Beyond Megapixels, 10 innovative compact cameras

The compact camera market is a dog fight for tech companies. Hundreds of the things are launched every year and, now that the megapixel war has moved on to mobiles and everyone's teamed up with a quality lens maker, it's getting tougher and tougher to find a new edge.

So as Samsung walks the tight rope between innovative and ridiculous with the launch of their front screen LCD model this afternoon, we thought we'd take a look at 10 cameras straying dangerously close to the absurd.

Nikon S1000pj Projector
Out just the other day but leaked quite some time back was the Nikon Coolpix S1000pj camera complete with 40-inch VGA resolution projector. The idea is that it means you don't have to have the whole family crowding around a tiny LCD with an even smaller viewing angle to see all your holiday snaps. The trouble is that you're not always going to have low enough light conditions or a white wall space to hand.
Crazy Factor: Bit Barmy - fun but unlikely to catch on

Olympus E-P1
Leaving aside the craziness of why you'd want to spend over £600 on a camera that doesn't have a built in viewfinder or flash, it's the Art Filters that bring it into the list today. You get six to play with including Pop Art, Soft Focus, Grainy Film and Pin Hole which tweak the colours and tones on both videos and stills.
Crazy Factor: Eccentric - might see some of these modes seeping through the market

Fujifilm 3D camera
Two lenses, two CCD sensors and the ability to shoot both stills and video footage in 3D that you don't need to wear glasses to appreciate - that's the FujiFilm FinePix Real 3D system and one hell of a step beyond for compact cameras. It's out in September and offers 3D prints as well as unprecedented 2D functionality such as simultaneous tele and wide shooting.
Crazy Factor: Bananas - so crazy that it might just work

Olympus mju
Olympus has managed to spread one of compacts' more crazy functions into most of their µ range without anyone batting an eyelid. The company has introduced a tap control system whereby users can change shoot settings with single or double taps to the sides of the camera. Each of the four sides can be to customised according to what's most convenient for you.
Crazy Factor: Outwardly Odd - makes total sense the minute you're wearing thick gloves

Samsung CL5
Singing cameras. They've been on the margins of mass acceptance for a while and the Samsung CL5 is as good example as any of a compact camera that plays MP3s. The idea is that the built-in functionality allows you to create slideshows to music but there's no reason you can't just use it to play back your favourite songs.
Crazy Factor: Silly - the thin end of the "convergence gone wrong" wedge

Casio Exilim EX-FS10
All fairly standard stuff here until you find out that this compact can shoot video at 1,000 frames per second. If you don't know, that's fast. It's very fast. With so many shots in such little time you can use it to capture ultra-slow motion footage. You'd get a pretty good look at a Humming Birds' wings at that speed. The crazy part is that it only works at a teeny tiny resolution of 224 x 64.
Crazy Factor: Nuts - lovely tech but could be tricky to get results

Lego Camera
US company Digital Blue has won the right to start making LEGO themed consumer electronics products and, yes, one of them is going to be a compact camera. Function-wise it has everything you'd expect but it's the garish look of thing that earns it a place here. Not much use for secretive papping with a blinding multicoloured finish and, sadly/thankfully, you can't take the bricks apart and put it back together again.
Crazy Factor: Bonkers - one for the fanatical

Sony Eco Camera
A concept only so far, it's part of Sony's Odo project and is designed for children in the developing world where batteries and electricity might be harder to come by. It's shaped like a magnifying glass consisting of a stick, which you hold and houses the shutter release, and a wheel which you look through and also rotate along a flat surface to charge the camera up through kinetic energy.
Crazy Factor: Mad Genius - unlikely to go big but great design

Touch Sight Camera
Another concept and very a thoughtful one here. Today's Samsung announcements may have two LCD screens, but this camera has none. The Touch Sight is a camera for the visually impaired and it takes pictures as normal but with a couple of mind-bending additions. Firstly, it records three seconds of audio at the same time as taking the snap, to help with filing purposes later, and it also has a braille printer which embosses information onto the shot - three sense photography instead of just one.
Crazy Factor: Far Out - totally unique

Penchan 5.5-terapixel
It may look like a child's toy with a baby blue finish and cartoon stencils but the Chinese manufacturer holds the current record for the highest resolution on any camera - compact or DSLR. Are we sure about this? Yes, quite sure. It says very clearly on the body "5.5 Terapixels". Or do you think they meant "mega"?
Crazy Factor: Loco, man - has anyone told Hasselblad?


>