Curious about what’s in store for photography in 2013? Well you’re in luck! Most of the major manufacturers have just announced their lineups at the recently completed CES trade show, so here’s a little taste of what’s going to be hot this year.
It’s been a slow march to get to this point — a couple years ago, a sporadic assortment of cameras included WiFi capabilities to connect to your home network. Then a few apps started to trickle out. 2013 is finally the year where our devices are truly connected. More models than ever before now include WiFi (and some like the Galaxy Camera below even have cellular connections).
What’s different in 2013 is the ease of which you can now share your images. Sharing can often be done right from the camera’s touchscreen, without having to download the images to your computer first. Via the use of proprietary apps, it’s easy to get images from your “real” camera on to your smartphone so you can upload them to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Flickr. Even the process of connecting via WiFi has been simplified — Panasonic, for instance, allows you to simply tap compatible NFC devices together to initiate a connection. That’s a feature inspired by the many smartphones before it which have embraced NFC technology (Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry phones primarily — sorry, iPhone users).
Unique New Designs
Since smartphones have a home in everyone’s back pocket now, manufacturers have had to come up with unique new concepts and designs for their compact cameras to keep interest high. The Nikon Coolpix S01, for instance, is ridiculously tiny, easily able to be worn in the same style as a necklace. It has a footprint the same size as a credit card, but slightly thicker. Remember many years ago when flip phones (led by Motorola) got ridiculously small? This reminds us of that. There’s nothing else like it from a major camera company that can match its size or sleekness.
Also, check out the Canon PowerShot N below. Its form factor is nearly square and has no traditional shutter button or zoom lever like thousands of digital and film cameras before it. Instead, two rings around the lens are used for zooming and snapping shots. While it might seem odd at first, this new design is actually very intuitive and well thought out by Canon. Paired with the tilting screen, it makes getting great, stable shots from any angle a breeze compared to a smartphone.
Lastly, even dedicated video machines like this wearable Panasonic HX-A100 camcorder are sporting some really inspired design. And yes, that really is a video camera you see below, able to be twisted and tilted, swung and turned, flipped and flopped in any direction you want.
High resolution 4k video has been a mainstay of professional productions for a while now, but it’s just starting to trickle down to consumer devices. What is 4k video exactly? Today’s consumer devices used to top out at 1920 x 1080 pixels, shortened to “1080p” HD video, whereas 4k video offers double the pixels instead!
The first consumer device to support this in a big way is the new GoPro Hero3 Black Edition, and you’ll see it in more devices before 2013 is done. The only problem right now? 4k televisions are still on the horizon and a few years away from being popular, so there’s no easy way to consume this content yet.
Every year, the race for the most megapixels looks like it might slow down. And then, boom, one company comes along with a game changer. This year that company is Nikon, who now have three DSLR models (including their two entry level models) that come in at 24MP, and one that’s even 36MP! Canon has a couple models at 20MP or higher. The megapixel war never seems like it will be over! What will happen in 2014? 40 or 50 megapixels? Only time will tell.
In addition to unique camera designs, stylish high-end materials are being used to further differentiate traditional cameras from smartphones. Pentax just introduced a new camera with brass plates, and Fuji has been using a synthetic leather finish on many of their X-series cameras. Compared to mostly plastic smartphones, these premium materials provide a satisfying, tactile experience that’s hard to get in other consumer electronics. Cameras are no longer about only taking great pictures — they serve a style function as well, allowing you to pair your camera to your outfit like another accessory.
What We Won’t See
Camera companies are more conservative than smartphone companies, so we won’t see smartphone features like “face replace” or “time shift” to be widespread in traditional cameras just yet. Most new camera innovations from 2013 and beyond will likely come from out-of-the-box thinking in regards to software advances, and features borrowed from smartphones. The 3D fad is also done. While interesting, just isn’t supported widely enough across the rest of the technology industry. 3D televisions have mostly been a flop, 3D gaming devices have only a niche market, and 3D smartphones, tablets, and computer monitors are basically non-existent.
Which trends do you foresee for 2013 and beyond? Share your thoughts in the comments below!