New camera formats debut at CEIF 2014 (Photofair)


Point-and-shoot replaced by action cams and lens cams; SLRs and lenses become affordable

The Consumer Electronics Imaging Fair 2014, in Mumbai

Good footfall at the fair, but teeming crowds made it difficult to walk around the photo fair.

The Consumer Electronic Imaging Fair (formerly called Photofair) is an annual event, conducted alternatively in Mumbai and New Delhi. Organized by the All India Photographic Trade and Industry Association (AIPTIA), the event was held in Mumbai between 9 – 12 January, 2014 at the Bombay Convention and Exhibition Center, Goregaon. The fair is patronized by thousands of photography enthusiasts, solutions providers, amateur & professional photographers from all over India.

This year the absence of camera giants Canon and Nikon was profound, though Sony, HP, JVC, Pentax, Ricoh, Panasonic and others made up for the loss.

CEIF also confirmed the death of the point-and-shoot camera, since camera technology in smart phones has now caught up. But new formats like action cameras and smartphone attachable lens-style cameras made an entry.

IMG_0501

The camera in a lens. Use your smart phone screen as the viewfinder.

We visited the Sony stall and got a demo of the new lens-style cameras — DSC-QX100 (for professionals) and DSC-QX-10 (amateurs). At first glance we could tell that this is an entire camera fitted in a lens, minus the viewfinder. Your smartphone screen is the viewfinder. The lens camera relays images to your smartphone over Wi-Fi. The lens camera straps on to the back of your cell phone, but does not make use of your phone lens or phone flash. We’ll come to the specs in a moment.

We asked the Sony official about its application. Apparently, the lens can go into nooks and crevices that are beyond reach for a typical camera. For instance, if you want to capture a shot of a fox in its hole, or a kitten that hides in the hole of a wall, you’d take the lens in your hand and place it closer to the subject. The Sony representative explained that it could also be used for wildlife photography, where you can’t get closer to the animal, to take a shot. But you can place the lens near the spot and move away, monitoring the shot on your phone and remotely controlling the lens through an app on the phone.

Image credit: Sony Corp.

Image credit: Sony Corp.

Getting down to specs. The DSC-QX-100, priced at Rs 24,990 is a 20.9 megapixel camera with a CMOS image sensor and a SLR style control ring. It has a F1.8 Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar T* lens with 3.6x optical zoom. The other highlight is the BIONZ image processing engine which converts the raw image data from a CCD or CMOS image sensor into the format that is stored on the memory card. So a copy of the image, smaller in size, is made on the memory card — and you can upload it to a website or share it via email. The original image is left on the lens camera. According to Sony, BIONZ imaging engine transforms data captured by the CMOS sensor into “stunningly beautiful” images with accurate colour, rich tonal gradations and minimal noise. For connectivity, it offers both NFC and Wi-Fi.

The DSC-QX-10, which  costs Rs 12,990 is an 18.9 megapixel camera. It has a Sony G lens that offers 10x optical zoom. Like its elder sibling the QX-100, it has BIONZ image processing, NFC and Wi-Fi. Both cameras come with a smartphone bracket or attachment.

With a lens style camera, you can get beautiful images without lugging around a bulky SLR and a bag full of lenses.

Action Cameras

Action cam

Note the camera mount on the handle bar.

Sony, Panasonic and others make HD video cameras that are used by sports enthusiasts and athletes. They come with water-proof enclosures or special brackets for mounting on cycles, headgear and other sports equipment.

SLRs become affordable

But SLR cameras, which were once the staple of professionals and affluent photography enthusiasts, have now become affordable, sinking below the Rs 50,000 price point. We see more photography enthusiasts and hobbyists upgrading to the SLR platform, as prices for entry-level SLRs and lenses continue to fall.

sony Alpha

The Sony Alpha comes with a kit lens, telephoto lens, plus accessories — all for $800.

Manufacturers like Canon and Sony are wooing amateur photographers with sub-Rs 50,000 packages, that include the camera body, kit lens and also a telephoto lens. For instance, at CEIF, Sony was offering a package for Rs 43,990 that included the Alpha SLT-A58K body + standard kit lens (18 – 55 mm) + telephoto lens (55 – 200 mm). During the Christmas season Canon was also offering similarly priced packages for its EOS 600D and EOS 1100D cameras.

Teeming Crowds

With swarming and unruly crowds at the fair, jostling and pushing, or squatting in the aisles, it was at times difficult to walk in the aisles, and spend enough time at the stalls. By day two 27,000 people had visited the fair, and crowd control was a serious problem — something the organizer might want to look into for the next edition. But overall, the fair was well organized, with an entire hall set up just for registration (no separate media registration though), and another for the fashion show, with the expo held in a separate hall. CEIF 2015 will be conducted in New Delhi between 8-11 Jan.

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