Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Time for the Crystal Ball

It is December, the last month of the year. 2009, despite being a recession plagued year, has been a rather busy year for camera manufacturers. Numerous update models from the top manufacturers were launched. We also see a host of new innovative cameras in the form of the the Leica M9, X1, Canon 7D, the micro fourthirds based EP1, EP2, GF-1 and the interchangeable module Ricoh GXR.

There were also a host of sensor technologies being introduced this year, namely the Sony EXMOR-R, the Fujifilm Super CCD EXR and Canon's new 18mpx high sensitivity sensor which delivers impressive high ISO images despite being packed to the brim with photoreceptors.

Of all the manufacturers, Canon is most expected to release a number of new dSLR in the coming few months. Let me share my take on what will be released:

I think Canon will likely release the 550D around March and not forgetting the 2000D as well. From BCN ranking, while the 500D still dominates the chart, there are signs that sales is slowly weakening.

As of now, Canon has a strong set of offerings against Nikon in the 7D, 5D2 and 1DIV. They are still lagging Nikon in the D3x, D90, D5000, D3000 markets. The other manufacturers of the m43 cameras are also putting a lot of pressure on Canon in the low end dSLR market.

I expect Canon to address some of this. Thus releasing the:

1) 1Ds Mark IV vs Nikon D3x - I suspect only 30+mpx (not the widely speculated 40+mpx) with an improved AF system. Maybe the same 45pts all selectable, mostly crossed points like the 1DIV. I will not be surprised if Canon introduces some high-end video camera features into the 1DsIV. This would help Canon bring the 1DsIV into their traditional high end DV market as well, strengthening their position. Nikon was caught back footed when the market switched to digital and Canon being an electronic manufacturer capitalized on this and lead Nikon for a great part of the dSLR age. Now the market is slowly moving from still dSLRs to a hybrid video/still dSLRs. Again Canon, being a leading manufacturer of high end video cameras should capitalize on their expertise in this area to continue leading the market.

While Nikon's handicap in electronics can be mostly solved by buying sensors from Sony, it is a lot harder to buy video camera features from anyone.

2) 550D vs Nikon D5000 - I expect Canon to put in the 18mpx sensor from 7D into the 550D and that would be a killer cam. Also, they are largely expected to increase the number of cross AF points and up the video specs to 1080p 30fps (from 20fps).

Other enhancements may include adding the gapless LCD screen, flash commander mode, electronic leveling. That should put the 550D ahead of the competitors. On the other hand, keeping the Af points to 9, shooting speed to about 4fps (single DIGIC), the penta-mirror viewfinder at 95% coverage and non weather sealed lightweight body would differentiate it enough from the 7D.

3) 2000D vs Nikon D3000 - This may spot a 12mpx or 15mpx sensor. It would be nice if Canon can reduce the size of the 2000D to make it more competitive towards the m4/3. Perhaps Canon should introduce some chic styling into this range to make it less scary to first time dSLR users and more attractive to the PnS upgraders.

4) 60D vs the D90? - I don't really see a market segment for the 60D anymore. Nikon created the D90 because they wanted a low end built-in motor body to complement the AF-S D5000(D60 previously). A well engineered 550D can take on the D90 and D5000 at the same time, giving them more focus and make it less confusing to the consumers. Before long, the 7D's price would have dropped to somewhere close to the targeted launch price of the 60D anyway. Unless ofcourse, Canon decides to merge the xxxD series with the xD series.

5) EVIL camera? this could be in the SX20 or Pro1 format. I don't see Canon releasing a new lens mount.

I don't really see a market for the 3D. Unless it is a 5D mark III...

1 comment:

  1. Canon merging the xxxD and the xD series? I would have thought it would merge the xxD with the xD series instead. They need the xxxD to compete at the lower end. Or perhaps merge the xxxD and the xxD?