The dust has settled on the Consumer Electronics Show of 2015, but with the thousands of new tech products hitting headlines this January, what trends, exactly, should photographers be taking note of? Amid the 4K TVs, wearable technology and unusual inventions, the photography industry welcomed a few new announcements in cameras, lenses, drones, data storage and printing. Here’s what technology is headed to the imagining world in 2015.
Cameras were admittedly, a disappointment at this year’s CES. There were a handful of compacts and extended zooms from Canon and Panasonic, but only two cameras advanced enough to interest enthusiasts and serious photographers.
The most exciting CES camera announcement comes from Nikon, as an update to their mid-range APS-C camera. The Nikon D5500 replaces the D5300 as the camera giant’s middle option out of three entry level models. While the tech guiding the image quality remains largely unchanged, the D5500 is the first Nikon DSLR to feature a touchscreen. The D5500 also continues the trend of smaller camera bodies, shrinking the size gap between DSLRs and mirrorless cameras.
Pentax also announced a DSLR, but hasn’t yet released the name or full technical specs. It does look to be the replacement for the K-50 and appears to have an APS-C sensor, but with only a handful of details, it’s hard to say where the new camera fits in.
While cameras are getting smaller, lenses are following that same trend. Out of Pentax’s three new lens announcements, the most notable is actually the 18-50mm kit lens, because it is collapsable. When collapsed, it appears to be as small as a prime lens. While collapsable lenses have been around for some mirrorless cameras, it’s a refreshing update to bulkier DSLR lenses.
Nikon is following the smaller-is-best trend as well, with a 300mm that they say is the lightest full frame fixed focal length AF lens. They don’t appear to be sacrificing features to get down to the smaller size either, offering 4.5 stops of image stabilization, ED glass, and electromagnetic aperture control. Technology called Phase Fresnel helps keep the size down while fighting distortion.
2015 could be described as the year of the drone, at least for CES anyways. Several dozen new models were on display with a variety of different features. Some models include a built-in camera, including one capable of shooting 4K video or 12 megapixel RAW, the DJI Inspire 1, while others allow you to rig any camera and lens mount. The new Airdog follows you (or whoever is wearing the wristband) around automatically taking video. While most use a remote, the Hexo+ is controlled completely via smartphone app. More are also becoming capable of ariel stunts, though these models have yet to see a battery life long enough to make them practical.
One thing is for sure, soon there will be a drone on the market to fit nearly any ariel photography need, and the more widely available the technology becomes, the more affordable it will be as well.
While storing images isn’t exactly exciting, CES 2015 brought more than a few image storage solutions worth noting. Samsung and Seagate both introduced remarkably small external hard drives, though a few stand out as advancing beyond just big capacity in a tiny size.
Canon has finally given a name and full details to the system they’ve been hinting at since 2010, now known as the Canon Connect Station CS100. Using wi-fi to connect to phones and wi-fi enabled cameras wirelessly, images and video can be easily uploaded to the system. The CS100 is designed to be used with a TV to display family photos and videos, like a Roku box but for photos. The 1TB of storage won’t be enough for serious professionals, but it’s worth watching to see how the technology expands in the future.
Toshiba also introduced a new form of memory cards. While they appear to be more gimmicky than actually useful, it’s an interesting change and indicates some potentially interesting advancements in the future. The cards can be read with a NFC-enabled Android smartphone, but it only allows you to see 16 thumbnails and how much space is available. Actually transferring photos would require adding a power source to the card, and NFC doesn’t have the bandwidth for that kind of transfer yet. Still, seeing the advancements offers an interesting glimpse into what might be possible a few years down the road.
While Polaroid certainly may not seem like a company making big CES digital photography announcements, their Zip Mobile Printer is worth taking a look.
Printing 2×3 images wirelessly from any smartphone or tablet, the Polaroid Zip is keeping in tune with the manufacturer’s foundation on instant, easily-shared physical images. But perhaps even more interesting is that the printer doesn’t use ink. Developed by Zink, the photo paper is made with embedded dye crystals. Heat from the printer determines which colors are activated to make the print, which is smudge-proof. The entire printer is about the size of a smartphone.
While designed for smartphone use, it’s worth noting and perhaps wondering if something similar might be in store in upcoming years for use with wi-fi enabled DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. The images print in under a minute, without the need for ink – an advanced version could come in handy for event photographers or photo booth style applications.
If this year’s CES is any indication, cameras and lenses will continue to get smaller without sacrificing on image quality, while accessories continue to expand in unusual ways. From drones to wirelessly printing images without ink, it’s bound to be an interesting year for photography-related tech.