The one great thing about the Photo Marketing Association show (aside for being near Disney World!) is that it allows journalists (or anyone else) enough time to talk with all the camera companies and actually play around with the equipment. Nearly every company allowed me to pop a memory card into their cameras (even some that were pre-production) and take all the test shots I wanted to -- often shots of the PR, marketting, or engineering reps whom I forced to model for me.
So, rather than summarize everything I saw at the show -- which you can already read about on various Web sites and blogs -- I decided instead to show you some of the noteworthy things I observed. (Click photso to get larger -- 800-pixel-wide -- versions.)
Everybody wants to take nice photos indoors, where the light is usually low. And some of the camera companies want to help them out.
Sony, for example, is pushing all of its new cameras to ISO 1000 sensitivity. I wrote up several of the new models (with sample images) a few days ago. Here' one that I missed -- The H5. It sports a hefty 12X zoom lens with optical image stabilization like it's predecessor, the H1. But this camera also carries a lens meeting the strict standards set by Zeiss. Such a lens was noticeably absent from the H1.
The H5 did a pretty good job with high sensitivity through about ISO 400, as you can see from these photos (of my victim from Sony PR) that progress to higher and higher sensitivity from top to bottom.
And finally ISO 1000
In addition, I took advantage of the new higher resolution still shots (4MP) from Sony's extremely cool new mini high-def camcorder, the HDR-HC3. Not bad for a camcorder.
And it really is a tiny machine - at least compared to other HD cams. Here it is in my hand.
Both Kodak's V603 and Panasonic's FX01 slim cams are doing a nice job with pixel noise at high ISO. Of course, for them, "high" means ISO 400. But at least they are managing that pretty well. The Nikon P3 didn't appear to do quite as well. But I beleive it was a preproduction model, and the setting was a tad darker. So I'm reserving judgement.
Here, at ISO 400 are:
and the Nikon
Still no match for a pro camera
But to prove that SLRS are still way better than pocket cams, here are some tantalizing clean-looking images from Canon's new 30D semi-pro camera at: