It's been a heck of a year for new cameras. New mirrorless cameras, new medium format cameras, new high-speed sports cameras, plus all the phones, drones, and that $600 instant camera… we've seen a lot this year at Digital Camera World.
With so many cameras being released in 2023, the DCW team doesn't quite all agree on the single "best" camera of the year – but we do all have our favorites. The cameras that have just wowed us the most with their specs, or that we've fallen in love shooting with more than any other (or just looks damn good).
Here's what each member of the DCW team picked as their favorite camera of 2023 – with a couple of surprising choices! (And come back tomorrow for the team's picks for worst cameras of 2023!)
It’s not often that a camera comes along and totally blows away the competition, but that’s exactly what happened with the Sony A9 III. There are a lot of fast cameras on the market, and a lot of clever cameras on the market, but the latest Alpha is the fastest, cleverest camera there has ever been – and right now, it does a few things that no other camera is capable of.
Whether or not a global shutter is directly useful to you (and with it 120fps full-resolution shooting at 1,80,000 sec) is kind of secondary to what the A9 III represents. After all, only elite sports photographers truly need this kind of performance. But to use this camera is to get a glimpse into the future of photography. A camera with no mirror, no mechanical shutter, no rolling shutter, and effectively no limit on sync speed.
The Sony A9 III is the best camera of 2023. And its trickle-down technology is going to make the cameras in 2024 and beyond even better than they would have been.
When we talk about the best camera, cameras that come up are often a complete overkill for most users. The best camera is the one that offers all the features you actually need and for a fair price. For most people – I think the Fujifilm X-S20 is the best option out there for 2023 – and my favorite camera I used this year!
The X-S20 is compact and feels great in the hand, and although it lacks the popular retro styling of Fujifilm’s X-T range of cameras, it is still a good-looking piece of kit.
Hybrid shooters will love that this camera can shoot 26.1MP still and record internally in 6.2K and 30P with 4:2:2 10-bit color plus support for external RAW recording. Additionally, the X-S20 offers up to 7.0 stops of IBIS, subject detection and tracking, and fantastic battery life. And being a Fujifilm camera you also get access to Fujifilm’s incredible set of film simulations for a perfect look right out of the camera.
This is a camera that was one to beat in 2023 – and likely 2024 as well!
I’m the drone guy, so it’s only fair my favorite camera of 2023 can fly. I could easily have opted for the amazing DJI Inspire 3 – a drone I’ve waited the better part of a decade for and captures stunning imagery. It is, however, the kind of investment you plan for carefully. I like a nice surprise and, by that logic, the most exciting new drone in 2023 was undoubtedly the HoverAir X1.
This flying marvel is revolutionary in many ways. At half the weight of an ultralight, it nevertheless manages to be safer than most using simple safety cages which – incredibly – it also makes look stylish using a book-like folding mechanism. More revolutionary than that, it dispenses with the remote altogether, using the main camera to track its subject (though if you like you can use your phone).
Sure, it’s more limited in scope than most of the best camera drones, but it’s also fun, not overly expensive, and incredibly portable. It’s even rugged, in so far as drones go. It opens up a new genre of capture that the GoPro Karma marketing team and Skydio technology both hinted at but never quite managed, and it does it so much more simply.
Managing Editor, Australia
I've always had a soft spot for professional sports cameras because of their speed. But then I am neither a professional nor a sports photographer, and I honestly wouldn't want to lug around a bulky camera body wherever I go. So when Nikon shrank the Z9 into a smaller body, I perked right up. As expensive as it might be, I'm really itching to buy myself the Nikon Z8, even though it's far too much camera than I will ever use!
It might be overkill for me, but just knowing there's a lot of speed at my disposal – burst, shutter and processing prowess – has me champing at the bit. Sure, there are faster shutter speeds than the 1/32,000 of a second the Z8 can hit, but it's beyond plenty for this wildlife photographer. I doubt I will ever use the 120fps continuous shooting mode if – no, when – I get me the Z8, but just knowing I have the option is delicious. I'll probably only experiment with its 8.3K/60p video capture mode, and yet...
