The BEST CAMERA of 2021?

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2021 has been a crazy year in the photo industry. Despite the current world situation as well as both a chip shortage and supply problem, we’ve seen more cameras released this year than perhaps any other. 15 bodies in total from 9 camera companies. Nikon and Canon have officially entered the mirrorless game with the Z9 and R3 respectively to compete with the Sony A1.

Medium format is a thing for Fujifilm with 2 camera bodies introduced. If only you could buy them…

So what is my pick for the best camera of 2021? What does that even mean?

Index
0:00 What does Camera of the Year mean?
1:25 The era of the $6000 camera
2:31 Why does everyone love the Sony A1?
4:08 Sony in 2001
4:31 Sony A1
5:06 Sony 50mm f/1.2 G Master
5:27 Three Compact Series G Lenses
5:44 Sony 14mm f/1.8 G Master
5:53 Sony ZV-E10
6:14 Sony A7 IV
6:55 Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 OIS II G Master
7:13 Fujifilm
7:22 GFX 100S
8:49 Panasonic
9:06 GH5 II
10:49 Panasonic f/1.8 Prime Lenses
11:01 Canon R3
12:20 Nikon Z9
13:25 Leica SL2-s
14:48 Hasselblad
16:09 Squarespace
17:34 Best Camera of 2021 is…
18:40 What is next in the camera industry?

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Ted Forbes
The Art of Photography
2830 S. Hulen, Studio 133
Fort Worth, TX 76109
US of A

47 Comments

  1. ravee mah on December 29, 2021 at 2:01 am

    That was a Nailer’ of sorts. In my country, India, only two percentage of the shooting squad thinks that it is him and not the tool that produce wall worthy stuff. The idea is to get updated in every which way the wind blows — even to the extent of ending up absurdly comic by switching from a Canon R5 to Canon IDX Mark III for wedding shots because the 1DX looks big and more professional to some of the event managers under which the entire wedding scenario here, unfolds. The more expensive the camera is, the better pictures you take. And digest this.. Those who use white colored lenses are preferred by the clients because they produce better pictures! The fad today is — more muscular the lenses are, the better the background is going to be – what ever that means. So, 85mm~135mm fast primes sell a lot. It is another matter that everyone is shooting with them at F 4 or above. I have always wondered why linear groupings on the stage that pose for pictures for 101 out of 100 weddings need a 80-200mm 2.8 when the distance between the photographer and the subjects is just about 5 feet. "Sorry ? Where is your white lens.. why are you using black pancakes here? " … Strange ..

  2. George Miranda on December 29, 2021 at 2:03 am

    Are expensive cameras worth the investment and for how long retain their value ? No doubt that new cameras offer new features and more pixels, but the end results depends on what you what to get from this. Large Prints, Small Prints, to display them on the screen. I don’t even buy new equipment anymore. I spend my time learning my craft.
    I had been learning more about printing and paper. Different kinds of papers offer distinctive results.

  3. manan dedhia on December 29, 2021 at 2:04 am

    I’d say we need better menu designs and industrial design. Phones are more intuitive to use and camera interfaces should move in that direction.

  4. ttambm on December 29, 2021 at 2:04 am

    Completely agree with the end sentiment. The real winners of the camera battles right now are the consumers. There really aren’t a lot of bad cameras, and you cant go wrong no matter what brand you choose.

    All of the new specs and mega pixel growth is great, but it’s way overhyped in the YouTube and Instagram crowd. The average camera user doesn’t really need anything over 20 megapixels, and even that is overkill for most stuff. Auto focusing is so crazy fast now that it’s way more than people need to make great photos. Is the new tech great? Sure! But for most people, and even most professionals the tech is outgrowing the needs of the industry as a whole.

    I shot Fuji for almost three years, and loved it. I’ve recently switched back to Canon with the R, and loved it. It’s still an amazing camera even now with the R5 out. I shoot a lot with the 50mm 1.8 and have been super happy with the results. It’d a $200 lens and it is more than enough for my everyday use. You simply don’t nee the latest and greatest.

  5. Victor Darmont on December 29, 2021 at 2:06 am

    You don’t need the best camera to take the best photo

  6. simonharrissculpture on December 29, 2021 at 2:11 am

    Right… you asked what I would like in a camera going forward..
    You didn’t say whether it was realistic or not so this is what I would like, along with a few million other photographers.
    A lens that ranged from about 16mm at the wide end to 600mm at the long end.
    There, I have said it. The funny thing is, in 10 years some company will come up with a way to do it. Probably digitally on a camera of 200 megapixels or such.

