This year was a mixed bag for cameras, with some genuinely amazing products showing up alongside a slew of incremental upgrades and more-of-the-same. Here are our picks for the cameras that truly had something new to offer.
It's not often that a company does exactly what their customers have been wishing for. With the A7 and A7r, Sony did just that by creating a mirrorless full-frame camera. The image quality of the monster 36-megapixel sensor coupled with great design and compatibility with a host of legacy lenses made the A7r instantly lusted after.
Carrying the torch of miniaturization in 2013, Panasonic introduced the GM1, one of the smallest interchangeable lens cameras we've seen. Its micro-four-thirds sensor boasts about the same image quality as the high caliber GX7, and the video quality is said to match or exceed the lauded GH3. That's a whole lot of muscle for something that can fit in your coat pocket.
Canon has been stuck in a cycle of incremental DSLR upgrades for a while now, and for the most part, that's what the 70D offers over it's predecessor, the 60D. However, it made our innovative list thanks to one feature alone—Dual Pixel autofocus. Canon has cracked the code large-sensor video autofocus with this technology, which makes for smooth, accurate, and fast focus transitions from one subject to the next. It has started to offer sensor upgrades on it's Cinema EOS video cameras, and I would expect the feature to appear on higher-end DSLRs next year.
This is no doubt the zaniest camera of 2013. A Sony QX looks like a mere lens barrel. No LCD, no grip. But when you clamp it to your smartphone it beams high quality photos for you to share quickly over the internetz. In practice it's not the smoothest experience, but it was a bold move that recognized a shift in consumer behavior. And guess what? According to Sony, the things have actually been selling well!
Yes, I am including a video camera in this lineup, because photo and video have in many ways become two sides of the same coin. Also it really deserves it. There is no other video camera that serves up such great image quality in such a small body. The Pocket Cinema Camera is far from perfect. It suffers from wacky controls, awful battery life, and challenging handling. But you can shoot beautiful RAW video—for $1000. That's amazing!