What can photographers expect to happen in the coming year? Our resident prognosticator places his bets for the next 12 months.
It's an annual tradition here at the Adorama Learning Center! Based on absolutely zero inside information but plenty of experience watching and predictiong trends, leaves, I boldly (some might say, recklessly) read the photo industry's tea leaves and give my predictions for what's going to happen for the coming year. Here are my ten for 2014—plus a look back at last year's predictions and an assesment of how they worked out.
On to the predictions!
Alien Cameras From Another Planet
Didja see the funky Sony Lens-Cameras, the DSC-QX10 and QX100? These cameras use NFC and clip onto smart phones, which you use to operate the cameras. If that seems bizzarro-world, just wait. I predict more creative hybrid and outright strange imaging solutions are on the horizon. These cameras will look absolutely nothing like traditional cameras. Early adapters will love 'em, and traditionalists will call them gimmicks. And as a result, there will be a backlash known as...
In 2013, Nikon introduced the Nikon Df, Fujifilm introduced a retro-styled Instax instant film camera, the Instax Mini 90, Olympus announced an even more film-influenced version of its OM-D, and Ricoh unveiled a large-sensor pocket compact, the GR, that bore a striking resemblance to its film predecessor. Former film photographers who pine for the days of knurled knobs, ribbed rings, and analog control dials are finally getting their wish and the early returns show that they're embracing their retro models. Manufacturers are taking note. Look for more camera makers to come out with at least one camera that's heavily influenced by a film era ancestor.
Eye-Level Viewfinders Return, Redefined
The lack of eye-level viewfinders on most compact digital cameras was always, in my opinion, a design flaw. It forces you to hold the camera at arm's length—not the steadiest handholding method—and a bare LCD is hard to see in sunlight. The most common solution, a zooming optical viewfinder, wasn't much better, since it only showed approximately 60-70 percent of the image and was hard to look through, earning it the nickname “squintfinder”. In the past year we've seen a new alternative: small eye-level electronic viewfinders, such as those found on the tiny Panasonic LF1 and Nikon P7800. Look for almost all premium compacts to come with built-in EVFs. EVF image quality continues to improve, and the projected images show 100 percent of the captured image. Good times.
Full Frame DSLRs Will Become Affordable
We are already seeing prices of intro-level full-frame DSLRs start to drop. As of this writing, for instance, the Canon 6D has dropped to $1,800. Yes, I know, I predicted this last year and was wrong but I do think this is the year that a full-frame DSLR will launch at or slightly below $1,500—and it will fly off the shelves, encouraging even less expensive models. A $1,000 full-framer? Well, I can dream, can't I?
The Long Awaited Death of Shutter Lag
DSLRs don't have shutter lag; neither do some high-end compacts. MILCs are a mixed bag. But camera makers are finally getting it: Consumers hate to wait, are annoyed by that pause between the moment you press the shutter release and the moment the shutter is, well, released. In the past year we've seen more new smaller cameras boast virtually nonexistant shutter lag, partly thanks to faster autofocus. I predict all but the cheapest point-and-shoots will brag a shutter lag time of less than 0.1 seconds, which is close enough to instantaneous. The worst shutter lag offenders will continue to be smart phones. Speaking of which...
Taking pictures with a camera phone, no matter how smart, is like hammering a nail with a wrench. You can do it, but it's not the right tool. As evidenced by the million-plus monthly visitors to Lomo's web site and the introduction of retro cameras (see above), interest in a modern twist on shooting the old fashioned way will rise. Besides, those Instagram filters are finally becoming cliches and I'm hearing more people grumbling about post processing jiggery pokery and expressing more interested in good exposure, composition and interesting subject matter.
The War Of the Photo Sharing Networks
I don't know which one yet, but I predict a photo sharing network will be acquired either by a competitor or by a social network looking to add a bigger presence in the world of online photo sharing. Instagram? Photobucket? Imgur? Tumblr? Pinterest? yfrog? Who's gonna make it to the n round?
They never learn: At some point n year, some social network will attempt a rights grab so they can use the pictures you've posted on their service for free. There will be an uproar, and they'll back off. It happens at least once a year so this is a pretty safe prediction.
Zombie Kodak Will Rise From Dead
Kodak Film has been brought back from near thanks to the news this past September that the Kodak UK Pension Plan, of all things, has bought and saved the Kodak Personal Imaging (read: film, sensors and cameras) division. License agreements have already been made and some intriguing Kodak Micro Four Thirds lenses were recently unveiled, but look for a more agile, responsive and innovative approach from the newly renamed entity, Kodak Alaris. And the good news for film users is that Kodak film will continue to be made and more Kodak Moments will be had.
The Next Innovative Big Thing in Photography Will Be Crowdfunded
Kickstarter has become a source for some innovative photo-related products, such as Gifpop, which turns animated GIFs into lenticular 3D prints, a modular camera trigger, and a Lomography Petzval lens (that Kickstarter campaign raised a million bucks for product development in under a week!). Look for bigger, bolder ideas from clever indie camera and photo gear designers as innovations bypass the usual camera makers.
2013: How'd I Do?
Let's take a look back at last year's predictions and see how I did. (In previous years, my record has been slightly above .500, which is better than your average baseball player.) Last year, I made 8 predictions, startng with Full-Frame MILCs and indeed, Sony's A7 and A7r fulfilled that one. Expect more in the coming year. I also predicted that APS would dominate MILCs and that too has proven to be true. My prediction that there would be full-frame DSLRs for between $1,000 and $1,500 has not come to fruition, nor did Apple make a standalone iCamera. Pro shooters are indeed moving from APS to full-frame sensor DSLRs, leaving APS DSLRs primarily in the hands of beginners, enthusiasts and prosumers. Notable exceptions: Fujifilm and Sony's high-end MILCs continue to attract documentary and street photographers.
We did see smattering of new full-frame lenses introduced in 2013, so that prediction sorta came true, and several new cameras running on the Android operating system were indeed announced (along with Wi-Fi and the unexpected NFS technology). Has ISO 2000 become the new ISO 400? Let's put it this way: Among the latest APS and full-frame cameras, ISO 2000 has roughly the same noise level as ISO 400 in sensors just a few short years ago. So yeah, that's happened.
The result? I got it completely right in four of eight predictions, almost right on another two, and completely wrong on two more. So I'll generously give myself six out of eight.
My record of successul predictions so far, for those keeping score:
- 2013: 6 of 8
- 2012: 4 of 7
- 2011: 5 of 7
- 2010: 7 of 10
- 2009: Didn't predict.
- 2008: 6 of 9
Discussion point: What do you predict will happen in the world of photography in 2014? What would you like to see? Leave a comment below!
Photo © Mason Resnick