New Camera Features You Won’t Find in Smartphones
February used to be the big month for new camera announcements because of the PMA show. PMA has been renamed (CliQ) and moved to September but that didn’t stop camera vendors from showing some hot new cameras at the CP+ show in Japan. Here are some trends we see emerging from this latest crop of cameras.
Back Side Illumination
Adds More Light to Sensor

Sony gets credit for bringing this technology to the consumer. The problem with small image sensors is the wiring can reduce the available light collecting area on the sensor. Someone figured out that if you shave the back side of the sensor chip and flip it over, the wires end up on the back leaving more area exposed to gather light and hence better low light response. Sony figured out a way to make the process less costly and now several camera manufacturers are offering BSI in consumer cameras. It’s not without controversy as some claim this process creates more crosstalk between sensors creating artifacts in images. The new 12 MP Nikon Coolpix P300 has a BSI CMOS sensor and will be available for $330 in March.
Built-in GPS Adds Location Tags
for Mapping Photos

Not only will your new GPS-equipped camera like the very cool 14MP, 7x zoom Nikon Coolpix S6000 tag your photos but some cameras like the Canon PowerShot SX230 HS will not only track latitude, longitude and altitude, but can offer and the ability to log the camera’s whereabouts even when not taking pictures so an entire trip can be mapped along with photos taken along the way. GPS is becoming more common in cameras which store location information in the standard EXIF format inside JPEG files. The SX230 HS also boasts a 14x optical zoom, large 3-inch screen and low-light 12MP CMOS sensor and will cost $350. The 16MP GPS-equipped Fuji FinePix F550EXR has a 15x optical zoom and will cost around $350 in March.
Happy Mode and Skin Softening
Flatters Your Subjects

Scene modes have been around for awhile; portrait mode typically opens the aperture wide to blur the background, sports mode cranks up the shutter speed, landscape mode tries to optimize colors like greens and reds. Some new cameras like the very skinny new Canon ELPH 300 HS have added an intelligent auto mode and scene analysis that tries to optimize for the scene you are shooting. New cameras like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 have also added a bunch of fun new scene modes like fisheye mode, skin softening mode that removes blemishes and even happy mode that boosts color saturation.

Touch Shutter and Blur-Reduction

The new 14MP Nikon Coolpix S4100 has a big 3-inch touchscreen that you can use to adjust the focus, change a setting or even take a picture. The S4100 comes in colors and will sell for around $180. The S4100 also has some new blur reduction capabilities that minimize undesirable effects from camera shake, moving subjects or low light conditions.

Built-in Wi-Fi Connectivity

You can make almost any camera Wi-Fi-enabled with an Eye-Fi flash memory card but the new Samsung SH100 that was announced at CES this year has built-in Wi-Fi that you can use to transfer photos and videos to your computer or a social network site like FaceBook. You can also use DLNA or as Samsung calls their version AllShare to display photos on your HDTV.

3D Shooting Modes

The new Sony Cyber-shot can take two consecutive images with slightly different focus and create a 3D picture that can be viewed on a 3DTV. The 16MP, 16x optical zoom Sony camera will be available for around $350 in April. The 14MP, 16x zoom Panasonic Lumix also offers a 3D mode.
Ruggedized Cameras for Tough Assignments
When the going gets tough some camera enthusiasts get a tough camera. These cameras resist shocks, dust, freezing temperatures, and in some cases can also go underwater like the Olympus Tough TG-310 which will offer 14MP of ruggedized camera for around $200 in February. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 offers a 3D mode along with GPS and a 4.6x optical zoom. They say it’s good to 40 feet and can survive a 6 foot drop. It even has an altimeter, compass and barometer. The Pentax Optio WG-1 has many of the same features and even includes a row of LEDs for illuminating dark scenes.
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