Coming Attractions

This year’s combined Consumer Electronics Show / Photo Marketing Association extravaganza in Las Vegas kicks off today with numerous conferences and the exhibits open Tuesday.  In the run-up frenzy there have been several big announcements of new tools and near-confirmation of rumored trend-setters that should get the attention of anyone interested in the craft of photography.

Last Friday Nikon formally announced the D4, the long-anticipated update to their professional line of camera bodies.  This is an evolution to the vaunted D3S, the reigning king of low light performance.  Nikon has had two top-end pro bodies in the line-up—the D3S and the D3X with a 24.5 MP sensor optimized for high resolution and fine detail at low ISOs.  The D4 with full frame sensor now at 16.2 MP is still aimed at best-possible low light performance, not maximum resolution, and there’s no word yet on what may be in store for updated bodies with larger sensors other than persistent rumors of a 36 MP D800.  Time will tell.

On the rumor side, one of the most interesting is the Fuji X Pro 1.  While we have known that a new system of this nature was coming, Fuji has chosen to wait for its formal announcement tomorrow.   Many specs and photos are making the rounds, however, and if they pan out the X-Pro 1 looks it will be something to really delight traditionalists.  Fuji’s X100 made a big splash and while having some quirks has delivered excellent image quality from its 12 MP sensor.  The X Pro 1 will have interchangeable lenses, a 16 MP sensor, gorgeous styling, and even purports to have a lens adapter in the works to use Leica (and other brand) M-mount lenses.  If you ever enjoyed using a rangefinder film camera, it will be hard to image not being enthusiastic about this new entry to the field.

Of course there are other players as well.  Among the big guns, Canon so far has chosen not to enter the mirrorless interchangeable lens camera competition.  Now the tune is changing, and Canon has declared that they will release a mirrorless system in 2012.  In the meantime, they are releasing a new PowerShot G1X with a somewhat larger sensor than previous G models (size not yet determined).  Whether this will satisfy the appetite of Canon shooters for smaller cameras with extensive capability and flexibility that produce acceptably high image quality remains to be seen.

In memory cards, the recently announced XQD CompactFlash format is first reaching market reality from Sony, just in time to pop into one of the card slots on the new Nikon D4.  And on the more traditional front, Lexar will soon have a UDMA7 card capable of 1000X (150 MB/s) transfer speed, and a somewhat slower card with a capacity of 256 GB.  Hmmm; could this be another option for backing up images in the field?

There will be much more to come in the next few days, and in the year ahead ramping up to Photokina in September.

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