Fuji have announced the Fujifilm X-H1. I’ve got to admit it was a bit of a surprise for me, probably because I don’t follow Fuji that closely anymore.
From what I’ve read on other sites the X-H1 is generally well received although some are noting certain design ‘quirks’. What stands out to me is the increase in size and addition of a top lcd display. Size and weight are often quoted by mirrorless fans as advantages, yet newer releases seem to be getting bigger. This generally results in the “there are other advantages” statement. I’m not going to debate those here.
What makes this interesting for me is where Nikon will pitch their new mirrorless in terms of design and format. Having bought into Nikon 1 with a V1, I was disappointed when Nikon couldn’t decide on a common design for subsequent models. It put me off spending more money on the 1 system.
I’m not adverse to the Fujifilm X-H1 design. Quirks not withstanding.
The question is have we reached the limit of the general shape of a camera? They still look more or less like film cameras from years ago. Whether rangefinder or dslr. If you’d been asleep for 40 years and picked up a ‘modern’ camera you would be forgiven for trying to put a film in it. In fact the Nikon Df, Olympus and to a certain extent Fuji cameras exploit the current trend for retro.
Will those up and coming ‘younger’ photographers want an essentially 50 year old design? Will people who change their smartphone every couple of years or so be content?
I think the current camera designs will be around for a few more years before going niche. The need for specialist lenses in terms of telephoto, macro and perspective correction may dictate that.
Mainstream cameras are more difficult to predict. It probably won’t be too long before a camera (say in the range of 18-200mm fov) can be built into a smartphone with acceptable quality. For the majority of people this could be all they need. The lens range will become more important than the amount of pixels. If most view on an electronic device such as a phone or tablet a huge megapixel count becomes moot.
How long should it last?
So thinking about designing a camera today where exactly do you go and how long do you design it to last? I still have a Nikon D200. That dates back to circa 2005. I have 18×24” canvases on the wall from its 10MP output. It’s 13 years old and for the most part useable. The only reason I don’t carry it around is the weight.
Was it designed to last that long? Probably not. Technological advances will make it obsolete. Somebody forgot to tell the engineering department though 😉.
So those poor people working on the new Nikon mirrorless cameras have the usual conflicting objectives. Design something that will appeal to a wide variety of users, in multiple markets, against stiff competition that can be sold at a profit, without pricing itself too high. Oh and don’t forget about the lens mount issue. Or bankrupting the company if you get it wrong, because you really should have been in this market ages ago and your now last.
Will we be using today’s cameras in 13 years time? Hopefully things will have progressed.
The smartphone will be even more of a portable computer with potentially holographic display. The battery life won’t be an issue and the camera will be more capable than anything that’s around today. And it will still fit in your pocket.
So around 2030 where will today’s cameras be? On a shelf or bookcase, in a trunk in the attic?
The grandchildren will say “Wow look at those old cameras. Is that a D850? Do you still use them?”
Your response will be “Sometimes, but you have to be careful. You can’t get the batteries anymore”.😀