Soundimageplus Lens of the Year and special award to Software of the Year.

My choice of the Soundimageplus Lens of the Year goes to the updated Panasonic 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS zoom lens for m4/3 cameras. I knew that this lens was going to be this years winner very shortly after I bought it. It's smaller, lighter, cheaper, slightly faster and better optically than the previous model, has ridiculously good image stabilisation and is the best superzoom I've ever used. It deserves to be rightfully regarded as one of the great m4/3 lenses, because that's what it is. It's incredibly useful for stills and video and I doubt in a blind test that all but a very small number of people could tell it's output apart from one of the more highly regarded Panasonic or Olympus primes.

If I could only ever have one lens, it would be this. I really don't care how DxO rate it, how people regard this kind of lens in general and how zoom lenses are seen as less 'sexy' than restrictive, overrated and overpriced primes. This lens is a marvel and shows just how far optical engineering has come in recent years. And if you can't get decent pictures with this lens, then maybe you should take up fishing! 

It's not a lens that will get you lots of approval on forums and in fact you'll probably get a sneer or two and some cliched, parrot like uninformed repetition of the same old rubbish about how lenses like this are optically inferior and a compromise. If indeed it is a compromise, then it's a glorious one, and a wonderfully flexible photographic tool. If you own a Panasonic camera and you don't have one of these, why not? Free your mind and embrace the useful rather than the fashionable. This lens is terrific.

Finally another specially created award - Soundimageplus Software of the Year goes to Photo Ninja. A great software package that provides a genuine creative alternative to the homogeny of other raw developers. Of particular merit is Photo Ninjas ability to get the best out of Fuji X raw files. A task for that most other (if not all) raw processing software, including Adobe, has failed to do. Some comments that Jim Christian, the developer, emailed me (posted HERE) explain the different approach.

All in all 2013 has been an interesting year on the Digital Photography front, with lots of interesting and innovative new products. Some manufacturers have come up with great new stuff, however some have just stagnated. There have been major camera releases as well as the release of smaller scale yet equally fascinating products and by the end of the year there is no doubt that we are better served and have more choice.

Here is the final list of my choices for 2013.

Accessory of the year - Metabones Speed Booster
Software of the year -  Photo Ninja
Lens of the year - Panasonic Lumix 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS
Camera of the year - Sony A7r

Let's just hope 2014 is just as good.  

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