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DPReview Awards 2019







If 2018 was the year that full-frame mirrorless went mainstream, 2019 was the year when all of the major manufacturers really doubled-down on their mirrorless strategies. Canon pumped out a series of very high quality RF lenses, alongside the world's cheapest full-frame mirrorless camera. Nikon went all-in on its range of affordable F1.8 primes, and Sony pulled out all the stops - yet again - in the a7R IV.

Meanwhile, Olympus threw all of its technological know-how into the sports-oriented OM-D E-M1 X, Fujifilm reinvented medium-format with the GFX 100 and Ricoh's GR III and Leica's Q2 offered a welcome refresh for fans of fixed-focal length compacts.

That's a lot, and it's only a small taste of what happened this year. At the end of every year we get together as a team to recognize the standout products of the past 12 months in our annual DPReview Awards. Take a look through the slides above to find out which products made our list of the best gear of 2019!

Best accessory







Shortlist:

DJI Osmo pocket
DJI Ronin SC
Gnarbox 2.0 SSD
Peak Design Travel Tripod

Runner up: Peak Design Travel Tripod
The role of photography accessories is to play support to your creative endeavors. That can mean support in the traditional sense, like a well-designed travel tripod or 3-axis gimbal rig. Or it can mean support in the form of peace of mind, like a rugged file back-up device.

Our runner-up for best photography accessory, the Peak Design Travel Tripod, falls into the former category. Travel tripods aren't new, but Peak Design has managed to radically rethink the concept to create a package that's significantly more compact than the competition and just as stable, if not more so. Its Arca Swiss-compatible, dual-locking ball head in particular is worth calling out for its clever low-profile design. Available in both aluminum and carbon fiber, this is the travel tripod we'll likely be reaching for in 2020, whenever space is tight.

Read more about the Peak Design Travel Tripod

Winner: GNARBOX 2.0 SSD







The Gnarbox 2.0 brings calm to the often chaotic world of photography. It's the friend in the field you always wanted: a rugged (weather, dust and impact-resistant) SSD (available in 256GB, 512GB and 1TB) with built-in SD reader and super-fast transfer speeds (up to 350MB/s). It's there to protect all your precious data until you get it home for a full backup.

One-touch copying and an info LCD make it effortless to start transferring and confirm files have been properly duplicated. And for those eager to get ahead on their edits, Gnarbox will pair with a smart device so that you can sort and tag (using Photo Mechanic's image engine). But that's not all: Gnarbox also has swappable batteries and can even be used to charge other devices via a Micro-USB port. It'll also play nice with Apple's iPad Pro, with support for programs like Adobe Lightroom and Affinity Photo, when connected via its USB-C port. What more could you ask for?

Read more about the GNARBOX 2.0 SSD

Best smartphone camera







Shortlist:

Apple iPhone 11 Pro
Google Pixel 4
Huawei P30 Pro
Samsung Galaxy S10 5G

Runner up: Apple iPhone 11 Pro
The iPhone 11 Pro is a significant step forward for Apple, and from a pure experience standpoint, is the nicest smartphone camera to use today. Its bright screen combined with HDR playback of photos makes the on-device experience of shooting and enjoying photos industry-leading. And unlike any other smartphone camera to-date, iPhones since the iPhone X utilize the wide P3 color space, meaning more life-like color capture and rendition.

A new ultra-wide lens allows for dramatic perspectives, and wide angle portrait mode - utilizing the main camera module - makes it easy to shoot more intimate perspectives of your loved ones and pets, with better image quality than the standard portrait mode offers. Editing photos, depth effects, and video is pleasing thanks to the Photos app updates, and clever features like 'capture outside the frame' offer creative uses of the phone's three lenses. Video quality is superb, with HDR capture up to 4K/60p.

We have some reservations over the warm and green-shifted colors, overly-processed faces from semantic rendering choices, significant lag in portrait mode, and image quality artifacts including banding, aggressive noise reduction and over-sharpening, but as an all-rounder, the iPhone 11 Pro is hard to beat.

Read more about the Apple iPhone 11 Pro

Winner: Google Pixel 4







The Pixel 4 offers compelling still image quality. If you shoot Night Sight - even during daylight hours - you'll be rewarded with some of the best detail retention and balanced noise reduction we've seen from a smartphone. It only gets better in Raw, since the DNGs produced by the Pixel 4 are the result of aligning and merging multiple frames. A new astrophotography mode is not just cool but inspiring, and also benefits any nighttime scene where longer exposures can be used. The combination of super-res zoom and a new telephoto module make 'zoomed in' photos better than many peers. And unlike the iPhone, you can continue to use the telephoto module in dim light.

