Camera and Camcorder Highlights of CES
CES technically hasn't even started yet, but the CES camera announcements have been coming nonstop. The major trends shaking out for 2012 are Wi-Fi-connected cameras and camcorders, long-zoom cameras in extremely pocketable frames, video-capture devices with innovative features, and DSLRs and fixed-lens cameras with massive sensors and high-powered optics. Here's a look at the most interesting announcements thus far at CES 2012.
Price and availability: $6000, February
The Nikon D4 full-frame DSLR is not afraid of the dark, thanks to a light-harnessing sensor that measures 1.4 inches by 0.94 inches and an ISO range that ramps up to 204,800. Those low-light chops are bound to get even more spectacular if you hook up Nikon's latest lens announcement, a $500 AF-S Nikkor 85mm/F1.8 prime lens. This professional-level beast also shoots 10 frames per second at full 16.2-megapixel resolution and full 1080p video at 30 frames per second with full manual controls in video mode. At $6000 for the body only, it costs more than the rest of the cameras in this slideshow combined.
Fujifilm X-Pro 1
Price and availability: February, TBA
In one of the worst-kept secrets of CES 2012, Fujifilm announced its first interchangeable-lens camera in the high-end X-series. The Fujifilm X-Pro 1 uses a new X Mount system (with a 1.5X focal-length multiplier) that the company is developing, and the camera body houses a 16-megapixel APS-C size sensor. The x-Pro 1 offers full manual controls, and Fujifilm touts it as excelling at high ISO settings. Three X Mount lenses will be available at launch, including a very bright and fast F1.4 XF 35mm model (53mm in 35mm equivalent). The X-Pro 1's price isn't set yet, but you can expect this model to go for around $1600 or more.
Canon PowerShot G1 X
Price and availability: $800, February
The follow-up to the excellent Canon PowerShot G12 will do more than improve on the G12's core specs; it will absolutely run laps around the older camera. The 4X-optical-zoom PowerShot G1 X has a 14.3-megapixel CMOS sensor that's six times the size of the one found in the G12, and it ups the ante with 1080p video recording and a higher-resolution, adjustable LCD screen that matches the one found on the Canon EOS Rebel T3i.
Sony Handycam HDR-PJ760V
Price and availability: $1600, March
Sony's new top-of-the-line Handycam camcorder records 1080p video at both 60 fps and 24 fps, offers full manual controls, and geotags and displays footage on an in-camera map. Those features are cool, but here are the unit's unique capabilities: The camcorder has a built-in projector on the back of its LCD viewfinder, and a new "Balanced Optical SteadyShot" stabilization system that makes the lens float within the body to compensate for severely shaky shots.
Price and availability: $350, April
On to the connected cameras... Last year, Samsung released the SH100, a basic point-and-shoot camera with some interesting Wi-Fi features. This year, the company bulks up its Wi-Fi-enabled camera lineup with a few long-zoom models that offer full manual controls. The flagship model is the Samsung WB850F, a 21X-optical-zoom camera with Wi-Fi capabilities that allow it to upload media directly from the camera or to sync up to phones and tablets to permit remote control and peer-to-peer sharing.
Sony Bloggie Live
Price and availability: $250, January
The latest edition of Sony's Bloggie pocket camcorder line is another Wi-Fi-enabled model, but it goes a step farther. The Bloggie Live supports live video streaming as the device captures footage, thanks to a partnership with Qik's video-streaming service. Streaming video is limited to 480-by-270 VGA resolution, but the new pocket camcorder also saves full 1080p video to its onboard 8GB hard drive.
Kodak Playfull Dual
Price and availability: $200, Spring
In addition to another Wi-Fi-enabled point-and-shoot camera, Kodak unveiled the double-duty Kodak Playfull Dual, which acts like a pocket camcorder or a camera depending upon which way you hold it. At its core, the Playfull Dual is a feature-loaded follow-up to the Kodak Zi8, with 1080p video capture and 12-megapixel still shooting, an external microphone jack, and storage handled by an SD card slot. The Playfull Dual also offers some nice frame-rate controls, including 60fps and 240fps options, as well as basic in-camera video-editing features.
Canon PowerShot Elph 520 HS
Price and availability: $300, March
Big zoom lenses in small packages are a major trend at this year's CES. The Canon PowerShot Elph 520 HS is a scant 0.88 inch deep, but it packs a 12X-optical-zoom lens that reaches from 28mm wide-angle to 336mm telephoto. The 10-megapixel Elph 520 HS also records 1080p video and offers two new automated shooting features designed for capturing shots of babies: one that silences the shutter and turns off the flash when it recognizes that a baby is sleeping, and another that takes three rapid-fire shots when it recognizes that a baby is smiling.
Fujifilm FinePix F770EXR
Price and availability: $380, March
At 1.4 inches deep, the 16-megapixel Fujifilm FinePix F770EXR is a bit beefier than some of its rivals, but it uses the extra room to load a 20X-optical-zoom lens (25mm to 500mm). The new highest-end Fujfilm EXR pocket megazoom has manual aperture and shutter controls, a 360-degree motion panorama mode, continuous shooting at 8 fps, dedicated modes for HDR and low-light shooting, and GPS with in-camera mapping.
Panasonic Lumix SZ7
Price and availability: TBA
The 10X-optical-zoom (25mm to 250mm) Lumix SZ7 is another impossibly skinny pocket megazoom, measuring just 0.9 inch deep. It features Panasonic's "Light Speed AF" autofocus system, which the company claims can lock in on a subject in 0.1 second, and it captures .MPO format images through its single lens. In video mode, the ultrapocketable megazoom captures 1080i AVCHD video at 60 fps.
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