To quote Final Cut Pro Guru, Larry Jordan, "For 2011, camera technology will continue to change EXTREMELY quickly. This means that any camera you buy today will be out-of-date in less than 2 years. If you can't make it pay off in that short a period of time, you are better off renting. I don't see any incentive for camera technology to stabilize for another couple of years."
Manufacturers included high quality video in DSLRs; these cameras gained rapid and wide acceptance. However, they are being used for a purpose they were never conceived for. The fact that they allow interchangeable lenses and large sensors has totally revolutionized the camcorder market. Buyers no longer want the video look characterized by HDV and similar formats although these reasonably-priced units were selling like hotcakes less than a year ago.
There's also a revolution in the digital stills world. Buyers are beginning to realize they don't have to lug around a lot of extra weight because μ43 and similar technologies offer many of the same high-end features full-sized DSLRs do. So the search for the design of the future is on. Will the outcome be one-size-fits-all or will there be dedicated designs for videos and stills? Is smaller better?
At first it was hard for me to accept shooting video with something that looked like a 1960's SLR, but this technology is here to stay. It may take a while to settle into a final form. I just hope practicality will not be ignored.
For the moment, my ideal camera "might be" the Panasonic Lumix GH2 (when I get one, that is). Only hope it's not obsolete before I buy it.
There's a lot of buzz on this camera. If I use its present feature set as a benchmark, these would be the additions I'd suggest:
- Camera, as opposed to lens, stabilization (probably a non-starter),
- A fast, fixed-aperture, mid-range, 12-70mm zoom lens,
- A fast sports zoom lens.
- The best, most accurate built-in EVF
As time goes by, I'll probably come up with a few more ideas, like better flash support. It's not a question of adding useful features so much as it's an issue of improving what's already there.
JULY 2012 REVISION
After trying lots of gear, I finally settled on a standard and on an approach. First, the approach. I found out that the GH-2 and all the others weren't the gear I'd need to progress as a photographer. What I needed was to figure out what I wanted to do, then choose my tools accordingly. That led me to a kind of Mission Statement, a concept I readily hate because is smacks of corporate group-think.
I want to be the best still photographer I can be. I want to shoot street, architecture, and sports. I want one (1) system that allows me to do this. It must be a system that has a great EVF and up-to-date features for manual focusing (focus peaking). It must have excellent lens selections, both original and third party. An adequate stable of accessories, like a remote, a chest level VF, an articulating LED. I don't care how many pixels; I care about sensor quality at low and high ISO.
Sony seems to offer the best choice. Their prime lenses are reasonable and sharp. The Sigma and Tamron offerings are numerous. I started with the a57 and a couple of lenses. Already shot an architectural assignment.
Yes, it's much larger than m4/3, but it's less noisy, more focused on an evolutionary path, and much cheaper to build on. I foresee a time when I change camera bodies every four years, but the accessories remain usable. More on this system as things develop.