Photo makers go wild

Barrie Smith
13 May, 2008
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Straight out of the starting gate I am enthralled at the current activity in camera companies as they decide what to do about the internal tussles between compact cameras and dSLRs. Some fixed lens compacts — from the same company — seem to be fighting with dSLRs in terms of features. Take a look at Olympus’s 20x digicam versus Nikon’s 18x job. They both make dSLRs too!

And what about the flood of low cost, multi function printers that can print, fax, scan, make the tea and empty the bins? What is the world coming to?


Last year 822,000 compacts were sold, despite rising sales of dSLRs. There’s been a trend towards high res compacts: 48 percent of cameras sold have a 7-8 megapixel resolution. Sales of high-performance 8-9 megapixel cameras also increased significantly.

Sales of dSLRs rose by almost 40 percent in comparison to 2006. It’s expected that the digital SLR trend will continue in 2008, at the expense of compact cameras.

Amateurs go! I’ve often thought that some amateurs could well match talent with some professional photographers. Note: I said "some" amateurs. In Sony’s World Photography Awards eight part-time photographers, armed with just their digital cameras, came in tops. One lad, a doctor from West Bengal, took the grand first place prize of amateur photographer of the year, for a shot of a local barber shaving a customer. The shot beat 26,000 other entries and picked up a prize of $US5000.

Figures down. Do you get the feeling that the general population is printered-out? Last year fewer American households bought a photo-quality printer than in 2006. It was reported that less than ten percent of all households and around 12 percent of digital camera owners bought one in 2007, compared to 12 percent of all households and 18 percent of digital camera owners in 2006.

The interesting thing is there is a trend towards large-format photo printers. Market share on these climbed in 2007, from 71 to 79 percent of all photo printers purchased. And … dSLR owners are roughly twice as likely as the average consumer to purchase a photo printer.

"Where are they now". Polaroid — yes, Polaroid — has announced a new, low cost digital camera: the i535.

The new camera is aimed at introducing people to digital photography. It has a five-megapixel CMOS sensor, 3x optical zoom and a 6cm LCD screen. It has 32MB of internal memory, plus an SD/SDHC card slot. Video can be shot at 640×480 pixels in Motion JPEG format. The kit includes a carry case and a flexible mini tripod. Nice idea!

ISO settings are limited to 50, 100 or 200. The macro mode allows shooting objects about 5cm away. Price a little over $US100, and we’ll tell you Australian pricing if and when we get it.

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