Best of 2009 in the Photography Industry

This last year our industry saw an avalanche of brilliant photography, history making events and new technology. With so many new cameras, tools and software saturating the market, many photographers are embracing new favorites while others are minimizing and going back to their roots.  Whatever your toolset, the industry continues as a changing, challenging place, one in which only the creative will survive. So for those coming in late… Here is what you missed in 2009:

Best Moment: Canon makes photographic history

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If you have any question that art reflects life, an historic presidential portrait shoot in 2009 provides ample proof that digital photography has taken center stage.   An official inaugural portrait photo released January 14th will go down in history as the the first of its kind taken using a digital camera. The historic photograph was shot by Pete Souza, an official white house photographer, using a Canon Eos 5D Mark II.  Whatever your political sway, when the mammoth which is Washington finally gets on board, you have proof positive that the ‘new medium’ has become mainstream.

Best Photographer: Mike Yamashita

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OK, so we know the paragraph title is overreaching, but what the hell, Mike Yamashita in our opinions, might just be one of best nature photographers of all time.  With a print version of National Geographic as our window, Mike Yamashita’s ‘Mystic Waters‘ series, captured China’s natural beauty in a way that speaks to how fragile our environment can be, while drawing us into his location.   We pored over thousands of photographs and considered a similar number of names, but 2009 belongs to Mike and his work;  simply to say thank you!

Best DSLR Camera: We let the numbers speak.

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Ahh the arbitrary notion that we can tell you what camera will produce your best pics.  Before we give our boorish feedback on what hot piece of kit is selling off the floor… We viewed amazing photos this year from almost every camera available (including some amazing work from disposable 35mm’s).  Beg, borrow or St… err you get the drift – we always recommend trying as much gear as necessary to find what works for you.  If you are starting out however… The Canon Digital Rebel XSI 12.2 mp SLR is being reported as this years top seller.  This ’starter’ Canon, gives great picture quality and consistent output (with an interface which we rate head & shoulders over the Nikon) However if you are a die hard Nikon fan you will not be unhappy with the comparable Nikon d5000 which boasted slightly less in sales, but sports an equally passionate fan-base to Canon.

Best Project: David Zimmerman – We agree with Sony

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2009 found photographer David Zimmerman bringing home the proverbial gold when he won the Sony World Photography Award ‘09 with his desert Landscape Project.  The pictures taken in the series in AZ, NM, CL, NV and depict a highly stylized look at the fragile ecosystem of the American southwest desert. Congratulations David.

Best Software/Software Update

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Adobe added value to it best of breed with an update to their Elements software by launching  Photoshop elements 8 The new version brings automatic & fast organization to its already robust assortment of correction tools. Our favorite addition was the inclusion of the nifty function ’smart tags’.  You can check out an in-depth review here, but if you aren’t already, Chalk this up as a must have tool for any photographer.

Best New Tech: A fun feature for when one shot wont do.

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Nikon has added HD Video to its full‐frame digital SLR camera range for the first time. If your a Nikon fan, you have probably seen some of the low light videos being made using the Nikon D3s?!  As fans ourselves we like the direction the industry is taking and hope this coming year brings more goodies.

Best Memory Card: Eye Fi Pro – The ‘Swiss Army’ card.

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In June, Eye Fi launched a Pro version of their memory card which uses built-in Wi-Fi to wirelessly transfer your photos. This ‘Pro‘ update caught our eye because it lets users wirelessly upload more file types, including JPEG and RAW images and videos, adds Geotagging capabilities and allows users to create an ad hoc connection through their computer or other mobile device to wirelessly upload media files while away from a wireless router.   FUEL editors agree that regardless of whether you think you need it or not, you can’t deny the cool factor. We think it’s a must have.

Hottest Gear: Best SLR Backpack/Bag

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It is true not all shoots require the same gear, but since we have found ourselves left wanting on the wrong side of too many mountains – we tend to pack on the heavy side.  So naturally our vote for the best SLR backpack/bag for 2009 goes to the Lowepro Vertex 200 AW In short, its intuitive design, weather resistant exterior and customizable harness makes this a must have for any serious photographer. It will keep you fully stocked with room for up to 2 Pro digital SLRs, a large 35mm or medium format system, 4-6 lenses (up to a 300mm f/2.8), tripod or monopod, flash and laptop.  Checkout cnet for an in-depth review.

2009 retitled ‘Year of the Apps’

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The shear volume of photography focused mobile apps which have hit the market requires that Mobile Apps as a whole get an honorable mention.  With a sharp rise in twitter fueled self importance, the ‘mobile-photographer’ has passed fad and been bumped up to formal pop culture status.  Thankfully, although 2009 heralds major strides in cell phone camera tech advances, most of us will not be replacing our DSLR’s just yet (stay tuned for next years ‘best of’ post for that announcement)

Amidst this app storm, one little app shone above the rest, earning it a place in our best of roundup. DSLR Camera Remote is a well designed and useful little iphone app which as its name suggests, allows you to control your camera remotely during a photo shoot. Believe it or not, the app allows you to remotely control the shutter-speed, aperture, white-balance etc, View images shot on the camera from your iPhone or iPod touch and even look through your camera’s viewfinder remotely.  Why do you need this you might ask.  Well we answer simply… Why the hell not?

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