If you're one of the visually infatuated gadget geeks, these are the cameras and camcorders you should be looking out for. There'll be more to look forward to once all the news comes out from Photokina, the world's biggest camera show, later this month.
Canon EOS M
Availability: October 2012
The outlook: Canon's long-, long-, long-awaited entry into the mirrorless interchangeable camera market is finally almost here. And though it seems a bit expensive for what it offers and lacking in really novel or compelling capabilities compared to competitors, the curiosity factor is off the charts.
The outlook: Panasonic's LX series of enthusiast-targeted compact cameras has a lot of die-hard fans, and the latest update brings some enhancements to the lens -- it's faster and potentially sharper -- possibly better video, and the company's fast autofocus system. While it's got a fierce competitor in the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100, it's also significantly cheaper.
The outlook: Ever since the P5000, Nikon's large enthusiast compact camera series has been struggling to deliver the whole package, and tends to reinvent itself more frequently than usual. The P7700 sounds like it's taking a few steps forward and a few steps back: a better lens, articulated (rather than tilting) display, true HD video capture, updated design and presumably better performance than the P7100, while at the same time switching to a more consumery BSI sensor and dropping the optical viewfinder. It'll be interesting to see if this is finally the winning combination.
The outlook: With a new sensor and redesigned autofocus system that combines phase-detection and contrast technologies; built-in Wi-Fi with support for downloadable apps via Sony's Play Memories service; and some new physical controls to reduce reliance on the somewhat cumbersome NEX menu but with a few additions to its touch-screen repertoire, this really is a major upgrade over its predecessor the NEX-5N.
The outlook: The S800c is the first attempt at an Android-based camera from a major manufacturer (though Samsung wasn't far behind). For anyone who ever wished they could have the power of all their smartphone apps in a camera with a zoom lens, optical image stabilization, and (slightly) larger sensor, well, here you go.
The outlook: For the FZ200, it's not the length of the lens that matters -- it's the width of its aperture. Unlike other megazoom cameras that let in significantly less light as you zoom in, the FZ200 can stay at a bright f2.8 aperture, meaning you won't always need high ISO settings that introduce noise and softness, something no competing model can claim.
The outlook:For $100 less than Canon's top megazoom, the 35x zoom PowerShot SX40 HS, the SX500 IS gets you a 30x f3.4-5.8 24-720mm lens, a fixed 3-inch 460K-dot resolution, and a 16-megapixel CCD sensor. It's definitely a step down from the SX40, but Canon claims faster autofocus speed and less shutter lag and, if it's like most other PowerShots, its photo quality will be excellent for its class.