photographyetc (photographyetc) wrote,
photographyetc
photographyetc

Complete Photokina Speculation!

NOTE: This is pure speculation on my part :-)

This post will grow organically as I add posts for each camera manufacturer.

Thanks to the dpreview Timeline
A valuable tool for this endeavor is the Timeline feature at dpreview. Phil did a great job with this feature as it covers the history of digital cameras, starting from 1995 (!) up to 2006 :-)

2006: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/timeline.asp?start=2006
2005: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/timeline.asp?start=2005
2004: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/timeline.asp?start=2004
2003: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/timeline.asp?start=2003
2002: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/timeline.asp?start=2002


Speculation Begins

CANON

DSLRs
  • Widely expected is a replacement for the Digital Rebel XT (350D). The most likely replacement would be an incremental update using the same 8mp sensor (as to not undercut the 30D, and following the Canon tradition of the D-Rebels feeding off the previous 10D/20D/30D models). The Digital Rebel XT (350D) was announced at PMA 2005 (Febr).
  • Will there be a sub-$500 D-Rebel? Perhaps one using the older 6mp sensor? Sort of like the really entry-level version? I doubt it since Canon has shown last year that they feel comfortable with both the sales volume and margin profits of their current models. For example they went into the last holiday shopping season with the D-Rebel XT (350D) as their main consumer camera even though there were significantly cheaper DSLRs from some competitors. We will probably see this type of a DSLR introduced late in 2007 for the 2007 holiday shopping season.
  • Speculation abounds (as always) for the 1D series. The fast one (1D Mk II-N) was announced just a year ago, so it is unlikely to see a newer model at Photokina. The Big Nasty (1Ds Mk II) was announced at Photokina 2004 (just like its predecessor announced at Photokina 2002), so given the pattern here I would not be surprised if we saw a brand new 1Ds announced at Photokina.
  • Safe from replacement seem to be the 30D (announced PMA 2006) and 5D (announced August 2005).

    non-DSLRs
  • Pro1 replacement? We haven't seen a new 2/3" sensor, and Canon may be worried that it could steal some D-Rebel system sales perhaps? Pro1 was announced at PMA 2004.
  • G6 replacement? Theoretically this is more likely since there are newer 1/1.8" sensors. G6 was announced in August 2004. Is two years enough time to pronounce this very successful series dead?
  • S80 replacement? Announced in August 2005 it is ripe for a replacement given the one-year lifecycle of consumer models. Expect a replacement then? But what sensor? We haven't heard anything from Sony and Sony usually likes to give itself a headstart on new sensors (eg the first 7mp 1/1.8" in the Sony P150 or the 8mp 2/3" in F828). Perhaps the Canon update may be in the form of IS, not a new sensor?
  • S-IS series? The S3 IS was announced at PMA 2006 but Sony has a 7mp version (H5) and Panasonic could make one since they already have their 7mp 1/2.5" sensor in the FX-series. Surely Canon won't be left behind? Yes megapixels are definately not everything, but marketing people tend to overweigh the importance of megapixels because they assume the mass-market consumer does so as well. The previous model S2 IS was announced in April 2005, while the original S1 IS at PMA 2004, so it seems the pace is quickening :)
  • A-series (the 6x models): This frame was introduced at PMA 2006 with the A700. If Canon jumps to the 7mp 1/2.5" sensor for their Photokina models there should be a 7mp version of this. I'll be brave enough to name it A710 ;-) Note that historically Canon waits a bit before upgrading the majority of their cameras to the newer sensors. The business savvy behind this (being able to buy a higher volume at a lower price further down the line) could partially explain why Canon's profit margins are so high...
  • A-series (the 4x models): At PMA 2006 we saw the A540, A530 and A430. Last summer (Aug 2005) we saw the more traditional two-sensor A-series, the A620 (7mp 1/1.8") and A610 (5mp 1/2.5"). If Canon has standardized on 1/2.5" for all the A-series, then we won't see any further developments here. Perhaps the A700-line will now be the flag-bearer using the newer 7mp 1/2.5" sensor. But on the other hand Canon likes to compete so I wouldn't be surprised if they release new A-series with the 8mp 1/1.8" sensor (or if Sony produces a new 1/1.8" presumable at 9/10mp). Perhaps the A8xx series? :)
  • A-series (the 3x models): These are the really entry-level models. Last one in this category was the A420 at PMA 2006. Previous one A410 in August 2005. Probably nothing new.
  • SD IS series: Also known as Elph, Ixus or Ixy. The first model in the series was announced at PMA 2006. The only reason to see an update would be if Canon massively embraces the 7mp 1/2.5" sensor.
  • SD series: At PMA 2006 we saw a new trend for these little guys. Canon abandoned the short-lived 1/1.8" versions (SD500, SD550), which perhaps make them valuable to some (get them while you can!). The PMA 2006 line-up was the SD630 and SD600, the main differentiator being a giant 3" LCD. Before that, in August 2005 Canon introduced a two-sensor Elph strategy with the 7mp 1/1.8" SD550 (a 2.5" LCD update to the SD500) and the 5mp 1/2.5" SD450 (likewise SD400), along with the totally "bijou" SD30. Prior to those, at PMA 2005, came the first 1/1.8" SD500 and the 1/2.5" SD400. The short-span between those two was the introduction of the 2.5" LCDs since Canon was starting to feel left behind since just about everyone else at the time had 2.5" LCDs in their pocketable cameras. Prior to those we had the first generation of SD-based Elphs at Photokina 2004. (Again Canon was the last of the majors to switch from CF to SD in their compacts, probably for cost reasons which explains why Canon is so profitable while some of the other manufacturers are struggling to break even). Please Note: The model numbers for the SD-series vary from continent to continent. The ones I am using are for the US market. I apologize but I don't remember the model numbers for the other markets (Ixus and Ixy models).




