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APS gets the EVIL eye
The PMA entrance area on Sunday afternoon was fairly crowded.
It took over a year to happen, but we now have a format battle: The Micro Four Thirds System, introduced a little over a year ago, is being challenged by APS camera makers. First came the promised Samsung NX10, introduced a month ago. At PMA yesterday, Samsung unveiled its roadmap for the NX system which will include a total of eight lenses by the end of the year. Then came Sony.
Sony's electronic viewfinder interchangeable lens concept camera, under glass at PMA.
The electronics giant literally and dramatically broke the ice at a press conference where it introduced a concept electronic viewfinder/interchangeable lens (EVIL) camera. The yet-unnamed camera, which is at this point not much more than a non-functioning mock-up and whose look may change before its hits the market, is a direct challenge to the Olympus Digital Pen series of E-F cameras and the Panasonic GF-1, both of which are built on the smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor.
Sony also displayed its first underwater camera, packed in ice. Other manufactures also joined the underwater compact camera competition.
While the Samsung NX10 is closer to the DSLR in its form and therefore is more of a direct competitor with the Panasonic G1 and GH1, the Sony is clearly gunning for the smaller models and the mock-up appears to be about the same size as, or perhaps ever-so-slightly larger than, the E-Fs and GF-1. No launch date was announced, but remember, Photokina takes place this fall. Sony (and perhaps others) should be launching working EVIL cameras by then.
But wait, there's more...
Let's not forget that there's another compact camera built around an APS sensor, the Sigma DP series. As the show started, Sigma announced the DP2s, which they say will address the most common knock against the DP cameras, which is the pokey autofocus performance. I expect to try out the newest iteration today and will give my first impressions.
What's that think sticking out of that GE camera? Is it a USB connector?
Here's something I've never seen before: A USB plug built into a camera! It's part of GE's new fashionista camera designed by Jason Wu, who is known for dresses worn by Michelle Obama and a bevvy of Hollywood glitterati (I've always wanted to write that phrase). I'm not so sure about the camera's utility for anyone other than snapshooters, but the USB outlet is a nifty (and perahps actually useful) touch.
A moment of honesty
An interesting observation: Most of the high-end compact cameras that are designed for the photo enthusiast are topping out at around 10MP. “The megapixel war is only for the mass market cameras,” one anonymous camera company rep told me yesterday. “People who don't know much about cameras who want to buy a new one are looking for an improvement, and when they see 14MP they think that's it, but photographers who are knowledgeable about image quality understand how pixel density can adversely affect images don't want a 14MP compact camera.”
Next exhibitor, same thing: “14MP digital cameras are not necessary,” said a rep for a company that just introduced several such models. “But this is what people think they want because they think 14MP is better than, say, 10MP. As far as our advanced feature cameras for serious photographers who understand how sensors work, the megapixel war is over.”
OK, who opened the windows and let in the fresh air?
Am I going to have something to say about that in the near future? You better believe it!
Location, location, location
Maybe it's the mellow vibe that California is known for, but I don't think Anaheim, California is working out for PMA. The vibe in the exhibition hall is subdued, especially without Canon's usually raucus booth at the entrance. Attendance appears to be down, and while the new products being introduced seem exciting enough, there aren't that many of them.
Rumor has it that PMA will return to Las Vegas next year. I think that will be a good thing. Maybe even Canon will show up.
Where's Canon? Nope, not in there...