Thoughts on the future of DSLRs...

Anyone up for a thought exercise? (For me, that may or may not include coherency - you have been warned :biggrin:)

Thom Hogan has an opinion piece on his website where he's postulating that we are about to see another peak in the camera world. Market is saturated... nothing really new coming out... basically where we were at the peak of manual focus SLRs and then AF SLRs. I found this interesting, as I have been contemplating current camera tech myself.

Cameras have gone from being something you keep and use until you need to replace it (broken/ lost/ stolen) or want to replace it, and are entering the realm of being just another piece of throw-away electronics. I have been reading posts by people with malfunctioning or dead cameras and lenses (not just recently, but for years now). Then the follow-up posts about “repairs are going to cost “x”, so should I just replace it and buy a new one?”.

I have some camera tech that is over 25 years old and works fine. How much of our current camera tech will even be working in 25 years? Does anyone know what the designed lifetimes of the digital bodies and new lenses happen to be? (Seriously. I'm curious and haven't been able to find the info yet.)

How much is it going to cost to repair the electronic internals of my 70-200 VRII if it dies 15 years from today? Or the mechanical internals of the VR system? Will it be less expensive to repair or replace the lens? Will the parts be available for repairs in 15 years? Will I even be able to afford to repair or replace?

I think we are at the point where more people are beginning to realize this and think about the future ramifications to their wallet. On top of the realization (for some of us who do not work as pros) that the “better” gear is getting too expensive to afford.

I believe we are at a point that one of the major camera manufacturers could capitalize on this. Think about it... a camera “system” that is both backwards compatible and future proof (for a reasonable time frame – say 20-25 years or so). I believe that system is doable now (or shortly) and that the manufacturer that gets it right will have the lion's share of the future DSLR market. I believe that Nikon could make something like this happen. Will they? I doubt it. And IMHO that is a shame.

If you think Nikon would lose major money doing this... how many threads do you see on the different camera forums where everyone is waiting with baited breath to buy the newest “shiny”? There will always be some people who want to replace a body or lens because the old one looks “dated” or there is something “newer” or “better”. And there will always be people who need to replace a body or lens due to damage/ wear and tear. Pros will update as their needs dictate. Advanced amateurs and hobbyists will update as their desires and finances allow.

So... I have some ideas that might help "shake things up" in a way that should be beneficial to us, help keep Nikon's costs down, and add some "newness" to the market.

If anyone wants to do some mental gymnastics I'll post the ideas.

Otherwise this thread can slip quietly into the abyss... :cool:
 
As far as future dslr models I'm willing to bet you will be able to wirelessly connect to a local network and post to certain sites of your choosing (ie. Flickr, nikoncafe, whatever). I'm not sure if this is what you were going for but thats what I think is in store for next gen dslrs
 
an expensive "everything" camera in the "future" > 13 yrs > every frame of video of a $3K "camera" will blow us all away. the future is video. capturing the "moment".... if u charge for that now find a different job. Sports photogs come to mind.... no need for sideline guys,,, be very flexible sport photogs
 
As far as future dslr models I'm willing to bet you will be able to wirelessly connect to a local network and post to certain sites of your choosing (ie. Flickr, nikoncafe, whatever). I'm not sure if this is what you were going for but thats what I think is in store for next gen dslrs
I can see that as an upcoming update, but the tech to do that isn't exactly new or ground-breaking... they just haven't really tried implementing it into DSLRs that I can recall.

To clarify, I was thinking more along the lines of DSLRs as a group, the market saturation, costs, stagnation of sales... and the fact that I don't see any new technology that will be ground-breaking and affordable within the next decade or so.

Ground-breaking as in a small form-factor FX camera with 128mp super-sensor, iso 12800000 and a fixed 14mm f1 lens with adaptive optics. Take handheld images at night at 1/8000 shutter speed. Take an image, and because of the super-sensor and adaptive optics crop down to a 12mp image that looks like you used a 1000mm lens. I don't see this coming around anytime soon in any semblance of affordable.

So what is to be done in the mean time? Continue with the business model of incremental updates/ upgrades and hope people keep buying the new "shiny"? I don't think this business model will be sustainable in the current economy. What might be needed to keep consumers purchasing and Nikon solvent while they work on that next "Whoa... this changes everything..." camera?
 
Anyone up for a thought exercise? (For me, that may or may not include coherency - you have been warned :biggrin:)

Thom Hogan has an opinion piece on his website where he's postulating that we are about to see another peak in the camera world. Market is saturated... nothing really new coming out... basically where we were at the peak of manual focus SLRs and then AF SLRs. I found this interesting, as I have been contemplating current camera tech myself.

