2011: the year in cameras
31st Dec 2011 | 09:00
Our review of the year in photography tech
The Year in Cameras: DSLRs/DSLTs
It's been a big old year for new cameras, with over 100 making their debut onto the market. Included in that number is more than 75 compacts, 13 compact system cameras and 7 DSLRs or DSLTS.
So, let's take a look at the kit that Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, Olympus, Fujifilm, Casio Pentax, Sigma, Ricoh and Polaroid unveiled in 2011.
We've also included links to the full review (where applicable), should you decide that 2012 is the year to take the plunge and buy a new camera.
2011 in cameras: DSLRS/DSLTS
In terms of DSLRs and DSLTs unleashed on the market, it comes as no surprise that this is the arena we've seen the fewest releases. Canon and Sony have led the pack, with three releases each, while Nikon, which has perhaps been busy with the introduction of its first compact system camera, only unveiled one.
All the way back in February, Canon upgraded its entry-level SLR line, with the introduction of the Canon EOS 1100D and the Canon EOS 600D. The 1100D replaced the three-year-old 1000D and features a 12.2 million pixel CMOS sensor and 720p HD video recording. The 600D meanwhile features an 18 million pixel CMOS sensor, with full HD video recording and ISO expandable up to 12,800.
More recently, in October, Canon catered for the other end of the spectrum with the unveiling of the Canon EOS 1DX. The camera, which now sits at the top of Canon's line up, replaces both the EOS 1D Mark IV and the 1Ds Mark III. Packed with a 18.1 million pixel full-frame sensor, it won't actually be available until February so you have a while to save up those pennies yet.
Sony brought three new cameras featuring its innovative fixed translucent mirror technology to the market. First up was the Sony Alpha 35, with its 16.2 million pixel CMOS sensor, electronic viewfinder and ISO expandable up to 12,800 back in June.
In August, two more SLT cameras were announced. The most exciting (and expensive) being the Sony Alpha 77, which boasts a 24 million pixel sensor, replacing the Alpha 700. Other interesting specs include a 19 point autofocus system, 12fps continuous shooting and Full HD video recording. The a65 is the a77's little brother, it shares many of the core features, including the 24.3 million pixel sensor, but has a more attractive price.
Last-up in the DSLR introductions this year was the Nikon D5100, debuted back in April. Featuring the same sensor and processor as the D7000, this beginner friendly budget model also features a 16.2 million pixel sensor, an articulated screen and an 11 point autofocus system.
Read our Nikon D5100 review.
2011 in cameras: Compact system cameras
Growing in popularity ever since the first CSC was launched in 2008, this year in many ways has been the year of the mirrorless camera, with 13 models making their entrance. We've seen Panasonic, Olympus, Samsung, Sony and newcomers Nikon bring their offerings to the table, here's what they had to show us.
It's been a good year for Panasonic, which announced three CSCs this year. First up, the G3, which combines the compact camera styling of the GF line with more advanced handling and control. The Micro Four Thirds camera also features an in-built electronic viewfinder.
Then, just a month later, in June, the GF3 was revealed. The company's smallest and lightest compact system camera, it features a 12.1 million pixel sensor with a maximum ISO of 6400.
Finally, the camera that many people (us included), had been waiting for, the GX1 is Panasonic's "professional" compact system camera. Featuring full-HD video recording, a robust all-metal body, a three inch touchscreen and a 16 million pixel Live MOS sensor, the camera has been designed to fill the void left by the GF1.
Another manufacturer rolling out the big guns this year, is Sony, which also announced three new compact system cameras this year. First of all, the NEX-C3 is a beginner friendly CSC featuring an APS-C 16 million pixel sensor, it also packs a tilting LCD screen and 720p video recording.
Released together, the NEX-7 and NEX-5N were announced back in August. The NEX-7 sits at the top of the line-up and features an electronic viewfinder, and an impressive 24.3 million pixel backlit APS-C sized sensor.
The 5N, its little brother, features a 16.1 million pixel sensor, the same APS-C format sensor as other NEX cameras and a maximum ISO of 26,500.
Winning the award for potentially the oddest camera of the year, Pentax unveiled the Q back in June. The world's smallest interchangeable lens camera, the Pentax Q uses a 1/2.3 inch 12 million pixel rear-illuminated CMOS sensor, similar to that found in many compact cameras.
