2004: The year of the Digital SLR?|
(Friday, December 12, 2003 - 11:19 EST)
A 16 page report published by Popular Photography and Imaging Magazine this month makes a number of significant predictions for the immediate future of the digital imaging marketplace - a new Minolta Maxxum Digital SLR, possibly two new SLR and lens lines from Pentax, two new 4/3-type SLRs from Olympus, new medium-format digital bodies from Mamiya and Pentax and a lot more besides.
Read Popular Photo's report, based on a visit by three or their editors to tour the Japanese Photo Industry's big names, for the full story. In brief though, these are what we see as the key points they've made - as for their validity, only time will tell (items listed in the order Pop Photo chose to put them):
All in all some very exciting stuff, and we've only summarised certain key points - for the full story, hop on over and read Popular Photo's report!
- Fujifilm is aiming for longer battery life and wider lenses on point and shoot cameras. It also believes that retailers may be overpricing CDs of digital images, and says that the total cost of digital prints and a CD should be no more than that of film prints and processing. The company is working on enhancing its Frontier labs to attract more customers with features like automatic redeye removal.
- Nikon is apparently set on using APS sensors in its Digital SLRs, believing that they can still gain sufficient image quality. However, they are apparently continuing 24x36mm sensor research regardless. Nikon projects that the next round of digital SLRs will have resolutions of 8 megapixels or higher.
- Canon has decided to settle on 24x36mm sensors for its pro SLRs, and APS for the amateur models. Reasons for choosing the larger (and more expensive) sensors for pro cameras are better saturation, greater ISO range, less noise and better wide-angle possibilities. With the exception of some special wide-angle lenses, Canon is not intending to make a line of lenses aimed at its APS-sensor digital SLRs.
- Minolta may be about to make the plunge into the DSLR world with a 90% operational sample of a Digital Maxxum by PMA 2004, to be on the market by Photokina (September / October 2004). This camera will apparently have "a big surprise" feature.
- Pentax is envisioning two digital SLR lines - one that is even smaller, lighter and cheaper than the *ist D (possibly as light and small as their film SLRs), and another line that is feature-rich and will offer image stabilisation (either in the camera body or lenses).
- Olympus is planning two more 4/3-type Digital SLRs to follow its pro-oriented E1 - a medium priced version (probably to be shown at Photokina), and one aimed at amateurs (target date unknown). Both cameras will likely have built-in flash, and an independent lens manufacturer may soon begin producing a line of 4/3 lenses.
- Kyocera is putting its DSLR plans on hold temporarily, but is considering an APS-sensor camera in the future. In the meantime, the company is concentrating on its point and shoot cameras, with the goal of reducing shutter lag as close to zero as possible.
- Unlike Canon and Nikon who do image stabilisation in-lens, other manufacturers are looking at putting either mechanical or optical stabilisation functionality into the camera body where *all* lenses would benefit. Nikon is also considering putting stabilisation into its point and shoot cameras, whereas Canon apparently feels the feature is not necessary in such models.
- Mamiya is considering a new 10+ megapixel medium format digital camera, and possibly new anti-shake lenses to go with it. Pentax is also considering a new medium format digital, but may opt for a 24x36mm sensor to reduce costs.
- Unsurprisingly, industry execs want to see digital cameras and their manuals become simpler to use, fearing that potential customers are being scared away by the complexity.
- Camera phones may soon be due for optical zoom lenses and built-in flash from power-friendly LEDs, with the suggestion being that camera phones will kill the market for 2-3 megapixel point and shoots.
- Ricoh is dropping camera stores in favor of selling its products through its Business Equipment Division