2018 year in review – camera trends

The year that full frame mirrorless dominated, the rise of the drones, and the pocket-sized marvel that will let you record incredible 4K video and motionlapses wherever you go.

It’s also been the year where if you play your Instagram game right, you can be an influencer before you know it. The rapid rise in video technology means that high-end production values are easier to achieve than ever before.

2018  #1 camera trend – Full Frame Mirrorless Cameras

2018 was noticeable for massive camera launches from the big brands… without a DSLR in sight! Not to say that DSLRs have had their day (the next generations are simply not due yet), but the appetite for full-frame mirrorless makes it our number one trend.

It’s a market that Sony have dominated since the a7 was launched in 2013*, and the launch of the a7 III in the first quarter of the year set the benchmark. With double the battery life of the a7 II, an 'eye-catching' AF system borrowed from their flagship a9 model, and entering the market at under £2000, it caused quite a stir. If you've not tried it before, you genuinely have to check the 'Eye-AF' feature (if you're in London or Burgess Hill, pop in to one of our stores and you can!).

This seemed to start addressing many previous sore-points for people unsure about mirrorless, in particular, battery life and lower resolution EVFs / blackouts. Towards the end of the year the market place took a swift turn – a series of incredible teaser clips from Nikon preceded the launch of the Nikon Z6 & Z7, and Canon followed this swiftly up with the Canon EOS R and respective RF lenses.

All followed up with big news from Photokina 2018 – a full frame Panasonic S1 & S1R in early 2019, with a collaboration on the L Mount between Panasonic, Leica and Sigma promising a holy trinity of lens options for the S Series. Sigma will also join the full frame party in 2019.

So, rather a lot in the world of full frame mirrorless then, and we've not really touched on the lenses yet. Both Nikon and Canon have introduced new ounts that enable new generations of lenses to be created - we used the Canon 50mm f/1.2 extensively in our location shoot - see the pictures here - and Nikon's Z mount will be followed with the manual focus Noct 58mm 0.95 in 2019.

*We’re excluding older rangefinder style Leica M9 (no AF) & ‘Medium format’ size sensors here.

Top Full Frame Mirrorless Cameras of 2018

Sony a7 iii (Read the review or see the full spec)
Nikon Z6 & Z7 - See video from the launch event
Canon EOS R (Read the review or see the full spec)

2018 - Mirrorless takes video to the next level

So we’re not even done with mirrorless yet – 2018 has seen some massive advances in video capacity, with Panasonic releasing the GH5S and the GX9. Improved video capacity features include enhanced low light capacity – the GH56 has an ISO range up to 204,800, and in April of 2018 it even passed the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) R.118 camera test – making it production ready.

Pro video aside, Canon started the year with the launch of the nifty, APS-C sensor Canon M50, it’s size, range of lenses and price point making it a prime choice for vloggers out there.

And of course, we can’t forget arguably the largest launch of the year from an APS-C mirrorless – the Fujifilm X-T3. With solid build and lovely ergonomics, it keeps its traits that made the X-T2 a favourite with photographer. Tellingly, AF improvements aside, the main leaps forward were again on the video front – becoming the first APS-C camera to shoot 4K at 60fps.

Top Full Frame Mirrorless Cameras of 2018

Panasonic GH5S
Fujifilm X-H1
Canon EOS M50
Panasonic GX9
Fujifilm X-T3 (Read the review)

2018 trends – production value

The Osmo Pocket, right - a late release in 2018 that is due to make a big splash in 2019

There’s been a noticeable shift in ambition within all levels of filmmakers to create content that has production values normally associated with professional productions such as Planet Earth.

And the technology to produce it is getting more accessible. Sweeping, ariel footage, motionlapses and stabilised, subject-tracked footage was once the preserve of large scale productions. This is now realistically within reach for enthusiasts, not only professionals.

Drones are not only getting smaller, but more advanced – the DJI Mavic 2 has a 1” sensor and is rammed with technology to avoid obstacles and return the drone safely – making it more appealing to a wider audience than before.

And the DJI Osmo Pocket (pictured above), released right at the end of the year, allows you to capture stunning motionlapses and 4K video on the go – read about its potential here.

Top Gimbal Releases of 2018

DJI Osmo Mobile 2 (Read the review)
DJI Ronin S
DJI Osmo Pocket (Read the review)
Zhiyun Crane 2

Top Drone Releases of 2018

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
DJI Mavic 2 Pro
DJI Mavic Air

2018 – the year of the influencer

It was only a matter of time before social media started to influence and shape the world of professional photography. With top camera brands recognising the value in large followings, modern influencers aren’t simply ‘famous for promoting products’. There are a whole wave of photographers who are huge on Instagram because their work merits it.

Cityscape & commercial photographer Ron Timehin is a great example, who has become a Sony Ambassador through his own carefully sculpted brand of moody photography. Read his thoughts on social media and developing your own style in our interview with him.

One of Ron Timehin's picture - his style has made him a big hit on Instagram

There is of course much more we could cover – we'll shortly be bringing you some guides on the best of the current cameras as we head in to 2019. If you have a Google+ account, let us know in the comments below what your highlights of 2018 have been.

Our Favourite Blogs of 2018

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