Here's an interesting riddle: If integrated cameras on smartphones and cell phones are so much better than what they were just a few short years ago, why are there so many crappy mobile photos on the Internet? Figure that one out and we'll assign you a similar case related to YouTube videos. But we digress. The real point here is that smartphone cameras are continuously improving and are now responsible for snapping more than a quarter of photos and videos.
You don't necessarily need to rock a digital SLR camera to get the benefits of a CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor, in case you were wondering) image sensor. According to market research firm iSuppli, digital still cameras have started adopting CMOS senors in place of CCDs (charge-coupled devices) at a rapid rate. By 2013, iSuppli says there will be more CMOS point-n-shoot cameras than CCD equipped ones.
Full HD recording is quickly becoming a standard feature in new point-n-shoot digital cameras, and this, along with several other features, are packed into Panasonic's new Lumix FX78 ultra-compact.
Despite its diminutive size, Panasonic equipped the FX78 with a 12.1 megapixel high-speed CCD sensor. It also boasts a new Smart Touch operation on its sizable 3.5-inch 16:9 LCD screen. One of the cooler bullet points is the ability to auto focus on a subject just by tapping it on the screen. Once touched, the FX78 tracks the subject, even if it/he/she moves about.
Other features include a Scene Selector mode, 24mm ultra-wide angle lens, 5x optical zoom, F2.5 aperture, image stabilization, face tracking, and more.
Panasonic will offer the Lumix F78 in gold and white models starting in March for an as-yet undetermined price.
More and more companies are mixing old school aesthetics with new school functionality, one of those being Fujifilm with the introduction of its FinePix X100 point-n-shoot digital camera.
Adorama has the pricey camera up for preorder at $1,200, though there's no word on when it will ship. That seems awfully high for a non-DSLR, but if you talk to Fujifilm, they'll tell you it's worth every penny.
"Inspired by the beauty and form of classic cameras from the past, the FinePix X100 combines all the latest technical digital innovations in a beautiful, traditional chassis which oozes class and prestige," Fujifilm explains.
Top-level dials made of metal offer up fine grain control over exposure when snapping 12.3MP photos. There's a programmed auto mode, aperture priority mode, shutter priority mode, and full manual mode, as well as a 2.8-inch LCD and high-speed contrast AF.
Samsung's latest WB700 point-n-shoot digital camera lets you get up close and personal -- real close and personal -- with a 24X zoom lens. Skeptical? You should be -- it's actually a still-impressive 18X optical zoom supplemented by a 1.3X "Smart Zoom," Samsung says.
The camera sports a 24mm ultra-wide Schneider KREUZNACH lens and a 16MP CCD sensor. Full manual control is part of the spec sheet, and so is the ability to record full 1080p high definition videos (H.264 format).
Other notable features include RAW file format support, built-in software, an advanced noise reduction algorithm Samsung says "actively cancels out the zoom noise," andd digital image stabilization.
Olympus isn't quite ready to detail its upcoming compact digital camera, but from what little the company did say, we can't wait to find out more.
That's because Olympus claims to have developed the world's first digital compact camera with an integrated Zuiko lens. The new model, which doesn't have a name yet, will serve as Olympus' flagship compact cam.
The only other thing Olympus is willing to reveal at this point is that "in addition to the lens from the undisputed experts in high-quality and award-winning Zuiko system, the new camera is equipped with an accessory port and thus compatible with the accessories of the Olympus PEN-be models."
Olympus plans to launch the new camera sometime in the first quarter of 2011, and will presumably reveal a bit more about this mysterious point-n-shoot well before then.
Shout it with us: No more wires! That's the idea behind Samsung's PL90, the company's latest point-n-shoot camera with a built-in USB connector. No more fumbling around your bag for that USB cable, just flip open the connector and jam the digicam right into a free USB port.
"We want consumers to enjoy the entire photographic experience through the PL90, with the ability to capture, connect, and share pictures instantly and even charge on the move," said Sangjin Park, President of the Digital Imaging Business, Samsung Electronics. "In this fast paced world, we understand that our customers need to have these capabilities at their fingertips, and the PL90 puts this power in their hands. The PL90 is further evidence of the continued innovation behind Samsung cameras."
More than a one-trick pony, the PL90 comes packed with a respectable spec sheet. There's a 12.2 megapixel sensor, 4x optical zoom, a 2.7-inch LCD screen, 30FPS VGA movie mode, red eye fix, and a handful of proprietary technologies.
Sony's just-announced TX5 Cyber-shot digital camera might just be a dream come true for clumsy or masochistic photographers.
Unlike your wimpy point-n-shoot, the TX5 can be dunked in up to 10 feet of water, which means you can safely take it snorkeling and capture the underwater world in photos, panoramic shots, or 720p HD video.
Sony also claims its TX5 is freeze-proof down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, so once you're finished with your vacation in Hawaii, you can head over to Aspen and take it on the slopes. And should a sand storm blow through the Colorado mountains (or in areas you're much more likely to be caught up in such a scenario), the TX5 is dust proof. It's also shock-proof and able to withstand drops from about 5 feet.
"Only Sony can deliver a technology packed, ultra slim, fashionable T-series camera that is also durable. Until now, you couldn't have it all in one camera," said Kelly Davis, director of the Digital Imaging business on Sony Electronics.
Available in silver, black, pink, green, and red, look for the TX5 to ship this April for around $350.