Monday, July 9, 2007

Fauxtokina 2007: Canon speculation and predictions

Canon DSLRs

  • 1Ds series Photokina 2002 was the historic introduction of Mark I. Mark II came two years later at Photokina 2004. It's three years now, is it time for an update? Yes! Will we get one? We should have gotten one at Photokina 2006! So, not sure!
  • 1D series The original 1D was using a 4mp Panasonic CCD sensor many years ago. Then Mark II came out in Jan 2004, followed by a minor "II N" upgrade in August 2005, and the one and only Mark III in February 2007. Nothing else in 2007 here :)

  • 5D series The full frame for the masses with deep pockets (or credit lines) came out in August 2005. Two years now, time for an upgrade? Or not... Certainly two years is a long time but this is not a consumer level DSLR. Even for the Digital Rebels Canon has an 18-month product cycle. I also think we are not going to get a 5D and a 1Ds update at the same time. They would probably have to space out!

  • mid-range series The 30D came out at PMA 2006. This line-up, just like the Rebels is on a 1.5 year cycle. The 20D came out at Photokina 2004, while the 10D at PMA 2003. Before that, the Nikon-sounding 60D was out at the historical 2002 PMA, the one where a number of "affordable" DSLRs came out. The one that started the DSLRs for the masses revolution :) So the time is right for a replacement. The 40D. One question is whether it will have a 10mp sensor, or leapfrog to 12mp or more. The D-Rebel is already at 10mp. Not that megapixels alone matter, but marketing and a number of buys do give them more attention than they deserve. Given that Sony is about to jump to 12mp for the mid-range, which means Nikon and Pentax/Samsung are probably following suit, it would make sense for Canon to jump to 12mp now with the 40D, and then use the same/similar sensor in the new Digital Rebel at PMA 2008.

  • Digital Rebel without a cause The Digital Rebel revolution started in August 2003 with the 300D, then 18 months later at PMA 2005 with the 350D (aka XT), and Photokina 2006 with the XTi (400D). The 18 month pattern holds, and a replacement would come out at PMA 2008. Canon was sort of forced by the competition to use a 10mp in the 400D instead of an 8mp sensor. Regardless, I do not expect a new Digital Rebel this year. Most likely: New Digital Rebel at PMA 2008.
  • The sub-$500 Digital Rebel? Canon has shown that their profit-priority business model does not favor a Digital Rebel for the masses under $500. The only way they would come up with one as such is if the market numbers and sales they are looking at force them to do so. Canon has had Rebels more expensive than the competition going into the 2005 and 2006 holiday shopping seasons and they haven't flinched. I think this has maybe a 33% chance of happening.

    Canon non-DSLRs

  • G series The G7 (Photokina 2006) was a special and controversial G-series model. It lacked a number of defining G-series characteristics, and should not have been named G7. It was named as such, because, you guessed it, the G-series is a very respectable name in the market, so it would help sell a lot more units. This is not to say that the G7 is a bad camera. Not at all. This is simply to say that it is not a "true" G-series camera. A 10mp 1/1.8" sensor, with a 6x IS lens, but without RAW is an interesting proposition for buyers. A number of people would like to see that become a "true" G-series. One could speculate that the G7 came back (after three years of G-series slumber) because of the likes of the Panasonic LX-series and Ricoh trying to make headways into the open field. If Canon indeed plans to continue this series, then a new version should be released this summer. If Canon decides to jump on the new 12mp 1/1.7" sensors, then expect a 12mp G8. Another option would be for it to go wide, a trend of interest these days. But since this is just the first unit utilizing this 6x IS lens, I would expect a couple more before trying yet another design. Most likely outcome: 12mp follow-up to the G7 (without RAW or other traditional G-series features) in the Fall of 2007. The last "real G-series", the G6 came out at Photokina 2004, G5 in June 2003, G3 at Photokina 2002, etc...

  • S-IS series The S5 IS was just announced (May 2007), one of two Canon cameras using the 8mp 1/2.5" sensor. The previous one (S3 IS) came out in February 2006, the S2 IS in April 2005, an th S1 IS at PMA 2004. So the pattern is about one per year, this year's slight delay was either the sensor or perhaps the introduction of the TX-series. Given all that, I don't expect another one this year. Unless they decide to come up with a wide-angle version in parallel.
  • TX-IS series The 7mp TX-1 came to be (PMA 2007) to address the other hybrids along with the cutesy long zooms, such as the TZ-series by Panasonic, and Nikon S- twist bodies. If there will be a follow-up, I would expect it at PMA 2008. But for competitive purposes, Canon may bring it out early and boost the profile of the series. Canon usually likes to jump to newer sensors a few months after their release, and then they do a big refresh of their entire lineup (usually around PMA of each year). So maybe...

