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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94 Comments

Previous comments
Timothy Turner's picture

In the mid 70's Minor White performed a test with all the major brand slr cameras, where he photographed a still life with each camera set up with the same focal length prime lens
Afterward when looking at the photos it impossible to tell which camera was used for each photo, proving the point "gear doesn't matter. The same test needs to be done with all the major brand dslr and mirrorless cameras and in jpeg no post processing.

d850 pinnacle and swan song of the (D)SLR.

Warwick Cairns's picture

I’m going to go for the Fujifilm XPro3. With its rangefinder styling and unique rear flip-screen it takes a very different tack to other brands, and focuses as much on the psychology of photography as on the technical features.

Vladimir Vcelar's picture

The best camera in the world is the one that you're actually taking photos right now

Warwick Cairns's picture

Indeed. And the best car in the world is the one you’re actually driving, and the best meal in the world is the one that you’re actually eating.
However, sometimes you have a choice, and when you have a choice you might decide that there could be better cars, meals and cameras in the world than the ones you currently have.

David Pavlich's picture

Well, I lived in New Orleans for a little over 20 years and I have to disagree with your 'meal' analogy. The best meals I've eaten all came from a few restaurants there. :-) I'm not a bad cook, but.....

Tom Reichner's picture

I completely agree with you, Warwick. Questions are supposed to be answered objectively, as though our answer is not coming from our personal perspective.

There are many meals that are much better than the soup I am eating right now. There are many homes that are much nicer than the one I live in. Just about every car on the block is far better than my car. And most serious photographers are using cameras that are much better and more capable than the camera I am currently using.

That statement "the best camera is the one you have with you" is an asinine statement that is not factual. The camera one has with them may be the most useful camera to them at that moment, but that is not the criteria upon which objective evaluations are to be founded. "Useful" and "best" are entirely different things, and yet far too many people believe those two qualities are related, when in fact they aren't. No, they aren't.

"Best" is supposed to be an entirely objective evaluation in which we are to take our own needs and perspective out of the equation so that we can make the most accurate evaluation.

David Pavlich's picture

Being objective about 'the best camera' is difficult because very few, if any, get to work with all cameras to make an objective choice. This is nothing more than an opinion exercise for those of us that have opinions about the subject and can give reasons why we think so. Opinions aren't right or wrong, they're just opinions.

Deleted Account's picture

After going away and sleeping on it, I still can't make any sense of the word "best" in this context. I simply keep coming back with various parameters - cost, size, weather sealing, battery life, ergonomics, menu, weight, resolution, DR, etc.

I don't think the question can be meaningfully answered.

However, given that the "decade", as opposed to the last ten years (although it's arbitrary in any case), has another year to go, the Zeiss ZX1 may end up on the list.

David Pavlich's picture

The operative word in the article's title is 'you' which makes your answer your opinion. It's not a question about what's the perfect camera, it's what you consider the best. We each have our reasons for what we consider the best, but this is just a fun exercise in expressing an opinion or three about a tool that we all use for our individual needs.

Deleted Account's picture

#commentbait

Subjective opinion has no value whatsoever.

The D850.

I will probably never buy a Nikon but you have to give credit to Nikon for blurring the lines. The D850 created a new market of “do it all” cameras. Finally you don’t have to choose between speed and resolution.

David Pavlich's picture

Yep! And I'm a Canon shooter. ;-)

I feel like this is a bad comment section because there haven't been any alternatives laid out to what is listed above other than a smart phone. If you want to take the premise literally then the newest cameras will be the best. It is like saying the newest computers are better than computers from 2010. While true, it disregards gear that actually grabbed people's attention before the market started to die. I'd argue for a couple. I would start by saying that Canon has released nothing but disappointment since the 5dii of 2008. The mark iii actually disabled video features and it was not a huge leap. You could argue the 5DS for studio work as the A7IV only now surpassed resolution. For the pro market I like the D4 as a camera with the best highlight recovery I have seen to this day (the 5 has diluted dynamic range at low iso). The Sony a7iii is a strong choice for autofocusing and not having the strong issues previous models had before it. I would also suggest the XT-2 as the strong coming out for Fuji with great 4K that brought people to their color and lenses when fuji had been a joke. For video everyone used the GH4. Some still do. I also think of the D800 as the first camera to reach that level of dynamic range and I dont think we are more than a stop better all this time later. The D850 still has the best mix of dynamic range, resolution, and autofocus on the market with not horrible video especially if manually focused. It is the first master of all camera but while I might call it the best camera out today, I don't know if it is the best camera of the decade.

Tom Reichner's picture

I don't know what the best camera made from 2010 to present is. This is because I assume (perhaps wrongly) that the very best camera made was a one-off camera made for some special government or scientific application, and was not known to or available to the general public.

Probably something used by a top nation's defense department for surveillance. Or perhaps for medical imaging.
I'm sure that such a camera would be "better" than any commonly available camera that photography professionals know about.

So the very best camera of the decade is most likely something that no one reading this article will ever even know about.

