The 2018 Phoblographer’s Editor’s Choice Awards: Canon, Sony, Fujifilm, Sigma and More!

We’ve tested out a whole lot of cool new products this year. Want to know what our favorites were?

2018 was a pretty interesting year for cameras, lenses, and more. It’s a Photokina year and arguably the last really good one we’ll see for a while. But that also means many manufacturers save their top of the line products for the end of the year. In some cases, they’re yet not even available. But we scoured through our Reviews Index to find some of our favorite cameras, lenses, bags, lights, etc.

Without further adieu, we’re going to dive into it (in no particular order)!

Portage Supply Kenora Backpack (Best Everyday Backpack)

In our review we state:

“The Portage Supply Kenora Backpack went through rain with me during my testing. All the gear inside remained dry. In addition to that, the waxed canvas and padding inside stood up to a number of big bumps along the subway and even while hiking. There are times when I’ve come home exhausted and I simply threw the Portage Supply Kenora Backpack on the floor. The bag and all the contents inside were perfectly fine. Nothing suffered and I have to commend the 4th generation Portage Supply Kenora Backpack on just how well built it is.”

Buy Now ($149): Amazon

ORLIT RoveLight RT 610 TTL Monolight (A Bang for Your Buck Monolight)

In our review we state:

“If you’re a photographer looking for a monolight that isn’t super expensive, then the ORLIT RoveLight RT 610 TTL Monolight could be what you want. You’re not getting Profoto’s quality here with the build or the design, but you’re getting consistent results. You’re also not getting Profoto’s consistency when it comes to flash duration or full color consistency. But at the same time it’s not far off. This light is more tailored to a hobbyist more than anything else. It’s nice. Can you use it for professional gigs? Totally. In fact, at the moment it is my main light. It simply works. Personally, I’d love a version of this light even smaller and at 360 watt seconds with a built in battery pack. But one can only dream.”

Buy Now ($649): Amazon

Fujifilm X-T3 (Everything We Wanted, Pretty Much)

In our review we state:

“The Fujifilm X-T3 will feel immediately familiar to anyone that’s shot with its predecessors. One of my favorite things about the Fujifilm X-T3 are the dedicated, lockable mode dials for ISO, Shutter Speed, and Aperture. As someone who almost always shoots in manual, the dedicated controls felt very intuitive to use, and allowed me to adjust my settings on the fly easily without having to dive into the menus to do so. The addition of a touch screen LCD also made the Quick Menu system much easier to use in my opinion. I know a lot of Fuji shooters that swear by the Quick Menu, but I never found it to terribly intuitive until the X-T3. Instead of having to rely on the joystick and the rear dial, I can now navigate the Quick Menu using the rear touch screen. With the Fujifilm X-T3, you’re given access to every ounce of performance the camera has to offer right out of the gate without needing to install a vertical battery grip. While I can appreciate the ergonomic benefits of having a vertical grip when shooting portraits, it’s certainly nice to be able to keep things low profile when you’re out and about and want to keep your kit low profile without sacrificing any performance your camera has to offer. With the frequency at which Fujifilm has released firmware updates in the past with their other cameras, we have no doubt that this will improve with time.”

Buy Now ($1,499): Amazon

Portage Supply Mariner Messenger Bag (The Most Comfortable Messenger Bag I’ve Used in Years)

In our review we state:

“During my testing, I took the Portage Supply Mariner Messenger Bag out into the rain and along commute after commute. The contents inside held up just fine and the straps also didn’t suffer any problems at all. What I should speak to specifically with this bag though is the shoulder strap. It’s an unconventional design that if embraced, becomes one of the most comfortable out there. There is a shoulder pad on the strap but if you wear the bag going from right shoulder to left hip, then what will inevitably happen is the strap will double itself up to provide natural padding and the shoulder pad itself will come to the under part of your ribs. This, in practice, provides a whole lot of nice comfort. It may look weird, but I’ve come to embrace it.”

Buy Now ($109): Amazon

Canon EOS R (Best Camera for Portraiture)

In our review we state:

“Overall, the image quality of the Canon EOS R is more than acceptable. I’d honestly call it some of the best image quality that Canon has delivered thus far in that it again is a jack of all trades. It helps deliver lots of detail, but not so much that you’re seeing crazy pores from your subjects in many situations. It has good high ISO output, and you’ll see image noise, but the noise looks film-like. It isn’t as clean as Sony’s offerings, but it’s still more than adequate. On top of that, the RAW file versatility in Adobe Lightroom is pretty decent.”

Buy Now ($3,399): Amazon

Tenba DNA Backpack (Our Favorite Travel Backpack)

In our review we state:

“The Tenba DNA 15 Backpack has been with me through heavy snows in Canada, heavy snows in NYC, rain in NYC, airports, airplanes, subways, and on hikes. I’m amazed at how durable it is. The material on the outside isn’t the sexiest, but it’s functional and doesn’t get dirty very easily unless someone has done something like put chalk on a picnic table. Considering the privileged folks who inhabit the Williamsburg waterfront, that’s bound to happen if you’re in the neighborhood! But luckily, it all wipes off easily.

