Top 12 cameras of 2012

12-cameras-2012

So its been an amazing year and honestly so many good cameras have been released in the last 12 months that was hard to keep the list short. Worth mentioning some slots have more than one camera but because makers have basically the same product with different features for different prices and that’s it.

1- Nikon D800/E

12-cameras-2012-nikonD800

This camera was highly anticipated because to a lot of people was holding their breath for a D700 replacement with more megapixels and of course with video functionality. Well in this case Nikon deliver a massive sensor featuring 36 mp and of course video functionality well implemented in the camera for those that had a lot of Nikkor glass and wanted to put them into use for videography including the first ever headphone jack for monitoring audio levels. One thing that it really draw a lot of attention was the clean HDMI output with 1080p 30fps with a improved color space of 4:2:2 uncompressed for better color reproduction and way more information for those that want to color grade and color correct their videos in post production.

The 36mp sensor, digital video crop to 1.5x DX image and clean 4:2:2 HDMI output are what help this camera win over the Canon 5D Mark III which is in second position.

2- Canon 5D Mark III

12-cameras-2012-canon5Dmk3

One of the most anticipated cameras of the year ever since the Mark II was released in 2008 giving the HD SLR video its big moment by giving the public a camera that could produce such a great video quality in 1080p people have been expecting its successor. So Canon provided a camera that improved picture quality even though just increased the pixel count just a bit because apparently was the best solution to keep everything under control. Now includes a lot more controls that were previously only available with Magic Lantern hack such as live audio levels on screen and other features.

Biggest feature missing is the clean HDMI output to be able to use an external recorder, but Canon representatives already said there is going to be a firmware update in early 2013 to make this possible, but still wonder if it will be 4:2:2 output instead of the internal 4:2:0 but guess we all will have to wait.

3- Sony RX100

12-cameras-2012-sonyRX100

Thanks to the way technology works the big dSLR aren’t for the professional or the wealthy and even with so many options in the interchangeable mid range cameras are having a nice time in all their flavors but some just want a pocket friendly camera that has a fixed zoom lens with loads of manual controls and a huge sensor that helps you in poorly lit environments.

The RX100 comes with a fast lens at the wide end with a f/1.8 that will help you to get the pictures at low light situations also with the new Bionz image processor and a 28 – 100mm equivalent Zeiss lens. And ever since Sony released the Exmor-R sensor technology their overall image quality is keeping up with the competition, even though we all know they share it with Nikon too. But is seriously worth every penny you spend on it and will keep most of you really happy to have such a powerful camera in your pockets.

4- FujiFilm X-Pro1 and X-E1

12-cameras-2012-fujifilmXpro1

To a lot of people FujiFilm its just been a sleeping giant for many years and they did their homework really well by developing a one of a kind Color Filter Array (CFA) that tries to replicate the randomness found on actual film to avoid moiré and false color even without the use of a low-pass-filter which has to be used with regular Bayer sensors because they are keen to artifacts when comes to fine repeated patterns such as fabric and make it lose resolution.

12-cameras-2012-fujifilmXe1

And something that really professionals and enthusiasts loved about it is how old fashion and yet technologically advanced these cameras are. Either the X-Pro1 or the X-E1 will give you that vintage looking camera with great image quality and an superb color rendition.

5- Sony 24mp trio: A99, NEX-VG900, RX1

In this category I wanted to keep it just as singles but since Sony found a way to use the very same 24mp sensor (curiously the same mega pixel count as the D600, wink wink) in three different cameras for three different applications which is a smart way to get the most out of the money invested in the development.

12-cameras-2012-sonyA99

First we have the SLR version in the A99 which is to me the best tool for SLR videography because of all the features that it has from in-camera SteadyShot and focus peaking to the most advanced ones like multi-interface hot-shoe to attach pro-level XLR audio and the simultaneous in camera 4:2:0 recording with a clean 4:2:2 output, which is the first and only one camera in this range able to do it.

