Saturday Shout: PMA 2006 - Hit or Miss?

March 4, 2006 | Mark Goldstein | PMA Show 2006, Saturday Shout | 8 Comments | |

Saturday ShoutThis week’s Saturday Shout looks back at the Photo Marketing Association (PMA) show in Orlando, Florida. A huge number of new photography products were announced, including more than 90 digital cameras, but did anything get you hot under the collar and give you sweaty hands, or are you already looking forward to Photokina in the autumn? Shout out now…

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#1 Bruce McL

New Point and Shoot announcements I didn't hear.

Dynamic Range: I want a camera that can capture a significantly greater range of light and dark in the same image. Every landscape photographer should want this. So should most other photographers. This doesn't seem to be on the map as far as most camera companies are concerned. And yet everybody takes photos with shadows that are too dark and blown out highlights. There should be claims and counterclaims, as well as inflated statistics like interpolated megapixels. But nothing much is happening here.

Wide angle: Nikon and Olympus are retiring their wide angle point and shoot cameras. Canon is continuing theirs, although RAW was dropped in the most recent update. Fuji has a model with RAW. Panasonic is the only company I know of that introduced a new wide angle P&S model. Sad.

Sensitivity to light: No change here. There seems to be an agreement that ƒ2.7 or 2.8 at ASA 100 or 200 is good enough. It's not. I'll admit that optical image stabilization is a work-around for the problem, and a useful one.

RAW mode: This is disappearing on point and shoot cameras. Note that the cost of adding RAW to a P&S camera is usually negligible to nonexistent.

IS is one area where things are improving. And I'll admit having a few extra megapixels is an improvement as well. While I'm admitting things I think that most P&S cameras are fairly good for most casual photographers. Complaints about blurry photos are what I hear most from casual photographers I know. And IS helps with that.

9:06 pm - Monday, March 6, 2006

#2 Earl

I've become spoiled by the dSLR, but yearn for a smaller camera. I keep hoping for a small point and shoot styled camera with faster, more creative, flexible performance.

I think the Panasonic DMC-LX1 and Ricoh GR Digital are interesting and a step in the right direction, but have not improved enough in the way of larger sensor, reduced image noise, processing speed, RAW options and shutter lag speeds to make me spend the money.

There didn't seem to be any introductions along these lines. The Panasonic DMC-L1 looks very interesting. Now if they make a fast lens in the 25-35mm equivalent range, we might have something.

11:06 pm - Monday, March 6, 2006

#3 Nicholas

By far the most stunning and far reaching announcement affecting all future facets of photograph is the Texas Instrument announcement.
I hope Mark will post a comprehensive report on it.

3:39 am - Tuesday, March 7, 2006

#4 Alexander

The prosumers are dying. The companies are replacing them by much more profitable devices - DSLRs.

Shame on Canon who dropped RAW in their S80. RAW costs nothing to a company, because it exists in any camera by design.

Panasonic L-1 will be some kind of "exclusive toy", as the announced price of the kit with Leica lens will be about 3100$. Note the maximum acceptable ISO of 400 or 800 (in light areas).

11:46 am - Tuesday, March 7, 2006

#5 Johan

I agree that dynamic range would be nice; however, fuji appears to have given up on that to provide high-iso functionality.

I think that Fuji did the right thing in this regard; their high-iso noise is head-and-shoulders better than the competition, while their high-dr performance was just marginally better. They seem to be the only ones innovating in the sensor dept. these days.

I'm curious to see how sony's 45 degree offset CCD (like fuji has had for a while!) will perform.

As for dynamic range, I think some dSLRs have sensors with amplifiers for each photo-cell -- but of course I forget which one. Since ISO is basically just controlling the amplification (I'm sure the details are more complex, but work with me here) we should in theory be able to apply differnt ISO values to different parts of the image and thereby acheive much better shadow noise. That's my prediction for the next few years to come.

2:27 pm - Tuesday, March 7, 2006

#6 George Bano

The stupid MP race is driving me crazy... Noise is high, and not many of the casual photographers understand even CROPPING, so they don't really need it. I have D-SLR, and non "D" SLR :) but I feel the need of a compact camera with 1/1.8" CCD with maximum 4MP, relatively noiseless images,3-4x zoom preferably from 28mm, for everyday use.
I haven't seen anything like this even remotely.

Upping the entry level DSLR resolution to 10MP is fine, but then you have to spend more on optics with enough resolution for them, but at least they have the potential.

I agree with Johan and the others about that we need more dynamic range, I even prefer it instead of more MPs. If you ever shot on a bright day with strong shadows (like mountains, not dare to mention weddings) you know what I'm talking about.

7:06 pm - Friday, March 10, 2006


George, the only camera that even comes close to what you want is
Nikon's Coolpix P2. It has the 1/1.8" CCD and 3.5x zoom you wanted
in the size you wanted, but has 5 megapixels, which is slightly higher
than you wanted, and a 35mm wide end lens, which is slightly longer
than you wanted.

Be careful though, as I have an unfounded suspicion the P2 uses the
same 8 megapixel CCD as the P1, but with its 8 megapixel resolution
setting disabled, which if true, would defeat the purpose.

7:54 pm - Friday, March 10, 2006

#8 George Bano

Hi Gary!

Thanks for the answer, I will check it out. (BTW: I already mentioned your "Wife Camera" article to my best friend a few weeks before :) )

I forgot to mention, but I like to have an optical viewfinder too. In the light of today's cameras maybe it is a bit farfetched.

Looking at the LCD all the time is not what I like to do. Even my wife like to use the optical one on her little HP R707 (which have an 1/1.8 CCD, and nothing really wrong with it except it hers :) It is a bit slow, but quality is acceptable, little on the noisy side. Our old HP 720 had only 3MP but the clarity if the pics stand up even today's standard, and the only problem of it was the slowness (It is still working in the family)

Okay, enough of the anecdotes for today :)

Probably the most interesting news of the show (for me) was the Pentax medium format digital, but I - sadly - know I will not able to afford it even without necessary optics. As every new medium camera use 16 bit/channel that will have a tremendous impact on dynamic range, that none of the current Aps-C DSLR can dream of... Canon evangelize the full frame, but CMOS real estate only isn't the holy grail, as it more distorsion sensitive, than film was (due to the filters and such, I think you know it)

As I already have a small investment in DSLR I will wait 'till they found a way to put real 16bit/c into it (Fuji solutions are awkward, and overpriced a bit, but they tried at least to do something)

10:27 pm - Friday, March 10, 2006