  7. fryuppe on December 29, 2021 at 2:11 am

    Superb presentation, as usual. Like being fed a nourishing meal. Full of different flavours and provocations. It is wonderful to be treated as a discriminating adult by a YouTube presentation. Lots of food for thought. Can I have some more please!

  8. lcador9 on December 29, 2021 at 2:12 am

    The top line A, R and Z cameras with class leading still and video performance, steep prices and large margins were produced to appeal to the very brand ambassadors and other professionals you suggest they now consult with. I own a R5, Z7ll, A1, RX100 and iPhone 13 and it is the latter which I carry every day and with which all my video and much of my personal photos are captured. Cameras which are intended to meet every photography demand and at the highest level will always be highly priced and overly complicated and doomed to be rejected by all those cell phone only photographers where good enough is indeed good enough. I would love a RX100 sized camera with a constant f1.8 aperture, a 24-200 zoom lens, a crop sized sensor and cell phone conductivity. The screen would, of course, be suitable for efficient social networking and game playing.

  9. Leslie Adkins on December 29, 2021 at 2:13 am

    What about the annual book review? I looked forward to that every year.

  10. George M on December 29, 2021 at 2:14 am

    We need only Sony haha!

  11. Michael on December 29, 2021 at 2:14 am

    I would argue that Nothing really inteteresting has happened on the camera marked for still photographers the last 10 years.
    Better autofokus, more compact and more features most Will never use.
    I might be old fashioned But when i read specs and reviews, I Really dont feel an urge to buy them. Or I cant justify the cost.
    – I might be missing out on something

  12. Allen A on December 29, 2021 at 2:14 am

    Leica M10R and SL2S best camera of 2021 for me. Not in terms of autofocus performance but they are they best in ergonomics and a intangible feature called, bringing with me everywhere I go because they are so user-friendly that it is fun to shoot with them everyday.

  13. gibcoprobe66 on December 29, 2021 at 2:15 am

    Well , I always ask myself when I see reviews putting down some cameras because of certain ”lacking features”. Do we really need 1 trillion focus point, eye detect, IBIS and 50 frames/sec bursts? As you said, sports photography is quite niche… Best pictures taken by the greatest photographers were made with very basic cameras…

  14. Michael Mystro Pierce on December 29, 2021 at 2:16 am

    A1 is 30ty frames a sec 🙂

  15. happy 030 on December 29, 2021 at 2:16 am

    WTF!!! Why didnt you make a best smartphone of the year?

  16. Kiwi at the Camera — Chris Hewitt on December 29, 2021 at 2:18 am

    Another interesting piece Ted, I’m sure there will be lots of comments given everyone is different, but as a retired engineer with knees of jelly mainly into land and seascapes a bit of video with the occasional wedding and event gig I’m currently using an R5, a recent change from the D series . It does everything I need well and is easy on my knees for those low shots and on the practical side I like the way it feels and the RF lens are amazing. Having said that the biggest thing holding my photography back this last two years is the constant lockdowns , a almost complete absence of events and major supply problems with gear especially down here in NZ in the middle of nowhere in the southern ocean 🙂

  17. Tony Murphy on December 29, 2021 at 2:19 am

    I agree with every word you said. My Fujifilm XE1 is a beast, and so is my iPhone 12 Pro Max, I need nothing more, happy as Larry

  18. Andrew Higgins on December 29, 2021 at 2:19 am

    For some, there comes a point when you realise you don’t need the latest, greatest camera, you need and want photobooks…

  19. Van on December 29, 2021 at 2:20 am

    By no means a pro (yet) but I’ve been shooting for around 2.5 years, after a year i was doing paid work and in 2021, I’ve had my first and second wedding under my belt. I’m a CO2020 graduate, shot both weddings on a canon T6i and T7, something I’m sure more seasoned photographers would never attempt. I’m ready to upgrade to mirrorless, or just a more “pro” body and i feel there’s so much talk about the best that You can get caught up in comparison. At the end of the day, the best gear is the gear that you have and can maximize capability with

  20. Curt W on December 29, 2021 at 2:23 am

    In 2022 I would like to see new video sponsors for photographers the Squarespace ads are in every video on every YouTube channel. I just bought another Sony lens so I’m sticking with Sony. I wanted to wait for the A7RV but I’m hearing 3rd quarter news and well I want something new now. Maybe I’ll be patient.

