You would think with all of the talk of the collapsing photo market that the 2015 International CES would be a barren landscape for the imaging category. That’s not the sense I got as I walked the halls.
Central Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center is full of hope for the industry, starting with Nikon, whose oversized display reeked of confidence. Their new D5500 is a beautiful DSLR with a simple-enough wireless technology to begin to challenge the smartphone connectivity advantage.
Then there is the 360º revolution that is taking place. The Ricoh Theta, coming in an array of cool colors, creates a spherical image that is breathtaking. I also visited Kodak’s pressroom and handled their PixPro SP360 action cam, and I began to understand that the future of the imaging market may not be in traditional cameras anymore. Its potential is in capturing the imagination of photographers in taking new kinds of images. Taking a lead from GoPro, the market is drifting to capture a new market—young, hip, adventurous—those who might have grown up on iPhones and Samsung smartphones but who are beginning to recognize the “take it anywhere” advantages these new categories of digital cameras are presenting.
CES has never really been a huge photography show . . . and what I’m seeing and hearing this year is news about 4K, wearables and drones. In some ways, even these outlying categories (from the imaging market) are directly connected to us. Most manufacturers now offer DSLR and compact cameras that can capture 4K video, and they dovetail perfectly into the need for 4K content. This can only be good for the future of our business. Sony’s new FDR-X1000V 4K Action Cam is a perfect example, and I’m sure there will be more to come.
While sales numbers may be down, these niche product categories represent a potentially successful trend that the imaging manufacturers have followed for years: innovation, creativity, and delivering new kinds of images that smartphones can’t. But this is just day one; there’s lots more to see.