Sunday, January 3, 2010

My Take for 2010 in Photography

2009 was a great year for photography. The biggest advances I see is 1) full 1080p movie introduced by Canon for its 5D Mark II, and followed by Panasonic with its DMC-GH1, and 2) usable ultra high ISO. In 2010, more manufacturers will jump on the 1080p movie wagon with their DSLRs, and high ISO performance will get even better.

Canon will likely introduce the long waited full frame EOS 3D. This will fill the gap between the 1D Mark IV and 7D. 7D prices will be lowered to around $1500CAD by mid 2010. The 7D is a nice camera but image quality, when compared to the 5D II, still leaves a lot to be desired. The 3D will get 1D IV image quality with slightly lower frames per second. Of course, we will see the 1Ds III replacement this year.

Canon will likely introduce a new Rebel can do real 1080p video at 30 frames per second. In the lens department, we will see a few new lenses that updates the existing focal lengths, and perhaps a couple of completely new designs.

The mirrorless micro 4/3 cameras has been a big hit in 2009. I think this took many manufacturers by surprise, even Panasonic and Olympus. The EP-1/EP-2 and GF1 has a big impact on Sigma's DP-2. Sigma may be forced to introduce a Foveon based micro 4/3 camera. This will only be good news for Foveon as well as micro 4/3 lovers. To some, this will be a marriage made in heaven.

Samsung as already introduced the NX10 mirrorless micro 4/3 competitor. The success of this platform is hard to guess. On one hand, it's has a larger APS-C sensor, with slightly more pixels, which may translate into better low light performance. On the other hand, the NX10 uses a completely new mount, and no one else does.

Ricoh's GX-R is an odd ball camera system, and will remain a niche product. I don't see the GX-Rs flying off the dealer's shelves any day soon, due to its radical design and high price.

To conclude, I don't think there will be any revolutionary products for 2010. We will continue to get better and more usable high ISO range and excellent image quality from all manufacturers. More cameras will have 1080p capabilities, including the only camera maker that does not have movie mode in their DSLRs--Sony.


  1. I share your excitement of the whole m4/3 development. I think DP2 is holding itself pretty well against the m4/3 competition. One issue with 4/3 and m4/3 is that the reduced sensor size puts more pressure on the pixel pitch/noise performance and Foveon sensors ain't currently that great in high ISOs. Unless there is technological breakthrough (which I really hope), to maintain the same level of noise performance they will have to cut the resolution (which already isn't that high in today's standard) in order to fit Foveon into 4/3 format.

    I actually think Sigma is better off fighting towards the higher-end spectrum of the market by developing a full-frame Foveon sensor and target photography professionals and enthusiasts rather than mainstream consumers.

  2. It's true that the Foveon sensor is not that great with noise at higher ISO, but if they can maintain the same level of noise performance with a sensor of the same pixel count as the current one in DP2, in a micro 4/3 package, that should be acceptable to most people. I doubt Sigma has market share to warrant the production of a full frame Foeveon sensor, even if they are able to do it. If they do go for it, the full frame camera will be prohibitively expensive, unless other manufacturers also use the Foveon sensor.

  3. A Foveon-based m43 camera (or equivalent) would have about as much impact on the market as every other Foveon-based camera has had, namely none. The Foveon sensors deliver too little resolution and awful mid and high ISO performance for no real-world advantage (colour accuracy is no better than Sony's strong-CFA cameras and the Sony's beat the Sigma's at everything else). Combine the lack of advantages for the Foveon sensor with the truly awful cameras that Sigma makes and Sigma's complete inability to ship product within a reasonable timeframe (the SD15 is now 18 months late, DP1 was similarly delayed) and you have a prescription for a complete flop.

    The NX1 on the other hand will quite possibly be successful. It's a good looking package overall, may well come in cheaper than the Panasonic's and Oly's and really only has two weaknesses, the much smaller EVF (Rebel T1i-sized) and the lack of a fully coupled DSLR mount adapter to allow you to flesh out a system with adapted AF lenses like the m43's cameras can do with 4/3rds lenses. It's big advantage is the wider selection of wides that the lower crop factor allows.

  4. The Sigma Foveon sensor reminds of the Commodore Amiga. There is a die hard following for both camps. There are still people using the Amiga to this date.