Sony takes home the gold with a total game changer
We should note that this time, our Camera of the Year award is very much an award for the system as well as the individual camera. Sony’s Alpha 7 variant—with lower resolution (still, a beefy 24.3MP) but an enhanced autofocus system and a slightly faster burst rate than the 7R’s—might be a better choice those photographers who don’t need humongous resolution.
While we’re nitpicking, we’ll point out that the 7R’s resolution comes at the expense of more noise at higher ISOs. Canon’s EOS 5D Mark III, our 2012 Camera of the Year and still the reigning low-light champ, is way ahead of the 7R in this regard, with acceptable noise through ISO 25,600; the 7R hits this boundary at ISO 1600. We wish the Alpha 7R had some way of triggering accessory flashes without using another flash as a master. (Hint to Sony: how about a trigger unit for the hot-shoe?) And a camera at this level should have a second card slot rather than a single SD.
Runner-Up: Canon EOS 70D
The typical kit lens for the 70D, the 18–135mm f/3.5–5.6 Canon EF-S IS STM zoom shown on the camera, has a stepping motor for smoother video AF.
But overall, the 7R has us convinced that ILCs can fully cut it as pro cameras. The introduction of this camera system even has us wondering whether the days of the single-lens reflex are numbered. It certainly is a shot across the bow of the two DSLR biggies, Canon and Nikon, whose ILC offerings to date have seemed, to put it plainly, halfhearted.
And the Others...
Two other cameras made it to our list of 2013 finalists: The Canon EOS 70D and Sony’s own Cyber-shot RX1. (This isn’t the first time that two Sony models competed for Camera of the Year.)
The 70D marks the seventh generation of Canon’s double-digit-D series of midrange APS-C-format DSLRs—quite a run. But it’s a measure of how much we at Pop Photo have been spoiled by this decade-old line of cameras that we were a bit disappointed in the 70D’s Excellent-rated still imaging performance, which, with resolution of 2630 lines, was “only” incrementally better than its predecessor 60D’s. Still, we were thoroughly impressed with the 70D’s so-far unique Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus system, in which twinned pixels can perform phase detection over most of the area of the sensor. The result is extremely smooth and sensitive video and live-view autofocus. Using a smartphone to trigger a Steadicam-mounted 70D via the camera’s built-in Wi-Fi connection, we were able to capture smooth, sharp video on the move.