CES 2011 saw more cameras announced than ever before. Even though cameras have their own Vegas show -- PMA in late February -- all the major manufacturers -- save for Nikon and Pentax -- refreshed their line-ups of compact and superzoom cameras.
Samsung, Fujifilm, Olympus, Casio, Canon and Panasonic each released a gajillion snappers, but fear not: Crave is here to sort the wheat from the chaff, trim the meat from the fat, and drop the crap footballer from the England squad. Reasonably fresh from CES, here are the ten cameras worth getting excited about in 2011.
Olympus has waded into the high-end compact market with the XZ-1, taking on the Canon PowerShot S95 and Panasonic Lumix DMC- LX5. The camera, pictured above, boasts two control dials, a hot-shoe and a 3-inch OLED screen. The F1.8-2.5, 28-122mm equivalent lens is the brightest zoom lens on a compact camera, with a large sensor and 720p video thrown in too.
The Fujifilm FinePix HS20 EXR packs an enormous 30x zoom into its superzoom frame, complete with tilting screen. Under the bonnet, the HS20 packs a new backside-illuminated version of the EXR sensor, which has a unique layout to improve low-light performance.
A more pocket-friendly EXR camera is the Fujifilm FinePix F550 EXR, a chunky compact that's dripping with whistles and bells. The 16-megapixel snapper includes GPS, a 15x zoom, 1080p video and raw shooting capability.
It wouldn't be a trade show without a bunch of 'biggest this and smallest that' announcements. The Kodak EasyShare Mini is set to live up to its name by being the size of a credit card. If it's really as small as Kodak claims, it could be the compact camera that will nestle snugly in our pocket without ruining the crease in our snug strides.
Camera phones and compact cameras may be heading for a showdown, but Samsung has decided to bring the two together with the SH100. The Korean megacorp is making the most of straddling the mobile and camera worlds by allowing the SH100 to pair with your Samsung Galaxy S Android-powered smart phone. The phone acts as a separate viewfinder, so you can see what the 14-megapixel Wi-Fi-equipped camera is pointing at, even when you put it down and walk away.
The Pen E-PL2 is the latest Micro Four Thirds offering from Olympus. It's not a huge departure from previous Pen interchangeable-lens cameras, but it doubles the display's resolution, and adds a comfier grip and new kit lens.
Samsung also added a new model to its interchangeable-lens line-up with the NX11. Like the E-PL2, it's an incremental update to previous models, but it's still good to see the lens-swapping section expanding.
The 16-megapixel Samsung WB700 leads the way in compact cameras with extra-long zooms. It packs an 18x optical zoom into its pocket-friendly frame, as well as 720p video-recording capability.
The 12.1-megapixel Casio Tryx has a wide-angle 21mm lens, equivalent to a 35mm camera, and shoots 1080p video. It earns a place on this list thanks to its wacky design. The lens part is connected to a hinged screen and a twist-out frame, allowing it to be held or positioned in all sorts of ways. It's not the most hi-tech model in this list, but it's certainly different.
Finally, we have the CNET UK Special Award for Being One Mirror Short of a Disco Ball. Miniature glamazoid Lady Gaga unveiled a range of Polaroid products, the highlight being the Polarez GL20. It's a pair of giant sunglasses that snaps pictures via built-in cameras, and then -- and this is the genius bit -- plays the pictures back on OLED screens set into the shades. Good work, Gaga!