Car enthusiasts have long enjoyed what are called "spy shots." Automotive manufacturers go out of their way to keep new models secret until their official introductions, but they also need to test the cars on real roads, out in the real world, and they need to take them places. Fanatical "spy photographers"—sheetmetal paparazzi—specialize in bringing in shots of sometimes heavily disguised or camouflaged cars spied "en route" or in the wild; the pictures are then dissected by automotive journalists to try to identify just what the cars might be. The shot above, for instance (which, obviously, comes from worldcarfans.com) was labeled all over the 'net as being BMW's new Z Vision Concept, on its way to the Frankfurt Auto show.
Likewise, photo enthusiasts now enjoy tracking "leaks" of upcoming cameras prior to introduction. The latest leak, for instance, involves Panasonic's GF1, which would be its second (or third, if you count the G1 and GH1 as separtate cameras) Micro 4/3 offering and an answer to Olympus's still hot-off-the-production-line E-P1.
Contrary to popular belief, camera companies don't leak information about upcoming products deliberately. But the information gets out for the same reason news about upcoming cars does—the companies have to get the cameras into the hands of beta-testers for real-world use, to gather crucial early feedback and identify teething problems. And, of course, the more people who know a secret, the less secure the secret is.
I've personally never had much interest in "pre-launch" buzz, except perhaps in a few select cases, but I do understand the appeal. I'm sure for some it's a lot of fun to track it all. Generally, I'd rather wait until something is real to talk about it. That's why TOP isn't the greatest source for the latest news about leaks.
(But just for the record—in Nostradamus mode, and we all know how painful that can be—I'll venture the guess that the biggest news this coming Fall will be from Sony, and will concern DSLRs. Dum-de-dum. I'm just sayin'.)
Oh, and about that picture at the top of this post—according to worldcarfans, BMW says it's actually a 5-year-old design study being transported from BMW design studios in Germany to a storage facility. Is that true, or is it further indirection, a sort of nefarious verbal/conceptual camo? I guess that's all part of what makes spy shots, like camera news leaks, so intriguing.
(Thanks to Andreas Sakka)