Videomaker gives out multiple awards each year, from Best of CES to Best of NAB, but today, we announce our Best Products of the Year awards. To be considered for this distinguished award, one of our editors has to have had personal hands-on time with the product. This year, like those before it, started with the list of those products and I’ll tell you what, it wasn’t an easy decision. We value these awards and would rather not give an award than give one to something that doesn’t deserve it. When considering a product, we look at its value compared to its direct competition, it’s innovation and it’s overall performance. Each product must have been released over the last 12 months.
Best Products Award Criterion
For a product to qualify for our Best Products of the Year, it must have passed through the Videomaker headquarters in 2018 for examination by our editors. From there, we judged products based on the following seven criteria:
- Empowerment: How effective the product is at helping videographers be more effectiv storytellers.
- Ease of Operation: How user-friendly it is.
- Affordability: The product must provide a good value for the price.
- Quality: It must be put together well, durable and show excellence in its category.
- Innovation: It should have some inventive or original features.
- Dependability: It needs to be able to endure the rigors of active video production.
- Performance: It must work consistently and effectively.
Without further ado, here are our picks for the Best Products of 2018.
Best Fixed-lens Camera Over $1,000
The Sony NXCAM HXR-NX80 offers all the features you want and need out of a camcorder. From hybrid autofocus to Hybrid Log-Gamma, the NX80 is feature-rich. Shooting up to 960 frames per second in Slow and Quick mode and up to 120 frames per second in HD, it shoots up to 100 Megabits per second in UHD 4K and offers SLog3/S-Gamut3 picture profiles. With its one-inch Exmor CMOS sensor, you get a 12-times optical zoom that captures to dual SD card slots.
The number of features offered in this camcorder should pique the interest of many. Sony says it’s been designed for corporate video, promotional video and film school students’ work, just to name a few. They state that because of XAVC S, the NX80 will work in just about any workflow for various applications.
Best Interchangeable-lens Camera Under $1,000
Canon EOS M50
The M50 gives you 60 frames per second (fps) in HD and 24fps in UHD 4K. The camera has a great image quality and has a fully articulating touch monitor. When shooting in HD it has industry-leading dual-pixel autofocus (AF) and combination 5-axis image stabilization. If you need to be able to shoot yourself and see the shot on a monitor, the M50 is a good option. Overall, the camera worked quite well and would fit the needs of someone who aspires to do a little bit of everything on a smaller budget.
Best Hybrid Camera Over $1,000
Sony a7 III
The Sony a7 III is a solid camera. It’s got everything a budget shooter needs and captures up to 120 frames per second (fps) in full HD and up to 30 fps in UHD 4k. Add in two different log picture profiles and you have a formidable camera. But that’s not all, it’s also has a full frame sensor with better than average low light performance. Those are just the video features; throw in the ability to capture up to 10 RAW photos per second at 24.2 Megapixels (MP) and you have a hybrid shooter’s dream. From a long battery life to great low light performance, Sony makes the a7 III a competitive choice among its contemporaries. If you are a hybrid shooter on a tight budget, the a7 III should be strongly considered.
Best Cinema Camera
Sony FS5 II
Sony’s follow up to the PXW-FS5, the FS5 II adds new frame rate options and VENICE color science as well as an Instant HDR Workflow on top of S-Log2/3. The FS5 II expands on the high frame rate recording capabilities of its predecessor, the FS5, with support for up to four seconds of 120 frames per second (fps) recording in 4K and eight seconds of HD 10-bit 4:2:2 recording at up to 240 fps. Continuous recording of 120 fps in Full HD is also supported. When paired with an external recorder, the FS5 II can shoot continuously at up to 240 fps or 200 fps in 2K RAW or at up to 60fps in 4K RAW.
