Best Camera 2018: The Year's Best Cameras In Every Category
Camera technology changes quickly, which means the best camera of 2018 probably hasn't hit shelves yet. But as we flip through calendar pages, we'll add the cameras we think are the most deserving of the title to this list. Check back often for updates before we choose the final winners in December.
We've already seen late 2017 announcements that won't start shipping until this year like the Panasonic G9. January brings the Consumer Electronics Show and a handful of companies often launch new products during the show, so we expect to see the first few cameras of the year to head out fairly quickly. Until then, however, we'll leave our picks for 2017 as the reigning champs until and another model changes our minds.
The Panasonic FZ80 launched in March of 2017 with arguably the best set of features for a zoom camera under $400. While you'll find even more from the Panasonic FZ2500 or Sony RX10 IV (included in the Advanced Super Zoom category below), those cameras cost three times that. The camera boasts a 60x zoom lens with a bright f/2.8-5.9 aperture, a 10 fps burst speed and 4K video.For big zoom without a big price tag, the FZ80 still stands -- time will tell if this super soon gets unseated.
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Zoom cameras bring features smartphones can't bet -- which is why we were surprised when a 2016 camera wasn't ousted last year. We're hoping to see a few new options here to beat out the 2016 Panasonic ZS60, which we selected for the lens, 10 fps burst speed and 4K video. Those specs are still pretty good, but an update could bring more resolution, enhanced speeds or something else entirely.
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Sony's one-inch sensors make for both excellent images and portability. The RX10 IV held this spot last year. Sony has updated that line on an annual basis some years, so there's a chance we'll see an update this year -- or another model entirely could unseat the RX10. The super zoom isn't all the RX10 IV has to offer with a 24 fps burst speed, fast autofocus, and manual controls all wrapped up in a fixed lens camera with a body like a small DSLR. The sensor puts the Sony RX10 IV in the advanced category -- but so does the $1,700 retail price.
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The Olympus TG Tough line with single digit model numbers is a long-standing favorite because of a brighter than average lens. The TG-5 launched last year and the TG-4 two years before that, so there may not be a replacement coming from Olympus this year. Other options are creeping closer to our favorite specs from the TG5, however, so we could see a new winner here before the year's end.
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The Fujifilm X70 is the company's mirrorless line wrapped up in a fixed lens, compact camera -- which means there's a lot to love. Add a $700 price and the X70 looks even better. There's no zoom on this camera, but it houses the same sensor found in DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. We'll see if 2018 brings another favorite, but until then, the X70 is an excellent shooter, particularly for minimalists.
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With a 24 fps burst speed and a solid one-inch sensor, it's hard to imagine how Sony will one-up the RX100 V. The camera launched in late 2016 though and the one before that in 2015, so we wouldn't be surprised to see an update this year. Until then though, that snappy burst mode and the mix of compact body style and high-end imagery have us wooed.
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If you're looking for a compact interchangeable lens camera on a budget, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 seems to have the fewest sacrifices with 4K video and five-axis stabilization, features normally reserved for pricier models. Budget mirrorless is a highly competitive category, however, so another camera could easily take the title this year. Until then though, the E-M10 Mark III remains a good buy.
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Panasonic is packing just as many video features into their still cameras as they are photo features and the G9 continues that impressive streak. Building on the success of the GH5, the Panasonic G9 offers 4K video without those pesky time limits, along with 20-megapixel stills at speeds up to 12 fps, or 20 fps with the electronic shutter. If that's not impressive enough, the G9 also boasts six stops of optical image stabilization. The camera also includes a handful of 6K photo modes that allow for neat tricks like post focus and 30 fps bursts, while the camera can also stitch 80-megapixel shots too. When it comes to cameras that are equally adept at stills and video, the G9 is the one to beat. The camera is expected to start shipping in February 2018.
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The Fujifilm X-T20, launched in 2017, offers some of the best mix of features for the price point. You're not skipping out on 4K video or a nice X-Trans sensor and performance isn't horribly slow either. You'll find more features (like weather-sealing) and faster bursts on the more advanced models, but for the price point, the X-T20 is an excellent choice. We'll see if another model is able to match the mix of features and price in 2018.
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Truth be told, we could give this title to a number of different Sony cameras, the only company (besides the pricy Leica) offering full frame. If you need speed, the Sony a9 is second to none with an incredible 20 fps. If you need both speed and resolution, the Sony a7R III offers an excellent mix with 10 fps at 42.2 megapixels. And for APS-C, we really love the X-T2's features and image quality. Pricier cameras tend to see less frequent updates, but they're also becoming the focus for many manufacturers as interchangeable lens cameras are selling better than fixed lens cameras, based on the latest data.
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Nikon's entry-level cameras tend to have a solid mix of features and pricing and the D5600 offers a bit more than the cheapest D3400. The 24-megapixel APS-C sensor is excellent for the price point, while the body packs in a handful of more advanced features like the tilting touchscreen and Bluetooth connection. The D5600 is now a year old, though DSLRs don't always see annual updates. We'll see if another model bests the feature list for a similar price point in 2018.
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The Nikon D850 mixes both a high-resolution sensor and impressive speed -- a mix that's tough to find. That's changing, however, with both the D850 and the Sony a7R III offering both high speeds and high resolution. The D850 even has some features that outdo the company's flagship D5, which is now two years old (note that the Nikon had three years between the D4 and D5, however). With companies focusing on the interchangeable lens cameras that are selling better than fixed lens cameras, we wouldn't be surprised to see a new winner in this category soon.
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