Point-and-Shoot Cameras Released En Masse
Both Canon and Sony have recently admitted that sales of compact cameras, particularly entry-level models, have declined by as much as 20% in
the past year. No surprise, really, because so many users—including many
professionals—are more than happy with the image quality produced by
Smartphones may be replacing low-end cameras, but demand for DSLRs
has remained strong and outside of the U.S., the new breed of mirrorless
cameras is catching on in significant numbers. That being said, companies
that rely on camera sales for the majority of their revenue are potentially
vulnerable—DSLRs alone won’t make for a viable business. Sony ironically
is benefitting from sales of smartphones as the iPhone 4S uses a Sony sensor for its camera.
Despite the decline in sales of low-end compact cameras, all camera
manufacturers are still introducing new models. In fact there were dozens
introduced at CP+. Sadly, it seems that some companies are introducing
as many as possible at price points from $100 to $400, in hopes of selling
enough. Companies like Sony are not even selling all models through all
channels—meaning a consumer may find one camera on sale at Costco, but
not at a camera store, while another may be shown at a specialist camera
store, but not available at Best Buy. It’s confusing for consumers, but it’s the
way the mass market works.
It would be pointless to wade through the specs of all the new compact
cameras as most have little interest to pro photographers. Nevertheless, it’s
worth checking out a few for their new features.
Sony says consumers still regard more pixels as a key factor in their buying decisions. That’s why many of the newest compact cameras still have more pixels
than their predecessors. Sony has also developed a new technology to overcome
the inherent noise levels in small sensors. It claims that its newest 18-megapxiel
sensor in the Cyber-shot TX200V has 1/6th of the noise of previous sensors.
Sony’s 18-megapixel TX200V compact
camera has a 5x zoom and is not much
bigger than a smart phone.
Pentax has introduced a new mirrorless camera that’s positioned above an entry-level system like the Olympus PEN line, but slightly below a high-end system such
as the Olympus OM-D range. The Pentax K-01 has a 16.1-megapixel APS-C
CMOS sensor and uses the same K-mount found on its DSLR cameras. Ironically,
because of the size of the sensor and the K-mount, the camera is not much
smaller than the “traditional” Pentax K- 5 DSLR. It will cost $750 for a body only.
Pentax’s mirrorless K-01 camera has a 16.1-megapxiel
APS-C sensor and a regular
Nikon’s 16.1-megapixel Coolpix P510
has a 42x zoom lens that’s equivalent to 24-1000mm.
Nikon has introduced the Coolpix P510, which features a 42x (24-1000mm equivalent)
zoom and a 16.1-megapixel sensor. It costs $430 and can shoot at almost 5fps. Nikon
says that customers hanker after long zooms, which is something phone cameras
John Rettie is a photojournalist who has been covering digital photography since its
earliest days. He resides in Santa Barbara, CA, and readers are welcome to contact him
directly by e-mail at email@example.com.