What Do You Think Is the Best Camera of the Decade?

What Do You Think Is the Best Camera of the Decade?

With the decade drawing to a close, there is a lot to review, like which camera was the best. I'm not looking for sales stats, official awards, or the general consensus. I want to know what you think the best camera of the decade is and why.

There will technically be a camera that won the most categories for the decade, but statistics can be misleading and somewhat gerrymandered. So, instead, I think it'll be interesting to see people put forward cases for what they believe is the best camera of the decade. It can be any camera that was released between January 2010 and December 2019; my only requirement is that you can support your argument. 

I had a knee-jerk reaction to this question, and after exploring my opinion a little more, I do truly believe it's the best camera of the decade. So, here it is, and here's why.

Fujifilm GFX 100

I was hesitant to pick the Fujifilm GFX 100 without sitting down to justify it first, as I knew I had a few biases to wrestle with: recency and confirmation. Recency bias should be obvious: the GFX 100 came out in the last year of the decade. However, confirmation bias is due to having good hands-on experience with this camera, loving it, and even being at the launch event in Tokyo. But after trying overturn my gut reaction and being unsuccessful, I'm comfortable in saying that for me, the GFX 100 is the best camera of this decade.

There are a number of reasons I call to support this claim, and I will briefly go through them. The first is the 100-megapixel sensor, which is utterly obscene. I was taking photos from the top of skyscrapers and able to zoom in on people. It isn't always necessary — and the downside is the obnoxious file sizes — but the sheer quantity of information is staggering. For the sort of commercial work I do, it wouldn't be simply a nice extra either.

Then, there is the price. While there are medium format cameras for under $10,000, this is the first that is genuinely boxing with the likes of Hasselblad and Phase One, just without the house deposit price tag attached. The price is made all the more impressive with the strong glass selection (albeit not that extensive,) excellent IBIS, hybrid AF, 5 fps shooting, and 4K video. It just felt like a complete medium format system with an achievable price tag.

Shot handheld with the Fujifilm from a rooftop in Tokyo.

I am aware that if I were to be forced to look at which camera ticked the most boxes over the last decade, the GFX 100 probably isn't it; it is large, it is heavy (though I like that), and it still isn't cheap. But what it produces is bordering the unrivaled, and how I felt while shooting with it is something I can't ignore. When paired with the Fujifilm 110mm f/2 R LM WR, it felt difficult to create an ugly image. The only experience is this: do you remember when you used your first nifty fifty wide open? If it was early enough in your photography career, you likely couldn't believe how great the images looked with all that cinematic bokeh. To me, it felt like a more "grown up" version of that.

Honorable Mentions

The GFX 100, while the most impressive camera of the decade to me, wasn't without competitors for my favor. There were a few others that were in consideration, and I want to give them a quick public nod.

Sony a7 III

Arguably, Sony started to make strides in the professional camera market just before the a7 III, possibly with the a7R II. However, for me, they just started firing on all cylinders when they released the a7 III. It was as if mirrorless cameras had finally come of age and were worth taking seriously. It wasn't particularly expensive, it now had a good selection of Sony glass (a previous criticism of Sony) as well as excellent adaptors, and it was performing exceptionally well in just about every category I wanted to mark it on; fps, size, battery life, video, IBIS, dynamic range, EVF, customizable interface and buttons, and so on. The a7 III represented the change in my stance from "DSLRs just work well for me" to "ok, mirrorless is probably the future."

Nikon D850

My experience with Nikon isn't comprehensive, but I have had a chance to use the D850 and have spent time talking to people who use it, and one thing has always been clear: it's a powerhouse. Our own Patrick Hall called it the best DSLR Nikon have ever released and most agree on that front. With 46 megapixels to play with, stunning ISO performance, and almost unparalleled image quality, the D850 certainly deserves some praise.

Fujifilm X-T3

Before you start shouting that I'm a Fuji fan boy — though that's becoming truer and truer as time goes on — I don't yet own a Fujifilm camera, nor am I some ambassador, nor is this sponsored in any way. I've shot with Canon cameras for over a decade and Sony for about 18 months, but Fujifilm just keeps doing it right. Nearly a year ago, I wondered aloud what they had to do to start taking charge of the Western camera market, and one of the prompts for that thought was the X-T3. This little mirrorless is quick, ergonomic, cheap, and without question (I'll fight you over the this), the prettiest digital camera I ever did see. It's no wonder there seem to be so many of them about.

What Is Your Camera of the Decade?

I want to know what our community thinks on this topic. As I mentioned, I have no issue with what camera you pick, for what purpose (stills or video), or why, just as long as it was released between 2010 and 2019 and you can justify your selection. The reasons don't even have to be that good. I definitely have some intangible affinity for the Fujifilm GFX 100 without fully being able to unpack why that is; I just loved shooting with it.

So, what is your camera of the decade? Share in the comments section below.

