10 Photo Industry Predictions for 2008

Resnick prognosticates the year ahead, again. How will he do this time?

Last year I said I could predict the future. Y’know what? I didn’t do that badly. In fact, more than half of my predictions came to pass. While a 60 would be a failing grade in school, that’s better than average in the predicton biz. So, empowered by last year’s success, I’ve decided to do it again.

Here are my educated guesses, based on nothing more than closely watching the industry and entirely free of insider information, for developments we may see in 2008. We’ll reconvene at the end of the year and see how many of these bold predictions come to pass:

1. New starter DSLRs will have Face Recognition Technology
Face Recognition, the surprise technology success of 2007, will be universally adapted. It’s already in most new compact cameras being introduced, but I predict we’ll start seeing an advanced version on basic DSLRs. I also predict a high-end variation: Face Recognition would identify and map best facial expressions in a group shot (Sony already has a compact that does this) and seamlessly combines, in-camera, the best expressions in two or three shots of the same group. This technology already exists.

2. More pictures will be shot, fewer will be saved
It’s already happening, thanks to cell phone cameras, the falling price of digital cameras, how easy it is to take pictures with them, and how complicated it is to print them. A generation is being raised to believe photographs are disposable (or deleteable), and paper memories are disappearing. But I can’t predict what we’re going to do about it.

3. Digital camera prices will reach parity with film cameras
As I predicted ten years ago on another web site, in 2008 the price of digital cameras will reach parity with those of film cameras. Entry-level digital SLRs will be under $400, which was roughly what basic film SLRs coast in the 90s, allowing for inflation. Compact digital cameras will settle down at $150 for a full-featured 7MP basic model. There are already plenty…and that’s pretty much what decent film point-and-shoot cameras were selling for in the early 90s!

4. Wi-Fi cards will rock the camera world
The Eye-Fi Wireless SD memory Card, introduced a few months ago, will turn out to be the tip of the iceberg as more hot spot-friendly cards (CF, xD, etc) will be rolled out. And consumers will get it: Whenever they turn their camera on in a wireless Internet hot spot, the latest images will automatically be uploaded and archived in a place where they can later go on line and order prints. And if Eye-Fi is smart, they’ll license their technology to Lexar, Sandisk, and everybody else in the flash memory industry.

5. Digital frames will surpass cameras as biggest holiday gift
Don’t get me wrong: digital cameras are still going to be a hot item. But as digital picture frame technology improves, the price continues to drop and consumers better understand the benefit, sales of digital picture frames will skyrocket. They’re already a big seller, and they’re poised to become the most desirable stocking stuffer of ’08.

6. Kodak will be saved by its new sensor
In 2007 Kodak unveiled a panchromatic sensor that they boasted would revolutionize image capture. In 2008, I predict Kodak will bring to market the first camera to use this technology, and then license the sensors to other camera makers. Licensing this sensor will become a cash cow for Kodak. And Kodak will then turn into the imaging giant it aspires to be.

7. The Leica M8 will have company
When it comes to digital rangefinder cameras, Leica has the entire field to itself with the Leica M8. But that will change. Sigma will likely introduce its long-awaited DP1, with a 14MP Foveon APS-D sized sensor (the same one that's on the SD-14 DSLR), a 28mm lens, and likely lower price. This model may siphon off some potential M8 buyers. Also, I boldly (and recklessly) predict that a digital Voigtlander or Zeiss rangefinder will be introduced by our friends at Cosina with a full-frame sensor (possibly the same Foveon sensor that Sigma’s using) and a mount that can accept Leica M-mount lenses. Anybody up for a Bessa R Digital?

8. Infrared photography will become cliché

When you had to use film that required special handling and processing and exposure, Infrared photography was a mystical science few casual photographers dared attempt to understand. Infrared photography was unique and special. Now, all you have to do is buy one of many cameras now available with an infrared mode, or get your DSLR modified. What’s the fun in that? Many amateurs will discover infrared, but without the associated pain, it just won’t be the same--especially now that High Speed Infrared film is a thing of the past.

9. 2008's sleeper pro cam? The Olympus E-3!
Sure, Nikon and Canon have unveiled some amazing digital SLRs in the last year, and we’re sure to see more in ’08. But the Olympus E-3, thanks to its extensive system of lenses and accessories, full pro feature set, durable build, fast and reliable autofocus, stellar low-light performance, and, most importantly, affordable price, is going to be a surprise sales success story. I predict it will siphon some sales off the Big Two flagship cameras. It will become the camera of choice for many studio, event, and sports shooters, and will also appeal to many serious hobbyists.

10. We’ll be able to change focus after the fact

Refocusing technology, which was demonstrated in 2006, is going to burst on the scene as a new camera feature. A new generation of cameras with array of micro lenses between the lens and sensor will perform strain the laws of physics and capture all the focus fields at once. Viewers can then move a slider accompanying the image file (which will be a new format) and refocus each image file at will—an entirely new end-user experience. No way, you say? Look at this! (First camera company to offer this new technology? I think it'll be Pentax!)

And of course, bonus prediction #11:
We’ll still be here, reporting on the latest photo industry news!

See you in December, when we'll either laugh at how far off the mark I was or marvel at my clairvoyance.

© 2008 Adorama Camera, Inc.


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