Have Your Say: Best Gear of 2016
For the past few weeks we’ve been running a series of polls to find out what you – our readers – think of the major product releases of 2016. For the first round of voting we made initial five polls covering lenses, compact cameras and interchangeable lens cameras (ILCs). Now that those polls have closed, we’re pleased to announce the winners.
In this slideshow we’re announcing the winners and runners-up in each category, and kicking off a final poll, to determine which of the ten individual poll winners from the first round should be crowned as your choice for overall best gear of 2016.
Best Prime lens – Runner-up: Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art
We’ve been waiting and hoping for Sigma to create an 85mm lens in its highly-regarded ‘Art’ lineup for some time, and 2016 saw that dream come true. Like all of the Art primes, the 85mm F1.4 is a stunning performer. We’ve heard Sigma representatives say that the Art series is the company’s ‘no compromise’ line, and the company certainly didn’t compromise with the new 85mm – it’s as big as a flower pot.
It might be a bit of a lump, but it’s beautifully constructed, and optical quality really is gorgeous. We love this 85mm for its sharpness, and the quality of its bokeh. Clearly it has impressed you, too. You voted this lens runner-up in our poll for best prime lens of 2016.
Best prime lens – winner: Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 105mm F1.4E
Winner of our readers’ poll for best prime lens of 2016 is another fast portrait lens, the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 105mm F1.4E. Like Sigma’s 85mm F1.4 Art, the Nikon 105mm F1.4 is a big, heavy lens, and it comes with a big, heavy pricetag. Optically though, we think it’s worth every penny. While armchair engineers, xenophobes, and those ignorant of modern lens design might balk at the polycarbonate exterior and ‘made in china’ label, as our friend Roger Cicala has proved, the 105mm F1.4 is a tough, well-built lens.
As far as its optics are concerned, the 105mm F1.4 represents the state of the art for fast short telephoto lens design. There’s no doubt that this lens is a relatively niche product, but with such stunning central sharpness between F2-4 and such beautiful bokeh, it’s among the best portrait lenses on the market. You voted the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 105mm F1.4E best prime lens of 2016.
Best zoom lens – runner-up: Sigma 50-100mm F1.8 Art
Sigma’s 50-100mm F1.8 DC HSM Art provides a 75-150mm focal length range on the APS-C format DSLRs for which it’s designed, and – crucially – replicates the classic F2.8 (equivalent) continuous aperture that has been a traditional feature of high-end full-frame zooms.
Offering a fast maximum aperture and standard ‘Art’-series construction quality the 50-100mm is solid, heavy and luxuriously engineered. An ideal companion to high-end DSLRs like Canon’s EOS 7D Mark II and Nikon D500, you voted the Sigma 50-100mm F1.8 Art runner-up in our poll for best zoom lens of 2016.
Best zoom lens – winner: Olympus M.Zuiko 12‑100mm F4 PRO
Olympus is ending 2016 with a bang, thanks to two major new releases. The OM-D E-M1 Mark II is an extraordinarily powerful, pro-grade mirrorless camera, and a new kit lens, the 12-100mm F4 has also impressed us – and you – greatly.
The M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm F4 IS Pro is a powerful carry-everywhere zoom lens. Combined with Olympus’ 5-axis IBIS in the new OM-D E-M1 II, it can offer up to 6.5 stops of image stabilization, which greatly expands the camera’s usefulness in marginal light, for both stills and video. As we’d expect for a lens in Olympus’s ‘PRO’ lineup, the 12-100mm is also splash-proof, dust-proof, and freeze-proof. We’ve been impressed by its versatility since we got our hands on a sample after Photokina, and clearly you agree.
Best high-end compact camera – Runner-up: Sony Cyber-shot RX10 III
The Sony Cyber-shot RX10 III is an expensive camera, no doubt about it, and one of the largest ‘compact’ cameras on the market. But it’s also one of the best performers. Despite boasting a fast 24-600mm (equivalent) zoom lens and a 1 inch sensor, the RX10 III produces images that beat or rival its competitors even at the very furthest ends of its zoom reach. Within a few days of shooting with it, DPReview’s staff were already talking about the RX10 III’s lens as ‘magic’, and however they managed it, Sony’s engineers should be congratulated on a significant optical achievement.
Of course it’s not all about the lens. The RX10 III also offers class-leading image quality in terms of resolution and high ISO image quality, and an impressive 4K video specification, plus the option to capture HD-quality high frame-rate footage. The RX10 might rival some DSLRs for size, but it beats them when it comes to a lot of other things.
