With a deluge of new products hitting store shelves and browser windows every day, it’s easy to lose track of everything that happens in a year. So, to jog our memories a bit as the year winds to a close, we combed through our Today in Gear archives and other news briefs to reflect back on all of the notable products we discovered in 2017. The result is a new series we’re calling This Year in Gear, and we hope you’ll enjoy reviewing this snapshot of the photography industry’s work as much as we have. Think we missed something, or just want to sound off on any trends you noticed? Let us know by dropping a comment on Facebook, Twitter or email.
With the introduction of the new CL ($2,795+), Leica now makes two interchangeable lens APS-C cameras. Its older brother, the TL2 came out earlier this year with a focus on minimal design and a modern, smartphone-derived touchscreen interface. Most loved its sparse, chamfered body and excellent image quality, but camera nerds couldn’t stand its lack of an electronic viewfinder and inability to change the ISO by turning a dial. Like they did with the refresh of their flagship M10, Leica has again yielded to the nerds with the new CL.
Let’s get something straight before things go too far, the Leica TL2 is a good camera. It’s really pretty, wonderfully fast, the sensor is on par with the rest of the industry, and the system’s higher-end L mount lenses (just look for the most expensive ones) are beyond APS-C peers from Sony and Fuji. The new CL, however, aims to take all that was good about the TL2 and add a big, bright, integrated viewfinder and the general control scheme from the M10 and Q. The good news is, it totally worked.
Ona Bond Street Compact Camera Bag
Ona’s most compact handmade leather camera bag holds one small camera (instant, mirrorless or a small DSLR), up to two small lenses and an assortment of everyday carry.
Edelkrone Wing Series Smartphone and Camera Sliders
Rail systems are a wonderfully creative photography tool, but a hassle to lug around. Edelkrone’s Wing sliders are less than half the size and weight of most rail systems, and acheive the exact same effect. The series includes three sliders in varying degrees of rail-movement length: the Wing 3, for lightweight rigs and smartphones; the Wing 7, for DSLRs and mid-weight rigs; and the Wing 15, for heavy production cameras.
Sony A9 Mirrorless Camera
Sony’s A9 full-frame is notable mainly for its higher-speed data processing which is up to 20 times faster than previous Sony full-frame sensors. That allows the camera to handle 20 fps continuous shooting, 693-point phase-detection focusing (which covers 90 percent of the frame), and exposure speeds of up to 1/32,000 of a second.
Lexdray San Francisco Camera Pack
If you have enough camera equipment to fill a duffel and you’re constantly traveling through harsh environments — here’s your backpack. It’s ridiculously customizable, with modular organizational inserts, 14 zippered pockets, a removable hip belt and more.
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ10 Instant Camera
Fujifilm’s latest instant camera prints larger photos (2.4 x 2.4 inches), adds an LCD screen on the back and allows you to make quick edits before printing.
Cooperative of Photography SD Card Holder Wallet
For the photographer who’s constantly on the move (that’s most photographers), an Italian leather bifold, with enough space for four SD cards and a stack of credit cards.
Halide iPhone Photo App
I know, I know. Another goddamn camera app. But hear this one out: it’s made by an ex-Apple designer and an ex-Twitter engineer and it has many SLR-esque features no ordinary camera app can provide (focus peaking, live histogram, RAW mode, full manual control, a gesture-based interface and more). The whole idea is to encourage deliberate, thoughtful smartphone photography, rather than one-off snapshots that wind up getting deleted anyway.
Nest Cam IQ
Compared to Nest’s previous Cam Indoor ($150) and rugged Cam Outdoor ($199), the Cam IQ has improved microphones and more speakers (which are also louder); the design was also updated with an articulating stand. The real draw of the Cam IQ, however, is its superior image quality and intelligence. The Cam IQ has a 4K HDR image sensor and a unique feature called Supersight, allowing the camera to identify, track and zoom in on a certain person (or pet) when they enter the frame. And the camera’s 12x digital zoom will enable you to enhance imagery, allowing you to really see what your dog is chewing on.
Lomo’Instant Panama + Lenses
It’s hard to commit to an intimidating DSLR when the smartphone lens in your pocket capably takes high-res photos. Some of those shots might make it onto Instagram, but close to none will ever live in print. Lomo’Instant Panama removes the confusion and adds palm trees instead. The Polaroid-style shooter is fully automatic yet capable of a range of manual control thanks to multiple shooting modes and different lens and gel options. And it prints instantly, so all the hard work you put in doesn’t just end up languishing in the dusty corners of the cloud.
50Daylight Fine Grain 120-Format Color Film
Film photography ain’t dead, and neither is film video. CineStill’s 120-format color negative film has long been a favorite among film-loyal movie directors; now it’s available in medium-format still photography emulative of Kodak 50D, a gorgeous film that rose to prominence in Hollywood.
