Camera Miscellanea

It looks like late August will be a busy time for the Japanese camera makers. Within a single week there are three European press conferences, viz.

  • Canon: Tuesday, August 21st
  • Pentax: Thursday, August 23rd
  • Nikon: Friday, August 24th

Canon

The Canon conference is purportedly about the launch of their “Autumn Collection”, which no doubt includes the long-awaited 40D. Specs for this machine have leaked all over the net, meeting equal parts dismay, ambivalence and cautious optimism. I think it’s a reasonable upgrade – improved image processing, custom modes on dial, image-stabilized normal zoom, (some) weather-sealing, larger LCD, dust-cleaning…

Pentax

Reading the tea leaves for Pentax is harder, and solid rumors are scarce. It appears there’ll be two new DSLR models for the latter half of this year; the first, a 10MP model that slots between the K100D (Super) and K10D; the second, a 12MP pro-oriented one above the K10D. There are also indications of a “Super”-style upgrade to the K10D.

Given Pentax’s track record, it’s likely the new models will see me do a bout of “Why, oh why, can’t Nikon offer the same value-for-price proposition?

Olympus

I have a soft spot – a very soft spot – for Olympus. I own both an OM-1 and OM-2, and pray that one day I’ll see their digital equivalents; I’d buy one without hesitation. In fact, following the introduction of the E-410 I’ve given serious thought to maintaining a dual-mount system – Nikon and Olympus.

I’m extremely interested to see what Olympus has in store for autumn, during which there are strong signs that long-suffering Oly owners will finally see their E-1 successor. An internal presentation leaked a month ago, painting a picture of a D200+ competitor with an extremely compelling feature-set. In short:

  • 100% viewfinder with 1.15x magnification
  • Anti-shake system (in-body and in-lens combined) with 5-stop advantage; touted as “world’s most effective”
  • 11-point all cross-sensor AF
  • Extremely low-light AF sensitivity, namely -2EV @ ISO 100
  • World quickest and most-accurate AF with SWD lenses (!)
  • “Splash-proof” aka. weather-sealing
  • Live View with articulated LCD screen
  • 10MP High Speed Live MOS
  • Shadow adjustment technology
  • 5 fps
  • Sensor-cleaning

Damn.

Frankly, this camera looks like a dream come true for a vast cross-section of photographers; it certainly appeals to me. With practical, photographer-relevant features like viewfinder upgrades and low-light AF sensitivity and precision, I see that Olympus retains its focus on making a “photographer’s camera” – the same philosophy that underpinned its much-lauded OM line.

Nikon

Unlike the leaks escaping other manufacturers’ headquarters and subsidiaries, there’s not much here. There have been no leaks of internal marketing documents, high-quality 3D mockups or spec-sheets; no first-hand “I handled the new camera” accounts; even the number of upcoming models is a subject of much debate and conjecture. In fact, there’s been no indication as to what features will be added or improved or even how the biggest challenges to the system will be addressed. Makes for frustrating times.

I’m interested in the rumored pro releases because they’re a window into what the next-generation consumer bodies will bring. Will I see improved noise performance and image processing? Image stabilization targeted at wide angles? Improved low-light AF sensitivity? What philosophy will the next-generation cameras espouse?

I guess I’ll find out in three weeks.

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