Article by John Fox…


The votes are in and the results are out with the announcement of the annual TIPA awards in the fields of photo and imaging products. If you are looking to purchase new gear, you can now browse the winners which make a solid starting point for your research, and hopefully you can make upcoming purchases based on a more informed opinion.

TIPA (Technical Image Press Association) was formed in Europe in 1991 as a non-profit association with the goal of “creating an award the industry could be proud of”. Testimony to this success is TIPAs claim to be “the most converted photo and imaging awards worldwide”. TIPA members comprise of independent magazines around the world and South Africa’s PIX Magazine is one of them, so the upcoming issue will doubtlessly cover the 2012 winners, and you will doubtless see advertising with the winners flaunting their successes.

This article is my take on some of this year’s winners. The photo and imaging products are only those introduced to the market over the past 12 months (April1st 2011– March 31st 2012). Before you throw out your old gear and replace the lot, this just represents the best of the new stuff. To see one brand dethrone another from its title has more to do with release date than superiority in many cases. Here is what TIPA have to say about the voting, “TIPA editors take into account innovation, the use of leading-edge technology, design and ergonomics, ease-of-use, as well as price/performance ratio”.

All things being equal I have learnt to appreciate their choices and exposure of new products. Basically, it’s unlike the Oscars, as I agree with the judge’s decision more often than not. Every year the categories are revisited and revised so new technologies are catered for. Enough waffle let’s get into it.


Best Photo Software: Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 Best Photo Software: Adobe Photoshop Elements 10

TIPA says:        “Adobe shows that a very powerful photo software package doesn’t have to be very difficult to use.”

John says:        Unfortunately we don’t have access to the nominations in each category. I would love to know in each category, not just the winner, but who they were up against. In the field of “Best Photo Software” I would guess the competition is between Lightroom, Photoshop and Elements, as Capture One, Capture NX and Aperture who are the main competition don’t have releases within 2012s stipulated timeframe. Unless they release new versions the 2013 winner will be Lightroom 4 or Photoshop CS6. So the winner will be Adobe or …. Adobe?


Best Professional DSLR Lens: Canon EF 8–15mm f/4L USM fisheye lens Best Professional DSLR Lens: Canon EF 8–15mm f/4L USM fisheye lens

TIPA says:        “Its 180-degree field of view offers exceptional creative capture capabilities.”

John says:        From what I have read this is a serious technological feat and a deserved winner crammed full of technology.


Best Video Digital SLR: Canon EOS 5D Mark III Best Video Digital SLR: Canon EOS 5D Mark III

TIPA says:        “No longer are digital still and video two separate worlds”

John says:        Nobody knew that one day DSLRs video capabilities would become such an important feature, as is demonstrated by the number of categories addressing video in this year’s awards. Canon have run with this feature and seem to hold the edge in the market of DSLR video.


Best Digital SLR Professional: Canon EOS-1D X Best Digital SLR Professional: Canon EOS-1D X

TIPA says:        “full frame sensor with high speed, high sensitivity technology to serve the needs of pro news, sports and wildlife photographers”

John says:        This would have been up against the Nikon D4. I would love to know what tipped the balance of scales. TIPA give so little info we just will never know the thinking behind their decision for better or worse. What I can tell you is the canon has 2 million more pixels, higher ISO sensitivity, more focus points and a higher frames per second rate. Okay so maybe their decision is not hard to interpret.


Best Expert Compact Camera: Canon PowerShot G1 X Best Expert Compact Camera: Canon PowerShot G1 X

TIPA says:        “Canon has realized that many photographers do want DSLR-like image quality, but in a compact camera style body”

John says:        I love these cameras; they make for a great travel backups. Sometimes abroad you just want a moment when you are not lugging around the DSLR, flash and lenses. They are far smaller to carry around when you want to dump the gear in the hotel room. Yet still allow for raw capture so it’s not a total compromise on getting the shot and they have a hot shoe as well as pop up flash. Plus there is a world of accessories available such as underwater housings that cost a fraction of those protecting your DSLR.


Best Superzoom Camera: Fujifilm X-S1 Best Superzoom Camera: Fujifilm X-S1

TIPA says:        “FUJINON Super EBC 26x zoom 24-624mm lens”

John says:        I love these super zoom cameras. This is generally what I recommend to people who think they may be interested in photography but don’t want to spend a lot finding out. Entry level DSLRs are pretty cheap these days but expanding beyond the kit lens is sometimes more than some people are prepared to commit to spending. Super zoom have the feel of a DSLR and plenty of imaging technology and control. They allow a lot of flexibility and growth as a starter photographer without much of the cost or intimidation people feel. PLUS IT HAS A 24-624mm LENS!


Best Fine Art Inkjet Paper: ILFORD GALERIE Prestige 310gsm Best Fine Art Inkjet Paper: ILFORD GALERIE Prestige 310gsm

TIPA says:        “they allow the creation of superior archival quality prints with an excellent reproduction of colour gamut.”

John says:        I could bankrupt myself trying to keep up with and stocking the latest and greatest papers around. There are so many to choose from, probably too many. Generally people know of matt and gloss, after that the eyes glaze over as you offer alternatives. Ilford are good and this is bound to be a great product. For me it represents a new available paper and not a replacement to the stock already on my shelf.