    SONY

    Sensors
    Sony has a three sensor line-up for consumer cameras:
  • the 7mp 1/2.5" sensor, mostly used by Sony but some non-Sony cameras appear to have been announced with it. More companies should be expected to use this. I do not expect a new 1/2.5" sensor at Photokina
  • the 8mp 1/1.8" sensor, used by many. This was an update to the very successful 7mp 1/1.8" sensor. Other sensor makers have jumped to 10mp (Sharp?, Panasonic), while Fuji has a 9mp SuperCCD. Given the overweighing of the importance of megapixels by the average consumer and the marketing people, I would expect a new 1/1.8" sensor from Sony. Historically Sony uses these sensors itself first for a few weeks/months and then the rest of the manufacturers. If this happens this time, it will be only new Sony models announced. But because of Photokina, we may see others announcing as well, but perhaps the Sony cameras shipping earlier?
  • The 8mp 2/3" sensor. Presumably the last time it was used was in the Samsung Pro815, but no one else since the epic 8-megapixel wars of 2004 (Canon Pro1, Nikon 8400/8800/8700, Olympus C8080, Minolta A2/A200). Will Sony produce a new 2/3" sensor or do they consider it replaced with the 1.7x R1 sensor?
    Sony has a four sensor line-up in the DSLR/high-end market:
  • Sensor found in the R1: Given that it took almost half a year for the 8mp 2/3" sensor to find its way into other cameras, Photokina 2006 may be the time other manufacturers introduce cameras using the 10mp "R1" sensor?. But that's assuming that they actually want to do so. A lot of the traditional SLR makers are more interested in SLR system sales. The new size of this sensor will probably cause them to use new body/lens designs as well which increases costs.
  • 6mp 1.5x sensor found in a lot of sub-$1000 DSLRs. This should continue to be available to anyone interested in it. (eg Pentax K100D, K110D).
  • 10mp 1.5x sensor found in the Sony A100 and Nikon D200/D80. This may perhaps be used by Pentax/Samsung
  • 12mp 1.5x sensor found in the Nikon D2x*. Since this is a very specialized sensor, it is not known whether it can be made available to anyone else or if they signed an exclusive use deal with Nikon. If not this may be used in other high-end Sony DSLRs.

