New Trends in Digital Cameras

Cameras, lenses, and photo accessories are never been great news at CES.

Still camera manufacturers such as Nikon, Canon, Panasonic and Sony have always mammoet stands, which generally include elaborate displays of the camera bodies and every imaginable type of lens from super wide-angle 14mm fish-eye lenses to the bazooka-style 800-mm telephoto lenses that cost more than a few cars.

They also have a remarkable photographers talking about how to shoot great nature, editorial or fashion images.

Of course, what to have stolen much of the thunder from the stand-alone digital cameras are smartphones, which continue to eat away at the camera market, particularly point-and-shoots.

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Gone are the days when Canon or Nikon would introduce a 10 point-and-shoots in this time of the year. In fact, before the age of the iPhone, camera manufacturers had their own exhibition, the PMA.

In recent years, the decline is dramatic: the Releases of new cameras in the top five of the camera makers—Canon, Nikon, Sony, FujiFilm, Olympus has fallen 55 percent since the beginning of 2012.

Nevertheless, camera companies are still innovating. And they introduce some really intriguing cameras.

For example, in the last few years we have seen incredible, albeit expensive, advanced point-and-shoots, such as Nikon’s P900, which sports a superlong x 83 x optical zoom lens, and the Sony RX-series camera, which captures stellar low-light images, even those shot with digital Slr cameras.

Camera makers also continue to tweak waterproof and rugged point-and-shoots. And mirrorless cameras—small size, interchangeable lens cameras with the quality and versatility of Slr cameras continues to be one of the few relatively bright spots in camera sales.

Here are some of the trends we expect this year at CES:

1. 4K Video for the Masses

Some manufacturers of cameras were faster to embrace 4K video in their camera body than the other, but at this point, most have at least one or two models that can shoot in the higher resolution.

Panasonic was one of the first leader, with its flagship Lumix GH4 mirrorless camera, that could capture 4K-resolution video in various frame rates (24p, 25p, 30p).

In the advanced point-and-shoot market, the Sony RX-series cameras, including the RX100 Mark V, also captures 4K, but offers additional video features, such as the ability to capture slow-motion video, previously only on the very expensive, high-end camcorders. And the RX100 is very wide, f/1.8-2.8 lens allows you to record video with a shallow depth-of-field, another feature found only on high-end camcorders.

In addition, all camera companies are strengthening their image-stabilisation systems for jitter-free video and better sharpness in photos.

2. The Focus of a Photo After the Fact

The Lytro camera, a light-field camera that came out a few years ago, but has since been discontinued, included a remarkable feature: The adjustment of picture’s focus after you’ve shot.

Not a product, as it is appeared on the market since then, but Panasonic introduces the ability to refocus an image after the fact, on a couple of cameras a few years ago.

The function is the so-called Post-Focus, which in fact functions as a bracketing function. As soon as you click the feature, the camera fires a burst of 8-megapixel photos with 30 frames per second. (The reason for the lower megapixel format is that the cameras are using their 4K video mode.)

During this 1-second burst, the camera focuses on the different focal points of the back of the scene to the front, and captures 30 almost identical photos—the only difference is that they have different points of focus. Later, when you focus the image, you are really choosing one of those many photos. We think that other camera manufacturers will start offering a similar feature.

3. Easier Camera Apps

Because most people are capturing pictures and video on their smartphones, it is no surprise that developers are creating powerful mobile photography apps.

But you can still find it complicated, feature-rich apps, of course, two recent examples stand out because of their simple interface: Google’s PhotoScan app, which turns your smartphone into a real scanner, and Prism, which transforms a photo into a graphic novel, comic book-style image.

4. Improvements in 360-degree Cameras

They are not quite traditional cameras, but the 360-degree cameras are having their moment, partly due to the increased interest in virtual reality.

For now, not all of the 360 cameras are compatible with all mobile devices, and video formats continue to be kind of awkward.

For example, you can capture 360-degree video to Samsung Gear 360, which will store the clips on a microSD card. But in contrast to a traditional digital camera, you can not only transfer the raw video files and expect to play them on your computer. Nor can you upload them directly to YouTube.

You must first make an app or software to process them. And if you want to see what you’re shooting, you need to pair the camera with a Samsung smartphone.

Other 360-degree cameras are available, in particular that of Ricoh, Nikon, Kodak, and we think 360 will continue to grow as VR gets more mainstream.

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