Alongside PetaPixel‘s recaps for major camera manufacturers, including Sony, Fujifilm, Nikon, and Canon, we also recapped the year for the L-Mount Alliance and the Micro Four Thirds mount. Now it’s time to wrap up the year in review equipment recaps with a highlight of the “best of the rest” cameras and lenses released this year from the smaller, or at least less mainstream, brands.
Cameras Released in 2023
April was the month of monochrome. Photographers were treated to two new monochrome-only cameras, the Pentax K-3 III Monochrome and the Leica M11 Monochrom. These cameras give up some versatility by being unable to capture color photos at all. Still, they deliver extremely sharp, detailed black-and-white photos with better tonal ranges than their color-filtered counterparts.
The Leica M11 Monochrom was far from the only Leica camera released this year. The company also debuted the much-anticipated Leica Q3 premium compact camera and the M11-P, a new version of the standard M11 that incorporates C2PA technology for content authenticity and image provenance, designed primarily for photojournalists.
As for action cameras, this year saw a trio of great new releases: the GoPro Hero 12 Black, the DJI Osmo Pocket 3, and the Insta360 Ace Pro. For adventurous photographers and videographers, each promises high-end image quality, many sophisticated features, and extreme durability.
For those looking for a more traditional camera that is waterproof, the OM System Tough TG-7 and Pentax WG-90 were both announced last year. Unfortunately, they aren’t especially exciting and are practically just re-skinned versions of existing cameras, like the Tough TG-6 and the Ricoh WG-80.
Phase One, a big name in the highly-specialized world of medium-format photography, released the Phase One XC camera in 2023. It is a very odd and premium compact camera with a built-in ultra-wide lens. The 150-megapixel camera also costs more than $62,000 and lacks the modularity of Phase One’s other cameras, so there’s that.
A Good Year for Lenses
Leica’s new L-Mount lenses have already been featured in the L-Mount Alliance recap, but Leica also released two new M-mount lenses in 2023. In April, Leica released an updated version of the Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH prime lens. The legendary German company then announced the Leica Summicron-M 28mm f/2 ASPH lens in October.
Another iconic name in photography, Hasselblad, finally released the XCD 90mm f/2.5 V lens. First announced in 2022 alongside the X2D 100C camera, photographers have been waiting patiently for the 90mm prime, and it appears it was well worth the wait. Hasselblad also released the XCD 28mm f/4 P in 2023, unveiling that new wide-angle lens in late August.
Beyond launching the K-3 III Monochrome and WG-90 cameras this year, Ricoh Pentax also announced a couple of updated Pentax lenses this year, two versions of the 50mm f/1.4 prime. The HD Pentax-FA 50mm f/1.4 is joined by the SMC Pentax-FA 50mm f/1.4, which promises a different look and feel to its photos.
Lots of Great Gear, but No Grade
Unlike our prior recaps, I will not assign a grade to anyone here. I will say that Leica had a fantastic 2023, though, and that it’s terrific to see Pentax continue to release exciting new products in the DSLR space. Seeing a pair of new monochrome cameras was also an unexpected but pleasant surprise in 2023.
Although Sigma and Tamron lenses have made their way into other recaps, it is worth noting, once again, that these makers delivered some fantastic lenses in 2023. Sigma released PetaPixel‘s Best Prime Lens of 2023, the Sigma 14mm f/1.4 Art, while Tamron won the Best Zoom Lens category with its 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III VC VXD G2.
Overall, 2023 was a year full of superb cameras and lenses, and while not every brand delivered as many great products in 2023 as they did in 2022, the overall trend was one of positivity and growth across the board.