Best digital system camera 2013: 10th Pocket-lint Gadget Awards nominees
It has been a great year for cameras and the first year we've split the camera category into two - dedicated compacts and, as you're seeing here, system cameras. That includes more traditional DSLR cameras and mirrorless compacy system cameras.
Both sides bring some outstanding products to the table, each with their own point of interest and strengths. It's a particularly tough category this year. After much deliberation and some tough decisions - a lot were cut from the long list - here are the five nominations for the Best Digital System Camera 2013.
Canon EOS 70D
Canon introduced the EOS 70D to the market in July, with a body-only price tag of £1,079. It's a fantastic camera to say the least, closing down the performance gap in live view between DSLR and CSC cameras thanks to its Dual Pixel.
READ: Canon EOS 70D review
Viewfinder-based autofocus is also second to none thanks to the 19-point AF system which works well in most lighting conditions. Add to that a 20.2-megapixel APS-C sensor that produces superb quality, and a 7fps burst mode that can snap away at full resolution - the buffer is decent enough to keep the files chugging along to the SD card too. The battery life is also brilliant and the touchscreen is responsive, plus it has a weather-sealed construction. Is there nothing this DSLR can't do? A triumph in the post-mirror age, we have to say.
The Nikon D7100 arrived in March priced at £1,299. It brings all kinds of goodness including a great autofocus system for all conditions and a 100 per cent field of view optical viewfinder, twin SD card slots, along with a long-lasting battery and improved LCD screen quality over its predecessor.
READ: Nikon D7100 review
But it's image quality where it really matters. And the D7100 doesn't fail to impress: decent sharpness, stacks of detail and other quirks such as a 1.3x crop mode that also works in raw capture, which we love. There are only a couple of points that hold this device back from perfection, but there is a lot to love about this camera - and love is exactly what we have for it.
Olympus Pen E-P5
Olympus announced its Pen E-P5 camera in May featuring a £999 price tag when bundled with the 14-42mm lens. It sounds like a lot of cash, and it is, but this camera oozes exterior quality with a premium design that takes a step up from previous Pen models.
READ: Olympus Pen E-P5 review
But it isn't just the outside that counts, and the E-P5 has has a brilliant set of internal specs too. It delivers great image quality that matches up to the OM-D E-M5 camera and there are pro-spec features such as a 1/8000th sec maximum shutter speed to give it that little bit extra over its competition. It's not quite perfection but the Pen E-P5 is one of the best compact system cameras we have tested and one where substance and style meld into one excellent device.
Panasonic Lumix GX7
The Panasonic Lumix GX7 was introduced to the playing field in August at a launch price of £899. The price is fair,given its full-on feature list, which includes a built-in tilt-angle electronic viewfinder, super-fast autofocus and a brand new Micro Four Thirds sensor, all of which sent it straight to the top of our "most wanted" position in our desirable compact system cameras list.
READ: Panasonic Lumix GX7
And it delivers too. It's the ultimate package deal. Not only is the GX7 bursting with features, but it is a pleasure to use and produces fantastic shots, plus also comes with pro-spec features such as 1/8000th sec shutter speed like the aforementioned Olympus E-P5 (above). There are a couple of shortcomings such as a so-so battery life, but given the feature list and price point, it is fully deserving of its place in this list. It's got every base covered, and it covers them all well.
Sony Alpha A7
The Sony Alpha A7 was announced in October and will carry a £1,300 price tag for the body only when it hits the shelves later this year. It represents Sony's decision to push the Alpha brand forward, as it ditches the NEX name. It's the first camera we have seen that features a full-frame sensor in a compact system camera body and yet it is smaller than the Olympus E-M1 Micro Four Thirds camera - that's pretty staggering in itself.
It comes with a new hybrid autofocus system with 117 phase-detection areas, divided into 25 selectable points, and it's not only very swift in operation, but a million miles beyond a compact camera. We found the images were very fine indeed, the depth of field was shallow, as is typical of a full-frame sensor, and the detail looked to be top quality, making this camera a worthy contender in this category. It's the camera to open up full-frame to a wider market, and that makes it a special bit of kit indeed.
Voting for your favourite
Voting in the 10th annual Pocket-lint Awards is now open. You can let us know which one of these great devices should win the Best Digital System Camera 2013 award and give us your verdict about all the other tech across the 12 select categories. To vote, all you have to do is visit pocket-lint.com/awards.
Winners will be announced at the exclusive event in London on 28 November in association with O2 and Hotwire. For now, keep an eye on the Pocket-lint Gadget Awards 2013 hub for all the latest on how the voting works, who the elite judges are and the complete 10th Pocket-lint Gadget Awards shortlist.