Amateur Photographer tests more photographic equipment than anyone else in the UK, and our tests are the most rigorous and authoritative of any UK magazine. Every year for the last 42 years the Amateur Photographer Awards have recognised the very best kit that we have tested during the previous 12 months. It is the most prestigious event in the UK photo industry calendar.
Here we reveal our shortlist of the cameras, lenses and accessories that have been nominated in each category. All of the products in this list are exceptional in their own right, but there can only be one winner in each category, and these will be revealed on the 8th February, at a glittering event attended by the most senior figures in the UK photography industry.
In the meantime here are our reasons why we think these products are just so good. If you’re looking to upgrade or add to your kit, then start your search here.
The X-H1 is the first X-series model to feature 5-axis in-body image stabilisation (IBIS). We love the way it implements weather sealing and an extremely tough construction for the most demanding of photographers, while offering all the niceties that we’ve come to expect from Fuji, including an intuitive arrangement of buttons and dials. Its superb three-way tilt screen supports touchscreen control too.
Nikon Z 7
Nikon fans who’ve been waiting for a serious mirrorless model have finally had their patience rewarded. Incredibly refined for a first-generation product, the Z 7 resolves exquisite detail from its 45.7MP sensor, counteracts handshake effectively thanks to its built-in 5-axis IBIS and offers a first-class viewing experience with a sensational electronic viewfinder. To quote our review ‘it feels like a thoroughbred Nikon.’
Fujifilm GFX 50R
The GFX 50R is what you get when you mix rangefinder styling with Fujifilm’s G-mount and a 51.4MP medium format sensor. The ludicrous levels of detail it’s capable of recording, combined with X-E3-like button layout and high-resolution electronic viewfinder, make it a enthralling choice for documentary, reportage and street photography. We fell in love with it so much we struggled to hand our review sample back.
The X-T3 takes everything we loved about the X-T2, transforming it into an even better performer. It’s capable of blackout-free shooting at a breathtaking 30fps and backs this up with wide autofocus coverage and super-fast response. What’s more, it has the most impressive video spec we’ve seen from an X-series camera to date. Quite simply it’s the best APS-C camera ever made and is a delight to look at and use.
Nikon Z 6
Sister model to the Nikon Z 7, the Z 6 is a remarkably versatile full-frame mirrorless camera. It’s as happy shooting fast-paced action outdoors as it is at shooting portraiture in the studio – in fact there aren’t many genres of photography we can think of where it would be out of its depth. It operates like a Nikon, feels like a Nikon and you’ll love it so much you’ll just want to keep on using it and never put it down.
Sony Alpha 7 III
The A7 III hits the sweet spot of what many photographers want from a full-frame model under £2,000. It presents a phenomenally impressive spec for the price and succeeds at what a great all-rounder should do, which is to perform outstandingly well when challenged by a variety of different subjects and scenarios. Quite simply, it’s one of the finest full-frame cameras on the market.
Canon EOS M50
Canon’s entry-level mirrorless model is a very likeable camera that’s ideal for beginners and offers plenty of manual control as they grow more experienced. We love the way it handles for such a small camera and it’s lightweight enough to carry anywhere. It delivers great image quality from its 24.1MP APS-C size sensor too, making it one of the best choices for those looking to advance from a smartphone.
Aimed at novices who desire an electronic viewfinder and tilting screen at a more affordable price than any previous X-T series model, the X-T100 is a gorgeous little camera. It has useful user aids such as low-power Bluetooth technology and Wi-Fi to share images effortlessly to mobile devices and is desirable from both an aesthetic and performance perspective. It’s a great choice for those starting their photographic journey.
Olympus PEN E-PL9
A popular choice with beginners and bloggers who’d like to take advantage of being able to interchange lenses and record 4K 30p video, the E-PL9 is a lightweight model that can fit into a small bag and produce great images with minimal effort. The useful 5-axis in-body stabilisation and tilt out and down touchscreen for selfie shooting are our two favourite features of this stylish and functional Micro Four Thirds camera.
