Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Situation Room: 10 days of New Canon, Nikon, Pentax and maybe Olympus, Sony, Panasonic

This is your future camera special correspondant Volf Kamera-Blitzor reporting! As Jeff Keller of DCR said, the next 10 days will have a lot of new camera announcements. The 10 day clock started the night of the Canon announcement.

We have already had exciting Canon announcements, with Big Daddy Mark III (1Ds Mark III), the mid-range sensation Canon 40D, budget-priced IS lenses, and a 14mm L lens for those with $2200 in the bank. On the non-dSLR front, adding RAW to the GINO (G9) was a welcome addition. Also nice was the A650-IS growing up with more features, but sadly no RAW (not that one would expect today's marketing people to do the logical thing). Also welcome for wide-angle fans was a follow-up to the SD800-IS (SD870-IS). On the fun-zoom segment, Canon had a second attempt at the Panasonic TZ-series with the SX100-IS. Their first attempt? The TX-1 creature :) Those counting megapixels will find three new 12 megapixel cameras from Canon. Expect more from the other makers :(

Next in line for an announcement according to forum posts is Nikon. Already the Alliance (Sony) managed to spoil Canon's party with Sony's announcement of a new 12.5mp CMOS sensor for DSLRs. Needless to say this sensor will be featured in a Nikon camera, quite likely one to be announced on the 23rd of August around 1pm Japanese time. The big question with regards to Nikon is whether we will see a D3-series camera right now. Whether it's a D3, or a split D3X and D3h I do not know. The nature of the D3 will also affect the nature of the D300. It is highly unlikely to release them using the same sensor (given past Nikon behavior). One possibility: Perhaps the D3X will take the new 14.5mp Sony sensor and the D300 will take the D2X's 12mp sensor. Yet another option is a D200s or D200x that will essentially be a redressing of the D200. After all the Canon 40D is at 10mp... Ooops we forgot about the P5000. This camera despite its flaws, it managed to finally find its following. Given the resurgence of this segment, my prediction is that Nikon will actually release two updates, one that is a sequential P5000 update - let's call it a Coolpix P6000. Another could be a more advanced version with RAW perhaps that can compete on features, size and price with the G9 and the other 2-3 RAWsumers out there. Our previous comprehensive speculation on Nikon here

Shortly following Nikon will be Pentax. We are allegedly expecting two new DSLRs from Pentax this year, Supers not counting. Some reasonable expectations: 10mp version of the K100D/Super, a camera above the K10D, a camera with the new Sony sensor, the K10D with the Sony sensor. Also keep in mind that some of the Pentax models may sound strange on their own, but when you consider that Samsung which so far has shared bodies with Pentax (in a non-sexual way I'm sure) needs new entry level DSLRs. Their GX1s and GX1L are from the *ist DS/DL era. There is also some speculation that Pentax/Samsung may be using sensor(s) from alternate sources, such as Kodak, or a mythical Samsung sensor, or perhaps another one (Cypress or is it Micron with the APS-C sensor?). And a wild wild shot: Someone released a b+w APS-C sensor. Since Pentax specializes in "peddling inspiration" what if they decided to release a b+w camera for fun? [highly unlikely but it is fun to speculate!]... Oooops! I forgot about the 645D! Will the new Hoya-Pentax braintrust give us a clear indication of what is happening with this project? Please let us know! Our previous comprehensive speculation on Pentax here

These three will probably conclude this week. According to Keller we have ten days, which means the next working week will also be busy. So that means some of the others will be announcing as well. So it could be Sony, Olympus, Pansonic or Samsung. We do not know which one, but since there are more announcement(s) next week it could be one of them or more than one or all four of them. I do not know!

