Our favourite cameras and lenses of 2020

By Geoff Harris

Despite the many challenges of this year, from the pandemic to supply chain problems, some great cameras have been released.

Fewer than usual, maybe, but still some very strong contenders – check them out below and let us know your favourites, too.

Canon EOS R6: £2499 body only

While we could have waxed lyrical about all the high-end video features in the EOS R5 (for which you pay about £1700 more), it’s the R6 which will appeal more to stills photographers looking for a great all-rounder. The sensor doesn’t sound that high resolution at 20Mp but it’s a very sophisticated full-frame chip that comes from Canon’s flagship DSLR, the EOS-1D X Mark III, and delivers stunning image quality. You’ve also got a high ISO range (100 – 102,400, expandable to 204,580), fast phase detection autofocus with over 6000 selectable points and continuous shooting at 12 frames per second. The fully articulated touchscreen and viewfinder are bright and responsive, too, and the DSLR-style controls are very logical. A beauty.

Fujifilm X-T4: £1549 body only

There was a lot of hype around this camera earlier in the year but it turned out to be justified: for the money, you are getting a lot of bang for your buck. Although the features an APS-C sensor, rather than full-frame, you still get richly detailed images, and the built-in 5-axis image stabilisation is really useful without adding to the weight.

The X-T4 is a fast camera too, able to shoot at 15 frames per second with the mechanical shutter, and it’s a real go-anywhere device as the magnesium alloy body is fully weather sealed. You can also record movies at 4k 60p quality while the battery promises 600 shots per charge. A great-value all-rounder and one which shows there is still plenty of choice beyond full-frame mirrorless cameras.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV: £799 with 14-42mm lens

If you are looking for a much cheaper option – you even get a very respectable lens – this Olympus is well worth a shot. Forget any negative stories you may have read about the company being in trouble, they are continuing to produce quality gear with a guarantee. This is a well-made but wonderfully compact mirrorless camera, with a 20Mp sensor and image processor which delivers excellent shots straight out of the camera. Effective in-body stabilisation also helps, enabling you to shoot at slow shutter speeds handheld and still get sharp shots, and the AF system can handle all but the most erratic subjects. While this is a great first camera, it also has plenty of more advanced features for more experienced photographers.

Leica Q2 Monochrom; £4,995

Black and white photography continues to excite and entrance and the new Leica Q2 Monochrom is an absolute object of desire for all fans of the genre. The camera features a 47.3Mp sensor which ONLY produces black and white images, but they are beautifully toned. The newly designed sensor is able to shoot at ISO from 100-100,000 and the Leica also delivers outstanding low-light performance. The autofocus is fast and accurate too and you can shoot at up to 20 frames per second (as well as being able to record 4k video). A niche product, and an expensive one, but still very desirable.

Laowa 65mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro: £409

This is a quirky but really interesting lens that will be a great choice for the large number of people who have become interested in macro photography during this year’s pandemic restrictions – it has often been a lot easier to photograph things around your home and garden. The Laowa, which is also quite reasonably priced, offers twice life-size reproduction, as opposed to conventional 1:1 magnification, and can focus to infinity. It takes a bit of practice to get used to the lens but it delivers really impressive results, and is available in Fujifilm X, Sony E and Leica L mounts. You can also get a 50mm version for Micro Four Thirds (Olympus and Panasonic).

Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art: £999

Another stand-out lens and a really good choice for portrait photographers. It is available in Sony E Mount and L Mount (the alliance between Sigma, Leica and Panasonic) and is more compact than the DSLR version while still offering outstanding image quality. The lens has 15 lens elements in 11 groups and also uses in-camera software correction – all of which helps to keep distortion to the absolute minimum and deliver sharp, consistent results. Eleven curved diaphragm blades deliver really attractive bokeh (background blur) too.

Geoff Harris

I am a journalist and photographer and currently work as the Deputy Editor of Amateur Photographer (AP) - http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk 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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