There are no less than 15 What Digital Camera Award winners this year. To make it just that little bit easier to find out which product has won each category, we’ve listed them on seperate pages below. Not only that, we’ve added links through to the full review of each product, as well as the runner ups. All that’s left to do is click below to find out the 2012 winners!
What Digital Camera Awards – Dealers’ Gear of the Year
For an SLR, my choice would be the Canon EOS 650D as it appeals to so many people: family, beginner and enthusiast with its full HD video, and finally a touchscreen that actually works well!
My favourite camera however, is the Fujifilm Finepix XE-1. After seeing it at Photokina, I fell in love with it and clearly many other people have too because it has proved to be a top seller.
Best lens has to be the Canon 40mm f/2.8. It not only is a super-sharp lens but the price makes it really affordable. I used it on my EOS 5D Mk II and due to its size, made the camera much easier to carry around and I was delighted with the results. Best accessory has to be Elements 11 because it remains the best-selling and is great value.
A close battle but the Canon EOS 5D Mk III is our SLR choice. We decided it is the perfect all round full frame SLR that’s perfect for stills and video. For compact cameras, we decided that the Fujifilm FinePix HS30 was the best of the bunch. Chris said it was “a fully featured camera for an incredible price”. Moving on to lenses and Sigma’s new 18-250mm DC Macro OS HSM lens takes it. This focal range is so popular and we feel that Sigma has done an excellent job making this as good as other lenses but at a fantastic price. The Think Tank Retrospective range is our best accessory. Jasmine said: “Indiscrete, simple design with added comfort makes this perfect for travel.”
Store Manager and sales team
For me, it has to be the Sony Alpha 77 with the standard 16-50mm f/2.8 zoom lens. It’s a very capable piece of kit and the latest price drop makes it a real bargain too. It’s well-made, but it’s reasonably lightweight too.The f/2.8 lens and excellent sensor combine to give excellent low light performance and on a couple of occasions I was even able to test the high speed 12fps burst capability of the A77. As it’s an SLT, it features an electronic viewfinder, but this is excellent, and the depth of field function with the electronic finder never ceases to amaze.
While the Sony lens range is growing, there are usually lots of very reasonably priced used Minolta lenses floating around our 28 stores!
What a big year it’s been with all the new cameras! But it’s not Nikon or Canon that has grabbed our attention; it’s the Fuji X-Pro1 and Olympus OM-D which came out at the start of the year. It’s great to see cameras with style and substance. Killer retro designs which are backed by serious image quality. I’m surprised it’s taken them this long to realise that it’s obvious what a lot of people want in style, and the size really complements the principles behind CSCs.
It’s been great getting the new super telephoto primes in from Canon; although they’re not going to be affordable to everyone they’re some of the best lenses we’ve ever used and they’re so much lighter than previous models.
For me, this year, the Fujifilm X-Pro1 CSC gets my vote for best camera of 2012.
I enjoy the challenge of trying something new and for me it has that X-factor, bringing style and functionality to a whole new level.
The image quality is exceptional and with the fast, compact XF lenses accompanying it you are able to see the world differently. As well as bringing out your creative side, the X-Pro1 gives you a whole new style of working that isn’t for the faint-hearted. It is not a camera to use lightly, it’s a jewel that needs a lot of attention and care in order to maximise its full potential. If I had enough pennies I would buy it in an instant and probably find myself, as painful as it is to say, putting my Canon DSLR to one side.
What Digital Camera Awards – Camera of the Year
With such diversity in this year’s camera releases, picking the one which has impressed us the most hasn’t been easy. Yet, while many have made an impression, it’s the OM-D E-M5 which has perhaps made the greatest. Appealing to seasoned OM users, DSLR owners and those after the latest digital technology as well, the OM-D E-M5 is the perfect blend of style and technology.
Its merits are too plentiful to mention in their entirety, but with a 9fps burst mode, a splashproof body designed with a tiltable display and a 5-axis image stabilisation at the forefront of the spec sheet, it’s clear even on paper how impressive the model promises to be in use. Traditionalists will no doubt appreciate a design inspired by the analogue OM series, as well as a viewfinder – albeit an electronic one – for more orthodox composition. And those after a more modern shooting experience benefit from a responsive OLED display on the rear. We found little to complain about with its images too – all in all, then, a fine headliner for Olympus’s CSC range.
What Digital Camera Awards – Best Accessories
Lightroom 4 offers a comprehensive set of intuitive tools and features to organise and enhance your Raw images. Developments to the Develop module enable you to preserve more dynamic range than ever before and the addition of the Map module lets you organise your images by location.
There’s also the option to create a book, produced by the well-known book company, Blurb. More affordable than previous versions of Lightroom, it doesn’t have all the tools you need for advanced imaging tasks but it is superb for developing Raw files, archiving images, making quick edits and exporting your work very easily.
Vanguard BBH-200 ball head £175
This is quite special. The cutaway design makes it lightweight and its Rapid Level System lets you lock the head into the upright position for level horizons. Finally it’s nicely engineered, with big, strong locks and the popular Arca Swiss quick-release plate.
Velbon UT-43D tripod £115
Weighing less than 1.2kg and folding down to just under 30cm, it’s a wonder that the UT-43D can still extend to same height as a conventional tripod. Its ball and socket head has a large tripod plate, and it would be great for a travelling photographer.
Hahnel Tuff TTL Flash Trigger £89
Hähnel’s Tuff TTL flash triggers are durable and robust. The additional strength that’s been applied to the receiver and transmitter make them one of the toughest flash triggers on the market and they’re powered by a pair of AA batteries.
LowePro Pro Messenger 160 AW £159
While this stylish and discreet bag may appear to be made from canvas it is in fact Lowepro’s custom-milled performance fabric. It can fit a decent amount of kit in it, and, when fully loaded, the strap delivers excellent comfort.
What Digital Camera Awards – Innovation of the Year
With the dual benefit of wireless transmission and 3G capability, the Samsung Galaxy Camera will perhaps one day be viewed as the camera that ventured first in a direction all others are likely to follow. That’s not to say the Galaxy Camera is only about its connectivity though, as there’s plenty more to intrigue and impress.
Top of the list is a lens with a 35mm-equivalent focal range of 23-483mm, although the High Definition touchscreen display that dominates the rear of the camera is arguably just as great a highlight. Running Android’s Jelly Bean OS, the camera can be augmented with a range of apps from the App Market, although with a plethora of editing functions, scene modes and even slow-motion video capabilities as standard, it proves its mettle even without these. And, of course, to ensure you never accidentally delete your images, you can back up to the cloud as you shoot.
Runners up: Nokia 808 PureView, Olympus body cap lens, Sigma lens dock
What Digital Camera Awards – Best DSLR Zoom Lens
Our DSLR zoom lens of choice for our 2012 awards is Tokina’s AT-X 17-35mm f/4 PRO FX for the way it balances an excellent build quality with a superb optical performance. Scoring a 95% overall score earlier this year, this wideangle zoom produced a staggering set of MTF curves that only dipped below the important 0.25 cycles-per-pixel threshold wide-open at 24mm and 35mm.
The exceptionally wide angle-of-view on offer, coupled with minimal signs of distortion, makes it an excellent optic for interior and landscape subjects where it’s vital to squeeze as much as possible within the frame.
Designed for full-frame DSLRs and available in Canon and Nikon mounts, it provides everything you need from a wideangle zoom at a sensible price. We have no hesitation in saying it’s one of the best super-wideangle zooms available today.
Runners-up Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM, Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD
What Digital Camera Awards – Best DSLR Prime Lens
Offering an excellent blend of features and performance at an affordable price, the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G AF-S is our DSLR prime lens of the year.
Considerably more affordable than its f/1.4 stablemate that costs almost 4x the amount, this lens delivers an excellent optical performance, with a very good MTF score, with our tests showing it did not dip below the critical 0.25 cycles-per-pixel threshold at any point within the aperture range.
Featuring Nikon’s Silent Wave (AF-S) technology for whisper-quiet AF, the lens is well made and sits comfortably on an FX full-frame body, though it’ll be just at home on a DX body for those looking to replicate the popular 135mm focal length on an APS-C DSLR body. The Nikon 85mm f/1.8G is a fantastic lens that delivers excellent results that’d trouble much pricier options.