  21. David Godfrey on December 29, 2021 at 2:24 am

    It is not the gear, it is how I use it. I want a camera to feel like a part of my being, to work without stopping to fuss with it. I love my DSLR and bag of lenses

  22. Raymond Ludlow on December 29, 2021 at 2:24 am

    I still have my fujifilm xt2 and have never really needed to upgrade to xt3 or even xt4 i have shot commercial food and product with it and also landscapes that i sell as prints and i still love this camera it has never let me down.. i will be waiting to see what fujifilm does in 2022 but i dont need 50mp if anything im more inclined to look at the x pro series like xpro 3 or wait for the x pro 4 when it comes out

  23. Tommy-82 on December 29, 2021 at 2:25 am

    Unpopular opinion: Best camera in 2022 or 2023 will be in a smartphone 😉

  24. Harald Engels on December 29, 2021 at 2:28 am

    One year ago I added a Sony A7R III to my A7 and A7S (all as a platform for vintage lenses). For stills the step from 24MB to 42MB doesn’t really make a big difference without cropping, even not on the sharpest lenses. Therefore I assume that the Sony A7R III will serve me very well for many years to come (in combination with vintage lenses). Even my Sony NEX-7 is still holding-up strongly in many shooting scenarios.

  25. Jorge Calderon on December 29, 2021 at 2:30 am

    brave to say those things in a photography channel. Very honest comments and I share the same view.

  26. Alvin Lipscomb on December 29, 2021 at 2:30 am

    I thought Sony listened to their camera consumer way more than any other company.
    Just Saying, have not shot with a Sony since getting a Point and Shoot that recorded on mini DVD disks as a gift.
    The auto focus was horrendous if a subject just moved just a hand the camera wouldn’t take a photo because it would try to refocus and that took forever.
    I also ran into a lot of people back in the day when Sony had the DSLR who jumped to Sony who wished they never switched so I am no fan of Sony.

  27. LooseDaddy on December 29, 2021 at 2:32 am

    I want something with the same dynamic range as the human eye. It would make me switch to whatever.

  28. Jack Reckitt on December 29, 2021 at 2:35 am

    To bad that you couldn’t just order the camera with only the features you wanted.

  29. Calvin Powers on December 29, 2021 at 2:37 am

    I take your point about the iPhone being the best camera of the year. But I want exactly the opposite. Instead of a phone with a really good camera, I want a camera with a really good phone in it. Or at least a really good tablet. In other words I want a camera that has a fully functional Android OS in it that looks and acts just like a tablet and maybe even a phone. I want to be able to download literally any app from the Google Play store and run it on my camera’s Android OS. I want to be able to edit images in camera using Android Apps. And I want it to have excellent wifi connectivity and maybe even mobile network connectivity. I want all this so we can reduce the friction and time from taking the photo to editing and delivery online, while out in the field. If I can’t have that, I at least want the camera companies to finally figure out how to get files off the camera and on to phones with zero friction. I don’t have a lot of experience with a lot of cameras. But it seems like no one has quite solved that problem yet.

  30. Pers485 on December 29, 2021 at 2:39 am

    Personally for me the fuji 100f has been ny best camera for 2021, I take that cameras with me everywhere

  31. Bogdan Cernucan on December 29, 2021 at 2:40 am

    No word about Pentax K3-III? Why?

  32. Peter Cruz on December 29, 2021 at 2:40 am

    When i use a mirrorless camera I literally think "WHAT CAN’T i do with an iPhone?"

    The iPhone is soooo goood. The answer is portraits, telephoto and super wide. I own a Panasonic GM1 and a 45mm (90mm equiv) 1.8.

    I’m also going to maybe get a fisheye, and might get a telephoto. Purely because an iPhone still can’t do these three things. I’d rather use an iPhone for the other things.

  33. Hanson Choi on December 29, 2021 at 2:41 am

    My camera of 2021 has to be the Leica M10, I sold my super fast AF Sony and bought a used Leica. First time I ever used a manual focus camera and also my first range finder. Yes its a step back with lower MP
    Well.. basically lower everything. But there’s something about range finders that makes me slow down and want to use it even more because it’s so fun. It makes me reevaluate everything in photograph. Do I need more than 24 mp? Not really. Do I need fast af and super sharp images? Nope.. and I picked up a 50 lux asph and I realize it’s so sharp And perfect, I actually prefer the old classic vintage lenses. Too spec and performance doesn’t really matter the most. Sometimes having character and slowing down, being creative and having context with quality will always have be better over image quality.

