Over the past few years, digital camera-makers have tried to make their mark amid simplified smartphone cameras by packing bigger sensors, powerful lenses and even mobile operating systems into point-and-shoots.
It’s unclear whether this approach is actually working with consumers, but each year at CES there are a handful of new cameras at least worth eyeing, if not buying. Here are a few we picked out:
Polaroid’s Android-Based Camera
Polaroid, a brand once synonymous with innovative imaging (it now operates under the parent company PLR IP Holdings), is joining Nikon and Samsung with what I initially called a “smartphamera” (it didn’t stick). Basically, this is a camera that marries some of the better features of a point-and-shoot with a touchscreen and intuitive mobile operating system. In the case of this camera, it’s running Android’s Jelly Bean 4.1 OS.
The camera comes standard with a 10mm-30mm interchangeable lens kit. What’s more interesting is that the sensor is built directly into the lens instead of the camera body. Polaroid hasn’t said what the exact sensor size is, but it captures 18.1-megapixel images. It has a 3.5-inch LCD touchscreen display, as well as tactile shoot and manual control buttons on the top of the camera body.
The camera — which, by the way, has been given the forgettable name “iM1836” — will sell for $349 with the lens kit. This is less than Samsung’s offering, but more than Nikon’s Android camera. It will hit the market sometime in the second quarter of the year.
Canon PowerShot N
With the newest point-and-shoot in the PowerShot line, Canon veered away from the standard design of cameras like the S100 and S110, and decided it was hip to be square.
Okay, maybe slightly more rectangular than square. The PowerShot N measures 2.4 by 3.1 by 1.2 inches, and has a tilt-up LCD screen in the back that can be adjusted up to a 90-degree angle for better viewing. Canon has pointed out that it’s even small enough to wear around the neck using a lanyard (look, Ma, no hands!), but while it’s certainly lighter and more comfortable than a big-bodied DSLR, no one is going to mistake this for a fashion pendant.
The PowerShot N captures 12-megapixel images, has an 8x digital zoom and offers 58 different scene selections for the Instagram-lovers out there. And it has Wi-Fi capabilities for sharing photos to iOS or Android mobile devices using Canon’s CameraWindow app. It’s expected to hit the market in April, and will cost $300.
Here’s one of the big-ticket cameras from the show: The updated Fujifilm Finepix X100 fixed-lens camera, for pros or photo “enthusiasts,” now called the X100S.
The X100S has the same, vintage-y body of the X100, along with a 2.8-inch LCD view panel on the back, but what sets this camera apart is its speed. It focuses in .08 seconds, and shoots six frames per second in RAW format. It can capture a handful of good photos faster than you just read this sentence. It boasts a 16.3-megapixel, CMOS II (or, large) sensor and captures full 1080 HD video at 60 frames per second.
Like the Fujifilm Finepix X100, it has a Fujinon 23mm fixed-focal lens (equivalent to 35mm), with the rear lens packed into the body, which is what helps keep this professional-level camera so slim.
Ready to wince at the price? It’s $1,300, and will be available in the U.S. in March. But at least it’s not as pricey as the camera Fujifilm unveiled at last year’s show, the $1,700 X-Pro1.