There are two distinct gameplans shaking out in the world of cameras this year at CES, and both of them are attempts to show smartphones who's boss.
The Nikons and Canons of the world are trotting out extremely powerful full-frame DSLRs and big-sensored point-and-shoots, the types of which will put your average camera-phone to shame. The other big strategy is coming from the likes of Samsung: building wireless options into long-zoom cameras so that they can share and upload media just like a phone.
Last week, Samsung announced the Wi-Fi enabled DualView DV300, and as it turns out, the company was just getting started in terms of wireless camera announcements. Today at CES 2012, Samsung announced two more cameras and a new camcorder that will each offer Wi-Fi connectivity. The entire batch of new wireless-connected imaging products will be branded as the "Samsung Smart" line, and they'll all support direct uploads to sites such as Facebook and YouTube.
The devices will also each offer a new version of Samsung's Remote Viewfinder app that we first saw in last year's Samsung SH100. The app lets shooters sync the devices with a smartphone or tablet, remotely operate the cameras using a mobile device, and share images and video with the devices over a peer-to-peer connection. The new app will be available for Android devices when the products launch, and an iOS app is slated for a later date.
All devices in the Samsung Smart line will also be able to back up images and video to a home PC automatically when within range of the same network. In addition to the mobile app and the Wi-Fi connectivity options, Samsung also announced a new cloud storage service for all its connected devices, and the cameras will also have direct access to Microsoft's SkyDrive storage service.
Wi-Fi-Enabled Cameras: Samsung WB850F, WB150F, and ST200F
While last year's SH100 Wi-Fi camera had some fun-to-use wireless features, it was fairly modest in terms of specs. The 21X-optical-zoom WB850F, 18X-optical-zoom WB150F, and 10X-optical-zoom ST200F beef up the core hardware significantly.
The 16-megapixel Samsung WB850F is the new leader of the pocket-megazoom pack in terms of sheer zoom range, with a lens that reaches from 23mm wide-angle to 483mm telephoto. It also boasts full manual controls for shutter and aperture, a 3-inch AMOLED display, the ability to shoot 1080p video at 30fps and capture 12-megapixel stills simultaneously, and it hosts a new backside-illuminated CMOS sensor developed by Samsung.
A motion-controlled panorama mode and in-camera GPS are also in the mix, with in-camera mapping and downloadable maps with points-of-interest databases. The WB850F will be available in April at $350--a pretty low price for that feature set.
The 18X-optical-zoom Samsung WB150F also offers full manual controls, but switches up the imager to a 14-megapixel CCD sensor, which means video resolution caps out at 720p at 30fps. It doesn't have the same in-camera GPS functionality, but it does share the same 3-inch AMOLED display and motion panorama mode. Due in January, it comes in at a lower-than-expected $230.
The Samsung ST200 will cost just $200, and it packs in a 10X-optical-zoom lens, a 16-megapixel CCD sensor, 720p video recording, and a motion panorama mode. It lacks the manual exposure controls of the other two new cameras.
Wi-Fi-Enabled Camcorder: Samsung QF20
Wi-Fi connectivity isn't the only unique feature of the Samsung QF20, which offers a twistable frame that makes it adjustable for left- or right-handed shooting. The camcorder also adjusts the orientation of video footage for vertical shots.
The new camcorder has a 20X optical zoom lens and records 1080i video at 60fps, and it offers in-camera editing features that include clip trimming and the ability to add background music in-camera by loading in your own MP3 files. The QF20 also has a "Smart Background Music" features that decreases the volume of any music that's added to a clip when anyone on camera is speaking.
Due in March, the Wi-Fi-enabled QF20 is priced at $350.
[For more blogs, stories, photos, and video from the nation's largest consumer electronics show, check out PCWorld's complete coverage of CES 2012.]