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Alex Cooke's picture

iPhone. No other device more profoundly changed the culture, production, and consumption of images. Yes, it first came out in 2007, but of iPhone sales since its introduction in 2007, 98.4% have been sold in the decade beginning in 2010, with the number of images taken by iPhones in that decade comprising over 99% of the total images taken by iPhones. By impact, it is a 2010s device.

LA M's picture

Rarely agree with Alex but he's right on this one.

Dave F's picture

Best and most influential are 2 different things. Just ask Nirvana.

And to be clear, that's not a knock on either. I happen to like both.

Rhonald Rose's picture

Best and influential are two different things

Jason Pischke's picture

While they are different, the best camera is the one you have on you and I would argue that if most photographers look back at some of the most memorable photo's they have taken over the decade, many will have been taken through the lens of an iPhone.

Rhonald Rose's picture

I don't believe that's the intent of this post.

Jason Pischke's picture

Maybe so, but if we are looking for the camera with the best sensor, just pick any camera made in the last two years? Why poll the whole decade when sensor tech today is obviously superior to something in 2012.

Robert Feliciano's picture

I'd say smart phone rather than iPhone, considering Apple has ~15% of the worldwide market.

darrell miller's picture

not as much about market share as much as changing the industry. They really started.. or made computational photography mainstream.. yes google was doing it too.. but Apple was better at it in the begining.

Doug Owens's picture

I disagree. The question was best. If the iPhone is the best camera of the decade, we'd all be shooting with it. And honestly, who are we to say what camera is better or the best without actually using them all?

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Don’t we all shoot with it?

Motti Bembaron's picture

Smartphones were (and still are) a huge influence on photograohy but Apple was not even close to be the most profound. The phone company that was the first to make phones a viable camera was by far Nokia.

And if going to 2007, the D3 was the camera that made digital photography what it is today. No other camera made such an impact on photography.

Douglas Turney's picture

What a surprise Alex that you would say the iPhone! Never saw that coming or what did I read that somewhere else. I agree with you.

Tim Ericsson's picture

Presumptuous article: the decade isn’t over yet...

Deleted Account's picture

I wasn't going to say it...

Douglas Turney's picture

Yeah there is still 10% and a few weeks of the decade to go.

Fred Pinkerton's picture

The text in the first paragraph said
"any camera that was released between January 2010 and December 2019".
That's ten years. And it's the logical way to consider decades.
2020 starts the next decade.

Tim Ericsson's picture

Even by that logic, there are 3 weeks left in the decade. Plenty of time to develop the most influential camera of the decade! Plus, it was a joke.

Gert Kracht's picture

As I head for smaller, lighter cameras and lenses I choose the Fuji XT3. The build, the buttons, and the specs are so good. Others are great too, but XT3 is top 1 for me.

Hector Belfort's picture

A Canon 5D IV for me. Just seemed to hit the sweet spot on mega pixels, image quality and ergonomics. A very reliable camera. A great all rounder . I can only blame the photographer when the photos are bad. The camera is great and beyond what most people need in terms of image quality.
A lot of other good cameras around for sure. It’s been a great decade and will be hard to make a step improvement from this level of quality around today.

Deleted Account's picture

But you can't make phone calls with it. Deal breaker for so many it seems. What about email and cat videos? Yeah, well, it may be an excellent camera ......

cee pee's picture

iPhone 11

Stuart Carver's picture

Too many to even consider a best, but smartphones have been massive for getting people who didn’t think they are interested in proper photography starting to consider composition and light.

Stuart Carver's picture

Agreed but im not talking about that.. im talking about those people who had zero interest in anything past pointing their phone at something and snapping it, those people are now considering the art of leading lines, rule of thirds and capturing the best light.. even my Mum composes her phone shots now lol.

Stuart Carver's picture

Its absolutely a thing, i have a lot of friends on Instagram who are not photographers and they are all posting shots on there with a sense of composition and subject, even if they arent as polished as an experienced photographer you can see they have taken time to capture the shot rather than just point and tap, even stuff like applying the AI depth of field means people are caring more about the end photograph than they did.

Dave F's picture

While I disagree with Alex above specifically on the iPhone (best vs. most popular), I'd actually argue for something that bridges the gap between the accessibility of the iPhone and the features of a higher end DSLR / Mirrorless. What Sony did with the RX100 series, for example, is nothing short of phenomenal. The m3 is my personal favorite due to the wider aperture vs. longer focal lengths of the later versions, making it very accessible for lower light situations. While I understand the use cases for APS-C and micro 4/3 cameras (and there are plenty of great ones), I think that a significant percentage of consumer / travel users would benefit from an RX100 over something between that and a full frame camera. Better sensor than an iPhone and full manual controls without resorting to 3rd party software & a variety of touchscreen adjustments. And as popular as they are, I still feel like they're underrated.

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