Best Speciality Camera
The GoPro Fusion has the best image quality of any 360 camera in its category. Moreover, the inclusion of what GoPro calls OverCapture, which lets you use your phone to frame up a traditional HD video out of your 360 footage, makes the Fusion stand out far above the rest. The Fusion has a great looking picture, dynamic range and color reproduction. OverCapture is a great new way to get more from a 360 camera than just spherical video. All in all, the Fusion is a strong camera, arguably the best in its class.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro
With the Mavic 2 Pro, DJI has segmented their marketplace into those who want or need a zoom and those who would rather have image quality. If they would have combined those two ideas, they would have a drone that would be both easy to manage and would deliver high-quality images. At this point, its expected that DJI would create a drone that flies great; they have been doing that for years now. Anything less would be a major misstep. The Mavic 2 Pro is a fantastic drone. It’s great to fly and has a wonderful image. With 10-bit video and a high megapixel count, we’d pick the Pro for most applications.
Canon RF 50mm F1.2 L USM
If you know the EF version of this lens, you know it’s a great looking lens with a super fast f/1.2 aperture. Outside of Canon, no other brand offers a f/1.2 50mm lens. The RF version is a quite a bit different than the EF. It’s double the length, but it has a good feel and equally good image quality. A really fun thing about the RF 50mm is that there is glass all the way to the lens mount. It has a minimum focal distance of just 1.31 feet and has wonderful circular bokeh from its 10-bladed iris.
Best Advanced Support System
As the leader in drones, it’s not typical for DJI to be late to the marketplace. However, since they were late to join the single-handed gimbal category, they were able to include all of the best features from their industry rivals and give it a competitive price tag to boot. The DJI Ronin-S is be smartly designed and reasonably priced. It’s an easy-to-setup and easy-to-use gimbal priced right. A motorized gimbal of any kind will increase the production value of any video. The Ronin-S gives you that and a bunch of other fun-to-use and quality functions. If you are in the market for a one-handed gimbal with an 8-pound capacity, don’t look past the Ronin-S.
Best Basic Support
Sachtler flowtech 75 MS
The lightweight Sachtler flowtech 75 has an innovative design and a price tag that reflects its value. The flowtech 75 features a 75-millimeter bowl and two-stage, three-section carbon fiber legs adjustable from 10.2 inches to 61.8 inches, but it isn’t your typical tripod. All of the leg length adjustments are controlled with three levers positioned at the top of the tripod. It has a mid-level spreader that can be quickly attached or removed so that the tripod can almost pancake all the way down to the ground.
Rotolight Anova PRO 2 Bi-Colour
The Rotolight Anova PRO 2 is both a video light and strobe for stills. The light is very innovative; a hybrid light lines up perfectly with the growing market of photographers who are also filmmakers. This bi-color LED light gives you flexibility regardless of the color of light you are working with. It can run off a V-mount battery, so you can use it anywhere. With a CRI rating of 96 and a TLCI of 91, the numbers look promising. On top of all that, it’s fully dimmable from zero to 100 percent power and can be equipped with optional 6-leaf barn doors. Built rugged, the Rotolight Anova PRO 2 has some really unique features that are perfect for the hybrid shooter. If you need a strobe and a video light, there is loads of value here. If you want a swiss army knife for a light, you should consider the Rotolight Anova PRO 2.
Apple iMac Pro
The Apple iMac Pro comes with pro specs and a pro price. Apple came out swinging with the iMac Pro, offering the most resources in an Apple computer ever, but its price tag is not for the weak-hearted. However, the iMac Pro does offer loads of value — if you are OK with a computer that is difficult to upgrade. We like this machine — we like it a lot.
Samsung Portable SSD T5
If you’re in search of small, lightweight, fast and durable portable storage, the Samsung T5 is a great choice — if you don’t mind paying a bit more per gigabyte (GB). Available from 250 gigabytes (GB) to two terabytes (TB) and ranging from $130 to $800. The T5 is a USB Type-C device but includes an additional USB Type-A cable. If you need a minimum data rate of 370 MB/S read/write and up to 487 MB/S write, 515 MB/S read for Type-C you should consider the Samsung T5 SSD.
Sennheiser ew G4 – 100 Series
The Sennheiser ew G4 – 100 Series wireless mic system offers a new user interface that allows for faster set-up and better control because of its 12 compatible frequencies. Additionally, the ew 100-p output power goes up to 30 mW. The housing for the SKM 100 G4 has also been made with lighter aluminum for easier use. The new G4 series is fully compatible with all previous evolution wireless generations, so you won’t have to worry about having to replace evolution gear you already own.
