With the decade drawing to a close, there is a lot to review, like which camera was the best. I’m not looking for sales stats, official awards, or the general consensus. I want to know what you think the best camera of the decade is and why.
There will technically be a camera that won the most categories for the decade, but statistics can be misleading and somewhat gerrymandered. So, instead, I think it’ll be interesting to see people put forward cases for what they believe is the best camera of the decade. It can be any camera that was released between January 2010 and December 2019; my only requirement is that you can support your argument.
I had a knee-jerk reaction to this question, and after exploring my opinion a little more, I do truly believe it’s the best camera of the decade. So, here it is, and here’s why.
I was hesitant to pick the Fujifilm GFX 100 without sitting down to justify it first, as I knew I had a few biases to wrestle with: recency and confirmation. Recency bias should be obvious: the GFX 100 came out in the last year of the decade. However, confirmation bias is due to having good hands-on experience with this camera, loving it, and even being at the launch event in Tokyo. But after trying overturn my gut reaction and being unsuccessful, I’m comfortable in saying that for me, the GFX 100 is the best camera of this decade.
There are a number of reasons I call to support this claim, and I will briefly go through them. The first is the 100-megapixel sensor, which is utterly obscene. I was taking photos from the top of skyscrapers and able to zoom in on people. It isn’t always necessary — and the downside is the obnoxious file sizes — but the sheer quantity of information is staggering. For the sort of commercial work I do, it wouldn’t be simply a nice extra either.
Then, there is the price. While there are medium format cameras for under $10,000, this is the first that is genuinely boxing with the likes of Hasselblad and Phase One, just without the house deposit price tag attached. The price is made all the more impressive with the strong glass selection (albeit not that extensive,) excellent IBIS, hybrid AF, 5 fps shooting, and 4K video. It just felt like a complete medium format system with an achievable price tag.
I am aware that if I were to be forced to look at which camera ticked the most boxes over the last decade, the GFX 100 probably isn’t it; it is large, it is heavy (though I like that), and it still isn’t cheap. But what it produces is bordering the unrivaled, and how I felt while shooting with it is something I can’t ignore. When paired with the Fujifilm 110mm f/2 R LM WR, it felt difficult to create an ugly image. The only experience is this: do you remember when you used your first nifty fifty wide open? If it was early enough in your photography career, you likely couldn’t believe how great the images looked with all that cinematic bokeh. To me, it felt like a more “grown up” version of that.
The GFX 100, while the most impressive camera of the decade to me, wasn’t without competitors for my favor. There were a few others that were in consideration, and I want to give them a quick public nod.
Arguably, Sony started to make strides in the professional camera market just before the a7 III, possibly with the a7R II. However, for me, they just started firing on all cylinders when they released the a7 III. It was as if mirrorless cameras had finally come of age and were worth taking seriously. It wasn’t particularly expensive, it now had a good selection of Sony glass (a previous criticism of Sony) as well as excellent adaptors, and it was performing exceptionally well in just about every category I wanted to mark it on; fps, size, battery life, video, IBIS, dynamic range, EVF, customizable interface and buttons, and so on. The a7 III represented the change in my stance from “DSLRs just work well for me” to “ok, mirrorless is probably the future.”
My experience with Nikon isn’t comprehensive, but I have had a chance to use the D850 and have spent time talking to people who use it, and one thing has always been clear: it’s a powerhouse. Our own Patrick Hall called it the best DSLR Nikon have ever released and most agree on that front. With 46 megapixels to play with, stunning ISO performance, and almost unparalleled image quality, the D850 certainly deserves some praise.
Before you start shouting that I’m a Fuji fan boy — though that’s becoming truer and truer as time goes on — I don’t yet own a Fujifilm camera, nor am I some ambassador, nor is this sponsored in any way. I’ve shot with Canon cameras for over a decade and Sony for about 18 months, but Fujifilm just keeps doing it right. Nearly a year ago, I wondered aloud what they had to do to start taking charge of the Western camera market, and one of the prompts for that thought was the X-T3. This little mirrorless is quick, ergonomic, cheap, and without question (I’ll fight you over the this), the prettiest digital camera I ever did see. It’s no wonder there seem to be so many of them about.
What Is Your Camera of the Decade?
I want to know what our community thinks on this topic. As I mentioned, I have no issue with what camera you pick, for what purpose (stills or video), or why, just as long as it was released between 2010 and 2019 and you can justify your selection. The reasons don’t even have to be that good. I definitely have some intangible affinity for the Fujifilm GFX 100 without fully being able to unpack why that is; I just loved shooting with it.
So, what is your camera of the decade? Share in the comments section below.
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