A Photo Snapshot: CES 2014

George Schaub's picture

The CES 2014 convention, held last week, was a vast mélange of all things gadget-wise with a smattering of photographic gear thrown into the mix. Despite the polar vortex, which kept scores stranded in their home cities unable to make the trip, the hordes descending on Las Vegas immersed themselves in a show dominated by the latest thing in watchable furniture and phone and tablet accessories. But a number of companies that make cameras and lens were there, so we went to see what might be coming down the pike.

Truth be told, I saw quite a few mockups that await the fall for their unveiling, this being a photokina year. Yet, in conversations with kindred spirits and company reps, there was enough revealed to get a sense of which way the photo winds might blow, and some new products to boot. What follows is a quick summary of those trends. Rest assured that we will follow up with tests and more details in future issues, along with new product rollouts that follow.

Trends

Some camera companies have dropped their compact point and shoot lines altogether, finally throwing in the towel because of the camera phone charge. Everyone now incorporates connectivity options, offering access to WiFi and remote operation. Two camera “types” in the non-interchangeable lens class have taken up the slack in the point-and-shoot realm: so-called bridge cameras (high ratio zooms in the 30X and above range) and “tough” cameras, still cameras with video capabilities that can handle the elements above and below water. The show was awash in so-called “wearables,” or action-cams, and their myriad accessories. Small and smaller is the name of the game in interchangeable lens cameras in the APS-C and MFT format realm. And everyone loves a rumor and there were two rumblings: mirrorless sales have slowed in favor of DSLRs, at least in the States, and the Nikon D4s is now the worst kept secret in the rumor mill, there being one shown “under glass” at the show.

Connectedness Triumphant

If a camera wasn’t connectable it failed to show its face, and as far as I can see is forever banished from future offerings, so first let’s get a lowdown on some of the latest wrinkles, compliments here of the features in the new Samsung NX30 APS-C mirrorless camera. It seems to embody the summation of all things connected, and while Samsung has their own snappy names for these functions, you’ll get the idea and can anticipate them coming to a camera near you real soon.

NFC (near field communication) means that when linked via the appropriate code and amenable device you can share images by just getting close. Samsung’s “Tag & Go” function lets you tap and share with NFC enabled smartphones and tablets. The “Photo Beam” allows the transfer of an image or video to a smartphone or tablet by simply touching the two devices together, with no other configuration needed. If you’re into multiple sharing you can use MobileLink to select four distinct smart devices at one time. AutoShare automatically sends every photo to a smartphone or tablet. And aside from the usual site uploads, Dropbox web storage service and Flickr is pre-loaded on the NX30 and usable in “select regions.”

And of course the NX30 features remote operation via the aptly named Remote Viewfinder Pro. You can set up the camera from your linked smartphone, including zoom and manual settings like aperture and shutter speed.

In short, while the Samsung seems to have the whole kit and caboodle in the connected realm, and has in my opinion forced the hand of others in this regard, assume any camera in this report, unless otherwise noted, has some of the features mentioned, or will be heading in that direction.

Oh, and to give the NX30 its due, it has a 20.3MP APS-C CMOS sensor, offers a fast 1/8000 sec shutter speed and a 9 frame per second (FPS) rate, sports a very handy tiltable electronic viewfinder plus a very high res 3-inch Super AMOLED swivel and touch-control display.

We’ll report on the new products in depth in future issues of Shutterbug with reports and tests on cameras, lenses and flash. Plus we’re attending the upcoming 2014 WPPI show and will have a special report on lighting for home and pro studios as well.

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