Runners-up: Nikon 35mm f/1.4G AF-S, Pentax 35mm f/2.4 SMC DA AL
What Digital Camera Awards – Best CSC Zoom Lens
Most professional photographers have a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens in their DSLR kit bag, but there hasn’t been an equivalent in the compact system camera sector until now. The 2x magnification factor of the Panasonic/Olympus Micro Four Thirds system makes this 12-35mm Lumix lens the precise equivalent – except that it’s just a fraction of the size and weight of DSLR versions.
There’s nothing lightweight about the specifications, though: an all-metal lens barrel, weatherproof seals, internal focusing and Optical Image Stabilisation are just a handful of its merits. The image quality is outstanding too, registering an impressive 0.3 cycles per pixel in our resolution tests from wide open right down to f/16. Those looking to use Panasonic’s G-series cameras for video rather than stills recording will also welcome the inclusion of a motor designed to be discreet while recording.
Runners up: Panasonic G X PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 Power O.I.S., Samsung 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 ED OIS
What Digital Camera Award – Best CSC Prime Lens
Sigma may only have a couple of lenses designed exclusively for mirrorless cameras in its optics range, but if the 19mm f/2.8 EX DN is a sign of things to come we should feel very encouraged.
Technical testing produced an outstanding set of MTF curves, that only dipped at the very smallest apertures, which is expected from any lens. With three aspherical elements in its construction the only chromatic aberration that could be spotted were traces in technical targets, with none in real-world images, and at just £150 the lens is a bargain too, with its effective focal length making it ideally suited for reportage and general street photography. In fact, its only real downside it that more people can’t take advantage of all this, as the lens is only currently available for the Micro Four Thirds and Sony NEX platform. Sigma’s only other CSC lens to date, the 30mm f/2.8 EX DN, also impressed us greatly.
Runners-up Leica DG 25mm f/1.4, Olympus M.ZUIKO ED 12mm f/2, Olympus M.ZUIKO ED 45mm f/1.8, Samsung 85mm f/1.4 ED SSA
What Digital Camera Awards – Best Full Frame DSLR
Generating a fierce debate among the WDC team, the D800 just edged out the equally impressive Canon EOS 5D Mk III in this category. While both models have their strengths over the other, we felt that the staggering 36.3MP resolution offered by the D800 was a real game-changer. The stunning level of detail offered by the D800 will trouble that of much costlier medium format cameras, capturing the imagination and extending the possibilities to a host of photographers.
It’s not all about resolution, as the D800 is brimming with a comprehensive set of features, sports a very sophisticated 51-point AF system, is a joy to use thanks to some fantastic handling characteristics, while the rock-solid build and the plethora of weather-seals will protect it from the elements. This, and loads of little details, all go to make this one of the best DSLRs we’ve ever seen.
Runners up: Canon EOS 5D MkIII, Canon EOS-1D X, Nikon D600, Nikon D4, Sony Alpha 99
What Digital Camera Awards – Best APS-C DSLR
If you’re intending to make the step from compact to DSLR and are after the benefits of better image quality, improved handling and faster performance, there’s an excellent selection of APS-C models to consider. There’s one camera that stands out from the crowd and manages to tick all the right boxes, that being Pentax’s K-30.
The detail the 16.3MP CMOS sensor resolves is superb. The autofocus is snappy too, it shoots rapidly at up to 6fps and the quality of the build can’t be faulted in any way. In the hand the K-30 feels every part as solid as more expensive enthusiast DSLRs. Unlike many cameras at its price point it features full weather sealing meaning you can shoot in virtually all weather conditions, and this combined with full HD video and a 3in 921k-dot display make it the best in its class. You can rest assured that you’re getting a lot of camera for your money with the K-30.
Runners up: Canon EOS 650D, Nikon D3200, Sony Alpha 57
What Digital Camera Awards – Best Advanced CSC
Olympus struck gold when it launched the OM-D E-M5. The company’s first CSC with a built-in electronic viewfinder, the OM-D took its design cues (and its name) from the much-loved 35mm OM SLR system of the 1970s. Except that it’s much, much smaller. It’s no plastic replica either – the OM-D is metal, like the original, which delivers a quality feel, while there’s a grip and battery pack available that also resemble old-school motordrives.
