Sunday, December 23, 2007

CES 2008 Digital Camera Predictions, Speculations and Other Stories

With CES 2008 just around the corner, this is a good time to come up with some CES-specific predictions and speculations. Please keep in mind everything in this post is predictions and speculations!

Because PMA 2008 is so close to CES 2008 this year, it compresses the time period for announcements to just four weeks or less, and consequently messes up the historical patterns, which makes predictions even trickier. It may be a bit hard to separate them, but I will try my best to stick to predictions for the first few days of January 2008 (CES 2008 time). It's not easy as I tend to rumble on and on and on and on and on. Oops, I can't even stop rumbling about rumbling :)

CES 2008 Digital Camera Predictions and Speculation

  • Panasonic TZ3 and TZ2 replacements: Panasonic has made announcements in both early January and late January/early February in the past. With that in mind, there are good chances of seeing new TZ-series cameras at around CES time. Being "fun zooms" they are probably a good match for CES anyway. Our prediction is at least two models, a TZ5 as the primary model, and a TZ4 as the secondary model. A third one would not surprise us, what we have in mind is a more "grown up" TZ-series model, similar to how the FZ10 "grew" out of the FZ1/FZ2/FZ3-series. The more "grown up" TZ-model (let's call it TZ10?) would have PSAM to satisfy the power users and perhaps a few more "grown up" features. But it would still retain the "fun" aspect, which is what made the TZ3 a blockbuster camera. It wouldn't be a reach if they included RAW in a hypothetical "more grown-up" TZ-model. They did add it to the FZ8 model after all which uses a 1/2.5" sensor.

  • Samsung S1250: Wow how brave, we are predicting a specific model. It's not that much of a leap though, a year ago they announced the S1050 (10mp, 5x optical). This would be using the 12mp sensor. However, if they plan to release a duo of new cameras instead, expect them to be the Samsung S1260 and S1060, with the obvious megapixelations per the name. It's pretty much hopeless to think we'll see megapixel-restraint at this point. Samsung pre-announced their "mass market" cameras, the S760 and S860 on December 5, 2007. We might see something from the L-series, although they have released a few of those in late 2007 anyway.

  • Fuji A-series: The last two years Fuji had CES announcements, so it's easy to predict that pattern to continue. The A-series will not be a surprise though, they will probably be sequential updates, perhaps a "flagship" A-series using the 12mp sensor found in the F50fd? Let's call that what? A1200? A1000? A950? Or perhaps they will start a new line so they can go back to easier model numbers (eg B12) :)

  • Fuji other cameras: Fuji squirts cameras left and right and with their strategy of different models in different markets, we could have a surprise here. One reasonable prediction is to make some of the limited availability models (eg Z100fd, S5800fd) more generally available. Last year we saw the under-rated Fuji F40fd get announced at CES 2007, along with the IS-1 (infra) version of the Finepix S9100 (S9600). I doubt they will release an IS (infra) version of the S8000fd - besides their strange "user license" cripples their IS (infra) cameras. So what about the F-good series? Will they attempt an early surprise with a revival of the F31fd? It could be either an F32fd (eg minor changes, add dual xD/SD drive), or perhaps an F35fd that uses the F50fd body but retains the 6mp SuperCCD magic sensor. This is probably more wishful thinking than a prediction, which goes to show how far from reality this is :( Fuji, prove me wrong!

  • Kodak new sensors?: Please check the Comments section of this post for speculations on the CFA and CMOS Kodak sensors.

  • Kodak something-something: Flextrodak, or is it Kodtronix, historically has at least one camera announced at CES, so we should expect to see something from them. I doubt they will announce an "advanced" camera at CES, unless it is a CES-type of a camera, eg some sort of a hybrid of sorts. As you may recall Kodak's recent models jumped on the 720p bandwagon, so if they have a 1080p up their sleeve, CES is the time to bust it out! Other than that, their announcements will probably be contained within the V-series, C-series, M-series, or the budget-zooms - perhaps they'll even attempt their own version of a "stabilized fun zoom" - and CES would be a good spot to showcase it.

  • Pentax shiny silvers: Pentax is another company that has had new cameras announced at CES in the last three years. They "owe" us the 4th generation of the T-series and the W-series. The T-series uses a touchscreen and the W-series is probably their most unique non-DSLR, it is the waterproof one - you may remember the advertisements of their W-/WP- models swimming with the fishies at the bottom of water tanks. So I'll be "brave" and predict a T40 and a W40, continuing in the spirit of the A40 (expected in February because of the Matsushita battery factory fire), M40 (now with LiIon since the M30), and the entry-level E40.

