Photography

The 7 best cameras of 2017

The 7 best cameras of 2017
7 cameras that blew us away in 2017
7 cameras that blew us away in 2017
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Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80: affordable superzoom is more than a one-trick pony
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Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80: affordable superzoom is more than a one-trick pony
Fujifilm GFX 50S: medium format for the masses
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Fujifilm GFX 50S: medium format for the masses
Nikon D850: full frame DSLR magnificence
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Nikon D850: full frame DSLR magnificence
Panasonic Lumix GH5: mirrorless pro video powerhouse
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Panasonic Lumix GH5: mirrorless pro video powerhouse
Sony Alpha a9: the best camera we've laid our hands on, by a country mile
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Sony Alpha a9: the best camera we've laid our hands on, by a country mile
Sony RX0: the production-grade action camera
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Sony RX0: the production-grade action camera
Insta360 Air: clips to a smartphone to deliver 360-degree photo and video, pre-stitched together
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Insta360 Air: clips to a smartphone to deliver 360-degree photo and video, pre-stitched together
7 cameras that blew us away in 2017
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7 cameras that blew us away in 2017
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The vast majority of photos taken in 2017 were snapped on mobile phones. Smartphone cameras are getting so good these days that dedicated cameras need to offer something really special to get people to fork over for them – or bother to carry them around. Here's 7 cameras that blew us away in 2017.

Sony Alpha a9: the best camera we've laid our hands on, by a country mile
Sony Alpha a9: the best camera we've laid our hands on, by a country mile

Sony Alpha a9: The day mirrorless took over

If one camera stamped its authority on 2017 for us, it's gotta be the new king of the Sony range. The a9 is a full-frame beast of a thing, the first mirrorless camera that not only equalled the performance of the top DSLRs, but eclipsed them. Lightning-fast, precision-tracking autofocus that blew our tiny minds, 20fps burst shooting, a super high-resolution EVF that doesn't blink when you shoot and one of the most stunning sensors in the business, with super impressive low light performance. The a9 is a glimpse into a true mirrorless future, and by far the best single camera we've ever got our hands on. It's also eye-bleedingly expensive for a pro/prosumer level item.

First impressions and full review of the Sony a9

Buy Sony a9 at Best buy ($4999.99 - body only)

Panasonic Lumix GH5: mirrorless pro video powerhouse
Panasonic Lumix GH5: mirrorless pro video powerhouse

Panasonic Lumix GH5: Portable video powerhouse

Low-budget filmmakers have loved the GH-series cameras for years, but Panasonic far surpassed everyone's expectations when it released the GH5 and threw the kitchen sink at its video capabilities. That sink includes 4K video at 60fps, high-speed 180 fps slow-motion shooting in 1080p, 10-bit 4:2:2 recording in 4K at 24fps and dual in-lens/in-body image stabilization. Videographers that used to have to work their way around the difficulties of filming with a DSLR found themselves with a much lighter, cheaper micro 4/3rds option, designed for the job, that delivered absolutely stunning footage. A lot of terrific work will get done on this camera for years to come – unless the rumored upcoming GH5s ups the ante again.

More on the Panasonic Lumix GH5

Buy Panasonic Lumix GH5 at Best buy ($1999.99 - body only)

Sony RX0: the production-grade action camera
Sony RX0: the production-grade action camera

Sony RX0: Birth of the production-quality action camera

The humble GoPro changed everything. Suddenly, just about anyone could put a camera just about anywhere, and it resulted in some of the most extreme and outrageous footage humanity has ever produced. But GoPro's mini action cameras have never been production quality; you could very much tell the difference when a GoPro shot showed up in a movie. This will not be the case with Sony's RX0 – a GoPro-sized action camera designed for production-level filming. Zeiss glass, a 15.3 megapixel Exmor sensor, and Sony's Bionz X image processing give it impressive imaging capabilities. It's waterproof out of the box up to ten meters, shockproof and crush-proof, and it shoots slow-mo at up to 1,000fps. It takes action cams to a whole new level.

More on the Sony RX0 action camera

Buy Sony RX0 at Best buy ($699.99 - body only)

Nikon D850: full frame DSLR magnificence
Nikon D850: full frame DSLR magnificence

Nikon D850: full-frame DSLR magnificence

If the Sony a9 sounded the death knell for the DSLR, Nikon wasn't paying attention. Using Sony's outstanding sensor technology, Nikon has built a stunning pro-grade full-frame shooter. Boasting a ludicrous 47.5 megapixel resolution and 153-point autofocus engine, the D850 trounces its Canon rivals when it comes to low light, high ISO performance. It can handle 4K video up to 30 frames per second, or full size RAW shooting at up to 7 frames per second – and if 47.5 megapixels is too much, which it will be for the vast majority of real-world use cases, you can choose to shoot RAW in 3 different resolutions to save card space and processing power down the pipeline, and only use the full size shot when you're planning to print things on the sides of trucks.

