Sony takes home the gold with a total game changer
Moreover, we’re pretty certain that Canon will be able to speed up the Dual Pixel CMOS AF for extremely fast autofocus for stills. (Hey, Canon, will that come in a firmware upgrade?) Beside that, the 70D gives you bursts of 7 frames per second, very fast conventional AF, an articulating 3-inch LCD, and a rugged build. For its $1,199 street price, it’s an attractive option for serious amateurs and budget-minded pros alike.
As for the Cyber-shot RX1, they said it couldn’t be done, and Sony said, “Oh yes, we can.” The only fixed-lens full-frame digital compact in cameradom, the RX1 is as much a showcase of technological know-how as it is a picture-taking device. While its 24.3MP CMOS sensor is very similar to that of the Sony Alpha 99, just about every other piece of the camera was purpose-designed for it. The lens, for instance: its 35mm f/2 Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* was formulated specifically for the sensor, and it extends more than halfway into the camera body for compactness.
Runner-Up: Sony Cyber-Shot RX1
For a properly upmarket viewfinder experience with the RX1, there’s the 2.4-million-dot EVM1K electronic viewfinder at $448, street.
The RX1 takes pretty good pictures, too. It resolved 2870 lines in our test for an Excellent rating, and kept noise at acceptable levels through ISO 3200—impressive, given that sensor heat buildup in small cameras can result in more noise. The camera fell short of an Excellent overall image quality rating because its color accuracy score, oddly, just missed the Excellent mark.
For most of us, the main drawback of the RX1 is its price—a sticker-shock-inducing $2,798, street. But despite the hefty pricetag, people are buying it for the great imaging, sturdy body, well-designed controls, and generally upscale vibe.
This Year’s Model
The competition for Camera of the Year 2013 couldn’t be more different from the previous year’s. In 2012, our three finalists were very closely matched; all three were high-end, high-megapixel DSLRs, and our editorial panel deliberated long and hard on the winner. In 2013, our three finalists were dramatically different cameras, from distinctly different classes.
Our sole criterion for Camera of the Year: That it be the model that best refined or redefined photography in the past year. Our finalists represented one important refinement, in Canon’s new AF system on the EOS 70D, and two astonishing redefinitions of what a compact camera—fixed lens or interchangeable—can do. But when our final test results came in, we realized it was simply no contest. And so with the Alpha 7R, Sony wins an unprecedented fourth Camera of the Year citation.