We hope the past year has been good for you and offer our best wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year 2009!
This should be an exciting year. We hope this is the year we see the larger APS-sized image sensors being introduced into the compact non-DSLR digital cameras, which should in one swoop eliminate the image quality disparity between the compact digicams and the DSLRs. Being able to take low noise high ISO pictures remain the number one desire of point-and-shoot photographers.
The worldwide economic slowdown many of us are going through, including the major camera manufacturers, might mean a reshuffling of the deck with one of the minor players exiting the field.
Of the traditional camera manufacturers, Nikon and Canon will continue to rule the DSLR category, each fighting for the ultimate top spot. Unfortunately, we have seen major quality control issues start to surface as they push the technological limits.
Of the non-traditional camera manufacturers, watch Panasonic as they position their microFourThirds System standards and mirrorless DSLRs as the Next Best Thing with smaller and lighter DSLRs and lenses. They need to improve the low noise high ISO capability of their image sensors or they will have a hard time competing with the new compact digicams with APS-sized image sensors that we expect (hope) will be introduced in 2009. Panasonic more or less rules the compact digicams category today but again the introduction of APS-sized image sensors in compact digicams can reverse that leadership position overnight.
Watch Olympus as they decide whether to develop for the microFourThirds System all the way or just put in an appearance in a show of support for their partner, Panasonic. Will the FourThirds System survive, especially if they cannot deliver the same low noise high ISO characteristic of APS-sized and full frame image sensors? Is this the year that Olympus introduces a full frame DSLR? It will be interesting to see if Leica continues to be part of the Panasonic/Leica partnership, with Leica rebranding Panasonic digital cameras. Will Leica adopt the microFourThirds standard?
Watch Sony. Not sure what their strategy is or whether thay have a coherent one, probably still leaning heavily on brand loyalty to sell their cameras.
In other words, will we see more of the same (with incremental improvements) this year — or will this be the year we witness the redefinition of the camera, whether the compact digicams or the DSLRs?
The Next Big Thing for compact digicams is the use of the larger APS-sized image sensors that will at last make taking quality snapshots without flash in low-light situations a pleasant reality. However, since most compact digicams are rebranded, we probably will see this improvement first only in the compact top-of-the-line prosumer models.
The Next Big Thing for entry-level DSLRs is better Live View and larger and brighter viewfinders. Manufacturers can either improve the low noise high ISO characteristics of their image sensors — or continue to push more megapixels on consumers. It does not matter that in theory more megapixels equate to better definition on paper if photographers cannot see the improvement in real life pictures.
Thank you all for your support during last year and we hope you will continue to support this site and make it possible for us to bring you all the features you have told us you love: the easy-to-understand Tutorials, the Reviews Matrix that conveniently gather all the great reviews on one page, the Buyer’s Guide listing all the current digital cameras in categories, the Reviews written in plain language, the QuickFact Sheets to help you learn the most important features of a camera (leaving the "gimmicks" out of the picture), and more.
We will continue to report on the latest news on digital cameras. As usual, we will try to spare you the marketing spiel and be judicious on what we report so you are not inundated with news. We are also working on a redesign of the site, so look out for it sometime in the next few months. We are working on other improvements and have lots of plans — just not enough hours in the day to implement all of them!