Best of CES 2013
_mg_0998 copy.jpg
The annual Consumer Electronics Show is a chance for manufacturers to come and show off their latest and greatest products to tens of thousands of gadget-obsessed attendees. If you couldn’t be on the show floor, don’t worry. We’re breaking down the best stuff from the show on an updating basis. Here are some of our picks for the most important new pieces of kit. Fujifilm X100S and X20 At the Fujifilm press event, company reps were eager to tell the crowd how many of the new features on the new X-series cameras were inspired by customer requests. The new X-Trans CMOS II sensors crank up the signal to noise ratio by a claimed 30% and also have built-in phase detection AF pixels to help boost the AF some users found a bit lacking in the original X100 and the X10. Both cameras also got new features in their viewfinders as well. The X100s now has 100% coverage and an interesting split-screen focusing feature, while the X20 gets a new layer of information laid over the image. All welcome additions. CHECK OUT OUR FULL CES SHOW LIVE COVERAGE
_mg_1079 copy.jpg
Pentax MX-1 From an imaging standpoint, Pentax’s prettiest compact camera isn’t breaking much ground. It has the 1/1.7-inch sensor you’d expect to find in an advanced compact as well as tactile knobs for mode changing and exposure control. The body, though, is where the MX-1 really starts to stand out. It’s wrapped in a retro material for grip and uses brass in the body to make it feel sturdy. At $500, it’s a bit pricy for an advanced compact, but we can only hope to see more stylish bodies coming out of this line down the road.
_mg_1118 copy.jpg
Vanguard GH-300T Tripod Kit One of the most satisfying hands-on moments we had here at CES 2013 was using the pistol grip shutter release on this rather affordable tripod. The included cable lets you fire your camera without having to actually touch it. The swivel motion is smooth, the center column can be moved around and used like a zoom, and the two-way panning is ideal for panorama shooting.
_mg_1170 copy.jpg
Nikon D5200 The latest DSLR offering from Nikon has been announced in Europe for quite some time, but now it’s officially here in the states and it’s a lot of camera for its sub-$1,000 price tag. The new 24.1-megapixel sensor is combined with a 39-point AF system, giving it resolution and focusing performance above its pay-grade (at least on paper). Plus, it has a high-res, swiveling LCD display and it even comes in several colors. We’re eager to get this one in our lab.
_mg_1196 copy.jpg
Samsung NX300 and 45mm 3D It was actually announced a few days before CES even got started, but Samusng’s new camera and lens combo is one of the most interesting developments of the entire show. The camera itself looks promising, with an APS-C sensor, a slick new body design, and the ability to shoot 1080p video at 60 FPS. But, the lens is where the really cool tech kicks in. In 2D mode, operates like a traditional 45mm lens. In 3D mode, though, a pair of LCD shutters inside the lens alternate open and closed, very similar to the way their active shutter 3D glasses work. By capturing alternating frames from slightly different angles, you’re able to get true 3D 1080p video from a single lens. We actually saw the footage up close on a Samsung 3DTV and it looks impressive. And since it’s a full-fledged 2D lens as well, buying isn’t as much of a risk as past 3D lenses like the one made by Panasonic.
_mg_1205 copy.jpg
FujiFilm Instax Mini 8 It may have earned something of a reputation as a “hipster camera” and it’s not completely undeserved, but Fujifilm’s instant party camera is undeniably fun to use. The new version has automatic exposure modes that you can override using a simple switch for a little more creativity when shooting. It comes in a new selection of colors, as well. Is it a bit hip? Sure. And at $1 apiece, the photos aren’t exactly cheap, but bring this thing to a party and you’ll understand its appeal.
Canon PowerShot N Compact Camera While the retro camera aesthetic is still alive and very well here in 2013, Canon opted for the futuristic approach to camera form. They got rid of all the buttons and left navigation to an impressive 2.8-inch touchscreen and a pair of rings surrounding the lens. The camera itself is standard compact fare, but just holding the PowerShot N is interesting, if only because it doesn’t feel like every other rectangular compact on the market. Whether or not the concept is able to gain any real traction in the marketplace has yet to be seen, but in a segment of cameras that’s struggling to stay alive in the face of an ever-increasing threat from smartphone cameras, it’s nice to see something daring.
Panasonic HX-A100 Action cameras were one of the most common gadgets at CES this year, unfortunately, many of them were little more than blatant GoPro rip offs. Luckily, the Panasonic action cam doesn’t fit that description. Unlike the GoPro, the optics and the actual recording device are separated so you have a little more flexibility about placement. The lens actually has two positions so you can zoom a little bit to narrow the field of view if 170-degrees is too wide. The camera itself is a little bigger than we expected it to be, but it’s light and has wifi to stream video to mobile devices. It’s coming later this year, but no word on price just yet.
Sigma DP3 Merrill Fixing a 50mm F/2.8 lens to the front of an APS-C-toting compact is an unexpected move for Sigma. But, there are likely shooters out there who have been looking for a simple portrait machine like this for quite some time. We really like the way the other DP cameras handle, and this just offers one more focal length option.
Olympus TG-2 iHS Rugged cameras are typically heavy on the armor but light on the imaging specs, but Olympus has been trying to buck that trend with the TG series cameras. They’ve continued that with the new TG-2, giving it a fast 4x F/2-F/4 lens and a 3-inch OLED display that’s beautiful and, more importantly, bright so it can be seen when shooting in the sun. And while the design is a little different than most traditional advanced compacts, it’s not as gaudy as some tough cams from the past. CHECK OUT OUR FULL CES SHOW LIVE COVERAGE
Hoya HD2 filters Thanks to ultra-hard glass, these filters are about as tough as they come. Hoya claims that they’re a full four-times harder than typical filters. Then they hit one of them with a pipe and it didn’t break. Impressive. There are three varieties available, including a UV, a circular polarizer, and a transparent protector filter that saves the front element from impacts and grime without affecting image quality.