Monday, August 4, 2008

Photokina 2008 Point and Shoot Speculation and Predictions

We conclude our marathon Photokina 2008 Speculation Spectacular with the most populous but at the same time perhaps least exciting segment of the market - at least among hard core photography enthusiasts. But that won't phase us, we still dig(g) in and speculate like there's no tomorrow!

Please note that we cover the DSLRs, Super Zooms, and power compacts (eg Canon G9, A650-IS, Panasonic LX3) in their own segments.

Also please note that speculation+predictions is different from rumors.

Featured here are Canon, Nikon, Sony, Panasonic, Fuji, Olympus, Samsung, Pentax, Casio, Kodak, Ricoh, Leica, and a couple more. This is a long post, so brew some coffee :)

Canon Point and Shoot Speculation+Predictions
Please note that for Canon we are using the North American names. Please refer to dpreview for a "translation" of the model names.

The most exciting among the Elphs (Ixus, Ixy) is perhaps the SD870-IS, because it starts at 28mm wide. And it was announced about a year ago, which means it is time for a replacement at or by Photokina. So what will we see in the SD870 replacement? We expect a 10mp 1/2.33" sensor, with other sequential and consumer-friendly upgrades. As far as a name, maybe SD880-IS or SD910-IS? Eventually Canon is going to run out of names and will have to reboot the naming sequence.

Also part of the Photokina/Fauxtokina cycle was the A720-IS, which will likely get a 10mp 1/2.3" replacement as well. We will brave a name prediction, let's call it A730-IS. (Oh how predictable!)

The same cycle last year saw the 12mp SD950-IS, and judging by what other manufacturers have done, we will likely see a 14mp SD960-IS replacement. Maybe Canon will show restraint and try to "perfect" the 12mp sensor output, but judging from past history, they all give in to the temptation, at least when it comes to the mass-market consumer models.

One camera that hasn't seen a replacement is the TX-1, announced at PMA 2007, but we suspect that Canon has abandoned that experiment, since that camera did not do particularly well by Canon standards, thus the announcement of the SX-100-IS fun zoom.

And that about does it for Canon, since they have already replaced some of the other 2007 models at CES/PMA 2008.

Nikon Point and Shoot Speculation+Predictions
A wave of Coolpixies with a steady dose of Ashton Kutcher saw the Coolpix line-up expand in size and popularity in 2008, and there are not that many models in this segment that "need" replacement.

One of them is perhaps the 12mp S700, which used the 1/1.7" sensor, and we suspect that Photokina 2008 will be the time where the 14mp 1/1.7" sensor makes a ...noisy "splash" in the market. So, let's all hypothetically welcome a 14mp Coolpix S710.

We suspect there will be at least one more L-series Coolpix, perhaps to jump on the 10mp 1/2.33" sensor or the 9mp 1/2.5" sensor. We'll be brave and predict their names to be L20 and L19 ;-)

Sony Point and Shoot Speculation+Predictions
Sony is not shy about blitzing the market with new models, since their PMA 2008 W-series and S-series announcements for example. With so many cameras announced already, is there any room left for other point and shoots?

Well, we found some! The experimental T2 (with 4gb on-board memory) was announced last October, and it looks like it's about time for a second model. Perhaps it will get a 10mp 1/2.33" sensor, or Sony can try to differentiate with the 9mp 1/2.5" sensor.

Sony is not shy about unleashing new T-series models every six months or less, and the T70 is a good candidate since it is one year old already. And we should see a replacement, to compliment the 2008 T300. We expect this new T80 (or T75) to be using the 10mp 1/2.33" sensor as well, although Sony has shown their 8mp 1/2.5" some more love this year by keeping it in a number of their new models.

There is also the possibility of a minor T300 upgrade, let's call it T310 if it's going to be a limited availability model, or T320 or T350 if it's going to be mass market. No particular reason other than cycle things through.

As far as the wireless Sony experiment, we can't really tell. The G1 (May 2007) did not exactly take the market by storm, and neither was Sony's intend. The question is, was that an experimental release before the invasion, or a one-off experiment? Sony is not shy about experimenting about everything, except perhaps MemorySticks ;-) If we do get a replacement, it will likely be called a G2 - yes another brave prediction! :)

Sony had a European experiment last year, the S800 which had a longer than usual zoom lens (6x on AA-based P&S), and we may get an S810, a replacement with either the 9mp 1/2.5" or 10mp 1/2.33" sensor.