Cameras have gone from being something you keep and use until you need to replace it (broken/ lost/ stolen) or want to replace it, and are entering the realm of being just another piece of throw-away electronics. I have been reading posts by people with malfunctioning or dead cameras and lenses (not just recently, but for years now). Then the follow-up posts about “repairs are going to cost “x”, so should I just replace it and buy a new one?”.

I have some camera tech that is over 25 years old and works fine. How much of our current camera tech will even be working in 25 years? Does anyone know what the designed lifetimes of the digital bodies and new lenses happen to be? (Seriously. I'm curious and haven't been able to find the info yet.)

How much is it going to cost to repair the electronic internals of my 70-200 VRII if it dies 15 years from today? Or the mechanical internals of the VR system? Will it be less expensive to repair or replace the lens? Will the parts be available for repairs in 15 years? Will I even be able to afford to repair or replace?

I think we are at the point where more people are beginning to realize this and think about the future ramifications to their wallet. On top of the realization (for some of us who do not work as pros) that the “better” gear is getting too expensive to afford.

I believe we are at a point that one of the major camera manufacturers could capitalize on this. Think about it... a camera “system” that is both backwards compatible and future proof (for a reasonable time frame – say 20-25 years or so). I believe that system is doable now (or shortly) and that the manufacturer that gets it right will have the lion's share of the future DSLR market. I believe that Nikon could make something like this happen. Will they? I doubt it. And IMHO that is a shame.

If you think Nikon would lose major money doing this... how many threads do you see on the different camera forums where everyone is waiting with baited breath to buy the newest “shiny”? There will always be some people who want to replace a body or lens because the old one looks “dated” or there is something “newer” or “better”. And there will always be people who need to replace a body or lens due to damage/ wear and tear. Pros will update as their needs dictate. Advanced amateurs and hobbyists will update as their desires and finances allow.

So... I have some ideas that might help "shake things up" in a way that should be beneficial to us, help keep Nikon's costs down, and add some "newness" to the market.

If anyone wants to do some mental gymnastics I'll post the ideas.

Otherwise this thread can slip quietly into the abyss... :cool:
I'd love for a camera manufacturer to invent a truly bare bones DSLR. Perhaps one that runs off solar power or some sort of manual crank. Something that is all manual. Maybe a manual focus digital FX FM2? :biggrin:
 
I'd love for a camera manufacturer to invent a truly bare bones DSLR. Perhaps one that runs off solar power or some sort of manual crank. Something that is all manual. Maybe a manual focus digital FX FM2? :biggrin:
I've been thinking the same thing myself lately - and if they do they should make it with an upgradable sensor.
 
Thoughts on FX bodies...

First and foremost, maintain system integrity. Continue to support the older lenses. The ability to support the older tech does not negatively impact new tech AFAIK.

Since the actual camera body design has been fairly stable for more than a couple of years now, move to a modular system. Buy the pro body, and as sensor and processor technology improves you can send the body in for a CLA + upgrade of sensor, processor and metering. If the exterior of the body gets “updated”, leave the internals the same for backwards compatibility. If they really wanted to be customer-centered, make the sensor packages swappable by the owner.

All FX bodies would continue to be very robust, with excellent environmental seals and as much impact resistance as possible. Standardize control layout and function between flagship and downsized bodies. Standardize flagship and down-sized bodies with a slightly bigger, brighter, clearer viewfinder with a slightly higher eyepoint. All buttons, switches, lights, displays and electronics that are part of the body and not the sensor package should be robust enough to last several decades and be replaceable and repairable.

Produce one flagship body. Offer the choice of the largest and highest resolution sensor package (36-48mp), or the not-so-large but blazing fast sensor package (24-36mp). “Blazing fast” package to have a 2x crop mode for when you need “reach” more than megapixels (300 f/4 @ 36mp – crop mode – 600 f/4 FOV @ 18mp). Sensor packages have video capability. Your choice – pick which you need, or “get both”.

Produce one down-sized (D700-ish) body. Offer the same options regarding sensor packages and an add-on grip. Same control layout and functions as on the flagship body.

Produce one down-sized (D700-ish or smaller) body optimized for use of manual focus lenses. Offer the same options regarding sensor packages and an add-on grip. Design the camera around the biggest, brightest, clearest, highest-eyepoint viewfinder, with a large viewing port and fully functional focusing screen. Ditch the pop-up flash, and install a high-intensity LED emitter capable of tripping other flash units. No auto-focus. Remove AF-specific controls, or assign MF-specific functions to those controls. Slim down software and menu by removing AF-specific functions. Manual, Aperture priority, Shutter priority or vari-Program modes only. (Yes, I realize that this is a niche market, but as more people are going back and using MF lenses – maybe it's a growing market Nikon could capture? If not, improve the viewfinders on the other two bodies.)

