The entire camera world is in a state of flux at the moment; point-and-shoot cameras are being replaced by smarter phones with good-enough cameras, and accessory manufacturers know that us photo-crazy iPhone 5 owners are lacking the plethora of lenses, apps, and cases we once had available to us on the iPhone 4 and 4S.
That’s why, at this year’s CES, I expect to be hit with a title wave of lenses, gadgets, gizmos, cases, and apps that all promise to do the same thing: make your iPhone’s camera even better.
Here’s the thing: accessory manufacturers know how much we like to Instagram this and Facebook that, and with a new iPhone with Lightning connector on the market, they’d be fools not give us the i5-friendly accouterments we all demand. That’s why this year’s CES will be an ocean of camera gear, mini lenses, apps, cases, and other (probably weird) devices, all designed for the iPhone 5, all sporting brand new connectors so they can play nice with Apple’s Lighting port.
Hell, even Will.i.am will be trying to sell you an iPhone accessory.
But aside from new iOS camera tech, I actually think the most exciting photo gear will be in the mirrorless market. Little feather-weight cams that take great low-light photos, have higher-quality pixels than your iPhone, and excel at video in all lighting conditions are the norm now, and in an effort to win your dollars, Nikon, Canon, Olympus, and Fuji will all be battling to make their camera the one you whip out when you don’t want to just take a measly iPhone photo.
Rumor has it Nikon will most likely come to bat with a new 14-megapixel Nikon 1 J3 mid-tier mirrorless camera, and will round out their offering with a new entry-level model they’ll call the the S1 (probably 10 megapixels). Neither camera will be particularly ground-breaking, but rather updates to the already-popular Nikon 1 family of mirrorless bodies.
There’s also already buzz around mirrorless cams running Android.
Polaroid has all but admitted we should expect a new mirrorless Android-powered camera from them at this year’s show. (why yes, they do still sell cameras!) But unlike other models currently on the market, theirs will sport interchangeable lenses.
Photorumors has reported the new Polaroid camera will feature a 3.5-inch touchscreen, 18-megapixel sensor, and run Android 4. I just hope it’s better than the less-than-awesome Android phone Nikon released in August, the Nikon Coolpix S800c, which excelled at neither photo-taking nor running Android apps.
I love the idea of cameras-as-computers, running open operating systems that let us share pixels just like our phones do, but if Droid-cams are going to take over the galaxy, they’re going to need to be a heckuva a lot better than the phones we already carry to be at all compelling. I’ll be keeping my eyes out for them this year.
Those looking for new DSLR news should keep their fingers crossed for surprises. Nikon released two flagship bodies in 2012, the pro-level D4 and the budget full-frame D600, and Canon released their highly-anticipated 5D Mark III and EOS-1D X mid-year. Since flagship DSLRs aren’t updated that often, expect nothing new here at this year’s show, though, there a is hope.
It is possible that we will see a new crop-sensor DSLR, the D5200, from Nikon released at the their Jan. 8th press event. However, the more likely story here is we’ll just see some prosumer lenses and some new updated (read, megapixel bumps) mirrorless bodies and matching glass.
If the camera gods are truly pleased with us, we’ll see the rumored Canon 7D Mark II make its debut at this year’s show, which will cause me to emit a very audible and probably high-pitched squee. Specs for the mythical camera are said to include a 24.2 megapixel APS-C sensor, dual DIGIC V processors, dual memory card slots, new ergonomic design, and a 10.2 frame per second burst mode. Seeing this camera announced at CES is a longshot, but hey, it’s more probable than an Xbox 720.
The good news is, there’s a distinct chance at CES to see some new prosumer-level lenses from Nikon hit the floor, and if Canonrumors is right, we’ll see two new pro-level lenses from Canon—a 35mm 1.4L Mark II and 14-24 f/2.8L—that will again cause me to loudly squeak.
We’ll of course keep you updated on any hot new photo gear from the show floors at the Las Vegas Convention Center. I expect to be hit with a massive wave of new iPhone accessories shortly after leaving the airport concord, but I’ll be prepared this year—I’m bringing my snorkel.