Best Premium Camera: Leica M9-P Best Premium Camera: Leica M9-P

TIPA says:        “sophisticated image processing and the robust construction”

John says:        I will have to get my hands on one of these to discover what the fuss is about. Leica appear to hold a special place in photographer’s hearts and I would like to explore the appeal of the Leica legend that won’t die. Anyone offering theirs up so I can do a product review?


Best Mobile Photo App: Snapseed by Nik Software Best Mobile Photo App: Snapseed by Nik Software

TIPA says:        “Nik Software’s Snapseed stands out with a rich package of every day functionality and creative effects”

John says:        Tried it. Loved it. It has a great interface with impressive image editing capabilities. There are a lot of free apps but I would willingly pay the $4.99 for this.


 Best Digital SLR Expert: Nikon D800 Best Digital SLR Expert: Nikon D800

TIPA says:        “36 MP sensor that allows photographers to capture images of impressive quality”

John says:        This will have been up against the Canon 5D Mark III. Again I would like to know what tipped the scales and their thinking behind this choice. Was it the 36 megapixels which has had a mixed reception by the public? Perhaps it was the fact that it set the highest ever benchmark on Dx0mark with a score of 95.


 Best Digital SLR Entry Level: Nikon D5100Best Digital SLR Entry Level: Nikon D5100

TIPA says:        “a very complete camera at an attractive price”

John says:        This is a big category for manufacturers so a coveted title I would think, with more competitors than the high end camera categories face. This win may be a big decision maker for people entering the market so I imagine Nikon will be pleased.


Best Professional Flash System: Nikon SB-910 Best Professional Flash System: Nikon SB-910

TIPA says:        “the new SB-910 flash unit incorporates an enhanced intuitive operating system”

John says:        No surprises here Nikon usually have the edge on flash specifications. But wait! Canon have the Speedlite 600EX-RT with build in two way radio communication, surely that trumps the Nikon unit!? Well I assume the Canon unit shipped too late to be eligible as a consideration, once again we don’t know if this product won against its direct rival or it is a release date issue. Truth be told they both great units and you will be happy either way with the performance they deliver.


Best Imaging Innovation: Nokia PureView technology Best Imaging Innovation: Nokia PureView technology

TIPA says:        “PureView technology also uses smart pixel oversampling techniques for lossless digital zooming and noise free photos”

John says:        So this is a camera phone with some new technology in it, oh and by the it has 41 mega pixels. 41MP! In a phone! Can’t wait to get my hands on this. The Nikon D800 DSLR has a ridiculous 36 mega pixels putting it some 14 million pixels above its Canon equivalent. This phone is shooting in a resolution in medium format territory. It will be interesting to see what it produces as it sounds like most the pixels won’t end in the final image but rather contribute to interpreting the scene. Its 1/1.2 inch sensor is no match for the full frame Nikon but it is a very big departure from the norm and perhaps an interesting omen of things to come…And it is 41mp camera in a phone!


Best Rugged Compact Camera: PENTAX Optio WG-2 Best Rugged Compact Camera: PENTAX Optio WG-2

TIPA says:        “Made for rugged use”

John says:        I love this sort of camera, particularly for travel. It can always be with you, and on you especially in unforgiving places like the beach or snow. Drop damage protected, 100kg crush threshold and 12m underwater capabilities, name a destination more demanding than this rugged camera can handle. This model has very respectable specs as the demands within this category inevitably lead to construction restrictions, a 5x zoom is pretty rare in this genre 3x is more common. Plus there is another function that tickles my fancy “LED-lights supported digital microscope for subjects as close as 1 centimeter”


Best Expert DSLR Lens: Sigma APO MACRO 180mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Best Expert DSLR Lens: Sigma APO MACRO 180mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM

TIPA says:        “first 180mm image stabilized macro in the world”

John says:        So this is a product that certainly interests me. A stabilized 180mm Macro lens. Can’t find a price on B&H or Adorama so I have no idea what sort of value for money this represents for a pretty dedicated and therefore un-versatile lens.


Best Imaging Storage Media: Sony XQD Memory Cards Best Imaging Storage Media: Sony XQD Memory Cards

TIPA says:        “outperforms any conventional Compact Flash card”

John says:        So this is the other slot in the dual slots of the new Nikon D4. The D4 is released and everyone has to Google what an XQD is. Well I can now tell you it’s the new kid in the memory card scene. Better, stronger, faster, you know the usual reasons we suddenly have to adopt a new technology while we were not particularly unhappy with the other stuff we have filling our cupboards which finally became affordable. I won’t be rushing out just yet to replace my stuff until we know it’s here to stay and become commonly used enough to drop in price. Currently sitting at R 1, 800 for 32gigs which would buy you 7 equal SD cards or 4 Compact flashes.


 Some closing observations…

  • Over the past few years I have been increasingly impressed by Samsung’s displays and here I see they claimed two display awards “Best Photo TV Display: Samsung Smart OLED TV” and “Best Photo Monitor: Samsung SyncMaster24/27A850 (PLS)”.
  • Sony did very well last year, I guess they have less new products this cycle.
  • There are a lot of Compact System Cameras (CSC) that feature this year which goes to show how big that is becoming within the market.


I always love browsing and then scrutinizing the winners, it basically forms the framework for my Christmas wish list, unfortunately Santa’s elves appear not to frequent the B&H mega store.


 The TIPA Website…

Want to check out the TIPA Website, visit


About John Fox…

John Fox is a professional videographer and still photographer. He teaches photography at various institutions, including Digital Photography Courses


Visit John’s website at