Best high-end compact camera – Winner: Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V
As we’ve come to expect, Sony released a lot of cameras this year, and the Cyber-shot RX100 V clearly caught your attention. Although it’s not a major upgrade to the RX100 Mark IV, the new Mark V improves on its predecessor with a revamped autofocus system, which features 315 phase-detection AF points covering 65% of the frame. The other major addition is a significantly increased buffer, allowing for full-resolution 20MP capture at 24fps, with full AE and AF. This is effectively equal to shooting 5K 24p video footage, made up of up to 150 JPEGs, or ~60 Raw + JPEGs in a burst. Impressive stuff.
This kind of performance, plus an impressive 4K video specification make the RX100 V a real powerhouse. It’s one of our favorite compact cameras of 2016, and clearly a hit among our readers, too. You voted it your high-end compact camera of the year.
Best midrange ILC – Runner-up: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85
The Panasonic G85 (G80 outside the US) has proven to be something of a sleeper hit, this year. Although not as flashy as Olympus’s 2016 M43 offerings, the G85 is one of the most powerful and capable cameras of its type on the market. The G85 uses the same sensor as its predecessor the G7, but without an AA filter. The 2.36M dot OLED electronic viewfinder is all new, and boasts increased magnification compared to the G7.
The camera also gains in-body 5-axis image stabilization and Dual I.S. 2 as well as weather and dust-sealing. It now uses an electromagnetic shutter and features a new in-camera focus-stacking mode. Like its predecessor it is 4K-capable, has built-in Wi-Fi and utilizes Panasonic’s Depth from Defocus AF.
The G85 has become one of our go-to cameras for tradeshows and press events thanks to its small size, reliably focus and high-quality 4K video mode. Clearly it has impressed you, too, taking the runner up spot in our readers’ poll for best midrange ILC.
Best midrange ILC – Winner: Sony a6300
The G85 had tough competition this year in the shape of the Sony a6300. With an APS-C sensor and compact form factor, the a6300 is one of the most powerful cameras of its type on the market. As far as image quality is concerned the a6300 (literally) punches above its weight, offering class-leading resolution and high ISO noise performance and superb 4K video footage. Fast continuous shooting performance and an advanced hybrid AF system round out an impressive feature set.
Since it was released, we’ve reached for the a6300 more and more, for ‘run and gun’ video, especially. And the a6300 impressed you enough to beat stiff competition and win our poll for best midrange ILC.
Best high-end / professional ILC – Runner-up: Fujifilm X-T2
The Fujifilm X-T2 is one of the most likable ILCs on the market. While the X-T1 was a lot of fun to use, it was in some respects (resolution, video and autofocus being the most obvious) a little behind its competition. The X-T2 fixes all that, without messing with the formula that made its predecessor such a great camera.
Fujifilm’s current 24MP APS-C sensor is capable of excellent still image quality, and while not class-leading, a revamped AF system makes the X-T2 more versatile than its predecessor. The X-T2 is Fujifilm’s first camera to offer 4K video capture, and footage compares very well to other 4K-enabled competitors, not to mention older X-series models, which were notoriously weak when it came to video. We weren’t surprised to see that you think highly of the X-T2, voting it runner-up in our readers’ poll for best high-end / professional ILC.
Best high-end / professional ILC – Winner: Nikon D500
It was a tight race in the high-end / professional ILC poll this year, but the Nikon D500 just pipped the X-T2 to the top position, by a whisker. The long-awaited successor to the D300S, the D500 is a stunning camera, and easily the most advanced APS-C DSLR that we’ve ever reviewed. Essentially the best bits of the flagship Nikon D5 but in a smaller, APS-C format body, the D500 is a powerhouse.
Capable of 10fps capture with an almost infinite buffer (when using an XQD card) the D500 is a superbly capable tool for wildlife and action photography, but is equally useful for travel, landscape work and portraiture. The D500’s 153-point autofocus system is almost uncanny in its ability to accurately track moving subjects, and the camera’s tough and weather-sealed body is designed to stand up to hard professional use.
Aside from its somewhat half-baked 4K video mode, the D500 is practically peerless in the APS market, and also compares very favorably against the best of its full-frame competitors. It topped your list of 2016’s high-end / professional ILCs, and a very worthy winner it is, too.
Have Your Say
You’ve seen the results from our five polls, so now’s the time to pick an overall winner. You can vote for up to three of the products in this poll, and voting closes at midnight (PT) on December 31st. We’ll announce the overall winner, and runner-up early in the new year.
Thanks for voting, and for contributing to DPReview over the past year. We couldn’t do any of this without you.
Have your say
Nikon AF-S 105mm F1.4E
Olympus M.Zuiko 12-100mm F4
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85
Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art
Sigma 50-100mm F1.8 Art
Sony Cyber-shot RX10 III
Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V
Voting is easy – you pick your favorite products by dragging and dropping. You can pick up to three, and rank them in order of priority.