The Phoblographer’s Editor’s Choice Awards for 2019: All the Best Gear

Presenting the Phoblographer’s Editor’s Choice Awards for 2019 with the best cameras for photographers and much more.

Each year, we round up our favorite products for our Editor’s Choice List specially geared towards photographers. The year 2019 felt almost like a Photokina year when it comes to new products being released. Crazily enough, that festival didn’t happen, however every camera manufacturer is clearly trying harder than ever to get a piece of a market that is becoming more and more niche. And, of course, the cream will rise to the top. The sweetest of that cream is what we’ve curated in this list. It contains some of the best cameras, lenses, camera bags, and photography accessories. And you can get all of them at Adorama.

Editor’s Note: This list only contains products we’ve reviewed. It is our standard policy to never include products we haven’t tested. More importantly, these are products we actually liked.

The Best Cameras for Photographers

For the 2019 year, we tested a lot of cameras. By and large, no one is making a bad camera; they’re all good. And so to shift with the market, we changed a lot of our standards. That translates into a carefully curated list of our best cameras for photographers. Cameras need to be something spectacular, innovative, and something that will make other manufacturers really pay attention to. After going through our reviews index, we realized we didn’t give a lot of five-star awards. Even if we did, we didn’t often deem a camera worthy of an Editor’s Choice award. But three cameras that came to market this year really stood out from the rest. We’d also argue that they caused the most stir.

The Best Medium Format Camera: Fujifilm GFX 50R

Where I got the most from the Fujifilm GFX 50R is when using it with the Profoto B10 and high speed sync. This allowed me to get the most detailed images possible and it’s a combination I honestly think is perfect. Combine this with the Fujifilm Film simulations and you’re bound to get colors and a look that is not only unique to the company’s offerings, but also gorgeous overall.

Read our review

Buy Now: $3,999

The Best Full Frame Camera: Sony a7r IV

The combination of 61 megapixels with 15 stops of dynamic range means the RAW files produced by the Sony A7R IV will give you a lot of information to work with during post-processing. Obviously, these files are quite large, with uncompressed RAW files averaging 120 MB in size.

Read our review

Buy Now : $3,498

The Best APS-C Camera: Fujifilm X Pro 3

One of the best things about the Fujifilm X Pro 3 is the fact that at ISO levels 3200 and above, you’ll get the look of grain. To be honest, this is the single best camera on the market right now to embrace the look. Ever seen the look of film scans? This is what it resembles.

Read our review

Buy Now : $1,799.95

The Best Lenses for Photographers

While we do a great job of reviewing as many of the best cameras for photographers as we can, we’d argue that our lens game is world class. In 2019 there were a ton of fantastic lenses released. By and large, the Phoblographer has reviewed the most lenses of any photo publication in the industry, and we’re proud to say this. Of course, there were also many more lenses released this year than before. Like cameras, they’re all good. To that end, we gave Editor’s Choice awards for true innovation, weather sealing, and overall image quality.

This Lens Survived Being Thrown in the Snow: Sigma 28mm F1.4 DG HSM Art

The Sigma 28mm f1.4 DG HSM Art has some beautiful image quality to it. A little bit wider than the 35mm focal length, it’s going to be perfect for photographers who tend to look to a scene and want to capture the world just how they see it.

Read our review

Buy Now : $1,399

2019’s Best Wide Angle Zoom Lens: Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN Art

Event photographers, photojournalists, and landscape photographers will really enjoy this lens mated to their camera. Couple this with the autofocus speed and you’ve got something bound to stay in your bag.

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Buy Now : $1,399

2019’s Best 24-70mm Lens: Nikon Z 24-70mm F2.8 S

Most modern lenses being released are straightforward and easy to operate, and the Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f2.8 S is no exception. …For Z mount shooters who prefer zoom lenses, this is likely the lens that you’ll keep mounted to your camera most often.

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Buy Now : $1,996.95

2019’s Best 35mm Lens: Sony 35mm F1.8 FE

Photographers both professional and hobbyist will thoroughly enjoy the image quality the Sony 35mm f1.8 FE lens produces. With a flash it’s incredibly sharp when shooting wide open. Stopped down to f4, it’s also noticeably sharp. What photographers will really like is the creamy bokeh they get combined with the fact that the colors are cinematic.

Read our review

Buy Now : $748

2019’s Best 50mm Lens: Tokina Opera 50mm F1.4

The biggest reason that you will want to consider adding the Tokina Opera 50mm f1.4 into your arsenal is the gorgeous image quality this lens is capable of rendering. As far as 50mm lenses go, this is one of the best I’ve had the pleasure of using.

Read our review.

