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Sunday, 04 April 2010

Comments

I suspect this is the side effect of the world-wide economic depression. Much the same is happening in other industries.

it's just the typical lull that comes
... at the end of the beginning.

Digital SLRs have been mostly facsimiles of film SLRs, taking rectangular images using bodies and lenses that mimicked old world gear. As the music CD mimicked the ancient LP record.

Next up? The real revolution. What are the equivalent of the mp3 and iPod that released music from the constraints of spinning disks.

I don't think it's video, but context. If a photo is a crystallization of a moment, perhaps a glimpse at the stream of time and space around it can make it deeper, easier to link with it fellow photos and easier to recall and catalog.

It may be a voice, a geotag, a snippet of video, a supporting panorama, I don't know, but a photo in a rich soup of context is next and context gathering devices (as well as your notebook), and context linking software will be there to review.

As you site helps put so much context to photography and photographers, it the perfect place to explore the context of photos.

Thus guess I.

Cheers,Alistair

"What's going to happen when there's just not much news to report?"

More people may turn their attention to, uh, photographs?

It may be that new ideas on how to use your current gear may becomes more important than the next best thing. Such as how the wide variety of adapters allow micro 4/3rds cameras to use almost any existing lens available. Shooting with Takumars on an E-P2 is a hoot...

You might add the Samsung TL500 as an interesting new pocketable offering. It appears to be a cross between the Canon G11 and Panasonic LX3. Samsung probably needs to prove itself in that market sector, but it looks promising with excellent specs.

"So I'm just wondering. What's going to happen when there's just not much news to report?. . . "

Well, I guess you're just going to have to talk about seeing things.

Dave

Perhaps we could talk about photography more....

What's going to happen when there's just not much news to report?

Well, if this goes on long enough, eventually photography writers will be reduced to writing about making photographs instead of writing about camera gear.

Won't that be a hell of a thing?

Interesting - and just by coincidence my visits to dpreview.com over the last few weeks have been "click - hmm, nothing much new here - exit". That's not a criticism of DPreview but chimes in with your thoughts. My own personal wish would be to see much more lens development, especially of quality primes for APS-C or MFT. That's one reason I have switched from full-frame Canon to Pentax K7 recently for a lot of stuff.

The industry will break down into two tiers: a small high end, catering to "philes" with plenty of disposable income, and an enormous low end of commodity products capable of producing perfectly good digital images. The middle tier will simply vanish.

This is essentially what has happened in audio. The midrange stereo system has disappeared. Most of the world listens to cheap mp3 players, while a tiny minority of audiophiles spends a fortune chasing almost indiscernable improvements in sound quality. Same thing with computers: most people now use cheap PCs or netbooks, with a tiny slice of the market paying more (Apple).

So not to worry. The "philes" will always be with us, and there will always be some manufacturer who will cater to their cravings -- for a price.

I know photography is about photographs, but dang, new enthusiast/pro cameras sure are fun to mull over.

BTW, I've been looking forward to your Panny review, for a long time ;).

No need to worry about this specific issue, Mike: for good or bad, cameras joined the world of other consumer electronics, and this means we will be subjected to nonsense wave-after-wave of new products with tiny differences, but also to significant new introductions from time to time; and there will be plenty of meat to discuss in between (the quality of that meat is another story).

I think there are more reasons to worry about the fact that, due to the very same fact stated above (cameras are another consumer electronics), some companies with no strong links to imaging are getting into this field. The paramount example would be GE, but without going to such levels, I think Sony are making a good case, as you mentioned in your previous article on the lack of continuation of the A700. Big companies manufacturing loads of different gear are not, in my opinion, good candidates to become fine camera makers. And if an example was needed, compare the Pentax Kx with any of the multiple-and-ever-changing entry dSLR models from Sony.

I just have one simple suggestion:
We can talk about photographers skills rather than camera skills!
Most people interested about photography are actually interested in camera gear and related gadgets, but photography is a real distant thing for them.

Small typo with your dates in this quote:

"But most people reading this will remember the heady days of the "core" of the digital transition, maybe 1998–2005"

It should have been:

But most people reading this will remember the heady days of the "core" of the digital transition, maybe 2015–2019"

Remember those days?