  • Ricoh? In 2005 they announced the R1V at CES time, so I'm throwing them in the hat. But if they do announce something, I expect it to be more of a general purpose model, than a GX-100 replacement. But because of the PMA compression effect, I would not be shocked if a GX120 (or GX110) was announced. I hope they don't confuse matters even more with a GX-100 Mark II. We are letting them get away with a GRD Mark II because of the historical significance, but one model is enough :) Keep it simple please!

  • Sony? Ever since they absorbed Minolta, Sony has diminished its CES announcements. In 2005 they had a significant one, the P200 which was the "carrier" of the critically acclaimed 7mp 1/1.8" sensor. In 2006 they just announced the Cybershot S600, a AA-based P&S. In 2007, nada. But they did have a spurt in mid-January. Given the PMA compression effect, we may see some CES models, perhaps they'll split the announcements: the entry-level and hybrids for CES 2008, and the more "camera enthusiast" (assuming they have any of those) models for PMA 2008 time. If that is the case, expect replacements for the hugely popular W55, and their mass market AA-models (S700, S650). Let me throw some hypothetical model names in the hat: Sony S850 and S750 for the AA-models, and W60 and W65 for the mass market W-series models.

  • Casio? They smartly introduced the EX-V7 at CES 2007, since it was more of a gadgety camera than a purist's camera. No CES announcements at 2006 and 2005. My prediction? If they are planning something new or gadgety, or a hybrid, it will be ushered in at CES. And what about the 60fps Casio model? Given its 60fps speed, it would garner attention at CES 2008 as a "gadget" but because of its 1/1.8" sensor and modest "megapixelation" (6mp) and blazing speed it also garners attention from photography enthusiasts. So Casio has reasons to announce more details about it at CES 2008 but also at PMA 2008. Assuming of course that they are ready for announcement. Given the time-warp/compression this year, it woudl make more sense to announce it earlier, so it would avoid getting hammered by the "traditional" manufacturers announcements at around PMA time. We already have rumors of new Pentax and Canon DSLRs in the week leading up to PMA, so a 60fps Casio is not going to get as many headlines. On the other hand, at CES it is going to be competing with all the traditional electronics manufacturers and gadgets galore. Okay, now I'm completely confused. I hope you are too ;-)

  • HP Cliffhanger: No, not the actual models, but whether we'll find out who they will be off-shoring their digital camera production to. Will it be Premier, Sanyo, Flextronics, someone else, or perhaps one of the "appliance makers" (Panasonic, Samsung)? Oh what a cliffhanger! Unless it has already been announced and we missed it ;-)

  • How about the Other Manufacturers? Canon and Nikon don't do CES. Perhaps they think it's for the "appliance makers" and prefer to announce closer to PMA. The last time Olympus made a CES announcement was 2005 with *gasp* the C7070 and C5050. Wow that feels like it was a century ago, although it was just three years ago. It's almost a year since Leica announced their last new camera, the C-Lux 2 (aka Panasonic FX30), but I highly doubt they would do an "appliance announcement". Don't expect a Sigma DP1 update either, although my sources tell me that BigFoot is having a jolly good time developing the DP1 RAW pictures he took of a giant UFO battle on the skies right above a sunbathing Loch Ness monster.

    This post consists of Predictions and Speculations
    For those who missed the earlier warnings, please keep in mind this post is a blend of predictions and speculation!

    Other websites with CES 2008 predictions and speculation
  • PC Magazine CES 2008 preview

    Further Reading
  • An even more long-winded post covering PMA 2008 Rumors, Predictions and Speculations, and beyond.

  • dpreview timeline
  • dpreview forums
  • PMA 2008 Rumors, Predictions and Speculations
  • Fauxtokina 2007 Predictions and Speculation
  • RAWsumer 2007 Predictions and Speculation
  • Photokina 2006 Predictions and Speculation

    Comments, Corrections, Points, Counterpoints?
    The Comments section is always open :)


    Anonymous said...

    So you're not expecting anything on the new Kodak sensor, then?

    1001 noisy cameras said...

    Great question! I assume you are referring to this Kodak sensor announcement from June, 2007. If they have something to announce maybe they'll do it closer to PMA than at CES, unless of course they want to avoid the PMA crunch and get a head start. The press release says the first sensor would be available for sampling in Q1 2008.

    There's also the previously announced CMOS sensors for compacts, the first one a 5mp 1/2.x" in the otherwise very generic Kodak Easyshare C513. I doubt they are going to announce another 5 megapixel camera, but they could have newer versions of that sensor available. If so, we could see them at CES!