12-cameras-2012-sonyNexVg900e

Second we have the camcorder version with the NEX-VG900 featuring the E-Mount meaning they want you to use any kind of lens that you want, even though they do provide the LA-EA adapter for those with alpha lenses but there is an adapter to turn the NEX E-Mount to any mount you want and still use all the fine glass you already have. Comes with a impressive built-in microphone that can capture surround sound and also shares the multi-interface hot-shoe with the A99 that allows you to use XLR audio inputs.

12-cameras-2012-sonyRX1

Then comes what at first glance is just a typical small camera with a fixed lens but indeed is something unique. The RX1 is a full frame camera that comes with a Zeiss 35mm f/2.0 lens that gives you all the advantages the bigger sensor has but in a very small package. Sure is not for everybody but we have to give Sony credit for doing something a lot of enthusiast were expecting, great street photography discreet camera. And is worth mentioning that has a lens full of manual controls from focus to aperture and a great macro ring that moves the lens elements forward to let you focus really really close, I can imagine great food pictures taken with this camera.

6- GoPro Hero3

12-cameras-2012-goproHero3

In the action camera market there is one name that comes to mind and is GoPro. And with their latest camera Hero3 they really outdid themselves again providing a POV camera that can shoot as big as 4k resolution (even though is just 15fps still amazing) and with increased frames per second for 1080p now at 60fps and 720p with 120fps. But for the real action footage the resolutions you might want to try are the odd settings of 2.7k 30fps, 1440p 48fps and 960p 100fps. Those resolutions are bigger to help you stabilize the video in post production and still have a proper standard resolution of either 1080p or 720p and the end which gives you a lot more chances to have a steady shot even from the fastest kayak ride. Also something for the advanced shooters there is ProTune settings that help you have a flatter color profile and gives you more like a raw footage more suitable for post production steps such as color grading and color correction.

Its YouTube promo video now has over 14 million views! Here it is in case you were living under a rock the last few months.

7- Sony NEX-5R, NEX-6

As the next iteration in the NEX mirrorless cameras with the new BIONZ image processor handling everything in a different way Sony wants to increase the appeal for those looking for a small camera that is fully capable of doing everything they want. Both cameras use a 16.1mp sensor but have features for different kind of photographer. Even better with the inclusion of WiFi to both cameras that will let you upload and share the pictures without any other hardware needed.

12-cameras-2012-sonyNex5r

The NEX-5R has a 180 degree tilt-able LCD touch screen that sure can help when doing some extreme shots without having to make those awkward positions.

12-cameras-2012-sonyNex6

While the NEX-6 loses the tilt-able LCD but you gain a Electronic ViewFinder (EVF) and a hot-shoe with a multi-interface contacts that even though Sony still don’t release which accessories will work and also you still have on board flash so buying an external flash still not mandatory.

Both have a new idea from Sony to have applications that you can install at will for different features such as timelapse and some other artistic modes.

8- Nikon D600

12-cameras-2012-nikonD600

Finally Nikon heard the masses requesting a cheaper Full Frame for the enthusiast that don’t want to fork out a massive amount of cash and would be happy with a simpler full frame with smaller pixel count than the D800. Basically the D600 is D800 little brother. The camera itself holds pretty good by its specs against the Canon 6D and actually wins in the head to head competition. Including clean HDMI output in 4:2:2 compression for those wanting to use external recorders that might use better codecs such as ProRes or Avid DNxHD like the Atomos Ninja.

Includes features that were released in the Nikon D4 but where missing in the D800 such as built-in timelapse recording function where you leave the camera taking the pictures and everything is processed in-camera giving you only a video output with all the pictures stitched together in a Full HD video. Might be something really nice for those that just want a video out of the timelapse without needing to process high amounts of data at the end. Note that as I said no individual pictures are saved .