Now those were the days!

Not a big deal. Shows some of your pics, talk about photography and its craft, talk about the life of some photographers and their work, much better tham megapixels and canon or nikon!

Can´t wait for this lull, but the photo industry will try to find some new fad no doubt. Maybe a film renaissance?

[This referred to the original title, which was "Whither Will Thou Goest...." Since fixed, thanks to this note. --Ed.]

Arrrgh, the title is nonsensical...
[BEGIN insufferable stickler mode]

"Whither goest thou?" might be better, if you want an antique flavour. We've lost this separate second-person verb form in modern usage, keeping just a modified version of the third-person form. German still has it, for example when you say "Du bist". The older English "I go, thou goest, he goeth" has turned into "I go, you go, he goes". Same for "I do, you do, he does".

But asking "whither dost thou goest?" is exactly as wrong, and for the same reasons, as asking in the third-person modern form, "where does it goes?". In a quite different sentence construction, "Whither goest thou?" is fine, just as "where goes it?" would be.

[END stickler mode - insufferable mode status uncertain]

Just in case it wasn't intentional: It's "Whither Willst Thou Go", correctly. "will" is the full verb, while "go" is the infinitive.

Taking one particular case from the "120-odd new cameras this year" spiel, bear with me...

I've got a Canon G9 and a Nikon D200 (ooh, scary bed-fellows). The G9 walks the dogs, the D200 is supposedly the first stop in my "actually going out to make photographs" camera-bag (where it joins the Hasselblad and sometimes LF gear too). In practice, the D200 is now old, its 10MPel sensor and sigma lens are no longer spectacular, and altogether it's ripe for replacement.
And so I'm thinking: why not average the two digital options and get a m4/3s rig, such as the forthcoming Lumix G2? If it comes along for walkies almost as frequently as the G9 does, gets me better images (that's the questionable part, but at least I can choose to buy good glass for it), and maybe helps break me into a new creative mould, that's a good thing. That's less clutter, gear being used more to its full potential, all for minimal financial part-ex input. Digital in its rightful place, balanced between serious and frivolous... Win.

Now see, that's what you sum up as "updates or modified versions of existing cameras". Much as I'm sure dea(r)th-of-digital-inspiration will strike at some stage, I don't think this quarter is near that point.

Some could say "no news, good news". At last we can focus on what all this is really about: taking photographs. I think Alistair gets a good point in his comment. Under a semantic point of view, the "context issue" is a huge widening of photography's language. New perspectives are at hand.
As for the next gear we should get excited about, I don't think it must be looked for in the DSLR department. This bulky digitally-upgraded-film-era-fossils are simply boring because they tend to imitate an obsolete approach to the imaging process. This is why they don't make the news anymore.
People are more interested in the "iPod approach" to photography (i.e. an image-focused approach) rather than in the "audiophile approach" (i.e. a gear-focused approach). Finding new ways to take photographs is far more interesting and exciting than gear or brand worshipping.
I know many will disagree, but having a close look, for example, on the innovative features of a profane camera like the new FujiFilm HS-10 would be a breathe of fresh air.

One more voice to say "maybe we'll go back to talking about photography" instead of relentlessly talking about gear. (Glad to see I'm not the only one who came up with that.)

There are other sites?

One thing I'm wondering is if depreciation is finally starting to level off on digital cameras. I bought a Canon 40D and the WFT-E3A wireless file transfer grip (which also works with the 50D) both used on eBay in January 2009 and sold them last week for $30 more than I paid, which was on the order of %50 of the new price. So after the initial decline in value from new to used, setting aside questions like film/processing costs saved or the expense of upgrading the computer to keep up with the next camera, maybe we're getting to the point where there isn't much financial downside to buying last year's DSLR.

Certainly the dearth of new enthusiast/professional grade cameras puts a crimp on website and blog discussions; but pity the poor dead-tree magazines! Their overhead costs are huge, their advertising revenues are falling like a dropped stone...
I suspect that Popular Photography is not long for this world.

