10 quick things you probably want to know about CES 2009.Wednesday, January 21st, 2009 by Giuseppe Piersantelli
Right now, thousands of blogs and websites are being populated with pictures, comments, press releases’ quotations and detailed technical information about the last edition of the Consumer Electronic Show held in Las Vegas (8-11 Jan). Well, I suppose some are covering Obama’s ceremony, too.
As the CES is so big and messy and plenty with innovative and strange gadgets, it would be impossible to deliver a complete coverage, from MP3 players to flat screen TVs and solar power cells. Indeed, I’ll try to point out just a couple things which make sense when it comes to digital photography. Here we go.
- The end of the Megapixel race. Small format sensors’ resolution has apparently reached its plateau (about 10-12 MP). Pushing the resolution (and the pixel density) beyond this value doesn’t seem very useful. Indeed, consumers hardly perceive the benefit of upgrading from, say, a 8 MP to a 14 MP as they rarely enjoy their pictures on large format prints; no way to display ten million pixels at their actual full resolution, as full HDTV resolution is smaller than a compact camera sensor. finally, people get frustrated when their email server refuses to exchange that beautiful set of hi-def pictures with their buddies; a 1024x768px jpeg file is more than enough for web browsing and email; most bridge cameras can shoot in RAW format
- interchangeable lens system is now available on non reflex cameras (Panasonic G1), allowing users to espand their shooting possibilities.
- some computational photography functionalities are becoming popular on many compact digital cameras and cameraphones as well: face detection, automatic scene detection, blink detection, HDR, continuous focus. Point and shoot cameras make now much more sense and deliver higher quality pictures
- Wi-Fi is not a popular feature yet. Sony Cybershot G3 integrates both Wi-Fi b/g and a full web browser; plus, Sonycreated an interesting ecosystem by partnering with AT&T (for wireless connectivity) and with Picasa and others (for on line photo publishing). Eye-Fi (SD cards with Wi-Fi chip) is working with camera manufacturers to integrate web publishing functionalities in new cameras’ menus.
- professional full frame cameras feature now 25 MP sensors but lack automatic features and Wi-Fi connections (actually not a big issue)
- strong convergence between still and motion pictures: now most compact digital cameras can shoot HD (720p) and/or full HD (1080p) video at 30 fps with efficient real time encodings (H.264 usually). Files are stored on hi speed (class 6) SD cards.
- Capture the moment: Casio EXF shoots 60 high resolution frame per seconds and lets you select and save the best picture/pictures. Pictures can be considered as single frames of a HD video. Users can finally get the right moment while taking pictures of people, sport, action.
- Consumer camcorders usually offer full HD video recording feature. Great success of low price pocket HD cameras (brought by Sony and Creative) with YouTube publishing features.
- some camera phones feature 8 MP, high quality lens digital cameras; the first camera phone with an integrated DLP pico projector has been presented by Samsung.
- While 32GB SD cards will be available on the market in February-March, manufacturers promise to ship Terabyte memory cards in 4-5 years.