In our second instalment of our coverage of CES 2016, we focus on photography, videography and must-have smartphone accessories. Whilst photographers and videographers are pretty spoilt for choice when it comes to trade shows, many manufacturers now choose to announce their consumer/prosumer and occasionally professional products at CES. As with a great deal of technology, yesterday's high-end gear is being ever-more democratised, allowing us all to own our own drones, 4K video cameras and other bits of kit - for ever-decreasing prices - a lot of which is now largely on par and sometimes ahead of equipment used by broadcast and film industry professionals. Photo and video products are seldom immune from this trend - though owning gear is one thing, being able to use it is another - and CES 2016 had a few gems up its sleeves both for early-adopters and those looking for something more traditional.
PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEOGRAPHY
On the photography side, Nikon chose CES to announce its new D5 camera, sitting as the new flagship of its professional range. Due in March, with a price tag equal to that of a small car ($6,500/£5,200 body-only), and boasting extremely high-end features and capabilities, it's very much a camera for professionals, although Nikon paired this announcement with details of their slightly more affordable, but still undeniably professional D500 ($2,000/£1,730 body-only), packing many of the D5's features into an APS-C format body.
Nikon's new full-frame D5 (left) and DX (APS-C) format D500.
The D5 will offer a 20.8-megapixel full-frame sensor, 153-point autofocus, 12-14fps continuous burst, 4K video, ISO sensitivity up to an insane 3,280,000 and a new EXPEED 5 processor. Its D500 little brother is broadly in line with the majority of those features, whilst packing the aforementioned APS-C sensor, but drops its ISO sensitivity to a more modest but still staggering 1,640,000.
Interestingly, the D500 also shoots 4K video, but whilst the D5 is thought to be limited to just 3 minutes, the D500 is rumoured to be able to shoot up to 30 minutes. As more details about the two new models surface, undoubtedly this huge difference will be proved right or not (the confusion is due to a few conflicting press releases by Nikon at CES), so we'll soon see.
Nikon have packed a hell of a lot of good stuff into their new flagship professional camera, launched at CES.
On the lens front, Panasonic and Olympus were the only notable companies bringing out some shiny new glass to the party, with both offering new telephoto lenses for Micro Four Thirds cameras. Panasonic's offering was the Leica DG Vario-Elmar 100-400mm f/4-6.3, whilst Olympus brought along their M.Zuiko 300mm f/4 IS Pro, which is now one of the fastest long lenses available for M43 camera bodies.
For the hordes of videographers out there shooting on cameras such as the incredibly popular Panasonic GH4, you now have the option of long lenses with pretty fast apertures, something that's been a long time coming to the M43 platform.
• The Leica 100-400mm is available for pre-order for around $1,800. • The Olympus 300mm is available for pre-order for around $2,500.
The Olympus M.Zuiko 300mm f/4 (left) and Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmar 100-400mm f/4-6.3.
After a few design iterations, Kodak's prototype 8mm film camera was finally seen in the flesh at CES 2016.
With some of the lower-end videography announcements already mentioned above in our previous CES article, the last and least expected announcement in videography circles came not from Arri, RED or some other high-end firm, but from industry stalwarts, Kodak, a company celebrating its 50th year making Super 8mm film.
Whilst still very much a prototype, Kodak introduced a prototype 8mm film camera, currently simply called the Kodak Super 8 Camera, and plans to have a full set of cameras, film development services and post-production tools available soon to allow film-makers to re-discover the now rarely-used medium.
With a built-in 3.5" display, an interchangeable C-mount lens mount, new 6mm prime and 6-48mm zoom lenses, manual focus and iris, USB and HDMI connectivity, variable frame rates (9-25fps) and an integrated rechargeable battery, the camera promises to blend a lot of old and new technologies into a very interesting product.
With a 50ft. colour cartridge costing around $50-$75 for around 2 minutes 30 seconds of film (including processing, digital scanning and delivery back to you), and the camera costing a rumoured $400-$750, it's going to be a very bespoke tool to add to a film-making toolbox, with no easy learning curve either for those not accustomed to film...but it heralds the very welcome return of a trusted old friend.