Richard mentioned that just by coincidence my visits to dpreview.com over the last few weeks have been "click - hmm, nothing much new here - exit".
Same here - I almost only go to the Micro Four Thirds forum there. That's always hoppin', though usually with questions about how to use the gear, or which gear to get. It's kind of fun and cheerful, with little grousing about manufacturers. I've found it much more useful - and informative - to track the "recent posts" link for Thom Hogan and Kirk Tuck on dpreview.

My perspective is a little different about rate of change: I got an E-520 a little over a year ago because I couldn't get good quality 8x10 prints out of the point and shoot I was using. The G1 was the only micro four thirds camera shipping, and was neither affordable nor pocketable*. Meanwhile, Nikon and Canon had a maze of twisty little product lines, all alike. Baffling! I could have been eaten by a grue!

As far as I'm concerned, the fact that pocketable, high quality cameras sprung into existence in the last 11 months is such a huge change that it makes the very idea that nothing new is happening baffling. I'm not dense - I can see things from your perspective, Mike, but I don't feel like I'm missing any drama. (I'm also spoiled, because the first DSLR I bought fixed most of the things people were complaining about from 2005-2008.)

*possibly not actually true, but I had not handled one at that time.

The "Why" will take over the "How". You'll start seeing inane articles about how to get better sunset shots or how to shoot sport. We'll miss the "Who's got better image stabilization----500 cameras compared!!!!".

It's all EVIL cameras from now on.....

Player wrote: "BTW, I've been looking forward to your Panny review, for a long time ;). "

Me too.

Please, Mike.

How 'bout this? Why not set up websites with virtual cameras. Virtual camera companies can offer virtual models online (the game people know how to do this sort of thing) and everyone could compare the specs and decide which one to buy (virtually of course) and argue about which one is best. Sort of like fantasy baseball. Fantasy photography. Could be the future.

I don't think it is a coincidence that the last "big" moment you identified was with release of the D3, which really was a game-changing camera (for me at least) in terms of high-ISO performance. But the truth is that those moments do not come along that frequently, certainly not on the current product cycle, which more closely resembles the fashion world (new style every season) than it is tied to the pace of technical innovation. Cameras aren't the only consumer good to experience this. Personal computers, bicycles, cell phones and cars are all marketed as having an annual cycle, even if the level of innovation is generally incremental. In some cases, the annual change appeals to my paranoid side. For instance, the basic form of the bike hasn't changed since Wilber & Orville (parallelogram with wheels and a chain drive), but every five years or so some change occurs which makes maintaining your current bike impractical or difficult and the new offering more appealing (threaded to threadless headsets, indexed shifting, change in bottom bracket width or threads etc.). Okay, everyone has to make a living, but puh-lease. From the manufacturers' point of view I see at least two big drivers: i) low profit margins on electronics and ii) a sense of insecurity about the pace of technological and associated social change. Why build the Leica M3 of personal computers when your horizon is hoving into view so quickly? I feel like the added features on digicams (GPS, smile-recognition, movie modes, wireless etc.) are like the movements of a mouse who has jumped from the kitchen cabinet to a hot plate: ouch! better keep dancing if you don't want to get burned . . .

I think in terms of imagining the future, we have to assume that we will find future user motivations and technical requirements difficult to fathom. For instance, given increases in processor speed, decreasing costs of storage and the confessional propensities of current net users, it wouldn't surprise me at all if the next major shift in imaging is going to be to a 24-7 digital system -- something that sits by my eye and sees what I see and just . . . records. Still images will be plucked from the stream, to the extent they are desirable at all. Sound shocking? No more so than social networking, crowd-sourcing, flash-mobs and blogging would have been to our parents. But an executive at an imaging tech company like Nikon has to be sitting around thinking about this stuff. And thinking about how to survive financially until the next social hairpin turn in the social road. How we goin' to do it? Volume, volume.

Looks like it's back to Joyful Nudes.

You're doing a fine job Mike, I actually avoid this place when all the gear talk busts out. I can't wait for it to be over...I like it a little bit and then I hate it. I much prefer you bringing peoples work here, books, thoughts..bike shopping. It's cool.

