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What happened to all the cameras at CES 2019?

CES 2019 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 foldable phones. 

Despite the world's media descending on the Las Vegas Convention Center, however, the photographic industry has chosen to keep a low profile again this year. 

While many had hoped Sony would take the wraps off either a new Alpha A7000 or Alpha A7S III, it was left to Panasonic to tease out a few more specs of its eagerly anticipated Lumix S1R and S1 full-frame cameras, though it elected not to reveal a full production model of the camera. 

Nikon also launched a 14-30mm f/4 wide-angle lens for its new full-frame mirrorless Z system in an effort to look interested, but that was about it – we shouldn't overlook Sharp's 8K video camera, but that's still in its prototype stages, and realistically isn't going to have a wide appeal outside the initial interest it will certainly generate. 

It didn't always used to be like this. It was only a few years ago that our inbox would be 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.  

Admittedly, many of these camera announcements were entry-level compacts, but CES has also seen some major 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. 

Olympus has started a teaser campaign for it's new flagship camera, which is set to be launched on January 24, while the large Japanese camera companies are gearing up for the huge CP+ Photo and Imaging Show in Yokohama at the end of February. 

That show has certainly taken on greater international prominence in recent years with the demise of PMA, while The Photography Show in the UK in the middle of March is a great place to get your hands on newly announced kit for the first time. With Panasonic revealing that the Lumix S1R and S1 will be officially launched at the end of March, that show could be your first chance to get your hands on Panasonic's new full-frame cameras. 

There's no Photokina this year, but that's unlikely to mean that we'll see camera announcements dry up after March. There are plenty of mouthwatering cameras that could still break cover this year, so make sure you keep an eye on our camera rumors article to see what the future may hold. 

  • Check out all of TechRadar's CES 2019 coverage. We're live in Las Vegas to bring you all the breaking tech news and launches, plus hands-on reviews of everything from 8K TVs and foldable displays to new phones, laptops and smart home gadgets.