The time that I spent at CES was quick and productive. A quick trip, I arrived Sunday morning and left Tuesday morning. The good part is that I was able to meet with most of the camera manufacturers. The bad part is that, since I met with everyone, I didn’t really have time to tour the floor to see other cool stuff that was there. I guess I’ll have to save that “gadget hunting” until PMA in March (again in Las Vegas).
(view medium image) (view large image) View of Las Vegas from observation deck of the Stratosphere, taken with a Nikon Coolpix S7c
After attending a show like this, besides the new product introductions, I like to step back and reflect on general trends that I see going on with digital cameras. While nothing really ground-breaking was introduced during CES, I did get a taste of things to come with several briefings.
As is the always the case with things, prices are going to continue to get better. Last year, the manufacturers were introducing high quality, entry level digital cameras that beat the $200 mark. This year, they were shooting for $150.
The big thing in 2006 was image stabilization. It became a huge marketing item for the manufacturers as essentially every camera now has (in generic terms) image stabilization. The more expensive models have an image stabilization system that is either mechanical (the sensor moves to counteract blur) or optical (an element of the lens counteracts blur). In 2007, we’re going to continue to see this method of IS “trickle down” into cheaper digital cameras.
[As a side note, there is also a need for more consumer education with regards to image stabilization since there are differences in stabilization methods (just like there’s a big difference between optical zoom and digital zoom). The mechanical and optical methods that I’ve mentioned above handle camera shake/hand shake very well, without loss of image quality. However, they don’t work as well with moving subjects since the shutter speed is not increased. To counteract blur caused by a moving subject, current cameras can boost their ISO (sensitivity) to allow a faster shutter speed. However, this ISO boost causes a loss of image quality because of the introduction of digital noise (which causes grainy images). Other cameras collect camera shake data from a gyroscope, and apply corrections to the image during image processing to counter-act blur.]
It was also good to see that manufacturers are very aware of where they stand in regards to their competition and taking active steps to “fix” their root issues. They could work on additional features and things to add bullet points to their marketing materials, but it really seems like they’re working hard on the real cause of the problem. For example, a manufacturer that has been known for slightly slower (shutter lag, etc) camera performance is working very hard to get a new processor into their cameras to increase their performance.
(view large image) Kodak Easyshare V830/V1003 display - a good example of my statement about no ground-breaking tech - where Kodak introduced a new camera(s) with a nice feature set, but it was nothing new except that it comes in a bunch of colors.
As I said before, there wasn’t anything really ground-breaking as far as digital camera technology – no new digital SLRs, no new amazing features. The cameras that were introduced stuck to slight improvements and better priced models than in previous years (with one exception – the slim, 7x optical zoom Casio Exilim EX-V7). I fully expect that we will see some more technology improvements (and a bunch more cameras) right before or during the PMA show, which will be in early March. I will be there for several days, so should have plenty of time to report on all that the digital imaging industry has to offer.
New cameras at CES: