CES 2013 Wrap-Up: Hybrid AF and Slow-Mo HD
Admittedly, it seems that this year’s CES breakout products were more about big tablets, smart TVs and gaming, but a few standout cameras and camcorders were introduced last week that will most likely be hot items in the year to come and, for camcorders, might even signal a path for a new marketing niche.
In terms of cameras, the first thing we noticed is that several manufacturers added (surprise, surprise) Wi-Fi features to many models. Panasonic, Olympus, Nikon and Sony introduced mid-level point and shoots with Wi-Fi capability. More interestingly, however, Fujifilm updated their X-series cameras with a new sensor and hybrid autofocus, as did Samsung with their NX300. Nikon brought out the D5200 DSLR for “advanced beginners” and Canon introduced a new line of cameras, the PowerShot N series.
The Nikon D5200 Digital SLR Camera is a compact DSLR introduced as a replacement for the D5100. It features an upgraded 24MP DX-format CMOS sensor and extended ISO range up to 25600. It also has an improved autofocus system, now providing a 39-point AF system with 9 cross-type sensors. The image processor is the EXPEED 3 and provides low noise, rich color images and fast performance, including up to 5 frames per second of continuous shooting in full resolution. Full HD 1080p with Full-Time Servo AF is supported by the D5200 and with the optional WU-1a Wireless Adapter, you have instant Wi-Fi connectivity. As a smaller DSLR with minimal buttons and dials, the updated interface on the 3.0” 921K-dot LCD screen is easy to navigate. A pentamirror optical viewfinder is provided for image composition, and both full manual exposure and auto exposure with numerous assistive features are available.
Retaining its retro good looks, the Fujifilm X100S Digital Camera is an update of the X100 with an enhanced 16MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS II sensor that improves the signal-to-noise ratio for improved image quality and allows for phase-detection autofocus, which greatly improves its autofocus speed. Although the specs (35mm equivalent, f/2.0) on the lens are the same as the X100, its design has been upgraded, as has the EXR II image processor. Additionally, the already unique hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder has been improved, as it is now clearer and brighter with 2,360k-dot resolution. The Fujifilm X20 Digital Camera is an update on the X10 and includes the 12.1MP X-Trans CMOS Sensor II with Intelligent Hybrid Autofocus and improved signal-to-noise ratio and EXR Processor II. It retains the 28-112mm f/2-2.8 lens.
Pentax announced their version of a high-performing retro-looking point-and-shoot: the Pentax MX-1 Digital Camera. It’s a handsome looking camera with top-plate dials, a brass body-cover construction and impressive features. A large 12MP 1/1.7” BSI CMOS sensor offers detailed imaging and a 28-112mm lens with maximum apertures of f/1.8-2.5 means you have a bright lens that can shoot fast and handle low light situations throughout its zoom range. An ISO range from 100-12800 and body-based image stabilization will also help keep things clear in low light. Full HD 1080p video at 30fps is supported and an articulating 3.0” 920k-dot LCD provides composition and playback. HDMI output is also available for playing your work on HDTVs.
Samsung introduced the NX300 Mirrorless Digital Camera as an upgrade to the NX210. It features fast phase detection and contrast-detect hybrid autofocus, dual channel Wi-Fi connectivity, Full HD 1080p and 3D photo and video capability when used with the 45mm f/1.8 2D/3D lens. The NX300 also incorporates a handsome retro rangefinder form factor.
Sigma’s DP3 Merrill Compact Digital Camera is not really an upgrade as much as an addition to their DP Merrill duo (now trio) of cameras. It sticks with all of the previous models' impressive specs, including of course, the 46MP Foveon X3 sensor with its rich color and detailed imaging. However, this DP3 houses a 50mm f/2.8 prime lens with its 35mm equivalency of 70mm. This rounds out the focal-length options of the DP Merrills, from wide-angle on the DP1, standard length on the DP2 and now short telephoto on the new DP3.
As mentioned, Canon used CES 2013 to introduce a new series of PowerShot cameras: the N series. The PowerShot N Digital Camera is a stylish, ultra-compact camera with impressive features, given its 3 x 2 x 1” body. A 12.1MP CMOS sensor and the DIGIC 5 Image Processor deliver speedy, high-quality images and its 8x f/3.0 optical zoom lens offers 28-224mm wide-angle-to-telephoto shooting. A tilting LCD takes up all of the rear plate but provides all you need, because it is a capacitive touch screen with simple menu navigation and touch-control functions. There is no shutter release button on the N because it zooms and fires with a slight turn of its lens ring. It is also a Wi-Fi enabled camera with Full HD 1080p video capability.
Lastly, Panasonic offers a new, tougher version of their high-end tough camera. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5 Digital Camera, with a 16.1MP High Sensitivity MOS sensor and 28-128mm lens, is now Wi-Fi connected and offers 10 frames per second of burst shooting in full resolution—both features that befit a camera meant to be used by adventurers. It also comes with a bevy of on-camera GPS and mapping functions and Full HD 1080p with stereo sound.
