Best Photo Gear: The Phoblographer’s Editor’s Choice Awards for 2020

Hands down, this is the best photo gear of 2020.

The year 2020 has been a long and exhausting one for camera and photography reviewers like us. The challenges presented with the photo industry don’t just involve social distancing: travel has also been limited. Additionally, lots of products just aren’t innovative. So when we put together this list, we went back into our Reviews Index and found only the most innovative gear that really pushes things ahead. Otherwise, we’ve also included products that are simply flawless. Here’s our Editor’s Choice Awards list, and also our favorite gear from 2020.

Thanks for all your support, folks. Be sure to check out all the Best Photo Gear in the Phoblographer’s Camera Shop if you’re interested in making a purchase.

How We Selected the Best Photo Gear

The Phoblographer Reviews staff had a few change-ups this year. We’ve reviewed the Best Photo Gear in different ways, and the folks who do reviews have also changed up. So we’ve been reevaluating how we do reviews. Traditionally, review sites have just been trying to find problems. We do the same, but we’re a lot more strict. We also base our reviews of the Best Photo Gear on innovations, ergonomics, pricing, etc. Pretty much all cameras, lenses, and accessories are good. No one is truly making a bad product these days. But there are very few, truly great products. The products in our proceeding list also explain why we chose the Best Photo Gear. And for more info, you can click on our reviews.

Leica Q2 Monochrom: The Most Innovative Point and Shoot

In our review, we state:

“Working with the Leica Q2 Monochrom centered me mentally. Working with it made me just shut up and shoot instead of sitting here complaining about one thing or another. There are lots of factors adding to this. You’re liberated from ISO issues. You don’t really care about the color depth. And the dynamic range is good enough that you can rely on post-production if needed. The lens is very capable and the autofocus is also very reliable. Because you don’t need to worry about the ISO issues, you don’t have to be afraid of shooting into otherwise nuclear levels. If that doesn’t sound liberating to you, I don’t know that will.”

Buy Now: $5,995

Canon EOS R5: The New Workhorse Amongst the Best Photo Gear

In our review, we state:

“We’ve taken the Canon EOS R5 out into the rain many times. It always withstood the torture. To make the most of this, you need a Canon L lens or a third party lens that’s weather sealed. Only Canon’s L lenses are weather resistant at the moment. Hopefully, that will change. This camera is beefy, durable, and able to handle anything a professional needs. You can trust in its reliability.”

Buy Now: $3,899

Canon EOS R6: The King of Low Light

In our review, we state:

“Staggering is a word I would use to describe the low light performance of the Canon EOS R6. IS0 6400 is nothing to this camera, it continues to laugh at ISO 10,000, and even 25,600 produces images that can easily be used. At the highest of ISO settings, there’s some color noise, as you would expect, but wow, it’s impressive. The lower megapixel sensor really gives the EOS R6 an advantage over other cameras when it comes to low light performance.”

Buy Now: $2,499

Canon RF 85mm f1.2 L USM: Beauty Visualized

In our review, we state:

“When shooting with the Canon RF 85mm f1.2 L USM, the transition between in-focus and out-of-focus areas is smooth and gradual. Portrait photographers who prefer to shoot wide open will love how this helps isolate their subjects from the environment.”

Buy Now: $2,699

Canon RF 70-200mm f2.8 L IS USM: The Old Reliable

In our review, we state:

“One of the best things about the Canon RF 70-200mm f2.8 L IS USM is the image quality. By and large, I wouldn’t consider this to be a lens about pixel peeping. However, it’s still very sharp if that’s what you’re aiming for. The lens has a character I’ve only ever seen in Canon lenses. Besides the beautiful bokeh, you’ll also be very happy with the colors it renders.”

Buy Now: $2,699

Canon RF 15-35mm f2.8 L IS USM: For the Astro Shooter

In our review, we state:

“The Canon RF 15-35mm f2.8 has the build quality you would expect from Canon’s L mount lenses. It feels beefy in the hands, and it lets you know that you’re carrying it around, but that’s not a bad thing at all. The Canon RF 15-35mm f2.8 feels like it could drive a fence post into the ground, or would be fine to use as a weapon to scare off wild Nikon users who wants a closer look at what they are missing out on (just kidding of course).”

Buy Now: $2,299

Fujifilm X100V: The Most Perfect Documentary Camera

In our review, we state:

“17×22 prints from the Fujifilm X100V are fantastic. Specifically, we printed images at ISO 6400 on the Canon Prograf-1000 and Canson Infinity Baryta Photographique II. They’re well detailed and clean, but we have to admit that we’ve seen prints from full frame sensors that are more detailed. Either way, it’s fine. I just wouldn’t print super duper large. Like, I wouldn’t print something twice your height and width at ISO 6400.”

Buy Now: $1,399

Sony a9 II: Innovations Galore

In our review, we state:

“The AF system (which we will talk about in more detail later) makes the a9 II one of the easiest cameras to use. Period. Ashlee (pictured above) was able to pick up the camera, and without any fuss, was able to track and capture birds in flight on her first attempt. It’s fantastic. Set the camera to autofocus continuous and select the wide-area focusing mode, and you’re golden.”

Buy Now: $4,498

Sony a7s III: Sony Makes Big Changes

In our review, we state:

“The Sony a7s III is the first camera to feature a completely redesigned menu system. This redesign has been needed for a long time, and honestly, it makes the camera much easier to use. As you can see in the image above, the menu now splits into different windows as you go into the options. The menu is laid out in a logical order, and it looks so much better than the UI it’s replacing. The menu system is now touch-friendly. That’s right, you can tap and swipe your way around! Perhaps the only negative is that the small screen can make this a little tricky when you start deeply menu diving. However, you can also navigate the menus with the control pad.”

Buy Now: $3,498

Sony 12-24mm f2.8 G Master: A One of a Kind

In our review, we state:

“It’s hard to explain just how wide 12mm is on a Full Frame camera. I could insert an inappropriate yo momma joke along the lines of needing to make a panoramic image to make her fit in the frame, but the Sony 12-24mm f2.8 GM renders this joke obsolete. Yep, that’s how wide this lens is. If you have never used an ultra-wide before, it may take you some time to get to grips with it how to get the most out of this lens. However, using the lens in terms of its operation is as easy as ABC.”

Buy Now: $2,998

WANDRD FERNWEH: Tougher Than You Are

In our review, we state:

“The YKK zippers used are nice and smooth. The clasps have a good heft to them, and they feel sturdy. All loops, straps, and hooks you find all over the bag, which have been designed to hold everything from ice axes to skis, and hydration flask hoses to keys, all feel durable. This is a bag designed to be used in all sorts of rugged terrain. There is no doubt in my mind that it will hold up well.”

Buy Now: See Amazon

BagSmart Camera Backpack: Need a Cheap Backpack?

In our review, we state:

“The BAGSMART Camera Backpack is surprisingly well built. I’ve bought and used several really affordable camera bags, and they’ve all fallen apart after maybe a few months of abuse. But this one isn’t even near that point yet despite a lot of use. Over the past half a year or so, the BAGSMART Camera Backpack has been my most used bag. It survived snow, rain, all the rain, all the snow, dirt, the NYC subway, the backs of cars, etc. And it always kept my gear perfectly safe. The build quality of the BAGSMART Camera Backpack is top-notch, and I can’t really complain about the durability.”

Buy Now: $59.99

Holdfast Gear Vegan Money Maker Strap: The Most Comfortable Strap for Events and Weddings

In our review, we state:

“Pretty much everything from Holdfast Gear is built very solid. If anything, one can consider them sort of rough, but that’s part of an aesthetic folks love. The Holdfast Gear Vegan Money Maker is built solid in every single way, and so it’s no exception to the rules here. But what I’m most excited about is how soft to the touch this leather is. Additionally, the edges are very well rounded, and so they don’t cut into your clothing or skin. There have been times where I really wanted the Money Maker straps to have shoulder padding. But this doesn’t need it if you’re using mirrorless cameras. Further, the Holdfast Gear Vegan Money Maker is said to be weather resistant, but I never got a chance to bring it out into the rain.”

Buy Now: $195

Lensbaby OMNI Creative Expansion Kit and System: The Cinematic Look We Crave

In our review, we state:

“For existing users of the Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter System, the Flare Expansion Pack introduces even more creative effects that you can use to add visual impact to your images. Like the other Effect Wands in the OMNI Creative Filter System, each of the Flare Effect Wands distorts light in unique ways. Although the wands are easy to use, the results are quite unpredictable. As a result, shooting with the Flare Expansion Pack forces you to become an active participant in the creative process rather than simply capturing what’s happening around you. It’s honestly super fun to use, and you can lose track of time easily just from experimenting with the way that the different Flare Effect Wands introduce flares into your images. The best part: rather than applying the same flare overlays to fake it in Photoshop, your results will be unique every time you shoot with the Flare Expansion Pack.”

Buy Now: $79.96

Haida Red Diamond 10 Stop ND Filter: Everything a Filter Should Be

In our review, we state:

“When it comes to Neutral Density filters, you get what you pay for. While you can save money by purchasing inexpensive filters made from plastic or cheap glass, the truth is that you end up paying for it by having to deal with overall image quality degradation and undesired color casts in your images. Luckily, my experiences with the Haida Red-Diamond 10 Stop ND 100x100mm Filter has been positive. Long exposures produced when shot through this filter were consistently color accurate with no discernible loss of sharpness or clarity.”

Buy Now: $152