Produce one “rangefinder-type” body, with the same options regarding sensor packages. Produce either with a very high-quality and optimized fixed prime or fixed zoom (like a 24-120 or 28-135 equivalent), or allow the body to use AF-S and Ai-S/ Ai-P lenses. IMHO, Fuji has a great concept with the X100. Nikon could take the ball and run with it if they chose to do so. And again, maybe a niche market, and maybe best left to Fuji.
 
I think you are already seeing one possible future of SLR's in the m4/3 format. Mirror less, with live view in LCD and electronic VF. Constrast detect AF is getting faster with each new revision. Look at the small Sony SLR's and the Fuji X100 with thier hybrid style view finders.

Sensors are changing too, but at a slower pace than I expected to be honest. Manufactures seem to be more concerned with incremental improvements to push out another body than actually trying to make big leaps in technology. I think at some point we will see a hybrid sensor based on bayer, foven, and Fuji's dual pixel style sensors.
 
I'd love for a camera manufacturer to invent a truly bare bones DSLR. Perhaps one that runs off solar power or some sort of manual crank. Something that is all manual. Maybe a manual focus digital FX FM2? :biggrin:
I've been thinking the same thing myself lately - and if they do they should make it with an upgradable sensor.
You guys type too fast for me to keep up (yeah I know - wall of text and all that). :smile:

Kinda along the lines I was thinking.
 
I think you are already seeing one possible future of SLR's in the m4/3 format. Mirror less, with live view in LCD and electronic VF. Constrast detect AF is getting faster with each new revision. Look at the small Sony SLR's and the Fuji X100 with thier hybrid style view finders.

Sensors are changing too, but at a slower pace than I expected to be honest. Manufactures seem to be more concerned with incremental improvements to push out another body than actually trying to make big leaps in technology. I think at some point we will see a hybrid sensor based on bayer, foven, and Fuji's dual pixel style sensors.
Charles, I agree about the incremental improvement statement... with the world economy I just don't see that as a continuing/ future viable business model... :confused: ???
A new type of hybrid sensor could definitely change things a bit, but I'd still like to see a shift to more long-term bodies with either swappable or upgradable sensor packages.



Interesting. I know Sony wants a bigger chunk of the DSLR pie... this could impact Nikon if the product is executed well.
 
Charles, I agree about the incremental improvement statement... with the world economy I just don't see that as a continuing/ future viable business model... :confused: ???
A new type of hybrid sensor could definitely change things a bit, but I'd still like to see a shift to more long-term bodies with either swappable or upgradable sensor packages.
I don't think we will see that anytime in the near future.
 
Interesting observations Gordon. Manufacturers know that we consumers have a tendency to own "the best and the latest" and they know how to play with it. They supply something new with each new camera simulating what happened when computers were obsolete 6 months after they were placed into the market. It would be interesting to know how well they have done during these economic times and something tells me they have done pretty well.
Modern cameras are practically all electronics and I am not good enough to predict how long they could last. Today cameras are replaced fairly soon by consumers and even faster by professionals while lenses stay with all of us longer. How long replacement parts will be available for what we use today only manufacturers know and they could modify that in their business interest.
I do know that digital cameras, compared to film cameras, are having a lot of use and a common, frequent repair is a replacement of the shutter. Replacing the shutter in an old camera could easily run around $300 and that easily could kill its value. It could be cost efficient then to get a replacement with a new model or a used, similar model with low shutter actuations.
I like the idea, although I know it will not happen, of replacing a sensor in an old camera with a more modern one. Imagine replacing the sensor of my old D70s with the sensor of the D7000! I bet manufacturers prefer to sell us a new camera before they do that.
I learned photography with an all manual camera and a hand held exposure meter. Modern cameras are marvelous pieces of technology so we can easily figure out what a future camera could be like. As has been said, AF modules get better with new models and sensors are not fully developed yet. Perhaps they have a trick or two to improve the performance of matrix metering, it is all speculation on my part.
On regard to old cameras, I have nothing against them when it comes to making images. I will use mine till it is not cost effective to keep them any longer.
Cameras with 6 megapixel sensors have been very capable of producing excellent images but as you very well know, the megapixels race has been an important factor for sales and models with over 10 megapixels have sold well. Cameras like the D300 do not have yet the dynamic range of film but resolution seems to be higher, or so I have read in the past. That only tells me what I already know, that I can be perfectly happy with a 12 megapixels camera without the need for more megapixels, bells or whistles.
Seems to me that the manufacturing of FX cameras will increase in the future. Nikon has been very successful with their full frame digital and we should expect seeing more lenses that can be used with both formats. Something I do not believe we will see again is another flagship professional DX body like the D1 and D2 series, all of them excellent cameras in their own right.
I keep on using my old cameras and some of my old lenses and whenever I feel nostalgic I use my film cameras. For someone like me, a retired old timer, the future is now.

