As Christmas parties start and work begins to shut down for another year, it’s a time to reflect on the last 12 months. It’s been another hugely busy and important year for the photo industry, but some brands have been busier than others.
We’re giving our opinion on which brands have rocked 2018 and those who have been…well…rather quieter. So, here goes….
2018 has been another stellar year for Sony as it’s early investment in the mirrorless system continues to not only pay off big time, but also ween long-time Nikon and Canon users away from well-established systems. In August, news was reported that the Sony claimed number one position in the United States full-frame interchangeable lens camera market for the first half of 2018 and, what’s more, that four out of every 10 full-frame cameras sold during this time period were Sony. Sony’s a7III, which featured a 24-megapixel sensor, 693 AF points, IBIS and 4K video was launched back in February summed up Sony’s approach to introducing feature-packed cameras that were attainable to the everyday photography. Along with the awesome cameras, Sony has worked hard on building its range of premium optics, releasing the 24mm f1/.4 and 400mm f/2.8 lenses from its acclaimed G Master.
Verdict: A great year for Sony!
If there was a shred of doubt that DJI were the absolute kings of the drone market then 2018 reinforced the brand’s position as ultimate topdog. Great products like the new Osmo Pocket were joined by the headline launches of the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom and Mavic 2 Pro. Both cameras achieve the seemingly impossible brief of including professional movie-making features into consumer-level drones that won’t break the bank. The Mavic 2 Pro particularly caught the headlines thanks to its Hasselblad camera, which serves up a whopping 20-megapixels of resolution. While other brands have brought out great drones – notably Parrot’s 4K ANAFI model – it’s clear DJI has strengthened its grasp on the market.
Verdict: Simply the best!
Wow, where do you start with Fuji in 2018? In February, the brand shook up the industry with the launch of the amazing 24-megapixel, 4K-shooting X-H1 – the first X-series camera with IBIS (In Body Image Stabilisation). However, Fuji weren’t done there and followed up the X-H1 with the epic X-T3. This compact mirrorless offers 26-megapixels from its APS-C sensor, features 495 phase detection AF points and shoots 4K video at 60p, making it a highly-versatile tool for both photographers and videographers. Yet, there was still more to come from Fuji because, at the Photokina in Germany, Fuji pulled the covers off the GFX 50R – a 51.4-megapixel medium format CMOS sensor camera in a rangefinder body. Lots of cool new cameras, lots of innovation, which is exactly what photographers want.
Verdict: Awesome work Fuji, a year of amazing launches!
Nikon’s big announcements of the year were of course not one, but two full-frame mirrorless cameras. The launch of the high megapixel Z7 and the speedy Z6 was arguably a more complete launch into the full-frame mirrorless market than Canon’s single EOS R camera, and the reviews have been positive, suggesting that Nikon’s R&D team got things right. Like any first-generation product, there seems to be room for improvement, but by releasing a roadmap that details lots of coll optics to come over the next three years, Nikon has tied its colours to the mast and indicated it’s in the mirrorless game for the long haul. This will reassure photographers who are thinking of investing in the Z7/Z6 but Nikon has explained it won’t move away from DSLRs either, so D850/D750 users have nothing to worry about.
Verdict: Good work Nikon, welcome to the mirrorless party!
It finally happened! After years of avoiding the big sensor mirrorless market, photography’s biggest brand released its first full-frame mirrorless camera… the EOS R. Some photographers had hoped for more from Canon, but others have been very happy with the camera’s results. In truth, it’s probably a little early to assess how Canon’s journey into mirrorless is going, but websites have already reported that the EOS R is making big waves in Japan and is capturing market share. While 2018 has been a decent year for Canon, it’s likely that 2019 will prove even more important, with rumour sites suggesting addition EOS R and more traditional DSLR cameras are set to be launched.
Verdict: A decent 12 months, but more work to be done!
It was a tale of two announcements at either end of the year for Panasonic, who kicked off 2018 with the launch of the GH5S – a modified version of Panasonic’s flagship mirrorless model developed primarily for video shooting. But it was towards the end of the year when Panasonic – on of the key developers of the Micro Four-Thirds system – really shook up the industry by announcing it would step into the field of full-frame mirrorless cameras. The 47-megapixel S1R and the 24-megapixel S1 will both feature the Leica mount after Panasonic and Sigma signed up to a new alliance with Leica and the cameras are due for release in early 2019.
Verdict: A good year, with plenty more to come in 2019!
After a – let’s call it challenging – year in 2017 when GoPro exited the drone market and calling time on its Karma model, 2018 has seen GoPro get back to basics and do what the brand does best – making great action cameras. The recent launch of the Hero 7 Black, showcased a massive leap forward for GoPro, particularly in its ability to stabilise footage from its flagship action camera.
Verdict: Bouncing back with great new models!
2018 was a reasonably quiet year for Olympus with no major announcements and this came as a fair surprise to photographers who were hoping for an upgraded version of the O-MD E-M5 MkII, which has been on the market since 2015. Surely the MkIII version will be forthcoming in early 2019, but it will be interesting to see if Olympus follow Panasonic to the larger mount or stay true to Micro Four-Thirds.
Verdict: Too quiet a year, so let’s see some new products soon, Olympus!