New 'dual exposure controls' allow you to fine tune the 'look' of the resulting HDR image in real-time. Portrait mode has been improved to yield bokeh similar to what you'd expect from ILCs, with fewer depth map errors and virtually no shutter lag. As such, the Pixel 4 is truly an enthusiast's smartphone camera. We have reservations over its video quality, display, as well as certain metering and image processing choices, but its strong core competency in stills makes it our winner.

Read more about the Google Pixel 4

Best zoom lens







Shortlist:

Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM
Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM
Nikon Z 24-70mm F2.8 S
Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm F1.7 ASPH
Sony E 16-55mm F2.8 G

Runner-up: Nikon Z 24-70mm F2.8 S
Every year we struggle to narrow down the number of lenses released to a shortlist of just four or five. This year saw a lot of action in the lens space, with both Canon and Nikon putting considerable energy into building out their native mirrorless lens lineup, and Sigma, Sony and Tamron doing the same.

One of the zoom lenses that has most impressed us this year is Nikon's Z 24-70mm F2.8 S. Built for use in difficult conditions, the Z 24-70mm is tough and weather-sealed, but more than that, it's optically outstanding. Sharp, virtually aberration-free and extremely flare-resistant, the Z 24-70mm F2.8 really lets Z7 shooters make the most out of their camera's resolution, for anything from landscapes to portraiture.

Read more about the Nikon Z 24-70mm F2.8 S

Winner: Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM







We really, really like the Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM. It's small (at 70mm), relatively lightweight, autofocus is lightning fast and silent, and its optical image stabilization system is excellent.

The 70-200mm represents the first time we've seen Nano USM technology incorporated in fast L-series glass, and the increase in focus speed is dramatic compared to ring-type USM on EF lenses. But perhaps the most impressive thing about this lens is its optical quality. Contrast and sharpness are class-leading wide open at all focal lengths, bokeh is smooth with no distracting patterns, and both longitudinal and lateral forms of chromatic aberration are very well controlled.

This is the most impressive 70-200mm F2.8 lens we've ever seen, in a surprisingly compact form factor, and a worthy winner of our award for best zoom lens of 2019.

Read more about the Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM

Best prime lens







Shortlist:

Tamron SP 35mm F1.4 Di USD
Sigma 35mm F1.2 DG DN | Art
Sony FE 135mm F1.8 GM
Nikon Nikkor Z 85mm F1.8 S

Runner-up: Sony FE 135mm F1.8 GM
There were so many great prime lenses released this year, and inevitably, it's near-impossible to reduce the list to just four. This 'shortlist' could have been at least twice as long and we would still have had to omit some great lenses. But the primes listed above represent our favorites of 2019, not only because of their optical quality, but also their versatility and overall value for money.

Among the most impressive lenses of any type released this year was the Sony FE 135mm F1.8 GM. Designed for portrait fans, the 135mm F1.8 is stunningly sharp and delivers beautiful images at its widest apertures. It's virtually aberration free, and is the fastest-to-focus lens of its kind. Sony's optical science has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years and the FE 135mm F1.8 is an excellent example of the company's current state-of-the-art. While 135mm isn't necessarily an everyday focal length, the Sony FE 135mm F1.8 GM is arguably the best option on the market right now for portrait shooters.

Read more about the Sony FE 135mm F1.8 GM

Winner: Nikon Nikkor Z 85mm F1.8 S







Nikon's S-series prime lenses for the Z system have impressed us this year with their performance, not to mention their versatility and value. All sub-$1000 and all relatively small and lightweight, the best of Nikon's new F1.8 options outperform many faster lenses that cost considerably more.

The Z 85mm F1.8 S is a great example. Sharp, virtually aberration-free and still nicely portable, this portrait prime isn't as fast as some of its competitors, or as polished as (say) the Sony FE 135mm F1.8 which takes the runner-up spot, but it's a supremely practical, useful lens. With its smooth bokeh, the Z 85mm F1.8 S is, of course, a fantastic portrait lens for Z6 and Z7 shooters, and a nifty 135mm equivalent on the APS-C Z50. But its size and weight, plus its superb sharpness make it just as useful for landscape and candid work.

Read more about the Nikon Nikkor Z 85mm F1.8 S

Best compact/fixed lens camera







Shortlist:

Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II
Leica Q2
Ricoh GR III
Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VII

Runner-up: Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VII
This is always a tricky category, spanning multiple sensor formats and including both zoom and fixed focal length lenses. This year saw the release of some very impressive - and very different - compact / fixed-lens compact cameras, from the high-end Leica Q2 to the more consumer-friendly Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II.

Despite their different shapes, sizes and prices, all of the cameras in this section cater to the same basic need: high quality imaging, in a compact form factor. Our runner-up this year is Sony's best RX100-series camera yet. A small, powerful zoom with a high-quality EVF, great video and formidable autofocus, the RX100 VII is a near-perfect camera for travel and everyday photography and video. Inevitably it's not cheap, but this kind of technology never is.