Buy Now : $849

2019’s Best 85mm Lens: Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM

The Canon RF 85mm f1.2 L USM produces truly beautiful bokeh, excellent sharpness, plenty of micro-contrast, and overall exceptional image quality. Its performance is quite snappy as well and it’s capable of focusing and tracking fast-moving subjects quickly and accurately.

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Buy Now : $2,699

2019’s Best 135mm Lens: Sony 135mm F1.8 G Master FE

In addition to acquiring and maintaining focus quickly and reliably, the Sony 135mm f1.8 G Master creates images that marries corner to corner sharpness with lifelike colors, minimal distortion, and little to no chromatic aberrations. In focus areas appear tack sharp and defocus into velvety smooth bokeh, helping your subjects stand out from the rest of the frame. 

Read our review.

Buy Now : $2,098

2019’s Best Macro Lens: IRIX 150mm F2.8 Dragonfly Macro

When using the IRIX 150mm f2.8 Dragonfly Macro Lens, you’ll need to manually focus it. The focus throw is long and the focusing ring isn’t as rigid as some offerings from Zeiss.

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Buy Now : $495

The Best Lights for Photographers

The photo industry has taken an interesting move when it came to lighting. To us, it feels like manufacturers are conceding and giving up on it. Instead, they’re letting folks like Godox, Flashpoint, and Profoto dominate the field. But in addition to that, LED constant lights are becoming more popular due to an influx of folks not knowing what they’re doing when it comes to lighting. Still, constant lights can’t touch what flashes are capable of.

The Best Affordable Strobe: Flashpoint XPLOR 400 Pro TTL Rechargeable Monolight

The Flashpoint XPLOR 400 Pro TTL has impressed me to no end. During my tests, I was able to get exactly what I wanted with ease. The light that the XPLOR 400 Pro TTL emits is consistent, which is great because you’ll know precisely what you’ll get every time you use it. I haven’t seen any significant swings in color temperature either. During this shoot, I set my white balance to 5600K and just went on with the shoot.

Read our review.

Buy Now : $649

The Most Versatile Light We’ve Tested: Profoto B10

I’d much rather not have a light fail on set than have to deal with it later by replacing a product altogether. When shooting with the Profoto B10 while getting hit by waves, I was shown firsthand proof that the Profoto B10 is the choice for me.

Read our review.

Buy Now : $2,095

The Best Camera Bags for Photographers

When it comes to camera bags, we’re pretty demanding. If you talk to anyone in the photo industry about camera bags, we can make a solid argument that they’ll tell you to come to us. There have been a lot of camera bags released this year. However, not a lot of them were particularly impressive. In fact, we argue that we’d reached “peak camera bag” in that no one is truly innovating at the moment. Instead, there are rehashes in different sizes and slight modifications that make things different. Of course, none of these camera bags are bad, but only one camera bag truly stood out to us this year.

Our Favorite Bag of the Year: Billingham Hadley Pro 2020

So what makes this bag better than others? Well, that’s a great question. To be honest, not a lot. It’s just different. Tenba and Portage Supply create messenger bags with quick access. However, those bags aren’t designed to be the workhorse this one is. The Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 is designed for long term work and for the shooter who doesn’t need quick access. It can also hold more gear than the other two can.

Read our review

Buy Now : Varies

The Best Accessories for Photographers

Our favorite accessories this year took an interesting turn from previous years. While we’re still clearly all about aesthetics, we’re also very big on functionality. Luckily, we found a few great accessories that offer both. Even better, they’re doing all this at very fair prices.

LaCie 2big RAID

The LaCie 2big RAID is practically plug-and-play out of the box, so even photographers with basic computer competency should be able to use it without much issue. Backed by five year Rescue Data Recovery Services along with a five year warranty, you can rest easy knowing your data will be in good hands stored on the 2big RAID.

Read our review

Buy Now : $599.95

Gravity Backdrops

…you can purchase a custom hand-painted backdrop of your very own from Gravity Backdrops. Obviously, seamless paper will still be more affordable, but when it comes to durability and uniqueness, these custom hand-painted canvas backdrops from Gravity Backdrops offer tremendous value and are a worthy investment for any serious studio photographer.

Read our review

Buy Now : Varies

Vi Vante Matador Noir

The Vi Vante Matador Noir is really unique. Not only does it take leather and combine it with the sailing rope design, but it adds extra strength and durability.

Read our review

Buy Now : $250

Lensbaby Omni Creative System

The magnetic Effect Wands stay put securely onto the Filter Ring thanks to powerful, rare earth magnets and can easily be re-positioned and adjusted to generate a near infinite amount of interesting in-camera effects without having to resort to adding them in post-production via Photoshop (cheating). My only wish is that Lensbaby will offer custom Effect Wands in the future so I can affix my own collection of crystals and prisms to them that I’ve amassed over the years.

Read our review

Buy Now : $99.95

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.