Posts Tagged ‘PMA 2009’

PMA 2009 Goodies, Part 2 (Non-DSLRs)

In part 2 we’ll take a look at the huge realm of cameras outside DSLRs.  A boatload of compacts and ultrazooms and budget cams get announced every half-year, so I won’t highlight every single one, but we’ll take a look at some of the interesting products and general trends.

Bajillion-x Megazoom

Olympus' 26x zoom SP-590UZ

Olympus' 26x zoom SP-590UZ

An interesting thing about the “Megapixel Wars” is that the public’s fascination with megapixels as a selling point have somewhat waned.  I don’t have particular evidence of this – perhaps it’s just media emphasizing it less, or perhaps even that I’ve become so jaded with the numbers that I’ve mentally blocked it out. And in any case, I’m certain that any such effect that’s been noticed has purely been with the semi-educated consumer – there are still millions of consumers who have no idea how to evaluate cameras aside from megapixel count.

But as the emphasis on megapixels seems to recede, another emphasis over ever-skyrocketing optical zoom ranges mounts.  Back in the old days, ultrazooms hit 10x (something like 38-380mm or 36-360mm equivalent), and inched up to 12x and pretty much stopped there.  About two years ago, Olympus changed the dynamic of this race completely with its groundbreaking SP-550 UZ which packed a whopping 18x (28-504mm) zoom.  Olympus had about a 6-month monopoly on this range, but ever since then, manufacturers have been pushing their lenses to ever stratospheric heights.

A lot of people have decried this extreme push in lens design, which certainly has its drawbacks.  The SP-550’s 18x lens was universally panned for delivering terrible image quality, and no camera since then has really been able to deliver that kind of zoom range in a lens that is up to par with the previous generations’ more conservative 10x or 12x lenses.  Unlike pixel count, however, which past a certain point doesn’t given any usable advantages for most users and applications, a larger zoom range will always add more versatility.

So PMA saw the introduction of no less than 5 such ultrazooms (4 new releases and one North American re-release) having 20x+ zoom ranges.  A quick summary of them:


PMA 2009 Goodies, Part 1 (DSLRs)

The Photo Marketing Association’s Annual show – PMA 2009 – recently came and passed.  For those of you who don’t know, PMA is like the E3 of photography, where companies making everything from cameras to printers bust out the goods and new releases.  It, along with the bi-yearly Photokina in the Fall, are when the majority of product announcements come out.

Depending on the market segment you were interested in, this year’s PMA could have offered a healthy bounty, or simply have been a dud.


If you were in the DSLR market, there was barely anything new emerging on the landscape.  Neither of the big two – Canon and Nikon – released any new DSLRs, with just two specialty tilt-shift lenses from Canon and a “normal” APS-C prime in the new 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX from Nikon making headlines.  Pentax, in what seems to be an ongoing niche market they’re targeting, came out with a 15mm f/4 pancake.  And Sony, surprisingly, produced nothing of note.

Nikon 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX

Nikon 35mm f/1.8 AF-S

Nikon 35mm f/1.8 AF-S

For the Nikonians out there, the new prime is an encouraging sign that Nikon is finally getting with the program and pumping out AF-S lenses for its entire range.  For one, this gives a modern and fast-focusing midrange prime for APS-C crop users, which will finally provide an alternative and offer some competition to Sigma’s 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM which was previously the only lens in this market segment.  Canon still lacks a real solution for this range, forcing users into the bigger and much more expensive 35 f/1.4 L.