Whirlwind Tour of CES 2015

I had some time off from my official duties for my company at the CES 2015 at Las Vegas earlier this week and did a whirlwind tour of the Central Hall, where most of the major camera makers are. This is a quick write-up of what I saw.

Nikon

Nikon recently released their new DSLR – the D5500 and the new AF-S 300mm f/4G PF ED VR, so I decided to drop by Nikon’s booth to try them out.

Nikon D5500 with AF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II
Nikon D5500 with AF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II

The D5500 is a small upgrade from the previous D5300, and like the D750, it features a monocoque body design with a deeper hand grip. The deeper grip feels nicer in the hands compared to the D5300 which we reviewed earlier.

In our D5300 review, we were disappointed that the screen is not touch-enabled. With the D5500, Nikon has finally added a touch screen. Other than allowing you to change settings with a touch, you can also touch to focus/shoot, swipe through playback images or pinch to zoom, much like you would on a smart phone.

Performance-wise, it felt pretty much similar to the older D5300. Unfortunately, as it’s a pre-production unit, I wasn’t allowed to collect sample images on my own SD card.

Nikon D810 with AF-S 300mm f/4G PF ED VR
Nikon D810 with AF-S 300mm f/4G PF ED VR

This is the lens that YS is particularly excited about. I am amazed at how small and light it is. At 755g, it’s half the weight of the previous version of the 300mm f/4! Again, as it was a pre-production unit, I was unable to get sample images through the lens.

YSSQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE – it’s so tiny! Definitely can’t wait to try it out.

Nikon's Bulletime Setup
Nikon’s Bullet-time Setup

CK: One of the fun things at Nikon’s booth is a 360º bullet-time setup. There’s a long queue of people waiting to be captured Matrix-style by 48 Nikon D750s.

Over at the Nikon School Theatre, small flash guru Joe McNally was giving a presentation on, what else, using the Nikon Speedlights! A model was also on location for McNally’s demos.

Joe McNally and Model On Stage
Joe McNally and Model On Stage

Sony

Sony had a pretty awesome booth, with a wraparound screen on top showing a seamless video presentation of their products.

Sony Booth
Sony Booth
Sony Booth
Sony Booth

I got to see their QX-1 “Lens Camera” things at the booth, which has a 70-200mm f/4 mounted on it. This is basically similar to the QX10/QX100 released a year ago, but featuring an APS-C sensor. Like the QX10/QX100, you view and shoot it with a smart phone (you can probably also use it by itself but you can’t see what you shoot nor review images, of course.)

Sony QX1 with 70-200mm f/4
Sony QX1 with 70-200mm f/4

I already found the QX10/QX100 to be rather unwieldy to use and this larger version probably made it worse. If you’re already carrying a few APS-C lenses, adding a camera body like the A7II shouldn’t be a big deal right?

YS: The idea is good, but the execution isn’t. Like most Wifi cameras the connection is slow and starting the connection takes time.

Polaroid

CK: The company which brought us instant film was almost dead, but is now back again. Nothing exciting here but I got to see and try their Socialmatic camera.

DSC_0017

Polaroid Socialmatic
Polaroid Socialmatic

This is a “modernised” Polaroid camera measuring roughly 5.25 by 5.25 inches – about the size of a CD case. It features WiFi/Bluetooth to pair with your smart phone and is powered by Android. The camera also produces a 2×3″ print using ZeroInk technology. However, the whole thing is rather sluggish to use. You’re probably better off with your smart phone’s camera paired to a portable printer instead.

Tiffen/Steadicam

Steadicam Solo with Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Steadicam Solo with Canon EOS 5D Mark III

I have always wanted to try out a “real” Steadicam and I got my chance at the show. It sure isn’t as easy as it looks. While the Tiffen staff who demonstrated the Steadicam Solo and Steadicam Pilot to me manages to walk with the Steadicam remaining very steady, it was rather wobby when I tried. Even the consumer-oriented Steadicam Smoothee – made for smart phones and GoPro cameras – isn’t that easy. It’ll probably take lots and lots and lots of practice to master it.

YS: I still can’t quite use one of them, which is why the three-axis motorised gimbals are so popular now.

Ricoh/Pentax

Ricoh Theta
Ricoh Theta

CK: Ricoh was showing the Theta spherical camera, which can take a 360º view from its dual lenses (front and back.) Strangely, they were not demonstrating the camera there but instead, a partner was showing an Oculus-Rift-style VR goggles for viewing the images from the Theta. I didn’t try that out, though.

Pentax 645Z
Pentax 645Z

Pentax also had the 645Z on show, as well as their rather cute and diminutive Q-series mirrorless cameras. Not much time left, so I didn’t really play much with them.

And that’s all I had time for – a very quick tour of the Central Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Centre.

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