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by Joe Henry | August 19, 2016

In recent years, digital cameras have had to offer more than just a point-and-shoot to compete in a fast-expanding market.

"Everyone uses their phones or their tablets today," said Nichole Gunn, director of marketing and communications at Incentive Solutions.

Which is why cameras with unique differentiation, or those designed for specialized uses, are seeing an uptick in interest.

Gunn, for instance, is seeing a pickup in Polaroid instant digital cameras like the Snap, Pic-300 and Z2300. These digital cameras, which print photos immediately like the old Polaroids, have been popular over the last couple of months. A new model, the $179.99 Polaroid Snap Touch, will be available this fall, adds Peter Kohan, sales manager-U.S., at C&A Marketing, which both manufactures and markets Polaroid cameras.

"It's a cool, modern device, even among kids," Gunn said, pointing out that the devices also tap into adults' nostalgia. 

Polaroid may have created instant-print cameras decades ago, but it's not the only manufacturer selling them into the incentive market. Fujifilm's second-generation Instax MINI 70 Instant Film Camera, released in June, has a suggested retail price of $139.95. 

I Want Action
Meanwhile, GoPros are also reliable sellers, said Kenneth Fishman, director of purchasing at Rymax Marketing Services. Broadly known as point-of-view (POV) cameras, these action-oriented video cameras cater to consumers who want to document their adventures. 

That said, he doesn't anticipate an uptick unless there's a significant update in GoPro technology, noting that people don't tend to line up to buy the latest and greatest model of GoPro. 

Which may be why the GoPros don't have the same momentum they once had, Fishman concedes. "They've petered a little, but the numbers are still good," he said. Models range from the $199.99 GoPro Session to the $499.99 GoPro Hero4 Black. 

One competitor putting a little bit of excitement back into the POV field is Sony, which recently released the $350 HDR-AS50R Action Cam. It comes with a wireless Live-View Remote, small enough to be strapped onto the user's wrist.

Yet just as GoPro's entry into the scene offered new functionality and excitement to the camera market, 360-degree cameras -- which can be used to build virtual reality experiences -- are beginning to pick up. It's still a very new category, though one worth keeping an eye on, as 360-degree cameras offer a unique visual experience, and the format is supported by major video distribution platforms like Facebook and Google. "We carry 360-degree cameras now," Fishman said, "though it's not huge yet, and they're not cheap." 

One 360-degree model that made a big splash when it was announced at CES earlier this year is the Nikon KeyMission 360. And Polaroid has it's own model, the $149.99 Polaroid Cube+.