Part II coming soon! Part II is here:
Sony announced their new sensor to spoil the Canon party and to perhaps prepare us for the next cameras that are coming from Nikon, Pentax/Samsung and Sony. A bit anti-climactic some could say. Sony's announcement of a new 12.5mp CMOS sensor for DSLRs. Sony has promised a mid-range DSLR, so one can perhaps deduce that this sensor is for their mid-range DSLR. And if Sony uses it on a mid-range, it probably won't be on the Nikon D3-flagship, unless of course Nikon gets a different, more high-end version. So we are to expect a mid-ragne DSLR from Sony, hopefully more details on their upcoming flagship and quite possibly a new entry-level Alpha. Although it was believed that Sony won't release an entry-level DSLR this year. There was also some mumbling about an EVIL DSLR (using an electronic view finder instead of the traditional SLR viewfinger and mirror combo). Some even named it Alpha A50. More lenses are expected as well. Some people are also hoping for an R2 or perhaps a return of the F828 series, but sadly those are just hopes :( What is more reasonable to expect (although not necessarily) is a camera similar to the Canon G7/G9, Panasonic LX-series and Nikon P5000. Sony can't possibly expect people to buy the W200 instead of any of those three. The leaked cameras will also be formally announced: The TZ-competitor (and SX100 competitor), the Cybershot H3, along with the two new 8mp 1/2.5" T-series, the T200 and T70 (Not to be confused with the Sony-Ericsson T200 cellphone). Our Sony speculation from earlier on is here

Olympus currently has the camera our blog readers think is the most exciting announcement of the season (see our Poll on the left hand column). It will be the highly anticipated and long awaited follow-up to the E1, the new Olympus flagship that Olympus itself is even teasing with a reality-style mini-sode series on their website. There is the specs that were revealed at the legendary marketing meeting in Europe and ended up all over the net as a PDF file of the powerpoint presentation [allegedly]. In those specs there were some very bold promises made by Olympus. Only time will tell! Some other sources say that they will be using the same 10mp sensor as the E410 and E510, however this may be a beefed up version of the sensor, not necessarily exactly the same version... How about an 8mp version of the SP-550Uz with hopefully some bug fixes as well (things that were pointed out in the reviews) Our previous Olympus speculation is here

Panasonic The expectation is for a 10mp DSLR using the same sensor as the Olympus E410/E510. Since they also sell Leica-branded MegaOIS lenses, they may opt for the E410-style body so they can sell more Leica lenses :) Not sure if this camera will be mid-range priced like the Panasonic L1, or it will be designed to sell under $1000. Given that they are in tape-delayed lock-step with Leica, it will probably be a design that can Leica-fied (unless of course Leica skips this release). Also more new lenses are expected from the Panasonic/Leica collaboration. And the wildest of wild speculations: Panasonic making bodies for the traditional Leica M- and R- (file under: fantasy). Back to 4/3rds, I doubt Olympus would be willing to share their flagship body with Panasonic right away (unless of course it was part of the deal)... The other big questions is what will happen to the FZ60 and LX3? I mean, will the FZ50 and LX2 get updates? According to the now very correct "slotted in" theory (I forgot who said it but it deserved our thanks and kudos since he/she was right!) the FX100 slotted-in between the FX-series and the LX-series and the FZ18 slotted in between the existing FZ-series (don't think of slotted-in as a straight-line, think of it as slotting-in in a three dimensional space :) Our previous Panasonic speculation is here

How about Samsung? Their entry-level DSLRs are the Pentax *ist DS* and DL* from centuries ago. They need new ones. The Pentax K100D Super is a good candidate to be Samsung-ized. They may skip altogether the K100D and K110D bodies. Will Samsung continue with Pentax bodies? Will they try their own? The only "serious" attempt at a camera desing they had was the big daddy of 2/3" RAWsumers, the Samsung Pro 815. Also what type of sensor will they use? Sony? Their (mythical) own sensor? Kodak? And how about a more advanced camera or a GX10 replacement? Would Pentax allow them or want them to use their new mid-range/flagship camera? They certainly did not object when it came to the K10D/GX10. Our earlier Samsung speculation is here

And what about Ricoh? We can't expect a dSLR from them (at least not yet), but they are bravely trying to take advantage of the gap in RAWsumers/prosumers/advanced non-dSLR cameras. A GRD2 is expected as it has been two years since the introduction of the GR-D. And how about a GX100? The camera managed to create a stir, and even though it may not be ideally suited for the average digital camera user, it is a great camera in the hands of the advanced amateurs. So how about Ricoh trying to improve upon those issues with a GX120? I know that would be too soon, but Ricoh has been known to introduce new models every 6-9 months for the other camera series. After all, the GX- is a great opportunity for make a name for themselves. They should take it! The sad part perhaps is that they will also jump to 12 megapixel sensors (just like eveyrone else). After all, they can only use what sensors are available and given their volume, I doubt they can custom-order a sensor and keep the camera at a reasonable price. Our earlier Ricoh speculation is here

PS> Ooops this has grown too big. The original intend for this was too be just a short teaser for the upcoming 10 days. But I couldn't resist :-)

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