Modern digital cameras pack some impressive features that are designed to make taking photographs easier or more pleasurable. Let’s take a look at some of the best camera innovations that we saw in 2016.

Top 5 camera innovations of 2016: Voice control

One of the great things about action cams like the GoPro Hero5 is that you can mount them just about anywhere to shoot footage from more interesting angles.

One downside, however, is that it can make them hard to reach when you want to start recording.

If you’ve ever tried pressing the record button on a helmet- mounted camera or even on your bike handlebars as you negotiate a tricky turn, you’ll know what I mean.

Now thanks to voice control you can tell the Hero5 to start recording without needing to touch it.

GoPro Hero5 Black review

Top 5 camera innovations of 2016: SnapBridge

It may not be perfect but Nikon’s SnapBridge technology takes the faff out of making a wireless connection between your camera and your phone and enables you to transfer images automatically.

I love the fact that I can shoot with a high quality DSLR like the Nikon D500 or Nikon D3400 and 2Mp version of my images will appear automatically on my phone ready for sharing. Showing the world what I’m having for lunch has never been so easy!

Nikon D3400 review

Top 5 camera innovations of 2016: Focus stacking

Focus stacking is a technique that digital photographers with a love of macro subjects have employed for some time to achieve images that are sharp from front to back.

In 2016 we saw this functionality introduced into a camera for the first time with the Panasonic G80. Panasonic draws on its 4K Photo technology to enable the camera to take a sequence of 8Mp images with different focus points.

Here’s a quick tutorial on how Panasonic’s Focus Stacking mode works.

You can then select which areas you want to make sharp, or allow the camera to make the decision for you.

It struggles with scenes that have a very wide range of potential focus distances, but it enables you to record images with wider depth of field than would normally be possible.

Correction: Olympus actually introduced focus stacking with a firmware update (version 4) to the OM-D E-M1 during 2015. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II also features focus stacking with in-camera merging. We’ll take a look at this feature as part of our Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II review.

Panasonic G80 review

Top 5 camera innovations of 2016: Mirrorless or Compact System Camera AF systems taking a leap forward

One of the main arguments that is often raised against mirrorless system cameras or CSCs is that their autofocus systems aren’t as fast or as effective as those of high-end DSLRS.

Manufacturers like Fuji, Olympus and Sony have now started to use hybrid autofocus systems that combine the benefits of phase and contrast detection and during 2016 we saw them get a lot faster and more decisive.

The Fuji X-T2, Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and Sony A6500 particularly impress with versatile AF systems that allow you to shoot sport and action.

Fujifilm X-T2 review

Top 5 camera innovations of 2016: 360 photography getting mainstream

If there’s one photographic theme that 2016 will be remembered for, it’s 360 degree shooting. The use of ultra-wide lenses, and in some cases, dual camera units has made recording 360 degree video possible for the general public.

Cameras such as the Nikon KeyMission 360 and Ricoh Theta S are affordable options that make shooting 360 footage easy, allowing you to create immersive movies.

Here’s our guide to the best 360-degree cameras on the market today.

Nikon: VR is the future of photography