THE COM­PACT COME­BACK

The com­pact cam­era is not dead and out. In fact, it is now load­ing it­self with new fea­tures to stay ahead of its ri­val, the smart­phone

Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - CONTENTS - BY NANDAGOPAL RA­JAN

The en­try-level point-and-shoot is dead. And, this un­timely demise has to be at­trib­uted to the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of the cam­era phone. There are two other fac­tors that make the phone cam­era more pop­u­lar – it is al­ways there in your pocket and shar­ing the re­sults is as easy as press­ing a but­ton.

Faced with this new chal­lenger, com­pact cam­eras have been on a path of evo­lu­tion for a cou­ple of years. On one hand, they have been bring­ing in fea­tures which a phone cam­era can­not at the mo­ment, while on the other it has been try­ing to do things which the phone can and it can­not. So now you have cam­eras with op­ti­cal zooms of 20x or be­yond and the abil­ity to use mul­ti­ple lenses, both fea­tures a phone cam­era can­not of­fer. There is also a move to­wards adding con­nec­tiv­ity to cam­eras by pro­vid­ing ev­ery­thing from Wi-Fi to SIM card slots. Then some com­pacts are also try­ing to add brains in the form of phone-like op­er­at­ing sys­tems that open up the en­tire world of apps on a cam­era.

Sa­j­jan Kumar, vice-pres­i­dent of Nikon In­dia’s Imag­ing Di­vi­sion, said in the near fu­ture the cam­era in­dus­try will re­volve around de­vices that fit into the stay con­nected any­where, any­time zone. “With ‘so­cial’ be­ing the buzz word, it is im­per­a­tive to stay a step ahead and bring tech­nolo­gies which pos­sess ca­pa­bil­i­ties and fea­tures en­abling users to in­stantly upload cap­tured im­ages to so­cial net­work­ing web­sites. Nikon is leav­ing no stone un­turned to cater to the di­verse needs of the con­sumers by bring­ing in tech­nolo­gies like An­droid, Wi-Fi, built-in GPS and world map,” he adds.

In fact, Nikon was the first to in­tro­duce to In­dia the new range of com­pact mir­ror­less cam­eras that give users the ver­sa­til­ity of mul­ti­ple lenses on a com­pact body. The re­sults of th­ese cam­eras are as good as those of DSLRs. Canon says com­pared to a phone pho­tog­ra­phy en­thu­si­asts would “pre­fer a bet­ter look­ing gadget with a good op­ti­cal zoom lens and im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion fea­ture to get a per­fect pic­ture”.

One com­pany that is do­ing a lot in the range of com­pact mir­ror­less cam­eras is FujiFilm. In fact, it is push­ing the en­ve­lope fur­ther with the Pre­mium Com­pact seg­ment fea­tur­ing cam­eras like the X100S, X20 and XF1 which prom­ise DSLR-like im­age qual­ity and ver­sa­til­ity. Ro­hit Pan­dit, EVP, Fujifilm In­dia says their un­der­stand­ing is that ev­ery pro­fes­sional cam­era user who uses heavy gears to cap­ture pho­to­graphs also yearns for a de­vice which has su­pe­rior fea­tures and is light , com­pact, easy to han­dle . “High qual­ity im­ages can be taken from pre­mium com­pact cam­eras which of­fers flex­i­bil­ity and are at the same time has­sle-free as they don’t have bulky bod­ies and lenses. Ideal buy­ers for this seg­ment are pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­phers and pho­tog­ra­phy en­thu­si­asts.”

When we talk about pre­mium com­pact, it is hard not to men­tion the Sony CyberShot DSCRX1, a 35mm full-frame cam­era that is not much larger than a mid-sized com­pact. But this cam­era can do bet­ter than pro­fes­sional ones when it comes to por­trai­ture or low-light pho­tog­ra­phy. But then this is a cam­era with a fixed lens and will cater only to a niche seg­ment.

The con­nected cam­era craze started with Samsung’s range of Wi-Fi cam­eras like the WB150. Not sat­is­fied with giv­ing sim­ple con­nec­tiv­ity in a cam­era, Samsung shifted its fo­cus to the Galaxy Cam­era which was al­most a smart­phone ex­cept for the abil­ity to make voice calls. In 2013, Wi-Fi is be­com­ing a stan­dard fea­ture in even sub-`10,000 cam­eras, though with vary­ing de­grees of suc­cess and us­abil­ity. While wire­less con­nec­tiv­ity will unyoke the dig­i­tal cam­era from its de­pen­dence on the com­puter, it also lets it be con­trolled from other smart de­vices like a phone or tablet. Pho­tog­ra­phy is about to change for ever.

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