Best Field Monitor
Atomos Ninja V
The Atomos Ninja V packs most of the technology found in Atomos’ other monitor-recorders into a smaller form factor at an incredible price point. It’s a 5-inch, 1000 nit 1920 x 1080 touchscreen recorder that can capture 10-bit 422 video via an HDMI input. The size makes it a great pairing for a DSLR or mirrorless camera. With a slew of new cameras on the market that offers clean 10-bit out their HDMI, the Ninja V is even more exciting. Since it was announced at the NAB show in April of 2018, the Ninja V has only gotten more relevant.
Best Audio Recorder
To go along with their existing ecosystem of modular mics, Zoom has made yet another dexterous audio recorder with the Zoom F1 Field Recorder. The Zoom F1 is a two channel field recorder, capturing up to 24-bits at 96 kHz in either WAV or MP3. It includes an on-board limiter, is powered by two AAA batteries and records onto a MicroSD card. The F1 is available in two configurations, the F1-SP, mounted with the SGH-6 mono shotgun mic module, and the F1-LP, with the LMF-2 lavalier. The big trick to the F1 is that it’s compatible with all of the interchangeable mic modules for the Zoom H5 and H6 recorders.
Best Desktop Monitor
HP Z38c Curved Display
If you are looking for a monitor that is both impressive to look at and to use, the HP Z38c is for you. The large 21:9 aspect ratio is perfect for video editing and its 37.5-inch wide curved screen is big without being too big. With a great price, the Z38c is sure to impress. Our favorite part of this monitor is its matte finish and anti-glare coating. If you want to get more space for your workplace and make all of your friends drool, you should look into the HP Z38c.
Best Introductory Editing Software
Apple iMovie is a simple, easy to use and free. It’s ubiquitous, allowing a user to go between mobile and desktops. It’s easy to use, and its simple interface makes it an ideal application for those learning how to edit video. It can handle 4K video, so even if your camera skills are better than your editing, you can still work with the footage. iMovie includes built-in transitions that you place at transition points. It also has an easy to use and flexible tilting program to give you more than just text on the screen.
Best Intermediate Editing Software
Adobe Premiere Rush
Premiere Rush is Adobe’s first all-in-one, cross-device video editing app. It’s an application that allows you to work on your projects through multiple devices, so if you start a Rush project on your Mac, you can switch over to your iOS device and continue to edit the same file. Android support is promised soon. Rush automatically syncs all of your projects and edits to the cloud. In the program, you can edit using customizable motion graphics templates, color and Adobe Sensei-powered auto-ducking — each feature being powered by engines from Premiere Pro, After Effects and Audition. Plus, Rush integrates capture, intuitive editing, simplified color, audio, motion graphics and publishing to social media like YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.
Best Advanced Editing Software
Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve 15 Studio
Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve 15 Studio offers a variety of tools for professional video editing and color grading along with a built-in visual effects toolset and robust audio editor. Blackmagic Design is known for disrupting the marketplace, and DaVinci Resolve 15 Studio does just that. But the coolest thing is that you don’t need the companion hardware to use DaVinci Resolve at a professional level.
Best Plug-in Suite
Red Giant Magic Bullet Suite 13
Red Giant Magic Bullet Suite 13 is a robust set of color correction tools. Denoiser III gives you up to three more stops of light and Cosmo II makes poor complexion or harsh lighting easy to resolve. With Colorista IV, Red Giant gives you guided color correction to quickly balance color. The suite includes Looks, Colorista IV, Denoiser III, Mojo II, Cosmo II, Renoiser and Film. Each plug-in can be purchased individually or as part of the suite. For just under 900 dollars, version 13 is pretty amazing — it didn’t let us down.
That’s all folks!
This year we saw innovation throughout our industry, and we are glad to be able to cover it. Over the course of the year, we got great input from you — our audience — on what you want to be covered. Thank you. A special thank you also to the brands that provided their products to us for evaluation. We will always strive to make an independent analysis of all the products we review. Thank you for reading and here’s to another great year. Cheers!