Europe-wide experts reveal best cameras and lenses of the year

By Geoff Harris

With so many cameras and lenses to choose from, it can be hard to make the right decision, particularly as the higher cost of mirrorless cameras in particular means they are no longer an impulse buy.

Fortunately, the experts at EISA – the European Image and Sound Association – have put together their list of the best cameras, lenses, software and more. EISA consists of industry experts including Amateur Photographer magazine, and they also must have tested the gear themselves before handing out an award. All of this means you can buy any of their recommendations with confidence. Check out some of the highlights below.

Camera of the year: Fujifilm X-T4

This year, EISA chose the Fujifilm X-T4, a long-awaited APS-C mirrorless camera from the innovative Japanese company. Highlights include a 26-million-pixel X-Trans CMOS sensor, compact dimensions and stylish looks, along with speed (up to 20 frames per second at full resolution) and 4K 60fps recording, which basically means you can record professional quality video. As we have mentioned in our previous blog, it also offers outstanding image stabilisation (5-axis) so you can go as slow as 1 second handheld and still get sharp shots (depending the lens, and available light).

Best buy camera: Nikon Z 50

For the best camera buy of the year, EISA chose the Nikon Z 50. This is another outstanding APS-C mirrorless camera, but this time with a smaller, but still very capable, 20.9Mp sensor. The Z 50 is compact, making it great for travel, and is tough and waterproof. Image quality is very good, particularly when it comes to dynamic range – so you get maximum detail in highlight and shadows. Autofocus is outstanding, and the Eye-Detection feature hones into the eyes of both people and animals. Video, meanwhile can be recorded at up to 30fps in 4k.

Best APS-C camera: Canon EOS 90D

So far the award-winners have been mirrorless, but with this award, EISA shows that it still thinks the D-SLR has a future. Although it’s based on older ‘mirrored’ technology, the 90D has a 32.5Mp sensor, which sets a new record for APS-C resolution. Autofocus is fast and reliable and there is also a silent electronic shutter – this is handy for staying unnoticed when doing street photography work and also enables short exposure times of up to 1/16,000 sec. You can also record uncropped 4K video and slow motion, Full HD footage at up to 120fps. Although it doesn’t look as stylish as mirrorless cameras, the camera has a neat rear screen, which can easily be flipped around

Best full-frame camera: Nikon D780

Another award-winning DSLR, this features a 24Mp CMOS sensor, which gives you high, full-frame resolution without massive file sizes. The image processor has been upgraded from previous models too, and you can push the native ISO up to 51,200 without undue levels of noise – making this a great low-light choice. AF is fast and accurate too, and the camera comes with another handy tiltable touchscreen – along with powerful 4k video recording. EISA’s award for the most advanced full frame camera, meanwhile, went to the Sony Alpha 7R IV. This is a real resolution powerhouse, featuring a 61Mp full-frame sensor, industry-leading, AI-driven Real-time Tracking and Eye AF. It also 5-axis in-body image stabilisation, reducing the need to use a tripod at slower shutter speeds

Best compact camera: the Fujifilm X100V

Not everyone wants or needs an interchangeable lens camera, so if you are sticking with compacts, the Fujifilm X100V is a great choice. Key features include a fast, built-in 23mm, f/2.8 lens, a 26.1Mp APS-C sensor and a tilting screen to enable you to still get shots if the angles are awkward. The camera is lovely and small too, weighing just 428g, but still fits into your pocket. Oh, and it can record 4k video, too, so it’s great for street and travel.

Lenses

For the best overall lens of the year, EISA chose the Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM, a high-specification, professional telezoom lens designed for Canon’s RF mirrorless system, and featuring 5-stop image stabilisation (which works in tandem with stabilisation inside RF cameras). The award for the gest wide-angle zoom went to the Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN Art, the standard Zoom lens award went to the Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM, and the best travel lens award went to the Tamron 28-200mm F/2.8-5.6 Di III RXD.

Software

You can get full details of the awards on the EISA website, but special mention should also go to the award for best software. This year it went to the highly innovative Nik Collection 3 By DxO, rather than the usual Adobe suspects. See what we wrote about it here.

Geoff Harris

I am a journalist and photographer and currently work as the Deputy Editor of Amateur Photographer (AP) the oldest weekly photographic magazine in the world. Before that I served as the editor of Digital Camera, Britain's best-selling photography magazine, for five years. During my time as editor it became the UK's top selling photo monthly and won Print Publication of the Year at the 2013 British Media Awards. As well as being lucky enough to get paid to write about photography, I've been fortunate to interview some of the greatest photographers in the world, including Elliott Erwitt, Don McCullin, Martin Parr, Terry O'Neill and Steve McCurry. This has been a wonderful learning experience and very influential on my photography. Beyond writing, I am a professional portrait, travel and documentary photographer, and reached the finals of the 2016 Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition. I am a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society and hope to take my Associateship whenever I can find the time. In addition I write about well being/personal development and antiques collecting for a range of other titles, including BlueWings, the in-flight magazine of Finn Air.

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