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The best cameras of CES 2013

Last year's CES was a big one for camera manufacturers, headlined by Nikon's ultra-high-end D4 DSLR. This year's a reversion back to the norm, to some extent — Canon, Nikon, and their ilk are saving their most important announcements for shows like CP+. There are still a handful of great cameras, though, from the new Nikon 1 Series cameras to a series of retro shooters from Fujifilm. We've collected the best and most important cameras of CES down below, so look through the list to see what you'll be taking pictures with in 2013.

  • Jeff Blagdon

    Jan 8, 2013

    Jeff Blagdon

    Hands-on with Nikon's newest mirrorless 1 Series cameras, the J3 and S1

    The compact interchangeable lens camera segment is continuing to grow this year, and Nikon is expanding its lineup with two new CX-format sensor 1 Series cameras — the J3 and S1. Both are essentially scaled-down versions of the flagship V2, with the same 15fps frame and Expeed 3A image processor.

    The two cameras look almost identical, the only noticeable difference being the mode selector dial on the top of the higher-end J3. Manual controls are otherwise sparse compared to the V2 — there’s no dial for selecting aperture values on either camera, for instance.

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  • Sam Byford

    Jan 8, 2013

    Sam Byford

    Sigma DP3 Merrill adds 50mm focal length to pro compact camera range

    dp3 merrill
    dp3 merrill

    Sigma has announced the DP3 Merrill, the latest in its range of unusual fixed-lens compact cameras. The DP3 pairs a 50mm f/2.8 lens with Sigma's unique APS-C Foveon X3 sensor, which essentially stacks three 15.3-megapixel layers on top of each other; Sigma claims this equates to a 46-megapixel image, though in practice the resulting shots aren't necessarily comparable to more traditional cameras. Instead, they're known for their unique color rendering and high quality considering the cameras' small physical size.

    The DP3 Merrill is the third camera in the series, and follows last year's 19mm DP1 Merrill and 30mm DP2 Merrill. Sigma now has a pretty solid lineup of advanced point-and-shoots — If you're up for buying whole new cameras instead of adding lenses to an existing body, that is. There's no word yet on pricing or release date, but the DP1 shipped for $999 last year.

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  • Dan Seifert

    Jan 8, 2013

    Dan Seifert

    Hands-on with Pentax's brass beauty MX-1 camera

    Pentax MX-1
    Pentax MX-1

    Pentax announced the new MX-1 point-and-shoot camera earlier today, and we just spent a few intimate moments with the brass-clad shooter. The 16-megapixel camera features a 28mm-112mm equivalent lens with a bright f/1.8-2.5 aperture and 1080p video capability. But the best part of the MX-1 is its delightfully retro design and solid construction. Pentax used solid brass for the top and bottom panels of the camera, which give it a heft that you don't normally see in a point-and-shoot camera anymore. On the flip side, the heavy weight and chunky design of the MX-1 mean that it won't fit in your average pocket, and that might be enough to push most customers towards a smaller camera.

    The MX-1 does feature a bevy of dials and switches, which should make fans of manually controlling their photos happy. The large size of the camera actually makes it much easier to handle than smaller designs, and the exposure compensation dial and mode dial are within easy reach of your fingers. The 3-inch, 920,000 dot display sports an articulating hinge, but unlike many of its competitors, it lacks a touchscreen. That means you have to dive into Pentax's labyrinthian menu system when you want to change some settings, which feels very dated compared to other camera interfaces we've seen. We'll reserve judgement on the MX-1's image quality until we get a review unit for a proper evaluation, but you can expect to see it on shelves with a $499.99 price tag some time next month.

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  • Sam Byford

    Jan 8, 2013

    Sam Byford

    Olympus puts the OM-D's 5-axis stabilization in a compact camera

    olympus sh-50 embargo
    olympus sh-50 embargo

    Camera manufacturers are running out of ways to differentiate point-and-shoots from increasingly effective smartphones, but they'll always have more hardware space to play with. The new Olympus SH-50 is a good example of this, employing an optical image stabilization system that shifts the 16-megapixel sensor along five axes for video and three for photos; the system was first used in the excellent OM-D EM-5 mirrorless camera.

    Coupled with a 24x zoom (25-600mm equivalent) lens, the SH-50 should produce sharper pictures than your smartphone as long as you're willing to hand over $299.99 when it launches in March. Olympus has also put the same 24x zoom lens in a pair of cheaper 16-megapixel compacts: the Stylus SZ-15 and SZ-16 will come out in March at price points of $199.99 and $239.99 respectively, though you'll only get dual-axis image stabilization.

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  • Jeff Blagdon

    Jan 8, 2013

    Jeff Blagdon

    Nikon's J3 and S1 interchangeable lens cameras offer the V2's power for less

    nikon j3 s1
    nikon j3 s1

    It’s less than six months since Nikon announced its J2 compact interchangeable lens camera, and the company is already announcing a follow-up — the J3. At $649.99 with Nikon's kit lens, you get two big improvements for the extra $50 over Nikon’s last J: a higher-resolution 14.2-megapixel CX format sensor and the new Expeed 3A processor, both of which are found in Nikon’s higher-end V2. And the combination will pull off the same tricks on Nikon’s newest, namely shooting 15 frames per second with continuous autofocus, and something called Slow View. The feature lets you capture 40 frames in a second or so, then play them back in a slow-mo animation loop; once you have the clip, you can "shoot" your keeper frames from it, letting you worry less about nailing the perfect shot the first time around.