Read more about the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VII

Winner: Ricoh GR III







First announced in 2018, the GR III was released this year and quickly became one of our favorite compact cameras. Small and lightweight, but with a stabilized sensor and capable of stunning image quality the GR III is - like the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VII - a wonderful camera for travel and everyday photography.

Yes, the lens is a fixed 28mm equivalent. No, the video mode isn't great, but this is a pure photography camera, capable of getting you images that larger, heavier or more complicated models simply won't.

Read more about the Ricoh GR III

Best consumer stills / video camera







Shortlist:

Fujifilm GFX 100
Panasonic Lumix DC-S1
Panasonic Lumix DC-S1H
Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VII

Runner up: Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VII
While the RX100-series has always been primarily about stills photography, Sony has evolved its range of high-quality 1-inch sensor compacts into powerful video tools, as well. The Mark VII captures oversampled UHD 4K video, Full HD at up to 120 fps and lower resolution video with a top frame rate of almost 1000 fps. Unlike its predecessor, the RX100 VII has a built-in mic input.

In short: the RX100 VII offers excellent 4K video, very good autofocus and a handy built-in finder, making it exceptionally versatile for photographers that need to capture both stills and movie footage.

Read more about the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VII

Winner: Panasonic Lumix DC-S1







It might seem odd having both the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 and S1H on the same list, for best stills / video hybrid camera and have the S1 beat its more video-centric stablemate, but this is precisely the point. With the S1H in the pipeline, Panasonic didn't need to make the S1 as good for video as it did, and it certainly didn't need to make it even better with a paid firmware update.

With the paid update, the S1 becomes a formidable camera for video, even to the extent that the costlier S1H may prove unnecessary for many filmmakers. We've done a lot of shooting this year on the S1 and it's an impressive machine from a manufacturer that perhaps more than any other, really knows how to do video right.

Read more about the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1

Best entry-level ILC







Shortlist:

Canon EOS M200
Fujifilm X-A7
Olympus PEN E-PL10
Sony a6100

Runner-up: Fujifilm X-A7
While a lot of attention gets paid to the high-end and professional market segments, often the most important cameras in a manufacturer's lineup are at the entry-level. The reason they're so important is that these are the products which - it is hoped - will attract new customers into a system.

The Fujifilm X-A7 is a significant camera for Fujifilm, and a great all-round option for beginner photographers in general. Significant for Fujifilm because it's the company's first entry-level offering that has really impressed us, and a great entry-level camera because it does exactly what a camera aimed at first-time buyers and smartphone upgraders should. It's simple, streamlined, reliable and responsive, and can easily transition between stills and high-quality video.

Read more about the Fujifilm X-A7

Winner: Canon EOS M200







If there's one thing Canon knows how to do it's make an attractive, sensibly-designed entry-level ILC. The EOS M200 is the company's latest, and while it doesn't represent a massive upgrade compared to the M100, the changes are very welcome including one change in particular - Eye Detect autofocus. Assuming that a lot of us (and arguably most beginners) will take a lot of pictures of friends and family, the addition of eye detection to the M200's autofocus mode really does make a big difference. Canon has also added 4K video capture and 'CRaw', for Raw format shooting without the massive file sizes.

Overall, the Canon EOS M200 doesn't bring much to the table which is genuinely 'new' but its combination of features, easy to operate design, and reliable image quality make it a great entry-level ILC, and our favorite of 2019.

Read more about the Canon EOS M200

Best midrange ILC







Shortlist:

Canon EOS M6 Mark II
Fujifilm X-T30
Nikon Z50
Sony a6600

Runner-up: Nikon Z50
We define 'midrange' cameras as those transitional models between entry-level and enthusiast / pro which need to be able to work for inexperienced and more seasoned photographers alike.

Nikon's first APS-C format mirrorless camera is also one of its most user-friendly. Intended to be picked up by first-time ILC buyers and smartphone upgraders, the Z50 is designed to be simple and straightforward to use, but isn't 'dumbed down'. Featuring a high-quality electronic viewfinder, twin control dials and photographer-friendly ergonomics, the Z50 is a camera that leaves plenty of room for a beginner to experiment and grow creatively.

Read more about the Nikon Z50

Winner: Canon EOS M6 Mark II







Canon has been making good, solid interchangeable lens cameras for a really long time, and this experience shows in products like the EOS M6 Mark II. A really great camera doesn't need to do everything better than its competitors, it just has to do everything well enough, without getting in the way of your creativity.

