Sunday, 20 December 2015

Waiting time

We are in the "Advent" time in the Western hemisphere, which means expectant waiting. What we are waiting for is probably quite personal and individual.

One thing I may have in common with the readers, though, is waiting for camera news. So what cameras are we waiting for?

Olympus


The oldest Olympus Micro Four Thirds camera in the active lineup now, is the Olympus OM-D E-M1. Announced in September 2013, it cleverly replaced the E-5 Four Thirds DSLR, and became the top Micro Four Thirds camera at the same time.

It achieved this by employing on-sensor PDAF sensors, still the only M4/3 camera with this technology, to be able to focus the legacy Four Thirds lenses. It is the only M4/3 camera which can autofocus all the legacy Four Thirds lenses.

This camera is, in my opinion, the Olympus camera with the best ergonomics. Technology wise, though, it is lagging behind. I would guess that a replacement should be due soon, although I think no concrete rumor exists that it will be replaced soon.

Anyone with a cache of high quality legacy Four Thirds lenses, like the 150mm f/2, or 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5, are sure to be eagerly waiting for an updated E-M1, or any other camera with PDAF technology.

We have had specific rumors that Olympus is launching a new line of cameras, though, which may be called "PEN F". These are probably going to be similar to the Olympus E-PL7, but with a built in viewfinder, probably in the rangefinder style. A camera with the newer 20MP sensor, currently used in the Lumix GX8 will probably be announced. I would expect to see an announcement at the CES 2016 show, January 6-9.

In terms of lenses, after a long wait, we are expecting to see the Olympus 300mm f/4 lens at CES:


The lens will have optical image stabilization (OIS), making it useful also for Panasonic Lumix camera users. Further, it will be weather protected, like the other Olympus PRO lenses. The expected price is around US$2500.

Panasonic


The current top dog, the Lumix GH4 is starting to show its age now, as it was announced almost two years ago. However, it still isn't really lacking anything, so why update it? The GH4 was also given a shot in the arm recently when the V-Log L was added with a firmware update. I would guess that we don't see the GH5 announced at CES, but it will probably come in the first half of 2016.

A new GH5 will most likely feature the newer 20MP sensor (used in the Lumix GX8). Also, the GH4 has a drawback when it comes to 4K videos: They are recorded with a crop factor of 1.3x, read more about it here. This means that a 14mm lens behaves like a 18mm lens in 4K video mode. The GH5 will surely use the whole sensor for 4K videos, hence there will be less need for wide angle lenses.

Perhaps the GH5 will also allow for 4K video recording at a higher framerate. Today, the limit is 30FPS with all the 4K capable M4/3 cameras.

Other Pansonic cameras due for an upgrade (for the 4K treatment), include the Lumix GM5 and Lumix GF7. A version of the GM5 with 4K video recording is expected fairly soon.

Just like Olympus, Panasonic is expecting to launch a long tele lens, the Lumix/Leica 100-400mm f/4-6.3 OIS:


And just like the long lens from Olympus, this one is also expected to debut at the CES in January, and sell at approximately the same price.


Nikon


The big announcement due now, is for the Nikon D5. It is expected to come at CES (early January). Replacing the Nikon D4S, this camera will mostly be "more of the same". It will have a 20MP fullframe sensor, and most likely, will feature 4K video recording. This is a very expensive, large, and heavy, DSLR. It is for professional users, who want the very best in terms of ergonomics, ruggedness, reliability, and speed.


You could be wondering why the upcoming Nikon D5, the most expensive camera, only has a resolution of 20MP. Especially when you can get cameras at half the price with twice the MP count, e.g., Nikon D810 (36MP) or the Sony A7R II at 42MP.

The answer is that for most uses, 20MP is sufficient. And that is what the professional users of this series knows: With 20MP, you can cover almost any client need, including photos for glossy magazines. Some fashion photographers like to use medium format cameras with 40-50MP, but it is hardly needed.

The professional line of cameras has had a moderate MP count for a long time: Nikon D3 with 12MP in 2007, Nikon D4S with 16MP in 2012, and now the Nikon D5 with 20MP in 2016.

In the more distant future, I would expect an upgrade to their high resolution fullframe DSLR, the Nikon D810. Probably, a new camera with the 42MP sensor from the Sony A7R II, will be announced in 2016.

In the crop sensor DX line, all the cameras have been rehashed fairly recently. What enthusiasts are waiting for, though, is Nikons answer to the Canon 7D II: A rugged crop camera, especially for bird/wildlife enthusiasts. Such a camera will probably be called Nikon D500, and has been expected for years. Will it come in 2016? I think that is anyone's guess, right now.

Nikon has their Nikon 1 line of mirrorless cameras with a one inch sensor. This line recently saw the release of the Nikon J5, with a newer 21MP sensor from Sony, that gives much better image quality than earlier model, a much awaited development.

Now, the Nikon 1 fans are waiting for a replacement of the Nikon V3 enthusiast camera model. The V4 should have the same sensor as the J5, as well as the deeper buffer and quicker handling associated with the V line of cameras. And, not least, an eye level viewfinder (EVF).

There is a lot of uncertainty as to the future of the Nikon 1 line currently. I think at least one more generation of the V line will be produced. It may not see an announcement at CES, but it could come during Q1 next year.

Samsung


With Samsung, people are not waiting for one specific camera model, but they are waiting for news of the future of the NX system: Will there be any more cameras? As the system appears to be discontinued in parts of Europe, that does bring some doom and gloom feelings.

The Samsung NX1 is their top camera, styled like a pro DSLR, and it has a class leading 28MP APS-C sensor, capable of 4K video recording. The same sensor, and much of the same features, sit in the entry level Samsung NX500, very competitively priced.


Still, it is hard for them to gain a market foothold, especially since photography interested people tend to be conservative, and only reluctantly look outside of the "big" camera brands. On the negative side, though, the Samsung NX lens lineup is a bit uninspiring, even if it should be more than sufficient for most.


Sony


Recently, Sony have focused almost all their effort on fullframe cameras and lenses. And for a good reason: This is where the bigger margins are, and this is where they can differentiate themselves from the competition: No other manufacturer has a fullframe mirrorless system. I am disregarding the Leica SL system here, as it is hideously large and expensive.

Still, we know that Sony has not dismissed the APS-C sensor mirrorless system completely: A camera replacing the Sony A6000 has been expected for some months now, perhaps it will debut at the CES.

Pentax


From Pentax, the expectation is that they will soon release their fullframe DSLR. How can they compete against Canon, Nikon and Sony here, though?

Their camera is going to be fairly compact, and weatherprotected, at a reasonable price. That will be their niche.


Also, Pentax still has quite some loyal fans, with collections of older fullframe Pentax lenses. They will probably contribute to keeping the sales up. And, they are already quite good at waiting. Historically, Pentax has not been very good at delivering on time.

2 comments: