Imaging Resource Camera of the Year 2022: Best Overall Camera of 2022

by IR Staff

posted Thursday, January 5, 2023 at 12:00 PM EDT


Deciding on the best camera of the year is always a difficult decision, as we take into consideration a wide range of factors in what constitutes the "best" camera. Image quality performance is a key criterion, if not the most important one, but other factors such as AF performance, video features, handling and design and, of course, price, are also taken into account when deciding on awards. It's not just a simple pick of the top-of-the-line camera with the most expensive price tag. Now, more often than not, those types of cameras *are* incredibly impressive and are indeed very good cameras. But the general public and most enthusiast photographers aren't likely to spend $5000-6000 or more on a camera. That being said, sometimes a camera comes along that ticks most of the boxes for what makes a fantastic camera, offering outstanding image quality, performance and simply being an overall technological acheivement with a combination of features and capabilties not found anywhere else. When this happens, we sometimes have to look past the price just a bit. That is the case this year with our winning pick for Best Overall Award for Camera of the Year, so without further ado...


Best Overall Camera of the Year 2022: Nikon Z9

There were some excellent candidates this year, but the camera that came out on top for us is the Nikon Z9. The Z9 delivers just about everything Nikon users could ever ask for. It features Nikon's best mirrorless camera design, its most impressive image sensor ever (and first stacked full-frame sensor), the Z system's most accurate and intelligent autofocus system, and so much more. The Nikon Z9 is an absolute beast of camera, built and designed to handle the most demanding situations, whether it's in a studio, at a sports stadium, or out in nature photographing landscapes and wildlife. For hybrid users, the Z9 is also Nikon's best video camera.

Nikon Z9

The Nikon Z9 isn't only Nikon's best mirrorless camera, it's also Nikon's best camera ever. In our review, we wrote, "Sure, some cameras do things better than the Z9, but there's something exceptional about the combination of all that the Z9 can achieve. The EVF is incredible, the camera is fast, the autofocus is Nikon's best, it is built like a tank, it offers amazing ergonomics, and it produces great images and video."

Nikon Z 24-70mm F2.8S lens at 70mm, F2.8, 1/2000s, ISO 3200.

The Nikon Z9 is greater than the sum of its parts -- and the "parts" are mighty impressive! The Z9 is a sterling testament to Nikon's rich heritage, and ushers in an impressive new era for its burgeoning mirrorless Z system. The Nikon Z9 is Nikon's best-ever camera and our selection for the Best Overall Camera in 2022.

Nikon Z 24-70mm F2.8S lens at 70mm, F6.3, 1/125s, ISO 64.

More info: Hands-on Review / Gallery 

Buy now: Adorama, Amazon and B&H

Try before you buy: Lensrentals 


Best Overall Camera of the Year 2022, Runner-up: OM System OM-1

Now while our top pick this year was indeed an incredibly expensive camera, we can't ignore another flagship camera, and one with a more palatable price point: the OM System OM-1. Taking our award for Best Professional Crop-Sensor camera, the OM-1 is also well deserving as a Camera of Distinction for Best Overall Camera of the Year -- it's that good. Following on the excellent legacy of the E-M1 series from Olympus, this new flagship Micro Four Thirds camera from OM Digital Solutions Corporation takes MFT camera up quite a notch. With a stacked sensor, impressive AF, incredible burst performance, high-quality video and insanely tough build quality, the OM-1 is the best Micro Four Thirds camera we've ever seen.

OM M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4 PRO lens at 135mm (270mm equiv.), F4, 1/500s, ISO 500.

The new 20MP stacked sensor allows for some impressive burst shooting performance, with full-res continuous shooting at up to an incredible 50 frames per second with C-AF (or a ridiculous 120fps with S-AF). The autofocus system is extremely impressive, offering fast speeds, excellent precision and great tracking capabilities. The AI-based subject-detection system is better than what's inside the E-M1X, offering more subjects to recognize and with all-around better performance. The OM-1's combination of a stacked sensor, new image processor and upgraded AF system really push it above and beyond any previous Olympus camera before it. Factor in some clever and useful computational photography tricks, handheld high-res mode, 4K 60p video and amazing weather sealing, the OM-1 really feels like a do-it-all camera and one that you can take nearly everywhere. And one that won't break the bank, either. With an MSRP of just $2200, the OM-1 is a flagship camera without the flagship price, and we couldn't be happier about that. The OM System OM-1 is easily one our all-time favorite cameras and one of the best new cameras of the year!

More info: Hands-on Review / Gallery / Lab images

Buy now: Adorama, Amazon and B&H

Try before you buy: Lensrentals


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Imaging Resource Camera of the Year 2022:

Best Cameras for Beginners & Enthusiasts

Best Ultra-Wide & Wide-Angle Lenses

Best Pro Cameras & Best Medium-Format Camera

Best Telephoto & Super-Telephoto Lenses

Best Standard Lens & Lens of the Year