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2009.03.11

It’s over already and it certainly appears to have been slower than during past years. While being on vacations during the conference itself, it turns out that most concrete announcements have been made in the preceding two months. A large number of small cameras, mostly minor upgrades to previous models have appeared, as well as quite a few ultra-zooms.

Kodak and Pentax have 24X optical zoom 12 megapixels cameras with 720p HD video recording and full-manual controls. Sony launched its 20X CMOS-bases ultra-zoom. Nikon has a mid-size ultra-zoom with a 15X optical-zoom lens in the form of the Coolpix L100. The compact ultra-zoom category, pioneered by the Panasonc TZ1 some years ago, is growing faster than ever and is bound to produce highly-sought-after cameras. This year’s new additions include: the 12 megapixels wide-angle 12X optical-zoom 720p HD capable with full manual-controls Canon Powershot SX200 IS, the 10 megapixels 10X optical zoom with full manual-controls Kodak Easyshare Z915, the 10 megapixels ultra-wide 12X optical zoom Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS1 and its 720p HD capable near-twin, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3.

Underwater and tough digital cameras are increasing with Canon having joined the club last month with their Powershot D10 and now Panasonic and Fuji with their TS1 and Z33 WP, respectfully. Both the Canon and Panasonic offering are both tough cameras with resistance to drops and freezing temperatures.

The realm of mirror-less interchangeable lens cameras is increasing concretely with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1, an HD-video capable version of their G1. Olympus and Samsung both declared their support for the idea by showing concept models to be launched between this and next year. This, of course, is to be continued…

Several lenses, the ultimate interchangeable lens camera accessory, have been announced during the PMA week. Micro Four Third cameras are getting a 7-14mm F4 and a rather dark but HD-friendly 14-140mm F4-5.8. Pentax expanded their Limited series with the DA 15mm F4 lens which sadly does not add any range to their relatively limited lens line-up, since the excellent DA 12-24mm F4 already covers the same focal lens and aperture. Still no word on when the DA* 60-250mm F4 will finally make its appearance, nor on my dream Pentax DA* 8-16mm F2.8 lens. Sigma introduced several reworked lenses. Of particular interest to wide-angle fans is the 10-20mm F3.5 which hopefully will be much better than the horrible F4-5.6 version it replaced. For the curious, the 10-20mm suffers from extreme vignetting, over 1 full-stop at the corners throughout its entire zoom range. Nikon launched their first DX prime, the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8 G, in the February. Finally, Sony announced that they will announce 6 new lenses later this year, including 2 cropped-sensor prime lenses, a 50mm F1.8 and 30mm F2.8, and a full-frame 28-75mm F2.8 which I probably already own but with the Konica-Minolta branding.

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