CES 2012: The Best New Photo Gear

Cameras, lenses, bags, calibrators, software, protective cases memory cards and more

The annual Consumer Electronics Show is a massive shrine to new gear and gadgets, which makes it the perfect place for us. We’ve been walking the floor and checking out the latest stuff for a couple of days now, selecting the best and most intriguing new stuff to appear in this gallery. We’ll be adding to it until they kick us out and padlock the doors. Fujifilm X-Pro1 Interchangeable-Lens Compact Yes, it’s beautiful. And sure, it looks a lot like Leica’s M9-P, but it’s what’s on the inside that makes Fujifilm’s pro-grade ILC one of the most interesting pieces here in Vegas. It uses a unique APS-C sensor that promises better low-light performance and more appealing noise patterns. It has built-in shooting modes that emulate popular films and it’s going to launch with three fast prime lenses. It’s a bit expensive, but as a first generation product, it has a ton of promise. CHECK OUT OUR IN-DEPTH VIDEO HANDS-ON
Sigma 180mm F/2.8 APO Macro EX DG OS HSM We got a little time to play with Sigma’s new 180mm macro at their booth yesterday and initial impressions are definitely positive. The HSM motor is extremely smooth, quiet, and snappy. The lens itself is fairly hefty as you’d expect of a 180mm, but the optical stabilization seemed to do a good job fighting camera shake. We’ll have a much better idea of how good it is after it goes through our lab. The 1:1 reproduction on a lens this long is nice, too. Combined with the quiet focusing, it should make for some great insect photos in the future.
Belkin LiveAction iPhone Camera Grip Simplicity is what makes this little grip worth noting. It plugs into the 30-pin port on the iPhone and gives you a much better grip as well as a tactile shutter button that gets you closer to a real camera experience. It uses Belkin’s own app for photo-taking, but at $30, it might come in handy for true Instagram addicts.
Beta Shell Lens Cases The average photographer will likely never need this kind of apocalypse-grade lens protection. But, for those who put their gear in harm’s way, Beta Shell has built these nearly-indestructible lens storage tubes. The 6mm ABS shell has a hard gloss coating. The interal padding is made from memory foam — like the stuff you’d find in a mattress — which protects the lens from impacts. A water-tight top lid keeps liquid out and stainless screws hold the whole thing together to create a case that the company has tested with methods like running them over with a truck.
Liquid Image Ego HD Action Cam At just $150, Liquid Image’s tiny Ego is on the cheaper side of the helmet cam spectrum. But, it has a pretty impressive set of features considering its price. It does 1080p footage at 30 fps, but if you’re into action sports shooting, you’ll find the 720p 60 fps mode even more attractive. The camera itself is tiny and has built-in WiFi so it can be monitored and controlled using a smartphone app. The 136mm lens isn’t quite as wide as we’d like, but with a variety of mounting options, it may be a serious contender.
Nikon D4 DSLR This flagship DSLR wasn’t necessarily announced at CES, but it’s making its major debut here on the show floor. The feel of the camera has definitely changed, including the hand-position on the grip. It feels very sturdy without being overly heavy and the full-speed burst rate is very impressive. Now, we’re even more eager to get it into our lab.
Timbuk2 Sneak Camera Bag This has been one of our go-to camera bags on the floor this week and it has performed admirably. We’ll have a full review of it up by the end of the week, but we still thought it deserved a spot on this list. It holds a full-sized laptop, a body and a few lenses/accessories without any trouble. But, despite being packed, it maintains a slim profile, which really comes in handy when you’re trying to squeeze through show crowds or jam yourself into a crowded monorail.
Canon PowerShot G1 X Like the previously-mentioned Fujifilm, a new sensor is a big part of what makes the G1 X so interesting. It’s not quite APS-C size, but it’s bigger than Micro Four Thirds, which makes it unique for a compact with an attached zoom lens. Check out our announcement post or our hands-on video for more details.
Sony High-Speed XQD Memory Cards If you want to use Sony’s newest memory cards, the D4 is the only DSLR game in town that will accept them. However, this new format (from the creators of compact flash cards) does have some advantages. It has write speeds up to 125 MB/s, which is plenty fast, even for moving ultra-high-quality video. And, as you can see from the picture, it’s not all that much bigger than a normal SD card.
Datacolor Spyder4 Elite Color Management System We first saw the specs on the new Spyder4 products a few days ago, but PMA@CES was our first chance to get a full demo. The initial calibration only took about 10 minutes and includes a pile of adjustments that will please most pros. They also told us that the Spyder Net will be coming soon to hold the actual calibrator on the screen, eliminating the need to hold it. Plus, it’s one of the only units that still fully handles CRT monitors.
Tamrac Zuma 9 Secure Traveler Camera Bag There are no zippers on the front of this compact camera bag, which means you have to take it off if you want to get into it. Tamrac designed it that way on purpose in order to better protect your camera gear from theft when you’re traveling. It still has plenty of room for a body, a few accessories/lenses and an assortment of personal items, but there is also a pair of mesh pockets on the outside for water bottles or other stuff you don’t really care about losing.
Redesigned LensPen It may not be the most exciting piece you find on the floor of a tradeshow, but the newly-designed LensPen is still plenty useful. It comes in a variety of sizes designed for cleaning an assortment of lenses, but they all share their ability to eradicate both dust and finger prints from your glass. At $15 or less retail, we can still afford it after a few bad sessions at the black jack table.
Corel AfterShot Pro RAW Workflow Software Adobe made some noise on the software front this week when they announced the Beta for Lightroom 4, but Corel also had something to show off in their new RAW workflow software. We got a quick demo of AfterShot Pro on the show floor, and while it doesn’t handle video like the new Lightroom, it is incredibly fast. We really like how it gives priority to the user interface over background processes so you can still browse and tweak images without lag, even if you’re exporting images. Look for a full review coming soon.