PMA Roundup: First Look at the Year's Coolest Cameras
Have you noticed a lot of new digital camera announcements lately? There's a reason for that.
All last week, major companies were offering some hands-on time with their 2009 digital camera lines at the Photo Marketing Association show in Las Vegas.
Though the companies made only a handful of new digital camera announcements at the show itself, the models they revealed were pretty exciting.
- Panasonic unveiled the Lumix DMC-GH1, the second camera to feature the Micro Four Thirds System codeveloped by Panasonic and Olympus. Both companies are touting the hybrid system as the ultimate blend of DSLR and point-and-shoot: It gives you interchangeable lenses and a big image sensor, but gone is the internal mirror box that traditionally impedes video-shooting modes in true DSLRs. Unlike the Lumix DMC-G1, the first Micro Four Thirds System camera (which Panasonic announced last year), the Lumix DMC-GH1 offers a high-definition video mode that records 1080p footage in AVCHD format.
- Samsung announced its NX series of cameras to compete with the Micro Four Thirds System models. Similar to the Micro Four Thirds System, the NX design drops the mirror box, uses a larger image sensor, and offers users the ability to change lenses. Other than that, official details are scant; Samsung has yet to announce a release date and pricing information for its first NX camera. However, although the first NX-series model doesn't "officially" have built-in Wi-Fi or an HD movie mode, Samsung's booth monitors made allusions to both features.
- Sony introduced the Cyber-shot DSC-HX1, a 20X-optical-zoom beast with a 10-frames-per-second high-speed burst mode, 1080p HD video recording with stereo sound, and arguably the coolest in-camera feature unveiled at PMA: a "Sweep Panorama" setting that lets you press the shutter once, move the camera from side to side, and create an instant panoramic image of up to 220 degrees. The Cyber-shot DSC-HX1 is due out in April for $500.
- Pentax revealed the 24X-optical-zoom Pentax X70, its megazoom model for 2009. The zoom range extends from 26mm on the wide-angle end to 624mm on the telephoto end. The camera shoots 720p HD video, too, and it can detect and optimize the exposure for up to 32 faces per shot. The X70 is slated for April at a price of $400.
In addition to those surprises, the show offered some hands-on time with several highly anticipated cameras that had been announced over the past few months.
- The Fujifilm FinePix F200 EXR, winner of the Innovative Digital Product 2009 prize awarded by the Digital Imaging Marketing Association (DIMA), includes in-camera processing of high-dynamic-range photos.
- The Olympus SP-590 UZ is a 26X-optical-zoom monster, with a clever accelerometer-guided panoramic mode and the highest zoom range of any point-and-shoot on the market.
- Canon's entire 2009 PowerShot line was on display, including the PowerShot SD1200 IS, a follow-up to last year's extremely popular PowerShot SD 1100 IS.
- Nikon presented eight new Coolpix cameras, including the 24X-optical-zoom Coolpix P90, which features a top-quality Nikkor ED lens.
Eager to see even more cameras? Take in our complete PMA 2009 coverage by clicking the links at the top right, and embark on a virtual tour of the PMA show floor by checking out our slide show of PMA's hottest cameras.
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