Jumping over to camcorders, JVC introduced a number of new camcorder models, but the JVC Procision GC-PX100 Full HD Camcorder is the standout. It shoots 1080/60p at 36 Mbps, ideal for slow motion and special-effects work, and houses an f/1.2 maximum aperture lens for clear low-light shooting. A 12.8MP back-illuminated CMOS sensor, optical image stabilization and five shooting speeds, ranging from 120 to an incredible 600 frames per second, are featured.
One-touch still photo burst shooting is supported at up to 9 images, making it almost a hybrid camcorder/camera. With slow-motion analysis, high-speed still recording at 60 fps, time-lapse recording and Zoom Position Memory, which allows for one-touch switching from Wide to Telephoto to a third custom angle of view, the GC-PX100 is great for movement analysis, aimed specifically at athletes and coaches looking to improve their game. Built-in Wi-Fi allows images to be sent quickly to smartphones and tablets for easy viewing and sharing, and a 3.0” touch Panel LCD provides intuitive navigation. Possibly the most noticeable change in the PX-10, compared to its predecessor, is its return to a more traditional form factor with dramatically improved handling.
Following behind the GC-PX100 is a new series of JVC Everio Camcorders that range from the GZ-VX815 Full HD Everio Camcorder, whose specs are similar to the GC-PX100, to the GZ-E100 Full HD Memory Camcorder. The Full HD Everio line’s newest features include longer 38x and 40x optical zooms and Wi-Fi connectivity on the GZ-EX555, the GZ-EX515, the GZ-EX355 and the GX-EX310.
Canon introduced two new HD camcorders with Wi-Fi connectivity, the Vixia HF R42 Full HD Camcorder and the Vixia HF R40 Full HD Camcorder. Both feature the Digic DV IV Image Processor, which enables higher bit rates and frame rates and improved low-light performance. Both MP4 and AVCHD recording are possible and a capacitive touch-screen LCD makes menu navigation easier. Longer zoom capabilities and 32GB of internal memory are also part of their packages. Of the new Canons introduced, their Vixia HF G20 Full HD Camcorder is the big-feature performer, with an enhanced HD CMOS Sensor, 32GB of internal memory, dual memory card slots, a 3.5” touch panel screen and numerous professional shooting-assist functions.
Panasonic put forth seven new models of camcorders including the HX-A100 Full HD Wearable POV Camcorder, which can hook over your ear or mount to a helmet or backpack, the X920 3MOS Ultrafine Full HD Camcorder and the HX-WA03 Full HD Active Lifestyle Camcorder. The X920 is a made for experienced videographers with its 3-chip system and a manual ring to control zoom, focus, exposure and white balance. A 3.5” 1,152K-dot touch-control LCD and an electronic viewfinder are available for composition and playback, and it features a 29.8mm wide-angle lens. With built-in Wi-Fi you can stream in real time via UStream, and the Panasonic Image App allows you to use a smartphone or tablet as a remote control. The HX-WA03 is a rugged camcorder designed with a pistol grip for one-handed shooting and is waterproof to 16’ (4.9 m), freeze proof to 14º F (-10º C) and dust proof. With its 11.9MP MOS sensor it can shoot Full HD Video and 16MP still photos.
Sony introduced a total of 11 new camcorders, down from previous years, but still managed to impress with the features they added to these new models. The first thing to note is the PJ-series of camcorders, which have a projector built in to the backside of the flip-out LCD. To me, this is a great feature. At the top end of this line, the HDR-PJ790V provides a 24.1MP Exmor R CMOS sensor and 96GB of internal memory. Its lens is 10x Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar Sonar lens that starts at a 26mm focal length (35mm equivalent) for inclusive wide-angle imaging. It offers a 5.1 surround sound microphone that is top-mounted on the camcorder for wider range and for reduced recording of the camera’s own noise. Full manual control and expanded focusing make this the option for the serious shooter. On the entry-level end of the PJ series is the HDR-PJ230 with 8GB of internal memory, SteadyShot Image Stabilization and 27x Carl Zeiss optical zoom lens. It houses an 8.9MP Exmor R CMOS sensor and is capable of shooting 8.9MP still photos as well. Its LCD is a 2.7” Clear Photo LCD with 230k-dot resolution and its projector can throw images up to 8.3’ (2.5 m). The HDR-CX220 and HDR-CX230 are the new entry-level offerings without a built-in projector. They both shoot Full HD 1080p at 60 frames per second and their specs, minus the projector, match those of the PJ230. The CX220 is available in black, blue, red, and silver. Actually, each of the new entry- and mid-level Sony’s come in a version with or without a built-in projector. For example, the HDR-CX430V and the HDR-PJ430 are similar cameras except that the PJ430 houses a projector. There is one new Sony that stands alone and that is the HDR-TD30V which has two 20.4MP Exmor R CMOS sensors and two dual wide-angle Sony G lenses and can produce Full HD 1080 video in 3D!
Lastly, perhaps the most innovative camcorder at CES 2013 was a concept camera. Sony unveiled a mock-up model of an upcoming 4K consumer camcorder, but other than its 4K sensor, little was told of what this camera has in store or even whether it will be a consumer or pro-level model. Certainly, however, it is a hint of what is to come next year.