Over the past year, we’ve made it our mission to cover as much gear as possible and let you know what we think. Everything from cameras and lenses, to backpacks and tripods.
So after all this testing, what are some of our favorite products that we’ve gotten the chance to test out? Read on for our favorites.
Special thanks to Manfrotto, Gitzo, Skylum and Fine Art America, the sponsors of this year’s Holiday Gift Guide. Don’t forget to see all our gift ideas and the latest holiday deals as a part of our Holiday Shopping Guide.
Best bag: Manfrotto Street Slim
A small compact bag that can carry more than you think. The Manfrotto Street Slim Backpack can easily carry your camera with a lens attached, 4 other small primes, a tripod, accessories and more. It can even transform into an incredibly versatile day bag in mere seconds.
This camera bag has become my daily carry thanks to it’s exceptional build quality and its versatility. It costs less than $100! This is one bag you don’t want to overlook.
Best camera for pros: Sony a1
If you’re looking for a camera that does it all, look no further. The Sony a1 combines the best of stills and video to create a professional-grade package that you can rely on again and again! Offering a 50.1-megapixel stacked sensor, you’ll get superb clarity and dynamic range in your images. With Real-Time Eye AF, you can be sure that you’ll lock in on your subjects every time.
On the video front, the a1 is equally as impressive, with recording up to 8K at 30p and 4K at 120p. I picked up this camera shortly after it was released, and I have to say, it’s been an absolute joy to use.
Best camera for enthusiasts: Canon EOS R6
The Canon EOS R6 is one of the best cameras on the market for those who are serious about their photography and for those who are starting out their professional careers. The camera boasts one of, it not the best autofocus system on the market, a great 20-megapixel sensor that produces detail filled images with tons of dynamic range, a fully articulating screen, class-leading IBIS and plenty of weather sealing. The camera also has some the easiest to use menus out there. Overall, the Canon EOS R6 is a stellar camera that desevres it’s place on our editors choice list.
Best camera for beginners: Fujifim X-S10
For just under $1,000 the Fujifilm X-S10 packs a lot of tech into a small lightweight body. The camera has a vari-angle LCD, a good EVF, IBIS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connectivity for easy image sharing, and, of course, the fantastic 26.1-megapixel X-Trans sensor.
The images that come out of the X-S10, both RAWS and JPEGS sing. You’ll not be disappointed. The design of the X-S10 is also pleasing and the controls are easy to learn. This is without doubt the best entry level camera that you can currently get your hands on. If you’re ready to step up from your smartphone, this is the camera to do it with.
Best computing accessory: Datacolor Spyder Create Kit
Read review | $199.99; available via B&H
Photographers who print images will benefit greatly from the SpyderX Pro calibrator. Creators who struggle with color matching, or who need help with color design will love the ColorReader EZ, and then the extra accessories (a mini tripod, a UBB adapter and a monitor shelf) are there to make your life as a creator easier. I use this kit all the time in both my professional and personal workflows. It’s a must have.
Best computing device: iPad Pro 12.9-inch
The iPad Pro 12.9-inch has changed the way I approach editing image and videos, and even how I write for the site and honestly, I’ve never been happier. The gorgeous XDR screen offers crisp visuals, beuatiful HDR content playback, and it’s big enough to multitask.
The powerful M1 processor churns through images in Lightroom without breaking a sweat and I can edit multiple 4K video timelines without stutters. Pair the iPad Pro up with the Magic Keyboard and the Apple Pencil and you have a workhorse maching that will make your creatve life that much easier.
Best fixed lens camera: Ricoh GR III
The Ricoh GR III is hands down the best camera you can put your hands on if your’re a modern street photographer. This compact camera can easily slip inside your pocket so you can take it anywhere with minimal fuss. Incredibly, Ricoh managed to stuff a 24-megapixel APS-C sensor and IBIS into this tiny camera.
The images you can produce with the 28mm equivalent lens will blow your mind and the JPEGS that the camera spits out will leave you speechless. Tack on the fact that this camera features snap-focus, which is one of my favorite features in any camera I’ve ever used and you have a pocket powerhousethat will let you be creative no matter where you want to go. At under $900, this camera is a serious bargain. See what all the fuss is about in our full review.
Best “fun” accessory: 35mm Film Rocks Glass Sets
We’re big fans of whiskey (who isn’t), and these 11oz Rocks / Whiskey glasses with a genuine used 35mm film canister are quite the treat. Coming with four custom-made wooden camera aperture coasters, you’ll impress your fellow photographers when you gather for a drink.
Best “fun” accessory: Fujifilm Link Wide Smartphone Printer
The Fujifilm Linkwide Smartphone printer, for me, is one of the surprise hits of the year. This Instax printer can churn out photos that you have either taken with your smartphone or th photos that you’ve transffered to your phone from your camera.
The Printer is easy to setup and use, and the Linwide app is all sorts of fun. You can add emojis, text, graphics and more to your images easily before printing them out and sharing them with your friends and family. If you want a no-fuss way to bring your images to life, the Fujifilm Linkwise Smartphone printer is what you need.
Best “fun” accessory: The Photography of “Game of Thrones”
See how Helen Sloan and her team collected 850 incredible images from HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” and relive the series like it was yesterday. Except that last season. Skip that part.
This hardcover book provides 416 pages of images, details and anecdotes covering the entire series of “Game of Thrones.”
