Compared to last year’s unveiling of the Nikon D5 and D500, the Consumer Electronics Show didn’t capture quite the same wow factor for photographers. But while most announcements from major manufacturers were a bit thin, there were some interesting developments, especially from the fringes of the industry. Here are a few of the notable photo gadgets, news, and trends we saw at CES this year.
Panasonic Lumix GH5 and new lenses
The powerful Lumix GH5 mirrorless camera took home our top tech of CES award, and for good reason. While technically announced last fall at Photokina, it was here at CES that we got our first look at a production model GH5 and its final specifications. The headlining features of this $2,000 flagship camera are 4K video at 60 frames per second and a 6K Photo mode that fires off 18MP sequences at 30fps. Panasonic has thrown in plenty of other goodies for professional filmmakers, like in-camera 4:2:2 10-bit video and simultaneous internal/external recording.
Accompanying the GH5 was the announcement of five new lenses: a brand-new 12-60mm f/2.8-4 and updated versions of the 12-35mm f/2.8, 35-100mm f/2.8, 100-300mm f/4-5.6, and 45-200mm f/4-5.6. All the new lenses are weather-sealed and feature new autofocus systems, improved image stabilization, and micro-step irises for smooth aperture adjustments in video.
Nikon D5600 is official in the U.S.
While announced in Japan last fall, Nikon held off the official U.S. unveiling of the D5600 until CES. It represents a slight refinement of the D5500 rather than a complete overhaul, but we don’t see that as a bad thing: The D5500 was always a capable DSLR with excellent image quality; a fantastic option among sub-$1,000 cameras. The D5600 gets enhanced touchscreen capabilities and adds Bluetooth Low Energy for sharing images to a phone or tablet without drawing as much power as Wi-Fi.
The D5600 starts at $700 for the body only and is available for pre-order.
Professional 360 video for less: Insta360 Pro and Hubblo VR
Professional 360-degree video rigs can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars, but two companies are looking to shake up the industry with high-quality, inexpensive alternatives. The Insta360 Pro and Hubblo VR can shoot 4K video in 3D and 360 degrees. The Hubblo does it for just $1,000, while the InstaPro takes things up to $3,000, but adds options for 8K video and photos.
Should these cameras achieve their goal of democratizing 3D 360 video, consumers may soon have much more content to watch on their VR headsets.
Drones go IR: Yuneec H520 and Flir Duo cameras
Yuneec’s H520 drone looks to capture commercial and creative professional users with a modular system that be outfitted with a variety of cameras. Cinematographers have two choices, including a 4K option, and a third offers both thermal (infrared) and night-vision capabilities. The H520 is expected to start at $2,500 and go up from there depending on the camera.
If you like the sound of shooting thermal imagery from the sky but don’t have several thousand dollars laying around, Flir’s new Duo camera will mount to any drone that can carry a GoPro. In addition to 180 x 120 pixel thermal imaging, the Duo captures 1080p visible-light video. The base model is $1,000 while the $1,300 Duo R adds features for commercial use, like accurate temperature measurements.
SteadXP stabilizes video from DSLRs and GoPros
The SteadXP came to CES by way of Kickstarter, where it raised over half a million dollars. It is essentially a box with an accelerometer inside to measure pitch, roll, and yaw — information that can be used to stabilize video the same way a smartphone does it.
Available in two versions, the SteadXP attaches either to any camera with a hot shoe or to the back of a GoPro with a BacPac port. Price is about $272 for one model and $198 for the other.
Ricoh R takes 360 live-streaming to the extreme
Ricoh made a name for itself in the 360 video game with the portable, easy-to-use Theta S, and now it’s taking its experience a step further with the Ricoh R development kit. Initially available only to developers, the R is a 2K, 360-degree cam that can live-stream auto-stitched footage for up to 24 hours straight (when plugged into a wall). A Ricoh representative told us that it may last even longer. The Ricoh R shares traits with the Theta S, however it uses a different circuit board.
While there may be no consumer use for such technology, the R may find itself being put to work in commercial applications, such as security or computer vision research.
Point and shoots are still a thing
The smartphone has all but killed low-end point-and-shoots, but camera manufacturers are still breathing new life into them. Fujifilm showed off a new rugged model, the $229 FinePix XP120 that can survive up to 65 feet underwater and uses a backside-illuminated sensor for improved low light performance.
Nikon also had a new underwater model on display, the Coolpix W100. Designed to be handled by “every member of the family,” the W100 is kid proof and features large buttons. Nikon also introduced the Coolpix A300, a 20MP compact that’s already been out in Japan for a year. Even when combined with the D5600, this doesn’t exactly make for a thunderous beginning to Nikon’s 100th year. Both cameras sell for under $200.
For Canon’s part, they announced the G9 X Mark II, a slightly updated version of the original. It uses the same 1-inch-type sensor but a faster processor boost burst rate to 8fps. Bluetooth has been added, as well. At $530, it’s a good entry point into 1-inch sensor cameras, but G9 X owners have little reason to upgrade.
Kodak goes new school and old school
Since licensing its name to multiple companies, Kodak seems to have somewhat of an identity crisis, but maybe that’s OK. Both JK Imaging and Kodak Alaris announced new products bearing the Kodak brand at CES this year, and they couldn’t be more different.
JK Imaging showed off a dual-lens 360 cam that shoots immersive 4K videos and sells for $499, while Kodak Alaris reintroduced Ektachrome 100. Yes, as in the 35mm film. The return of Ektachrome may seem odd from a brand that lost just about everything because it refused to go digital in the early days, but Kodak Alaris is confident there’s a market. And film photographers are rightly excited.
The internet of things gets more things
Several companies showed off IoT products at CES, as was expected. D-Link was one of a few manufacturers to introduce the first Apple HomeKit-enabled security camera. Called the Omna 180, the 180-degree smart camera sets up with a few simple steps from within the Apple Home app.
In keeping with the security theme, Ring showed off a Wi-Fi-connected flood light with an integrated camera. The idea is to combine a less commonly used item (a security camera) with one that a majority of homeowners already use (a flood light). Naturally, the $249 device is called the Floodlight Cam, but don’t let the name fool you: It’s not just a two-in-one, it also includes a siren.
What about GoPro?
It’s been a tough couple of months for the action camera company, but GoPro is still working hard. The Karma will be back, and the company said it would reveal more details in February. We rather liked the GoPro Hero5 Black, so we hope there’s more good news around the corner.