  • A series is king Canon announced eight (8) A-series cameras in 2006. They will probably pass that in 2007 as they have already announced five and quite a few of them are up for "re-election". It's raining A-series models from Canon. I am splitting them into subgroups for easier reading.
  • A 1/1.8" series A tradition like no other, the 1/1.8" A-series have been around for quite a while. The last two A640 and A630 (10mp, 8mp) in August 2006 replaced the A620 and A610 (7mp, 5mp) of August 2005. These replaced the double-digit A-series (eg A95, 5mp, August 2005). It is fairly obvious that new ones should come out at August 2007. Will it be just one or two? Canon doesn't usually jump on new sensors right away, but perhaps one of them could be at 12mp. Perhaps one of them could get the 6x IS lens of the G7, although Canon may feel that it would devalue the G7. So this probably won't happen unless there won't be a follow-up to the G7. Which is not impossible. Given that they chose not to overlap sensors between the A610..A640, we may see a new lens for one of the two that should come out. Or maybe just one comes out. Calling them A650 and A660 took a lot of soul-searching ;-)
  • A 1/2.5" 6x series The A700 introduced the 6x lens to the A-series, in an attempt to combat the 5x and 6x and 7x lenses that were springing up left and right in various competitors models. The A700 (6mp, Feb 2006) was quickly followed by the A710 IS (7mp, IS lens, August 2006). Perhaps some may call this a G7 Lite. This model is also up for re-election in August 2007. The S5-IS and SD850-IS were the vanguard of the 8mp 1/2.5" sensor, so a A720 IS with 8mp would not be a surprise. Another question is whether Canon will continue with a two-model 7xx series, IS and no-IS. I believe they will just continue with the two model strategy, the current camera and the new camera continuing together, until a new one comes out. Similar to what they do with the S-IS series. Expect one, but don't be surprised if they do two.
  • A 1/2.5" A5xx 4x series. The most popular and popular series also got IS in the A570 IS (PMA 2007). Along with it came the A560 and A550. Before those, the A530 and A540 came out at PMA 2006, and the A510 and A520 at PMA 2005. Usually two, but IS made them grow to three models in 2007. Nothing new here until PMA 2008.
  • A 1/2.5" A4xx series. The real entry-level series, competing on price with the other $100-ish cameras out there. Important for market share bottom fishing. The A450 and A460 (Jan 2007) followed the A420 and A430 (Feb 2006), the A410 (August 2005) and A400 (August 2004). Expect new ones at PMA 2008.

  • Elph, Ixus and Ixy: Canon uses different model names for this series in Asia, Europe and North America. This is very confusing. I am barely able to sort out the model #s for North America at the moment, so I will only be talking about North AMerican model #s. At later point, time permitting, I will be adding the other model names as well.
  • 1/1.8" SD-series (Elph) The SD500 (7mp) came out at PMA 2005. Because Canon got caught with 2" LCDs while the rest of the competition had gone to 2.5" for a while now, they were forced to introduce out of cycle updates. That's when the SD550 came out (August 2005). The big Elphs skipped the 8mp sensor, but jumped on the 10mp sensor with the SD900 (Photokina 2006). This makes them ripe for an upgrade perhaps to 12mp? That may sound like an overkill, but Sony, Casio, Kodak and Panasonic announced cameras of similar size with 12mp. Even if they stay with a 10mp sensor, expect an upgrade, perhaps in terms of LCD, and other usability features and such. I doubt IS or wide angle with this sensor. For those, they probably have to revive the S80 series. And before you laught, the G-series were revived three years after its last model. The S80 is only two years old :)
  • 1/2.5" SD-series (Elph) The wild world of the tiny shiny Elphs! We have 3x and 4x versions and one that starts at 28mm wide. To keep track of them, let's jump back to PMA 2005 with the intro of the SD400. After having to quickly come up with 2.5" LCD versions, the SD450 came to be in August 2005 and threw them out of cycle. The SD430 wireless was a wireless experiment probably for competitive purposes (October 2005). The Elphs then went back in cycle with the SD600 and SD630 at PMA 2006. The difference this time was LCD size, instead of sensor size. The SD630 was one of the few without an OVF. But Canon had to also respond to the IS sensors in the subcompacts popularized by the Panasonic FX- MegaOIS series. So the SD700IS (6mp, 4x, not wide) came out at PMA 2006. To respond to the newer 28mm wide FX- from Panasonic, Canon also went wide with the 7mp SD800-IS (Photokina 2006). PMA 2007 saw the usual cyclical bread and butter Elph refresh with the cheaper one SD1000 and the more expensive one SD750 (3" LCD), both at 7mp. Then Canon's first two 8mp 1/2.5" cameras includes the SD850-IS (not wide), which seems to be an SD700IS upgrade instead of a SD800IS. Oh the confusion! The bread and butter Elphs are going to be refreshed at PMA 2008. So the big question is whether we will see an 8mp 28mm wide upgrade to the SD800IS which would be one year old by the Fall. Finding a name for it will be a challenge, but probably the least of their worries. It's already spaghetti :)
  • 1/2.5" tiny SD-series (Elph) The SD20 (Photokina 2004), SD30 (August 2005), SD40 (Photokina 2006) makes it ripe for a Fall 2007 update, the SD50 probably at 8mp. Duh :-)
  • S-series revival? The last one, the S80, using 8mp 1/1.8" and starting at 28mm wide was announced in August 2005, a lifetime ago in terms of digital camera lifecycles.

    What to expect from Canon in the rest of 2007? (pure speculation!)
  • A 30D update (aka 40D), new 1/1.8" Elph, new 1/2.5" Elph starting at 28mm with IS, one or two 1/1.8" A-series, SD40 upgrade (SD50),
  • Predicted names of speculated models: TX-2, S7 IS, 1Ds Mark III, 5D Mark II, 40D, 450D, G8, A650, A660, A720, A720 IS, A730 IS, A470, A480, A580, A585, A590, A590 IS, SD950, SD1100, SD50, SD950 IS

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