Sunday, March 7, 2010

PMA 2010: Winners and Losers

It has been about a weekend a half since PMA ended, and, here at last, is the long promised analysis.

Big Winner: Sigma
While not a company many people think upon hearing the word 'camera,' Sigma offered some truly revolutionary products that leads me to declare this company the big winner at PMA. First, there's the 8-16mm lens. Ever since digital SLR cameras came to market, they have been at a disadvantage thanks to the crop factor. While the extra reach on the tele end is nice, the loss of wide angle is irritating. One undeniable advantage of full frame was that the cameras can simply see a wider angle, up to 121 degrees without a fisheye optic courtesy of Sigma's 12-24mm. The best any crop cam could do is a 14mm equivalent, courtesy of the Olympus 7-14mm (2x crop factor). APS-C users were worse off, with the 15mm equivalent field of view provided by the numerous 10-xx zooms out there. Now, croppers can have it all, as 8mm on a APS-C cam provides a 12mm equivalent field of view. This lens may single-handedly induce many photographers to stay with crop cameras.

If that wasn't enough, Sigma updated its DP1/2 cameras as well. While more evolutionary than revolutionary when compared with their predecessors, Sigma's second generation of large sensor pocket P&S cams offer one distinct advantage: zoom. Yes, the zoom is a resolution-reducing digital one, but still, all the inherently better performance of a large sensor is retained. For photographers on the go who demand image quality, this could be the best travel cam out there.

Big loser: Sony
Yes, Sony is the world's largest electronics company, but it brought nothing new to PMA except two new P&S cams, one of which is a weather resistant model crippled by a touch screen LCD. Aparrently, Sony shot its wad at CES with a dozen more cookie cutter Cyber Shots, like the world needs more. Sony's tally, so far in 2010 is this: no SLRs, no good P&S models, and no lenses. Sony seems to be going for quantity, not quality. What Sony has in its lineup is this: two high MP, weather resistant, marketed as professional-grade SLRs (A900, A850) crippled by a total lack of weather resistant lenses, an aging prosumer A700, and more low end SLRs and P&S cams that one can shake a stick at. For not bringing anything to market for serious photographers, Sony is the big loser this year.

Next up: astrophotography for February 2010

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