You know our staff. You love our staff. You trust our staff. That’s why we asked our staff to tell us their most highly recommended products of 2013.
Tim recommends the Fuji X100S
The Fuji X100S made a huge splash when it was released earlier this year. David Hobby praised its high sync speed, its low-light capabilities, its shutter silence, and basically everything else. Zack Arias called it “the greatest camera I’ve ever owned.” It boasts the “world’s fastest AF and high-speed processing,” its progressive APS-C X-Trans CMOS II sensor without that pesky optical low-pass filter, enhanced manual focus, a beautiful hybrid viewfinder, and surprisingly versatile FUJINON 23mm F2 lens, all in a compact, sleekly nostalgic body. What more could you want in a camera?
T.J. recommends the Sony FDR-AX1 4K Handycam
Time and time again, Sony has proven to be one of the most forward-thinking companies around. Last year’s RX100 was nothing short of revolutionary. They’ve done it again with their latest camcorder, the FDR-AX1, which shoots 4K at 60 fps, includes 3 ND filters in its 20x opitical zoom G-Lens, and a perfect suite of adjustments on the side of the camera, cutting down on your time spent lost in menus. For a fraction of what you’d spend on cameras of comparable quality, not to mention all the lenses you’d have to buy for the same focal range, the Sony FDR-AX1 is, as with many of Sony’s cameras, in a class of its own.
Sonnie recommends the Sony Alpha 7
Speaking of Sony, the Alpha 7 is their newest leap forward. Their latest interchangeable lens camera features a full-frame 24.3MP sensor with 14-bit RAW recording capabilities, lightning-fast hybrid AF capabilities, and Sony E-mount compatibility for those who already rely on a roster of Sony glass. Connect with the world at large with built-in Wi-Fi or NFC capabilities and share your photos instantly. If you’re a street photographer who wants an inconspicuous camera without sacrificing image quality, or if you just like amazing lightweight cameras that will make print-quality images every time, the Alpha 7 is the camera for you.
Adam recommends the Profoto B1
Existing somewhere between a traditional speedlight and Profoto’s much-celebrated line of monolights, the Profoto B1 Off-Camera Flash hits the sweet spot. Battery power means portability and flexibility in lighting situations and TTL allows you to easily nail your exposure. Toss in Profoto’s long history of power, short flash duration, and light-shaping prowess, and you have one monster of a flash.
Hurley recommends the LumoPro LP180
Many companies will call their products “revolutionary” or “game-changing.” LumoPro don’t play that way. Instead, they let their products speak for themselves. That being said, let’s just call the LP180 a game-changing flash. It offers four ways to sync, more precise control over your power output than any other speedlight on the market, a convenient 1/4″ mounting thread on the side, and the best value of any flash, ever. David Hobby and Zack Arias both stand behind this flash . . . and those guys know their lighting. If you’re a speedlight shooter and you don’t have this already, well, what are you waiting for?
Ken recommends the Century DJI Phantom Quad Rotor Helicopter
Sure, maybe this is a niche product and not the most “practical” mounting solution, but when you’re flying a GoPro HD Hero3+ and capturing footage like you’ve never seen before, the Phantom Quad Copter will be the most fun you’ve had capturing video and stills in a long, long time.
Jessica recommends the Nikon 1 AW1
We showed you before that this camera is one tough cookie, but let us just reiterate. A perfect travel camera for the more adventurous photographer, this camera is the first interchangeable lens camera that’s waterproof and shockproof, with a 14.2MP CMOS sensor, Full HD 1080p video capture capabilities, and a continuous shooting frame rate of 15fps, never miss another exciting moment again.
Annie recommends the Canon EOS 70D
Canon took the dual functionality of the EOS 60D and introduced Dual Pixel CMOS AF, which makes capturing in-focus footage with a DSLR smoother and more precise than ever. Beefing up the CMOS APS-C sensor’s megapixel count and building in wireless capabilities makes this the perfect choice for DSLR users who want to capture more than just stills.
Colleen recommends the GoPro HD Hero3+ Black Edition
GoPro took everything that made the HD Hero3 an overwhelming success at video capture, slimmed it down, gave it a SuperView mode to widen your angle of vision, added an intelligent Auto Low Light mode, increased image sharpness, improved audio, and extended its battery life, all the while making its connection with your smartphone faster and smarter. Did we mention it also captures 12MP stills at 30 fps? There’s a reason why Forbes called GoPro “the world’s hottest camera company”–because they simply make the most intuitive and versatile action cameras we’ve ever seen.
The Nikon Df is the kind of camera that forces people to have an opinion about it even before they snap their first photo with it. While we haven’t gotten our hands on it yet, we have a very good feeling about this one. First, it’s one of the prettiest cameras we’ve seen, echoing old-school Nikon F film cameras while subtly modernizing its edges and gizmos. It’s thinner and lighter than other FX-format DSLRs in the Nikon lineup, and it utilizes the same image sensor and processor as the coveted Nikon D4. Plus, there’s no need to replace any of those trusty NIKKOR lenses you already own. For the nostalgic and the futuristic alike, this is a camera to note.
Moishe recommends the LumoPro 3-in-1 43″ Compact Umbrella
I wrote about the LumoPro 3-in-1 Compact Umbrella a few weeks ago, but let me just reiterate: this umbrella offers more value and flexibility than almost any other light modifier on the market. Choose white shoot-through, white bounce, or silver bounce, and drastically change the look of an image, with one modifier that literally could fit in your backpack. If you’re taking your OCF on location, and you want to eliminate the bulk of taking your entire studio with you, you’d be very wise to have this umbrella in your arsenal.
Michael recommends the Tamron SP 70-200mm F2.8 Di VC USD
I’ve said it before (here and here, for starters) and I’ll say it again: Tamron’s EISA 2013-14 winner for best zoom lens is simply one of the best lenses I’ve ever used. The perfect lens for basically any occasion, its telephoto focal length is contained in a compact package protected by a moisture-resistant construction and equipped with an uncannily quiet Ultransonic Silent Drive (USD) and stabilizing Vibration Compensation (VC) feature that will allow you to get that perfect shot in any condition. I plan on using it for the rest of 2013 and far into 2014, for that matter.