I would say it's the camera you have in your bag. Regardless of brand. However, I see based on comments, that Apple and Fuji and Sony apparently have done the best job in "advertising" no escaping of those three names.

Juan Ortega's picture

For me as a hobbyist the best one is the Sony A6000, it has everything i need, but the number one reason i like it is because of it's fast focus and its 11 fps.

Deleted Account's picture

Best camera?
Seeing that newer cameras will be better than previous models and that camera technology is evolving so quickly the only cameras that would make the list should only be cameras released in the two years or so, as they will be better.
We can quickly disregard the rest of the decade.

And that seems to be what is happening here in the comments - most cameras being mentioned here are cameras released during the last two years.

During this decade we've seen shift from DSLR to mirrorless. That's been a big thing.

But I was thinking, "what other cameras have created buzz during the last 10 years?" (I'm ignoring cameras on the phones when I say this)

And these three camera immediately sprung to mind:

In 2014 Canon released the 7D mark II. This camera received a lot of attention and accolades. Many called it an 1D lite.

In 2012 Canon released the 5D mark III. This camera was extremely popular. Many people had this and many people aspired to own one. Back then it seemed to be "the" camera to have.

Nikon's D500 was also a very popular and capable camera.

I'm sure that there must be other to short list, but these three camera came to mind if I think past the last couple of years.
To pick the best camera for a decade is hard to do since difference in technology from both ends of the decade is huge. It's easy to overlook cameras dating back to the first half of the decade.

Bavarian DNA's picture

I didn’t get a chance to play with the GFX 100, yet have no doubt it is a beast of a camera and one of a kind in this decade. The rest of the mentioned cameras I own and use for different purposes with my partner. Must Say that my D850 is indeed the best camera to use in the last almost 2 years. Fuji XT3 is my passion and love for its unique design and functionality, this camera boost my imagination and keeps me going un burned out, use mostly for street/casual/family and video work. I owned the A7iii since it came out before the Fuji and its a great camera that needed to be configured carefully for better experience, especially the manu which I hate and still do. Once you book mark your fav manu and tweak your picture profile for video and it becomes a beast of a machine.

I don’t think in the last few years there was a bad camera, almost every camera these days performs more that average and are great to use

Jacques Cornell's picture

I couldn't choose one "best", as there's no "best" camera for every photographer and every use. However, I rank highly Sony's a7RIII. That's a tough call, because it has some maddening deficits: overly convoluted AF controls and a lousy touchscreen implementation. Nonetheless, I recently bought one for my event work because of the size, lens availability, superb image quality, and (incidentally) excellent AF tracking. With recent discounts, I rate it above the a7III, which I also own. Another unsung camera I think deserves mention is Panasonic's GX7. It set the stage for rangefinder-style ILCs to come, including the GX8, GX85, GX9 and Pen-F, among others. Aside from mediocre C-AF, it was a great all-rounder, with IBIS, class-leading S-AF speed and sensitivity, silent shutter mode, tilting EVF, and a good frame rate, plus a huge range of native lenses, all in a very lightweight & compact package.

Bavarian DNA's picture

The A7Riii or A7iii are the same almost in every way except for the res and video cropping. The A7Riii is a great camera. Unfortunately I haven’t tried the Panasonic lineup before but I’m sure they are awesome for their capabilities and use

Jacques Cornell's picture

If you really only need 18MP (as I do for my event work), the RIII's crop mode is handy when you need more reach. Since I shoot events with primes, an a7RIII with one prime and crop mode does the work of two a7IIIs with two primes, which is both lighter and cheaper. The EVF is better, too.

"Best Camera" is 100% opinion-based. the word "best" means so many different things to everyone. is it the camera that was most reliable? took the best pictures? had the most options? was it a camera upgrade that you were really excited about? was it the camera you received as a gift from a loved one? that's like "best song of the decade."

In terms of price to power the D850 or the XT-3. But the Camera phone really gave literally everyone the ability to take photos where ever or when ever. bit of a tough question to answer.

Ryan Davis's picture

I'm tempted to say the Canon 5d mkii, despite the fact that it dates from 2007. It jsut stopped being my prime Camera a month ago, so for me, at least, it was the best camera of the decade. Nothing released between 2010 and 2019 caused a shockwave in the industry like that camera.

Martin Leblanc's picture

Has to be the Sony, they're leading the march while all the other companies try, and fail, to play catch-up. The only reason I'm still shooting Nikon is that I have too much Nikon stuff so switching isn't really an option.

Robbie Keene's picture

Ah...opinions. Everyone has them. I'm always surprised when people think their opinion is important.

The best manufactured camera of the decade is the Fuji W3. Of all of the cameras mentioned, it is the only one that makes undistorted synchronized stereoscopic 3-D images. All of the other cameras mentioned make only distorted monoscopic 2-D images, where everything from the near point to infinity is squashed down to a single flat plane, which is the greatest distortion in photography. As far as a one-of-a-kind, I have built my own stereoscopic 3-D camera, that produces better images than even the Fuji W3.

Stuart Carver's picture

When you try too hard to make an obscure comment.

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