Jennifer Dudley- Nicholson
Prices plunge for digital cameras.
THE picture is bleak for digital cameras.
Multi- megapixel smartphones are stealing the camera’s thunder, local prices are under pressure as the Australian dollar climbs and consumers who already own two or three digital cameras demand compelling reasons to upgrade.
In the face of these challenges, the Imaging and Digital Entertainment Association predicts zero growth for Australian camera sales this year.
But rather than wallow in the gloomy forecast, manufacturers are arming new models for battle, with fresh photographic features, better lenses and significantly cheaper prices across the board.
Cameras are even borrowing features from smartphones, adding touch- sensitive screens and, in some cases, apps and internet connectivity.
Panasonic became the latest company to head off the challenge this month, revealing nine new still cameras and seven new video recorders to arrive before May.
The devices, unveiled on Norfolk Island, include a travel camera with a 30x zoom lens ( TZ30), a tough model ( FT4) that can dive up to 12m below the waves, and a $ 199 camera with an F2.5 lens ( FH8).
Lumix group marketing manager Alistair Robins admits the camera industry is under pressure, but says it is responding strongly.
Panasonic’s 2012 cameras will pack in extras including an auto- stitching panoramic mode, a high- dynamic range feature that combines two photos for the best exposure, and creative post- processing modes for striking effects.
Robins says prices will also be lower this year, even for advanced digital cameras.
‘‘ Five years ago a Lumix compact camera such as a TZ7 would have cost around $ 700 and this product had a 10x optical zoom, motion JPG video and weighed around 232g. Today with the TZ30 we’re announcing, you get a 20x optical zoom, full high- definition video, a MOS sensor and GPS in a slimline 190g body that costs costs 36 per cent less ($ 449).’’
Robins says smartphone use is clearly challenging digital cameras, but he argues it is also recruiting new photographers who will become more