Steve'sDigicams

Photoplus Expo 2009 - Things to Look for in 2010

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Photoplus Expo this year had some new products, but not much in the "earth shattering" department.  There are some new trends that I feel are aimed in the right direction, however.  Most significant for all levels of photographers are large-sensor, small size digital point and shoot cameras.  Companies like Olympus and Panasonic are embracing "4/3" sensor technology, while Sigma and Leica are using APS-C (1.5x crop) sensors in their latest cameras.  This represents a huge shift from the previous trend, to cram as many megapixels as possible into sensors smaller than a postage stamp.

The new large-sensor cameras in the 4/3 category also offer interchangeable lenses.  Fixed-lens cameras like the Leica X1 have somewhat less versatility, but still offer fast, high quality lenses, like the Leica's 24mm F2.8.  

Software plug ins are getting far more advanced, allowing more users to generate effects that were once reserved for the high-end Adobe Photoshop expert.  Nik Vivezea 2 and Portraiture 2 from Imagenomic are just two examples.  Adobe did not have a booth this year at the Expo, and while their Creative Suite is firmly entrenched in the market place, their feature-laden software becomes more complicated as users want more simplicity.  In 2010, there will hopefully be even more advanced plug ins that integrate better with layers and masks in Photoshop, allowing users even more control.  

Strobe lighting systems continue to get smaller, and more manufacturers are embracing wireless-TTL technology.  Expect to see even more wireless control options from 3rd party companies like LPA, the company behind Pocket Wizard.  As battery technology improves, I am hoping to see a lighting system in a Nikon SB-900 sized package that offers the fast recycle time and power range of larger lighting equipment.  

Many consumers fail to realize how important a high quality monitor is to a tightly color managed workflow.  Eizo remains the leader in high end monitors, and are beginning to offer lower priced monitors.  Look for NEC's new products as well, and expect larger companies to begin realizing the importance of working with color management software providers.

As companies cut back more and more on marketing budgets, expect Photoplus 2010 to be even smaller than 2009.  This makes it even more important for consumers to do their research before buying any photography product, since anyone going to PMA 2009 in California, for example, will not get to use any Canon equipment, as they have pulled out of the show.  

As for the digital SLR category, HD video will be a requirement for any digital SLR of any level, and there will need to be a new "killer feature."  Integrated wi-fi or radio control would be one potential feature, or built-in GPS for easy geo-tagging.  More cameras will come equipped with full-frame sensors, and expect the smaller cameras like Canon's Digital Rebel series to try and infringe upon the 4/3 market.  Digital-only lenses for those cameras will get smaller, approaching the "pancake" format.  

It is hard to say what the photography industry will be like in 2010, especially as the economic situation remains shaky.  The true test of what new developments lie ahead will be how many companies turn a profit, and are able to continue to pour money into research and development.  I am always excited to see what lies ahead, and expect to be covering it on these very pages.

(written by Josh Lehrer)