Best products of 2012: photography and video
PCWorld's editors select the year's best digital photography and video products.
Technological advancements have wrought awesome and unprecedented change in the video and photography markets. Almost any camcorder can record at 1080 resolution. Heck, even newer Internet Protocol security cameras are capable of producing high-resolution video. Digital still cameras, meanwhile, snap pictures with even higher resolution. The software for editing all those photographs and video has kept pace, too
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Here are our picks of the best photography and video products of 2012.
Adobe Creative Suite 6 (artistic software)
Number 16 on our top 100 list, this suite is full of technological triumphs, from its support for GPU acceleration in Photoshop CS6 and Premiere Pro CS6, to Dreamweaver CS6s ability to output smartphone apps for almost any mobile operating system by transferring their production to the cloud.
Olympus OM-D E-M5 (digital camera)
Most mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras are designed as "step-up" cameras for the point-and-shoot crowd, but the Olympus OM-D E-M5 has the mettle to compete with full-fledged Digital SLRs. We appreciate its fast focusing speed, terrific image quality, and appealingly retro aesthetic. Our favorite camera of 2012 (and number 21 on our list of the 100 best products of the year).
Sony Bloggie Live MHS-TS55 (camcorder)
Burning up your smartphones battery shooting impromptu videos? Maybe its time to move up to a dedicated device. The Bloggie Livenumber 36 on our master listis the most versatile pocket camcorder around, delivering wireless streaming, peer-to-peer sharing, and image resolution on a par with todays top phone cameras.
Instagram (digital photo app)
Love it or loathe it, Instagram has driven plenty of interest in phone photography. This free app for iOS and Android devices (taking the 39th spot on our complete list) makes it incredibly easy to apply creative filters and borders to your photos and then share them with friends and family via social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
Adobe Lightroom 4.2 (photo-editing software)
Few developers add new features to a top-shelf product and then slice the products price tag in half, but thats what Adobe did with Lightroom (placing 42nd on our comprehensive list). Notable new tools include photo categorization by geolocation, the ability to output photos using self-publishing books, and easier-to-use filters. Lightroom 4.2 is no small upgrade.
Panasonic HC-V700M (camcorder)
Heres an easy-to-use compact camcorder that shoots great video. The built-in video light and flash work exceptionally well, capturing clean, crisp video and still shots from as far as 10 feet. Colors appear realistic with little or no oversaturation, and with hardly any blurring during fast pans. Number 69 on our complete list.
Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 (webcam)
Webcams that deliver video at 1080p resolution are a dime a dozen. What separates Logitechs C920number 76 on our top 100 listfrom the crowd is its ability to support Skype HD video calls at 1080p, too. This well-designed, well-engineered webcam also has a mounting clip that keeps it securely fastened to your display.
Sony Handycam HDR-PJ760V (camcorder)
Falling squarely between the consumer and prosumer worlds, this camcorder performs like a champ. It boasts extraordinary ability to produce crisp videos in challenging shooting situations, and the optical image stabilization works phenomenally well. Auto-focus struggles occasionally, but color accuracy stays spot-on. It landed at number 81 on our master list
Axis P1344 (IP video camera)
Small-business owners looking for professional-quality video surveillance will appreciate the features Axis delivers with its model P1344 IP camera (placing 83rd of 100). This model delivers precision optics, true HDTV resolution, and h.264 video encoding. And with power-over-ethernet support, youll need just one low-voltage cable to set it up.
Sony Cyber-shot RX100 (digital camera)
With a sensor nearly three times larger than most of its competition, a lens with a maximum aperture of F1.8, and manual controls for both stills and 1080p/60fps video, the RX100taking the 94th spot on our listis the king of the compact-camera crop (unless you count Sonys full-frame-sensor model RX1, which is priced at a wallet-busting $2800).