The Biggest Innovations for 2020 in Photography Technology

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The year 2020 is coming to a close, and we’ve some cool new things in the photo world. There’s a lot for new photographers and professionals alike. Some of the innovations came in the form of lenses, while others came with cameras. Camera technology itself hasn’t taken a large step forward in 2020, but design leaped forward. With the camera industry in an odd place right now, the next 10 years will be pivotal. The industry needs to evolve. And the industry either needs to be about professional tools, luxury goods, and a cult following. Here are our selections for the most innovative things this year.

The Canon Powershot Zoom Is a Novel Concept That Needs Work

Don’t call it a camera. Canon ikens their Powershot Zoom to a viewer that can take pictures. In a package not much larger than some Chapstick, you get a 100-400mm zoom lens. It doesn’t have the easiest interface, and it uses a tiny sensor, so you’re not going to use it in dark situations. But still, it’s such a fun spy camera!

In our review, we state:

“It’s super small. Here in the photo, you’ll see it next to lip balm. It’s incredibly tiny, as you can tell. That also means that it’s pocketable. In fact, I stuffed this, the lip balm, my passport, and two wallets into one pocket of my jeans, and I could walk around just fine. As you hold it up to your eye, your thumb and index finger will control the camera. Ergonomically speaking, this is very comfortable, but you’ve got to wrap your mind around the interface.”

Buy Now: $299

The Sony a7c Becomes the Smallest ILC with a Full Frame Sensor and a Viewfinder

The Sony a7c turned a lot of heads and also made people scoff. We had our hands on it before the official announcement, and it wasn’t until we put Leica M mount lenses on it that it really started to shine. This is a camera that’s more or less designed for L Mount photographers. If you’ve got a lot of old manual glass, adapt it to this small camera. Shoot with it rangefinder-style. Have fun! The Sony a7c is the smallest interchangeable lens camera on the market right now with a viewfinder built-in. It’s not perfect, but we’re very excited and hopeful for the second generation of this camera.

In our review, we state:

“It’s got a pleasing texture that is very different from other Sony cameras. Notably, it sports a soft leatherette comparable to a broken-in horween chromexcel leather strap. The top portion has this lovely, almost pebbled texture.”

Buy Now: $2,098

The Fujifilm 50mm R WR f1.0 Lens Is the First of a Kind

The gorgeous bokeh from the Fujifilm 50mm R WR is unlike anything we’ve seen. Not only does it have gorgeous bokeh, but it’s sharp too. Combine this with Fujifilm’s great colors, and you’ll be constantly stunned. Add weather sealing into the mix, and you’ve got very little to complain about. This lens is incredibly innovative because it’s the first lens with an f1 aperture to have autofocus. On the APS-C camera bodies, it will render an f1.5 full-frame equivalent depth of field. It’s essential for any portrait photographer and anyone who likes to shoot candids.

In our special report, we state:

“Even better, I’m shocked at how it performed in low light and constantly changing light. Around Queens, NY, where we’ve moved offices, there is lots of the cinematic, old school city that has otherwise been left behind. That includes many of the neon signs you find. These signs are great for shoots and testing the autofocus.”

Rent It: LensRentals

Canon EOS R5 and R6 Can Deliver 8 Stops of Image Stabilization

The Canon EOS R6 and Canon EOS R5 were some of the most exciting announcements made this year. There was a lot of controversy around them and a few issues to start, but those proved to be almost meaningless. Too much of a big deal was made out of them. Otherwise, these cameras are spectacular. Are they pricey? Sure. But these are the most innovative cameras Canon has made in years. With up to eight stops of image stabilization, serious weather sealing, solid autofocus, and immaculate image quality, they’re quite incredible.

In our Canon EOS R5 review, we state:

“Canon has arguably had the best menu system for many years. The EOS R5 is no exception here. It’s fully touch-capable and so too are the camera’s other menu interfaces. If you’re a fan of old-school Apple products, you’ll love this.”

Buy Now: $3,899

In our Canon EOS R6 review, we state:

“The 3.69 million dot EVF on the Canon EOS R6 is quite nice. Place your eye up to it, and you will be treated to a crisp, clear image. You also have the option to switch between 60fps and 120fps refresh rates. There is a notable difference between the two settings with 60fps being a little jarring at times.”

Buy Now: $2,899

The Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art Is the Smallest 24-70mm f2.8 on the Market

The Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art really impressed us. It’s a small, lightweight 24-70mm lens. I was expecting it to have lots of issues. But believe it or not, this could be one of the best on the market. It’s smaller than both Sony and Panasonic’s offerings. The only place it lags is with autofocus. It’s a bit behind the Sony G Master in that case. However, you’re getting it at a much lower price. It’s also smaller and lighter. If that’s what you want, then Sigma is the way to go. It’s great for shooting events.