More on the Nikon D850

Buy Nikon D850 at Best buy ($3299.99 - body only)

Fujifilm GFX 50S: medium format for the masses
Fujifilm GFX 50S: medium format for the masses

Fujifilm GFX 50S: Medium format for the masses

The Pentax 645Z showed us back in 2014 that medium format digital cameras don't need to cost as much as small cars, but Fujifilm has found a way to slash the price of entry again in 2017 with the GFX 50S, a 51.4-megapixel CMOS medium format monster for US$6,500 – not much more than you'd pay for a Nikon D5 or Canon 1DX MkII. It's also impressively compact and portable for a machine with such a whopping big sensor. Weighing in at 825g (29oz), it actually compares to some full frame axes. A tilting touchscreen and detachable EVF round out the versatile shooting abilities of this highly affordable demon of a thing. Mind you, you'll want to save a substantial whack of money for a set of GF series glass to match.

More on the Fujifilm GFX 50S

Buy Fujifilm GFX 50S at Amazon ($6499)

Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80: affordable superzoom is more than a one-trick pony
Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80: affordable superzoom is more than a one-trick pony

Panasonic DC-FZ80: Affordable superzoom imaging

Moving down into the consumer tech price range, the US$400 FZ80 offers a very clear value proposition over the simple smartphone camera: it can zoom in to absolutely obscene levels. Its built-in 60x superzoom offers the equivalent of a 20-1200 mm full frame equivalent lens, which is boosted even further with a 4x electronic zoom until you can damn near look in the windows of passing airliners. Maxed out, you can only fit a quarter of the moon's cratery surface in your shot, and its image stabilization is good enough that you can do a lot of this stuff hand-held. With a tiny sensor, it doesn't offer terrific low-light performance or pro-grade imaging, but it opens up extraordinary perspectives and is just a ton of fun to walk around with.

More on the Panasonic DC-FZ80

Buy Panasonic DC-FZ80 at Amazon ($399.99)

Insta360 Air: clips to a smartphone to deliver 360-degree photo and video, pre-stitched together
Insta360 Air: clips to a smartphone to deliver 360-degree photo and video, pre-stitched together

Insta360 Air: 360-degree photo and video goes mainstream

Full-coverage panoramic video has been around for a while, letting viewers look around inside a piece of footage as if they were right in the middle of the action. But 2017 marked the beginning of super-accessible 360-degree cameras with devices like the US$119 Insta360 Air, which clips on top of a smartphone and enables high-res 360-degree photo and video to be taken and automatically stitched together for instant sharing. It's not pro-grade, not by a long stretch, but it's super simple and fun. We were particularly taken with the Insta360's video editing software, which allows you to morph between different projections of the image to create some wildly trippy visuals like the video below:

Trippy motorcycle ride: where is the camera?

More about the Insta360 Air

Buy Insta360 Air at Bestbuy ($129.99)

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3 comments
andy68
Smart phone cameras are just for capturing a visual record, much like note taking. They are not for taking photographic images, which are an art-form, and require a camera able to adjust depth of field, shutter speed, and framing.
VincentWolf
Camera sells are a dead end proposition now that smart phones are so good. That's why you never see any reviews anymore on dpreview because there is nothing new to review except for professional cameras that only businesses can afford.
JeffK
Smart phones are fine for selfies and wide angle/panorama shots, even video. If you want to zoom in, as I do for wildlife and many other types of photography, they simply can't do it. Also, trying to follow action is a challenge while holding a camera at arms length, not to mention the glasses my 66 year old eyes need to focus on the screen and wear and tear on my arthritic elbows. I researched the Lumix cameras before a 40th Anniversary vacation to Maui in August and ended up buying the DMC-FZ300. It's only $100 U.S. more than the FZ-80 above, but the 24X zoom maintains the F2.8 maximum aperture throughout the zoom range. The focus is lightning fast and the controls are very intuitive; I took over 2,000 photos in 10 days on the island including several of a separated rocket booster falling back through the upper atmosphere while the payload continued climbing. I spotted that accidentally while zooming in on a distant sailboat silhouetted against the setting sun. It wouldn't even have shown up on a phone camera. I have a Pixel XL with a great camera, but use it only for quick snapshots of the grand kids being cute or as andy68 mentions, as a visual note book, i.e. recording a serial number of a new product rather than writing it down. It's a great tool for certain things, but far too limited to use as an all around camera for my purposes.