Panasonic Lumix DC-LX100 II
The LX100 II is a fabulous fixed-lens compact that combines an excellent feel in your hand with a useful 24-75mm equivalent zoom and analogue dials that encourage you to take more creative control over your photography. The fast lens offers great scope for selective focus and the touchscreen and customisation options improve the usability no end. It’s a brilliant candidate for enthusiasts looking for something more compact.
Panasonic Lumix DC-TZ200
If it’s a pocketable camera with a long zoom range (24-360mm) and decent image quality that you’re after, the Lumix TZ200 ticks all the right boxes. It offers useful low-light capability, thanks to its image stabilisation and delivers very satisfying results from its raw files. We’re particularly fond of how responsive it is and found it to be a very reliable performer when shooting in its beginner-friendly iA mode.
Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VI
The RX100 VI is an astounding technological feat. After all, here’s a pocket camera with a 24-200mm equivalent zoom, built-in viewfinder, 24fps shooting at full resolution and 4K video recording. It’s quite remarkable how it manages to squeeze so much in such a small body and tops all this off with excellent image quality. It’s not cheap, but we admire how phenomenally capable it is for a pocket travel camera.
Google Pixel 3 XL
With the Pixel 3XL, Google has made a smartphone camera packed full of clever technology that makes it easy for anyone to take great pictures. We’re particularly impressed by how it’s made advanced features such as Best Shot and Night Sight really simple to use. This might just be the best point-and-shoot camera yet.
Huawei Mate 20 Pro
This device brings literally a new perspective to smartphone photography, with the addition of a 16mm equivalent ultra-wideangle lens that’s perfect for shooting sweeping landscapes or expansive cityscapes. We love its stylish, curvaceous design and well-designed and fully-featured camera app, which includes loads of photographer-friendly advanced shooting modes.
Huawei P20 Pro
The first smartphone to include three camera modules, the P20 Pro is a great choice for enthusiast photographers. Among our favourite of its many useful features are a telephoto camera for portraits, raw format recording, and full manual control. Aficionados of black & white photography will especially love its unique monochrome camera.
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED
Its price tag might be out of reach of most, but Nikon’s first zoom with a built-in teleconverter is quite an astonishing lens. It’s big and it’s heavy at 3.5kg, however, it delivers mesmerising results in the type of sporting and wildlife environments it has been made for. If you’re a Nikon user, it would be a sensational telephoto lens to hire for a once-in-a-lifetime shooting opportunity.
Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art
Sigma is committed to making lenses for all types of user. If you’re after an f/2.8 wide-angle lens that’s faster than the company’s slightly wider 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art, this optic should be on your shortlist. We were impressed by the way it minimises distortion at the wide end and backs up its sound optical performance with quiet autofocus and a robust build quality.
Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art
This is a peach of a standard zoom, with a constant maximum aperture of f/2.8. Its optical stabilisation is highly effective at mitigating handshake and though not weather sealed, it creates delightful background blur when used wide open. The real attraction of this lens is the way it delivers such an impressive optical performance, while offering a significant cost saving over the big-brand alternatives out there.
Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sport
This incredibly versatile telephoto zoom lens effectively merges the focal lengths of a 70-200mm lens and 150-600mm into one, saving us having to swap lenses or worry that we’re going to miss shooting opportunities that occur closer than 150mm. We are impressed by the sharpness of the lens right up to 600mm and its weather-sealed construction makes it well suited for those who’d like to shoot in any environment.
Tamron 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD
Tamron has produced a fine example of a telephoto zoom that delivers good image quality across a broad focal-length range. Compatible with both APS-C and full-frame cameras, it ticks the boxes of being both lightweight and versatile for travelling and general use. What’s more, with a moisture-resistant construction and a fluorine-coated front element it provides extra reassurance when it’s subjected to harsh conditions.