In our review, we state:

“As far as image quality goes, I can’t find a single fault of the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art except at the wider end. At 24mm, there is a lot of distortion, more than I’d expect from Sigma. There is also a very noticeable vignetting effect. Those can be fixed quickly…”

Buy Now: $1,099

Leica Q2 Monochrom Is Something Different the Industry Needs

The Leica Q2 Monochrom is a special beast. It’s a variant of the Leica Q2. But they did some reworking of the 47 Megapixel sensor in this camera. It results in sharper photos, fast autofocus, and a unique look. In front of the sensor is a 28mm f1.7 lens with macro abilities. Using the EVF or LCD, you can watch your subject come into focus. This camera is also so durable that it has an IP rating.

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: Amazon

Canon RF 800mm f11 IS USM and RF 600mm f11 IS USM Are Super Small Telephoto Lenses

The Canon RF 800mm and the 600mm are quite amazing and perplexing. In our thoughts, these should have been L lenses with weather sealing, but they’re not. Instead, they’re telescoping lenses with a fixed aperture. While they’re also not the fastest lenses, we found them still to be quite good. These two stand out because no one has made anything like this yet.

In our Canon RF 600mm f11 IS USM review, we state:

“One thing to keep in mind with this lens is that your EOS R series camera will default to a similar focus area that can be found in the Canon EOS 6D II. Simply put, you’ll be limited to focus points that are grouped in the center. While this arrangement is okay, the autofocus performance can be frustrating.”

Buy Now: $699

In our Canon RF 800mm f11 IS USM review, we state:

“One thing to keep in mind with this lens is that your EOS R series camera will default to the focus area that can be found in the Canon EOS 6D II. Simply put, you’ll be limited to focus points that are all grouped in the center. The fact that Canon even got this to work is quite an achievement. This lens would not have been possible on older DSLR bodies. While it works okay, the autofocus performance has been a source of frustration. At least the autofocus motors are smooth and quiet.”

Rent Now: Lensrentals

Panasonic S5 Is the First Full Frame Camera with Live Composite

The Panasonic S5 is a special entry by Panasonic. It’s incredibly small, lightweight, and powerful. It’s honestly what the Panasonic S1 should’ve been with its dual card slots. Plus, it’s incredibly weather sealed. Best of all, it has the Live Composite mode in it. That makes long exposure image shooting very fun! Otherwise, it sports the same variant of the 24MP sensor that most full-frame cameras have. Best of all, though, it’s a joy to shoot with. And you’ll actually want to bring it out, unlike the S1 and S1R.

In our review, we state:

“One of the best new features of the Panasonic S5 is Live Composite shooting. It’s one of the biggest innovations for full-frame. Olympus had this technology for a while, but Panasonic is the first to use it in full-frame. Arguably they also do it in a much easier way than Olympus, but that’s because of the Panasonic menu system. It’s one of the best out there.”

Buy Now: $2,299.99 with a lens.

Leica M10 Monochrom Is a High Res Black and White Camera

The Leica M10 Monochom was due to come out. This camera is one of the most liberating options on the market. With a 40MP sensor and extremely high ISOs, there’s no reason to worry about high ISO noise. Since it’s all black and white, you’re just embracing it. Plus, you can mount all of your favorite M mount lenses on the camera. We know lots of folks who love it!

In our review, we state:

“In retrospect, I found myself wanting to keep my ISO settings nowhere above ISO 12,800. The reason for this is because I didn’t want to have to deal with high ISO noise and detail loss. That’s something any reviewer or photographer will probably realize when they only get to play with the camera for a bit. The truth is that, with a Monochrome sensor, there’s no reason for me to not use any ISO I choose. And this liberation is one of the best things about the Leica M10 Monochrom.”

Buy Now: $8,295

The Sony 12-24mm f2.8 G Master Is the Widest Constant Aperture Zoom Lens

The Sony 12-24mm f2.8 G Master is a marvel of engineering. It’s massive, but it’s also incredibly capable. Sony touts that it has zero distortion. Further, it’s the widest constant aperture zoom lens for mirrorless cameras. Obviously, it’s also fast to focus.

In our review, we state:

“If you’re an astrophotographer who’s outside in the dead of a cold night, you can be assured that the lens will be just fine, and if you like cityscape photography, the lens feels like it will be tough enough to survive being jostled around in the city. Like other Sony G Master lenses. the Sony 12-24mm f2.8 GM is a lens that has been built to last.”

Buy Now: $2,998