DSLR makers have developed a rather interesting propensity to focus their R&D budgets on creating the fanciest, most marketable sensors possible. A camera, however, isn't just limited to the scope of its sensor. There are so many other upgrades that could be made that have nothing to do with megapixel numbers. Below are a few straight out of my dream list that likely would be pretty difficult to make work.
This article is a follow up to "5 Easy Upgrades DSLR Makers Need To Make Right Away" from a few weeks ago which included a similar list but was more tailored to potentially easy changes rather than the seemingly much more arduous development the below features would likely require to bring to market.
1. Better Bright Light Performance
Have you ever noticed that we have developed an obsession with expanded low light performance of cameras but we almost never give situations of extreme bright light much thought? ISO numbers keep heading towards the stratosphere but they never really shrink on the other end of the scale. Having to depend on neutral density filters is not only expensive but also annoying and a burden to switch out repeatedly during a shoot. Sure, you could crank up your shutter speed or shrink your aperture to compensate for bright light but sometimes your creative vision demands that you not make such a technical compromise.
2. Full Frame Autofocus
The range of autofocus has been creeping slowly outward towards the edge of the frame over the years. I have been grateful for this but the reality is that the vast majority of photos that I shoot involve a focus point towards a frame edge. In order to focus in such situations we must depend on recomposing after critical focus has been made (or manual focus). This method can become incredibly challenging when shooting with a narrow depth of field. The time has come to support autofocus points all the way to frame edge. I know it won't be easy or we would already have it. I still want it.
3. Color Lookup Tables For Image Previews
I often find it can be very difficult for a client to visualize what a final image might look like when they take a look at the back of my camera. They expect images with color grading like in my portfolio but instead really only get to see a raw image with the contrast bumped up to make it look a bit more punchy. I'd love to be able to walk into a shoot with all my most common color grading LUT files loaded right into the camera and to be able to set it to auto apply one or more to the preview of every image shot.
4. Better Manual Focus Assist
Anyone who has ever used a focusing screen knows how much easier it is to manual focus than with a DSLR. Focusing screens, however, are a huge pain to install, often void your warranty, and usually are very limited. DSLR makers have addressed this by adding focus assist features to their viewfinders. For example, Nikon has a little green dot that appears in the bottom left of the viewfinder when the spot under the focus point is in focus. The problem is that I'm never looking down into that corner while trying to focus, rather I'm focused on my focus point. I'd love it if some sort of better manual focus assist detail was actually projected onto the viewfinder so I don't have to dart my eye away from my subject to confirm that my focus is critical.
Ever noticed how companies like Apple seem to be able to continually make even their most pro-grade components lighter and more compact with each generation? Why is it that DSLR makers haven't been able to do the same? I completely understand that the largest form factor is necessary for a full-frame sensor and to make using it comfortable in hand but DSLRs never really get any lighter from generation to generation. I'd love to see my camera getting lighter and lighter (without forcing me to move to mirrorless) to not only spare my back but also to make it easier to make it under those baggage weight limits at the airport. Every ounce matters.
Those are my dream features that probably won't be all that easy to add to a DSLR lineup but if a magical genie popped out of a lamp and gave me a few camera wishes those would certainly be ones that I'd be thinking about. What about you? Are there any changes that the manufacturers could make that would make your life as a photographer significantly better?