Every year , comes New year Eve, some things are given like Fireworks, NY eve’s parties. In the Photo world the guaranteed occurrence is the proliferation of “best cameras of the year”. There is no denying the strong appeal of Top 5 -or Top 10 lists, but I see no need to add to this frenzy. When looking at such “best of the year” rankings , it is important to keep a few things in mind :
1./ A best camera of the year makes no sense if all categories are mixed. Someone who is hesitating between say a Nikon pro DSLR or its Canon counterpart would have little interest in the new “high end compact” from say Panasonic or Sony.
2/ If you look at enough magazines and sites, you will see that most, if not all, major products from each manufacturer is going to make the list somewhere. Lots of big review sites or magazines are dependant on some advertising income from those same brands and in this case, it is very understandable to know they are in a peculiar situation. Let us not get confused. I am not saying that they would promote a clearly flawed camera but in today’s market , it is easy to focus on the positive sides of a given product.
3/ Most of the reviews sites do not keep the products for a long time and are influences by the equipment they work with. so I encourage you to take some of them with a grain of salt. Having a bias or strongly rooted preferences is normal. It is just important that you know which they are when you read a review.
While, I find it useless to make a list of best camera(s) of 2016, It might be useful to review the most significant camera introductions for each brand:
Speaking about biases, it is important to remember MINE 😉 . I do not consider pure video cameras, drone or specific use devices, only still cameras. (and no lenses either)
Though they introduced several new products, I would not include any Canon bodies. Yes, Canon introduced its most serious mirrorless camera yet with the Canon M5. It is arguably the first “serious” body in the M line and this may be a good choice for a dedicated canon user or a nice back-up body for an Eos DSLR user. However , I would NOT recommend it to anyone else outside these two categories because of the VERY limited lens line-up. The fact that Canon chose to introduce another entry level zoom with the introduction of the M5 speaks volume about Canon not being sure which target to aim at with its mirrorless line.
The other big player in the digital camera industry had a mixed year. The DL line was announced early on in 2016 and is still nowhere in sight and some serious quality control issues on some of its DSLR’s models. However there is no doubt that the D500 is a solid and long awaited model in its DX line (DSLR with APS size sensors). Major downside with this very proficient body is that Nikon continues to neglects its DX lens line-up which somewhat limits the interest of this model.
Sony introduced several new models on different segments as it has been the case for several years now. The new A6500 will probably make the list of most sites/magazines. It is basically a speedier A6300. Of course Sony continued with ANOTHER version of its popular compact RX100 now in its FIFTH iteration. It is worth noticing that this model is not scheduled to replace the IV and that with pricing Sony continues to sell all of its RX100 models ( although the I is on its way out). The Sony RX100 mark V while being very popular to me does not seem to me a very valid choice at its current $998 price point !
Another new product was the Sony Rx 10 III which occupies the expert bridge camera segment. While it brings some improvements over its predecessor, it would not make my list because Sony’s only competitor on this small market is Panasonic has brought a much more rounded-up product with the Panasonic Z2000/2500 (model number changes depending on the market)
PENTAX/ RICOH :
No new GR this year unfortunately. Pentax FINALLY introduced the long-promised 35mm DSLR and it is a beauty : the Pentax K1. Granted this is not a small camera and as a travel photographer , some might be turned out by its size. That being said, Pentax managed to bring a different product with high quality built and serious weather-sealing and some useful innovations (GPS, Pixel shift, multi directional LCD..). More impressive all of this comes at a VERY reasonable pricepoint making it in my opinion the BEST VALUE for the money in a 35mm DSLR.
If you own or plan to own this camera a lens you should absolutely get when it is still available is the amazing limited series 1.8/77mm
Fuji could pretend to TWO models on the list of best for 2016 with the XT-2 and the Xpro2. the Xpro2 comes to replace the Xpro1 version more than FOUR years after, which is an eternity in the universe of digital products ! I would not necessarily recommend it to a traveler because of its size and weight similar to a 35mm sensor despite featuring an APS sensor but there is no doubt that it has its cult followers. The Fuji X lens line up is decent in terms of number of references and include some very high quality glass.
The XT-2 replaces the two year old XT1 and ads several improvements making it usually listed as the best new APS mirrorless hybrid currently . A Graphite silver version was just announced for both models.
To be continued.. stay tuned