Friday, October 30, 2009

D-SLR Photography in a State of Flux

Over the past few weeks, it seems to me that d-slr photography is once again in a state of flux. Periodically, the field seems to become overwhelmed with changes,and this period now seems to be one of those periods where the "old" values and the old expectations are changing. Nikon has introduced some new cameras, at both the entry level and it has iterated its top semi-pro and pro bodies the D300s and and D3s. Canon has recently stepped up its semi-pro offering, the 7D, offering multi-point AF and Canon's first ever color-aware light metering system. Sony has introduced the full frame a850 at $1899, marking the first time a full frame d-slr body has been introduced at anywhere under the $2,000 price point. Panasonic has introduced new higher-end EVIL or Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens cameras in the 4/3 mount, and Olympus and SIgma have both introduced fixed-lens digital cameras that are somewhat like the old 35mm compact rangefinders like the Minolta Hi-Matic series or the Canon Canonet series of cameras. All around the photography world, the expectations and features of the d-slr have been changed, or challenged. As the title indicates, d-slr photograhy is in a state of flux.

I had intended to title this post "I Don't Know What Anybody Wants These Days," but that sounded kind of weird, plus it didn't contain the term photography in it, and this is ostensibly a blog about photography topics. But you know, I've been hitting some of the web sites and photography blogs, and spending a lot of time at The Photography Forum for the past three months or so, and the thing I notice now is that there is widespread confusion, indecision, and uncertainty right now among many people for whom photography is a hobby,pastime,passion, or profession. Digital photography has basically overtaken film-based photography for most shooters, that's a given. But right now, the major manufacturers are heading in new directions, and offering new features, like video capture, and ultra-high megapixel counts in the Nikon D3x, Sony A900 and A850,and Canon 5D Mark II cameras. Nikon has introduced 51-point AF, and Canon's new 7D has 19 point AF with all 19 AF points being cross-type. Flash technology is becoming more and more sophisticated. The Strobist blog site and the Strobist movement has put more and more people into situations where off-camera speedlights and low-cost monolights are being used more frequently than ever. Portable pure sine wave inverters like the Paul C. Buff Vagabond II and the Innovatronix Explorer series of portable sine wave inverters are making it possible to move studio strobes outside, off the grid.

IN SHORT, there seems to be a huge,swirling torrent of changes in the d-slr world these days. I can sense a lot of disorientation among hobbyists, who wonder if it's time to invest in some studio lights, or who wonder if the full frame bodies are worth the extra cost over DX bodies. I also see a smaller subset of people who seem burned out on the whole d-slr picture-taking thing,and are desiring a smaller,lighter camera but one that has high capabilities. On the various discussion forums these days, I see ideas and ideologies clashing with one another, every day, on every forum. Some people are upset that Canon went with a 1.6x crop, 18 megapixel sensor in their 7D; other people are upset that Nikon has not updated the D700 to a 21-24 megapixel camera; many Canon users are bummed that Canon has no "fast-handling and afordable" pro-type body with full frame that can compete with the Nikon D700 in situations where sophisticated AF and high ISO performance and a fast-handling body are supremely advantageous. All in all, it seems as if the huge, complex mass of d-slr shooters has become a competing sea of differing interests, and the groups and sub-groups within the photography field are no longer content with whatever the manufacturers come out with. It is now almost as if a large subset of the market is mostly UN-happy with the products the big manufacturers release!