It's interesting that an April Fools joke at DPReview actually generated more buzz than the regular news. The "Rokton Circular Sensor" was a big hit, but I thought the most interesting thing about the idea was an EVIL camera that would use different modules to use old film lenses (without the hassle of stop down metering)to shoot with.
So far, the M4/3' cameras are the closest to making that a reality.

Three directions seem likely
1. Archiving restoring and displaying old formats whether slides, film negatives, jpegs or the many incompatible raw formats as each passes from common use. My example is scanning old Kodachromes of my son to merge with pictures of his son, images taken 33 years apart.
2. Integrating the camera, image processing suite and display and printing.
3. Technique mostly selecting subjects, understanding lighting, composing and configuring the camera.


Nah...the -phile crowd likes digital photography specifically because there's always related charts and graphs, and new things coming out, and brand loyalties...

If camera manufacturers can't keep pumping out new product, people will turn to stereo systems, or gun muzzles, or car engines, or what have you.

"So I'm just wondering. What's going to happen when there's just not much news to report?"

You'll just have to write more posts like this ;)

Seriously, while you might see spikes on new gear news, most of us (well, me anyway) are here for your other insights & content. Gear news is everywhere.

Sites like this one will suffer least, I think, because of the quality of the writing and the breadth of topics—photographs, exhibitions, books, photographers' careers, technical stuff, and the sheer love of photography itself.

I don't think it's over for the sites that major on camera reviews, either. For one thing, there's a chance of some oscillation between the current SLR-size cameras and compacts: we could see people move towards smaller cameras as quality continues to improve but they may well look once again at SLRs as larger cameras introduce new sensor technology. Something similar happened when camera buyers moved from SLRs towards compact 35mm cameras that offered decent autofocus and autoexposure, then back to SLRs a few years into the digital boom. The pendulum hasn't lost its momentum yet. Wait till D3S-quality sensors move down the chain, new non-Bayer (and non-Foveon) colour sensors creep in and someone does something ergonomically decent (please!) with a video device using DSLR lenses.

It was in the mid nineties (well before the "digital revolution") when someone at the NY Times proclaimed, "Never in the history of photography have so many bad pictures been taken so well."

We've no doubt gone and eclipsed that era (and comment) with digital ease. Along with other readers, I hope we can now stop measuring each other's sensor size, and perhaps take a look at: prints, essays, books, publications, exhibits- the state of the art itself. In other words, where has all this technology gotten us, has the art actually benefited, or are we forever doomed to churn out more stuff, more easily?

Hell, We'll just talk about IPads.

Actually, as much as I like to sniff that we didn't obsess as much about cameras 30 years ago, I recall studying the lists of lens and gear in the Cambridge ad every day. What is interesting to me is the handwringing that takes place when Canikon and Olympax takes a breather and don't reinvent their product line every few months. It's almost as if cameras are now computers. Oh yea.....they are. Spent
Easter with my grandkids, some Tri-X and my OM-1. Bliss! Maybe it's the surprise factor.

My main reason for visiting here is that this site offers more about photographers, photos and books then cameras compared to most sites. I can imagine visitor numbers peaking when a new hot camera is on top of the page, but somehow I expect most regulars here to have a wider interest then just gear.

As for new developments in gear, I expected things to slow down a little already, and not just caused by the depression. In my view, 2 or 3 years ago most cameras passed the point where increasing image quality really mattered for most users. Compared to film, most digital offerings are at least as good now, when it comes to prints. Back in film days, I used a Mamiya 645 and a Canon T70, and my present Nikon D80 is pretty much in between them when I look at my prints. Sure, there are some differences, but nothing that kills a picture, more like new quirks to get used to.

The main developments I am still waiting for are on handling. Right now many camera's are a tad big and complicated, more technician oriented then photographer oriented. Looking at the new mirrorless micro's and the Leica X1 and its limited controls, I expect to see some development in that direction. Some day Canikon will come up cameras with slightly bigger sensors, closing in on APS quality (The G10 and G11 already get surprisingly close and offer the handling I think a photographer prefers). Someone will reinvent the collapsible viewing hood and perhaps even come up with an APS or fullframe shaped like the old Hassy for waist level and tripod shooting (I would love a 3 inch top LCD with viewing hood and loupe). Like many, I do not need more pixels and huge files for my work, so the present MF offerings are not that interesting (and way beyond my budget). I would gladly settle for the guts of my D80 shoe-horned into an old M645 body. Anyone here remember the old Rollei SL 2000F?

