As with mobile phones, one never quite expects to see the best of the imaging world at CES because of PMA just around the corner next month. That said it didn't stop just about everyone apart from Canon and Nikon coming up with some goods for us to pick up, prod, get the measure of and try to walk away with when still in our pockets.
To be straight, you rather get the feeling that the camera world is running out of ideas for the moment, but what we did see in Vegas this year is that even the low end snappers have got high-end features nowadays. All good viewscreens have gone touch, all cameras can capture video in HD and powered optical image stabilisation is everywhere.
The touchscreen has completed its move into the camcorder world now too with 3.5-inch displays all the rage and the odd one even gesture controlled. Just about every range of video recorders has popped up with flash memory and larger, more power hungry HDD options sometimes backed up with dual SD/SDHC card slots.
The Canon LEGRIAs and Sony Handycams are good examples plus there's even been the emergence of support for the huge capacity SDXC memory units too like in Panasonic's range of camcorders. Very useful for storing hours of 1080p footage. Of course, you could always opt for an Eye-Fi ProX2 wireless card now that the engine and antenna has been updated
Both Sony and Kodak updated their pocket video recorders with the launch of the rugged Kodak Playsport and the 360 degree, panorama-shooting Sony Bloggie - once you've bought the adaptor that is.
The Polaroid camera made its promised return - along with a few TVs for good measure - and even the digital photo frame was given a new lease of life with Wi-Fi and e-mail connection as in the Kodak Pulse and with a 700Hz OLED screen in Samung's model. But, what stood out from the crowd for us were...
Star of the Show: Samsung NX10
- Hybrid camera with changeable lens
- Image Sensor
- 14.6MP CMOS, APS-C format
- Fully manual
- 15-point AF
- Burst rate
It may not have Wi-Fi, GPS or a touchscreen for that matter, but the Samsung NX-10 just looks like a damn fine piece of kit. Samsung isn't part of the micro-four-thirds system but this is the company's version of a mini-DSLR and it'll give both Panasonic and Olympus a serious run for their money.
The sensor is the kind you'll find in a proper camera, the AF system looks impressive, it has full control as well as smart auto and priority settings and, of course, it captures 720p HD video as well. It weighs just 353g and comes with a very pretty 3-inch AMOLED on the back plus it can work the shutter between 1/4000 of a second and 30 seconds which goes up to 8 minutes on bulb mode. No clues as to when it's coming out yet, so, for now, just enjoy the pictures.
Future Flier: Panasonic Twin Lens Camcorder
At $21,000 a pop for this tailor made piece of 3D movie shooting industry-grade kit, it's unlikely anyone you know is going to be buying one. However, we will be reaping the benefits of the first purpose-built 3D cinema cameras and their two lenses because a) we're going to get more and better made 3D films with a greater control and use of depth and b) we'll probably see versions of this system turning up in home camcorder models soon too.
Top of the Flops: General Imaging & Olympus
Apparently these two companies released some compact cameras at CES 2010. In fact, we know they did. We wrote about them. They were perfectly respectable models, but what they did for the world of photography can be written on the back of the kind of postage stamp that Amoebae might use to send to other Amoebae.
The Best of the Rest
Proving it wasn't just a fluke, Samsung released an upgrade to the CL65 compact and came up with a fascinating sounding shooter with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, DLNA, an address book, a 3.7-inch AMOLED touchscreen display and even an on-screen QWERTY keyboard too. They did say camera, right?
Samsung appears to have had its imaging developers on steroids in the run up to the Vegas tech show. The company pulled out a third great product in the shape of the SSD recording S-Series camcorders. They've got high-end glassware, fantastic frame rate recording for slow and fast speeds but it's the fact they're the first Wi-Fi and DLNA-enabled video cameras out there that really caught out attention.
With photo frames becoming sexy again, it'd probably have to be the Sony Dash that was the pick of the crop. It connects to the Internet and your network over Wi-Fi, it has a touchscreen and it's also got widget access to the world and a bunch of other services. Slight case of split personality disorder but a great boost for this gadget genre.
Sony Cyber-shot HX5
We've seen compacts with GPS in them before but this one's got a compass too. The idea is that it tags the image with your location and even the direction you were facing too. Silly? Perhaps. Pointless? Maybe, but nice to see someone trying.
So which was your favourite and what will you be holding out for from CES 2010? Let us know in the comments.