Here we wrap up our survey of the cameras of 2013.
Sigma: It's rather odd that perhaps the best sensors for pure image quality, amateur division, are to be found in a quirky and obscure line of cameras from a lens manufacturer. But there it is. Sigma's only new camera introduced this year cements its plan to "fix" the fixed lens problem with the little DP[x] Merrills in the same way that Rollei once did with its TLRs: need a different lens? Buy a whole new camera. The series now has a moderate wide angle (the DP1), a normal (DP2), and with this year's DP3, a short tele. It's a nice simple solution, maybe most especially so if you need only one.
A DP with a different focal length lens naturally does not vault to the head of the crop as the year's standout. Should you want to marvel over image quality in every shot, however, the Sigma Merrill cameras are for you.
Samsung: This year Samsung brought us—well, brought somebody—the Galaxy NX, the world's first camera to feature the Android OS natively. Which might be cool, but I don't know what "Android" is. Although I know what an android is. A body's gotta be born somewhere on this blue teardrop and can only speak but so many languages, and I apparently don't speak Android. You may think this unfair, but then, if you're a diehard Samsung camera partisan you are a) not coming here primarily to feed your brand passion, and b) most likely lonely.
Lomography: I already covered the Lomography Konstruktor in the kickoff post of this series, where I called it "geek times three...it's a film camera, a toy camera, and a plastic model kit. Like a hat trick of regression and geeky goodness." Which means, of course, that we love it. And if I had more time and more space, I would buy one and spread the parts all over the top of a table and leave them there for two years, you bet I would.
Chamonix (the "-ix" is pronounced "ee"): New for 2013 is the beautiful 045F1, which starts with the 045N2 and adds base and asymmetrical tilts at the rear standard. I'd explain that, but if you care at all, you already know. If you're interested in this camera, don't forget that the world's most perfect lens is a great match for it.
Phase One: Finally, if you were wondering at that brief clause "amateur division" at the beginning of this post, here's why. The best sensors from you can buy, professional division, are the Phase One IQ2 series of backs, new for 2013. There are three, topping out at 80 megapixels, which, you might recall, is approximately the number of megapixels Ctein once calculated that current lenses can actually use. There is even (sob!) an IQ260 Achromatic (black and white) 60-MP back that you (quaintly) control with optical filters. I will be getting one of these just after I finally acquire my Feadship yacht and convince Gwyneth Paltrow to start living for giving me backrubs. (The IQ2 backs start at $40k.) Back here in reality, I must reluctantly admit that camera equipment more expensive than sporty German automobiles barely twerks my radar screen...or rather, it glows ever so faintly on the screen and I go outside with the binocs for a wistful visual as it passes in the distance.
Nominees from this group: sadly, none, although we find most of them delightful in their multitudinous ways.
Coming soon (of course): Our winner. New Year's Day. Place your bets.
Original contents copyright 2013 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:
Bob Smith: "I got a Chamonix 045F1 in November. It is a stunning looking and finely crafted camera. One of my avocations is building and finishing 18th C. furniture by hand so I'm sure of my statement when I say the fit and finish on this camera are excellent. It is a bargain at the current list price."
Gerry: "I think the most significant innovation of 2013 was Sony's decision to offer a programming interface (API) for their cameras, thereby allowing third-party software developers to develop their own applications that communicate with the camera. This is far more powerful than Sony merely releasing their own application for controlling their cameras from a phone or tablet. It means that Sony is allowing third-party developers to make the camera do things beyond what Sony itself has imagined. The A7 and A7R are on the list of cameras that initially support this, and I think that makes them good candidates for the TOP Camera of the Year Award.
"However, if the award has to be for features that are within the camera itself, I think the award should go to the Panasonic GX7 for the configurability of its buttons and touchscreen focus point selection.
"I've found that the best antidote to all 'Camera of the Year' awards is to go back and read a review of the camera you already have. I read one for my camera the other day. If I didn't already own one, I'd want to rush out and buy one. It has been said that there's nothing more subversive than an old newspaper and perhaps nothing can better subvert consumerism than a glowing review of a discontinued product."
expiring_frog (partial comment): "By the metric of programmability, the Galaxy NX and cousins are so far ahead of the pack it's not funny. You can (at least theoretically) reprogram pretty much anything about it, and not just to remap a few buttons or control it remotely. The kernel is open source and as far as I know Samsung plans to or has already made the camera API available. The last sentence of Gerry's comment applies far more to the NX than to the Sonys. (No, I don't own Samsung stock and have no interest in buying their cameras :-) . It just seems people don't really get the potential of the NX, or how much customizable, extensible software can transform how you capture photos. For comparison, see what folks have done with their iPhones (even when considered purely as a communication device) since Apple opened up the API. To me it's infinitely more interesting than just putting a larger sensor in a mirrorless camera."