Read our Pentax Q review
Troubled manufacturer Olympus unveiled a trio of its PEN cameras at the end of June. The E-P3 is its new flagship model, with a Micro Four Thirds 12.3 million pixel sensor, which is shared between all three new cameras in the range. The more expensive E-P3 gets you a touchscreen and extra filters, while the E-PL3 (PEN Lite), the mid-range camera features a tilt out screen. The baby of the family, the E-PM1 or PEN Mini is targeted at beginners with novice friendly on-screen guides.
Like Sony, Samsung CSCs feature an APS-C sized sensor. The NX200 is the company's latest foray into the compact system camera arena, replacing the NX100 which was discontinued this year. The NX200's features include Full HD video recording, 7fps shooting and ISO expandable up to 12,800.
Read our Samsung NX200 review.
Speculation had been building for months that Nikon would introduce a mirrorless camera this year. Finally in September we got to see what they had been working on in the form of the Nikon 1 system. Comprising of two different cameras, the Nikon 1 V1 is the higher specced of the two, featuring an integrated electronic viewfinder, but without an inbuilt flash. The Nikon 1 J1 on the other hand requires use of the rear LCD only, but does have a flash. Both use the same CX format 10 million pixel sensor and EXPEED 2 processor.
2011 in cameras: compact cameras
It should come as no surprise that compacts made up the bulk of new releases this year, with over 75 making their way onto the market. Don't worry, we're not going to detail every single one here, or you may be reading this feature until next year.
There has however been some interesting developments in this arena, especially in the bridge camera and premium compact market. Pretty much of all the manufacturers have introduced a new compact camera this year, but here is our pick of the crop.
Canon Powershot S100
Canon's latest premium compact camera was unveiled in September as a replacement for the S95. It's packed with a host of new features, including a higher pixel count, a larger zoom, Digic 5 processor, inbuilt GPS and an extended ISO setting capability up to 6,400. Canon claimed that the S100 was capable of producing images with a quarter of the visible noise of its predecessor, and we were impressed by its performance in our review.
Read our Canon Powershot S100 review
You might be sick to death of seeing this camera advertised on television, but early indications suggest that this camera is doing well for Samsung. Featuring a flip-up screen capable of a full 180 degrees, it's unusual to see something like this on a camera so small. Sadly, the image quality didn't match up to its relatively costly price, but we still think it's one to watch as the price comes down in the new year.
Read our Samsung MV800 review
Sony Cybershot TX55
Taking the mantle as the world's slimmest compact camera, Sony appears to be trying to take on smart phones in the battle for precious handbag or pocket space. Measuring just 12.2mm thick, it manages to squeeze in a 5x optical zoom and 16 million pixel EXMOOR R CMOS sensor.
Nikon's first entry into the rugged compact market, the AW100 features a wide variety of assets, including a waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof and dustproof exterior and an impressive 5x optical zoom lens. It also has inbuilt GPS, full-HD video recording capability and in our review showed that it also manages to produce decent images too.
Read our Nikon AW100 review
Ah, the X10. Fujifilm had a big smash on its hands last year with the charmingly retro-styled, but still punch-packing X100. Keen to capitalise on that, it introduced the X10, its baby brother in September. The X10 uses a smaller sensor than the X100, favouring a 2/3inch EXR CMOS sensor and a 4x zoom lens with an aperture range between f/2 and f/2.8.
Will it have the same mass appeal as the X100? Only time will tell, but it's certainly one to watch, along with the upcoming Fuji CSC that is expected in 2012.
Read our Fujifilm X10 review.
Canon IXUS 230 HS
It's a rare day when a camera gets a full 5-star review from our steely band of reviewers. But, the Canon IXUS 230HS, released in August managed to achieve just that. Featuring a 12.1 million pixel back-illuminated CMOS, the camera uses Canon's HS technology and Digic 4 image processing to keep noise-levels down. It also has full HD video recording an 8x optical zoom lens, not bad going for something of its size.
Read our Canon IXUS 230HS review
Liked this? Then check out Canon vs Nikon: which DSLR should you buy?
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