What's Next in Photography
There's a lot to like about the cameras on display at this year's CES in Las Vegas. We've seen 3D cameras, ones that change shape, ones with touch-based control interfaces, and more. Join us as we look at some of the biggest developments in digital photos and videos.
Olympus got off to a hot start this year by announcing two new digital cameras that are among the most interesting we've seen at the show so far. The fixed-lens Olympus XZ-1 is a high-end pocket camera that offers full manual controls and impressive hardware, while the Olympus PEN E-PL2 is a well-priced interchangeable-lens compact camera that's designed for casual shooters who want to learn photography on the fly.
The Olympus XZ-1 is priced at $500 and is slated for availability this month.
Sony Handycam HDR-TD10
Sony claims that the new Handycam TD10 is the first consumer camcorder to offer two lenses, two imaging sensors, and two processors to deliver full HD 3D footage in both the right and left visual channels. Sony also claims its new camcorder offers superior 3D video quality, as it shoots left-channel and right-channel 1920-by-1080 HD video that's displayed in full 1080p resolution during playback. Instead of using "side-by-side" 3D technology, the new camera uses "frame-packing" 3D, which displays full-resolution video captured from each lens.
The TD10 should arrive in April for $1500.
Casio Exilim EX-ZR100
Casio's 12.5x-optical-zoom Exilim EX-ZR100 packs in the company's trademark high-speed shooting modes, which slow down fast-action sequences by firing the shutter at a rate of 40 shots per second for 10-megapixel stills and a ridiculous 1000fps for 224-by-64 resolution video. The camera also shoots 1080p video at 30fps. The EX-ZR100's back-side-illuminated CMOS sensor is optimized for low-light shooting, and the camera features full manual controls as well as in-camera art modes that make snapshots look like high-dynamic-range paintings. The full-featured EX-ZR100 is due in March for $300.
Eye-Fi Direct Mode
Wi-Fi connectivity has long been the drawing point of Eye-Fi's storage cards, but the just-announced Eye-Fi Direct Mode feature adds a smartphone-centric twist to the company's Eye-Fi X2 cards. The new mode establishes a peer-to-peer connection between an Eye-Fi-compatible camera to a mobile device without the need for a hotspot, beaming photos from the camera to the phone instantly.
Eye-Fi says that once a Direct Mode-enabled card is inserted into a camera, the phone should see the card as a wireless access point and allow you to connect. Once photos are transferred to the mobile device, they can be shared via the phone's cellular connection, retouched by photography apps installed on the device, and otherwise treated like any picture taken by the device's own camera.
Casio's w Tryx camera has a unique, shape-shifting body that's can be twisted into a number of shapes to aid with different shooting situations. Its 3-inch touchscreen LCD swivels and rotates, and the edges of the camera turn into 360-degree rotating frame that can support the camera like a kickstand, allow the camera to be hung on a doorknob, or be used as a grip for both left-handed and right-handed shooters.
Beyond the radical design, the Tryx has a pretty impressive feature set for its $250 asking price. The Tryx packs in a 12-megapixel back-side illuminated CMOS sensor to help with low-light shooting, the super-high-speed 240fps video mode found in Casio's High-Speed Exilim cameras, and an impressive-looking scene mode for high-dynamic range (HDR) shooting. Due in April, the Tryx is priced at $250.
Olympus Macro Arm Light and PENPal
The Olympus PEN E-PL2 is the company's fourth Micro-Four Thirds system compact interchangeable lens camera, and it's a beginner-friendly follow-up to last year's PEN E-PL1. It offers a pair of interesting new accessories, both sold separately: the PENPal Bluetooth transmitter, which pairs with mobile phones to offload images from the camera to the phone instantly, and the Dr. Octopus-like, dual-LED lamp Macro Arm Light extension is designed for illuminating small objects for macro photography.
The Olympus PEN E-PL2 is due out this month, priced at $600 as a kit with the new Zuiko 14-42mm f3.5/5.6 Zoom Lens.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX10
The 16-megapixel Cyber-shot WX10 is a nice upgrade to last year's Cyber-shot WX5, offering a wider-aperture F2.4 lens and a 7x optical zoom (24mm to 168mm); a new high-speed focus system that Sony says locks in on a subject in 0.1 of a second; and manual controls over aperture, shutter, focus, and white balance.
It offers the three 3D shooting modes, HDR support, a 10fps burst mode,, extensive scene modes for stills and video, and revamped in-camera guides. Video recording tops out at 1080i / 60fps at 24Mbps in AVCHD format. Due in March, the WX10 is the only one of the new Sony point-and-shoot cameras that offers manual controls. It will be available in black for $280.
Samsung is also no stranger to the wireless-connected camera game, but the Wi-Fi-enabled Samsung SH100 camera is the first to connect directly with the company's Galaxy S line of Android phones. While the new SH100's mobile peer-to-peer connectivity is limited to Galaxy S phones, it also connects directly to the Web via Wi-Fi and to DLNA-compliant home devices.
Also cut from the smartphone cloth is the SH100's touchscreen interface, which Samsung says eases wireless sharing directly from the camera by employing a phone-like UI and "app-style icons." The $200 price is nice for the Samsung SH100, which is due out in March, but its specs are a bit ho-hum for a camera built to be used as a higher-end alternative to a camera phone. It has a 14-megapixel CCD sensor, a wide-angle 5x optical zoom lens (26mm to 130mm), digital image stabilization, and 720p video recording. To go along with the camera, Samsung is also offering a free subscription to Boingo's public Wi-Fi hotspots for on-the-go uploads.
Fujifilm FinePix F550EXR
Fujifilm's FinePix F550EXR pocket megazoom is about as feature-loaded as they come. The 16-megapixel camera has a 15x optical zoom lens that reaches from 24mm to 360mm, an 11fps burst mode for stills and a 320fps high-speed mode for full-resolution 1080p video, RAW mode, in-camera geotagging, and a one-touch panorama mode that shoots 360-degree images simply by panning the camera. The camera's EXR CMOS sensor is optimized for low light and lets you switch between high-resolution, high-dynamic range, and low-light modes. It's due in March for $350.
Sony Bloggie 3D
The 3D Sony Bloggie is one of three new Bloggie camcorders announced by Sony today, but it's the only one that shoots in 3D. Like the Handycam TD10, it also has a parallax-barrier screen that allows you to see a 3D effect when playing back video and stills on its 2.4-inch LCD screen.
The Bloggie 3D also boasts two CMOS sensors behind its lenses; it shoots 1920-by-1080 HD video through each channel, but because its video playback uses the side-by-side 3D display method, 3D clips lose a bit of resolution. The new Bloggie offers 8GB of on-board storage, which Sony says translates to four hours of HD video recording in 2D mode. Other specs include an autofocus mode, a macro mode, a 4x digital zoom, 5-megapixel still capture, and a flip-out USB connector for offloading media and recharging the battery. Priced at $250, the Bloggie 3D is due out in April.
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