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The biggest change coming over the next few years is not related to MP or zoom range. We are starting to see the transition to mirrorless cameras. This process will take many years but Photokina announcements show the direction.

- Olympus announced that they will not be introducing any new 4/3 lenses and will focus on m43 going forward.
- Sony announced that the A700 (highend APS-C) replacement will have an EVF, effectively leaving only the recently introduced A560/A580 as the last OVF APS-C cameras. Sony has said that the A560/A580 will not be replaced.
- Panasonic introduced the GH2 (no mirror) with an AF speed of .0099s, which effectively equals or betters most DSLRs. The GH2 can now also support 5fps with continuous AF. We also know that the GH2's Contract Detect AF is more accurate than the Phase Detect AF in most DSLRs.
- In 2011 we will see mirrorless cameras from Canon, Nikon, Panasonic


A year ago it seemed like the concept of a mirrorless camera replacing a DSLR was years away, but now with Panasonic and Sony focusing in this area we are seeing it advance very fast. With the GH2 it seems the AF speed is pretty much there and when combined with the AF accuracy you can see why Sony has been making the switch. The EVF still needs to improve, but the GH2 has made significant improvment there as well (60p refresh, multi-aspect, better colours). And remember that an EVF has many benefits over an OVF like WYSIWYG, larger than comparably priced OVF camera, live histogram, and other information superimposed on the image. I think we are only a year away from the advantages of an EVF overcoming the advantages of an OVF for most applications.

One of the biggest impacts of going mirrorless is the requirement for new mounts. This will have an impact on the future developement of lenses for existing mounts, especially at the low to midrange. When Canon, Nikon, Etc went from Film to digital they kept their mounts for backward compatability, but this is no longer the case with mirrorless. If the low to midrange DSLR bodies get replaced with Mirrorless cameras then the DSLR will end up being supported mainly for pros and the support of legacy lenses. In the past a lens would always be supported with new bodies, but going forward the selection of bodies for legacy lenses may be limited to the high end. I know this will impact my decision when I decide to upgrade from a bridge camera and invest in lenses.

PS. I don't think Sony's Transluscent mirror is a long term answer to the traditional DSLR. It looks like the GH2 can equal or better the Phase Detect AF in the the A33/55 and likely provide better accuracy. The 10fps on the A55 sound neat but the AF cannot keep up in this mode so it is limited. Once Sony has built up their lens selection on the mirrorless e-mount the AF speed will definitely be resolved by then. So what will happen to their A-mount bodies? Sony doesn't have the same following in the pro market like Nikon/Canon so body support may be very limited or dare I say they pull out at some point.

Lots of changes are coming.
 

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Other than from a marketing perspective, I don't see the point of advancing Sensors to support more MP. Most lenses cannot resolve the 16mp in the new mid-level DSLRs and the vast majority of people don't realize this. Higher iso is good but once you get to ISO3200 how much more do you need? ISO3200 with a reasonably fast lens will allow you to take indoor shots at 1/60s in most environments without flash.

I hope there is a backlash against more MP that causes the manufacturers to rethink this (ie. like the LX3/S90 sticking to 10mp). 16mp on a APS-C sensor seems like a reasonable area to stop as it still provides the additional resolution needed if people decide to upgrade their lens (ie. we are talking $1k+ lenses).

The future advances will come from improved lens motors (required for fast contrast detection AF), processing power (GH3 has 3 processors), better batteries (EVF in m43 and A55 are power hogs) and software.
 
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