    DSLRs
  • Just like others before (Minolta,Pentax,Olympus) Sony chose to make its modern-era DSLR debut with a mid-range-y model, the A100. So there is plenty of room above and below for more models. Will we see one at Photokina? There was some talk that Sony was a bit behind on the release of the A100 so perhaps their schedule was delayed a bit? OTOH Sony has shown that they are serious about DSLRs with a barrage of lens announcements, some of them re-badges of Minolta favorites, but also some new stuff including Carl Zeiss branded lenses. Since Sony controls their own sensor production, and unless prohibited by contractual obligations they will probably have the upper hand in the timing of DSLR releases with brand new Sony sensors (among the group they supply). Obviously the interest is high in the mythical Minolta 9D, which presumably must have been in some stage of R&D at Minolta before the merger. Sony has a sensor for it (12mp found in Nikon D2X*). They also have a 6mp sensor they could put in an entry-level Alpha. Will either one of them happen at Photokina? Or will Sony take their time to absorb the Minolta R&D and come up with a Sony-priority DSLR? The A100 was after all a Minolta-priority DSLR since it didn't even have the signature InfoLithium batteries which were even part of the pre-merger DSLR agreement between Sony and Minolta. So I have been rumbling on for a whole paragraph only to say no new DSLRs from Sony at Photokina, but watch out at PMA!

    non-DSLRs
  • R-series: Announced last September the R1 is barely one year old. Was it a one-time experiment? Were the sales below expectations? Will we see an update? In the past Sony had mixed behavior, sometimes releasing a quick update (F707-to-F717), sometimes taking their time. I am inclined to say we won't see anything from Sony here, but we may see this sensor used by someoen else.
  • F-series: The last one, the F828 was announced in August 2003. Three years is probably enough time to pronounce this successful line-up dead? Or is it? Well to resurrect it Sony would need to make a new 2/3" sensor unless they go for a new design using the R1-sensor in an F-series body.
  • V-series: The last one, V3 came two years ago (Photokina 2004). For a consumer-level camera this is an eternity. But then again the V3 was really an update from the S85 (June 2001). But the V-series maybe another victim of the squeeze between the super-zooms and the DSLRs, and the desire of manufacturers to sell profitable DSLR systems instead of single cameras with very limited systems? It is all about trends after all
  • H-series: Big and bold, the H5 and H2 were announced at PMA 2006, with the H1 at PMA 2005. We won't see a new 1/2.5"-based model, but if Sony has come up with a 1/1.8"-design, don't be surprised to see it now. But the obvious trend is for something new at PMA 2007.
  • N-series: It burst into the scene last October. Being a consumer-level series, we will probably see an update if Sony introduces a new 1/1.8" sensor at Photokina.
  • M-series: M2 was introduced Sept 2005. M1 was introduced Sept 2004 (Photokina 2004). M3 will be introduced ...Photokina 2006! I had to read a lot of tea leaves to come up with this prediction ;-)
  • T-series: The crown jewel as far as bling-bling is concerned. The T10 was just announced, being the lower tier model to the T30 (April 2006). I don't forsee any T-series announcements. Sony will use the previous models to fill up the price range: T9 (Nov 2005), T5 (Aug 2005), T7 (March 2005), T33 (Jan 2005). As you can see Sony is not shy about squirting these :) They are meant to be the alternative to the Elph/Ixus/Ixy after all.
  • W-series: They burst into the scene at PMA 2006 with four models (W30,W50,W70,W100), with the W70 (and H5) being the early adopters of the then new 7mp 1/2.5" sensor. Only the W100 uses a 1/1.8" sensor. These were the slicker, thinner and LiIon-based evolutions of the 1/1.8"-based W5 and W7 (PMA 2005). My (master of the obvious) guess here is that these will get updated at PMA 2007 :-) Unless of course Sony comes up with new sensors in which case they will find their way into the W-series. For example a new 1/1.8" sensor (quite likely) would find itself in an W100-body, or perhaps a W5/W7 AA-based body?
  • S-series: The S600 was announced in Jan 2006, while the S500 was quitely introduced recently. This is the new AA-based entry-level series for Sony. Combined with the W-series they provide an alternative to the Canon A-series. If the cost of the 7mp 1/2.5" sensor drops low enough Sony will probably introduce a 7mp version, which I would dare name S700 :-)
  • P-series: Is the historical P-series dead? The last P-series camera (P200) was announced at CES 2005 (January). The previous one (P150) was the early adopter of the new then new 7mp 1/1.8" sensor. Before that the last barrage of P-series was at PMA 2004. For a consumer camera 1.5 years is an eternity...




