The holiday season is a time when we put down our tools and use the downtime for important issues, like making wishes for the following year. Not me, though, my wish list hasn't changed since 2009. I keep getting what I don’t need while my seemingly obvious wishes are ignored.
What I Don't Need
No doubt 2019 will bring about the following "nice to haves" while leaving out what could be game-changing:
1. More Resolution
Yes, we all appreciate a jump in resolution, but seriously, how often have you needed the resolution of a 50-megapixel beast? Is it worth having to upgrade your computer system and your lenses for that extra resolution? I’ve read that fine grain 35mm film equated to roughly 20 megapixels, the industry standard for decades. Surely, 20 is plenty?
2. Higher ISO
I have no idea what number ISO my camera goes up to. I've simply never needed to push it beyond a certain point. At ISO 12,800 with a f/1.4 lens, I was able to shoot video under starlight. Do we really need more? Again, like resolution, I wouldn't complain if my ISO could go up to an unpronounceable number, but I can’t see myself making much use of this.
3. In Camera Retouch and Social Media Uploads
One of the things I love about the practice of photography is the detachment from the noise we're constantly fed from the internet. When I'm taking photos, I’m not behind a screen, and I don’t have a barrage of notifications to deal with. I want to be able to practice photography without having to worry about presenting my "behind the scenes" for an instagram story. When I do finally sit down to retouch my work, I want the benefit of a large, calibrated monitor to work on, not the tiny LCD on a camera.
4. Greater Dynamic Range
I used a Sony a7R II for a year. The dynamic range present in the files blew my mind. There was hardly ever a shadow too dark to rescue. It performed so well, in fact, that it made another problem. Scenes with an extreme dynamic range could be rescued in post-production, but it wouldn't look natural. Instead, I’d be left with an image that looked a bit like bad HDR. I’m not sure we really need more dynamic range unless we’re constantly messing up our exposures.
What I Am Hoping For
I'm confident that even though none of the above advancements are especially useful, next year's models will use a combination of all four to try tempt us to upgrade. What I'm hoping for instead is the following:
1. A Universal Lens Mount
I remember a time not too long ago where if you wanted the best wide angle lenses, Nikon was the way to go, but for long lenses, you needed Canon. Imagine if it didn't matter what camera you had, you could simply choose the best lenses. It would force camera manufacturers to compete only on the camera bodies they sold and lens manufacturers to compete on the quality of their lenses. Up until now, all the camera manufactures have used proprietary lens mounts to force the customer to buy their lenses. It is not at all in their interest to make a universal lens mount. However, since the rise of mirrorless, adapters have become popular, making it possible to mount lenses to cameras that were never designed to work together. Could we soon see a company like Metabones make a converter that worked as well as a native lens? In 2019, we’re getting a new lens mount that will be shared by Panasonic, Sigma, and Leica. This instantly opens up the entire Sigma and Leica lens range to Panasonic users and also signals a move closer towards a universal mount. Wouldn't that be useful!
2. Lower ISO
I’ve never used the maximum ISO of my camera, but I would constantly use a lower base rate ISO if it were an option. Imagine being able to go down to ISO 1. It would remove the need for an ND filter for long exposures. For videographers, this could be exceptionally useful. If you’re trying to keep your shutter speed at double your frame rate (either 1/50 or 1/60), you have to use an aperture of between f/16 and f/22 during the daytime hours. If you want to shoot with a shallow depth of field, you have to resort to ND filters. How much easier would it be simply to dial down the ISO?
3. Dust Away
In 2018, how is this still a problem? With the extreme advances in technology, how has no manufacturer figured out how to keep the sensor dust-free? Imagine never having to clean your sensor, never worrying about changing lenses in a dust free environment.
Will I Upgrade in 2019?
Three small requests is all I’m asking for in 2019. Even two out of three would make me happy. As it stands, I see no compelling reason to upgrade my equipment, but give me two out of three of my wishes, and I’ll upgrade in a heartbeat.
What about you? What advancements in camera technology would tempt you to upgrade in 2019?