Those developments will only appear once camera makers can no longer make a significant difference on pixels, noise and dynamic range. I think we are closing in on that moment.

This could be why there is so much emphasis on rumors nowadays. Create news at the slightest hint of a rumor and keep the fire going. But this gets dull and tiresome.

The companies themselves play a similar game by announcing products far, far in advance of release. The Panasonic m4/3 14mm prime lens was initially announced over a year ago and still is nowhere in sight and likely not to be so for some time.

I also wonder if the market, even in good times, can continue to support a relentless march of new camera releases. My wife is perfectly happy using her iPhone and years-old Canon SD700. I myself, who has been through some amount of gear churn in search of the best tools for my needs, feel like I'm in a good place now without the need for any new gear purchases for the foreseeable future, except for another lens or two.

"What's going to happen when there's just not much news to report?"

I'm hoping you'll write a lot about the film you're shooting in your Mamiya 7 and the prints on MCC 110 you're making from those negatives. :-)

As a certain major forum, D*R, largely ignores the introduction of mainstream P&S cameras - certainly so far as reviews are concerned - they would be in no position to complain about the lack of action on the digital photography front. In fact they (and the other major review sites) are not that quick off the mark even with DSLRs, unless they come from the Big Two. So I think there is more to be wrung out of the digital camera scene than the major players actually achieve.

The photography-phile outlook as suggested by David S. is troubling. Has anyone else shopped decent quality but affordable audio gear during the past few years? Our new camera purchases might be relegated to choosing between high-end models hewn from unobtanium and regular-guy models sold in blister packs at the discount stores. Awful.

My first thought for the digi-daisy chain-free future was we'd see a shift away from the modern need for storage cards having more capacity than the lunar lander computers and to cameras that bolster technique therefore fewer shots. How sweet it would be if our cameras would encourage the improvement of the artistry of photography. I suggest two camera system approaches.

1.) Hi-def video cameras with fixed high quality zoom lenses. The "spray and pray" photographer would have 100 to 200 frames from which to choose a particular masterpiece.

2.) High quality but super slow frame rate still-photo cameras for old-school folks like me. A frame rate of, say, twelve shots per hour would be about right. Considering I'd probably change the lens at some point during that hour I might not need the full twelve frames.

BTW, I've been looking forward to your Panny review, for a long time ;).

Ditto

I think people spend too much time thinking about equipment, not enough about photography. Maybe a lack of new "product" will lead to more discussion about actual photos :)

Also, at what point are the 'huge improvement' opportunities over the previous model exhausted? I shoot with a D300 now and my equipment interest is in lenses. I'm not contemplating a new body, frankly, I can't see a reason to move to something else.

As the "lower" end of the market gets better the differences between it's performance and the performance of the higher end of the market are harder to discern. Happened with cell phones vs land lines, MP3 players vs whatever was before...etc. Small and very very small sensors continue to get better and better. Sure the technological advances are also part of the newer larger sensors but for the most part..."so what?"

The image quality differences between cameras is absolutely impossible to see when digitally projected. For the few of us still printing regularly the choice of paper, printer seems to make about the only discernible difference.

Then a very interesting thing happened. As I was about to buy a large mega-pixel cell phone my daughter introduced me to her 3 mp iPhone and a whole new world opened. Now as often as not I use software to make my digital images resemble my iPhone images. Suddenly it's photography again.

I come here mostly because you educumate ignoramuses like me on all of the old photographs that I should admire. I like your book reviews and when I have the money usually buy through your links. Gear reviews and news I can get anywhere else in many redundant gear websites.

Remember when they were going to close the patent office because everything that could be invented had been? I am sure there will continue to be inovations in camera gear. Convergence of video and still gear will be one. But the real question is - will the camera become more like an appliance than a fine tool. Who wants to read about new toaster or microwave models?

When photo product consumerism fades to the background the computer technicians, who financed the most recent digital photo wave, will also lose interest and move on. (Actually, they already are; they're making home movies.)

