PMA in Las Vegas: new cameras cover old ground

Robert Dow

The groundhog poked his nose out of his house and apparently he did not like what he saw — or maybe he did. I get confused. Whatever happened with the U.S. weather rodent, whether he went back in his hole or came out and danced, his priests declared six more weeks of winter. This came as little surprise to people in the U.S. who have been enduring generally awful weather across the country.
In Las Vegas the weather was bright and sunny if a tad on the cold side causing the Las Vegans to wear mittens and the rest of us to laugh at them. I was in Las Vegas for the PMA show &ndash the photography industry conference. This year the show took place at the same time as the Shot Show a gun show. Get it?
The gun lovers were in the North Halls and the camera lovers were in the South Halls. I would go into the differences between the two different groups but that way leads to trouble. I will put it this way, in most cases it was pretty clear what doors people would be using and with whom it might be wise to avoid spirited discussion. Cab drivers made a point to ascertain excactly what kinds of shots you were likely to take, snapshots or pot shots, before they let loose with any opinions.
I’m in the process of writing up the PMA show for TechWatch but I can tell you this right now.Hold off on buying a camera. There is some really good stuff coming down the pike, or will be as soon as the camera manufacturers can get their heads around the idea that consumers expect really new features and capabilities — not incremental upgrades before they’ll abandon their cameras that are doing the job for new cameras that will do the job better. Some of the trends you’ll be seeing include:

* 14.2 MP cameras in all ranges because that’s the point at which digital meets the capabilities of 35mm film
* Low end digital SLR cameras with through the LCD view finding. (Yes, that is kind of a contradiction in terms but camera users have come to like composing through the LCD)
* Tiltable LCDs for DSLRs
* HD video for DSCs

So, why wait? If you bought a camera three or four years ago, there might not be enough of an advantage for you move up. Do you really need a few more megapixels? And, yes, through the LCD view finding is cool, but haven’t you already adjusted back to through the lens? Personally, I’m holding out for a new camera with a full frame sensor that doesn’t require me to take out a loan to buy it or a bionic arm to hold it up for any length of time.
In the DSC range, I could go for a DSC with really good video. I don’t have to have HD — it takes up too much storage space — but I would like to have one small camera for snapshots and video. I keep getting lectures from well-intentioned manufacturers who tell me good video and good still photography can not co-exist in one sensor. With the videos I shoot, however, I’m not sure quality is so important. It’s just important that I have the camera with me. For the most part products at PMA seemed to represent upgrades to the products that came out last year. Give it six months and see what the companies have to offer. Frankly, I’m going to wait until next year … maybe.