A gift guide just for you
It’s been a doozy of a year but thankfully, it wasn’t all sour grapes. While many aspects of society ground to a halt, manufacturers still had cool and exciting products in their pipelines that they managed to bring to market.
And while opportunities to get and out shoot may be limited at the moment, we can still dream big. And what better way to do that than by ‘browser window shopping’. What follows is a rundown of the headiest products of 2020, the ones photographers really want. So pour a tall cold one and get ready to treat yourself!
Canon EOS R5
There’s no two ways about it, the gold award-winning Canon EOS R5 is our favorite mirrorless camera over $3000 and perhaps Canon’s most impactful full-framer since the 5D Mark II. And while the RF mount is still relatively new, there’s no shortage of fast aperture primes and F2.8 zooms available, including ‘the holy trinity’ of the 15-35mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm.
Well-suited to enthusiasts and professionals alike, the R5 offers outstanding image quality, excellent ergonomics, fast burst shooting and fabulous autofocus performance, not to mention lovely oversampled 4K. In short, if you really want to treat yourself to the best of the best, it’s the camera to get.
Of course, not everyone wants or needs an interchangeable lens camera, for some of us, the simplicity and GAS-reducing nature of a fixed lens camera offers greater appeal. Lucky for folks in this camp, two new large-sensor, fixed lens cameras are featured on this year’s list including the glorious Fujifilm X100V.
Which begs the question: What do you get when you take a wonderfully designed camera and tweak it over the course of four generations based on user feedback, without straying from the original ethos? Why, the X100V of course. Building on its legacy, the ‘V’ bring all sorts of lovely refinements to the series including a newly designed lens with better corner/close-up sharpness, an updated sensor and AF system, better build-quality, a tilting touchscreen and more!
Leica Q2 Monochrom
Another fixed-lens, large-sensor camera launched this year is a ‘Monochrom’ version of the Leica Q2, a staff favorite here at DPR. The camera’s B&W-only sensor offers improved dynamic range and noise performance over its color sensor counterpart. Plus, the super sharp 28mm F1.7 lens and moody monochrome output make it the perfect all-in-one option for street photographers, live music shooters and/or anyone who loves shooting after the sun goes down.
And while some may find 28mm a tad too wide, the camera’s 47MP full-frame sensor provides ample resolution for cropping. Plus the Q2 Monochrom handles just like the standard Q2, which is to say it’s built like a tank and both straightforward and immensely gratifying to shoot with. And immense gratification is what ‘treat yourself’ is all about.
GoPro Hero9 Black
GoPro’s latest flagship, the Hero9 Black, is a seriously impressive piece of kit and easily the most compelling action camera to come out in quite some time. For filmmakers, it can shoot up to 5K/30p, offering room to crop in post, assuming you’re outputting 4K, or 4K/60p. And GoPro’s Hypersmooth video image stabilization is jaw-droppingly good. On the stills side, resolution has jumped from 12MP on previous models to 20MP on Hero9 Black.
The camera isn’t just capable though, it’s also well-designed: control/menus are accessed via the rear touchscreen and the whole unit is water/freeze/dust-proof without the need for a case. It also provides improved battery life over predecessors, a front-facing ‘live’ screen and even the option to attach an accessory wide angle lens. In short, it’s the perfect companion for anyone’s extreme lifestyle, whether that means leisurely bike rides to the park or free-climbing rock faces. Treat yourself!
iPhone 12 Pro & 12 Pro Max
iPhones, like GoPros, tend to see iterative yearly updates, but occasionally a new model drops with enough advancements that it’s impossible to ignore. The iPhone 12 Pro is that model and the ultimate ‘treat yourself’ device, not just from a photo/video shooting perspective but also when it comes to displaying and viewing your work.
Apple devices have been able to shoot HDR photos and videos for some time, but this new model (like all iPhone 12 models) can now display 10-bit Dolby Vision HDR on a beautiful OLED screen, right from within the photo app: an industry first!
The camera is also impressive. It consists of three 12MP modules, including standard wide-angle (with a 47% larger sensor than its predecessor), an ultra-wide and telephoto options. Additionally, the phone will make use of Apple’s new Raw format, ProRaw, in beta now and coming soon. And, as if that’s not enough, Apple claims the device has enough processing power to make it 50% faster than any phone currently on the market (not to mention, it’s 5G-enabled). Now that’s a treat!
Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG DN Art
Everyone needs a good 85mm portrait lens and Sigma’s latest 85mm offering for mirrorless full-frame E-mount and L-mount makes a strong case for inclusion in your kit.
One thing that truly sets it apart from others like it, including 2016’s Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM Art, is its compact and lightweight design. However, despite a comparatively smaller footprint, this lens remains optically outstanding, offering really good sharpness at all apertures (including in the corners), minimal chromatic aberrations and well-controlled ghosting and flare.
It’s also ‘dust and splash proof’ and impressively well-built. And at $1200, the Sigma is priced more affordably than the competition, too. Which is to say, it checks all the boxes for what make an outstanding F1.4 portrait lens – a difficult feat and a major treat.
DJI Mavic Air 2
Have you been holding out for the right moment to spread your wings and treat yourself to a drone? Well my friends, the moment is now. DJI’s new Mavic Air 2 represents the most lust-worthy enthusiast drone to launch in some time.
The perfect balance of size and capability, Air 2 fits in the palm of your hand but can deliver great stills image quality from its 1/2″ 48MP CMOS sensor, including both Raw and JPEGs formats. It can also shoot up to 4K/60p video and offers a variety of accident avoidance technologies as well features like subject tracking, HDR video and a panorama mode. Battery life is a useful 34 minutes and perhaps most importantly, the Mavic Air 2 is easy and enjoyable to fly.
Olympus 150-400mm F4.5 TC1.25x
I’ve tried my best to keep this year’s ‘Treat Yourself’ guide somewhat mount-agnostic, but certain new glass is just too darn difficult to ignore. Take, for instance, the new Olympus 150-400mm F4.5 TC1.25x for Micro Four Thirds bodies. It’s not for everyone, but for a certain type of photographer, this is the the ultimate optical treat!
I’m talking of course about nature and wildlife photographers. Olympus’ king of tele-s packs a whopping 300-800mm equiv. focal range into a surprisingly well-sized, well-weighted body. But that’s not all! A 1.25x built-in teleconverter bumps that reach to an impressive 1000mm (at the cost of 2/3 EV of light). And, as is the case with most high-end Olympus gear, this lens is sealed against dust and moisture, and built to take some punishment – just be sure to protect that big, beautiful 95mm front element!
DJI Pocket 2
The second iteration of DJI’s pocket-friendly vlogging machine is a real winner. This little unit is easy-to-use, offers a nice wide 20mm field-of-view (wider than its predecessor) and shoots high quality, super-smooth 4K video. It also features an updated four-way directional in-camera microphone, capable of recording good quality audio without the need for an accessory mic. And did we mention it’s pocketable?
Basically, the Pocket 2 is the perfect no-fuss, all-in-one vlogging machine and the right piece of kit for sharing your adventures with the world. And while now might not be a great time to leave your house and embark on any adventures, the Pocket 2 will be waiting for you when it’s safe to travel again. So go on and treat yourself to this tiny wonder.
There you have it, our favorite lust-worthy gear of the year. Here’s hoping 2021 has even more treats in store. Until next time, Treat yourself!