Year-end discussions of top products are always fun and informative, and I recently had a chance to join five of my photography colleagues for a virtual roundtable to pick our favorite cameras of 2020. Being included in the “Camera of the Year Roundtable” was a particular honor for me because I just started this week as Senior Editor of Digital Photo Pro after serving as editor of another photography website for the past seven years.
The virtual event was organized by Imaging Resource—which is a sister site to Digital Photo Pro—and included the following editors and creators who offered their thoughts on their favorite cameras of the year: Dave Etchells, founder of Imaging Resource; Wes Pitts, editor of Outdoor Photographer; Jeremy Gray, reviews editor of Imaging Resource; Dan Havlik, senior editor of Digital Photo Pro; William Brawley, managing editor of Imaging Resource; and Dave Pardue, freelance content producer for Imaging Resource.
Below are the Camera of the Year 2020 selections of all six participants along with excerpts from the discussion on why we made these picks. To see the full Camera of the Year roundtable with all the commentary, click here.
Favorite camera of Dave Etchells, founder of Imaging Resource: Olympus E-M1 III
“If I had to pick just one, I’d go for the Olympus E-M1 III. The smaller Four Thirds sensor gives up about a stop of image noise at high ISOs, but that doesn’t bother me for two reasons. First, the E-M1 III is darn good at high ISOs in its own right; I have no qualms when shooting at ISO 6,400 with it, and even higher settings give passable results. Second, Olympus smokes the competition when it comes to image stabilization. For me, image stabilization is an absolute must, and Olympus arguably does it better than anyone else.”
Favorite camera of Wes Pitts, editor of Outdoor Photographer: Canon EOS R5
“When we evaluate gear for our annual [Outdoor Photographer] Editors’ Picks, we’re looking at it through the lens of the unique needs of landscape and wildlife photographers, and the Canon EOS R5 meets both. The camera’s 45-megapixel resolution delivers the details and enlargement possibilities that landscape photographers want, and its continuous shooting speed at 20 fps is ideal for capturing wildlife behavior and birds in flight. As we noted in our conclusions about the camera for our 2020 Editors’ Picks, ‘Of all of the impressive full-frame mirrorless cameras introduced this year, it represents an important benchmark in the development of Canon’s EOS R system and full-frame mirrorless cameras more generally.'”
Favorite camera of Jeremy Gray, reviews editor of Imaging Resource: Nikon Z5
“This year, Nikon delivered a truly affordable, feature-packed full-frame mirrorless camera with the Nikon Z5. As of this writing, you can find the Z5 body for just under $1,200. It can also be purchased with a 24-50mm kit lens for $1,500 or with a very versatile 24-200mm lens for $2,000, the same price as a Z6 II body. It will come as no surprise that the lower price point includes requisite tradeoffs. You give up some image quality, speed and video performance, but the Z5 is a fantastic bang for your buck and I think it’s one of the most important cameras of 2020.”
Favorite camera of Dan Havlik, senior editor of Digital Photo Pro: Fujifilm X-T4
“Everything feels familiar on Fujifilm X-T4: timeless ergonomics, abundant buttons and dials, and a click-quiet shutter. What’s new is the 3-inch, vari-angle 1.62M-dot LCD on back of the X-T4 – aka a “flippy screen” – which allowed me to more easily compose images from down low or up high (the X-T3’s screen could only tilt back). The XT-4 also adds, of course, five-axis In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS) which made the camera great for street photography, particularly during my time shooting in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, where the light is dodgy at best. And since it’s capable of firing off up to 15 frames per second at full resolution, I was able to capture all the hustle and bustle of city life without a problem.”
Favorite camera of William Brawley, managing editor of Imaging Resource: Olympus E-M1 III
“While it may not bring ground-breaking changes over its predecessor, I think I have to tip my hat to the Olympus E-M1 III as my 2020 favorite. For one thing, I’m a sucker for small and lightweight, so the Micro Four Thirds platform has an immediate appeal to me. I want my photo gear compact and portable, and the E-M1 III helps achieve that. Furthermore, the camera’s image stabilization is some of the best I’ve seen. Plus, as an owner of an E-M1 Mark II, who’s dropped this camera on the ground, dunked it in a river, used it in snow and in the pouring rain — all without it missing a beat — I’m quite confident in the E-M1-line’s durability. I found the E-M1 III to be comfortable, capable and an all-around pleasure to use.”
Favorite camera of Dave Pardue, freelance content producer: Olympus E-M1 III
“For me personally, I was looking very closely at the Olympus E-M1 III, the Fujifilm X-T4, the Panasonic S5 and the Canon EOS R5 for Best Overall consideration. I’d already concluded in a deep-dive across crop-frame cameras that the Olympus E-M1 III was the superior choice for IBIS in that field. This isn’t the only consideration in determining the Best Overall camera by a long shot, but it’s important to me, and I can purchase two E-M1 III’s for the price of the EOS R5. The Canon EOS R5 is a highly capable, superior imaging tool, and yet the price keeps it off my personal list for The Best in today’s market for enthusiast photographers and videographers. My vote goes to the Olympus E-M1 III, with the Fujifilm X-T4 in close second and the Panasonic S5 in third.”