder
- The articulating LCD provides a good degree of latitude and has a crisp resolution
- Fairly expensive
- The menu system can take some time to get used to
- If you’re shooting in RAW, don’t forget to convert in-camera to JPEG if you want to send a photo over wi-fi
Buy now used: From $1,199.99
The Leica TL2 is an odd camera to come from Leica, and this is perhaps why this little gem of a digital camera hardly ever gets talked about by anyone. The Leica TL2 came from Leica when they were truly trying to embrace the new Mirrorless age. This camera does not have a viewfinder: it has a massive touchscreen, and gone is the classic styling we know Leica for. In its place is a sleek, modern look with the symbolic red dot on the front.
What didn’t change, though, is just how good this camera felt in hand, and just how fantastic images produced with this camera and its 24MP sensor could be. Released in 2017, the Leica TL2 isn’t exactly old, but it is underappreciated. You can still buy these new, and they won’t break the bank. In time, this will go down as a classic just because it’s so different. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:
- Super solid build quality
- Nice, big screen
- Simple touchscreen interface, but can get complicated depending on how you configure it
- Feels better in the hand than you’d think
- Good image quality
- Fantastic battery life
- Autofocus is fast, but not fast enough for something like street photography
- Attaching camera straps can be a bit of a pain
Buy now: $2,191.43
Olympus Pen F
The Olympus Pen F might not be the most forgotten camera on this list, but underappreciated it certainly is. Olympus hit the design jackpot with the Pen F. Just look at it; the camera is a thing of beauty. Derided because it has a Micro Four Thirds sensor, the Pen F is overlooked by many, but the 20MP sensor, the way images render (especially in black and white), and its small size make it the ideal camera for street photography.
The Pen F does lack weather sealing (which for many makes it a nonstarter), but it more than makes up for it in performance and image quality. Pair this up with a small prime, and in the right hands, it can deliver greatness. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:
- The absolute best and in some ways almost perfect image quality from an Olympus ILC camera yet
- Handles very much like an old analog camera
- Feels amazing in the hand for street photography
- Thumb rest is absolutely fantastic
- Autofocus performance is more than satisfactory
- Not too large of a camera body.
- The knob that lets you shoot in black and white mode has me addicted to not only shooting in black and white but also being very happy with the JPEGs
- Flippin’ fantastic JPEG output
- Great EVF
- The electronic shutter is super nice
- The most beautiful digital camera made thus far.
- 80MP High res mode is here
- Really, really wish Olympus put some weather sealing into the camera
Buy now: $999
That noise you hear, that’s the sound of comments and emails dropping from those who are mad that we bring attention to this camera. You see, the Nikon Df has become a classic, and prices are rising fast, but when it first came out, it was dead on arrival. Nikon penned this camera as being for serious photographers. There were no video modes in the Df, this puppy was all about stills, and it could help photographers create magic.
The Nikon Df featured the same 16.2MP sensor as the D4, which meant incredible high ISO performance. The AF system was pulled from the D610, ergonomically, it was fantastic, and it would shoot 5.5 frames per second. The problem was the price. This digital camera was $2,700 at launch in 2013, and it made many photographers who started to get the itch for more in their cameras shy away. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:
- The Nikon Df works with the all current Nikon lenses back to the non-Ai ones
- The D4’s Sensor is amazing and gives usable images up to ISO 12,800
- The image quality of the Nikon Df is stunning
- The raw file sizes are smaller than the D800, yet retain a lot of versatility
- The camera is a decent size
- The shutter is not too loud
- The Nikon Df does not feel like a $2,700 camera
- There is only room for one SD card
- The Shutter speed only goes up to 1/4000 of a second
- The body seems like it has too much plastic
- The battery cover comes off too easily
- The HDR function only works in JPEG mode, not when saving raw + JPEG
Buy now: $2,746.95
Pentax K1 Mk II
The Pentax K1 II is one of the best photographers’ digital cameras ever made, and it’s unfortunate so many overlook this camera just because it says Pentax on it. For the price, it’s hard to find another camera with this much technology in it. The ergonomics are brilliant, and it’s built so tough, you could beat up a bear with it.
The Pentax K1 II has 5-axis IBIS, an Astro tracer mode for astrophotography, a self-leveling sensor, GPS, Pixelshift high-res images, the 36MP sensor captures stunning amounts of detail, and the processor produces colors that will amaze. Will it become a classic? No, but it is one of the best DSLRs you can get. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:
- Enough weather sealing to last a lifetime
- Rock solid build quality
- Easy to read LCD Screen
- In Body Image Stabilization / Pixel Shift
- Gorgeous 100% coverage viewfinder
- Excellent image quality
- Dual SD Card slots
- Great battery life
- That little light above the lens mount
- Only 33 focus points
- Autofocus system won’t win any races
- Extremely heavy
- No touchscreen
Buy now: $1,796.95
Canon EOS RP
Perhaps one of the most recent underappreciated and overlooked digital cameras is the Canon EOS RP. This sub $1,000 Full-Frame camera is a steal, but it gets shunned by many because ‘on paper’ it doesn’t sound that great, but in hand, you’ll find, just as we did, that the EOS RP is a little gem.
The 26.3MP sensor in the Canon EOS RP captures a lot of detail. The RP has a great autofocus system, it uses Canon’s new RF lenses, it has a fully articulating touchscreen, it has one of the best user interfaces in the business, and it’s weather sealed. Did we mention that it’s under $1,000!! This camera is a bargain and is so much better than the spec sheet suggests. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:
- This isn’t Canon innovating on the inside, but instead on the outside
- This is the smallest and lightest ILC full frame camera on the market
- Goes well with a wrist strap and a light prime lens
- Weather sealing
- The autofocus isn’t bad, and it’s quite usable in a number of working conditions
- Pretty good image quality
- Would have been better with a joystick
Buy now: $999