Olympus Point and Shoot Speculation+Predictions
Olympus is not shy about ushering in waves and waves of new models. CES/PMA saw one way, and another came out at Fauxtokina 2007 (August). Common sense would indicate that Olympus would not have any new models, but if you look at their history, they've been releasing new "clones" every six months. Yikes for us since we have to predict more :)

But honestly we just can't think of what else they could jam in their busy line-up of clones. They already have plenty of Stylus and FE-models. One thing that would certainly necessitate a re-issuing of their line-up is if they do the common sense thing and add support for SD/MMC memory cards. That's about as likely as stopping the silly panorama/branded-card requirement. Sadly. Arggg @ Olympus!

The first thing we think will happen is at least one new 10mp 1/2.33" FE-series model. Also likely (but not making much sense) is a 14mp 1/1.72" FE-series model to "replace" the 12mp FE-300 that came out a year ago. Unless of course they want to jump over the Sony-crowd and go for the 15mp sensor that we saw from Samsung and Panasonic. They have used non-Sony sensors in the past in some of their point and shoots.

The SW shockproof/dustproof line-up is already loaded with the 1030SW, 850SW and 7x0SW, so unless they are planning a new feature, design or lens, I just don't see the need to create more.

Likewise the traditional Stylus models are all over the place, with the 1010/1020 and 840 announced at PMA. But just like they announced the 12mp 1/1.72" last year, we expect to see a Stylus 1400 or Stylus 1500, depending on the megapixelation of the sensor.

Olympus had historically "experimented" with different designs and models, so we may see something along those lines at Photokina.

The gaping hole in their line-up is cameras above the mid-range. The C-series once ruled the photographic world, now it finds itself in eBay auctions. The last new C-series models were the C7070 and C-5500 in January 2005.

Olympus also tried its hand with smaller semi-serious mid-range cameras (SP-350, 320, 310) but the last we heard from those was January 2006. That's a long time in digital camera years.

Fuji Point and Shoot Speculation+Predictions
Fuji took the fun out of predictions by leaking their next set of new cameras via Fuji Canada. But the listing was not conclusive so there is still room for speculations and predictions.

For one thing, the Fuji F60fd did not appear at Fuji Canada, but at a retailer's website, and may have been a "typo". And the F60fd may be more of a F40fd than an F31fd, so it won't spark as much excitement. But excitement or not we are here to speculate and predict. Considering all that, we'll probably see the F60fd at $300 as leaked. It seems to compute by looking at what Fuji has been doing the last few months. The F50fd is after one year old, and you know what that means for digital cameras!

With four new J-series models coming, covering both wide-angle and 10mp 1/2.33", there doesn't seem to be room for more entry-level-ish cameras, with the exception of AA-based models, which seem to have "frozen" with the A9xx range. Will Fuji continue their 1/1.7"-ish A-series entry-level cameras? Will they make an attempt to make them Canon A-series competitors instead of opint and shoots with larger sensors and everything else an afterthought?

We hope they do, but the chances seem to be titled against that happening. In fact we wouldn't be surprised if we didn't see any "global" A-series models. They may announce regional models, in markets where Fuji A-series apparently is doing well, but they seem to have jumped all the way in with the J-series.

Panasonic Point and Shoot Speculation+Predictions
Is the four pack of new announcements the last of the 2008 models from Panasonic, or is there more in the tank?

They pretty much refreshed their whole line-up at CES/PMA 2008, combined with the four-pack, and with the exception of a couple of entry-level LS-series models, eg 10mp 1/2.33", we don't see anything else fitting their point and shoot line-up.

However, yes, however, the introduction of the TZ50 wireless may have been the start of a new experiment, and the next logical target for wireless experiments would be one of the FX-series models, perhaps the gadgety-FX500 or the more modest FX35. So we are predicting that we will see either a dev-notice or an announcement of a wireless FX-series model at or by Photokina 2008 by Panasonica.

Leica Point and Shoot Speculation+Predictions
The one Panasonic Lumix camera that screams Leica is the LX3, but that's covered in the Power Compacts speculation.

Among the P&S range, the FX500 or the FX35 seem to be good candidates for a Leica version, since Leica has used FX-series models in the past. We are not sure how "Leicaphiles" would see a touch-screen. If it is deemed to be "not Leica-ish", then perhaps we will see the FX35 instead. We think the chance of a Leica FX-series at Pho-2008 is 50-50.

