The annual Photo Marketing Association convention is a gathering of photo retailers, imaging geeks and manufacturers touting their latest gear. Although most of the show floor is dedicated to things the average consumer couldn’t care less about, DigitalTrends dutifully walked the aisles to uncover items of interest. Here goes:
Without question the new Canon EOS-1D Mark III was the camera hit of the show. This D-SLR is amazing—even when you consider its $4500 price (due April). This beefy camera shoots an astounding 10 frames per second—and these are 10-megapixel images. I handled this digital camera and when you’re in continuous mode, the shutter moves in a dazzling blur. Granted not too many “normal” photographers are going to buy it (it’s more for pro sports shooters and photo journalists). Still many of the advances in this camera will trickle down to D-SLRs that are much more affordable. You can go to the Canon site to read about all of the tech advances for the Mark III but keep your eye on the new Digic III processor already found in many new Canon point-and-shoot cameras. Most likely it’ll show in a new Digital Rebel later this year and an updated version of the EOS 30D. For sure they won’t have the two Digic III processors found in the Mark III to handle the massive flow of data. The camera also has a better CMOS imager, a brighter viewfinder. ISO 6400, 19-point AF, a battery rated for 2200 shots and a Live View that lets you see a still subject on the LCD screen. This is not anything like the Live View found on Olympus and Panasonic D-SLRs and it’s geared for still lifes. Even if you don’t buy this camera, go to a retailer and ask for a demo; you’ll flip at the response of this truly cutting-edge digital camera.
Canon EOS-1D Mark III
The D-SLR wave rolls on. At PMA, Nikon unveiled an upgrade for the recently reviewed D40. The new D40x is a 10-megapixel camera with a frame rate of 3 fps compared to 2.5 fps and 6.1MP of the D40. You’ll pay for the privilege as the D40x costs $729 for the body alone versus $599 for the D40 kit with an 18-55mm lens. A D40x kit hits $799. We’ll try to get our hands on it to see if it’s worth the extra green but we liked the D40 and it’s basically the same camera with the added improvements.
Olympus added two more Evolt D-SLRs, the E-410 and E-510. These 10MP D-SLRs use the Four Thirds lens system along with Panasonic and Leica cameras. The E-410 will cost $699 body only, $799 with a 14-42mm lens which is actually 28-84mm due to the 2x digital factor. The E-510 has mechanical image stabilization and costs $799 body only, $899 with a kit lens. They have dual slots (xD and CF), a new image processor TruePic III along with Live View that lets you frame your image on the LCD in real time.
Sony teased convention goers with mock-ups of its new alpha D-SLRs; expect announcements later this year. Olympus also did the same with a new pro D-SLR, a replacement for the E-1.
Pentax showed off its K10D recently review by DT, while Samsung–which primarily sells rebadged Pentax D-SLRs with Schneider lenses instead of Pentax–hinted it would have new models later this year with more of it own engineering.
Smile for the camera—One of the most prevalent new features for point-and-shoot cameras is Face Detection. FujiFilm started the trend with its “fd” cameras and now almost every manufacturer has it including Canon, Nikon, Pentax and others. Basically what face detection does is optimize the camera for shooting a human face. Depending on the model it adjusts auto focus, exposure and flash to get a good shot. Some can handle nine faces in one frame.
Cure the shakes…Image Stabilization got a lot of play as well. Dear readers, be forewarned not all IS is the same. Some companies boost the ISO and shutter speed, others use software to try and eliminate the shakes after you’ve taken a shot. As far as I’m concerned, there is only one to look for—optical image stabilization that actually moves the lens elements to counter hand movement. Many companies do this including Canon, Sony and Panasonic with its MEGA OIS. Please read the fine print before you buy.
Maximum Megapixels. As we reported in our review of the D40, you don’t need a zillion pixels to capture a nice image you can blowup for printing or cropping. Still companies feel they have to introduce more and more. Witness the new Sony CyberShot DSC-W200, the first point-and-shoot digicams with a 12MP sensor! Again, we won’t dare comment on picture quality—especially the amount of digital noise—but we’re on the list and will let you know as soon as we get one ($399, May). That said, 7MP is the pretty much the floor in 2007 and you can move up from there.
Camcorder Update. CES is the big show for home video maker introductions and there was really nothing new to report other than to tell you the new Sony HDR-UX5 that was on display here brings high-definition home recording below a grand. Also at CES JVC unveiled the first camcorder that records true 1920 x 1080I video (all others record 1440 x 1080). The GZ-HD7 ($1,799, due April) was practically under glass in January but at PMA pre-production models were available for show-and-tell. This is loaded camcorder that records up to 13 hours of true HD video on a built-in 60GB HDD. It’s very slick has a lot of potential. Speaking of high-def many cameras touted the fact the can output HD-level images to your HDTV in the appropriate 16:9 aspect ratio (Sony, Canon et al).
Wherefore Wireless—A couple of years ago, experts thought cameras and Wi-Fi were the perfect marriage like Siegfried and Roy. Wrong. Sony was the only company to introduce a new Wi-Fi camera at PMA (the DSC-G1, $600, due June) that is primarily geared for peer-to-peer image sharing with someone else with a G1. It’s also compatible with Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA)-enabled devices in your home. Got many of those? This is really going to fly —wrong! Still it has a nice 3.5-inch screen. Just before the show Nikon unveiled the 7.2MP S50c ($349) with more traditional Wi-Fi connectivity so you can email multiple images to multiple recipients at four size including full-resolution (a first). Plus you upload 2GB to a free Nikon server with no time limits (another first). And that’s about it for wireless.
Nice thinking—HP’s new R837 has built-in blemish removal to remove acne on your portraits. Also the same camera has red-eye removal for pets—I have two fluffy cats at home that will be perfect to try this one out.