With many of the big boys absent, the stage was clear for some less glamourous names to take centre stage.
If there is one area where CeBIT really isn’t at the cutting edge it is digital photography. The likes of Nikon, Canon, Pentax and Fujifilm have all chosen not to attend the German air hanger fest in recent years and mutli-sector vendors such as Acer and Sony chose to emphasise other product areas. That doesn’t mean we came back completely empty handed though…
BenQ is a company many wouldn’t associate with digital cameras but it provided the highlight of the show for me this year with its X610. Unveiled especially for the show, it officially became the world’s slimmest six megapixel camera to sport a 3in LCD. This might sound like rather a specialist award but with both specifications becoming the defacto features of choice in 2006 it makes the X610 surprisingly desirable.
In hand it certainly feels compact too and, as my first real world contact with a camera incorporating a 3in LCD, the 230k screen is a joy to behold. The squared four way rocker reminds me a little of Casio styling but that’s no bad thing. Elsewhere all the usual boxes are ticked: VGA 30fps video, USB2.0 connectivity, PictBridge compatibility and on and on.
Sadly, there’s one catch: it won’t be on shelves until Q3.
Though the X610 was my first hands on look at a digicam with 3in LCD it didn’t take me long to find another.
Sanyo’s six megapixel Xacti E60 may have been a little porkier than the X610 but it does add touch screen functionality to the mix along with built in image stabilisation and a touch sensor for fast focusing. The reps on the Sanyo stand couldn’t give me any definite UK release details but suggested we’re looking at a time scale within the next two months.
Over at Panasonic there was one clear show stealer too: the DMC-L1, the company’s first entry into the digital SLR market.
Like many D-SLR cameras it features a nice 2.5in LCD, 7.5m effective pixels and comes with rather traditional styling but the distinguishing points are the shutter speed control dial on the camera body and aperture ring on the Leica D Vario-Elmarit 14-50mm/F2.8-3.5 lens.
Panasonic also claims the Venus Engine III image processor delivers stunningly quick performance. Sadly, I was unable to test these claims out because the only display model was locked away behind glass on a rotating mount. That said, considering my limited photographic abilities (as my picture of the DMC-L1 itself demonstrates) you’re probably better waiting for our resident guru Cliff to get his mitts on one.
Of the big name camera manufacturers only Casio put up a decent showing with a large, plush stand though nothing was new in terms of technology. That said, the S600 and Z600 are always worth a grope and I’d forgotten just how slim these powerful cameras are.
The Z600 (above) is a slip of a device but still manages to pack in 6MP, a 2.7in LCD, AV output, anti-shake DSP and a stunning 550 photo battery life.
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The colourful S600 range similarly manages 6MP and anti-shake DSP but adds in Mpeg4 movie compression and manages to squeeze it within a 90 x 59 x 16mm body (13.7mm at its thinnest point). Both cameras are out now, so if this little memory jog starts a fire burning you know where to go.
Elsewhere, Kodak was also doing the rounds but its flagships: the WiFi enabled Easyshare One and dual lens V570 (above) have been around the block as many times as Courtney Love. Both models are available online with significant discounts these days, with the Easyshare’s £398.99 RRP slashed to just £239.99 on Kodak’s own site and the V570 going for £269.99.
As I said, CeBIT isn’t really the place for cameras…