2013 was a landmark year for cameras, with mirrorless tech coming into its own a bit more and a bunch of advances from the big players in the industry making their way into cameras both big and small. Here are five of the very best snappers the year produced.

 

Nikon D7100

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

R15 999.95 (Body Only)

The D7000 was a tough act to follow, but somehow Nikon managed it. Improvements include a beefier image sensor (24MP), the addition of a D4-level autofocus system and much sharper images owing to the absence of the optical low-pass filter found in the D7000. The camera’s new Expeed 3 processor makes high ISO photos look amazing, plus it retains the D7000’s high-fps shooting mode despite the D7100’s higher resolution. Lastly, the 1.3x crop mode lets you shoot at the D7000’s 16MP image quality, which means the frames per second you can shoot at increases to 7fps and telephoto lenses can actually see further into the distance. This is a well-rounded enthusiast-level DSLR that produces exceptional photos while remaining very comfortable in the hand.

Samsung NX300

Samsung NX300

R8 999.95

Samsung  has seriously improved its camera quality over the last year. The NX300 is inarguably the best of the company’s efforts as it’s not only a fantastic mirrorless camera, but it makes use of other Samsung goodies too, via its built-in Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi lets you copy photos you’ve shot directly to your phone; send photos straight to the internet when connected to a wireless hotspot and even put them on your AllShare-enabled HDTV without needing a cable. It looks good, is easy to use and captures some truly astonishing images, easily justifying its claim to the throne of “flagship Samsung camera” for 2013.

Canon PowerShot G16

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

R6 299.95

The G16 might look like last year’s G15 on the outside, but the insides have changed a bit, producing a compact with many DSLR-like features as well as a few brand-new ones. Like Wi-Fi: the G16 has built-in Wi-Fi that makes it easy to connect for things like downloading photos to your PC without using a card reader, and a new processor, the Digic 6. You’ll get 9.3fps of JPEG shooting without continuous autofocus or a buffer, so you can take a sequence of images and be ready to shoot again right away. Low-light snaps also come out better, and autofocus is much quicker than it was in the G15. This is one of Canon’s best-ever compacts, and definitely a worthy contender in our Top 5 of 2013.

Fujifilm X100S

FujiFilm X100S

R11 899.95

Fuji’s ground-breaking X100 mirrorless camera blew the competition out the water with its gorgeous retro stylings and brilliant performance. Fuji’s follow-up is, amazingly, even better: the X100S has a hybrid viewfinder system that flits between the optical view that many photographers can’t live without and an electronic viewfinder, and a fast f/2 lens with a 35mm field of view, equivalent to that of a full-frame sensor. It boasts a 16MP X-Trans CMOS sensor that just loves high ISO settings, and the slightly sluggish autofocus system of the X100 is a thing of the past, replaced by a much faster one. The X100S ends up being a superb mirrorless shooter that will handily replace much bulkier DSLRs without compromising much on image quality.

Olympus OM-D E-M1

Olympus OM-D E-M1

R19 999.95 (Body Only)

This expensive Compact System Camera costs a lot because it’s an exceptional piece of kit. It’s splash proof and dust-proof thanks to a gorgeously solid and clever build, its ergonomics are top-notch and that’s only its body. Inside, it boasts incredible high-speed capture capabilities, it takes really good low-light pictures and its electronic viewfinder is one of the best, if not the best one of any camera, ever courtesy of its high resolution and the 1.48x magnification its optics allow for. Perhaps best of all, it has a dual autofocus system designed to work well with both Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds lenses. The camera also has a lot of buttons that work just about everything, putting a great deal of control right at the photographer’s fingertips.

And the winner is…

You’ll notice there are several mirrorless cameras in the list. That’s because it’s really good technology that reduces the size and weight of the camera while delivering image quality that’s as good as, if not better than, DSLRs. It should be no surprise, then, that FujiFilm’s X100S is our overall winner. It’s exceptionally good kit plus its retro looks are pretty rad, and if you’re even remotely serious about taking pictures, it’ll serve you incredibly well.

Deon got his first taste of PC gaming at the tender age of 11 when his father bought an 8088 XT, ostensibly to "help him with his homework". Instead, it introduced him to Leisure Suit Larry, King Graham, Sonny Bonds and many more, and Deon has been a PC gamer and hardware enthusiast ever since. He landed his first professional writing gig in 2006 at a prestigious local PC magazine, a very happy happenstance as he got to write for a living about things he loves - tech, PCs, gaming, and everything in between. He's been writing about it all ever since, and loves every minute of it.