Disclaimer! This page is a collection of my own predictions based on information from various rumor sites on the internet. I have relationships with some of these companies, but don’t have any inside information on new product announcements. These are my own thoughts and predictions on having spent the last 15 years in the industry. Even if I did have information, that usually means I’m under a non-disclosure agreement so I cannot disclose that here. That being said, this is just a curated collection of what is floating around the web and my own opinions. Some of these may be accurate, some probably pure speculation. But it is interesting as our industry is changing faster than ever and its a fascinating time in the photography world for sure! Now on to the speculation…
Nikon are in a very good place today. In the last year we’ve seen them enter the mirrorless space with 2 pretty decent offerings – the Z7 and Z6 which are two full-frame mirrorless cameras. These cameras feature the new Z Mount which currently has the first 3 lenses that are available.
There are two major issues for Nikon moving forward. First is continued development in the DSLR space and the second is competing with Sony in the mirrorless space. How will a shrinking industry impact DSLR development? I don’t think Nikon have much to worry about as cameras such as the D850 are still some of the best you’ll find. I don’t expect to see a successor immediately.
As for mirrorless, they have an excellent start. The Z7 and Z6 are second only to the Sony lineup and the biggest difference is Autofocus. Nikon must improve in this area and they need an eye-af system that competes with the Sony lineup.
Blackout-free shooting is also something to implement. Though not as essential, the only way to get this is with a stacked CMOS sensor. Sony have this on the A9, RX100 Va, RX100 VI and the RX10 IV. Its still a technology that is expensive so you see it on high end cameras and high end point and shoot cameras. While this is important, I believe that AF needs to be Nikon’s priority.
Processing power is important too. The Z6 is excellent for video, but 10-bit is external only. This does out-spec Sony, but internal video at 10-bit is more practical for most video shooters.
Nikon has an extremely solid and committed user base. Impressively so. But its also important to entice users of other systems as well. I really believe they are an autofocus overhaul away from making this possible.
The next few years for Nikon will be interesting.
• Z Mount 58mm f/0.95 Noct (2019)
» Nikon Z7 45.7 Megapixel, Full Frame Mirrorless
» Nikon Z6 24.5 Megapixel, Full Frame Mirrorless
» Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S
» Nikon NIKKOR Z 35mm f/1.8 S
» Nikon NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S
Canon have work to do, but the last year wasn’t all that bad. There was much disappointment over the Canon EOS R, but on the bright side the lenses have had much praise and are incredible. The price point of the system is high which makes it hard to get people to invest in with the first body being weak on video and having only one card slot.
Most importantly, Canon needs a new sensor and processor that will do 4k correctly. They have the autofocus technology and they can build excellent cameras and lenses. But the sensor needs an overhaul. Its speculated that the EOS R is a modified version of the sensor used in the Canon 5D IV.
And like Nikon, Canon have been in the DSLR game. How does this impact the development cycle there? If I were Canon – the DSLR lineup is excellent right now. Mirrorless is clearly where the industry is going so get the sensor made, update the processor and compete with Nikon and Sony. Canon once led in the video game and they let that fall behind. I’d love to see them step up in this area.
Other possible upcoming:
• Canon EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM
• Canon EOS M5 Mk II
• Canon EOS 90D/80D Mk II
• Canon EOS 7D Mk III
Recently released from Canon:
• Canon Powershot SX740 HS with 4k recording and 40x zoom lens
• Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM Lens
• Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens
• Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM Lens
Hasselblad are developing some fabulous lenses and the X1D is still one of the best cameras you can buy in terms of dynamic range and resolution. Unfortunately Hasselblad are still suffering from some bad mistakes the company made years ago repackaging Sony cameras. It really hurt them. They’ve also had a merger with DJI being a majority partner in the company so that might have slowed things down a bit as well.
Hasselblad released the X1D too early. It wasn’t ready and they got a lot of bad press over it. Another bad move. They’ve worked miracles with firmware updates – the most surprising improvements I’ve ever seen – things I didn’t think were possible with firmware. But unfortunately the reviews are still posted and people think they’re current.
I’ve reviewed some of the recent lenses from Hasselblad and they are absurdly good. I own an X1D and its a solid camera now. The smartest thing Hasselblad can do right now is just get the X2D or whatever it will be called right. Don’t release it before its ready. Bad press is damaging, but it also goes into the past and you can get past it. I think it will happen.
We’ll have an X2D when the time is right and the camera is ready.
Hasselblad released a roadmap of coming lenses – we can expect to see over the next year:
• 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5
Panasonic are in a great place. The partnership with Leica and Sigma on the L-mount system is brilliant. Its a modernized micro four thirds type idea, but with full-frame mirrorless. I think they will be fine. And introducing a new m43 lens at Photokina (the Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7) represents their commitment to that system as well.