Ricoh Point and Shoot Speculation+Predictions
Ricoh is all set with their G-series models, but their R*-series models may see some action. The Rx-series has been getting a new model every six months, so perhaps we may see a Caplio R9. Likely to be a sequential update. We are not advocating such a release, we are merely speculating here :)

They will also likely announce something in the affordable R*-series, perhaps an R60 and RR780 or RR790. The RR770 was interestingly announced on Black Friday in 2007. Since that was using a 7mp 1/2.5", there is room for both an 8mp 1/2.5" and a 10mp 1/2.33" to be announced. Will we see them both announced together or one now, and one early next year? The former seems more likely than the latter.

Sigma Point and Shoot Speculation+Predictions
This is easy, they don't have any nor we expect them any time soon. It takes them forever to come up with a DSLR or a DP-series model. The only reason we mention them is because there was a Polaroid Foveon experiment, so there is a very very remote possibility they may try something like that, perhaps with the co-operation of an OEM camera maker. But even for speculation, this is a STRETCH. But then again, that's the whole point of speculation :)

Pentax Point and Shoot Speculation+Predictions
Pentax has managed to simplify their line-up as they are hunting for specific niches, as opposed to covering all the segments of the market.

The W60 was the long-awaited W30 replacement and we do not expect any new W-series models, unless Pentax "saw" something and will try to capitalize it with a second (parallel) model. Two possible areas of expansion are 1) larger sensor 2) more "affordable" model. Most Likely: Nothing new this year.

Even though the M50 and E50 were announced at PMA 2008, it did not stop Pentax from ushering in the M60 and E60. So using the same logic, we may see a 14mp or 15mp Optio S14 or S15, following up on the S12. But since this is more affordable-priced, Pentax may hold off until next year when the prices of those sensors will drop to Walmart levels :)

But what may see a new sensor is their A-series line, which got derailed a little bit after that unforgetable fire at the Matsushita factory manufacturing batteries. It's not a stretch however to predict an Optio A50, with either a 14mp or 15mp sensor. Yikes!

The folded optics 7x experiment may have not gone particularly well, since we haven't heard much from it, neither from Casio or Pentax lately. The first Pentax (and perhaps last) was the Optio Z10, which came out last year. If there is a new model, let's call it the Z20, it will likely "graduate" to the "sensor du jour", the 10mp 1/2.33".

Meanwhile the touch-screen line, which is having a minor resurgence these days with other makers, has been rather sleepy at Pentax. The Optio T30 was announced in January 2007, and we haven't heard of a T40 since. Well there is an IBM Thinkpad T40 laptop, but no Optio. That was using a 7mp 1/2.5" sensor, so it already "missed" the 8mp sensor. If there is a new one, we may get a 10mp 1/2.33" instead.

Yes camera fans, it's been four years since the announcement of the Optio S750z, and Pentax has not made any other attempt at the mid-range since then. We always hope for more, but we don't expect it.

Casio Point and Shoot Speculation+Predictions
We think even the people who work at Casio can't sort through all their Exilim models, since there is so much heavy overlap between them. But that's what works for Casio, and that's what they've been specializing on.

Their last flagship Z-series was the Z1200SR that came out in May 2007, and it looks like Casio is gonna be the proud maker of the Z1400SR or Z1500SR with 14mp or 15mp. Sad but true. The megapixel-marketing-meme continues! Of course we won't complain if Casio shows restraint, and we hope they prove us wrong :)

But it had two sidekicks in 2007, the Z1080 and Z1050, both using 1/1.72" sensors. It is quite possible that these were "replaced" by the wide-angle Z200/Z100 duo, but given how Casio likes to come up with new models, we think there will be a second 1/1.72" model this year, to compliment the new P&S "flagship". Whether it's a Z1090 (10mp 1/1.72") or Z1250 (12mp 1/1.72") we don't know. We don't even know if it will come out, wihch is why we are speculating and predicting :)

Their recently launched 28mm wide line has three models right now, and it looks like it is covering both the 10mp 1/2.33" and 8mp 1/2.5" sensors, so they are probably set for 2008.

Moving along, we have the more affordable line of the EX-Z80, EX-Z77 and EX-Z75. These cameras usually trail the market in sensors, which allows Casio to offer them for less. So we may see an EX-Z85 and quite possibly it may have the 9mp 1/2.5" sensor, instead of going to the 10mp 1/2.33" and "competing" with their more advanced models. But because wide-angle is differentiating the EX-Z200/Z150/Z100 line, Casio may go ahead and splurge with a 10mp 1/2.5".