Panasonic Leica DG 200mm f/2.8 OIS
With a 35mm equivalent range of 400mm, this sensational telephoto, with its built-in optical stabilisation, is a very appealing lens for Micro Four Thirds users. It’s roughly one-third the size and weight of a typical 400mm f/2.8 full frame lens and delivers the razor-sharp results one expects from a lens of its pedigree. To quote our review ‘it’s one of the finest telephoto prime lenses ever made for the Micro Four Thirds mount.’
Samyang AF 24mm f/2.8 FE
This gorgeous little wide-angle prime performs remarkably well given its relatively low price. It’s quick to focus and delivers sharp images, with the best results obtained from f/4 to f/11. We admire the way the lens handles distortion, but we should mention considerable corner shading is exhibited wide open at f/2.8. For Sony users who like the idea of such a lens, it makes a cracking buy at under £300.
Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
With the 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM, Sigma has created an astonishing lens that nestles its way into the company’s Art line-up. The quality of the bokeh it produces is sublime, matched by excellent contrast and sharpness, even at f/1.4. It’s right up there as one of the finest portrait lenses we’ve ever laid hands on and is every bit as true to being a ‘bokeh master’ as its nickname suggests.
Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM
This fast wide-angle prime sets a new standard in its class, and as a member of Sony’s top-end lens range, doesn’t skimp on features. Sharpness is sublime, with the corners of the frame remaining remarkably clean at wide apertures. It’s ideal for selectively focused environmental portraits and balances extremely well on Sony’s A7-series cameras. We’d go as far as saying it’s the finest of its type on the market right now.
Zeiss Loxia 25mm f/2.4
If you’re a Sony A7-series user who enjoys shooting with small, lightweight primes, values the process of setting the aperture and focus manually, and demands the highest-possible optical quality, this lens has your name all over it. It’s rather niche, but with lovely handling and optics to die for, it’s one of our favourite manual focus lenses we’ve reviewed over the last twelve months.
This brilliant image effects package is based on using Look Up Tables to apply a vast range of different creative looks to your photos. With no fewer than 213 LUTs included in the Pro package, you’ll never be short of options for pepping up your shots. Best of all, Lutify.me is fully compatible with a wide range of popular image processing software.
Mastin Labs Portra Pushed
Many wedding and portrait photographers swear by Mastin Labs’ emulations of classic colour film stocks. We particularly love the warm skin tones, soft but vibrant colours and punchy contrast of its Portra Pushed Lightroom Preset. It’s an excellent choice if you are looking to add a bit more atmosphere and emotion to your images, with minimum fuss.
Serif Affinity Photo 1.6.7
The hugely impressive Affinity Photo is a full-on professional photo-editing tool that offers a remarkably comprehensive feature set given its relatively low price. We’re really impressed by how it excels at raw processing, image retouching and complex multi-layer composites alike. Photographers seeking a top-notch image editor as a one-off purchase need look no further.
Benro GD3WH geared head
Geared heads are the perfect choice for any application that demands precise adjustment – macro and architecture being two examples. What we especially like about this geared head is that it’s relatively compact and lightweight. What’s more, it provides the smooth adjustment you need while including three strategically placed bubble levels to help keep images straight. You’ll struggle to find a better example that offers such good value for money.
Eizo ColorEdge CS2730
If you’re after a new 27-inch monitor for photo editing and desire the versatility of a high-gamut Adobe RGB display, the CS2730 from Eizo is one of the finest options available. Its design offers a host of practical touches that make it a joy to use daily, while its image quality is nothing short of exceptional. In our review we said ‘ its excellent ergonomics and image uniformity make it a very tempting option’.
Gitzo Adventury 30L
This well constructed bag boasts a superb design and exquisite finish. Outdoor photographers with lots of kit will find it comfortable to carry and its expandable roll top is the perfect place to store non-camera-related items. With a laptop compartment, weather cover, tripod support and removable internal insert, it’s quite brilliant at offering first-class protection on the move and is one of our favourite backpacks we’ve tested.
