Camera of the Year: Ricoh GR
The Ricoh GR is my choice for "Camera of the Year" for 2013.
This has been the year that small-camera/big-sensor broke through, making the early-2013 release of the GR both relevant and prescient.
Nikon beat Ricoh to market with its Coolpix A, but despite Nikon's broader name recognition and extensive dealer network, Ricoh still won. Retailers that never previously carried Ricoh products now do so simply because of the GR, making it a particularly important camera for the company.
The GR has a tremendously long legacy for a compact camera, tracing its direct ancestors back to the same late-film epoch that saw Nikon introduce its button-and-dial interface. Yet it's also the camera that finally puts an exceptional sensor into this worthy design, realizing generations of latent potential.
The Ricoh GR, quite aside from its image quality, is an exceptional camera-as-a-camera. Its photographer-priorty design gives it one of the very best control interfaces on any camera of the past many years, stripped of needless gadgetry without succumbing to esoteric "retro" conceits. It's a camera that anyone can enjoy regardless of their level of photographic initiation.
Ricoh has proven that cascading iterations of imperfect version one-point-zero designs isn't the only way to make and market cameras, and has taught me to expect better from the tools that I use. Strikingly few cameras released in 2013 even aspire to the level of excellence that the Ricoh GR has taught me to expect; its influence will echo long after other cameras of 2013 are forgotten.