    NIKON

    DSLRs
  • D2*: D2Xs announced in June 2006, D2X at Photokina 2004. D2Hs at PMA 2005, D2H in July 2003. In an interview a high-ranking Nikon UK official said no pro DSLRs this year. I believe him :-) Given the above trend, Nikon is at the one D2* per year pace. You won't like this but you may have to wait until next summer :)
  • mid-range: The D200 was one of the last cameras announced in 2005 (November). Its sensor has just appeared in a lower-level camera, the D80. Since Nikon.UK said there will be "prosumer" cameras, and as vague as that may be, in similar fashion, the 12mp sensor of the D2X may perhaps find itself in a D200+ body, something that Nikon can perhaps wedge between the D200, the D2X and the Canon 5D. But I wouldn't hold my breath on this one; or any of my other predictions :)
  • amateur price-range: Entry-level or beginner camera may offend some people, so I am using a more neutral term :-) Hot off the assembly is the D80, which position-wise replaces the D70s (April 2005), which replaced the historic D70 (Jan 2004). The D80 bridges the gap towards the D200, which leaves the D50 (also April 2005) wondering. So the obvious questions are: Will we see a moderate D50s update? Will Nikon attempt an even cheaper D50-like model in order to gain market share during the holiday shopping season? Or will they up the ante and use the 10mp sensor in the D50 update? Or will they simply leave the D50 be as it is? Canon went into the holiday shopping season two years in a row (2003, 2004) with the original D-Rebel and apparently it didnt hurt them.

    non-DSLRs
  • R1-sensor? The Nikon.UK rep in his BJP interview mentioned consumer and prosumer, so it is possible (but is it probable?) to make a prosumer using the R1 sensor. Remember Nikon was the busiest user of the 8mp 2/3" sensor by producing three models (more than any other single manufacturer)
  • 88xx-series? Started out in January 2004 with the 8700, it was then augmented at Photokina 2004 with the wide-angle 8400 and the VR-superzoom 8800. Exactly two years at Photokina 2006, Nikon should produce something advanced. Right now their more advanced non-DSLRs are the P3/P4/S4 and those are at best mid-range level digital cameras. Enbolded by their spike in market share thanks to the D50 and the El Cheapo series (L series) this is a good opportunity for Nikon to fill up the holes in its digital camera lineup. OTOH, one thing to always trade-off is what impact such cameras would have on their SLR system sales. Regardless, I expect Nikon to announce a digital camera more advanced than the P3/P4/S4. It may be using a 1/1.8" sensor even, but I think they must do something. Their previous set of advanced digital cameras were the 5400 (May 2003), and 4500 and 5700 (PMA 2002), and 5000 (Sept 2001). Nikon does take its time! If this pattern holds, we may not even see something until PMA 2007.
  • Super zooms It took Nikon a while to take the super zooms seriously. The 4800 (Photokina 2004) was a half-hearted attempt (8x zoom when everyone else had 10x/12x and some IS/OS). The 8700/8800 satisfied the big-zoom demand, but it wasn't until the swiveling S4 (September 2005) that they attempted a decent competitor for the smaller zooms. One year later seems like a good time for an upgrade, and given how camera companies behave, a 7mp version of the S4 is not unlikely. Apart from that will Nikon attempt new bodies and designs since the superzooms (big and small) took off? They did add VR to the P-series after all...
  • P-series (aka VR/WiFi) Speaking of which, and fresh off PMA 2006 both the P3 and P4 have VR, with one of them offering WiFi as well. These were using the 8mp 1/1.8" Sony CCD and were perhaps the most advanced non-DSLR Nikon had to offer. But many will scoff at advanced since these cameras did not even offer RAW or the customary manual controls. Unlikely to see new ones unless Nikon jumps on the next Sony sensor. The P-series was introduced last year (Sept 2005) with the P1 and P2, both using 1/1.8" sensors (one 8mp, the other 5mp) but without VR. So VR was the main reason for the quick follow-up with P3 and P4.
  • Bijou compacts Nikon is trying here, by offering WiFi and splashproofness. Can they also offer VR? Sony's folded optics T-series has VR (SuperSteadyShot), so in order to compete Nikon will probably have to introduce a VR model here as well. The newer ones (S6 and S5) were introduced at PMA 2006 using the 6mp 1/2.5" CCD. If Nikon embraces the new 7mp 1/2.5" CCD, a new model (aptly named S7) may come out. Or if they intend to offer VR. Or both. To cover the lower end of the market they have the S3 (Sept 2005) and the S2 (May 2005) with splashproofness. The S6 already has a 3" LCD so they are set there. A splashproof version of either S5 or S6 is possible. The combinations/permutations here at VR, splashproofness, new 7mp sensor, trendy-big LCD and WiFi. We are certainly not going to see all the permutations :)
  • L-series Started by the L1 last year (Aug 2005), which had a bit of a strange configuration (6mp 1/2.5", 5x optical zoom) the L-series later on (PMA 2006) evolved into a hot selling El Cheapo series for Nikon. Once the domain of Kodak, Fuji and Olympus (thank you xD card), Nikon is now the king of the sub-$200s. As you can see from the Pop Photo charts below, along with other retailers best selling lists, the Nikon L-series (L2,L3,L4) are selling well and for a good reason: They are very cheap. Unlike other Nikon cameras which start high up the hill pricewise and then slowly slide down, these cameras had a low starting price. As a fellow dpreview forum member mentioned, there are not that many differences between these and the previous entry-level Nikons, yet these ones are selling. One other possibility is the success of the D50 which is rubbing off and building positive image for Nikon which results in more people buying the El Cheapos. So what to expect? An update to the L1 with the 7mp sensor is the sequential update, but perhaps they should give it a different name so it won't jinx the El Cheapos :) Since the El Cheapo trio is so successful (4mp,5mp,6mp) Nikon should consider releasing a 7mp El Cheapo as well. As with everything mentioned above, it hinges on whether Nikon embraces the 7mp 1/2.5" sensor right now or later on at PMA 2007.



