Well, it's December 31,2006,and we're about ready to chalk up another year. I figured I'd write a blog entry and maybe come back and fill in some areas later,after New Year's. Now that 2006 has almost had its day,there are some changes underfoot. Gone are cameras from Minolta,and Konica-Minolta, replaced by the SONY brand name. Weird! Pentax and Samsung are now in cooperation in the d-slr business,and Hoya just bought up Pentax last week. Both Pentax and Nikon have hit the old 6MP d-slr category hard with brand-new six-megapixel d-slr's. The Nikon D40's out-of-camera JPEG flash pictures look pretty good to me after a little bit of shooting with both the built-in flash and the SB 600 accessory flash. FujiFilm's also gonna' hit it hard with a 6 MP d-slr in early 2007,and I eagerly await seeing results from the upcoming D200-based Fuji S5 Pro. Maybe the megapixel race _is_ slowing down a bit,finally. We shall see. Pentax,Samsung,Nikon,and FujiFilm will all have 6 MP d-slr cameras on the market,in a world that's now got no less than FIVE 10-MP models at "entry to mid-level" pricing. We'll soon see how much can be done with 6 MP in FujiFilm's hands.
We'll also see if Canon makes an attempt to address the area of in-camera dynamic range expansion in 2007. I expect Canon will get something on the market in an attempt to try and nullify FujiFilm's position as the Wide DR leader. In-camera processing or post-capture,in-camera image editing might be one way Canon will address this issue, similar to the way Nikon now offers post-capture in-CAMERA edits on files,doing such things as applying Nikon's D-Lighting software correction routines right in the camera to help bring up or "lift" shadow detail after the shot is made (D-lighting in Nikon-speak is very similar to Adobe's Highlight/Shadow tool). Being able to edit a RAW capture and then to use the camera itself to create JPEG image files with different filter effects,or black and white effects,or to down-sized or otherwise edit and adjust images is something I think we'll be seeing in 2007 and beyond. Both the D40 and D80 offer in-camera image editing.
Nikon's D40 marks the first Nikon that's unable to autofocus with the screw-drive protocol of the AF and AF-D Nikkor lenses made since the mid-1980's; this is less and less of a problem for most people,since AF-S focusing is now making its way into even the low-cost 18-55 kit lens that's sold in the D40 Kit. With many new soccer mom Nikkor zooms (the low-cost 55-200 for example) using a stripped-down version of AF-S focusing,as well as the abundance of professional-grade AF-S Nikkors with "old-school or DeLuxe AF-S", there's no shortage of both consumer and top-shelf Nikon glass that focuses perfectly on the D40. The D40 can shoot pictures with screw-drive AF Nikkor lenses, but does not focus automatically with them. Not a big deal. The new 70-300 AF-S G apears to be a pretty good revision of its other two lightweight 70-300 predecessors, but with better image quality than bother prior lenses, albeit in a larger and heavier package, but at a very fair price. The 70-300 VR has nice,round defocused highlight shapes thanks to its rounded, 9-blade iris, and I think its images look pretty good for a 70-300...the prior offerings at 70-300 were nothing to envy...but the new VR lens is well-executed.
Adobe is about ready to get Photoshop CS 3 finalized,and onto the market in 2007,it appears to me. Competition for raw file developer software and file browser software is heating up,and the competition from big players like Apple Computer signals a need for Adobe to rededicate its efforts,lest it fall behind and lose sales.
There's little doubt that this year, the year of the U-Tube generation,has seen the proliferation of photography as a hobby,passtime,and a downright obsession among millions of people world-wide. The ever-widening flood of people using digital devices to capture images has lead to a huge influx of people who've not been around photography for very long, but who are very,very passionate about their cameras and their software,and even their subjects. It's all a really dizzying thing, to see this huge,huge influx of new people brought in to photography by the lure of DIGITAL photography. The last tremendous influx was brought in by the Canon AE-1's and the Nikon FE's and EM's of the late 1970's. The era of the high-tech "Autowinder" was the last great period of new blood into photography that I can recall. The advent of the sophisticated 35mm Point and Shoot era beginning in 1988 or so was also a biggie. 2006 was another watershed year,similar to 1977 and 1988. Believe me, these new $599 and $699 d-slr kit prices are going to bring MILLIONS of people into slr photography.