With 2011 behind us, I thought that I would look back to see what the top photographic products I/we experienced in the year were and try to gaze into a ‘crystal ball’ (or just predict, thumb suck etc you wish to call it) what 2012 might have in store. Lets kick off with my top products, the criteria, the product must have been announced in the past 18 months.
Sony’s XGA OLED Viewfinder in the A77, A65 and NEX-7
Can I pick a technology over a complete product? If the answer is no, then I would pick any of the three Sony cameras that this new electronic viewfinder appears in (though I would lean more toward the the NEX-7 than the others). The OLED screen used for this viewfinder is just incredible. What you see is what the camera gets. It is brilliant!
Once again this pick is more for the technology inside than for the overall package. Just over a year ago, I took a shot at predicting where the convergence of video and stills would take us. The Nikon 1 is the first consumer product to take a big step to the convergence of which I wrote. Capable of shooting at full resolution at 60fps and of capturing a still image while shooting a video and not interrupting the video footage; in many ways, it is a little marvel.
It launched for Android tablets first (leaving the iPad in the cold for a while) in November 2011. Adobe’s Photoshop Touch is not without its limitations (like largest file size is 1600 pixels), but it goes a long way to making your power editing more mobile and – at just US$10 – it is great!
Predictions for 2012
This year is more difficult to predict than years past. I suspect that we will see an increase in the number of cameras utilizing Electronic Viewfinders at a pro level. The convergence game will continue. I doubt that we will see 4K video cameras (from which you can pull a rather good high res still image) breaking past the medium format camera market’s price point; however, we may well see more stills cameras that can shoot video uninterrupted like Nikon’s 1 series. Of course, Canon and Nikon are due to launch some new full frame bodies in 2012; however, I suspect that Canon will make bigger waves in the video market than in stills. This is not to say that stills interests them less, but rather that stills seems to have reached a bit of a plateau.
In the end – for a mass consumer market – I think that mobile is where photography is going to really see things happening. More and more people are seeing the benefit of creating a camera module that can be driven or controlled by an iPhone. Perhaps this is the year that we will see something of that becoming a reality. Maybe Samsung’s next generation of WiFi cameras – like the recently reviewed SH100 – will have better mobile phone integration, or even have a modified Android, or some other operating system. I would predict that as the next step. Someone needs to take the iPhone 4S camera to the next level.