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Camera gear of the year

2018 was a strong year in the photography world with a lot of exciting new cameras, lenses and accessories. Here are the top ten products I reviewed this year in no particular order! PS – if you’re looking for general recommendations across all categories, check out my Best Camera Guides!

 

 

 

WD My Passport drive

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My first recommendation is a portable drive for backup, and this year I reviewed the WD My Passport Ultra 4TB model. Backing-up your data is an important habit we all need to adopt, and a crucial part of that process is transporting the backup to a different location to better protect it from fire, flood and theft. This is why portable drives are so useful. They can store and transport a large quantity of data quickly and easily – just one USB cable will copy the data and power the drive, and once complete they’re small enough to slip in a pocket. Cloud-based backups can also provide a additional layer of protection, but using your own drive gives you control over the process and independence from third-party services. See my WD My Passport review for more details. Check prices on the WD My Passport Ultra at Amazon, B&H, or Adorama. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!

 

DJI Mavic 2

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DJI continued to assert itself as the drone market leader in 2018 with several impressive quads, but for me the most compelling of all was the Mavic 2, available in two versions depending on which camera you prefer: the Zoom model has a 2x optical zoom allowing unique video perspectives as well as a cunning photo stitch mode, while the Pro model packs a fixed lens with a larger 1in sensor, providing greater overall dynamic range and reduced noise in low light. Crucially the Mavic 2 brings these photo and video capabilities at a lower price than ever before, making it the drone(s) many of us have been waiting for. See my DJI Mavic 2 review for more details. Buy the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, or Wex. Buy the DJI Mavic 2 Pro at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, or Wex. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!

 

Sony RX100 VI

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Sony’s sixth-generation RX100 is its most compelling travel zoom for enthusiasts to date. It packs the 1in sensor of the earlier RX100 V with its confident autofocus, 4k video, fast burst shooting and unique slow motion options, but couples it with a much longer 24-200mm zoom in a body that’s only 1.8mm thicker than before. Longer zooms in small bodies often involve compromises, but Sony’s new lens delivers impressively good results across the range, and the addition of a touchscreen and Bluetooth for easy location-tagging, further enhance the package. The Mark V may remain more compelling for dedicated vloggers due to its brighter lens and built-in ND filter, but for everyone else, the RX100 VI is a supremely powerful compact. See my Sony RX100 VI review for more details. Check prices on the Sony RX100 VI at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, or Wex. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!

 

Fujifilm X-T3

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Fujifilm’s X-T3 is one of my favourite cameras of the year, taking the already lovely X-T2 and turbo-boosting its autofocus, burst shooting and video capabilities, while also adding a bunch of smaller but still useful upgrades around the camera. It may lack built-in stabilisation and have an unremarkable battery, but in terms of results out-of-camera, usability and sheer enjoyment, I find it hard to beat for the money. It also means the previous X-T2 is now available at lower prices for those who don’t need the focus, speed and video upgrades. See my Fujifilm X-T3 review for more details. Check prices on the Fujifilm X-T3 at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, or Wex. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!

 

Canon EOS M50

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Canon’s EOS M50 is one of the best mid-range cameras on the market, whether DSLR or mirrorless. Its 4k video may be limited, but the combination of a 24 Megapixel APSC sensor with confident focus, a viewfinder, fully articulated touchscreen, mic input and great wireless packed into a small and cute body is hard to resist. A solid choice for general-use and perfect for vlogging too. See my Canon EOS M50 review for more details. Check prices on the Canon EOS M50 at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, or Wex. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!

 

Sony A7 III

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Long before Canon and Nikon even announced their full-frame mirrorless cameras, Sony launched the product they needed to beat: the A7 III. In terms of overall features and performance, Sony has nothing to worry about from its new rivals, packing a 24 Megapixel full-frame sensor, built-in stabilisation, confident autofocus, great 4k video, fast burst shooting, dual card slots and an impressive battery. There is no better camera at this price point. See my Sony A7 III review for more details. Check prices on the Sony A7 III at Amazon, B&H, or Adorama, or Wex. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!