The Panasonic GH5 and G9 are incredible cameras. I have no doubt the S1 and S1R will continue in the same innovative design that Panasonic has shown us over the years. Options for lenses and potential bodies on this system is new and innovative as well.
I just wish that Panasonic didn’t insist that DFD contrast-only autofocus was the way to go. Its the weak point in their systems. You work with it, but its just not ideal in my opinion.
Olympus remained fairly quiet this year in the midst of the full-frame mirrorless frenzy. If you look at that short term it feels like a red-alert. But long term I think it was a good move not to compete. There are rumors of an Olympus E-M1X coming in early 2019. These rumors also indicate that it will be “high end” and expensive. I’m not sure if this is the right move. While I’d like to see an advanced micro four thirds camera, that’s not the reputation many micro four thirds photographers will go for. The system was always practical with massive “bang for the buck”. I hope I’m wrong because Olympus make great cameras. I want to see them still be a big part of the industry. Their cameras and lenses are always top notch and I’m sure the E-M1X will be too. I’m just not convinced that “high-end” is the right solution.
• New “High End” Camera in January 2019
• New M43 Sensor
• With “advanced” video features
• Pen F II in 2019
• Possible Pro Zoom (150-400mm) in development
• M.Zuiko PRO 12mm f/1.2 in 2018
• Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO Lens
• Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO Lens
• Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO Lens
• Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 30mm f/3.5 Macro Lens
• Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO Lens
Sony are in the top slot right now in imaging. They’ve had a long road, but they’re making some of the best performing cameras you’ll find anywhere. Their AF system and stacked CMOS technology have literally defined what a mirrorless camera is and what it will do. And they’ve done it across a line of cameras from full-frame to 1” pocket size cameras and its very consistent.
It was highly rumored that we would see the A7s III this year and we did not. This is significant for 2 reasons – first off, Sony did not need to release a camera. This alone spoke volumes. Secondly, since they don’t have to release a camera – they should release something that keeps them in the lead. I speculate they’re further developing the A7s III and we’ll see it when it does just that.
I personally think Sony should take the next 6 months to re-think their weaknesses. This includes a confusing menu system and better body style ergonomics. I want to see Sony hire the best industrial design and UI design teams they can assemble and hit this now. This is one aspect that would put them on top. They have the technology and they now have the lenses. Improving the user experience should be their top priority.
Recently released! The Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master
In 2019, we should see the following:
• Sony a6700
• Sony A7s III
Fujifilm have done some many things right over the last few years. They’ve focused on 2 formats with low competition – APS-C and Medium Format. They’ve nailed the APS-C cameras and lenses and they’re starting to innovate in the Medium Format area.
The three big appeals of Fuji with the X cameras are the physical design, the image quality and the price point. The bodies and lenses aren’t too expensive and they aren’t too cheap. They produce fabulous images. While they might not perform up to the level of Sony in terms of autofocus speed, they perform up to the needs of their users. They don’t play the sports compatibility game the other companies do.
Medium Format will be the interesting thing to watch with Fujifilm this next year. They’ve announced the “100 megapixel concept camera” which we will see. If Fujifilm deliver what they say they will do, this will change everything. It won’t be easy. When you go up in sensor size everything becomes more difficult – this is why medium format cameras lack features and performance. And its expensive.
Fujifilm are saying they will have a 100 megapixel, medium format camera with phase detection af points, in-body image stabilization and 4k video capabilities. Nobody has done this because of the sensor size. 4k video requires extreme downsampling and IBIS on a sensor that size is unheard of. This will be the camera to watch.
New Lens Roadmap
• XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR
• XF 16-80mm f/4 R LM OIS WR
• XF 33mm f/1.0 R WR
Leica is an interesting company. Its by far smaller than the Japanese competition but they have a history and a brand that they implement extremely well. They also make some of the best lenses ever produced, although expensive. They have the best user interface design on any cameras made today which are also expensive.
Leica need a new sensor. The sensors in the current lineup are starting to show their age. Its hard with a smaller company because you can’t update as frequently as the competition. That’s not a bad thing, but its important to future proof upgrades for as long as you can. Now is the time to overhaul the sensor. We’ve seen so much advancement in this area in the last few years and it would take cameras like a possible Leica SL 2 into a completely different category.
Possibly this will be something that comes from the partnership with Panasonic and Sigma. The next 2 years will be very interesting for the new L-Mount.
Zeiss have a long tradition along with Leica in making the best lenses ever designed. The Otus, Milvus, Batis and Loxia lines are all completely stellar. I’m sure they’ll expand these and bring us incredible optics at a variety of price points.
Interestingly Zeiss announced the ZX1 this year. Its a fixed-lens full frame camera with internal computing. Its the first step to bridging the gap between cameras and mobile phones. Its essentially a mobile device with an incredible lens and sensor.
