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Best Camera of 2012: And the Winner is...
Just before Christmas we invited you, our readers to tell us what you thought was the best camera of 2012. This year was one of the busiest that any of us can remember, and saw serious new products from all the major manufacturers. This was the year of the groundbreaking 36MP Nikon D800, the incredibly ambitious Olympus OM-D as well as an all-new system cameras from Fujifilm, with the innovative X-Pro 1 and X-E1. Sony had an amazingly busy year as well, bringing us the great value SLT A-57 and the feature-packed SLT-A99, along with a host of NEX upgrades. Canon wasn't idle either, and consolidated its enthusiast-oriented DSLRs with the long-awaited EOS 5D Mark III and, at the end of the year, the EOS 6D. Meanwhile, Pentax revamped its popular K-5 with the new K-5 II and K-5 IIs and introduced its first large-sensor mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, the K-01 which was... interesting.
Our shortlist didn't contain the K-01, but we've gone over the figures, made a list and counted it twice, read most of the comments (and thanks to the majority of you who kept them constructive) and now we're ready to give you the results! So without further ado, with almost 15,000 votes and almost 1500 comments, here are the top three cameras of 2012, as voted by you, dpreview readers.
In third place... Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Canon's EOS 5D and 5D Mark II were hugely successful cameras, making the 5D Mark III one of the most anticipated new releases of the year. The 5D Mark III has a 22MP full frame sensor in a body that's based on the EOS 7D design, and with a 61-point AF system borrowed from the flagship EOS-1D X. Compared to its predecessor the Mark III is essentially a completely new model, with every major system upgraded and updated.
When we reviewed the 5D Mark III back in March we praised its excellent Raw image quality, reliable metering and fluid ergonomics. Thanks to its greatly improved AF system and a few well thought-out tweaks to the rest of the feature set the 5D Mark III is in many ways the camera we wanted the 5D Mark II to be, and it was easily one of the top cameras of 2012.
In second place... Nikon D800 / D800E
Purely from the point of view of specification, Nikon's D800 and its sister model the D800E drew a lot of attention in 2012. Successor to the venerable D700, the D800 tripled that camera's pixel count and included several features borrowed from the professional D4, at around half the price. The D800E variant offers improved resolution for $300 more, thanks to an innovative sensor design that has the effects of its anti-aliasing filter cancelled out. Both cameras offer a very compelling video specification, too.
We were highly impressed by the D800 and D800E when we tested them in June, both by the performance of their 36MP sensors, and also their handling, which on the whole, improves upon previous models in some meaningful ways. Of all the cameras we tested during 2012 we kept going back to the D800 because of its addictive blend of excellent performance, solid image quality and pleasant ergonomics. This is one camera whose specification is unlikely to look out of date anytime soon.
And in first place... The Olympus OM-D EM-5
Pipping the Nikon D800/E by one percentage point in the overall count, the Olympus OM-D EM-5 won out in this year's poll by a whisker. Although a very different camera to the D800, the OM-5 EM-5 is a seriously impressive product. With the launch of the E-M5, Olympus harks back to one of its most fondly-remembered camera systems - the Olympus OM range of 35mm SLRs. Initially the E-M5 looked like it might simply be an upgraded E-P3 with a built-in viewfinder, but in use it proved much more than that - probably the most competent enthusiast mirrorless camera so far.
When we reviewed the OM-D in April we commented on its excellent image quality which at that point set a benchmark for Micro Four Thirds cameras. As we'd expect from Olympus it's also an incredible customizable camera, and with the huge range of compatible Micro Four Thirds lenses available it's also one of the most versatile. About the only thing the OM-D can't do well is continuous autofocus, but if you can live with this limitation, it stands as one of the best cameras currently on the market, and a worthy winner of our poll.
Thanks so much for voting, for reading, and for commenting. I'm really looking forward to 2013, and as we end this busy year I'm sure that you'll join with me in welcoming two new members of the reviews team, Jeff Keller from The Digital Camera Resource Page, and Shawn Barnett, formerly of Imaging Resource. I'm very excited to have them both on board as we move into a new year, and everyone on the team - Amadou, Kelcey, Lars, Richard, Jeff, Shawn and me are looking forward to delivering some great content for you in 2013. Happy New Year!
Barnaby Britton - reviews editor.