Thursday, July 28, 2011

It is the Powershot time of the year again!

After almost a year since my last post, I have decided it is time to hit my keyboard again....

It is almost August and in mid-August, Canon usually updates the Powershot G series as well as the its young sibling, the compact S-series.

So, it is speculation time again... What would Canon likely do to improve the already impressive range of cameras. A short scan of Sony and Panasonic sensor announcements in the past year did not yield anything revolutionary nor interesting. There is the new 12mpx 1/2.3" CMOS BSI sensor from Sony (IMX078CQK) which I believe has found its way into most of Canon's recent PnS cameras, but nothing much more. The fact that Canon uses mostly Sony sensors for its PnS, I think we won't be expecting anything exciting in the sensor department anytime soon.

Here are some potential sensor scenarios for the G13 and the S100 (? if Canon doesn't mind reusing an old model number).

  1. A new Canon manufactured sensor. This would likely be a larger sensor, maybe the often rumors 2.7x crop sensor or even m4/3 sized one. However, this would create a huge challenge in making the new PnS pocketable. Remember, the physics cannot lie, bigger sensor, bigger lenses, bigger cameras.
  2. Reusing the same 10mpx 1/1.7" CCD sensor which is pretty good and perhaps improving the NR algorithm but yawnnn...
  3. Using the same IMX078CQK sensor as the other IXUS and PnS offerings. The smaller sensor would allow Canon to increase the zoom range for the G and S series without increasing size. The picture quality seems to be on par with some of the bigger CCD sensors as well. You also gain high speed shooting and 10180p video recording.
From these three scenarios, I somehow feel the chances of (3) happening is pretty high, given its ability to allow much needed features to be added in order to catch up with the competitions. The shrinking down in the size of ILC (the cameras formerly known as EVIL) will definitely pressure Canon to redesign the G series, perhaps more than the S series.

What are some of the these features that Canon would likely be (pressured?) to add to the new compacts. Here is a list:

  • 1080p video recording - Almost a must. I mean come on, my phone can do it...
  • Higher frame rate shooting - Maybe 5 fps?
  • More filter effects, better and faster HDR, simulated bokeh, etc...
  • Better high ISO noise control
  • Faster AF
  • Smaller Size
  • Better lens - High Resolution, Bigger Zoom (24-200mm for G Series, 24-120mm or 24-140mm for S series), Faster (f2.0/f1..8)
  • Panorama Stitch
  • Electronic Leveling
  • Flash Commander Mode
Ofcourse, traditional features such as RAW capture and OVF (for G Series ) would likely stay. As you would probably have notice, many of these features, would only be possible with a smaller BSI sensor at 1/2.3".... Thus, this year, my head would be in control rather than my heart. As much as I want a bigger sensor compact, my prediction stays with a smaller BSI sensor, bringing with it size and a more versatile lens advantage....