Anyone choosing a "Camera of the Year" for 2012 has a tough task ahead of them—this has been a stellar year for cameras. The Sony SLT-A57, SLT-A99, RX100, NEX-6, and RX1; the Canon 4Ti, 6D, and 5D Mark III; the Nikon D600, D800/E and D5200; the Leica M, M-E, and M Monochrom; the Pentax K-30 and K-5 II/s; the Sigma "Merrill" cameras, including the DP1 Merrill, DP2 Merrill, and SD1 Merrill; the Fuji X-Pro1 and X-E1; the Olympus OM-D E-M5; the Panasonic GH3; and the Samsung NX210 all helped make 2012 the best year for cameras since the crash of '08.
Realistically, although many of the cameras named above (and some not even named) are excellent, the leading contenders are probably the Canon 5D Mark III, the Nikon D800/E, the Fuji X-Pro1, the Sony A99 and possibly RX1, the Leica M, the Olympus OM-D, and the Pentax K-5 II/s.
It seems to me that the M Monochrom and the Sigma SD1 can be counted out on the basis of low market penetration—innovative as they are, they're not mainstream enough. Derivative "evolutions" of existing designs are at a disadvantage; in this sense, though, the 5D Mark III, K-5 II/s, and Leica M type 240 are still strong contenders, because each are extensively updated to the point that they're substantially new cameras with familiar forms and names.
The 6D and D600, likely fan favorites, can hardly be expected to outpoint their bigger brothers for a symbolic honor like CotY. A "Tebow Award," maybe?
Entry-level cameras such as the 4Ti, K-30, and D5200, no matter how good, seldom have the daydream potential to walk away with a win.
A dark horse is the Sony RX100, which brought the 1" sensor size to pocket point-and-shoots, potentially a momentous development. It also scores on popularity.
And the camera behind the curtain? The Sony RX1, a genuinely different and remarkably interesting design exercise and a legitimate first—the smallest-ever full-frame camera.
Unusually, I also bought not one but two of the contenders—the OM-D and the D800. Does that mean I should disqualify them, to avoid conflict of ego?
We'll announce our Camera of the Year soon, but please bear in mind, no one cares! That is, no one outside of TOP's legions of erudite, intelligent, and enlightened regular readers. TOP's endorsement doesn't bring fame and riches showering onto the heads of the lucky winners, nor does it mean big bumps in sales for the fortunate annointee, nor does it make news. As usual, we're simply having fun here. Always good to keep in mind.
Original contents copyright 2012 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Dillan: "My only opinion is to stand in opposition to the notion of the iphone becoming camera of the year. It's a high-functioning point-and-shoot. Yes, phones are the most used cameras in the world, but that does not mean that I am ready to embrace them as cameras. I am not yet 40, but I feel old when people suggest that. I think I'll be one of the old codgers who clings to his retro DSLR like a badge of honour. Hell, I might go back to film just to underline my stance."
Rick in CO: "Although just available, and therefore possibly not in contention, my new Canon 6D gets my vote. It has all of the improvements I wanted to my 5D MkII (better focus points without going overboard as in the 5D MkIII & built-in lens distortion correction) plus smaller, lighter, better dust protection, and it's less expensive! Simpler controls make it more usable, while GPS and WiFi make it techno-savvy. Canon just got it right in my humble opinion."
Carsten Bockermann: "The Leica M might be the camera of the year. The year 2013, that is. My dealer over here in Germany tells me that there are some delays, so he doesn't expect to see it before May or June."
Kenneth Tanaka (partial comment): "The Sony RX100 is a no-brainer winner. At a time when the pocketable point-and-shoot camera seems to be facing extinction, Sony has single-handedly and unexpectedly reestablished a raison d'être for this style of camera by raising its engineering and performance standards while keeping the price in volkscamera range. The RX100's '1-inch' sensor and its excellent Zeiss-designed lens have benched nearly all my other cameras for candid photography. It's that good."
Stephen Scharf: "For me, it's undoubtedly the Fujifilm X-Pro1. Why? In addition to its way-cool looks, innovative hybrid optical viewfinder and mind-blowing image quality (and with excellent Capture One raw support coming early in the new year, providing even higher image quality), the most important thing this camera did was get a huge number of pro and advanced amateur photographers excited about getting out and doing real photography again. When is the last time you've heard of a camera system that has so many pros dumping their pro Nikon and Canon kits? With its 'hands on' user experience forcing you to intellectually re-engage with the process of creating compelling and interesting images, the X-Pro1 takes the photographer on a journey back to their roots of learning and mastering the craft, and that journey is ever so fulfilling and beguiling."