And the last in line among the mainline Exilims is the line led by the EX-Z9. These are the really cheap models, an homage in a way to their earlier EX-Z3 and EX-Z4 models that paved the way for their success in Europe and North America. Thsese quite possibly are replacing the void left when Casio decided to stop making (rebranding) affordable AA-models. With the EX-Z9 just out, we don't expect anything new here.

But we are not done with Casio yet! We also have the "ceramic lens" line, which was "rebooted" when Casio named its latest mode the "EX-S10", departing from the EX-Sxxx naming scheme. The S10 came out at PMA 2008, and was preceded by the EX-SS880 last summer, and the EX-SS770 at the summer of 2007. We don't expect any ceramics until CES or PMA 2009.

Next we have the 7x folded optics cameras, which we discussed a little above with Pentax. The EX-V8 was the last to be announced, in August 2007, tomatoes not included. The V7 came out at CES 2007, but we haven't heard anything since. Is Casio working on a 10mp 1/2.33" sensor edition or have they abandoned the experiment due to the compromises made due to the folded 7x lens design? We blog, Casio decides :)

And before we close The Casio Files, we have to also note that it is possible, although not likely, for Casio to put the 6mp 1/1.8" speed demon sensor in one of their EX-Z point and shoot models. This would be a gadgetology-priority model, as opposed to the EX-F1 which was flirting with fans of superzooms, camcorders and hardcore photographers. But let's not underestimate the gadgetology segment, this type of an ultracompact speed-demon camera could be a big hit with the Engadget gagdetology crowd. It would be fun to see such a camera built, but sadly we probably won't. Casio, please prove us wrong!!!

Samsung Point and Shoot Speculation+Predictions
Samsung blitzed the market with lots and lots of new cameras, including being the first to jump to 15mp. But they quickly had to share the "crown" with Panasonic. Booooooooooo!

But the march to new models never ends, even if a company has half a dozen models with similar functionalities. We wouldn't be surprised if we saw more, infact Samsung has a pattern of spawning a couple of new models late in the year. They will likely be either AA-based S-series models or LiIon-based L-series.

Just look at all their models at the Digital Camera List. It is INSANE!

A couple of cameras however that haven't seen a replacement are the "Uncle Traveling Matt" L74w with the half a gigabyte travel database pre-loaded, and the 7x zoom models which were the NV7 OPS and L77.

Samsung's gaping hole in their line-up are superzooms, but that discussion belongs to the SuperZoom Speculation and Predictions spectacular.

Kodak Point and Shoot Speculation+Predictions
We have to confess, sifting through the Kodak models was the thing we dreaded the most when undertaking this giant speculation task. Waves and waves of clones. Arggg!!!!

You can see them all at the Digital Camera List. Criticism aside, Kodak is one of the companies with the highest percentage of 1/1.8"+ digital cameras in their line-up. Sadly however, they are not even making an attempt to escape the mid-range mid-range (first "mid-range" is a modifier).

Their V-series saw two new models at CES 2008, which means we are "safe" from new models until CES/PMA 2009. One can hope :)

Their short-zoom 1/1.8" Z-series saw the Z1285 and Kodak is not among the first to jump to new high-megapixel sensors, so you may have to wait until next year for the Z1485 or Z1585. Yes, the first two digits would be megapixels.

Kodak has shifted the balance of their sub-$250 digital cameras to the M-series, with lots and lots of models announced in the last few months. Considering the volume of models, we don't see the need for any new ones in 2008. That is not to say that they won't introduce them though :)

And while some Kodak executive said that Kodak was "exiting the entry-level", we see a parade of sub-$100 models with a 3x optical zoom that frankly are making the webcams and camera-phones look expensive. These started with the C513 which generated some curiosity buzz because it was the first Kodak to use their own CMOS 1/2.5" sensors. The cameras kept coming, C613, C713 and C813, but the curiosity evaporated like a drop of water in a hot desert day.

And now the prediction you've all been waiting for, you have to wait until PMA 2009 or Fauxtokina 2009 for the all-important Easyshare C1013 for $120 or less ;-)

HP and GE Point and Shoot Speculation+Predictions
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This concludes the Speculation Spectacular
Believe or not, we are DONE! Well, not quite, all the blog posts are "live documents" and they get updated frequently, so we are not done-done, but all the major areas of the markets have been covered with speculations and predictions!

If you notice any errors, omissions, and things like that, please lettuce know!

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