CES 2010 only opened today and we've already seen the announcement of 45 new compact cameras. To a great extent these launches have been about manufacturers refreshing their product ranges, but there have been a few interesting additions along the way. As try to dry ourselves off after the latest compact camera deluge, it's worth taking stock of where these latest models leave the market. What sort of specification should you be able to expect from the class of 2010?

Recent Videos

Casio FH100 - 24mm wide-angleAs we've become used to, the march of the megapixel continues apace, with 14 megapixels becoming the standard (it's present on 28 of the new cameras). Meanwhile, thanks in part to the sterling efforts companies such as Panasonic have made to promote the benefits of wide-angle capability on compacts, a similar number of the latest cameras include lenses with a 28mm equivalent field-of-view or wider. And many makers are not stopping at the the already impressive 28mm equiv. - a handful of angularly-adventurous models reach out to an effective 25 or 24mm.

The future of video more clearly defined

Sony HX5 - Full HD moviesHD video is another feature that has become de rigueur this season - 29 cameras offer at least 720p resolution, with a couple of Sony's latest models stretching all the way to 1080i 'Full HD.' We're also rather pleased to see that more efficient compression algorithms such as H.264 and AVCHD are starting to creep in alongside the card-space-consuming Motion JPEG format. Even so, HD video's capacity requirements have finally encouraged Olympus and Sony to embrace the de facto industry standard SD/SDHC memory card, while Canon and Panasonic move on to the SDXC memory format. SDXC promises cards capable of storing a disorientating 2 Terabytes of data. That should be enough to satisfy your inner Cecil B. DeMille, as it would let you shoot around 480 hours of HD footage.

Panasonic's 64GB SDXC cardFor now at least, the largest SDXC announced is Panasonic's 64GB version, which is probably enough for the moment, given that 2TB could store upwards of 400,000 images, even from these latest 14MP beasties. Even so, it's probably for the best that several manufacturers are getting keen on photo-tagging to help make sense of so many images.

Face RecognitionSamsung CL80 - Wi-Fi and Bluetooth is one of the tagging technologies beginning to show itself in this year's cameras, while Sony has joined the small club of cameras offering GPS, to allow geo-tagging images as well. And it's not just image organization on your PC that the camera makers are thinking of with all this image tagging - it's integration with Facebook, Flickr and all the other websites that the young people seem so keen on, hence Samsung's CL80 with its undiscriminating attitude to connectivity (both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0).

10MP not yet out-for-the-count

Canon A3100IS - 10MPThe result is a marketplace in which the traditional 3X zoom and VGA movie recording are as old-hat as a deerstalker. It's also one in which 10MP (and even 12MP) sensors risk being overlooked. But, in addtion to the CCD-based Canons, Casio and Sony have launched 10MP models incorporating back-illuminated CMOS sensors that promise decent low-light capability while boasting faster data rates that make all manner of multi-shot, high-speed features possible.

The model every maker wants to be seen out-and-about with is a slim, tactile, touch-screen camera. Sony has been making them for years but now, perhaps helped by the popularity of the temptingly tactile iPhone, just about everyone has one. We've not been huge fans in the past, due to a combination of insensitive touch detection and badly re-purposed button-orientated interfaces, but all involved have assured us that it'll be different this time. We'll see.

Olympus FE-4040 - Flamingo PinkThe only thing that every camera maker is agreed on is the need for color. Blue and Red color schemes have long been offered in addition to standard silver for mid-range compact, to the point that those colors have run into the normally staid world of the interchangeable lens camera. More recently a handful of more vibrant tones has burst onto the market, with creative names to challenge the magnificent 'Go ManGo' used by Dodge the the 1970s. However, while last year this trend was prevalent in the waterproof/lifestyle camera segment, it now extends to all compacts, with camera store shelves soon to be occupied by a range of hues Pantone would be proud of.

We've also yet to see any new products from Nikon or FujiFilm but, with the PMA trade show in February and the new, industry-body-backed CP+ show in Japan a month later, these latest 45 compacts represent just a taste of what's to come this year.

Richard Butler

    Zoom MP WA HD Other features
Canon PowerShot A3100 IS 4X 12 35mm   SDXC
PowerShot A3000 IS 4X 10 35mm   SDXC
PowerShot A495 3.3X 10 37mm   SDXC
PowerShot A490 3.3X 10 37mm   SDXC
Casio Exilim EX-FH100 10X 10 24mm 720p BIC
Exilim EX-H15 10X 14 24mm 720p  
Exilim EX-Z2000 5X 14 26mm 720p  
Exilim EX-Z550 4X 14 26mm 720p  
Kodak Slice 5X 14 35mm 720p TS
EasyShare M580 8X 14 28mm 720p  
EasyShare M575 5X 14 28mm 720p  
EasyShare M550 5X 12 28mm    
EasyShare M530 3X 12 36mm    
EasyShare Z981 26X 14 26mm 720p  
Olympus Stylus Tough 3000 3.6X 12 28mm 720p  
mju 9010 10X 14 28mm 720p  
Stylus-7040 7X 14 28mm 720p  
Stylus-7030 7X 14 28mm    
Stylus-5010 5X 14 26mm 720p  
FE-5030 5X 14 26mm    
FE-4040 4X 14 26mm    
FE-4030 4X 14 26mm    
FE-47 5X 14 36mm    
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS33 8X 14 28mm 720p SDXC TS
Lumix DMC-FS30 8X 14 28mm 720p SDXC
Lumix DMC-FP3 4X 14 35mm 720p SDXC TS
Lumix DMC-FP2 4X 14 35mm 720p SDXC
Lumix DMC-FP1 4X 12 35mm 720p SDXC
Lumix DMC-FS11 5X 14 28mm 720p SDXC
Lumix DMC-FS10 5X 12 28mm 720p SDXC
Samsung CL80 (ST5500) 7X 14 31mm 720p H.264 TS Wi-Fi Bluetooth
TL240 (ST5000) 7X 14 31mm 720p H.264 TS
TL210 (PL150) 5X 12 27mm 720p H.264
TL205 (PL100) 3X 12 35mm    
Sony Cyber-shot HX5 10X 10 24mm 1080i AVCHD BIC GPS
Cyber-shot TX7 4X 10 25mm 1080i AVCHD BIC
Cyber-shot W390 5X 14 24mm 720p  
Cyber-shot W380 5X 14 24mm 720p  
Cyber-shot W370 7X 14 34mm 720p  
Cyber-shot W360 4X 14 26mm 720p  
Cyber-shot W350 4X 14 26mm 720p  
Cyber-shot W330 4X 14 26mm    
Cyber-shot W320 4X 14 26mm    
Cyber-shot W310 4X 12 28mm    
Cyber-shot S2100 3X 12 35mm    
Cyber-shot S2000 3X 10 35mm    

Key to additional features:

SDXC - Compatible with SDXC memory card format
BIC - Back-illuminated CMOS sensor
AVCHD/H.264 - uses a more efficient movie compression algorithm the common Motion JPEG
TS - Touch Screen