DPReview Awards 2017
Here at DPReview we handle a lot of gear. This year, plenty of amazing cameras, lenses, accessories and other products came through our doors, and we hope you’ve enjoyed reading about them as much as we’ve enjoyed writing about and testing them.
We also enjoy arguing about them – about which camera is better than which other camera, and which lens is the best, etc. So we’ve spent the past few days going through this year’s products as a team, and ranking our choices, to make a shortlist for what we think was the best gear released in 2017.
After all that, we’re pleased to announce the results. Click through the slides above to find out which products made our list of the best gear of 2017!
If you’d like to have your say, make sure to vote in this year’s Reader’s Polls for best products of 2017, which will be running through December 18th.
- Affinity for iPad
- Godox Ving V860 II
- Atomos Ninja Inferno
- Peak Design CaptureClip 3
Runner up: Affinity for iPad
While perhaps not as sexy as the high-value cameras and lenses that we get our hands on every month, there are some amazing accessories out there, with a lot to offer the modern photographer. And among the most important are the various software suites that enable us to turn our Raw (literally) images into finished photographs worthy of printing and sharing.
The arrival of high-powered tablet computers like the Apple iPad Pro means that imaging software is no longer limited to desktop and laptop computers. Affinity Photo for iPad is a full-fledged image editor that offers all of the major features you’d expect from a serious desktop Raw editor, for only $20. Impressed? We certainly are.
Winner: Godox Ving V860 II
A good flashgun (or two) can really transform your photography, but wireless TTL flash systems from the major camera manufacturers can be extremely costly. The Godox Ving V860 II kit is a powerful third-party flash solution that competes with options from the major brands at a considerably lower cost.
The V860 II is the latest Godox offering for Canon, Nikon and Sony users, and it provides TTL metering and off-camera control via a wireless 2.4GHz radio system. When we reviewed the kit back in June we praised its strong and reliable wireless connection, high standard of construction and great 650-shot battery life.
Among a competitive shortlist of high-quality accessories, the Godox Ving V860 II is a worthy winner. If you’re looking for an affordable solution for wireless off-camera flash triggering, we’d highly recommend checking it out.
Best smartphone camera
- Apple iPhone X
- Google Pixel 2
- LG V30
- Huawei Mate 10
Runner up: iPhone X
Love it or hate it, the fact is that a lot of people take pictures with their smartphones these days, and it’s in modern smartphone handsets that we’re seeing some of the most exciting technological developments in photography.
The iPhone X is Apple’s flagship iPhone and a significant milestone for the company, marking the 10-year anniversary of the very first iPhone – arguably the product that kicked off the ‘smartphone revolution’ all those years ago. As well as twin stabilized wide / tele cameras, artifact-free 4K/60p HEVC video and a bunch of clever effects like Portrait Lighting mode, the iPhone X also offers one of the best, brightest and most color-accurate screens of any smartphone. The P3 images that its camera generates take advantage of the display’s wide color gamut, and the iPhone X is also the world’s first device to support the HDR display of HDR photos – something we’ve only seen in the video world (HDR10, Dolby Vision).
The iPhone X is a beautiful thing, and a worthy runner-up for best smartphone camera of 2017.
Winner: Google Pixel 2
Google is at the forefront of developments in computational photography and the Pixel 2 is a superb example of the difference that some very clever technology – and a lot of computing power – can make to a camera.
Despite only featuring a single camera module, split pixels and some clever software allow the Pixel 2 to create a surprisingly accurate and continuous depth map, which enables a very pleasing and effective ‘fake bokeh’ portrait effect. And thanks to the constant 9-frame image averaging of HDR+ the depth map and resulting image are often noise free, even at shutter speeds needed to freeze modest motion indoors.
Autofocus uses the entire dual-pixel sensor, so it’s fast even in low light and with moving subjects like kids. Although color and white balance tend to be less pleasing than an iPhone, the sheer quality and detail of the 12MP camera even marks a new standard in smartphone imagery.
It’s not just stills – dual pixel AF in video and the combination of both optical and electronic image stabilization make for the some of the sharpest and smoothest, glidecam-esque footage we’ve ever seen. If you’re looking for the best camera on a smartphone, look no further.
Best prosumer camera drone
- DJI Spark
- DJI Mavic Pro Platinum
- DJI Phantom 4 Advanced
Runner-up: DJI Mavic Pro Platinum
Drones are becoming a popular photography tool as they allow anyone to capture high quality images from the air. All of the drones on this year’s list of finalists are made by DJI, but that’s not surprising given how quickly the company cranks out new models, each representing a good value in its own way.
The DJI Mavic Pro Platinum is an update to last year’s Mavic Pro, which won our Editor’s Choice award in 2016. It adds quieter operation, thanks to redesigned props, as well as a few more minutes of flight time. Combined with its ability to capture 4K video using a good codec, 12MP Raw image files, DJI’s Active Track technology, and a folding design that makes it great for travel, the Mavic Pro Platinum gets the nod as runner-up.
