What Will Your Future
Camera Look Like?
By John Rettie
ILLUS TRATION © HASSELBLAD
In last month’s Rangefinder, several key journalists and analysts in the photography field discussed their thoughts on the state of the industry in “Cameras and Technology: An Industry on the Move.” On the whole, I agreed with a lot of their statements, and change seemed to be the
That article was written right before Photokina, which took place
at the end of September, and though I did not attend, I was provided
with information about the new cameras unveiled there.
So what was the theme at the show, according to attendees
and industry pundits? Change and connectivity. It’s apparent
that we’ve reached a crossroads with an uncertain future for
The biggest news from Photokina—and since then—concerned
Sony. The Japanese conglomerate announced the first compact
camera with a full-size (35mm), 24-megapixel sensor, a partnership
with Hasselblad to produce ultra-expensive, unique-looking cameras, and lastly, a financial partnership with Olympus.
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1, with its fixed 35mm Carl
Zeiss lens, is just what many enthusiast photographers have
been wanting: a small camera that produces high-quality images. However, because it costs $2,800, its only benefit over an
equivalent DSLR is the smaller size. The lack of interchangeable
lenses makes it far less versatile.
The partnership with Hasselblad is a strange one, as the cameras
shown so far will only really appeal to those who don’t mind a camera that costs tons of money. The functionality of the Lunar camera
is not much different from a Sony NEX- 7. Of course we may see
some more exciting cameras from the partnership in the future.
It’s been common knowledge for some time that Olympus was
looking for a partner since suffering from financial scandals that had
nothing to do with its products. Sony’s investment is mainly in Olympus’ medical business, for which Olympus is justifiably best known.
Until recently, Olympus had been a leader in many new camera
Above: The Hasselblad Lunar was the most controversial camera unveiled
at Photokina. Does this mean traditional camera manufacturers are going
to rely on boutique cameras to stay in business?
technologies. By joining forces with Sony, which is also leading the
way in high-end mirrorless cameras, we will hopefully see some good
cameras and lenses from the partnership in the future.
In many ways, Canon and Nikon were the least adventurous at
Photokina. Having said that, their new DSLR cameras with full-frame sensors at a much more affordable price have been greeted
with joy by those who have yearned for a full-frame camera but
could not justify the cost. Sadly, neither of these cameras had all the
features many of us would like and are offered by other DSLRs costing the same or less. For example, both are missing a rotating rear
screen. The Canon 6D lacks a built-in flash, which the Nikon D600
does have. On the other hand, Canon has moved the needle with
GPS and Wi-Fi connectivity included. The Nikon D600 still needs
annoying add-on accessories to perform these functions.
Software is the Future
It’s been said before and it’s now commonly accepted that the
basic point-and-shoot camera market has been taken over by
I’ll bet a majority of Rangefinder readers use an iPhone as a
camera on many occasions, and are happy with the results. No, it’s
not a suitable camera for professional wedding photography, but
it is most definitely a substitute for a pocketable compact camera
that many of us used to carry with us when we did not want to be
burdened by the heft of a DSLR and large lenses.
Ever since digital cameras appeared on the market back
in the 1990s, innovations have happened in compact cameras before they have in DSLRs. That was not surprising,
as a professional photographer needed a robust camera
with familiar controls. Image quality—not digital bells and
whistles—was the number one priority in a DSLR.