The initial big camera announcement season of 2016 -- CES, CP+ and WPPI -- takes up the first two months of the year and brings with it most of the new cameras we can expect to see for the first half of the year. We've seen a lot of long-awaited updates plus some real surprises: Sigma's first mirrorless interchangeable-lens models and Nikon's first 1-inch sensor fixed-lens models, to name just two. These are the ones we think are most notable, with some aspect about them to pique our photographic curiosity.
The outlook: While it's not much of an upgrade over the T5/1200D -- wireless connectivity and slightly better noise in low light seem to be the biggest enhancements -- it will likely be popular because it's the cheapest camera to bear a 2016 birthday.
The outlook: Canon updates its staple sports camera for working photographers with a lot of the features they need: improved continuous-shooting performance (14fps), 4K video support, the switch to a faster-focusing Dual-Pixel CMOS sensor and built-in GPS. There's enough here that I think a lot of photographers will want to upgrade before they trot off to shoot the summer Olympics -- assuming there are no showstopping glitches when it ships -- and that means there will be a lot of used 1D Xs available. Win-win.
The outlook: Canon seems to have addressed most of the issues I had with its predecessor, which should bring the newer model into line with similarly priced enthusiast compacts. Performance remains the big question, though.
The outlook: Fujifilm brings its flagship interchangeable-lens camera series up to date with this model, incorporating a new generation of its X-Trans CMOS, updating the autofocus system, adding the company's excellent Hybrid Multi viewfinder and adding Wi-Fi.
The outlook: Traditionally the flagship sports-oriented dSLR in Nikon's stable, there are significant updates over the D4s for its essential capabilities, including a new 153-point autofocus system, a whopping maximum ISO of 3,280,000 and 4K UHD (3,840x2,160-resolution) recording.
The outlook: While I'd long given up on Nikon reviving its power APS-C line, the D500 comes back with the same autofocus and metering systems that debuted in the D5, a new 20.9-megapixel CMOS sensor that delivers a maximum sensitivity of ISO 1,640,000 and 4K video.
The outlook: At its price, the DL24-85 looks quite promising as a general-purpose advanced compact: it offers a more-than competitive set of features, including 4K video, a fast lens, and an optional tilting viewfinder, with the added bonus of fast continuous shooting.
The outlook: Nikon's flagship enthusiast compact, one of its first with a 1-inch sensor, brings with it the fast continuous shooting and autofocus system from the company's mirrorless Nikon 1 series plus the widest-angle lens available in its class.
The outlook: While it's a bit pricey for its features, with a new sensor this becomes Olympus' current image-quality flagship so I'm curious as to how it compares to its main competitor, the Panasonic GX8.
Panasonic Lumix ZS100 (or TZ110 or TZ100, depending upon region)
Price: $700, £550, AU$1,000
US availability: March 2016
The outlook: Since I think most people just want the photo quality of a 1-inch sensor in a compact size and and with the longest zoom possible, I think the 10x ZS100 has the potential to be a big crowd pleaser.
Panasonic Lumix ZS60 (or TZ80, depending upon region)
Price: $450, £330, AU$600
US availability: March 2016
The outlook: In addition to a lot of interesting features, such as 4K video and a viewfinder for its relatively low price, the ZS60 incorporates Panasonic's Post Focus mode for making sure your shots are always in focus.
The outlook: Sigma's first mirrorless cameras incorporate the company's Foveon X3 sensor, which uses a layered sensor to capture red, green and blue wavelengths rather than a color filter pattern atop a single layer. The "H" version has an APS-H-size sensor, a more rarely used size between the typical APS-C and full frame, with a 1.3x focal-length multiplier. The specs are ho-hum, but the sensor is nice for some uses and it takes Sigma's excellent lenses.
Editors' note: This story was originally published on November 21, 2011, but has been updated frequently to reflect more-recent reviews and announcements. The latest update incorporates the Panasonic LX100 and discussions of some more recently announced cameras.
It's a common complaint: You want the photo quality of a dSLR but find you're leaving the camera at home because it's so large.
The compromise is a compact camera with a sensor larger than a typical point-and-shoot's -- sometimes even the same size as a consumer or midrange dSLR, with raw file support and sufficient manual control over aperture and shutter speed to allow for a measure of the creativity to which you're accustomed. What you sacrifice is the speed of a dSLR's faster phase-detection autofocus, and more often than not, the improved shooting experience delivered by a through-the-lens optical viewfinder.
These dSLR complements come in two versions: ones with the traditional larger-than-average point-and-shoot design, and the interchangeable-lens models, which attain a more-svelte-than-dSLR profile by jettisoning the mirror-and-prism optical path, which is one factor that keeps dSLRs so large. Of course, once you start adding on to the latter models, like tacking on an EVF and even a modest zoom lens, they start to get pretty big. Still, equipped with a kit pancake prime lens like the 17mm (Olympus) or 14mm (Panasonic), they remain quite pocketable. But they also tend to be quite expensive compared with the all-in-one models.
There are always new wrinkles in the enthusiast compact segment. With the debut of the Cyber-shot DSC-RX1, the first full-frame compact-ish camera, and its even more expensive OLPF-free successor, the RX1R, Sony redefined best photo quality for now for $2,800 (£2,600, AU$3,000). Surprisingly, Leica's high-priced APS-C-based X Vario can be found at a somewhat reasonable $2,100 (still high priced at around AU$3,000 and about £1,400) with a slow but unique for an APS-C model zoom lens. Then there's the Cyber-shot DSC-RX10; though it has the body of a megazoom, with the RX100 II's 1-inch sensor and an 8.3x f2.8 lens it has the spirit of a compact, though it's initial too-high price has recently dropped to $1,000 (£800, AU$1,300).
And then there are the oddballs, like the Sigma dp series. With the new version of the Foveon sensor, Quattro, and a big, almost noncompact design, I suspect this won't be the model to break the dp out of its niche.
Most recently, Panasonic finally updated its 2-year-old LX line with the LX100, based on a Four Thirds sensor (see next slide).