CES isn't typically a banner week for camera and camcorder lovers and manufacturers, but this year was different. Nearly every major manufacturer announced cameras that are faster, more powerful, and more impressive than ever before — we saw new models with longer zoom, more shooting features, lots of manual control, and better hardware across the board. Companies added features that differentiate their point-and-shoot models from smartphone cameras, and a few launched drool-worthy flagship DSLRs as well. We put together the most interesting camera and camcorder news, plus our hands-on impressions, so check out the stories below to see the best of the first batch of cameras in 2012.
Jan 6, 2012
You know you're in for a treat when Nikon decides to upgrade the very top of its camera range, the single-digit DSLR flagship. Taking over from the D3s is the D4, a $6,000 camera that gleefully upgrades just about every spec from its predecessor while also weighing less and lasting longer on a smaller battery.Read Article >
Handling of the new camera isn't all that dramatically different from the D3s. A few of the keys have played a game of musical chairs, but you're still looking at more or less the same layout. Nikon has added a pair of joysticks for manipulating your focus point while shooting or moving around an image when reviewing, plus there's now a movie mode toggle framing the Live View button. The biggest change in the D4 is in the way Nikon has duplicated right-hand controls for shooting in portrait orientation — that is to say, the buttons available to you in landscape mode are in exactly the same position when you flip the camera into portrait. I only spent a short time with Nikon's new DSLR, but it's quite obvious how that would benefit those who switch orientation often.
Jan 6, 2012
On the inside, the DSLR is a much larger upgrade. There's a 16.2-megapixel FX format CMOS sensor inside, measuring 36.0 x 23.9mm. It has a native ISO of up to 12,800, higher than was originally rumored, and is expandable to 204,800. The camera is faster than ever, too, thanks to Nikon's new Expeed 3 processor — reps said the D4 will boot in .012 seconds, has .042-second shutter lag, and will shoot at 11 frames per second, one faster than the D3s. The Expeed 3 processor also improves autofocus performance, which still has 51 points but can use phase detection in even worse lighting conditions. (The autofocus system upgrade also now supports any Nikon lens up to f/8, which is pretty much all of them.) The RGB metering sensor has been bumped up to 91,005 pixels, which makes metering far better, particularly on small subjects. Live View and Movie mode autofocus have both been improved as well — which any D3s user knows is not a moment too soon — though it's still contrast-detect autofocus.Read Article >
Video performance in general was clearly high on Nikon's list for the D4's functionality. The new shooter captures 1080p30, 1080p24, and 720p60 video, and Nikon has added smooth aperture adjustment as well as three different crops for video, up to 2.7x — that means you can shoot 1080p video, and give it the appearance of being zoomed a long way without any special optics. There's a new 20-level audio metering system, plus a headphone jack with 30-level adjustment so you can monitor straight from the camera. Apparently Nikon had some processing power to spare, too, because you can stream a full, uncompressed 720p signal out of the camera through its HDMI port, and view it on the camera simultaneously.
Jan 5, 2012
Ahead of the rush of CES, Fujifilm has just revealed its entire lineup of cameras for 2012 — 19 of them, to be exact. At the head of the class is the X-S1, a new addition to the X series of high-end cameras. The X-S1's specs mix the X10 and the X100, including a 12-megapixel 2/3-inch sensor, EXR processor, a 3-inch LCD, and an electronic viewfinder. It also has a 26x zoom lens that goes from 24-624mm, with aperture of f/2.8-f/5.6. The giant zoom lens is fixed, and its sheer size likely necessitated Fujifilm's use of a DSLR-like body, which is much larger than either the X10 or the X100. The X-S1 will shoot 1080p video at 30 frames per second, can shoot seven still frames per second at full resolution, and has just 1/10-second shutter lag. It's a hybrid between a superzoom and a DSLR, and is priced like one too: it'll cost $799.95 when it's released at the end of January.Read Article >
Fujifilm refreshed nearly every other model in its line as well, from superzooms to rugged cameras. Across the board, from the $499.99 FinePix HS30EXR to the $89.95 FinePix AX550, Fujifilm's cameras got processor and video recording upgrades, plus a variety of other improvements. One thing Fujfilm didn't do was add a DSLR to its lineup, though when asked about it a rep told us to "watch over the next few days."