The big camera trends to emerge from this year's International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) were focused on what differentiates these devices from their smartphone competition -- namely lens and image quality and professional performance.
Panasonic unveiled nine point-and-shoot digital cameras some of which, such as the Lumix ZS30, feature both wi-fi and NFC connectivity and enable the owner to use their smartphone or tablet as a remote control, viewfinder and photo gallery. Most of the range also sported an understated matte black look, doing away with the design cues of earlier Lumix cameras that featured brushed aluminium or metal-effect inserts and lens housings.
It wasn't just Panasonic that was looking back to old-school styling. Fujifilm's X100S and X20 cameras had onlookers pining for the 1960s. The camera housings looked like something straight out of "Blow Up" or "From Russia With Love," with textured back synthetic leather wrapped around a magnesium body. Even usually ultra modern, ultra plastic Samsung got in on the act with its NX300 micro four thirds or hybrid camera which combined classic looks from the heyday of analogue photography with lens arrays and technology that enable it to take 3D still photos and connect via wi-fi.
Even companies such as Nikon, Canon and Polaroid, which hadn't quite jumped on the retro bandwagon, seemed to have decided less is more and all went with very minimalist designs for the their latest hybrid offerings. Polaroid went one step further with the launch of the world's first Android-powered interchangeable lens camera, the iM1836, which though lacking in quality compared with vanguard companies such as Nikon, beat its competition in terms of value for money. At prices which start at $399, its cameras are priced to appeal to consumers as well as ‘prosumers' and its lens adaptors mean that accessories from other companies will fit its products. Nikon also showed that it had one eye on the consumer market and on enticing hobbyists to become enthusiasts. Its J3 and S1 hybrid cameras are available with a lens kit for $600 and $500 respectively.