Best Products of 2016: Photography

This camera is nearly perfect. But the runner-up was a phone

best products of 2016 photography nikon d500 v5

best products of 2016 photography vertical badgesWinner
Nikon D500

This year has been another good one for camera advancements, from every manufacturer. But members of DT’s photography team are in agreement that the D500 is the best camera of 2016, garnering not only an Editors’ Choice award but also a near-perfect score. The enthusiast DSLR introduces several features, combined with excellent performance, that makes it the best APS-C sensor DSLR to date.

The weather-sealed camera is constructed out a magnesium alloy frame, making it highly durable for use in harsh weather and terrain, like rain or sand. The D500 is also one of the first to use Nikon’s new Expeed 5 image processor, and if you like shooting action, this camera is for you, thanks to a burst speed of 10 frames per second. It can also shoot up to 200 JPEG images before it slows down; has a top shutter speed of 1/8,000th of a second; 180K RGB metering; and 153-point autofocus system.

The D500 shares similar components to its more expensive full-frame sibling, the D5; in fact, image quality from the 20.9-megapixel cropped sensor is so good, you don’t really need to go up to a full-frame sensor. And if you like shooting in low light, the camera can hit a top ISO setting of 1,640,000 (not that you would want to; the camera performs well up to a more manageable 51,200, which is still impressive).

best products of 2016 smart home bestproduct text lockup transparent onblack v3Since many photographers are now dabbling with video, the D500 supports 4K at 30p, and we found the quality to be very good with accurate colors and detail. But the video autofocus could be stronger – the only notable blemish, in our eyes. But set the camera into manual focus, and the D500 will perform admirably.

Nikon, along with other camera makers, have received criticism (justifiably) for being slow to adopt wireless. The D500 introduces a new system called SnapBridge that uses Bluetooth for low-level functions. It allows the camera to maintain a constant connection with a smartphone or tablet, and only using Wi-Fi for more intensive tasks, like remote shooting or full-size file transfers.

Picking a winner for 2016 was far more difficult than in previous years, but the D500 won us over with its balance of new features, performance, and price.

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OLYMPUS OM-D E-M1 MARK II
best products of 2016 photography vertical badges runner up

Runner up
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

We debated between Olympus’ newest flagship, Fujifilm’s X-T2, and Canon’s EOS 5D Mark IV, and it was a difficult choice, but ultimately we settled on Olympus’ OM-D E-M1 Mark II. Don’t get us wrong: Fujifilm’s X-T2 is a camera that shoots some of the most beautiful photos we’ve ever seen, and we enjoyed shooting with Canon’s full-frame 5D Mark IV photo-video workhorse. With the OM-D E-M1 Mark II, Olympus has greatly advanced what the smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor is capable of. It’s very fast, well built, and capable of shooting near-full-frame quality images. It can shoot professional-looking 4K video, and it’s loaded with features. For anyone who thinks Micro Four Thirds can’t cut it, this camera will have them rethink that statement.

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APPLE IPHONE 7 PLUS

best products of 2016 photography vertical badges runner upRunner up
Apple iPhone 7 Plus

After usurping point-and-shoots as the everyday camera, it’s been said the smartphone will one day do the same to DSLRs. We aren’t quite there, but Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus is the closest in achieving that. The phone’s camera allows it to zoom optically by switching between two lenses; it also shoots photos with a bokeh effect, something that was only possible with higher-end cameras. And, it’s capable of shooting in RAW. It’s no DSLR, but it’s acting like one.

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Whew! Rough year. Fortunately, we got some amazing tech out of it. Digital Trends’ expert editors picked the most amazing gadgets in their respective categories, then convened as a panel to pick the one that towered above them all. Join us every day between now and Jan. 1 as we recap our favorites, and build up to the big Best of 2016 reveal!