Shortly after the ball drops, hundreds of new camera tech items are dropped—err, held up on pedestals—for the public to “ooh” and “awe” over at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. While not all-inclusive (Canon announcements, for example, were pretty low key this year), CES offers a pretty good indication of what gear photographers can expect on the market throughout 2016.
While the newest gear often is tied to a specific manufacturer, as tradition has it, the biggest trends often become wide-reaching and easy to find a few years out. So, what were the biggest camera tech trends that came out this year? These seven key announcements from CES offered a pretty good look at the trends of 2016.
Image Courtesy Nikon
ISO 3 million+
The biggest camera announcement, for pros anyways, is Nikon’s new flagship DSLR, the D5. While the $7,000 camera won’t make its way into a huge number of camera bags for cost reasons, in a few years that technology tends to trickle down into the more affordable DSLRs. The D5 is a pretty significant camera announcement in a lot of ways, like the 12 fps burst, 158 autofocus points and 4K video.
While all of those features are significant, the Nikon D5 also has a feature that will allow it to capture things even the human eye can’t detect: ISO 3,280,000. Yes, that’s three million. That high ISO, Nikon claims, can capture even more than the human eye can see in dark scenes. While I have yet to see an ISO 3,280,000 photo (which will undoubtedly be pretty noisy), the ability to photograph more than you can even see in the dark is nonetheless very intriguing.
Nikon isn’t the first to reach such high ISOs, but the first to do so in DSLRs. Canon just started shipping the ME20F-SH, dubbed a “multi-purpose camera” that shoots up to ISO 4 million and costs a pretty $20,000.
Image Courtesy Olympus
Micro Four Thirds pro telephoto capability
While there are quite a few mirrorless lenses available now, the format has been known for lagging a bit behind over the more traditional DSLR. But that’s slowly changing. Olympus announced a 300mm f4 IS Pro, which is really their first telephoto that can be considered professional level. On the 4/3 format, that’s a 600mm equivalent, offering a lot more reach for Olympus shooters. As a pro-level lens, it offers image stabilization—combined with the IS systems in the camera body, can can get up to six stops of stabilization. While smaller than a DSLR lens, it’s still pretty hefty at almost three pounds. The price tag is a bit large too, listed for around $2,500.
Before CES, Panasonic had a rather limited range as well, offering only six lenses longer than 100mm and none with wider apertures. Panasonic shooters now have one more option, with the 100-400mm (200-800mm equivalent) f4-6.3 lens. Wider than the older option, it’s constructed with a nine blade aperture and weather sealing. The lens will run about $1,800 when released in April.
Image Courtesy Nikon
Automatic backups with Bluetooth
Wi-fi enabled cameras have a few shortcomings—to preserve battery life, the camera has to be manually connected to the device and automatically disconnects after a few minutes. Besides just being annoying, that means it’s not really possible to set up automatic backups. Enter the Nikon D500, essentially an APS-C version of the D5, and its low power Bluetooth. Because Bluetooth isn’t as power hungry as wi-fi, cameras can keep their connection to mobile devices, which makes automatic backups possible. Most photographers would fill up their smartphone or tablet pretty quickly with automatic backups (not to mention overloading the data plan), but perhaps Bluetooth can be used as a future tool for automatic backups to an external hard drive. While Bluetooth could have some big future potential paired with wireless hard drives, Nikon’s new WT-7/A/B/C Wireless Transmitter offers even faster transfers, and those can be made to a computer instead of a smartphone or tablet.
Image Courtesy Canon
While mobile photo printing isn’t anything new, it is becoming a bit more feasible. Canon just introduced the SELPHY CP1200 Wireless Compact Photo Printer, which offers 4×6 prints in tech that weighs less than two pounds. Besides just connecting to mobile devices wirelessly, you can cut all the cords if you pick up the optional battery that prints up to 54 photos per charge.
The SELPHY CP1200 isn’t a professional photo printer by any means, but it could be a useful tool for photo booths and quick on-site prints. Perhaps a few years down the road, the tech will make it possible for smaller pro-level wireless printers as well.
Image Courtesy Nikon
Radio Wave Flash
Wiresless flashes offer a huge range of flexibility for off-camera lighting. Traditional wireless flashes use infrared frequency, which needs a direct line of sight to work. The Nikon SB-5000 is the company’s first flash to use radio waves instead, allowing for operation up to 98 feet away even with other objects in the way. That provides a bit more flexibility for creative lighting effects—like putting the flash around a corner or easier connection when backlighting a large object.
Image Courtesy Samsung
Small data storage
All these new advances in technology are leading to better photos, but that often means bigger file sizes too. Samsung impressed at CES with their storage capabilities, fitting 2 TB of storage in an external hard drive that’s about the size of a business card and weighs less than two ounces. The Samsung 2 TB T3 SSD Drive also features a shock-resistant build, making it even more ideal for taking on the go.
Image Courtesy Nikon
No one expected Nikon to announce the KeyMission 360 at CES. The camera giant’s first action camcorder, Nikon entered the market in a big way with a 360 degree perspective and 4K recording. Video recorded with the Keymission is interactive—you can swipe around to get a different perspective. Of course, with two 180 degree wide angle lenses, videos have a bit of the fish-eye distortion.
Full specs and a price haven’t been announced, but the camera giant’s entry into the action cam market certainly looks to be an intriguing one.