    FUJI

    DSLRs
  • A child of PMA 2004, the S3 followed up on the S2 which came out at the historic PMA 2002 (which saw a group of "affordable" DSLRs around $2000 for the first time ever). Building upon the S3 Fuji also just released the CSI edition (S3 UVIR). A Fuji.UK rep was quoted in mentioning that Fuji will not compete in the entry-level because of "fierce competition". The Fuji fans are anxiously waiting for an S4. At this point I have no prediction as to what Fuji will do DSLR-wise at Photokina. Theoretically they should have something, but they just did with the S3 UVIR :-) Perhaps the early announcement of the S3 UVIR is so that it won't be overshadowed by the S4 at Photokina? My guess is as bad as yours :-)

    non-DSLRs
  • Advanced models: The S9000 (July 2005) is the current flagship. Megapixel greed set back the benefits of the technology found in the "magic 6mp 1/1.7 sensor" found in the F10/11/20/30 models. Since Fuji is not going to enter the entry-level DSLR market anytime soon, they are a good bet to continue to offer advanced non-DSLRs. The predecessors: S20 Pro using SuperCCD-SR (PMA 2004), and S7000 (July 2003), and the legendary S602 (Jan 2002) (and a special edition of that in Nov 2002). If there is a new flagship model, it will be because of either: 1) new and improved sensor or 2) some form of optical or sensor stabilization. Some people would be happy to the S9000 with the 6mp "magic" sensor.There is a one new advanced model per year pattern here, so expect something :)
  • E-series: Using the same sensor as the S9000, the E900 (July 2005) has picked up momentum after its price dropped down (a common theme with Fuji). The E900 is a prime-candidate for the 6mp magic sensor. The E-series made its debut in July 2004 with the E500, E510 and E550 which didnt pick up momentum until they dropped down and down in price. We may also see a new E-series if there's a new sensor or some sort of anti-shake/optical stabilization.
  • Long zooms: The brand new Fuji S6000fd (July 2006) takes the mid-range zoom series to a new level by using a 1/1.7" sensor instead of 1/2.5". This is not just any sensor, it is the 6mp magic SuperCCD sensor and a new 10.7x lens (28-300mm eq) of the S9000. The previous Fuji long-zoom was the S5200 (July 2005) and the S5100 (July 2004), S5000 (July 2003). Fuji flip-flopped between generic sensors and SuperCCD sensors for this series. Like clock-work it is every July. A new version will be announced only if they have some sort of anti-shake or image stabilization.
  • The low-noise magic sensor F-series: The revolution started at PMA 2005 with the F10, and continued with the F11 (Sept 2005), and now the F30 (PMA 2006) and the budgety F20 (July 2006). Fuji added some manual control (eg Av/Tv) but the next step should be a model with full manual control please!.
  • Misc mid-range: The F650 (6mp,5x, PMA 2006) re-invents the midrange zoom tradition of Fuji. The F470 (Jan 2006) was a traditional compact. The F455 came out at Photokina 2004. The last of the 6x compacts was the S3500 at Photokina 2004. Meanwhile the F810 (Photokina 2004) was an E550 inside and has not been replaced yet. The F440 and F450 came out in June 2004, a precursor to the V-series in some ways. The last of the SR-based F-series was the F710 at PMA 2004. The F610 came out Nov 2003. As you can see here there is no clear pattern as Fuji tries all sorts of different things, which is a good thing :-) They will probably release something that fits this category, an F810 with the magic 6mp is a no-brainer!