Best mobile device: iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max
The best iPhone yet is here, and it includes a plethora of photo and video upgrades! Capture the tiny world around you with Macro mode, or create the next Oscar-winning film using Cinematic mode. Updated cameras means better performance in low light, and best yet, it’s all in a single device that fits in your pocket!
Best lens for E mount: Sony 50mm f/1.2 G Master
They said a Sony f/1.2 lens couldn’t be done. Well, here it is, and Sony is proving all the naysayers wrong. The 50mm f/1.2 GM lens is absolutely gorgeous, creating breathtaking bokeh with a fast autofocus and superb sharpness. For anyone looking to upgrade to a better 50mm, you simply can’t get much better than this if you use a Sony camera.
Best lens for E and L mount: Sigma Contemporary series
Sigma’s I series lenses turned heads when they hit the streets. These prime lenses are part of Sigma Contemporary line, however they feature a premium all-metal build, some weather sealing, an aperture control ring, and stunning optics. We have reviewed the Sigma 24mm f/3.5 DG DN ($539), the 35mm f/2 DG DN ($639) and the 65mm f/2 DG DN ($699) and we were blown away by their optical performance and premium feel. They’re available for both Sony E mount and L mount cameras.
Best lens for E and XF mount: Tamron 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3
Tamron has proven with the 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 that it can produce high-quality optics, even for APS-C sensors. This lens provides a versatile look at the world, perfect for anything from travel to capturing kids’ sports. The autofocus is quick and accurate, and the picture quality exceeds expectations!
Best lens for micro four-thirds: OM SYSTEM 20mm f/1.4 PRO
If the first lens from OM SYSTEM is anything to go by, the future is bright for fans of the company formerly known as Olympus. This 40mm equivalent fast prime is a stunner.
The lens is razor sharp at f/1.4, it renders gorgeous colors, and the bokeh it produces is nice and smooth. To top it off, it has pro-grade weather sealing. blazing fast autofocus motors and a minimum focusing distance of just 9.8 inches. I haven’t been this excited about a lens in a long time. If you shoot with micro four-thirds cameras you need to check this lens out.
Best lens for RF mount: Canon 50mm f/1.8
An honest to goodness nifty fifty, the Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 is one of the only Canon RF mount lenses that has brought a genuine smile to my face. This isn’t to say other RF lenses are bad, they’re not, but the RF 50mm just lets you go out and enjoy your photography.
The lens is incredibly small just like the old DSLR version. It’s very light, the optics are fantastic for the price and it actually has some character! A rarity in most modern lenses. If you own a Canon mirrorless camera and you don’t own this little gem, you’re really missing out on something that’s special.
Best lens for Z mount: NIKKOR 14-24 f/2.8 S for Z mount
The Nikon wide-angle shows the world how wide-angles should be. Beautiful optics, snappy and reliable autofocus and the details that matter. The NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8 lens for Z mount cameras is an absolute joy to use, whether you’re capturing real estate, architecture or landscapes.
Best light: Godox V1
A flash that I use on a daily basis for portraits, product photography and more, the Godox V1 is easily one of the best flahses you can get. It’s unqiue roundhead design opens up a lot of options thanks to the magentic mount that surrounds it. You can quickly attach diffusers, color gels, grids and more.
The build quality is fantasic, the rechargeable battery is good for over roughly 400 full power flashes per charge, and the quality of light is great. With the consistent output you know what you’ll get everytime you use it. You can even use this flash off camera when you purchase an X2 remote trrigger for your camera brand. The flashses and triggers are available for Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax and Sony. Don’t let the low price fool you, this is one serious flash that will open up many creative doors for you.
Best software: DxO PureRAW
DxO PureRAW has quickly become one of our favorite pieces of software in 2021. Tasked with capturing photos in dark, outdoor environments, with little to no light, DxO PureRAW has come through time and time again. It’s not only taken care of the noise in images, but it’s also performed lens and color corrections for a more accurate picture. This software will pay for itself 10 times over again; we can’t recommend it enough.
Best storage device: SanDisk Extreme PRO Portable SSD V2
As photographers, we all need fast, reliable storage. SSDs have become more and more of the norm in computers today, so why should your photos live on a slower drive, especially when you’re working on them? The SanDisk Extreme PRO Portable SSD V2 offers great, fast storage in a small footprint that you can fit in your pocket. Work from the coffeehouse, on the plane or in a hotel room with ease, and don’t worry about lugging around a heavy, slow hard drive ever again.
Best tripod: Manfrotto Nitrotech 608 series with 635 Fast Single Leg Carbon Tripod
Get a heavy-duty, reliable tripod perfect for video with this tripod from Manfrotto. Allowing for continuous counterbalance up to 8kg and an entirely flat base, you’ll find this tripod is not only versatile, but can meet any need you might throw at it. Fast setup and smooth, judder-free movement make this a great pro-level tripod.
Best video accessory: Manfrotto Gimbal MVG-220
Are you ready to up the production quality of your videos? If so, you need to check out the Manfrotto MVG220 Gimbal. This 3-axis stabilizer will work with most camera and lens combos that weighs less than 4.85lbs. It’s easy to balance your gear, the touchscreen menus are easy to navigate and use, and the included briefcase handle makes it comfortable to hold.
The rechargable battery is good for seven hours of use and the built in modes for Instagram and TikTok creators will surely please. I have used this gimbal extensively and I can say that I have been nothing but pleased with it.