A Review Of The Year 2018 From Jason Row


As the shutter curtain slowly closes on 2018, we look back on this year as being the one when the shutter curtain became obsolete. The year 2018 will be remembered as a vintage one for mainly the right reasons. 

Mirrorless came of age, phones got better and better, and the choice of lenses on all systems is now beyond compare.

As the festive season approaches and we all slow down a little, let’s take a look back at some of the seminal moments of 2018

The Cameras

There is going to be no doubt that 2018 was the year of the mirrorless. Driven by the success of Fuji, Panasonic and Sony, Nikon and Canon finally responded with serious products.

First out of the blocks in 2018 though was Fuji, firing a shot across the bows of Sony with the X-H1, an X-T2 APS-C camera adapted for video shooters.

In the same month, Sony announced a7 III, a full frame 24MP beast with Sony’s usual array of 4K video features and a pricing similar to the X-H1.

Of course, 2018 was a Photokina year so there was the usual rush of rumours about all the manufacturers. The worst kept secret was that Nikon was producing a pro-level mirrorless camera. When they did, in fact, make the announcement, before Photokina, there were two cameras, the Z6 and Z7.

photo by rosalind chang
Photo by Rosalind Chang

At 25 and 46 full frame megapixels, they signalled Nikon's intent at taking back some of the market from Sony.

Both cameras were well received although the available lens line up was disappointing. This was partly negated by the addition of an adapter for Nikon’s DLSR lens range.

Very shortly after Nikon’s announcement came Canon’s reply, the EOS R. Featuring a 30MP sensor and a price in the Z6, a7III ballpark, the full frame mirrorless market suddenly got very competitive.

Fuji kept to their strategy of staying within a niche and avoiding the full frame battles. Their X-T3, a 26MP APS-C mirrorless, expanded on the video features of the X-H1 making it a serious competitor to Sony in the video market. Meanwhile, they also launched a budget medium format mirrorless, the GFX50R. This 51MP beast was priced at a similar level to Nikon and Canon’s full frame professional cameras.

Leica continued their tradition of removing features and charging more with the M10-D. This time they removed the LCD screen and added around about $800 over the price of the base level M10

Perhaps pandering to the supermoon craze, Nikon breathed some life into the bridge camera genre with the Coolpix P1000. The headline feature being its 24-3000mm equivalent lens with image stabilisation.

The Lenses

With the big camera releases came some big lens releases too. To go with its Z series Nikon announced a 24-70, 50 and 35mm lenses along with an ambitious roadmap. Canon announced four lenses to supplement their EOS R including a 35mm macro. 

Despite the swing towards mirrorless, the major players all released significant DSLR lenses in the year, particularly in the super telephoto range. Canon updated it’s 70-200 at both 2.8 and f4 as well as updates to the 400mm f2.8 and 600 f4. 

Nikon released a 180-400mm f4 with a built-in 1,4x teleconverter operated by a switched. It dropped at an eye-watering $12,400. 

Sigma had a very productive year with numerous lenses including several in their renowned Art series. The other independents also had significant years, Laowa, Tokina, and Samyang all released several new lenses. 

photo by sharegrid
Photo by ShareGrid

The Drones

The headline of the year was DJI’s release of two Mavic Pro 2s, the Pro and the Zoom. The Pro featured a Hasselblad camera with a 1-inch sensor and video specifications to rival the Phantom 4 Pro. The zoom as its name suggests offered a two-times optical zoom ranging from 24-48mm.

DJI did not have it all their own way with rivals such as Yuneec and Parrot releasing well-received drones in several market sectors.

Drones continued to make good and bad headlines. In July footage emerged of a drone flying dangerously close to an Airbus 380 departing Mauritius. The footage, believed to be authentic, was roundly condemned by many including most of the drone community.

There were also many good news stories concerning drones in 2018, with them helping to rescue lost people and survey natural disasters.

photo by jared brashier
Photo by Jared Brashier

The Camera Phones

With the major manufacturers releasing new phones every year, there are no real standouts. Apple, Samsung, Google and Huawei continue to dominate as far as photo photography is concerned. 

Cinematic camera company Red tried to take on the established market with its Hydrogen One but only to very mixed reviews. 

Photography apps continue to improve with the likes of Adobe, Filmic Pro and others pushing the boundaries of what we can achieve on our mobile devices. 

Photo by Julie Tupas

The Controversies 

No year goes by in photography without a fair share of controversy.

The world’s best selling landscape photographer, Peter Lik, came under increasing fire over a faked moon in his Moonlit Dreams image. The controversy stemmed from the photographer’s insistence that none of his images were composites. The photographic Internet community thought otherwise.

Cheating and manipulation continued in competitions. The blue ribbon Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition disqualified its winner in the “Anteatergate” controversy, where the chief protagonist in the image was deigned to be taxidermically challenged. 

Even the World Press Photo organisation came under fire when for showing “tasteless” images of starving Indians standing in front of banquets of food.

There is no doubt that 2018 has been an important and memorable year in the world of photography. Perhaps a measure of how much we have seen this year comes in the recent cancellation of next year’s first annual Photokina.

Due in early March, the show will now not take place until 2020. The coming 2019 will certainly see some new products, but it's doubtful that it will match anything that we have seen this year.

Let us know in the comments below what have been your highlights of 2018.

About Author

Jason has more than 35 years of experience as a professional photographer, videographer and stock shooter. You can get to know him better here.

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