William Rodriguez
Miami, Florida.
 
I doubt mirrorless/SLT is going to be the revolution digital was. The camera industry will go through a crisis though; as always. The D7000 is two steps up from Nikon's entry level model and pretty close for many to be the perfect DX camera. Surely improvements are possible but that is going to be tough choice for Nikon going forward; improve the D7100 to make attractive to replace the D7000 and it will eat even more into the D400 sales. Or not, and not selling it.

Other manufacturers are going to face similar choices. We can laugh at Sony but their ridiculously long sales lifetime for anything above entry does ensure good sales of those models. Not sure if it's the right choice, or a deliberate choice of Sony in the first place, though.

With manual focus cameras we saw evolution as the market was grinding to a halt; metering was getting better and better. But it didn't entice buyers to rapidly replace their cameras for something new. Then autofocus came.

With autofocus we saw evolution as the market was grinding to a halt; motordrive and automation of pretty much everything. But it didn't entice buyers to rapidly replace their cameras for something new. Then digital came.

Now in digital, the market is grinding to a halt. When the D200 came out most of the D200 owners felt they needed to replace it with the newer model. Same when the D90 came out; many D80 owners replaced theirs. But how many D700 owners will feel a need to replace it when the D800 comes out? And how many D3 owners (/s, /x) will feel that way?

Sure, there's evolution towards EVF's and the mirrorless market is slowly evolving. But I don't see the market rushing towards it to replace their current -obviously outdated- cameras with, simply because their current models are not “obviously” outdated.

The camera world will at one point see a new revolution that will boost sales and innovation. By very nature, we will not see that revolution coming, or know what it is, until it hits us.
 
Interesting observations Gordon.

<snip>

Something I do not believe we will see again is another flagship professional DX body like the D1 and D2 series, all of them excellent cameras in their own right.
I keep on using my old cameras and some of my old lenses and whenever I feel nostalgic I use my film cameras. For someone like me, a retired old timer, the future is now.

William Rodriguez
Miami, Florida.
Hi William. I doubt we will see another flagship DX body, but they could incorporate a 1.5x or 2x crop mode in the next gen FX bodies.

Like you, I'm using "old" tech (funny how the D700 is old in DSLR terms) and occasionally film... My D70 is going to be replaced, probably with a used D2Xs - I just cannot go back to the small viewfinders. Will probably use these bodies until they die, as they will do more than I need and everything I want as far as I can see in the future.
 
Right now with my Sony HD Camcorder, I can use software to capture images from the video that produce a 1920 x 1080 pixel photograph which is about 2 megapixels. Eventually I think you'll be able to capture high res photos directly from the video.
 
I doubt mirrorless/SLT is going to be the revolution digital was.

<snip>

Other manufacturers are going to face similar choices. We can laugh at Sony but their ridiculously long sales lifetime for anything above entry does ensure good sales of those models. Not sure if it's the right choice, or a deliberate choice of Sony in the first place, though.

<snip>

Now in digital, the market is grinding to a halt. When the D200 came out most of the D200 owners felt they needed to replace it with the newer model. Same when the D90 came out; many D80 owners replaced theirs. But how many D700 owners will feel a need to replace it when the D800 comes out? And how many D3 owners (/s, /x) will feel that way?

Sure, there's evolution towards EVF's and the mirrorless market is slowly evolving. But I don't see the market rushing towards it to replace their current -obviously outdated- cameras with, simply because their current models are not “obviously” outdated.

The camera world will at one point see a new revolution that will boost sales and innovation. By very nature, we will not see that revolution coming, or know what it is, until it hits us.
I don't think mirrorless/ slt systems are much more than an improvement to an existing system. Implemented well, it should be well received. Look at the Fuji X100 and it's hybrid viewfinder. From the reading I've done, other than some small issues people are liking that viewfinder. Implemented poorly, and people will not adopt the system.

Sony is hungry. Whether or not we agree with their strategy or like their products, they seriously want a large chunk of the DSLR market. Canon and Nikon need to watch Sony, IMHO.

The remainder of your post I quoted is the crux of the problem. My "old" D700 is not old. It will do what I want and need, and more, for many years... and I do not see myself upgrading. I can see myself upgrading to a body optimized for manual focus, or an upgradable sensor body... :smile:
 
I just got rid of my D70 and got a D7K as a second body. My D200 and D7K will last me a very long time....as will the glass I bought before either the D200 or D7K....what a great time to be a photographer.
 

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