If we can depend on anything in the changing landscape of digital imaging, it's that manufacturers will continue to put out point-and-shoot cameras in droves every six or eight months. Within that relentless product cycle, a few truly unique point-and-shoots pop up every so often with standout features. We took a look at three notable examples on display at Photokina 2010.
Pentax Optio RS1000
Pentax didn't launch a mirrorless camera at this year's Photokina, instead they put out an interchangeable faceplate compact. (Do we need a new category for this too? CIFC?) Hoping to catch the eyes of shoppers and retailers, the Optio RS1000 is the first of its kind, allowing users to replace the front panel image with one that ships with the camera or another of their own design. Pentax President and all-around nice guy Ned Bunnell gave us a quick demo on how this is done.
Nikon Coolpix S1100pj
Nikon took its projector camera concept into a second iteration with the S1100pj. It expands the projector's capabilities and updates the buttoned-up look of the S1000pj with a more whimsical aesthetic.
Where the S1000pj had a sliding switch to bring the projected image into focus, the S1100pj has changed it out for a wheel on the top deck.
It also uses a 3.0-inch touch screen, and can record 720p HD video. The back panel has only three buttons: playback, record and shooting mode.
It's still a unique concept. Looking over the Coolpix offerings at Nikon's spacious Photokina booth, it definitely stands out.
Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3
I picked up Fujifilm's FinePix W3, that manufacturer's second 3D point-and-shoot. The camera turns on when you slid down the front panel to reveal twin 3x Fujinon lenses.
It features a more rounded design than its predecessor, and a slightly larger 3.5-inch LCD. Images captured in 3D mode can be viewed, without glasses, on the camera's LCD with a 3D effect. Fujifilm reps claim that this latest camera's 3D playback power is stronger than the first. Looking at it firsthand, the 3D effect is better than you'd expect. Looking straight on at the camera, objects in the foreground do seem to jump out of the camera's screen. However, tilt the camera slightly in either direction, and the image appears distorted.
It seems like a trade-off - 3D images and movies can be viewed instantly, but the emerging technology isn't perfect. If you've got a need for instant feedback on your 3D captures, then it's better than nothing.
A note on handling the camera - fingers have a way of creeping in front of that extra lens. I'm sure with a little practice you'd be able to avoid images like the one below.
They won't sell nearly as many units as their lower-cost cohorts, but these point-and-shoots certainly catch your attention. For more fresh news from Photokina 2010, check our Photokina site and stay tuned for some final images and thoughts from the show floor as Photokina heads into its closing weekend.
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