2011 Predictions

Its a new year, and time to make a few predictions for 2011. Total speculation, since I have no insider knowledge, and with a few fantasy / wish list items masquerading as "possibilities". One day this terrible weather, dull and cold, might disappear and I could actually get out and take some pictures. Writing about cameras is fun, but I'd rather be using them.


NIKON

For what seems like years there's been speculation about a D700 upgrade. Basically people want the D3X sensor in a D700 type body. There's rumours of a D800 or D900 doing this and I can see it happening. The D3X is 2 yrs + old and Nikon probably feel that they can "allow" that sensor, or something like it, into a more enthusiast level (cheaper) camera. It will of cause get bought by professionals, who are as reluctant to pay high prices as anybody else.

The D300 is also getting somewhat old. It seems obvious that the D7000 sensor will get added to a higher end body & we'll get an upgrade. D400?

A D4 is due also. I would imagine slightly more pixels - 16MP? - with better video and the same high ISO performance as the D3, maybe not as good as the D3S. 

The rumour about Nikon and mirrorless, is for a small, interchangeable camera with a sensor somewhere between a compact camera and m4/3. They will introduce it, probably because they feel they should, but their heart won't be in it. Despite rumours to the contrary DSLR's aren't going anywhere for a while. With companies like Samsung and Olympus dropping out out of that field, Nikon have even less competition than before. Systems like m4/3 are very popular in the far east but the huge US and European markets are much more DSLR orientated and likely to remain so for some time. The DSLR isn't dead and likely to remain the dominant camera in these markets for years to come.

On lenses I'm no Nikon expert so I'm not going to attempt any predictions other than a new 24-70mm f/2.8 with VR.


CANON

A 1Ds Mk IV is due. Canon are currently behind Nikon in the MP race, so expect a pixel hike. The rumours are for a 32MP full frame sensor. Expect upgraded video also. I Imagine they will keep the same body shape.

At some point in the year a 600D is due, if Canon follow their usual timetable. However the 550D was such a well-specified camera its difficult to see where they can go. Would they add more MP's and make their low-end enthusiast camera have more than the 7D or 60D? I can't see that happening. So if no more MP's, there's not much point in upgrading. 

I can't see Canon only releasing one camera in the year, so will we see a 5D Mk III earlier than expected? If they follow the timetable it should be appearing at the end of the year, but maybe it will be announced late summer. I see this as a camera concentrating on video. My guess is that it will be the best specified video DSLR they can come up with. Slightly more MP's, maybe 25MP, to equal the D3X, articulated screen, raw output for video etc. 5D Mk II's are getting used to make movies and TV programmes so its logical to go in that direction.

My off the wall prediction is for some designed for video lenses for the continuous AF they will introduce in both the 1ds Mk III and 5D Mk III. How many and what type, I don't know, but I think Canon see themselves as the "inventors" of DSLR video and I think they are probably ticked off at people saying the Panasonic GH2 is a better camera for video. 2011 is the year they show the world that Canon is the leader in that field.

A mirrorless Canon? Everything I read and see tells me not. I don't think they believe in it and they are so far behind, they will have to get a lot of lenses on the market very quickly. The EIS system? Sounds total fantasy land me. A 22MP m4/3 size sensor, with ultra-fast small primes? Sounds great, and who wouldn't want it, but apart from the first rumour back in September everything has gone quiet. This obviously means it will announced next week!! 


SONY

OK, here's a real stick your neck prediction. Sony are a company that are big enough to try something daring and just shrug it off if it fails. They have a large range of DSLR's and will probably upgrade a few of them. They will also expand the NEX system and add more lenses, probably smaller than what they have. 

However I believe that the big news will come at the high end. I think they still want to be a player in the full-frame pro market. The A900 and A850 weren't the cameras to achieve this, so what do they do? I think they will go in another direction. My prediction is that they will go for a monster! A full-frame 32MP pellicle-mirror, EVF, full HD video with continous AF, raw output, hybrid stills / video camera. This will be an attempt to take out Nikon and Canon in one go, as they will price it at something like £3000. It will be their attempt to grab the pro / high end enthusiast market. It may also be a radical design, Sony have no qualms about that, and may look like the offspring of a DSLR and a video camera. They will also introduce a range of high-end video friendly lenses, designed with Zeiss, which will be phenomenally expensive.

So this is my (first) outrageous prediction for 2011. Read on for the second.

PANASONIC

The GH2 and GF1 are recently announced, so what will Panasonic announce? Well I see a 25mm f/1.4 and a "pro" zoom. Maybe the 12-75mm F/2.8 thats been talked about, which could explain the lack of a wide-angle prime so far. 

However, I see the big news as a collaboration with Leica on a GF1 follow-up. Despite both companies talking down their association, I see it as in both their interests to continue this. This camera will be primarily made by Panasonic, with design input from Leica. I believe it will have retro aspects but be modern. However in Leica tradition it will look uncluttered and simple. It will take the Panasonic EVF and have an optional optical viewfinder. To go with it there will a small number of Leica MF primes with a m4/3 mount. These will of course be very expensive and be outside of the current Panasonic range. 

So the second outrageous prediction, though I will admit this is bordering very closely on personal wish fulfillment!!



LEICA

See above. More S2 lenses - possibly an X2 announcement - dealing with all the criticisms of the X1. Some M-lens revamps. 



OLYMPUS

My initial thoughts on Olympus were "I haven't got a clue" On thinking about it more I came up with "I still haven't got a clue!" E-PL2, and E-P3 are obvious, with minor improvements. More lenses, including a 12mm prime. Apart from that I really can't see where they can go. They need something radical. A mirrorless vehicle for the 4/3 lens range is possible, but they don't want to hurt E-5 sales. Maybe a quiet year for Olympus.



PENTAX

I think they will build on the success of the K-5 and the 645D. A new mid-range camera is probably on the cards.

There are very strong rumours about a mirrorless camera. I think this may happen, and may be a vehicle for their existing range of small and pancake lenses. I don't think they will join m4/3 but will go their own way like Samsung and Sony. If they do announce something, and do remember Pentax aren't the fastest in this regard, then I think it will be an APS-C camera. I don't think it will be super small in order to accommodate their existing lenses, and may be designed to resemble their heritage cameras. Spotmatic or MZ series possibly?

SAMSUNG

We already know that its NX all the way. I see more cameras and lenses next year, with a Sony like strategy to include a camera at every conceivable price point. Maybe a new sensor with more MP's. A high-end compact could also appear.



FUJI


Fuji obviously have everything tied up with the X100. I see no more DSLR's from them. Everything depends on how good the X100 actually is and whether there is an appetite for this kind of retro styled compact in the mass market. If it remains a niche market then it may be heading for collectable status in a few years time. At its price point it has to be really good, otherwise it will sink without trace.




SIGMA


Is the SD1 with its 15MP (In real terms) Foveon sensor too late or is it going to blow everything else away. We will see. Probably neither. Always destined to be a niche product I think, though they do have an amazing lens range for it!!


I think 2011 will be the year that Sigma start producing lenses for the mirrorless / e.v.i.l systems. With the growth in this market, can they afford to ignore it? Maybe a few lenses to start with for m4/3 and Sony NEX.




RICOH


I assume we'll see more modules for the GXR. 




So there it is, my predictions for 2011. If these all come true, I'm off down the bookies for 2012!


David