Winner: Phantom 4 Advanced
When it comes to getting the highest quality images from a drone, one model on our shortlist stands out: the DJI Phantom 4 Advanced. Its camera is built around a 20MP 1″-type sensor, similar to what you would find in a high end compact camera like a Sony RX100, resulting in higher resolution, better quality images, and more malleable Raw files than small-sensor models.
It also has the most impressive video features on the list, including 4K/60p recording using a 100Mbps codec, an option to use the more advanced H.265 codec, and produces very usable Log video. Of course, it also gets all of DJI’s intelligent flight modes. Thanks to its high image quality and advanced feature set, the Phantom 4 Advanced wins our award for best drone of 2017.
Best zoom lens
- Fujifilm GF 32-64mm F4 R LM WR
- Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G
- Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM
- Tamron SP 24-70mm F2.8 Di VC USD G2
Runner-up: Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G
A lot of lenses get released every year, and it’s always a challenge to whittle the year’s releases down to a shortlist – let alone to pick a winner. That said, this year several lenses stood out from the pack.
To say the Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G is an excellent wide-angle zoom would be an understatement: it’s optically as good or better than far bigger lenses weighing nearly twice as much. For some landscape photographers, that weight advantage may be enough to buy into the Sony system, and its super-wide angle of view will also be useful for architecture and interiors. For the sort of edge-to-edge sharpness this lens provides in such an immensely small and lightweight package, the 12-24mm could easily have won in this category, instead just losing out to…
Winner: Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM
…its big brother the Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM. More versatile than the 12-24mm, Sony’s pro-grade 16-35mm F2.8 is built to an exceptionally high standard and offers excellent sharpness, making it an ideal companion to Sony’s new a7R III.
For many years, Sony was criticized for offering a relatively small lineup of high-quality lenses, but products like the new 16-35mm F2.8 GM prove that the company has what it takes to make world-class optics. Sharp even wide open, fast to focus and capable of producing some of the nicest sunstars we’ve ever seen, this lens will be useful for everything from landscapes to indoor sports to weddings. The Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM earns our award for best zoom lens of 2017.
Best prime lens
- Canon EF 85mm F1.4L IS USM
- Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm F1.2 Pro
- Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art
- Sony FE 85mm F1.8
Runner-up: Sony FE 85mm F1.8
There were so many excellent prime lenses released this year that picking an overall winner and runner-up was very difficult. From high-quality wides to fast-aperture telephotos, the options have never been better, and 2017 saw some amazing lenses released from all of the major manufacturers.
In the end though, we narrowed the field down to four lenses, all of which would have made worthy winners. Sony’s FE 85mm F1.8 takes the runner-up spot for its combination of excellent image quality, speedy autofocus, attainable price and compact size. For anyone looking to get into portraiture using Sony’s full-frame lens ecosystem, we wholeheartedly recommend the FE 85mm F1.8.
Winner: Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art
After much discussion, our pick for the best prime lens of 2017 is the Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. At the opposite end of the spectrum to the Sony FE 85mm F1.8, the Sigma 14mm F1.8 ‘Art’ is a niche lens, but one that offers a unique perspective for certain kinds of photography where sharp, distortion-free images at wide apertures can make a huge difference.
Astrophotography is an obvious example, and shooting the Aurora Borealis, but the Sigma 14mm F1.8 is surprisingly useful for a range of other photography, too, including conventional landscapes and cityscapes. We’ve been in love with this lens since we first used it in Japan back in spring. The Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art is our pick for best prime lens of 2017.
Best compact camera
- Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III
- Fujifilm X100F
- Olympus Tough TG-5
- Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 IV
Runner up: Fujifilm X100F
This year was a relatively slow one for compact cameras, even in a market segment that has contracted significantly in recent years. But several of the models released in 2017 were truly excellent, and any one of our shortlisted cameras would make a worthy winner.
Our runner-up pick for best compact camera of 2017 is the Fujifilm X100F. A well thought-our successor to the proven X100T, the X100F incorporates a higher-resolution sensor, bigger battery, and tweaked user interface including an AF positioning joystick. With the X100F, one of our favorite large-sensor compacts just got even better.
Winner: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 IV
Our expectations of compact cameras have shifted a lot in recent years, thanks in no small part to Sony. The Cyber-shot RX100 and RX10-series have shaken up the compact market by offering better image quality, faster shooting, and much more advanced video capabilities than most competitors, amid a product refresh cycle that is, frankly, exhausting.
