CES reveals why we still need digital cameras
In the age of do-everything devices, cameras deserve deserve to hog the stage without tablets, phones or other features muscling in
Convergence is a lovely sounding word, but it's the way it has streamlined our lives rather than how it rolls off the tongue that leaves us weak at the knees. It means the coming together of two types of product, such as TVs that can browse the web, or tablets that can be used as phones.
Such tech has revolutionised our lives, and this age of 'do-everything devices' will be taught to kids in schools in generations to come. There are some areas, however, where this Swiss Army Knife-style uprising has no place waving its placards. Some things, after all, just aren't designed to mix.
While fine red wine, Bailey's and David Bowie may come to mind, we're talking about digital cameras. Like Paul McCartney playing Blackbird, compact cameras deserve to hog the stage without tablets, phones or Ringo Starr muscling their way in. What, after all, is a camera for?
Sure, we all have phones that can take photos - as well as texting, tweeting, shopping, updating Facebook statuses and cooking a Sunday roast. But if you've got designs on being the next David Bailey, waving a smartphone or iPad around in the air just won't cut it.
There are plenty of features a digital camera can offer budding snappers that are generally not found on camera phones - and we saw a host of achingly hip compacts that performed like Ferraris, while looking like rock stars, at this year's International CES. Vegas has more than its fair share of wannabe rock stars, so these cameras had to be really good to capture the headlines.
Camera-phones are fine for point-and-click shenanigans, but if you're serious about your snaps then you should really go solo.
Demanding landscapes and action shots in varying conditions is bread and butter to the Fujifilm X100S, a retro hipster that almost upstaged 50 Cent in Vegas with its understated Sixties cool. Image is big in Vegas, but this camera talks the talk too thanks to a 16 megapixel sensor that totally smokes smartphone cameras. It also rocks a new sensor offering a 30% improvement when shooting in low-light.
One area you may expect us camera worshippers to concede defeat to the smartphone is size and portability. We felt the same too, until we stumbled upon the Panasonic Lumix DMC F5 while wandering around the cavernous convention centre in Vegas. Sleek, slender and really rather inexpensive, this camera manages to pack a 14 megapixel sensor and a whole host of other features into a case no bigger than the average smartphone.
The Lumix costs far less than your average smartphone, but manages to cram in far more functions than you'd find on your average camera-phone. Hang your head in shame.
Many of our photos may never make it further than Facebook these days, but photos are about memories and having them printed is the best way of preserving those cherished - or downright hilarious - moments.
Digital cameras are designed with printed snaps in mind, and you won't get much better results than the Fujifilm X20. Said to be able to start up in 0.5 seconds, with the X20 you'll never miss your friend falling in the mud again. Also, with a focus of 0.6 seconds, you'll capture every detail of their flabbergasted expression. So cruel.
With manual focusing and on-screen info on aperture and other camera tech, aspiring Rankins will have plenty to brag about with their photography chums too.
But we're not all experts, and a digital camera is the best way of getting to grips with photography.
The Nikon 1 J3 is small enough to fit in your pocket or handbag, enabling you to point and shoot when the moment takes you and ensuring you don't get any funny looks from holding your iPad aloft in the middle of town. Perfect for those new to the game, the J3 features a simple menu system that'll have you knocking out professional-looking shots without breaking a sweat. If any of your friends argue that digital cameras just aren't convenient in the iPhone age, here's the perfect answer.
So, we've spent this whole piece talking up cameras in their own right.
However, we're going out on a limb by introducing Samsung's flagship NX300, a Wi-Fi enabled camera which works in perfect harmony with your phone. With a new 20.3 million pixel sensor, Samsung claims it is "truly built around the user" with the ability to transfer snaps from camera to phone.
There were stacks of other great cameras but our waffling has already taken enough of your time.
Now use some more of it to check out the compacts which show the digital camera is far from dead. Papa, paparazzi.