I Predicted the Future of Cameras

The year was 2011. My camera was a crop sensor Canon EOS 7D. Upgrading to a different camera was still years away (4.5 to be exact). Still, I drafted an article about the features I’d like to see in my next camera, whenever that was going to happen. This was when the 36 MP Nikon D800 was breaking resolution barriers, point-and-shoots were still a thing, and Sony’s A7 didn’t exist. I never finished the article completely but ended up publishing it in 2013 as part of my clean out. I recently read it again and was struck by how many items on my wish list actually exist now. Let’s see how right I turned out to be.

  1. Improved Image Quality – Partially Right
    • I got a huge boost from my D750 in terms of sharpness and dynamic range, though it has remained pretty consistent ever since. ISO hasn’t moved up too much but I can use ISO 25,600 in a pinch and I can use tools like DXO Pure RAW to clean up the noise I’m left with.
  2. On Camera Image Stabilization – Right
    • I should have patented this so Canon and Nikon would have to pay me! Pentax and Sony inspired me to write that I not only wanted in-body image stabilization, but that I wanted it to work in concert with stabilized lenses! Canon has it, Nikon has it (sometimes). Sony doesn’t, but oh well. BOOM!
  3. Functional Live View – Right
    • I mentioned that Sony was working on improvements to Live View, but I can’t remember which particular camera I was referring to at the time. Either way, this idea is literally phase detect or dual pixel AF on modern mirrorless cameras. Score for me!
  4. Swivel Screen – Right
    • At this time they were only available on consumer models, but they started to trickle up to pro models over the years. Now even flagship models lie the Nikon Z9 and Canon R3 have them.
  5. More Autofocus Points – Right
    • Yup. Nikons have at least 400. Sonys have at least 600. Some Canons have nearly 6000! All are a significant improvement over the 3 – 45 cameras had at the time.
  6. Better Video – Right
    • With better AF comes better video. In mirrorless cameras we have high-quality 4K, 8K, 60 fps, smooth autofocus, eye and subject detect. Many popular YouTubers inside and outside photography use mirrorless cameras to create their videos.
  7. Touchscreens – Right
    • Another feature that was completely missing from DSLRs at the time that is now ubiquitous. On many cameras you can even use that touchscreen to select from all of those focus points we have now.
  8. Automatic Sensor Cropping – Right
    • Canon didn’t have this capability at the time, so I wrote about how valuable it would be if I could use my crop lenses on a full frame Canon. I even noted how expensive it would be to switch Nikon which already had that feature. Ironically this is exactly what I did four years later and never owned a crop Nikon lens to try it with. Whereas Canon’s EF-S (crop) lenses are mechanically incompatible with full frame cameras, their mirrorless RF-S lenses are not. Canon R bodies automatically crop to the image circle of an RF-S lens just like Nikons and Sonys do.
  9. Dynamic Sensor Cropping – Wrong
    • This is the only one I haven’t seen on any camera. Some cameras have additional preset crop amounts but I haven’t seen the ability to set a custom one yet. I can see why – the image quality really starts to suffer the more you crop.

So there you have it, I’m a fortune teller! Maybe I should take a crack at what we’ll have in the next decade.

  • I’d put my bets on AI assisted autofocus prediction where the camera predicts where a moving subject is going to be for even better focus.
  • Global shutter will happen, making mechanical shutters and rolling shutter a thing of the past.
  • High-end cameras will hit 120 fps continuous shooting in RAW.
  • I think sensor density will increase again, but I think we will see it used for downscaled images with more detail / less noise rather than RAW images at 200 MP. I think it will be possible but it won’t provide much benefit due to diffraction effects.
  • We’ll start to use AI to improve image quality in-camera. We’ll see AI-based noise reduction done in camera and encoded into the RAW files to make high ISOs more usable. Canon already does some non-AI noise reduction in its RAW files but I expect we’ll have the processing power to do Pure RAW level AI-based reduction by then.

Well that was a fun little review. All I need to do now is figure out how to invest in this prediction so I make some money when I’m right 😉

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