Hahnel ProCube 2
This dual battery charger, based around the same concept as the original ProCube, has a super sturdy metal shell and interchangeable plates that accept a pair of batteries. The battery holders clip into place reassuringly and the LCD display helpfully displays how much charge has been fed into each battery. We found the way it allows you to charge batteries up on the go with the supplied in-car charger extremely useful.
H&Y magnetic filter frames
These marvellous magnetic frames help prevent grubby fingerprints on the edges of your filters, whilst also providing better life-long protection. Designed for 100x100mm and 100x150mm slot-in filters, they clip around the edge and firmly attach to filter holders that have been adapted with magnetic strips. We’re particularly fond of the way they allow you to stack filters on top of one another and align them precisely.
Hoya Ultra-Pro Polariser
Hoya’s Ultra-Pro range sits above the company’s cheaper NX-10 series and mid-range REVO polarising filters. These resilient filters offer a tough glass construction, 16 layers of anti-reflective coatings and 25% greater light transmission. Our testing revealed they’re highly effective at overcoming reflections and enhancing blue skies and green foliage. Possibly the finest example of screw-in polarisers that money can buy.
Successor to the original Loupedeck, this editing console is a great tool that brings quick editing adjustments to your fingertips. As well as being designed for use with Lightroom Classic CC, it’s now also compatible with Adobe Premiere Pro CC and Skylum Aurora HDR. We’re great believers in refining photo-editing workflow and like the way this device minimises time-consuming cursor movements on the screen.
Lowepro PhotoStream RL 150
It’s one of the more affordable rolling camera cases out there, however there’s nothing budget about the PhotoStream RL 150. Its streamlined design is carry-on compatible with most airlines and the interior can accommodate a vast amount of kit, with pockets for accessories and a sleeve to stow away a 15in laptop. We like it a lot and have put our faith in it to reliably transport kit more times than we can remember.
Manfrotto 190 Go! MS Carbon MT190GOC4
For serious outdoors photographers looking for a sturdy, reliable and flexible set of sticks, it’s difficult to find better, at least without spending a lot more money. It’s exactly the kind of tripod that makes Manfrotto so popular with enthusiasts and professionals alike and we’re big fans of its latest leg locks that promise rapid set-up with a 90-degree twist. In summary, it’s a fabulous carbon-fibre support.
Vanguard Alta Rise 48
This roomy backpack impressed us on test with its bright coloured interior, array of pockets, rain cover and tripod carrier. We found the quality of materials and construction to be faultless, and the well-padded back and shoulder straps ease the strain of carrying a heavy load over long distance. With lots of thoughtful little touches, it’s a very likeable bag if you regularly carry a lot of kit.
Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI
The 470EX-AI is the first flashgun ever to be equipped with an Auto Intelligent bounce function that’s cleverly designed to work out the optimum position of the flash head before automatically manoeuvring it to create the best possible lighting results in any given shooting environment. It’s like nothing ever seen before and takes the fuss out of bounce flash, making it truly innovative in every sense of the word.
Laowa 24mm F14 2x Macro Probe
It’s impossible to accuse Venus Optics of lacking creativity, but even by its standards, this submersible Laowa lens is wildly inventive. We love the way its long, slender barrel allows photographers to shoot underwater extreme close-ups while keeping their camera dry, while incorporating built-in LEDs to provide extra light.
Canon EOS R system
Canon’s entry into the full-frame mirrorless market with the EOS R presented some innovative ideas that we haven’t seen before. Examples include a useful customisable control ring on RF-mount lenses that allow adjustments to be made without having to pull your eye away from the viewfinder. It also debuts a new Flexible Priority AE exposure mode (Fv), which is similar to Program AE (P) mode, but offers greater flexibility when you wish to adjust common exposure settings on the fly.