Nikon’s latest DSLR, the D5100

The latest Nikon DSLR, the D5100, is short of an ultimate full-frame-sensor DSLR, but still boasts a 16.2-megapixel sensor and extras like in-camera special effects including a high dynamic range (HDR) function. This cutting-edge technology automatically and rapidly captures two consecutive images at different exposures, producing tones and highlights no single shot can match. The new Nikon has an estimated price of $850 for body and 18-55 mm VR zoom lens.

While mid-level cameras have changed hugely, the lower end hasn’t been idle. That is evidenced by Canon’s popular PowerShot ELPH line, the new release of which — the 510 HS — has a 12.1-megapixel sensor, 28 mm wide-angle lens, and niceties like image stabilization. At a suggested $350, it will keep your wallet fat and your photos luxurious.
Canon’s ultrathin PowerShot ELPH 510 HS

Further down — subsea, in fact — underwater camera maker Sealife just released the DC1400. As well as being guaranteed waterproof to 200 feet, the DC1400 has big control buttons even gloved divers can operate as well as the ability to shoot 14-megapixel still images and HD-quality video. At just 18 ounces, this $530 model will fit well in your dive bag.

Even back on solid ground, most photographers consider a tripod a near essential. Some of the most useful come from Joby, a San Francisco company whose trademark is a swiveling ball-joint construction that makes it extraordinarily flexible. Joby’s GorillaPod Micro 800, priced at $30, is designed for the new compact system cameras, accommodating camera-and-lens weights up to 28.2 ounces.

After mechanical add-ons like tripods, photographers today are most likely to rely on software and online services. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 is the $300 Swiss Army knife of software for editing, managing, and displaying digital images. Tumblr.com is a free online photography-oriented blogging site — Curto compares it to “Twitter for photographs” — that, in four years, has become a magnet for photographers anxious to share their art.

With all these new developments, what’s next for photography seems superfluous. However, the near future is sure to contain exciting developments, including cameras with built-in Internet access and technology that lets you change focus and exposure of images after pressing the shutter. “It’s an interesting time,” Curto says with near-palpable understatement, “because they’re reinventing the idea of what the camera could be.”