  34. Matt Osborne on December 29, 2021 at 2:41 am

    @the art of photography for another great video! Great to see Leica get such a glowing report. I’ve not had the opportunity to compare Leicas to the different camera brands but I do love Leica and all the lenses I review look great on their sensors.

  35. Timothy Eli Cada on December 29, 2021 at 2:42 am

    A complete surprise!

  36. buddyWalrus on December 29, 2021 at 2:44 am

    Just waiting on the camera that takes the picture for me

  37. M D on December 29, 2021 at 2:47 am

    I love the conclusion. I would love a compact camera, easy to use, with either fast in-build lens or sth similar. Since photography is my hobby and I shoot stills only, I would love a focus around that – like why would I need a flippy screen (I love my X-S10, but the screen in X-T10 was simply better to shoot)? I also love manual focus lenses, so how about an AF lens with mechanical MF system? Anyway, for me it’s down to one thing – if I love to hold a camera and take it with me, it results in plenty of great photos. For my use case 8k video or 20fps is just cost, nothing more. Oh, and if that camera with the lens could be below 1k USD, that would be perfect 🙂

  38. Carlos Enriquez on December 29, 2021 at 2:48 am

    I totally dig yhe video but I just bought a second d850 and I picked up a d700 that works great for 450 usd.

  39. kjlovescoffee on December 29, 2021 at 2:48 am

    20:00 "There’s no reason why I couldn’t continue to use this camera…" Ted I’m still using my trusty 5D mark 3, and I’m only looking to buy the mk 4 now because they’ll disappear off the market soon and I have no reason to replace a very nice system that produce great images.

  40. AhAhAhAh on December 29, 2021 at 2:48 am

    Ramble On! If you like computed photography and an ecosystem with Skylum skies, then Apple is the bestest. Google is also a dangerous ecosystem you can find you’ve joined and joined again. Its not the camera, its the company! I’ve gotta the Sony A1 and I know its the betta camera, but I learned one thing when I ran market research for a gigantic bank. Everybody believes they know everything about everything, except you and me, the open minded ones.

  41. Tami L Howard on December 29, 2021 at 2:49 am

    Thank you for giving the Leica SL2-S some love!!!

  42. Kalpesh Patel on December 29, 2021 at 2:52 am

    Agree

  43. TITAOSTEIN on December 29, 2021 at 2:53 am

    The best Camera of 2021 (and 2020)… (and 2022)? Easy: Olympus e-m1iii 🙂 The best for me! The best Camera is the Camera that I have and love to use! The FF and Sony Hypes are tiring! But it’s funny to see so many beginners carrying expensive cameras that they don’t know how to use and with capabilities they don’t need.

  44. Steaphany on December 29, 2021 at 2:53 am

    I live in rural Texas, about 3 hours West of Fort Worth, and out here a super phone with a magic camera is pointless. My 3G phone has a camera and the ONLY time it’s ever been used was to document an auto wreck and to video the neighbor threatening to commit murder. 3G is being shutdown and I can not find a replacement basic phone so I am actually exploring a satellite phone that will actually have service.

    As far as Apple is concerned, I was soured on them when it came out that their employee hiring practices favored individuals who bounced off the walls over excitement over the initial Mac Computer verses selecting the best skilled engineer.

    For photography, I’m happy with my Mamiya RB67 Pro SD.

    To reinforce my point, here is a video that asks the question "Are Your Images too Sharp?"

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIoNFi8_AjA

  45. Jan Radtke on December 29, 2021 at 2:54 am

    Funny, I eas thinking the whole Video that the iPhone 13 is my preferred camera right now. I have it with me all the time and I take pictures with it all the time. For serious work I would still go back to my Nikons Z7/D850 or my film cameras (nikon F6, various Mamiyas et.). I also decided that quite some time to come I have all the cameras I need and that there is no real limitation in my equipment, but only in my own abilities as a photographer.

  46. Kenneth Benitez on December 29, 2021 at 2:54 am

    Yes, the Leica SL2-S is an incredible camera. The images I get out of it blow me away regularly.

  47. I won’t Tellyou on December 29, 2021 at 2:54 am

    The only thing I want is a smaller camera with a better viewfinder. The rest of it can be several years out of date. From a picture quality and focussing point of view, the old Sony A7R3 is very good. I would be nervous carrying a $5k camera.

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