CES 2015

Top camera and camcorder trends for 2015

At CES 2015, digital-imaging devices will continue to go 4K, wireless, and waterproof

Published: December 29, 2014 02:00 PM
Devices will get faster: Even camcorders will have powerful burst modes for still photos

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Most of the innovations we expect to see in 2015 cameras and camcorders will build on trends from 2014. For example, ultra high-definition video, or 4K, will grow in importance and appear on more digital-imaging devices. We are also looking forward to new camera-body designs and advanced cameras with more powerful imaging sensors.

If you want to see several camera trends embodied in a single product, look at a new GoPro action cam. In the fall of 2014, GoPro started to include 4K video capture in select models, improved sensor performance (for low-light shooting), and added additional burst modes for capturing up to 30 frames per second. We expect many camera and camcorder companies following suit. Here are more details.

GoPro's 2014 models (from left): Hero 4 Silver Edition, Hero, and Hero 4 Black Edition

Blurred lines between cameras and camcorders. Until a few years ago, you could still clearly distinguish between cameras (used mainly for still photos) and camcorders (mostly for video). But cameras now not only capture HD video, some are even including 4K video. Conversely, camcorders are including many still camera features. For example, the lead photo in this article was shot using a GoPro, which allows you to shoot a burst mode of 30 frames per second. (Note: I Photoshopped sections from those 30 photos into one image.) For 2015, the lines between cameras and camcorders will continue to fade.

Improvements in 4K video. Ultra high-definition video, or 4K, will be appearing in more models, and how it’s captured will also evolve. One critical enhancement should be image stabilization—in fact, you shouldn't buy a 4K camcorder without it. Because there is so much detail, jittery 4K video can be very difficult to watch.

Camcorders will also improve their ability to shoot stills. At this year’s Photokina trade show in Europe, Panasonic demonstrated how 4K video provides a revolutionary way of capturing still photos. Each frame of video has about 8 megapixels of resolution, so you can isolate the perfect still image from the hundreds (and possibly thousands) of frames. A number of manufacturers should help consumers take advantage of this.

Find your next digital camera with our camera guide and Ratings.

More digital-imaging devices will include waterproof exteriors

New camera-body types. Smart phones take good pictures, but the technology has some inherent limitations. In 2014, Sony created inventive cameras that you can clip onto a phone. These QX-series lens-style cameras combine the best of two tech worlds: the vivid touchscreen LCD and cellphone networking capabilities of a smartphone, with the high quality of a dedicated camera's optical zoom lens and large sensor.

In addition, 2015 should bring more waterproof camera bodies, which allow photographers to shoot underwater or in rugged shooting situations. Also, there will be more smaller, wearable action cams, which work with a variety of mobile apps.

Perhaps the most radical, and even controversial, development will be the growth in the market for flying drones with video and still-photo capabilities. The expanding product offering will continue to provide photographers with the ability to shoot in unreachable places, from clifftops to the midst of fireworks displays.

More powerful sensors, processors and features. Each year we see more devices with very large, full-frame sensors that can capture highly detailed photos or video, at a faster rate, in lower light. For instance, at this year’s Photokina trade show in Europe, Canon had an intriguing display that showed how its newest cameras can shoot usable photos in near pitch-black settings.

You’ll also see more smart features, such as offshoots of face detection, that let the camera automatically compensate for various shooting scenarios. Additionally, most of the new cameras and camcorders will include wireless features for convenient sharing.

—Terry Sullivan

More cameras like this GoPro Hero 4 will wirelessly connects to a smart phone

Click on the image above to find all of Consumer Reports' coverage from CES 2015.

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