CES Brings New Cameras

As expected, CES has brought quite a few new camera announcements. Two small cameras, are of interest to me in particular, especially since I recently bought the Nikon V1: Canon’s new mirrorless camera, the PowerShot G1 X, and Fuji’s interchangeable lens follow-on to the X100, the X-Pro1.

The PowerShot G1 X looks to be an evolution of the G-series with one very important change: the sensor size, which is now just shy of APS-C size. The G-series cameras have always had nice image quality, despite their small sensors. I’ve owned several of the G1 X’s predecessors, before switching to the Panasonic GF1 when it was released.

When I saw the headline announcing that the newly redesigned PowerShot was going to have a much bigger sensor, I thought briefly that I was going to regret the V1. Then I looked at a picture of the G1 X and knew that I wouldn’t; its viewfinder is the same kind of tiny optical finder that was so terrible on the previous G cameras. Too bad, because Canon could be the one to rock the enthusiast small camera market if they tried. But I won’t buy another camera without a first-class viewfinder. I’m sure it’ll make lovely images, though.

The Fuji looks much more promising. I loved the feel of the X100 when I briefly had one, and the X-Pro1 looks like it could be great too. The lenses look like what I’d hope for, especially the 35mm f/1.4. The hybrid viewfinder on the X100 was wonderful, and hopefully a year brings even more refinement to this part of the new camera. But I can’t bring myself to pre-order the beast, since I just don’t trust Fuji to have re-done the autofocus system into something great so quickly.

There were two big issues I had with the X100: AF was slow and inaccurate, and it had two modes, one for close-range and one for farther out. It wasn’t super simple to switch between those two modes, and it was constantly necessary, in my experience. It was hard to tell, when I was on the cusp of having to switch to close-focus mode, when I’d have to switch or if the camera was just having its normal difficulties focusing. Hopefully Fuji have made strides in the department, but to have completely gone from the buggy, hard-to-use AF of the X100 to something as seamless as the V1’s AF in one year would be near-miraculous. Maybe they have and I’ll wish pre-ordered one, but I just can’t.

On the big camera front, Nikon introduced the D4, which looks like the rightful heir to the top-of-the-line pro camera line-up. At $6k, I’m not in the market, but it sure does look pretty nice, especially for pros who are doing serious video work; it’s nice to see Nikon not let Canon run away here. But in my case, I don’t care about video in my DSLR. I’d rather keep the innovation on the still camera side of the equation, and that seems relatively stagnant where Nikon and Canon are concerned. Fine with me. I don’t want to feel like I need to spend that kind of money anyway.

Nikon also introduced the 85mm f/1.8 lens, which might just find its way into my bag. I’ve never been able to justify the cost of the f/1.4 model, but this cheaper addition might just be the ticket. I’ll wait and see what the images it produces look like before deciding if I need another lens for the big camera.