Sony released two of the most inventive cameras of 2010: The NEX-5, a powerful compact interchangeable lens camera (CILC), and the SLT-A55, a DSLR with a translucent mirror. This week at the CP+ imaging trade show in Yokohama, Japan, Sony gave attendees a sneak peek into the future of its camera line.
The big draw was a revealing prototype of the next Sony SLT (single-lens translucent) camera, the A77. The upper mid-range camera will replace the three-year-old A700 in Sony's line-up. Sony decided to stick with the translucent theme and created a clear plastic mock-up of the camera that showed-off its key features:
The A77 will use the same translucent mirror technology that made its debut in the A55, feature an APS HD CMOS sensor, and shoot AVCHD video. As with the A55, the translucent mirror will allow the camera to have continuous phase detection autofocus in Live View mode and while shooting video. A look at the prototype reveals a few other details, including an articulating LCD screen and a smaller LCD screen on the top of the camera. While official tech specs have not been released for the camera, it is rumored to have a resolution around 20 megapixels. Sony plans on releasing the camera later this year.
The Canon Selphy CP800 snapshot printer is inexpensive, and it does a generally nice job of printing photos. Watching the machine's dye-sublimation technology in action is interesting, too: It applies ink from a continuous plastic sheet in three passes (one for each color) and then applies a clear coat on the fourth pass. You can see the photo paper peek out of the printer during each pass; it's almost like watching your photo develop. Regrettably, this printer's somewhat poky speed and its expensive, wasteful consumables overshadow its fun aspects.
Setting up the Selphy CP800 is easy enough, but we had to read the documentation to figure out that we needed to flip back the top of the 18-sheet input cassette for it to fit into the printer. The flipped lid creates an output tray for holding a small number of photos—clever, but not entirely intuitive. Beyond that, the tilt-up 2.5-inch LCD provides all the feedback you need to print directly from the CompactFlash, MultiMediaCard, Memory Stick, SD Card, and XD-Picture Card slots on the front of the unit. Controls are minimal, nicely arranged, and sufficient for all the required actions. You can use the printer exclusive of any computer connection, but PC and Mac drivers are available.
The Selphy CP800 is styled in matte black (though the input cassette is incongruously white), which seems more appropriate for a professional setting than the family den. In contrast, the bundled Selphy Photo Print software is definitely kid-oriented: fun, easy to use, and ready to step you through the print process. It even talks to you—not something most adults would want. The software's chirpy personality fits in better with Canon's beach-bucket-shaped Selphy CP790 () snapshot model.
On Monday, Samsung added two new budget point-and-shoot cameras, the PL20 and the ES80, to its digital camera line-up. The PL20 will retail for $120 and be available in March, while the ES80 will cost $100 and hit shelves in April.
PL20: The essentials plus HD video
Though compact and only $120, Samsung has packed a decent set of features into the PL20 point-and-shoot. It has a 14 megapixel CCD sensor and a 27mm wide angle lens with 5x optical zoom and digital image stabilization. The PL20 can also shoot 720p HD video at 24 frames per second, and it runs off of a rechargeable Li-ion battery.
Pentax on Monday released two new rugged Optio compact cameras, a silver limited edition version of its popular K-5 DSLR, and a 25mm lens for its 645D medium format camera.
Optio WG-1 & WG-1 GPS: Rugged and pocketable point-and-shoot
The latest additions to Pentax's adventurous Optio series are the 14-megapixel WG-1 and the WG-1 GPS compact point-and-shoot cameras. These colorful pocket cameras are built to be used and abused in the great outdoors—even more so than the previous rugged Optio model, the W90. The cameras are two versions of the same model: the $350 WG-1 in black or purple, and the $400 WG-1 GPS, which just adds GPS capabilities and is available in black or yellow/green.
Canon announced two additions to its entry-level DSLR camera line on Monday: the EOS Rebel T3i and EOS Rebel T3.
EOS Rebel T3i: Lightly upgraded entry-level DSLR
The higher-end T3i ($800, body only) differentiates itself from the existing T2i model with some mild feature additions. The T3i will have an articulating LCD screen, built-in transmitter for external Speedlite flashes, and improved in-camera help guides, including one that explains the camera's features. The T3i is not replacing the T2i in Canon's line-up—the popular T2i will continue to be available.
The iPhone 4's simple design, 720p HD video, and in-camera editing capabilities make it a blank canvas for camera and video accessories. Unfortunately, the form factor doesn't allow users to easily attach many external gadgets. A solution for serious iPhone video enthusiasts is the $170 OWLE Bubo mount, which we had some hands-on time with in the office this week.
The OWLE Bubo is a metal mount and stabilizer that gives iPhone 4 owners a way to attach powerful accessories to their device, including lights, tripods, and lenses. To get you started, the OWLE kits come with a 37mm wide angle/macro lens and a small directional microphone that plugs into the iPhone's headphone jack. Similar kits are also available to fit the iPhone 3G/3GS ($160) and the iPod touch 4G ($170).
When you're behind the lens of the 10-megapixel Nikon Coolpix P7000, you almost feel like you're at the helm of a jet. The camera is peppered with physical buttons, offering fast access to manual settings via a cockpit-like array of controls. DSLR owners will feel right at home behind the wheel of the Coolpix P7000, which offers great image quality to go along with those extensive imaging controls.
Because the P7000 puts all of its manual controls front and center, it also has the most challenging learning curve. Novices are bound to be a bit intimidated by its array of buttons and dials, but photographers who have used Nikon's DSLR cameras will welcome the familiar button layout.