 

Sigma 56mm f1.4

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2018 may have been the year of full-frame mirrorless, but owners of APSC and Micro Four Thirds bodies still have much to be happy about. In particular, Sigma’s 56mm f1.4 is a lovely new short-telephoto lens for Sony E and Micro Four Thirds mounts, ideal for events, weddings and portraits, not to mention tighter views of urban or natural landscapes. With sharp results and attractive rendering packed into a compact barrel that’s an ideal match for smaller systems, it’s already one of my favourite lenses of 2018. See my Sigma 56mm f1.4 review for more details. Check prices on the Sigma 56mm f1.4 at B&H, Adorama, or Wex. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!

 

Panasonic Lumix G9

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Panasonic’s Lumix G9 was launched towards the end of 2017, but as I completed my review of it in 2018 I can include it here. In a market increasingly promoting full-frame, the G9’s Four Thirds sensor can’t help but seem small. But unless you’re working in extremely low light or need the broadest dynamic range, you’re unlikely to be disappointed by the results. I’ve shot with the G9 throughout the year and always been impressed by its quality and overall handling, and it remains one of the most affordable cameras with 4k at 60p. It’s still a solid contender, especially now at discounted prices, and lest we forget it has access to the broadest range of native mirrorless lenses. See my Lumix G9 review for more details. Check prices on the Panasonic Lumix G9 at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, or Wex. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!

 

Fujifilm Instax SQ6

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Fujifilm’s SQ6 was the first fully-analogue instant camera to use its latest square print format. Styled like a giant Instagram logo and outputting scaled-down versions of classic Polaroid prints, the SQ6 is great fun to use and more affordable and less fussy than the original SQ10 or more recent SQ20 digital versions. For me the appeal of instant photography is the one-off nature of the prints and the anticipation as you wait to see how they turn out – something that’s lost with digital previews. The Mini 9 cameras and cartridges may be cheaper, but I prefer the shape of the square prints, so for instant photography, the SQ6 is my current pick! See my Instax SQ6 review for more details. Check prices on the Fujifilm Instax SQ6 at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, or Wex. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!

 

BenQ SW271

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While more and more of us use laptops for work you still can’t beat the real-estate of a large monitor when it comes to photo and video editing. The ability to view more of an image at high magnification, scan through large numbers of thumbnails at a time, or work on a video timeline without constantly zooming in and out is an enormous time-saver and productivity enhancer. This year I reviewed the BenQ SW271 and promptly bought it afterwards. This 27in monitor features 4k resolution, high colour accuracy with the full Adobe RGB gamut, a wealth of connectivity and basic HDR support, all at a much more affordable price than traditional pro displays. See my BenQ SW271 review for more details. Check prices on the BenQ SW271 Monitor at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, or Wex. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!

 

Those are the top ten products I’ve reviewed in 2018, but as it’s the holiday season, here’s two more bonus items I’d like to mention!

 

Feisol TT-15

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First is the Feisol TT-15, the best table-top tripod I’ve owned and an accessory that’s so useful it literally never leaves my bag. It may be small, but the carbon fiber legs; aluminium frame and rubber feet give it surprising strength and stability. It’ll happily support everything from a compact to a medium-sized camera, including a DSLR, or an accessory like a microphone. I’ve used it for filming or shooting long exposures and it’s never let me down. Sure it’s more expensive than budget models, but it’s one of the best accessories I’ve bought for under $70. See my Feisol TT-15 review for more details. Check prices on the Feisol TT15 II at Amazon, B&H, or Adorama. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!

 

In Camera book

And finally I can’t put together a gear guide without mentioning my book In Camera! Rather than persuading you to shoot in RAW and spend ages adjusting and correcting with post-processing, I’d encourage you to try and get the effect you want in-camera. The book features 100 of my own travel photos, all JPEGs out-of-camera with no post-processing, and packed with tips and techniques. If you buy a copy, you’ll also be helping to support my reviews here and at cameralabs, so thank you very much! Buy a copy of In Camera by Gordon Laing at Amazon.

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