The bag is more or less a jack of all trades when it comes to build quality. Have I seen tougher? Yes, the Shimoda line is beastly; but that’s designed and priced accordingly for the Chris Burkard type of photographer. Have I see sexier? Oliday currently has my heart; waxed canvas will always win me over partially because a sexier bag is nice when I go to meetings as it suits my classy-30-something, young male, business owner attire. Are there bags that can carry more gear? WANDRD PRVKE Pack arguably can; but it’s much more tailored for travel than it is for everyday use as a professional photographer. But as it is, the Tenba DNA 15 Backpack sits strictly right in between all of them.”

Buy Now ($198): Amazon

Canon RF 50mm f1.2 L USM (Our Current Favorite Portrait Lens)

In our review we state:

“Congratulations, Canon. It only took you folks forever to get a mirrorless camera system out the door and figure out how you can differentiate yourself from all the rest. The Canon RF 50mm f1.2 L USM is only one way and I wish you luck with all your lenses. This lens exhibits beautiful bokeh, sharp images, micro contrast, a medium format look, weather sealing, fast focusing, etc. In many ways, this is perhaps Canon’s most perfect prime lens within a standard workable focal length that they’ve put out in years. I’m thrilled that they launched the system with this lens and as I stated at the start of this review, I’m buying one.”

Buy Now ($2,299): Amazon

Canon 70-200mm f4 L IS USM II (A Bang for Your Buck DSLR Zoom Lens)

In our review, we state:

“Image quality on the Canon 70-200mm f4 L IS USM II is really, really top notch. I’d rate it right up there with Sony’s option. I like the bokeh, the colors, the sharpness, and photographers have almost nothing to worry about when it comes to CA. Considering that this is Canon, you’ll also like the skin tones.”

Buy Now ($1,299): Amazon

Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 Di III RXD (One of the Best Zooms for Sony FE)

In our review we state:

“The Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 Di III RXD has very solid autofocus. Autofocus on the Sony a7r III, in contrast to what other lenses are doing on the Canon 6D Mk II that I’m currently using for other reviews, is significantly better and faster. With the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 Di III RXD there were barely any misses on focusing and the output was always consistent in most lighting. Were there ever times where the focusing didn’t work? There was one situation I ran into where I tried doing street photography with it; and it didn’t quite keep up. But to be fair, I’m not sure that Sony’s G Master lenses could either.”

Buy Now ($949 kit): Amazon 

Shimoda Explore 40 (If You Only Need One Bag…)

In our review, we state:

“Perhaps one of the toughest things to do with the Shimoda Explore 40 backpack is figuring out exactly how you want to configure it. But to be fair, that’s a very personal issue. I don’t configure it the same way that David at Digital Photo Pro does. And unless you’re bringing a whole lot of stuff, I’d honestly leave it at home otherwise it may become cumbersome. Again, it’s a backpack strictly designed for travel. If I were going away on a five day trip, I may want to reach for the 60 liter version though, due to the roll top design. But the Shimoda Explore 40 is an offering designed to go squarely against something like the WANDRD PRVKE packs. It offers a fair amount more versatility than WANDRD does; but it can’t convert into a tote back and it will always be big and bulky no matter what. I’d strongly recommend the Shimoda Explore 40 backpack for a weekend trip that requires you to bring all the necessities possible.”

Buy Now ($279): Amazon

Rokinon 50mm f1.4 AF FE (Rokinon’s Best Lens Yet)

In our review we state:

“Further, the autofocus is pretty darned quick. Perhaps the only time I found it to be slow was when focusing on a face with a portrait, but even then it wasn’t terrible. Plus I had to activate Eye AF anyway afterwards. I’m not sure I’d use it for tracking and moving subjects; but that also has to do with the Sony a7r III and the fact that this is a third party lens. I’d surely use it for more stagnant subjects like for portraits, landscapes, cityscapes, etc. I’ve used it for candid moments, but those had very little activity happening.”

Buy Now ($498.98): Amazon

Sigma 14-24mm f2.8 DG Art (the Best Wide Angle Zoom Money Can Buy)

In our review we state:

“The Sigma 14-24mm f2.8 Art DG is sharp, contrasty, and overall has nice colors. Many photographers will absolutely adore it. But to me personally, I feel like Sigma’s colors have more or less just become a standard of the industry. That’s saying a lot, but again, very personally I prefer more muted colors and a few more imperfections. This is a lens I couldn’t get any sort of flare with despite it being such a wide angle. I’d prefer the lens flare from something like a Venus Optics wide angle. Here though, there is absolutely none. Some photographers may like that and say they’ll add the flare in post. I prefer to get things in camera the first time around.”

Buy Now ($1,299): Amazon