The EOS M6 Mark II reaffirms Canon’s commitment to its compact, mirrorless EF-M system. After years of competent but usually beginner-focused models, the M6 II comes out swinging as a convincing option for more advanced users. Its new 32.5MP sensor has impressive resolution and dynamic range, the 14 fps maximum burst speed with autofocus is competitive, and its 4K video uses the full width of the sensor.

It doesn’t hands-down beat any of its competitors in any specific area, but as an all-around package, the M6 Mark II easily won us over for best midrange ILC of 2019.

Read more about Canon's EOS M6 Mark II

Best high-end ILC







Shortlist:

Fujifilm GFX 100
Olympus OM-D E-M1X
Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R
Sony a7R IV

Runner-up: Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R
The Lumix DC-S1R will tick a ton of boxes for a ton of photographers, which is all the more impressive given that it’s Panasonic’s first full-frame offering (alongside the lower-resolution DC-S1). It’s built like a tank and all of the buttons and dials feel like they’re in just the right place.

The 47MP sensor at the heart of the S1R isn’t class-leading at this point, but it’s still capable of producing excellent image quality in almost any situation. Unfortunately, the DC-S1R falls somewhat short in terms of autofocus and tracking. While it can drive focus very quickly using Panasonic’s DFD technology, it just can’t quite keep up with competitors’ on-sensor phase detection systems for accuracy when photographing moving subjects.

Read more about the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R

Winner: Sony a7R IV







The fourth iteration of Sony’s high-resolution mirrorless full-frame camera is the most capable, well-rounded interchangeable lens camera on the market today. It shoots 60.2MP files, offers industry-leading autofocus tracking, is capable of 10fps continuous bursts and shoots the best 4K video of any high-resolution camera you can buy. Plus, Sony claims weather-sealing has been improved, battery life is well above average and ergonomic tweaks have made it more comfortable and enjoyable to use than previous models.

The a7R IV is a camera that you really can shoot just about anything with, from action sports to billboard-ready landscapes, and because of that, it earns the distinction of being our high-end ILC of the year.

Read more about the Sony a7R IV

DPReview innovation award







Shortlist:

Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM
Fujifilm GFX 100
Olympus OM-D E-M1X
Peak Design Travel Tripod

Runner-up: Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM
Optically the RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM is stunning, but it's also a marvel of engineering. At its short end, it collapses down to a barrel size not much longer than that of the RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM. At 1070g, it's 26% lighter than its EF equivalent, and feels surprisingly light in one's hands, and well-balanced on an EOS R body. Optical image stabilization offers an impressive CIPA rating of 5 stops. Combined with dual-sensing IS on EOS R bodies, you can expect tack sharp handheld shots on the long end at shutter speeds as low as 1/13s.

If that's not innovative, we don't know what is.

Read more about the Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM

Winner: Fujifilm GFX 100







While very little about the GFX 100 is new or unique to this model, what counts is how all the ingredients are mixed together. The addition of in-camera stabilization, impressive video capture and hybrid on-sensor PDAF to the medium format world makes the Fujifilm GFX 100 among the most capable and most innovative cameras out there.

Fujifilm has been working hard to democratize digital medium format for a couple of years, but with the 100 megapixel GFX 100, the company completely changed our understanding of what a medium format camera could be.

Read more about the Fujifilm GFX 100

DPReview product of the year, 2019







Shortlist:

Apple iPhone 11 Pro
Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM
Fujifilm GFX 100
Sony a7R IV

Runner-up: Fujifilm GFX 100
As we wrote in the previous slide, the GFX 100 really did turn our idea of what a medium format camera could do on its head. While the MSRP of almost ten grand puts it out of reach to most non-professional photographers, there is an audience out there for cameras like this, and Fujifilm has done a great job of catering to them.

Pro wedding and event photographers, portrait and lifestyle shooters, and even a certain type of videographer have kept the GFX 100 on more or less continuous backorder since it was released. You may not need 100MP, but some people do. And the GFX 100, with Fujifilm's range of excellent GF lenses, makes 100MP shooting practical and enjoyable.

Read more about the Fujifilm GFX 100

Winner: Sony Alpha a7R IV







Sony is one of the more divisive brands on our site, partly because of a perception that it gets more attention than other manufacturers. This perception stems from two factors: firstly, Sony has released an astonishing number of high-end products in the past handful of years. Secondly, they have tended to be very good.

Taken as a whole, the a7R IV is Sony's best mirrorless camera yet. The enthusiast-focused a7 III continues to top the best-seller lists but if you want the highest resolution, the best autofocus system and some of the best video features on the market (not just in Sony's own product lineup) the a7R IV is where it's at. A true 'flagship', the a7R IV has undoubtedly benefited this year from no direct competition from Canon or Nikon, but it will take an unusually good product from either manufacturer to make the a7R IV look uncompetitive in 2020.

Read more about the Sony a7R IV
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