So many compacts, so few buyers”¦ Camera companies were out in force at the annual International CES show in Las …


So many compacts, so few buyers”¦

Camera companies were out in force at the annual International CES show in Las Vegas in January, pushing out new models of compact cameras to a world which has largely moved on to smartphones and tablets for snapshooting.

It’s as if they are in a parallel universe where the world demand for compact cameras hasn’t in reality slumped by 50 percent or more in the past 12-18 months. The large, conservative Japanese corporations in camera manufacture will take a while to pull the ship up and change direction to reflect the 2014 market reality.

In the meantime, any real interest from non-enthusiast photographers lies elsewhere. In a ring-around of specialist photo retailers for photo trade website Photo Counter after the Christmas sales, almost every retailer nominated GoPro actions cams and accessories as big sellers outside the enthusiast interchangeable lens category. Instant photography systems from Fujifilm and Polaroid were also moving off the shelves at a rapid rate. Slimline compacts with 5x zoom and tiny (1 /2.3-inch) 16-megapixel sensors in a selection of five attractive colours (now with added WiFi and NFC) for $149? No so much.


The Nikon D3300 weighs in at under 500 grams in its underwear.

But back to CES: Nikon can claim the mantle for the largest number of cameras announced – eight new compacts and a new entry-level SLR, the  D3300. This new interchangeable model will be available in black or red. It has a 24-megapixel APS-format CMOS sensor. In an unusual move for such a low-end camera, Nikon has removed the low-pass filter, as in the professional-level Nikon D800E.

It shoots at 5 frames/second, has an ISO range of 100 to 12,800, and is a real lightweight at under 500 grams. It should be hitting the camera stores early this month.

Nikon also unveiled plans to introduce the  Nikon D4S  at some time in the indeterminate future. No further details were forthcoming on what will presumably be Nikon’s new flagship. Perhaps more will be revealed at the CP+ show in Yokahama.


Tasty new lens releases

Nikon also announced a fast 35mm prime lens for full-frame sensor Nikon DSLRs, the AFS FX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 G. Nikon bills it as ideal for street photography as well as architecture, portraits and landscapes.

The most pleasing trend at CES from an enthusiast’s point of view was the release of this and similarly high-spec lenses – prime lenses in particular.


A brace of sophisticated prime lenses were announced at International CES, including this f/1.4 Sigma in the classic 50mm focal length.


Sigma announced a new wide-aperture Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM ‘Art’ lens, re-engineered and redesigned ‘to set a new standard of performance in the Art line’. Manufactured from metals and a new TSC (Thermally Stable Composite) it features a durable brass bayonet mount. The lens is made for full frame DSLRs, delivering the ‘all-purpose’ 50mm focal length for a range of photography including portraits, landscapes, studio work and still-life. Sigma executives told US photography website Imaging Resource they were confident the all-new Sigma 50mm f/1.4 will outgun competitive products from Canon and Nikon in image sharpness and quality. They see the new fast prime as up there with the Zeiss 55mm f/1.4. High aspirations indeed for a lens that will retail locally for around $800.

Sigma also announced an 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM ‘Contemporary’ lens, designed for APS-format SLRs. It’s smaller and lighter than the 2011 model it replaces, weighing only 430 grams and measures 86mm.    

Panasonic flagged availability of the Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 (H-NS043) lens for the Lumix G cameras. With its 85mm equivalent focal length and a remarkable widest aperture of f1.2, this delivers the G-series cameras a premium lens for portraiture. It will be interesting to read Margaret Brown’s review when she gets her hands on one of these beauties. Expected here in the next month or so at around the $2000 mark.
Fuji also announced a wide-aperture portrait lens for the well-regarded X-series mirrorless interchangeables, the compact-looking Fujinon XF56mm f/1.2 R. It features a DC coreless motor combined with an inner focus mechanism that moves small elements in the middle or at the rear of the lens while keeping the large front elements stationery, enabling fast autofocus and near-silent operation.

(This was followed up late in January with a new X-series interchangeable, the Fujifilm X-T1. See Photo Review website for full details.)

Shortly after CES Tamron announced the mother of all  tele lenses, the SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 (Model A011) ‘ultra-telephoto’. It features Vibration Compensation image stabilisation; speedy, precise ultrasonic drive; and ‘eBAND Coating’ (extended Bandwidth & Angular-Dependency), which significantly reduces flare and ghosting due to extraneous light. Local distributor Maxwell International says the local price will be around $1400. A Canon mount version should be available already, with Nikon and Sony versions to come. The lens is compatible with both APS and 35mm format SLRs.

But back to the less exciting camera new releases…


Every shot a selfie: the Canon N100 takes a picture of the photographer taking a picture.

Canon announced only three compacts. The most interesting, the Powershot N100, has an odd feature (debatable whether it’s a benefit) of taking a picture of the photographer every time the photographer takes a picture. It has a 5x lens pointing the right way and a 25mm face-facing ‘Story’ lens, in response to these selfie-obsessed times we live in. ‘This is me taking a picture of Uluru. This is me taking a picture of a sunset. This is me…’

It also records two seconds of movie footage before and after image capture, and a ‘Story Highlights’ mode automatically edits images and movies into a multimedia album for viewing and sharing.  

Sony announced a new E-mount camera, but has ditched the NEX nomenclature and called the new model the a (as in Alpha) 5000. It has a 20-megapixel APS sensor and is among the smallest of the interchangeables going round.

The all-important selfie market has been catered for with a monitor that can be tilted vertically for single-handed self-capture. Sensitivity is adjustable manually up to ISO 16,000.

Perhaps one reason why Sony ditched the NEX sub-brand was that is was too close to the Samsung NX brand for its own mirrorless interchangeables.

At CES it showed its latest mirrorless model, the NX30, which has a 20-megapixel APS CMOS sensor, and a new EVF module that tilts upwards to approximately 80 degrees, with 2.4 million dot resolution. Its 3-inch monitor uses Super AMOLED technology and it able to be moved from side to side up to 180 degrees, and upward and downward up to 270 degrees.  

Samsung announced its second Android camera, the Galaxy Camera 2, with a 16-megapixel CMOS Sensor, and a 21x zoom lens. The 4.8-inch HD Super Clear Touch LCD is a huge advance on the 3-inch screens on most compact cameras.


Kinda chunky: the 60x Samsung WN2200F is currently the heavyweight telephoto zoom champeen of the world.

Samsung also stole bragging rights for the longest focal length ‘compact’ camera from whoever had them last, announcing the world’s first 60x zoom compact camera, the WB2200F. With its vertical and horizontal hand grips it reminds one of Clive James description of Arnold Schwarzenegger – a condom full of walnuts.

In addition to its 20-1200mm f2.8-5.9 Hubble Telescope of a lens, the WB2200F has a regrettably tiny (1/2.3-inch) 16-megapixel sensor, WiFi, NFC, an electronic viewfinder, aformentioned vertical and horizontal handgrips, and large battery.

Keith Shipton  
Photo Counter