Like a house that quiets after the kids have grown and flown (a normal but increasingly rare phenomenon) those of us who remain engaged in pursuit and appreciation of photography will then be left with ... photography. Not megapixels, not dynamic range, not lens sharpness, not auto-focus. Just photography.

This is your personal site, Mike, and of course you're free to use it to ponder whatever you please. But if you're looking for opinions for directions in a theoretical (and unlikely) post-consumerist era I'd suggest leading discussions into other photographic spheres. Photographic discussions here, while often stimulating and interesting, tend to land within pretty narrow populist boundaries.

Interesting comment about the middle disappearing. Hadn't thought of it because that's what I'm interested in. But the audio analogy is too close for comfort. I'm still using my 20-year old receiver. And no doubt the interest in taking and publishing photos will diminish (hate to use the word fad).

And if my interest in the middle is typical (20-year old receiver, waiting to replace 6-year old digital camera), we middlers won't support that market. But we did just replace our 25-year old television (but that was somewhat forced by the end of analog).

But I've been taking pictures for fifty years and listening to music for as long, but with waxing and waning interest.

For those advertisers and manufacturers out there, my 6-year old Konica-Minolta A1 died and I will be buying a replacement in the next couple of months. Haven't done it yet because there isn't a follow on. Six years later and no faster, lighter (or at least not heavier and bigger), wider angle camera is here. Maybe I'm asking for too much, as David S. pointed out the middle doesn't hold. I don't think this group will offer many suggestions, but in case you're tempted I require a decent EVF. The Samsung TL500 would fit the bill well enough but for the lack of an EVF. The Sony mentioned lacks that and 24mm. I'll settle for µ4/3 with 24mm to whatever zoom, but I don't really want interchangeable; and that lens doesn't exist AFAIK at least not out in the open.

Mike,

But wasn't last year exciting? I remember you clamoring earlier in life about wanting more different KINDS of cameras, rather than just the small sensor digicam OR largeish digital sensors getting jammed into old SLR bodies? Newthink, I remember you calling it.

Since the fall of 2008, we got

1. The M9, admittedly, a big honking digital sensor jammed into an old rangefinder body, so not very newthinky.
2. The S2, bigger honking sensor in a weather sealed body. A studio camera you can get wet. Almost newthinky.
3. Along that lines, the Pentax 645D, which is oldthinky, but kind of a big deal, given the price.
4. Speaking of price, what about that Leaf back you can get with a Phase One body and 80mm lens for under $10k? Not newthinky, but that's a D3x kind of price. And that's no bad thing.
5. A plethora of m43 cameras of many different shapes and different anti-shake systems. Newthinky.
6. Better autofocus in those Sigma thingies? I still think about the color I got out of my DP1. If only the shutter would fire when I told it to...

7. New lenses! A 16-35 f4 VR is definitely newthinky. A 100mm Macro VR with VR that works for macro subject matter? Not newthinky but newsworthy.

Imagine one of the big two introducing a weather sealed fastish fifty (F2?) with VR!

While I would be perfectly happy with a phone camera of digicam quality replacing digicams, I would be happier if they just cussing put a phone in a competent digicam like the Canon SD800 (or successor). Have you seen cell phone chipsets lately? They're tiny. It'll be a while until those m43 cameras are in the same price range as an entry level dslr, but when it is, I expect Canikon to fight it by putting more enthusiast features in their $600 class cameras, which will be no bad thing. And real competition in the high end between Pentax, PhaseOne, Leica, and Canikon? I say that's ripe for innovation as well.

Admittedly, this golden era of innovation is bound to slow down sometime. But I'm betting we've got another few years left to go.

I'm just waiting for camera companies to re-introduce film cameras. Of course, they will have to have some marketing spiel such as "master the new medium of film" or similar.

BTW - notice how everybody talks about new cameras and lenses always get just a passing mention?

When the original Canon 5D came out we had an affordable digital SLR that would do anything most people needed - it's just taken a while for everyone to realise that cameras are now good enough.

Same with film cameras - when the Canon AE1 came out, anyone could buy a camera that was good enough.

Now we'll see a gradual drift back to a smaller number of people who actually take pictures

We might be treated to "classic digital camera" reviews.

