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ILC Camera Makers Begin To Feel The Pinch

LAS VEGAS – In what is becoming a 2013 [email protected] tradition, the camera news will focus mostly on the point-and-shoot segment, leaving the more advanced interchangeable- lens camera (ILC) offerings for the spring and fall.

But just like last year, that doesn’t mean 2013 International CES won’t have a few offerings to tickle the F-stops of more advanced imaging enthusiasts.

Thus this year getting the feature mix right will be more critical. According to IDC, overall U.S. digital camera shipments for 2012 were expected to ring in 13 percent below 2011, with an 18 percent decline in the pointand- shoot segment.

Surprisingly, even the industry’s cash cow – ILCs – were tracking at a quarterly decline headed into the critical Black Friday period. That’s a first for the space, according to IDC.

“This does not bode well for stand-alone camera vendors, which up until now were pursuing ILCs as a way to continue to offer a compelling value proposition in the face of dramatically increased usage of smartphone photography,” said Chris Chute, IDC digital imaging practice manager. “Early indications are that the new iPad third generation, priced at similar price points to entry-level DSLRs, is having a cannibalistic effect on the ILC segment, similar to how earlier iPads had the same negative effect on the camcorder market.”

The NPD Group charted an 11 percent decline in DSLR unit sales through October 2012.

The following are a few of the advanced camera offerings on view at International CES this week:

Samsung will expand its popular mirrorless compact system camera family this week with the NX300 ($750 suggested retail), which is billed as a midtier CSC model.

The Samsung NX300 will ship in the first quarter along with the other new models. It will include the company’s Smart 2.0 technologies with dual-band Wi-Fi and intuitive operation with new 3D still and movie capture, improved hybrid AF and a premium retro modern design.

New in this camera a 3.3-inch AMOLED touch-screen and tilt display, and a 20.3 megapixel APS-C sized CMOS sensor. It features 1080p/60 fps video capture.

Nikon’s sister companies around the world introduced back in November the D5200 DSLR planned for markets including Europe and parts of Asia, but the U.S. sales team was mum for plans here.

Now we know why. The company is using International CES to introduce the advanced amateur’s interchangeable- lens camera for the first time to U.S. audiences.

The camera is slated to arrive here in February at a $799 suggested retail for the body only, and $899 for a kit including an 18-55mm lens. It will be available in three colors (black, red and bronze).

The D5200 packs a 24.1-megapixel APS-C sensor and the D7000’s AF/metering system. It has a burst shooting speed of 5 fps and 1080/60i videos.

It offers several improvements over the D5100, which continues in the line, including a 39-point autofocus system (up from the 11 points) and a 2,016-pixel RGB metering sensor.

The camera accepts SDHC and SDXC memory cards, and features a new Expeed 3 processor that helps lift burst shooting from four to five shots per second.

Video is enhanced with a built-in stereo microphone, and the D5200 is compatible with Nikon’s WU-1a wireless adapter to send images to iOS and Android devices.

Other features include a flip-out 921,000-dot TFT LCD screen, and a choice of camera body colors: black, bronze and red.

Polaroid by Sakar International is bringing a new dimension to the instant-photo brand with several interchangeable- lens cameras, including one incorporating the Android platform for smart camera wireless functionality.

The 18-megapixel Polaroid iM1836 is based on the latest Android 4.1 operating system and will bundle a 10-30mm optical zoom lens, when it hits shelves in the first quarter at a $399 suggested retail price.

The Polaroid iM1836 incorporates a Micro Four Thirds image sensor and will accept all existing Micro Four Thirds system lenses from Olympus, Panasonic and others, using an adapter.

Sakar said the Polaroid iM1836 will pair interchangeable- lens options, like those typically only found on more expensive DSLR cameras, with the popular Android OS.

The combination allows consumers of any skill level to achieve professional-looking results without the cost and complexity of a professional system, the company said.

The camera is equipped with a 3.5-inch capacitive touchscreen LCD, auto blink detection, auto face exposure and pop-up flash.

The camera will capture wide-angle panoramic shots and will record FullHD 1080p video, which can be output to a TV via a built-in HDMI port.

Built-in peer-to-peer Wi-Fi and onboard Polaroid photosharing apps enable users to instantly upload and share images with friends via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flikr, Vimeo and others.

When Wi-Fi is not available, built-in Bluetooth connectivity pairs the Polaroid iM1836 camera with any Bluetooth-enabled device to upload images and video through a mobile phone, PC or even iPod Touch.

In other camera offerings, Polaroid/ Sakar will also introduce the iM1030/iM1232 compact interchangeable-lens camera with an 18.1-megapixel Micro Four Thirds imaging censor, and a bundled 10mm-30mm lens.

The iM1030/iM1232 ($299 suggested retail) includes a 3.5-inch LCD display, HDMI output, auto blink detection and panoramic photo capabilities.

Model iM1232W ($349 suggested retail) adds an optional built-in peer-to-peer Wi-Fi capability.