Although it might look like a relatively minor update to last year’s RX10 III, the Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV is a considerably more attractive camera thanks to the addition of phase-detection autofocus. It rarely hunts for focus even at 600mm. While it can’t manage DSLR-level subject tracking, it’s impressively capable for both stills and video, and this combined with the razor-sharp 24-600mm stabilized zoom lens makes for an unbeatable combination. As such, the Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV earns our award for the best compact camera of 2017.
Best consumer stills/video camera
- Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5
- Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 IV
- Sony Alpha a9
- Sony Alpha a7R III
Runner up: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 IV
The days of dedicated stills cameras and dedicated consumer video cameras are almost over. Pretty much every camera released in 2017 offered a high-quality video mode, and 4K and even 6K features are becoming common in mirrorless ILCs and DSLRs alike. The ability to smoothly transition from shooting stills to capturing high-quality video footage is invaluable to multi-media professionals, events photographers and casual social photographers alike.
All of the shortlisted cameras in this category offer excellent video features, centered around high-quality 4K capture. For its combination of versatility, portability and (relative) affordability, runner-up in this category goes to the ultra-versatile Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV.
Winner: Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5
When reviewing the cameras shortlisted in this category, one product kept coming up again and again. The Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 is a stunning stills/video hybrid camera, offering an unmatched 4K video feature set, alongside solid stills photography features.
The more recent (and more stills-focused) G9 offers more stable autofocus in video mode, but in terms of expandability, and the sheer quality of its 4K/6K footage, the GH5 is a clear winner. As such it’s incredibly versatile for everything from ‘run and gun’ videography to high-resolution reportage and easily earns our award for best consumer stills / video camera of the year.
Best entry-level ILC
- Canon EOS M100
- Canon EOS Rebel SL2 (EOS 200D)
- Canon EOS Rebel T7i (EOS 800D)
- Olympus OM-D E-M10 III
Runner-up: Canon EOS M100
Entry-level cameras are among the most important products in every manufacturer’s lineup. Once a new photographer has invested in a system, the hope is that they’ll stay loyal, growing their investment in lenses, accessories and – in the future – more advanced cameras.
Canon refreshed virtually its entire entry-level portfolio this year, across both the EF and EF-M lines. One of our favorite entry-level cameras this year (and any year) was the tiny EOS M100, which earns the runner-up spot for its combination of stress-free handling, excellent autofocus and solid image quality.
Winner: Olympus OM-D E-M10 III
One camera stood out among entry-level models this year for its attractive combination of advanced stills features, 4K video and lightweight design. That camera is the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III. While its M43 sensor can’t match some competitors for resolution, the addition of 4K video and provision for 5-axis in-camera stabilization make it among the most versatile entry-level cameras on the market.
Despite being very small and light, the E-M10 III offers generous manual controls, and an accessible user interface that still provides a lot of customization options – ideal for a photographer just starting out, who wants a camera that gives them some room to grow. For these reasons, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 III wins our award for best entry-level ILC of 2017.
Best midrange ILC
- Canon EOS M6
- Fujifilm X-E3
- Nikon D7500
- Pentax KP
Runner-up: Fujifilm X-E3
This year’s collection of mid-range interchangeable lens cameras makes for stiff competition in this category. They all come with plentiful controls, APS-C sensors, and well thought-out (if distinctly different) ergonomics. This made choosing our winner very difficult, as all are highly capable photographic tools.
In the end, we decided that Fujifilm’s X-E3 is our runner up for this category. We love the JPEG output, and we’re fans of its new and useful touchscreen, revised controls and smaller size relative to its predecessors. The autofocus joystick in particular makes this camera a great shooting companion, and it slots in well alongside the company’s X-T20 as a rangefinder-styled alternative.
Winner: Nikon D7500
Taking the crown is a refined DSLR that’s supremely capable in almost any scenario – the Nikon D7500. We’ve long been fans of Nikon’s midrange DSLRs, and the D7500 is no different. With a capable autofocus system, great image quality, comfortable ergonomics and an expansive lens ecosystem, the D7500 has a lot going for it.
Whether you’re into sports, portraiture, landscapes or low light work, there’s really not much the D7500 can’t do. The crop in 4K mode is a little extreme (though the video quality is quite good), and it’s not the most compact of its peers. But the D7500 remains supremely versatile, and for that, it takes the top slot in its category.
Best high-end ILC
- Fujifilm GFX 50S
- Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5
- Nikon D850
- Sony Alpha 7R III
Even without flagship professional DSLRs from Canon and Nikon, the competition in the high-end ILC marketplace was fierce this year. Fufifilm’s GFX 50S (announced in 2016, but released in early spring) shook up the medium-format market, while Sony’s a7R III and a9 redefined our expectations of professional mirrorless cameras. Meanwhile, Panasonic made a play for professional and enthusiast videographers with the Lumix DC-GH5 and Nikon pulled out all of the stops with the D850 – arguably its most ambitious DSLR yet.
