We're getting ready for the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas by counting down five of the top digital camera trends we expect to see at the show. Check out our guesses and come back for coverage from the show in a few weeks.
5. 3D Fever
CES was made for splashy demos of new technological developments, and what's splashier or more buzzworthy than 3D? Fujfilm made the first steps into 3D territory with its Real 3D FinePix system. Panasonice recently released a 3D Micro Four Thirds lens, hoping to bolster sales of 3D Viera HDTVs. Similar advances were made by Sony with 3D panorama modes in its high-end point-and-shoots. Will we continue to see 3D trickle down into lower-end models? It's hard to say where it will surface, but it's a sure bet that we'll see some more 3D developments before this year's CES comes to a close.
4. On a budget
Before last year's CES, we predicted that the economy was on its way back up. Fast forward to a year later and we're still saying the same thing. Consumers are still anxious to save as much money as they can, so it seems logical that we can expect to find more models with lower price tags, especially as camera manufacturers refresh entry-level point-and-shoots. That said, we don't expect exhibitors to hold back at this year's show.
3. Video and stills stay together
As still image quality improves in camcorders and video quality improves in cameras, manufacturers will continue to marry the two functions into technological bliss. Is this the year that even the entry-est of the entry-level point-and-shoots will record at least 720p HD video? If this isn't the time, then that day is not far away on the horizon. Low-cost multi-function devices like the Kodak Playsport are likely to stick around too.
We've seen lots of video development on the DSLR side of things, but that's something we'll probably talk more about at another tradeshow. For now, keep your chips on HD video in more low-end cameras.
2. Zoomier point-and-shoots
Camera makers in 2010 broke the sound barrier of the 30x optical zoom fixed-lens camera. Good compact ultrazooms got better. We're predicting higher zoom lenses in mid-to-low range point-and-shoots. Manufacturers are still fighting to keep point-and-shoots in consumers pockets as higher-quality smartphone cameras are edging them out. What better way to remind consumers that they need a dedicated camera than with a zoomier zoom lens? We predict more 7x optical zoom lenses across the board.
1. Surprises in store
With PMA usually held in February, we might be in store for some higher-profile camera surprises at this year's CES. PMA moved its trade show to September 2011 to avoid overlap with CES. Last year's PMA brought the announcements of some higher-end ultrazooms like the Fujifilm HS10. Will camera manufacturers make these announcements without the benefit of a tradeshow in spring 2011, or will we see more launches at CES than in previous years? It could be a surprising year indeed, and there's just one way to find out. Place your bets now and watch for our CES coverage in the following weeks, including news, images and video straight from the show floor.