It’s that time of year again, as the AP Awards 2024 are announced! As a weekly magazine Amateur Photographer tests more cameras, lenses, software, and accessories than any other UK publication and our tests are widely respected around the world for their independence, quality and depth. The title of best camera phone is hotly contested, with the big brands competing to outdo each other’s features, lenses, and resolution. Representing the best of the best, read on to see the best software and accessories from the AP Awards.

The AP Awards, which have been an annual highlight in the photography calendar for over 40 years, are held in higher regard within the global camera industry than any other UK award.

The software and accessories below are some of the latest innovations but our thorough testing identifies the strengths and weaknesses of each product to help you choose which one is right for you, and which ones are truly the best in their class.

So, without further ado, here is the winner of the AP Award for Best Software and the three deserved winners of the Best Accessories awards for 2024…

Editing Software of the Year: DxO PureRaw

DxO Pure Raw 3
DxO Pure Raw 3. Image: DxO Labs

l £115 l

Why we like it

  • Gives cleaner, more detailed images
  • Fixes lens aberrations
  • Fits existing workflows
  • Regularly updated

Three years after its original launch, DxO’s PureRAW software is still unlike anything else on the market. It takes camera raw files and converts them to DNG raw files for use in your favourite imaging software, while applying the firm’s industry-leading lens correction and noise reduction algorithms. The 16-bit linear DNG files that it creates can be adjusted in exactly the same way as the original camera raw files, which means you get all the benefits of DxO’s image processing expertise without having to change your existing workflow.

PureRAW can be used as a standalone program, but it also integrates with Adobe Lightroom and Camera Raw. It now includes DxO’s latest DeepPRIME XD processing algorithm for increased detail, while providing more control over how lens aberration corrections are applied. There’s also a useful queueing system which allows you to set up batches of raw files to be processed, with the option to re-prioritise them as you go along. 

What matters is the results, though, and they are excellent. You’ll get strikingly better high-ISO image quality from your camera, and sharper images out of your lenses. It’s like upgrading all your kit, all at once. 

Read our full review of the DxO Pure Raw 3 here.

AP Awards 2024: Software of the Year: DxO Pure Raw 3 logo

Photo Accessory of the Year: Vanguard VEO 3T 235CBP

Vanguard VEO 3T 235CBP
Vanguard VEO 3T 235CBP. Credit: Andy Westlake

l £279.99 l

Why we like it

  • Comprehensive kit
  • Useful maximum height
  • Large, easy to use controls
  • Smartphone-friendly

This neatly designed travel tripod boasts robust build quality while being packed full of features that make it a strong contender in this popular class. With 5-section carbon fibre legs and a 2-section centre column, it can reach an impressive 155cm maximum height, while collapsing down to a suitcase-friendly 410mm folded length. It weighs in at 1.6kg and is rated to support an 8kg load. One of the legs can be unscrewed and fixed to the centre column to make a monopod that, again, is usefully tall. 

You get a whole set of accessories too, including a carry case, interchangeable spiked feet, and a low-angle adapter for ground-level shooting. The quick-release plate doubles up as a smartphone holder, and there’s even a Bluetooth remote release for your phone. Unusually, the ball head comes with a removable handle that enables smooth panning for video recording. Another handy feature is the inclusion of two accessory mounting points for such things as lights or a monitor. 

Overall, the Vanguard VEO 3T 235CBP provides everything you would expect from a tripod of its type, and more, at a competitive price. If you are looking for a fully featured travel tripod, it’s a great choice.

Read our review of the Vanguard VEO 3T 235CBP here.

AP Awards 2024 Photo Accessory of the Year: Vanguard Veo 3T 235 CBP logo

Video Accessory of the Year: Rode VideoMicro II

Rode VideoMicro II kit contents
Rode VideoMicro II kit contents. Credit: Andy Westlake

l £82 l

Why we like it

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Easy to use
  • Excellent audio quality
  • Works with both cameras and phones

With the VideoMicro II, Rode has reinvented its basic on-camera mic with an array of useful improvements. However, it retains the same fundamental concept of being small, light, and affordable, while offering best-in-class audio quality.

With a supercardioid sensitivity pattern, the mic is designed to pick up sound primarily from in front of the camera. It employs a new Helix anti-shock mount that counts as a real practical advance over its predecessor, as it’s more compact and holds the mic in place better. Two audio cables are supplied, one 3.5mm TRS for connecting to your phone, and one TRRS for smartphones (which will usually need an adapter). You also get two windshields, one foam and one furry. 

Crucially, the VideoMicro II delivers high quality sound that’s a dramatic improvement over most camera’s built-in mics.
It’s much better at picking up voices either in front of, or behind the camera, while the windshield is impressively effective at suppressing wind noise outdoors. As a simple, portable analogue microphone that offers very decent sound, it really is difficult to beat. If you want to improve your audio using a small on-camera microphone with the minimum of fuss, it comes highly recommended.

Read our review of the Rode VideoMicro II here.

AP Awards 2024 video accessory of the year Rode VideoMicro II logo

Specialist Accessory of the Year: SmokeNINJA

SmokeNINJA portable fog, dry ice, and steam machine.

l £299 l

Why we like it

  • Ultra-portable
  • Three smoke modes
  • Easy to use
  • USB-C rechargeable

If you’re a photographer or creator looking to add drama to your product shots or videos, the SmokeNinja might just be what you need. It’s a small, portable smoke machine with three settings for different visual effects – fog, dry ice, and steam – each with its own button. It comes in a kit with everything you need to get going, including 200 hours’ worth of fog formula and a set of modular nozzles for directing the output where you need it, all in a neat carry case.

Powered by a built-in, USB-C rechargeable battery, the device can operate for 45 minutes on a single charge. At just 14cm tall and under 300g, it’s readily portable and easy to hide within a scene. There’s a tripod socket on one side, plus a magnetic mount that allows you to attach it to steel surfaces. An included remote control allows you to operate it over a 5m range. The glycerine-based fog formula is designed to be clean, odourless, and entirely safe on set. 

This is a really neat gadget that’s well designed and easy to use, while offering a nice range of different effects. It’s an interesting way to add a new dimension to your work. 

AP Awards 2024 Specialist Accessory of the year SmokeNINJA logo

Make sure you have a look at the other AP Award winners!

Tell us what you think on social media, using the hashtag #APAwards2024

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