Japan has been producing some of the world's top cameras for over a century and, to celebrate this, the JCII Japan Camera Foundation presents awards to the best domestically produced cameras at the end of each year, creating an archive of the award winners.
This year's award was presented to four camera models: the Nikon Zf, the Pentax K-3 Mark III Monochrome, the Canon EOS R100, and the Sony DSC-HX99 RNV retinal projection camera. These camera models represent the greatest cameras produced by Japanese manufacturers, released in 2023. The award winners were deliberated over and chosen by The Historic Camera Review Committee, comprised of experts and academics with a neutral standpoint.
The Sony Retinal projection camera kit, DSC-HX99 RNV, was released in March and provided an alternative viewfinder setup for people with visual impairments or those who struggle to use conventional viewfinders.
Coupled with the Sony DSC-HX99 compact camera, the Retissa Neoviewer projects the image in the viewfinder directly onto the user's retina, enabling greater accessibility to photography.
The Pentax K-3 Mark III Monochrome, released in April, is the only DSLR to feature on the list – and may be the last that ever does. This Pentax camera, however, is unique, as it is "Japan's first digital single-lens reflex camera equipped with a dedicated monochrome image sensor."
Monochrome cameras divide opinion, but I have heard great things from this camera, offering improved sharpness and tone depth due to the removal of the color filter, making it one of the best cameras for black and white photography.
Released in June, it offers an entry point for beginner photographers, providing great performance at an affordable price point. The camera delivers crisp 24.1MP imaging coupled with a newcomer-friendly guided menu system – which is perfect for those budding photographers wanting a little more optical versatility than a smartphone.
The final camera to make the list is the Nikon Zf. Unsurprisingly the Zf has been extremely popular worldwide, offering the perfect balance between retro and modern shooting.
Released in October, Nikon has seen an influx of younger users attracted to the retro look with the modern performance. The Zf's inclusion was outlined for its features including a special nod to its "world's first Focus Point VR function that links image stabilization to the focus point camera."
The JCII Japan Camera Foundation states that "Japan’s historical cameras are selected to preserve the history of the development of Japanese cameras for a long time." They are archived and commemorated in editioned books, celebrating Japan's success in camera advancement. With new camera rumors suggesting the new releases from Sony, Nikon and co in 2024, I am excited to see what will make the list this year!