As an avid and passionate hobbyist photographer myself, I am delighted and looking forward to the technology and advancement of photographic equipments in this space. The reason I’m stating this claim of “Crossroads of Photography” article is to pinpoint the obvious direction photography is taking these past few years. Even though, I am still what they called young in the photography world as I started this passion only 3years ago, I can safely see a distinct trend in the photography equipment evolution over the years.
The first obvious observation one can see is the proliferation of mirrorless or compact interchangeable lens system camera. These cameras when they were first introduced in 2008, were first seen just as a replacement to the point & shoot camera. As sensors and auto-focusing systems improved, lately, they have been seen as an ideal replacements for crop sensor DSLR and this is what manufacturers lately has been doing, trying to target the low-end or spare body DSLR users to switch to these systems. In terms of image quality, these m4/3 or micro four thirds, and even nikon One(2.7x crop factor) systems, are somewhat comparable to crop sensor DSLR. These compact system has the added advantage of being small, lighter and a more appealing design than the bulky, heavy and brick black DSLR. Though, the focusing and speed in these systems are somewhat more lacking nonetheless recent upgrades has improved it tremendously such as the Olympus Pen series.
As for the point and shoot category, I reckon we will also see a demise in its popularity as camera phones become as ambiguous as the P&S camera itself. With camera phones such as iPhone4s and Sony Xperias, having capable 8mp sensors with Next trend I would like to pinpoint to you is the fullframe DSLR market. As it seems now, every category of camera system has jumped one stage above the other. Fullframe or 35mm format sized sensors are now at a stage where it is becoming as affordable as mid-range DSLR body if you take into account the market rate during the 05-09 period. We are literally transiting from a crop body to fullframe and in maybe 3years time, fullframe sensors will be de facto or common DSLR sold to the masses. And where does this lead for cropped sensors? My guess it will be extinct and fullframe bodies will absorb the feature and cropped sensors will be mainly used on compact/mirrorless system instead. And where does this lead to for current fullframe users? Most propably many will start go into the MF/ Medium format systems. Just like the dropping price of fullframe bodies, medium format has also seen dropping prices as shown by the recent prices of Pentax 645d, Mamiya, & even Sigma’s SD1 and Nikon latest D800. The latter 2 are not traditionally classified as DSLR but their high megapixel count of 46mp and 36mp are rightly in this category. Which now leads to my 2nd part of the article, the shifting technology crossbreed.
The year was 2008. Nikon introduced its D90 in late August. What’s so special about this camera you might wonder. It was essentially the first DSLR to infuse video into its body. It was a revolutionary introduction as this completely changed the market and from then on every DSLR produced had video capabilities. Such was the impact of D90, that till now, some retailers are still selling it , and that’s 4 years after it was first produced which is ancient in this fast ever changing technology world. Another revolutionary tech we are seeing is the introduction of high megapixel DSLR such as Nikon D800 and Sigma SD1. These high megapixel bodies are encroaching on the resolution of medium format cameras but with aless bulky frame. And just like when the Nikon D700 and Canon 5DmIII was introduce the market, it will propably make the market more friendly to those who want to enter commercial, advertising and portrait segment of photography. These equipments make the segment more affordable to aspiring photographers and will propably see a large influx of fullframe users upgrading or crop sensor users switching to these systems.
Besides these revolutionary technology advancements, we are also seeing a trend of retro looking cameras making a return into the arena. This trend was largely due to the introduction of Fuji X100 “rangefinder-ish” camera. The camera was somewhat a replica looking of the very expensive fullframe Leica series of cameras. Though the x100 is equipped with a crop sensor, this has not dampen its popularity with the masses who are searching for a more affordable replacement or replica of the Leica. Fujifilm also recently announce the X1, amirrorless interchangeable lens camera to the market. The camera has received rave reviews from critics whom has claimed that the camera cropped sensor is actually comparable to fullframe sensors such as Canon 5DmII. Having tested and hold the camera myself, I am fully impressed with the body, design, the hybrid viewfinder tech and image quality although focusing can be quite tricky in some situations. Other manufacturers are also actively jumping on the bandwagon as well such as the introduction of Olympus OMD-5 and even a rumored Samsung NX201/300?…
As you can inevitably see, the photography camera world is seeing a real rejuvenation and penetration to the masses not seen in the past. Cameras such as Fujifilm pro-X1, Nikon D800 and even the iPhone 4s has brought photography to a whole new level and popularity which was seen in the past as only for those are knowledgeable and can afford these cameras. Photography is no longer restricted to a few and soon enough will as common as the everyday item like handphones. Differentiation, creativity, composition and execution of the exposure will propably be the determining factor if you want your shots to be as good as the pioneers of past photography masters such as Ansel Adams and Henri Cartier-Bresson.
“If your photos aren’t good enough, then you’re not close enough” – Robert Capa