The grand CES round-up

Olympus E-PL2

Camera announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show are usually focused on developments in the world of compact cameras, and this year has been no exception. So amongst FujiFilm’s unveiling of 16 cameras, Polaroid’s live webcast announcement that featured Lady Gaga, and Sony pushing its make.believe concept (yes, it really is pronounced make dot believe), what were the photographic highlights of 2011?

I’ll start with Olympus. They unveiled a clutch of new cameras, but topping the list were probably the XZ-1 and the E-PL2. The XZ-1 looks every bit as if it means to take on Canon’s S95 at the high end of the compact camera market, with its sleek, neat body, pop-up flash, and control ring. Oh, and its 28-112mm lens with 4x optical zoom and 10 megapixels of resolution, RAW capability and movie mode gives it a similar spec. Will it compete?

Olympus XZ-1, giving the Canon S95 a run for its money?

The E-PL2 is an upgrade on the E-PL1, with faster shutter speeds, increased ISO range, an increased exposure bracketing range, and not forgetting its 22 different scene modes, as opposed to 19 in the E-PL1. It also has a Live Wheel, for controlling key functions. It’s looking like a fairly fearsome mirrorless offering.

Olympus E-PL2, an upgrade on the E-PL1

Casio’s Tryx is the camera equivalent of a contortionist. It sits in a frame, but can pop out of it and rotate, whilst the LCD touchscreen is on a swivel, too. It means that you can shoot left-handed, right-handed, or no-handed. Kinda useful, I suppose.

Canon didn’t release a whole lot, but what they did bring back was the optical viewfinder on a compact camera. You’ll find one on the PowerShot A1200. A while back I was talking to the audio visual team in a leading UK department store, who said that people frequently asked for an optical viewfinder on a compact camera and left disappointed. It seems as if Canon might’ve been listening.

Fuji let loose 16 different cameras in one go, from a 30x optical zoom-enabled bridge camera, to an upgraded Z70, which is now the Z90, and rugged go-anywhere, throw-anywhere, drop-anywhere camera. Take a look at Gareth’s low-down on that lot.

Sony did the unthinkable and put 3D cameras on the open market, which leaves me shuddering, quite frankly.

The TX10, one of five 3D-capable cameras from Sony. Also available in shades other than urine yellow.

And there was Polaroid and Lady Gaga, with their camera-sunglasses, digital instamatic, and portable bluetooth-equipped printer. The printer could prove useful, but I get the feeling the rest are just fashion statements for Lady Gaga fans.

Polaroid's GL20 sunglasses, for space invaders

So what’s the verdict on CES 2011? If you ask me, quite a lot of quirk but not a lot of substance. There’s nothing that has made me go ‘Wow!’ and nothing that has left me drooling in a state of envy, desperately trying to prise my credit card from my wallet. What the rest of 2011 holds, who knows. But for now, my bank manager is feeling relieved.