Gear of the Year 2011: Best Compact System Camera & Best Consumer DSLR/SLT

Gear of the Year 2011

Best Compact System Camera

WINNER:  Panasonic Lumix GF3

Price: £429

Website: www.panasonic.co.uk

This was the most hotly contended category this year - choosing our winning Compact System Camera from the mass of top-quality options wasn't taken lightly. We voted, we argued, and continued in that cycle for quite some time. But one thing was clear: that the Lumix GF3 was a firm favourite that kept on surfacing to the top of the pile. Not because it produces the best image quality (as, frankly, there are contenders that beat it in this department), but because it's the camera that epitomises the CSC category. It's über-small, easy to use, affordable, has a good lens-to-body size ratio, super-fast autofocus and, above all, it's the one that all of us WDC folk would choose to take away on a short weekend or to back up the DSLR on holiday. A bit of a people's champion, if you will.

RUNNERS-UP 


Samsung NX11
Sony NEX-C3
Olympus E-PL3

Best Consumer DSLR/SLT

WINNER:  Sony Alpha 35

Price: £379 (body only)

Website: www.sony.co.uk

Sony's grip on the DSLR and SLT market was further strengthened this year, and the Alpha 35 is a prime example as to why. Although this model may be ‘entry-level' in terms of Sony's lineup, it's one of those cameras that grabs far higher-end features and squeezes them into this sub-£400 body. It's an undeniable bargain to pick up a camera that steps up to the plate and outdoes even pricier peers. While the electronic viewfinder integral to the A35's build may not be to everyone's tastes, we were taken aback by the sheer quality of the camera's final images, the fast continuous focus, great movie mode and rapid burst speed. This one's a crowd-pleaser and the camera to put SLT firmly on the map. DSLRs, watch your backs...

RUNNERS-UP 


Canon EOS 600D
Nikon D5100