CES 2018: what happened to all the cameras?

CES 2018 in Las Vegas is coming to a close, and we've seen the usual conveyor belt of weird and wonderful kit, from massive 8K TVs to concept electric cars. 

Despite the world's media descending on the Las Vegas Convention Center, however, the photographic industry has decided to keep a very low profile this year. The one big announcement has been Panasonic's Lumix GH5S hybrid mirrorless camera, while Nikon paraded a exotic super-telephoto 180-400mm zoom lens that costs about the same as a decent used family car. 

We perhaps shouldn't overlook the Lenovo Mirage and Yi Technology DayDream VR180 cameras, although while they certainly look fun they don't quite stir the photographer inside us. And that's been about it.

But it didn't always used to be like this. It was only a few years ago that our inbox would get clogged up with a multitude of CES camera announcements, while those of us on the ground at the Convention Center would spend our time dashing round trying to make sure we saw everything and everyone we needed to see. Possibly with a hangover. 

Admittedly, many of these camera announcements were entry-level compacts, but CES has also seen some big camera launches in recent years. Nikon has used the show to announce the likes of the D3300, D5500, D4, D500 and D5, while Canon unveiled the PowerShot G9 X Mark II, Fujifilm the X-Pro1 and X100S and Sony the Alpha A5000

On the slide

From a photography perspective though, CES has been on a bit of a slide in recent years. The writing was on the wall when the Photo Marketing Association's (PMA) imaging technology trade show (which was also held in Las Vegas) was incorporated into CES and rebranded as PMA@CES from 2012. 

While the big guns like Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Sony and Samsung (remember them?) would show off their latest camera kit at their vast stands in the Convention Center, others would opt for small booths and meeting rooms instead, while the PMA itself was tucked away at the nearby Venetian hotel. 2015 was the last PMA@CES before the event disappeared completely, getting swallowed up by the juggernaut that is CES.

Factor in how the market has shifted in recent years, from a multitude of high-volume, low-cost compacts to more premium models (and fewer of them) with longer life cycles, and it sort of makes sense that there's now a distinct lack of camera news at CES. You don't want to want to risk your new flagship product getting lost in the noise of such a vast show.

There’s been a growing trend in the past couple of years for manufacturers to announce new camera kit later in January and during February

But it's not all doom and gloom. There's been a growing trend in the past couple of years for manufacturers to announce new camera kit later in January and during February, as the large Japanese camera companies gear up for the huge CP+ Photo and Imaging Show in Yokohama at the beginning of March. 

That show has taken on greater international prominence in recent years with the demise of PMA, while The Photography Show in the UK at the end of March is a great place to get your hands on that newly announced kit for the first time. 

Then there's also Photokina in Cologne on the horizon. Now occurring annually (it use to be on a biennial basis), Photokina is the world's leading trade show for the photo industry, and is often the place where we get to see the most exciting new cameras and kit.

So while CES might have been a bit of a let-down for camera fans, there's plenty to look forward to. Keep an eye on our camera rumors article to see what might be coming soon.

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