    For $100 less, Nikon is also announcing the S1 — the first entrant in Nikon’s new lower-priced S series. The specs are almost identical — same processing engine, 73-point AF array, 15 fps continuous shooting, hybrid autofocus, and middling ISO 6400 maximum light sensitivity. What you’ll be sacrifiicing is megapixels — 10.1 compared to 14.2 on the J3 — and a physical mode selector dial. Both cameras are slated for release sometime in February.

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  • Nathan Ingraham

    Jan 7, 2013

    Nathan Ingraham

    Fujifilm's 2013 lineup of 'bridge' cameras brings extreme telephoto capabilities to the masses

    Fujifilm HS50ESX
    Fujifilm HS50ESX

    Fujifilm has just introduced a fleet of new "bridge" cameras at CES, with planned availability this March. All of these cameras lack interchangeable lens, but offer functionality and flexibility closer to what you'll find in a DSLR or mirrorless camera than a point-and-shoot. The flagship model in this new crop of shooters is the $549.95 HS50EXR, a camera that focuses on speed and an incredible zoom range that looks essentially like most entry-level DSLRs on the market, but without the benefit of swappable lenses.

    The lens you do get sounds pretty impressive, at first glance — it features a huge 42X zoom range, good for an equivalent 24mm-1000mm focal range in a DSLR. Users will be able to focus manually, but the camera also boasts autofocus speed of 0.05 seconds. We haven't tried this out for ourselves yet, and we doubt the camera will achieve that quick autofocus lock under all circumstances, but we're looking forward to finding out for ourselves on the CES show floor this week. Other lens features include built-in optical image stabilization, a maximum aperture range between f/2.8 and f/5.6 (depending on focal length), and a macro mode that allows for shooting at distances as close as 0.39 inches throughout the full zoom range.

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  • Nathan Ingraham

    Jan 7, 2013

    Nathan Ingraham

    Fujifilm's X100s and X20 will launch in late March at $1299.95 and $599.95 (update: hands-on photos)

    Fujifilm X20 and X100s
    Fujifilm X20 and X100s

    We're live at Fujifilm's CES 2013 press conference, and the company just announced pricing and availability for its X100s and X20 rangefinder-style cameras. The X100s will cost $1299.95 while the X20 will cost $599.95, and both will be available at the end of March. As we learned the other day, the X100s has been updated with a new 16.3 megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS II sensor, as well as a faster processor, the EXR II. Fujifilm promises the sensor will allow for autofocus of .08 seconds, and that with the processor, it will produce dramatically better resolution and noise reduction. The X20, meanwhile, offers a 12 megapixel 2/3-inch X-Trans CMOS II sensor and the same processor as the X100S. The X100s features the same 23mm f/2 lens that its predecessor included, while the X20 features an f/2.0 - f/2.8 manual barrel zoom lens. We're looking to try the cameras our for ourselves and will have impressions soon!

    Update: We just got a chance to handle Fujifilm's brand-new X100s and X20 cameras — they feel much like their predecessors, but come with all-new internals. The cameras feel unsurprisingly solid and well-built, like all of Fuji's previous X-series cameras. The real differences will reveal themselves over more extended usage, but at first glance they certainly keep up the high hardware and build quality standards of the X-series.

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  • Tim Carmody

    Jan 7, 2013

    Tim Carmody

    Canon's pocket-sized PowerShot N bridges the gap between your smartphone and a 'real' camera

    Canon Powershot N
    Canon Powershot N

    Clearly, Canon wants to provide everything a smartphone app offers and more; the PowerShot N tips the hardware and software roadmap they're following to do it. The camera also has the usual PowerShot goodies (12.1 megapixel sensor, 28mm wide-angle 8x optical zoom lens, micro SD storage) and will be available in April 2013 in white or black for $299 retail.

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  • Nathan Ingraham

    Jan 7, 2013

    Nathan Ingraham

    Pentax introduces retro-styled point-and-shoot with a brass body and strong low-light capability

    Pentax MX-1
    Pentax MX-1

    Camera design has been moving retro for several years now, and Pentax's new MX-1 point-and-shoot is just the latest example. This new camera features a brass body with textured grips, a fast f/1.8-f/2.5 lens that features an effective zoom range of 28mm-112mm, and a newly designed 12-megapixel CMOS sensor. While the smaller sensor doesn't match what's being offered in mirrorless cameras, but Pentax is touting its low-light sensitivity — the camera can reach a max ISO of 12,800, which is fairly impressive for a point-and-shoot. The lens itself also has some impressive specs; while the zoom range is fairly small compared to a lot of other cameras, the extremely fast aperture means this camera will be able to take in a lot more light than competing models.

    The camera also features a 3-inch, 920,000-dot LCD screen with articulating action, shake reduction for sharper images when shooting at slower shutter speeds, and one-touch 1080p video recording at 30FPS. Pentax says the new camera will be available in February at a $499.95 price point — we'll be looking for it at CES to see how it handles.

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