The Gear of the Year
January 11, 2018
Click through to see a look at some of the products that caught our eye and what we’re excited about for the year ahead.
Lighting & Modifiers
The NEO 2 can pull double duty as a strobe or a continuous light. Thanks to a partnership with Elinchrom, Rotolight has integrated Elinchrom’s Skyport 2.4GHz radio into the NEO 2, enabling high-speed sync functionality (up to 1/8000 sec.) and the ability to control up to ten lights in four groups. When used as a strobe, the NEO 2 has no recycling time and no loss of flash power even when shooting long, uninterrupted bursts of flashes, the company claims.
Profoto’s new 76W/s flash features HSS and recycling times between 0.05 and 1.2 seconds. Power is adjustable over a nine-stop range and the lithium ion battery is good for 350 full-powered flashes. The battery is interchangeable so you can pack a spare and shoot for hours on end. It has a magnetic mount so you can add modifiers—even stack them—to shape its output. The A1 has Profoto’s AirTTL built in so you can control other Profoto lights.
Put this on your light (but don’t smoke it). The Litepipe is super compact, boasts a tool-less assembly and can be used with high-watt flashes up to 3,200 W/s.
GoPro is synonymous with action cameras and the new Hero 6 ups the ante with high-frame-rate 4K recording and a new processing chip that delivers better dynamic range, color reproduction and low-light performance than the Hero 5. You can record 4K video at up to 60p, 2.7K resolution video at 120p and 1080 HD video at up to 240p. There’s also a new touch zoom (digital zoom) feature and a faster Wi-Fi connection. Like the Hero 5, the 6 features a touch display and is waterproof up to a depth of 33 feet without a housing.
While it has the shape and durability of an action camera, the RX0 has the guts of a cinema camera. First, it has a 1-inch, 15-megapixel image sensor, much larger than the ½.3-inch sensors typically found in action cameras. While it can’t record 4K video internally, it does support clean HDMI output for sending a 4K signal to an external recorder. You’ll also get high frame rate HD recording, up to 250 fps plus Sony’s Slog2 color profile and time code. You can dunk the RX0 in up to 33 feet of water without a housing and it’s shock and dustproof too.
Unlike other 50-megapixel medium-format cameras on the market, the GFX 50S performs more like a traditional mirrorless camera than the more deliberate medium-format bodies. From autofocusing to high ISO performance and the inclusion of Fuji’s film simulation modes, the GFX 50S breaks new ground for the category.
With the a9, Sony has delivered faster continuous shooting speeds than flagship DSLRs in the same compact, full-frame mirrorless body that distinguished the a7 series. Oh, and it’s less expensive and more compact than those DSLRs to boot. This 24-megapixel camera boasts 693 phase-detect and 25 contrast-detect AF points covering 93-percent of the sensor. Burst speeds hit a blistering 20 fps with AF tracking engaged.
The 45.5-megapixel D850‘s image sensor has no low-pass filter and is back-illuminated for excellent low-light performance. Out of the box, it can hit 7 fps in continuous shooting. If you spring for the optional battery grip and use the D5’s battery in it, the D850 can hit 9 fps. In a first for Nikon, 4K video is recorded using the entire width of the sensor. Full HD video can be recorded up to 120 fps.
The thinnest digital rangefinder to date, the M10 has better dynamic range, sharpness and image quality when shooting wide open compared to its predecessor. Its 24-megapixel full-frame sensor has no low-pass filter for that much more resolution.
Offering unprecedented video quality in a mirrorless camera, the GH5 saves a 10-bit 4:2:2 file at 30p to an SD card, and 4K movies at up to 60p. Full HD frame rates top off at a blistering 180 fps. Autofocusing is driven by Panasonic’s Depth from Defocus technology, which has had its speed doubled from previous iterations. It has a dust and weatherproof design with a sturdy magnesium alloy build.
If you want Sony a9-level speeds in a smaller, less expensive body, Olympus’ E-M1 Mark II can burst at 18 fps using an electronic shutter or 15 fps with a mechanical shutter with AF tracking. In Pro Capture mode, you can tap the electronic shutter to start buffering JPEG and RAW images to the camera’s memory before you fully start shooting. The 20-megapixel E-M1 Mark II records 4K video, boasts 5-axis image stabilization and a 50-megapixel high-res shot mode to coax even more detail from your images.
This is the first of the G line of advanced compacts with an APS-C-sized image sensor and Dual CMOS Pixel AF. It’s weather resistant and boasts an image-stabilized lens equivalent to 24-72mm f/2.8-5.6.
The newest Theta 360-degree camera boasts a number of upgrades, starting with 4K video recording and spatial surround-sound audio capture. Another new trick: It can live stream spherical footage. The Theta 4K can transfer data to mobile devices 2.5 times faster than older models and boasts 19GB of internal storage for storing up to 4,800 spherical stills or 40 minutes of 4K footage. It runs on the Android operating system so expect third party apps to extend the camera’s capabilities.
This replacement for the original Phantom 4 offers an improved camera with a 1-inch, 20-megapixel CMOS sensor with 4K recording up to 60p. It offers many of the same features as the P4 Pro, including options to record in H.264 and the newer, more efficient H.265 video codec. The camera has an f/2.8-11 lens with a 24mm (equivalent) focal length and a mechanical shutter. It also offers many of the same autonomous flight modes as the P4 Pro.
The first EF 85mm lens with image stabilization, this 85mm delivers up to four stops of shake correction, per CIPA standards. The lens is weather-sealed with fluorine coating on the front lens element to make it easier to clean. It can focus on objects as close as 33.5 inches.
Described by our co-tester David Patiño as “something special,” this 135mm prime beautifully compresses the background for bokeh-rich portraits. It has a dust- and splash-proof mount and a minimum focusing distance of 34.4 inches.
With an optical design that promises “practically no” chromatic aberration, this full-frame DSLR lens is dust- and splash-proof and filmmaker-friendly with an aperture that can be declicked (Nikon mount only).
Camera Review: Nikon D850 DSLR