Saturday, December 06, 2003

2004 Predictions by Thom Hogan

Digital photography market.

2004 Predictions by Thom Hogan. The two most interesting to me personally are,

The third new Nikon DSLR will shake up the industry. Last year I predicted the appearance of parts of the F6 (the autofocus system ended up in the D2h). Well, this year I'm going further, saying it will appear fully. Essentially, the F6 will be like a medium format camera in 35mm size. The main component will simply be a light-proof box with lens mount, shutter, and mirror mechanism. Perhaps that part will also have a power supply in it. But everything else (and perhaps the power supply) will be modular. You'll have your choice of bolt-on film or digital backs and your choice of viewfinders. Backs and viewfinders can be interchanged mid-roll/mid-card. I'll go further and point out that Nikon will use the Olympics in Greece to launch this hybrid. If I had to guess at price, I'd guess US$2000 for the base, US$1000 for the viewfinder/metering; US$500 for a film back, and US$2500 for a digital back. The interesting thing will be whether Fujifilm also provides a digital back for this camera, as they have a full-frame 11mp sensor that would be perfect for it (and, of course, interpolated up to 22mp in finished images). Even more interesting will be that at least one digital back choice down the road (probably not 2004, though) will be a dedicated high ISO back. And, the whole thing will do 8 fps on film and whatever the digital sensor can handle (up to 8 fps). Medium format camera makers, such as Mamiya, will be cringing when they see this product. Kodak will, too, as it means that they'll have to consider making a back for it, but with a much lower price point than their current MF backs to stay competitive.

And of course, now that my brother got the S2 I am dreading, somewhat, the S3, which looks quite nice by itself

The S3 Pro is a full frame replacement for the S2 Pro, either using the same N80 base or a slightly upgraded base body. Resolution is 11mp (22mp with interpolation). Price is announced at US$3999, but wanders around a bit before shipment due to pricing changes by others. The second DSLR will be a 4/3 body and mount, have 5mp (10mp with interpolation), and be in the US$1500 range by the time it ships. Neither camera will ship before June 2004.

The 4/3 system looks interesting, and the idea is that it would take lenses from all 4/3 manufacturers (like Olympus). But I am really looking forward to getting affordable full-frame sensors. And thus S3 looks very very nice. I do not think it will go for the $3,999 either -- $2,500 to $3,000 would be my guess. At the same time, as more "designed-for-digital" lenses appear the advantage of the full-frame sensor will dwindle, and the new lenses are lighter and smaller. Moreover, I do not even have any old lenses.


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