Canon Selphy CP1300 Wireless Compact Printer
Canon’s latest photo printer is impossibly small (about as big as a short stack of paperback books), totally wireless (using wi-fi, print photos from your smartphone, digital camera, Facebook and more), and, with an optional battery pack, operates without the need for an electrical outlet. Prints photos no bigger than postcard size (4 x 6 inches).
Sony RX0 Action Camera
A shot across GoPro’s bow, this camera sports a 4K-capable 15.3MP sensor, Zeiss lens, waterproof housing and much more.
Fujifilm X-E3 Rangefinder-Style Ultra-Compact Mirrorless Camera
Fujifilm somehow managed to squeeze its most powerful sensor into this ridiculously tiny body. Don’t even bother with Fujifilm’s X-Pro2, which released about a year ago; the X-E3 is basically just as powerful, but smaller.
Canon 6D Mark II
Canon’s long-awaited 6D Mark II finally arrived — and it’s a big upgrade from the 2012 Canon 6D. Photographers looking for a full-frame DSLR at a relatively low price will revel at its upgraded 26.2MP CMOS sensor and an improved DIGIC 7 image processor with max ISO of 40,000 (compared to the 6D’s 32,000). It also boasts Canon’s fast Dual-Pixel autofocusing system that captures 45 autofocus points, compared to the 6D’s 11.
The Mark II has several other improvements that Canon enthusiasts have been asking for, including a 3-inch LCD touchscreen that swivels (finally!!), weather-resistant body and all the modern connectivity components you’d expect in 2017 (wi-fi, NFC, Bluetooth and GPS). The Mark II is also the same weight as the original 6D.
Not all professionals will be happy, though. The 6D Mark II lacks 4K video — it only supports full HD video recording at 60p — which seems like a huge miss with video being of paramount importance for rising professionals.
The 6D Mark II starts at $1,999 (body only). Pair it with Canon’s 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 STM, and it’s $2,599. It jumps up to $3,099 with Canon’s 24-105mm f/4L IS.
Sony RX10 IV
The RX10 IV is, according to our deputy photography editor, Henry Philips, “kinda cool, kinda overkill, and kinda weird.” That’s a nice way to sum up this compact camera with probably the fastest autofocus and smartest subject tracking in its class.
Polaroid Instant Film
The inventor of the digital camera’s worst nightmare has come true: Polaroid instant film has risen from its grave.
Google Clips Camera
Google launched a small camera that’s specifically designed for parents and pet lovers, called Google Clips ($249). It’s not meant to be carried around; rather, it’s meant to be left alone in a room, not unlike a security camera, to capture candid moments of children and pets doing hilarious and adorable things. It has a 12MP camera with 130-degree field of view. And it records 7-second videos (or long gifs), but it can’t capture audio.
RED Monstro 8K VV
The minds behind some of the world’s best ultra high-resolution digital camera systems, RED, unveiled the Monstro 8K VV sensor this year. It’s designed to be paired with RED’s Weapon camera to create the Weapon 8K VV. Together, it’s able to record 8K video at 60 fps and capture 35.4MP stills. If cinematic-quality images if what you’re after, this $79,500 behemoth is your holy grail.
Kodak Printomatic Instant Print Camera
The Kodak Printomatic was announced in early September. It has a 10MP sensor and can instantly print sticker photos that are 2 x 3 inches, similar to the more expensive Polaroid Snap ($89). It’s simple to use and has a built-in flash, and it can even capture new photos while it’s printing other ones. And it’s now available on Amazon.
Leica Noctilux-M 75 mm f/1.25 ASPH
Leica’s Noctilux line of super-high-speed, super-high-quality prime lenses is the stuff of legend, despite only really having one lens in it at any given time. The first one, a 50mm f/1.2, blew the doors off of the camera world in 1966 and following iterations got the aperture down to a mind-blowing f/.95 for the most extreme subject isolation you’ll see on a 50mm lens. Now, they’ve done the same with a portrait focal length. The new 75 f/1.25 will offer even more background blur than the 50mm Noctilux while maintaining the so-called “Leica look” and extreme performance that the folks from Wetzlar are known for. The 75 f/1.25 will start shipping in 2018.
Shimoda Designs Adventure Camera Bags
The population of Instagram-famous adventure photographers has surged over the past few years, and the number of backpacks designed for hauling camera gear into the outdoors has gone up along with it. Shimoda Designs, helmed by F-stop Gear’s former Director of Development, Ian Millar, is entering the space with a just-launched Kickstarter campaign and a full range of products that includes two backpacks, a rolling duffel and a range of organizers and cases. Each item is designed with rugged utility in mind, featuring smart concepts like a height adjustable torso, and is already backed by a group of proven photogs.
Additional editorial contributions were made by Tucker Bowe, Nick Caruso, Tanner Bowden, Michael Finn, Henry Phillips and Jeremy Fischer
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