But the OM-D is not just a style icon, it has a formidable specification too, with weatherproofing, the best image quality from an Olympus CSC we’ve seen to date (thanks to a brand new 16.1MP sensor), a vari-angle OLED touchscreen, one of the best electronic viewfinders on the market and a 9fps burst mode. Partner this with a selection of high-quality prime lenses and you’ve got yourself a great system.
Runners up: Fujifilm X-Pro1, Panasonic Lumix GX1, Sony NEX-7
What Digital Camera Awards – Best Consumer CSC
If the G5 proves anything it’s just how little division there exists today between advanced Compact System Cameras and DSLRs. Its 16MP sensor and ISO 160-12,800 range makes it a close match for many enthusiast DSLRs, while the 3in display with 920k dots also proves to be comparable, with the added bonus of touchscreen control. Full HD video and 6fps burst shooting also gives more traditional cameras something to think about, as does the electronic levelling function.
Fortunately, the camera’s high specifications are mirrored by a solid build and stellar performance, with a fast AF system, sound metering and respectable imge noise control at lower sensitivities. And, as if further incentive for investing in the Micro Four Thirds system was necessary, it’s worth remembering the G5 provides compatibility with the largest selection of lenses and accessories available for any CSC line.
Runners up: Nikon 1 J2, Samsung NX20
What Digital Camera Awards – Best Tough Compact
Canon’s D20 improves on its predecessor, the award-winning D10, in many ways. The striking new piscatorial inspired design is radical but surprisingly user friendly, while the chunky coloured buttons are easy to see, and usable even wearing gloves.
The 12MP resolution and DIGIC 4 processor are retained but the dynamic range and high ISO noise levels have been improved, while a host of enhancements such as a 5x zoom, full HD movie recording, slow-motion movies and creative art filters bring the D20 bang up to date. All of this is on the inside, yet the outside is just as impressive: in addition to being waterproof down to 10m and shockproof to a height of 1.5m, the compact is sealed against dust and can also be used in conditions as cold as -10°C. And, wherever you happen to be, the camera’s GPS system will allow you to map your images.
What Digital Camera Awards – Best Enthusiast Compact
Sony’s RX100 is the company’s first premium, enthusiast compact in recent memory, and quite a camera it is too.
Opting for a physically larger sensor than most of its pocket-sized rivals, the RX100 sports an impressive 20.2MP 1in Exmor chip that delivers excellent results. Not only that, but the RX100 features a sharp and fast 3.6x optical zoom with a bright maximum aperture of f/2.8 at 28mm.
On the front is an intuitive control ring, allowing you to quickly change a host of settings which goes some way to delivering a camera that handles brilliantly.
Add to that the quality metal finish, understated, sleek design along with the ultra-sharp WhiteMagic display, and the RX100 provides the user with a perfect blend of size, image quality, handling and price, making the RX100 the perfect choice for the discerning photographer.
What Digital Camera – Best Superzoom Compact
One of the most compelling superzoom cameras of recent times, the X-S1 earned high praise in its review earlier this year for a variety of reasons. Its specifications, which include a 12MP EXR CMOS sensor fronted by a 24-624mm optic, an articulating LCD screen and a 7fps burst shooting mode are impressive enough in themselves, but it is its performance that made it shine even brighter.
We found the camera’s electronic viewfinder reproduced the scene excellently, while the effective image stabilisation system helped keep images sharp in more demanding shooting conditions. This, together with a largely sound metering system and excellent noise control, as well as a lens surprisingly free from many distortions, makes it easily recommendable to those looking for a powerful all-purpose camera for less than the price of a DSLR with a superzoom optic.
What Digital Camera – Best Consumer Compact
Panasonic’s TZ30 is an ideal compact for anyone who’s looking for a lighter and less cumbersome camera to take away with them on their travels.
With 14.1MP, it crams in an impressive 20x optical zoom lens that provides a 24-480mm equivalent focal length. Great for landscapes where you’d like to contain as much in the frame as possible, the TZ30 also allows you to home in on far away subjects, with Panasonic’s O.I.S optical stabiliser technology to keep shots pin-sharp and free of blur. Its 10fps burst mode, full HD movie recording and Raw capture make it stand out against the competition and what’s more it has a large 3in, 460k-dot touchscreen for easy point-and-press control. Reasonably priced at £236, the TZ30 offers excellent value for money and can be considered as a serious alternative to the bulkier superzoom bridge cameras which are out there.