After a lot of discussion, we couldn’t decide on a single clear winner in this category. So we opted to recognize two cameras as joint winners, both of which are excellent for slightly different reasons. Drumroll please…
Joint-winner: Nikon D850
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that we chose the Nikon D850 as our joint winner for best high-end ILC of 2017. It’s hard to imagine how much more advanced a DSLR could be. Offering a combination of incredible resolution, speed, equal best-in-class dynamic range and excellent autofocus, the D850 is a winner whichever way you look at it. A highly respectable 4K video option is the icing on the cake.
Performance is excellent, handling is luxurious, and it’s out of stock pretty much everywhere – for good reason.
Joint-winner: Sony Alpha a7R III
Our second joint-winner is a similarly impressive camera, that pushes the boundaries of mirrorless technology. The Sony a7R III is a technological tour-de-force, incorporating a tweaked version of the 42MP sensor used in the a7R II, now with even more dynamic range, and one of the best autofocus systems we’ve yet encountered in a mirrorless camera.
While it can’t quite keep up with the sports-focused a9, the a7R III is no slouch, and offers a combination of speed and resolution that make it very attractive for a range of different kinds of photography. Equally at home capturing 4K video as it is 42MP stills, the a7R III is capable, versatile and more than a match for anything with a mirror. As such, it earns the title of joint winner, in our category for best high-end ILC of 2017.
DPReview innovation award
- DJI Zenmuse X7
- iOS 11 / HEIF
- Google Pixel 2 computational camera
- Sony a9
Runner-up: iOS 11/ HEIF
Our runner-up is the HEIF (‘heef’) image format. Consumer Digital photography has been stuck using 8-bit, sRGB JPEG images for more than twenty years, despite periodic touted replacements. The HEIF format, developed by the MPEG working group, can be used to contain all sorts of multi-image data, whether that’s a high res image and a low-res preview, multi shot bursts, focus stack groups or variants of images rendered for HDR and standard DR displays.
Its adoption by Apple not only in its latest desktop operating system but also on the much more widely-used iOS 11 mobile OS increases the likelihood of its wider adoption, particularly on the iPhone X, whose HDR display will help its users to appreciate the value of the 10-bit images (in the wider-than-sRGB P3 colorspace) that its camera shoots by default. This push towards fairly widespread adoption and perhaps appreciation, might finally see a more sophisticated format dethrone the all-conquering JPEG. And just in time to let us all shoot natural-looking wide dynamic range images for the HDR screens that are becoming ever more common.
Winner: Google Pixel 2 computational camera
After much discussion, the Google Pixel 2 ‘computational camera’ wins our ‘Innovation of the Year’ award. With the Pixel 2, Google shows us that computational photography not only renders most compacts obsolete, it’s coming for your camera as well. That’s not meant to be as ominous as it sounds. In fact, it’s great news.
The Pixel 2 camera wins because of the sheer image quality it can produce from minimal hardware thanks to computational approaches. The camera is always maintaining a 9-frame full-resolution buffer at at least 60 frames per second. Dual Pixel AF means your subject is most likely pre-focused before you even press the shutter button, and when you do, the camera goes back in time to those last 9 frames, combines them, and thereby reduces noise by over 3 stops compared to a conventional sensor of that size. In high contrast scenes, the Pixel 2 exposes to not clip highlights, then averages those frames to reduce noise in shadows. And all of this happens at the press of a button.
Probably most impressive is its Portrait mode, which generates a depth map from the tiny stereo disparity between the split pixels behind the lens. The results are nothing short of impressive: look at the progressive blur, both in front of and behind, our main subject here.
DPReview product of the year, 2017
- Nikon D850
- Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G
- Sony a9
- Sony a7R III
Runner-up: Nikon D850
‘What was the best product of the year?’ That’s a very difficult question to answer even in a quiet year, but as we’ve seen, 2017 saw the launch of some seriously good cameras, lenses and accessories. But as we get close to the end of the year, two products really stood out, for their combination of features, power and flexibility.
Our runner-up this year is perhaps the most advanced enthusiast DSLR ever released. Combining almost class-leading resolution with unrivaled speed and one of the best autofocus systems on the market, the Nikon D850 earns the runner-up spot in this year’s DPReview Awards for Best Product of 2017.
Winner: Sony Alpha a7R III
You guessed it – one of the last cameras released in 2017 ended up taking the top spot. The Sony a7R III is a truly impressive camera, which combines advanced stills and video features in a body designed to satisfy the needs of professionals and enthusiasts alike. While the a9 is faster, and features an autofocus system better optimized for shooting sports, the a7R III is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera for the rest of us, and a well-deserved winner of our award for the best product of 2017.
As we approach the end of the year, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your support, and your feedback. For a chance to vote for your own favorite product of 2017, our Reader’s Polls are open, and can be found here. Voting in the first round closes on December 18th.