CES 2009: Digital Camera & Camcoder Introductions
By Sandy Berger on January 9, 2009
The PMA (Photo Marketing Association Show), which is traditionally held the first week in March in Las Vegas, is usually the place for new camera announcements. Yet, this year the January Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas is grabbing much of the focus of new camera announcements. On the first day of the show, more than 30 new cameras were announced and many more followed.
Thankfully, the emphasis on megapixels has been down-played. One obvious exception is the newly introduced USD 8,000 Nikon D3X D-SLR a huge professional 24.5-megapixel. Mid and low-end offerings, however, seem to have settled into the 10 to 12 megapixel category while manufacturers aim at improving other functionality including storage, zoom, stabilization, and Internet interoperability. While digital camera announcements are plentiful, camcorder announcements are unbelievably abundant.
Sony itself introduced 30 new camcorders at CES. All of these cameras and camcorders are being housed in casings that are smaller and sleeker. Color abounds as choices include colors like Sony’s eggplant, Panasonic’s orange and lime, and Olympus’ magenta and navy blue in addition to the usual black, silver, red, pink, and blue. Slim is in and so is lightweight as shown by the Optio P70, a new hard drive camera by Pentax. Measuring only 3.82" x 2.13" x 0.85" (97 × 54 × 21.5 mm) and weighing just 125 g (4.4 oz) including card and battery, it will be one of the slimmest and lightest cameras ever.
The most impressive camera demonstration at CES may well belong to Casio who demonstrated their EXILIM models EX-Z400, EX-Z270 and EX-S12, which are able to capture 30 shots per second in high-speed burst mode. Casio’s high-speed image processing engine enables users to cut and paste moving subjects onto still backgrounds. These cameras allow the user to capture a still image while viewing the movement of their subject in slow motion and automatically selecting and saving one frame from continuous shots.
Some companies added increased functionality to their low-end entry-level cameras. For instance Sony increased the screen size and megapixel count of several of their Cyber-shot cameras. They also added extra image stabilization.
Improved image stabilization was an across-the-board feature that consumers will find a welcome addition for many different digital cameras and camcorders. The newly announced Samsung camcorders, SL 102 a SL420 will both incorporate a new feature called dual image stabilization.
Many of the new cameras like Sony’s Cyber-shot DSC-G3 add large touch screens and Wi-Fi connectivity. In fact Sony unveiled its Cyber-shot DSC-G3, which is their first Wi-Fi Camera with a built-in web browser that makes it easier for users to upload images directly to the web.
It seems that manufacturers are always looking for some unique feature that will set them apart. For Samsung that feature may be the new Smart Auto function that automatically selects the appropriate scene mode for any given shooting environment. This feature will be found in several Samsung cameras like the TL100 which will be available this spring.
Olympus is hoping that the in-camera panorama capabilities of their new STYLUS 7000 and 9000 will be a feature that will attract new photographers. This feature automatically stitches the panoramic photo together right in the camera.
Olympus, who is known as the first to introduce an anti-dust camera, also introduced a new line of touch cameras. The Stylus Tough 6000 and Tought 8000 cameras are shockproof, waterproof, freezeproof, crushproof and shakeproof.
Besides digital cameras, CES also produced a plethora of camcorders. Most of the new camcorders are small and ultraportable units that it easily into a pocket or purse.
Many of the camcorders announced this year are taking their que from the popularity of the Flip camcorder that is easy to use and extremely YouTube-friendly. So you will find Kodak and others introducing these pocketable-sized cameras that come with utilities that make it easy to upload and share videos.
Panasonic followed suit by introducing six new models with several new pocket-corders. Panasonic, however, outshines their competitors with some of their camcorders offering unbelievable 70x optical zoom capabilities.
High zooming abilities were valued across the board with Sony offering several of its models with 60X optical zoom. Sony also announced the company's first flash-memory camcorders. The will have five new models that incorporate solid-state drives. Several of Sony’s camcorders also offer GPS capabilities.
Camcorders also enter the rugged arena. The Panasonic SDR-SW21 is a small, rugged camcorder that is waterproof up to 6.5 feet and drop-proof up to 4 feet. Kodak also announced the Zx1, another camcorder ready for the rigors of the outdoors.
High-end camcorders were also the product of the day with Panasonic adding 6 new HD camcorders to its lineup.
The new digital camera and camcorders introduced at CES 2009 show that manufacturers are putting a lot of effort into the digital camera arena. Consumers will be the big winners with many of the new features and trends making cameras more useful and more fun. Here are just a few of the trends that we see emerging: