Oh what a year it has been. While most of us would rather forget a lot about 2020, we wanted to look back on some of the best that the year had to offer. We asked our team to vote for some of their favorites, and to also look forward to the future. Here’s what they said.
Best camera: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III
In a super close race, Olympus led the charge with the OM-D E-M1 Mark III camera (B&H | Amazon), an update to its micro four-thirds flagship. Winning 18.8% of the vote, our team pointed to the camera’s speed and computing power, in addition to its advanced computational features.
Bob Coates writes, “As a wildlife and nature shooter, it tics all the boxes. Frame rate, the ability to attain high resolution images without needing another camera, computational features such as Live ND, Starry Sky AF and advanced image stabilization and weather proofing make this a winner.”
Not far behind were Sony’s a7S III and Canon’s EOS-1DX Mark III cameras, each with 12.5% of the vote.
Best lens: NIKKOR Z 14-24mm f/2.8S and Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG DN
Ken Lee writes, “[The Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 is] solid, rugged, has good weather sealing, sharp and finally accepts filters. The lens is quite expensive, and is for people who need a lens to be sharp at f/2.8.”
For the Sigma 85mm f/1.4, Mark Morrow wrote, “Redesigned and optimized for both stills and video work, the reworked 85mm weather-sealed housing weighs in a pound lighter and an inch shorter than its predecessor. The 11-blade aperture ring now offers both clicked and de-clicked control options for seamless on-the-fly adjustment.”
Best software: LuminarAI
LuminarAI took home 50% of the vote among our team, for its revolutionary features powered by artificial intelligence.
Kevin Ames writes, “LuminarAI continues Skylum’s push to bring affordable, stand-alone artificial intelligence powered editing to non-retouchers. Templates provide the entry way into quickly finishing photos in seconds that would normally take minutes and more in conventional applications. The portrait AI tools alone are worth the price.”
Jemma Pollari added, “It’s a recent release, but the potential of LuminarAI for reducing repetitive work is very exciting. I foresee this software becoming an essential part of my workflow as a portrait photographer. It effectively replaces a bunch of different touch-up products, plus automates the work needed to apply them.”
Also recognized were Capture One 21 and Nik Software’s fall update, each with 12.5% of the vote.
Best accessory: WANDRD FERNWEH Backpack and Lume Cube Panel Mini
Levi Sim writes, “[The FERNWEH] offers adventurers and travelers smart design to protect and use their gear in all kinds of places and situations.”
For the Lume Cube Panel Mini, Jemma Pollari writes, “It’s packed with features with a soft and adjustable light in a tiny item that’s perfect for mobile shooting. The rechargeable battery is a big drawcard too; no more lugging around AA batteries. And the price makes it a no-brainer to add to your kit.”
The DJI Pocket Camera, Spider Holster SpiderPro Hand Strap v2 and Osmo Mobile 4 smartphone gimbal were also recognized.
Our team had a lot to say about 2020, whether it was pivoting their focus or taking advantage of new, creative opportunities. Here’s a few selections.
Levi Sim: “The greatest opportunities arise when norms are turned on their heads. This was a marvelous year to create new photos with time to focus on new techniques. Learning opportunities were bigger than ever before and we saw hundreds of instructors sharing content without charge to help their neighbors. Plus, we saw the solidification of natural hair color for women as a style, and when people present their true selves, the pictures are always better. Long live gray hair!”
Mark Morrow: “While many lines of work within the photo industry have taken a massive hit, new opportunities continue to arise in new and creative ways. It seems that 2020 has ushered in a new, wild west of sheer creative volume potential alone in terms of the way people are living their lives and conducting their businesses. Where some venues are taking a definite hit, other areas are seeing progress and success.”
Jemma Pollari: “The photo industry in 2020 has shown itself to be resilient and compassionate. We’ve had unprecedented conditions to deal with and everyone has pulled together to support each other and do what they can to continue creating and serving clients. The legacy of 2020 will be the reflections and decisions we’ve made as professionals as to what’s important in our art and businesses going forward.”
Bob Coates: “The industry seems to be in a state of flux. In spite of overall camera sales being down new products and new in-camera processes were released monthly from all the manufacturers. It’s case of the good and the bad.”
Sara Kempner: “This year was all about pivoting and adapting in the photo world. Documenting our worlds close to home was a major theme. Online collaboration and education were also huge components of 2020.”
Darren Miles: “Chaotic. Awesome or disastrous depending on which industry you serve as a photographer. The beginning of the end for several manufacturers — Olympus and potentially Nikon …”
Getting inspired in 2021
It’s our hope that all photographers are inspired to create even more so in 2021. Here’s what we hope will inspire us the most.
Ken Lee: “Getting outside in the beautiful desert night and connecting with nature while doing night photography. I will continue to be more mindful about composition and try new kinds of photography, including possibly macro. I’ll be inspired by new lenses that offer new perspectives on seeing and photographing things. And of course, I am inspired by my very talented photographer friends as well as other people that I see creating amazing images.”
Vanelli: “Finally getting out and taking photos. To see the world in a better light.”
Julie Powell: “Possibilities and new adventures, get back into teaching workshops, picking up where I left off in 2020, traveling and teaching more.”
Lauri Novak: “I will continue to be inspired by nature and the world around me. Traveling hopefully will be back in the mix as well.”
Kevin Ames: “Light is my inspiration for 2021 — seeing it and creating it for the camera.”
What we’re excited about in 2021
There’s a lot to be excited about in 2021, especially as the country begins to open up more. Here’s what we’re most excited about.
Bryan Esler: “I’m excited to see how the industry learns from 2020. What will it do moving forward, and which technologies will it find suitable to invest in? I’m also optimistic about the future for cameras, and curious as to what camera companies will look like in the future.”
Bob Coates: “I’m looking forward to even more innovation as camera companies leverage the faster speed of the processors and develop new tech that we only have dreamed of as yet.”
Andrew Ford: “So much new software, marketing data and information out there … it’s hard to not get excited.”
Michèle Grenier: “Going back to a more ‘normal’ life … whatever normal means!”
Rich Harrington: “The growth of imaging technology and AI.”