Though it's only slightly related, I wanted to mention that your choice of Camera of the Year 2008 is looking better every day. Just as happened with the original 5D, more and more of the impressive pictures I find out about on various sites turn out to have been taken with it. You can argue about weak colour separation and second-tier focus and whatever but people who go out and make great pictures seem to have a particular fondness for the Mk II. That speaks volumes.

I went into a camera shop today and asked to put my SD card in one of their compact cameras so I could look at the results at home.

The shop assistant obliged - even let me take his photograph - and this afternoon I uploaded the photos.

At 100% I can see jpeg artifacts and some smearing of detail, but at normal viewing - say 25% - the image looks great. It has lovely color, tone, and contrast.

Why would I want for anything more?

And no, it is just a small sensor camera - not a micro 4/3 or APC sensor camera.

The last compact camera I bought was a Nikon P5100 that I sold a couple of years ago.

I think the camera I shot with today is better than that.

Why would I want a dSLR if all my shots are only going to be uploaded rather than printed, or if printed then at no more than 10x8?

The future is in smaller cameras. Not 'too' small because fingers and thumbs do not get smaller with each iteration, but just the right size, like Goldilocks' porridge.

So my guess is that there will continue to be lots to talk about because things are just getting better and better.

It it likely that Nikon, Canon and the rest will stop making high end cameras in volume? Maybe. When they do we will all have to pay Leica prices for our gear.

Hardware touts have several choices.
1) Get a job
2) Give up hardware and channel David Vestal
3) Move down market and compete with the cell phone touts

Check out Thom Hogan's Apr 5th article "The Backlash". Looks like you're in good shape.

I guess it all comes down to whether you are a possessions person or an experience person. I like doing photography, the whole process from start to finish. It makes me happy and content. So I really don't care whether the rate of new product introduction has slowed down or not. For me the game changer with digital was the Canon 5d. Full frame, not too big, not complicated, did what I wanted and I haven't bothered to upgrade. I still shoot film and I haven't upgraded anything there because I'm happy with what I've got.

If you are a possession type of person, that is defined by them, then you HAVE to have the latest status symbol. DSLRs were that, but I wagger that those people will home in on some other consumer product that confers high status soon. My prediction will be 3 video/photography as the big electronics companies are pumping considerable amounts of time and money into its development at the moment. Then 2d imaging will be so passe.

This has happened with computers, too - we've hit limits on what we can actually use. A D3x will print 24x36 inches beautifully, and most people don't have room for a 44-inch printer the size of an upright piano, which you'd need to see the benefit of a better camera. Even a 24-inch printer is a very unusual item (and any good, reasonably recent DSLR will reach the limits of a 13-inch printer, the largest most hobbyists have).
By far the biggest market for high-end computers today is teenage gamers. Most of the rest of us don't need what the computer companies are selling - Photoshop can use up a LOT of power (and even more RAM), but the number of serious users is much smaller than the number of gamers, and apart from Apple, which hasn't updated its computers in a year, the manufacturers largely design for the gamers and force the pros (video editors, scientists, etc... are even smaller markets than photographers) to use machines designed for games. Standard business uses found "good enough" computers somewhere between 1989 (the Mac IIci) and 2005 or so, depending on how heavy their use was.

-Dan

I was wondering how the featured comment thing works - Glenn Gordon suggests that it might be a good idea to be able to see commentators products, but that comment doesn't seem to appear elsewhere - and there isn't a link to his website (if provided) which might be the obvious way to do as he suggests

on a note not really related to photography at all, there is still a middle in the audio world. it just is much lower profile than it once was. there are a number of companies that produce nice reasonably priced individual components that you can build a system with that will blow away a midrange hifi system from the 70s. it will be cheaper than a Bose system in box thingy too and of course sound better. unfortunately, it has gotten much harder to buy these systems than it once was because there is much less demand for them than there once was (this is actually due to how good crappy audio equipment is these days in my opinion). you can't find them in big box stores and high end audio places will only stock a few of them and steer you away from them because it represents the bottom of the barrel for them. you can find great deals on them on the good old tubal interweb though with a bit of patience.

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