Beyond the most obvious upgrades such as more pixels, bigger ISO numbers, and auto focus, has anyone noticed that the general feature set of DSLRs really doesn't change very often? I certainly have! There have been, in my opinion, obvious things missing from DSLRs for years that would make me a very happy camper if added. DSLR makers pull out your notepads!
1. Viewfinder Crop Preview
Most of the time I'm shooting for 16:9 or even 21:9 aspect ratio. I'd love the ability to set the camera to preview that crop for me right in the viewfinder, even if that crop isn't actually retained in the RAW file when the photo is taken. Sure, I could visualize the crop, that is exactly what I do, but having the ability to see it as I shoot would be brilliant! I'm not sure exactly how it would be done but perhaps some sort of rectangle aperture in the viewfinder that allows it to letterbox?
2. A Locking Tether Port
Have you ever used the Ten-pin remote terminal on the front of your DSLR? You know the one, it works so well, you push the connector in then screw it tight so the cable can't budge. How wonderful! That brings us to tethering where we have to depend on friction to hold an unstable USB or HDMI style cable into a port as we move around shooting. The cable is never going to fall out... right? Sure companies like Tether Tools provide products to help diminish this problem but none of the solutions are really solutions. DSLR makers I challenge you to use that Ten-pin remote terminal as inspiration and create a tethering port that actually reliably stays connected. If that is too hard, an ethernet cable could also provide some wonderful inspiration on how to make a self securing cable.
3. An Auto Focus Assist Lamp That Actually Does Something Useful
This one is mostly going to be pointed at Nikon as I don't think Canon or Sony actually have any cameras with an auto focus assist lights built in. On any Nikon body I've ever used, the auto focus assist light is just to the right of the lens mount. It is a tiny LED that only goes on when using the middle focus point. Not to be snide or anything but did they even test the light with anything other than a small kit lens? With almost every lens I own the light is partially blocked by the lens itself preventing any light from hitting the middle of my frame. Yup, that's right, an auto focus lamp that only works with the central focus point doesn't shine light on the central focus point with the majority of lenses. Wonderful.
My suggestion may be a bit radical, but how many pro users actually use the pop up flash? What if, in pro bodies, the pop up flash was replaced with a powerful, popup, auto focus assist that could be used with any focus point and had enough power to actually work well? Madness, I tell you!
4. A Convenient ISO Button
This one is something Canon gets right. Certain other camera makers, you have failed me. ISO is a critical part of the modern exposure triangle. It is something that photographers want to adjust on the fly as they shoot. With this in mind, why would the ISO button be placed in a spot where I can't reach it from a standard camera grip? A quick tip, hardly anyone uses the depth of field preview button. Swap it's place with the ISO button and merriment will ensue.
5. Normal, Run Of The Mill, AA Batteries
I'm tired of proprietary batteries, I'm sure most everyone is. There may be some technical limitation, or it may just be a ploy to sell batteries but from where I am sitting it seems reasonable that if a battery grip can power a DSLR with AA batteries there really is no reason not to be able to use them when the battery grip is not being used. Everything I use runs on AA batteries. My flashes, my triggers, etc. Except my camera. I would be gleeful if I could toss away proprietary batteries for each camera body and just use my AA batteries from here on out.
Research and development is expensive, I get it. Building the most technologically advanced DSLRs costs untold millions to unlock even the smallest upgrades in sensor technology. Simple usability upgrades, however, are much cheaper, and ultimately have a bigger impact on the lives of photographers. Be the camera maker who optimizes its equipment for more than just the most cutting edge performance. Instead make it the most comfortable and easy to use in a variety of situations. That manufacturer will be the one who gets my money.