The Best of CES 2011

As we have all been reading, CES (Consumer Electronics Show) took place first week in January 2011. And what a way to ring in the New Year. Still sifting through pages and pages of press releases, weeding through the drivel of blog posts seeking out the real, honest-to-goodness meat, Steve's Digicams is now happy to present the Best of CES. There were a number of tablets released hot off the heels of the Apple iPad; numerous 4G phones came flying into the market (and just in time for the 4G iPhone to reach Verizon); plenty of new pocket camcorders found their way into the palms of the lucky hundreds in Vegas for the show. It was a massive success and now we can tell you all about least the best parts.

Fujifilm FinePix HS22/EXR

In what seemed like the greatest feat of digital camera production ever, Fujifilm released 26 new cameras at CES. Twenty-six is a staggering number for any one company. And they didn't just improve one family of cameras: everything from their subcompacts to their S Series (the "S" stands for "Super Fancy") saw improvements and new releases. The FinePix HS22/ EXR is particularly impressive. Housing Fuji's new EXR/CMOS technology, the HS22 packs quite the significant punch helping them keep up with the competition in a much more aggressive way. Touting a 16 mega-pixel sensor, 30x optical zoom Fujinon lens and the new standard 3.0 inch LCD monitor, the only thing it is lacking is an optical viewfinder. Able to record 1920 x 1080 video at 30 frames per second, upload to Facebook upon USB hook-up and hit an ISO 12800, you would think that was all they could manage to get into one devece. But no. It shoots in the RAW and supports a hot shoe making this an extremely versatile new product Fujifilm should truly be proud of releasing. If you are interested in the other million cameras they released for 2011, hop on over to their website to peruse.

Olympus SP-610UZ


Topping the Personal Best list for Olympus, the SP-610UZ makes long distance photography more possible than ever. Inside the 4.2" wide, 2.9" deep frame is the heart of a lion: 22x optical zoom + 4x digital zoom lens. In order to see what you are zooming into, you will have to forgo the optical viewfinder and feast your eyes on a sexy 3.0" LCD screen. Understanding the needs of the photographer seeking out a Super-Zoom, Olympus went ahead and supplied you with In-Camera Panorama technology, a superior f2.8 (Wide) / f5.6 (Tele) wide-angle lens and an unparalleled Auto Focus that keeps up with whatever the subject. Always intuitive and generous, Olympus has appealed to all buyers. The specifications needed by a professional are certainly there and accessible, but the fun features budding photographers seek out explode out of every corner of this new device. They have named their new settings, I kid you not, Magic Filters, and boy do they mean it. Pop Art, Drawing, Punk, Sparkle and Watercolor are just a few of the incredible new in-camera editing techniques the SP-610 offers. Luckily Steve's got some hands on experience with the six new cameras Olympus released at CES so hop on over and check them all out. Steve's Preview here

Sony DSC-TX100v


Familiar but somehow altogether new, the Sony DSC-TX100v is a healthy reminder as to why Sony runs the market in terms of pocket cameras. Just look at that thing. Like others in its family, the TX100v is so sleek, so sexy and so thin but still so powerful. Not to mention a fierce fire engine red, but who cares about looks, right? Sleek, sexy, THIN! What makes this particular model stand out about the rest is Sony's Backlight Correction HDR. In the words of Sony, "analyzes the image and automatically adjusts accordingly to give you a perfectly lit shot." But what they don't tell you is that it automatically analyzes the highlights, lowlights and mid-tones from three separate images and creates one flawless shot. Why they don't beef that up on the website, we're not sure. While the internal components are working overtime to make you look like the best photographer out there, the exterior is helping make your case. The 3.5" screen isn't just monstrous, it is also OLED meaning it is thinner (there's that word again), more colorful giving you a truer depiction of what you are looking at and touch screen. We love touch screen. Keeping up with the Electronic Joneses, the TX100v has two 3D options: Panorama and Still. Pile on top of that 1080p HD movie recording, a 10 frame per second burst at full resolution and a 25mm, 4x optical zoom lens and we have quite the contender for 2011. Steve's Preview here

Samsung SH100


Who likes the internet? I like the internet. Do you like the internet? The Samsung SH100 certainly likes the internet and that's what it is Wi-Fi enabled. First things first: the camera itself is pretty slick. It boasts a 14 megapixel sensor, 5x optical zoom lens, 3.0" touch screen LCD and 720p HD video recording capabilities. But enough about the camera. Let's talk internet connection. In a time where our cell phone rules our lives quite literally, the SH100 admires and promotes that. The Wi-Fi enabled camera can link up to your Android smartphone (Samsung prefers you use the Galaxy S) which then becomes your remote for the camera. Talk about innovation and appealing to the customer. Imagine yourself using your pocket camera as if you were doing a professional photo shoot. Sounds pretty contemporary to us. Not only does the camera hook up to your phone, but it also allows you to exchange info between other Samsung Wi-Fi enabled phones and other Wi-Fi devices (think printers). By itself, as long as it is within a stable Wi-Fi environment, pictures can be uploaded directly to Facebook. We'll take a big order of Sign Me Up with side of Right Now Please. As a ultra-compact, they don't come more fully capable and not just user friendly, but user generously. Steve's Preview here

Though these may not be all of the cameras released before, during or after CES, these are some unique and highly regarded new additions to the 2011 digital camera line up. Keep checking back to Steve's for the full reviews on all the cameras you see and don't see here.

Maggie OBriant
Maggie O'Briant Personal Blog | Flickr

Maggie O'Briant recently graduated from Florida State University with an English Literature degree. She is currently a freelance writer and photographer. She currently lives in Hawaii with her husband and giant baby.