One point to note is that Super 8 film is usually digitally scanned at no greater than standard definition resolution (there are a few exceptions, depending on the quality of the film stock and processing), so as Kodak have alluded to a 'full set of cameras' being available, film-makers may choose to see if a 16mm version of the camera might appear, yielding HD and 2K digital scans.
After all, with practically every other stand at CES showing at least 4K technology, it seemed rather quaint for Kodak to be pushing to re-introduce basically an SD level of technology, although that would be largely missing the point!
As you can imagine, CES is a pretty big deal in the tablet and smartphone world - for every company other than Apple that is, who choose not to attend - but aside from the numerous new phone and tablet releases, there's an ever developing market in the accessories that are announced at the show. With most being predominantly auto or audio-centric, we've chosen to look at a handful of others that may be of interest to the biking community.
With modern smartphones packing the computing power equivalent of a late 1990s desktop computer into your pocket, it certainly makes sense to look after them, so it's no surprise that manufacturers like Urban Armor Gear, Moshi (with their shock-absorbing 'Endura' case) and even Pelican were in attendance, offering their latest protection. One surprising new case came from MTB body armour manufacturers, D3O, in the shape of the new GEAR4 and EFM cases, which feature the company's well-known D3O impact protection material, and are available in a range of colours as well as classic orange.
From left to right: D30's GEAR4 case, Pelican's Marine case, Olloclip's Studio accessories kit, Moshi's Endura case and mount.
Of course, your smartphones take megapixel photos or record 4K video is pretty much standard fare now - whether you're a hobbyist or a pro grabbing a quick clip for Instagram - and whilst companies like Hitcase have been making great accessories to give you improved control over your images for a while, this year's CES saw one of the heavyweights of the lens making industry, Zeiss, joining the fray in partnership with Fellowes, to launch the ExoLens system for Apple iPhone 6. Three lenses - a 2.0x telephoto, a 0.6x wide and a macro - have so far been announced, and the ExoLens system also adds the ability to tripod-mount your phone, with the product due to be available in late Q2 2016.
The ExoLens system features three interchangeable Zeiss screw-on optical elements for iPhone 6 models.
Taking your iPhone a stage further towards being a semi-pro video camera was Olloclip, who announced their modular Studio system. Like Hitcase, Olloclip already sell a variety of clip-on optical products to add macro, fisheye, wide, zoom and polarizing lenses to your iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S4/S5, but the Studio case adds a 'finger grip' system, as well as standard threaded tripod mounts, cold shoe adapters (for adding lights or a microphone), and a kickstand.
• Moshi's Endura case is available from February for around $60. • Pelican's Marine case is also available from February for $80-90, depending on the model. • D30's GEAR4 and EFM cases are being rolled out though partner brands worldwide and will cost upwards of €30 ($32), depending on the model. • Olloclip's Studio range for various iPhone models is available from February for around $90. • The ExoLens system with Zeiss optics is due Q2 2016, with current guide pricing of $299 for the frame plus wide and macro lenses. The telephoto lens will come separately for $199.
And as if all that wasn't enough, once you're off the trails, you can now even turn your smartphone into a virtual reality headset - perfect for watching your 3D 360° run down Whistler's A-Line of course - by clipping on the Speck Pocket VR CandyShell Grip.
Similar to the much-hyped and soon-to-be-available Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PlayStation VR, Samsung Gear VR...the list goes on (headsets that were aplenty at CES 2016), the Pocket VR is expected to retail for around $70 later this year, just a bit cheaper than the $400-$3000 price range for the more heavyweight models.
But if you want your VR kicks right now, you can pick up I Am Cardboard's VR headsets for as little as $15 right now, ready for use with your mobile device in seconds.
Fancy a budget VR headset? Clip one onto your smartphone and watch Danny rip...below...
No VR headset? Try loading the video below full-screen on your mobile device and sitting on a swivel chair. As you turn, your view will move around the video as Danny takes on Cascadia, giving you the ability to look in any direction...left, right, up and down.
About the Reviewer: Oli da Costa moved into video production and post-production 16 years ago, filming, editing and creating motion graphics for film, TV and online under his company, Fraktiv. In 2011, Oli co-founded geebeebee media, producing and filming content for Pinkbike, Crankworx and leading bike brands. Oli also advises international broadcasters on production equipment, editing techniques and workflow. Industry affiliations: Adobe Community Professional, Sony Independent Certified Expert