I’m very intrigued with this idea. Lightroom has made massive strides this year with mobile technology and cloud syncing. Is it enough for photographers to embrace? Too much? I think its going to be interesting and this is clearly a bold step for innovating in this industry.
Phase One Rumors
Phase One is an interesting company. They are known for having the highest resolution on any camera and they are also by far the most expensive. Its a niche customer base, but also very committed. I’ve had a lot of experience with Phase One over the last year. They are outstanding when you want the highest image quality found anywhere. The are not for the average consumer. Its a very specific niche for a very specific photographer type.
But the interesting side of Phase One is that they own Capture One. Originally designed for Phase One image files, they’ve been opening it up to other camera models over the years. Unlike Lightroom, Capture One is tuned for various camera models to match the Phase One color system. It looks fantastic and its slowly become an incredible editor. This year it opened up to Fujifilm medium format cameras which were originally viewed as a competitor. This was a massive game changer in terms of excluding technology from the application.
I’m excited to see what’s coming with Capture One. There’s still no matured catalog browser like what you’ll find in Lightroom, though its a much stronger editor. Its an exciting time for Capture One and I can’t wait to see what’s coming next.
Phase One has announced the release of the new IQ4 which features a 150 megapixel, Backside Illuminated (BSI) medium format sensor. Also new is “Capture One Inside”. This means improved preview quality, JPEG processing, IIQ style integration, improved live view, faster frame rate and new tools. There are 3 new tethering options as well as support for both XQD and SD cards (this is a much faster back to work with). Available in Standard, Trichromatic and Achromatic configurations (color and black and white). Price point starts at $47,990.
Read more on Phase One’s website.
Pentax / Ricoh
Pentax/Ricoh has been largely asleep for a long time now. While its likely we will see a GR III from Ricoh, where is Pentax in this industry? The K-1II and even the 645 have a dedicated user base, but its a small one. Possibly they don’t need to compete – I don’t know enough about how the corporation is structured.
Interestingly about the 645… Medium Format is tough. Its expensive and you don’t have the speed or features on even full-frame cameras. You have to market well to keep it relevant. Medium format cameras are used by photographers who love the resolution. Hasselblad and Fujifilm have done this well with some interesting lenses.
Pentax has just been so quiet, I have no idea what to predict or where the company wants to be.
Camera Industry Sales Numbers (CiPA Reports)
One thing that is very important to understand is all the activity you see from any camera manufacturer in our industry hinges on the numbers shown here. These numbers represent cameras sold over the last few years broken down by month. Why is this important? Sales trends will dictate what camera companies will produce.
The following charts are taken from the current CIPA report which includes the statistical data of products shipped by its member corporations for the last 3 years. CIPA is the Camera & Imaging Products Association and their members (listed below) include most of the major camera manufacturers. Some of the smaller, boutique medium format companies are not part of this so it doesn’t represent everyone in the business (only Japanese corporations), but there is enough data to get an idea from the big players what is happening in the industry.
What do these numbers tell us?
Well first the bad news. Digital camera sales (all of them) have on the decline. Point-and-shoot compact cameras have been hit the hardest in the 3rd graph (built-in lens type). The Interchangeable Lens chart includes both mirrorless and DSLR (reflex-type) cameras. It shows considerable progress digging out of the hole, but this graph doesn’t tell the full story as its essentially DSLR’s and mirrorless combined.
If you go further into the reports (this graph is compiled from the monthly reports) you will get detailed information by camera type which gives you the following data for 2018:
While at first glance, mirrorless seems to be only half of DSLR sales. But consider this – DSLR sales have been on the decline for the last 10 years. Mirrorless is a new category that didn’t previously exist, and it has been on the rise. Mirrorless has helped slow the decline of sales. The industry is moving away from the DSLR model. When you consider that these rising mirrorless sales are coming only from Sony, Fujifilm, Micro 4/3 and Canon’s APS-C line – you can see why Nikon is being so aggressive with new developments (all mirrorless). They badly want a piece of this market. These numbers don’t express it directly, but Nikon sales have likely been the same at best, if not moving down over the last few years. All of these companies are predicting change over the next 10 years and want to act now.
There is much theory and speculation as to why this is happening. Many blame it on the rise of cell phones and now everyone has a camera in their pocket. Perhaps only those that are serious about photography spend money on system cameras? I think that’s a fair conclusion, but I also think we’ve seen a major shift in the role photography plays in our lives. What used to be a popular hobby now serves also a utilitarian function. The smartphone simply is more productive and adequate for most people. However, the rise in popularity of mirrorless is fascinating because its a newer trend. Perhaps the rise of mirrorless is enough reason for people to purchase cameras once again.
Speculation aside – I don’t think most people realize how low these numbers are. In fact the indicate a serious problem in the industry that threatens someone going out of business. With fewer cameras being sold – can these lower sales sustain an industry? This is the troubling question. Can the low sales numbers sustain all the corporations providing the technology?