9- Lytro

12-cameras-2012-lytro

Just when we thought we knew how the photos were suppose to be captured. Then here comes a small company with a camera called Lytro and changes everything telling everybody you no longer need to “focus before taking the picture” with light field technology that lets you select which areas.

Internally has a constant f/2.0 and multi lens array inside that can record direction of the light and that is what lets the camera lets you focus after the fact. As with any new gadget still room for improvement but still a great idea.

10- Panasonic Lumix LX7

12-cameras-2012-panasonicLX7

Panasonic always found a way to lure me to read the reviews and watch all videos about their Lumix cameras and is because ever since I laid my hands in one over 5 years ago I knew how great were the pictures taken and how well made it was. And the LX7 is not exception to this rule with its ultra fast lens aperture of f/1.4 to turbo charge its performance under low light where lets be honest point and shoot cameras always have struggled to perform good when available light. The LX7 feels great in the hand with a nice button layout. And its size helps you have a better grip specially when using the optional EVF for taking pictures so the fingers are in the right place to handle the camera without taking your eye away from it.

Is not the smallest Point and Shoot in the market but sure can fit into a jacket’s pocket but its size is due to accommodate that fast lens and right in the lens barrel you will find an odd ring to change the aspect ratio which I don’t find useful because in all these years still have not changed aspect in any of my digital cameras but who knows. Also there is an aperture ring and a switch that lets you use it to pull focus with it. Sure the LX7 is one of those rare cases where a little point and shoot camera gives an amazing color reproduction, in fact one of the best of its class. And has ND filters which is a rare inclusion for this range of camera, but sure it will help to stay at fast apertures when shooting in broad daylight. 

11- Olympus OM-D E-M5

12-cameras-2012-olympusOmdem5

Just the camera a lot of people have been waiting in the m4/3 market with loads of features and a retro looking magnesium alloy body that even your grandpa would love to use. And of course is dustproof and weather-proof to complete the equation, that paired with a entire new in-body image stabilization system with 5-axis correction to keep pictures sharp even when using big zoom lenses and of course video would be so much easier to maintain super steady thanks to this kind of aid.

The camera features a 16.1mp sensor and also has a 3” touchscreen that tilts to help you under any position. Add to this an EVF that covers 100% of the frame and thanks to a proximity sensor it automatically switches between the liveview and EVF fast enough to forget its even there. Olympus also claims with the inclusion of its new Intelligent High Sensitivity (IHS) will help the shooters to get cleaner pictures when using the high ISO settings, which always comes handy when taking pictures only with available light.

Somehow Olympus managed to boost performance so much you can even shoot 9fps raw images with this camera, something impressive for this range. And does it with a super quiet shutter that maybe because is buried inside this gorgeous looking magnesium body it can’t be heard from the outside. But at all levels this camera excels and worth every penny if you are in the market for a fully equipped camera that will be a joy to carry all the time.

12- Samsung Galaxy Camera

12-cameras-2012-samsunGalaxyCamera

The reason I included the Samsung Galaxy Camera here is because not only is the most powerful android point and shoot camera of the year (the Nikon COOLPIX S800c the other one) but also because even while featuring WiFi connection it adds 3G/4G connectivity by the addition of a SIM Card port.

And living in a world filled with people that want to share their pictures and videos right away makes me wonder why it took so long for this kind of camera to appear. By running android jelly bean (the latest version) it guarantees that you will be able to edit your pictures with anything of the popular apps such as SnapSeed and goes right to Instagram, Twitter or Facebook in a second.

It sure appeals to those wanting a bit more than the smartphone camera by adding an actual optical zoom, bigger sensor and better flash will help get pictures that are way out of reach of the most expensive smartphone out there. Makes sense that these cameras move to a mobile OS since that is what they are and benefits from the Google Play app store to help users do whatever they want with the pictures. Also you could stream live video using popular apps such as Bamuser or upload a short video to Viddy or Youtube.

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