Crystal ball gazing - a future state for dSLRs
this is a little intellectual exercise to try and work out the near future state of digital SLRs (perhaps 2010-2012).
this technology will presumably be available on both Sony & Nikon badged cameras which will force Canon to match it.
of course, Canon & Nikon in their misguided efforts to retain sales of their IS lenses may choose not to implement sensor-based IS at this stage, but eventually they will be forced to or they will see their sales in cameras and lenses decline.
one could also expect that the same camera could have a 10fps burst mode as well although initially this may be at reduced resolution of perhaps 14-16mp.
now let's see what the scenario would be if such a dSLR body was able to be marketed for $US1000 (realistically this will not be likely to happen before 2010-2012) - how would that change the scene?
So here are some of my thoughts:
the eventual demise of optical IS lenses:
I know that a group of niche / pro photographers find there are certain advantages of optical IS over sensor based IS such as ability to visualise effect in the viewfinder BUT the availability of universal, minimal cost of sensor-based IS which works on EVERY lens even manual focus legacy lenses and which can potentially be upgraded to better performance with each camera upgrade which will make the majority of photographers think twice about buying a bigger, heavier and more expensive optical IS lens.
This decline in sales will drive the economies of scale in an adverse direction for production of optical IS lenses, although there will still be a few around for niche markets, just as there are for 35mm film.
the eventual demise of the DX, APS-C and APS-H cropped sensor dSLRs:
the Canon, Nikon cropped sensor dSLRs are likely to fall by the wayside
I have never been convinced that Canon or Nikon have wholeheartedly embraced this format and have not supported it optimally by offering a full range of the highest quality lenses that the smaller sensors require.
using full frame lenses on these cameras has not been optimal as they are not well matched to the sensor size.
I suspect people would prefer to buy a cheaper 14mp full frame dSLR than a 14mp APS-C dSLR for the same price and it would not be commercially viable for Nikon, Canon & co to make even cheaper cropped sensor dSLRs.
the corollary of this is that the so called "digital lenses" designed for APS-C and DX dSLRs would no longer be of use.
the eventual demise of most current full frame lenses:
at 25mp, most current full frame lenses, even Canon's L series zooms, do not have the optical qualities to adequately match the 25mp sensor (they struggled with Canon's 16mp sensor in the 1DsMII)
these will need to be re-engineered for improved optical performance in the same way that Olympus has already embarked upon with their range and as Nikon has started with their excellent new Nikon AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G lens.
what about the even smaller Four Thirds (eg. Olympus) dSLRs:
in contrast to the APS-C & DX dSLRs, I believe the Four Thirds dSLRs will flourish because:
Olympus have shown they are committed to this format with fantastic quality and range of dedicated lenses especially designed for this format.
It will provide a contrast in capabilities to a full frame system by offering:
smaller cameras and smaller lenses for portability, travel, hiking, wildlife, astro work, macro, smaller hands, etc.
the full frame dLSR is not something you take everywhere.
better telephoto reach for the same size lenses - the reach of a hand held 600mm f/4 IS is already available.
more depth of field which will be particularly of benefit to macro work and to novices who have yet to learn the critical importance of accurate focus.
ease of use - smaller sensors tend to be easier to use for novices who have not yet learnt the concepts of depth of field, aperture, etc.
smaller image circle requirements place less demands on astrophotographic lenses & telescopes
current availability of high quality, nicely matched lenses at reasonable prices with IS already built in to the cameras.
ability to still use almost any legacy 35mm film or digital lens (except for Canon) including the nice new Nikon 24mm tilt-shift lens, AND add IS capabilities to it.
continued improvements in sensor technology will reach a point that current concerns with noise and dynamic range of these sensors will be mitigated.
high quality 10-12mp is enough resolution for the vast majority of users - how many prints larger than 20" x 30" does the average person need, and you can still do panorama photo-stitch to get more resolution for those big landscape shots.
I would prefer Olympus to further increase their options by adding IS to their super-compact E410 and to their full time live preview E330 styles of cameras as they have done in the E510/520 and E3.
Do I really believe this?
the answer is YES
I am counting on it
I have bought into the Olympus system and their excellent lenses AND I have bought into the Canon full frame system by buying a Canon 1DMIII (almost a full frame) but largely ignoring the optical IS lenses (yes I did regretfully buy the 24-105mm F4L IS and am very disappointed with its optical qualities) and concentrating on the higher quality Canon prime lenses which hopefully will have some hope of matching a 25mp sensor.
in retrospect, I probably should have waited 1 year and bought Nikon instead of Canon but at the time Nikon had nothing worth buying that really matched my medium term vision. This has changed with a couple of really nice lenses and now a sensible full frame body (the D3) albeit without IS.
over the past few years I have predicted that sensor cleaning, live preview and sensor-based IS will become important, must-have, universal technologies in dSLRs despite many people regarding them as gimmicks (If people do not have access to technologies they may not see the benefits of them) - this has almost been fulfilled and I believe will be fulfilled in the next 2yrs - just waiting on Canon & Nikon to swallow their pride and adopt the IS component now for the benefit of all photographers.
I am an amateur photographer with a keen interest in technology.
I am not affiliated with any manufacturer and I do not receive income or benefits from them.
I follow the industry closely and research it to try to ensure I make good purchasing decisions for myself.
Coming from a long term Olympus background my perspective can be a little biased but hopefully still gives an accurate view.
As I have no idea what ads will display here, they are not necessarily endorsed by me but you may well find them useful and by clicking on them it helps to pay to keep this website alive: