Depending on your perspective, the digital camera market is either mind-bogglingly fascinating or mind-numbingly boring. Every day, legions of dedicated shutterbugs pore over spec sheets and review sites, blogging breathlessly about the latest features and innovations, while almost everyone else yawns at camera makers’ constant leapfrogging and just wants to aim and fire.
Nikon, Canon and other major Japanese players have long been locked in a struggle for supremacy in both the D-SLR and point-and-shoot realm, but as the holiday shopping season draws closer the imaging market is changing in significant ways. One of the most interesting trends is the growing middle ground between these two main categories.
Olympus and Panasonic have both released hybrid models using their Micro Four-Thirds system to bridge the gap between the versatility and image quality of D-SLRs with the convenient size of a pocket camera. Both utilize a larger sensor than their point-and-shoot brethren while also offering the option to switch lenses.
This week Ricoh entered the ring with a small unit that offers detachable lens-and-sensor units that load like game cartridges. None of these cameras can boast a D-SLR’s image quality or ability to shoot action or low-light, but they’re close enough that, for some users, the ability to shove it in your jacket outweighs the extra depth, sharpness and action-stopping abilities of their larger cousins.