All that speed packed into a compact body... I can only imagine the photography adventures I can go on with the Nikon Z8.
Compact cameras are nowhere near as popular as they used to be - but there are still lots of reasons why people still want to buy one. But the trouble is that they are getting harder and harder to find... with several well-known manufacturers stopping production of these pocket cameras with built-in zooms altogether. The shortage of stock has therefore driven up prices of those you can find still on sale - which I find rather sad.
So I am applauding OM System (the new name for Olympus cameras) for introducing a new compact camera this year. True, the TG-7 is very much like the Olympus TG-6 - but that is a great thing because this has been one of our favorite point-and-shooters. What's more, it is our favorite waterproof camera too. Yes, mobile phones can do the job of a compact camera in lots of cases - but few people want to use their smartphones when paddling in the sea. And that's where the Tough camera comes into its own.
I should also applaud Ricoh - who has also shown it remains committed to the compact with the launch of the Pentax TG-90. We haven't tested this one yet, and it is to all intents and purposes a lightly modified Ricoh WG-80. But it is yet more proof that some manufacturers are responding to the increased demand for compacts.
With the popularity of the Nikon Z fc and the entire Fujifilm X range (remember people are still on a waiting list for a Fujifilm X100V over 3 years after it was released) the camera world was begging for a full-frame retro-styled camera and Nikon finally gave it to us in the form of the Nikon Zf.
In October 2023, prayers were answered when Nikon released the 24.5-megapixel full-frame Zf camera. Retro in style but not technology, the Zf has a max burst rate of 30fps, a fast 273-point autofocus system, 5-axis sensor-shift stabilization, and the ability to 4K 60p videos.
I’m not usually one for colored cameras, in fact, I wholly despise them 99.9% of the time but I have to admit, I am actually a fan of the Nikon Zf’s color options. Choose from the classic black or funk things up with a khaki, burnt orange, or burgundy model. The Nikon Zf is very much styled on the classic Nikon FM2 which coincidentally is my preferred film camera so perhaps that’s why I'm such a big fan. But more than anything, Nikon filled a gap in the market by launching a full-frame retro camera and that’s why it’s my favorite camera of 2023.
When thinking about my favorite camera of 2023 I couldn't look past the Fujifilm GFX 100 II. As a GFX user already, currently the Fujifilm GFX 50S II, I have a good understanding of the system's strengths, but more importantly its flaws. The image and stills quality of my current GFX is superb and I have been nothing short of impressed, however, as my clients have a growing need for video content, my camera falls short.
The GFX 100 II can change this. The all-new 102MP backside-illuminated CMOS medium format sensor is a much faster variant of the one used in the original Fujifilm GFX 100 and the Fujifilm GFX 100S. Combined with the X-Processor 5 engine it has the potential to become one of the best hybrid cameras, enabling me to create exceptional stills and video on the fly without the need to switch cameras.
It's at the top of my Xmas list!
In these cash-strapped times, the world needs accessibly-priced cameras more than ever. But with budget DSLRs almost a thing of the past, and most mirrorless manufacturers either hiking the prices of their entry-level models or discontinuing them altogether, the budget-conscious camera buyer doesn't have many options left. That was until Canon launched the EOS R100: the cheapest R-series camera yet, costing a very reasonable $599 with an 18-45mm lens.
Not only is it well priced, but the R100 also gives you an entry point into the vast selection of excellent RF-mount lenses, plus a growing range of crop-sensor RF-S optics. The camera itself may be short on features, but it packs everything a photographer actually needs, and crucially it can take great photos.
If you want to graduate from phone photography to a 'proper' camera, the EOS R100 is a no-brainer.
I would have to say without a shadow of a doubt that the Leica M11 Monochrom is my top-pick camera for 2023. Being a massive Leica fanboy and shooting a lot of my work in Black and White via RAW color conversions, a dedicated B&W-only camera appeals to me, its looks are timeless and the images it produces are outstanding.