IF THERE is one thing guaranteed to boost self-confidence and stroke the ego, it is expert confirmation of our opinions.
Whenever we say of a product that it is the best, we can't help having a nagging suspicion we might be wrong, or at least overstating the case.
So it is with great relief and satisfaction that we report the results of this year's EISA Awards.
EISA is the European Imaging and Sound Association, which hands out its awards every year to the best cameras, TVs, amplifiers, smartphones and so on, and the 2012-13 award list is at eisa.eu.
In the camera category, the top gong goes to the Nikon D800.
What did we tell you? In our review we said: ''This is the best camera for general use (as distinct from the special requirements of professional sports photographers, for instance) that we have ever handled.''
Describing something as ''the best'' always feels like a big claim that is begging to be challenged, but now we can relax.
In the compact-system camera category of mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras, EISA gives the award to the Olympus OMD E-M5, the beautiful retro-styled camera that is selling faster than Olympus can make them. The judges love the styling, the sharp flip-out LCD, the fast autofocus and, naturally, the image quality. We said: ''The OMD E-M5 is a landmark camera … it changes the game. Such pictures from such a small camera. Bliss!''
The advanced compact category prize goes to the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100, a camera we also reckoned was a game changer. The Europeans like the output from its larger sensor and the ability to record RAW. They like the high-resolution LCD and the Zeiss lens that can ''provide very good image quality even in low light''. Our experience exactly.
The judges think the Olympus Tough TG-1 ''is an outstanding outdoor camera that has been designed to be stylish as well as practical''. It delivered ''excellent-quality pictures and low levels of noise in tests''. Our verdict was: ''Olympus now has an indestructible camera able to mix it with the best from Canon, Nikon and Panasonic … Anyone looking for a good all-purpose compact that can stand a lot of rough use should look first at these little units.''
In the printer category, EISA gives the prize to the Canon Pixma Pro-1. So did we. In our opinion, it ''is simply the best pigment ink printer that we have tested. We have produced consistent output with no annoying and costly mismatch of monitor and print.'' The EISA judges say the Pro-1 is ''the perfect choice for making long-lasting prints of outstanding quality''. Absolutely. Couldn't agree more.