  • Bijou compacts: The Z3 leads the way (May 2006), along with the new V-series with a big LCD, the square V10 (Jan 2006). Prior to that the Z2 came out in Oct 2005, and the Z1 started the series at PMA 2005. If Fuji wants to play the megapixels game, we may see a Z4 using a traditional 6mp/7mp sensor. Megapixel-awe has more effect on the ultra-stylish ultra-compact bijou series in a horsepower kind of way. ("Oooh Look at my new bright and shiny $500 camera! It has 50000 megapixels!"). Or if they want to play the big LCD game...
  • entry-level: SuperCCD goes the entry-level with the A600,A500,and A400 at PMA 2006. Prior to that the A345 and A350 held the entry-level at PMA 2005. At PMA 2004 they came out with the A330, A340 and A120. I guarantee you the next Fuji entry-level will be at PMA 2007 ;-)
  • The magic sensor: Fuji found a gem in the 6mp 1/1.7" sensor but they have been very slow to capitalize on it. If I was Fuji I would put that sensor into every singe digital camera I ever made that can be made to retrofit it in. For example, they should release a new version of the following cameras using this sensor: S9000, S602/S20/S7000, E900, F810/E550, non-wide 10x zooms, etc, etc...
  • Time to embrace SD? Fuji and Olympus are clearly losing sales because of their stubborness to use xD, despite the price drops in memory card prices. One very clever solution would be to develop dual-drives for their cameras so they can take both xD and SD cards. A single-slot drive for smaller cameras, and perhaps a two-slot drive for the bigger/more advanced cameras. This is common sense :-) This scheme would enable xD to continue to exist and be compatible with past, present and future cameras, and would not alienate current xD users, which would slowly phase out to SD.



    OLYMPUS

    DSLRs
  • high-end: The E1 started the Four Thirds product line in June 2003. Three years later Olympus users are pounding the tables for an upgrade. There should be an upgrade but will there be one?. The simplest upgrade would be putting a new sensor in the E1 body, either the Panasonic 7.5mp MOS or the older 8mp Kodak. But this would only be a short term solution. If Olympus wants to have a high-end flagship camera they need to address image stabilization and noise. Sensor-wise they have to wait for such a sensor because none of the existing 4/3rds sensors can do that. Perhaps that's why we haven't seen an E1 upgrade yet. Seeing a short-term upgrade (eg E1 with the 7.5mp or 8mp sensors) will perhaps indicate that a more advanced solution is further down the road.
  • mid-range The E330 (January 2006) is the first one to offer some sort of a continuous live preview on a DSLR. No replacement is expected.
  • amateur price-range: The E500 (September 2005) is the current sub-$1000 offering from Olympus. The E300 was announced at Photokina 2004. There is a pattern of one per year here! Perhaps a new sub-$1000 DSLR using the Panasonic 7.5mp LiveMOS sensor?

    non-DSLRs
  • Advanced The last one was the C8080 at PMA 2004, a critically acclaimed camera (see the dpreview.com review), but a victim of the squeeze between the super-zooms and the DSLRS. A replacement would need a new 2/3" sensor which currently does not exist. A version of the C8080 using the Sony "R1" sensor would probably need a new lens design, and that sensor would be bigger than 4/3rds, so I doubt Olympus would do that when their #1 priority seems to be selling Four Thirds cameras and lenses. Speaking of lenses Olympus has more to gain from the sales of 4/3rds lenses since they are essentially the main provider. Unlike other lens mounts which have a large pool of 3rd party lenses, Four Thirds only has a handful of "ported" Sigma lenses. The 2.0x porting factor of 4/3rds makes the equivalent focal lengths of those Sigma lenses a bit unusual in many cases, thus guaranting Olympus the lion's share of 4/3rds lens sales. So they will probably think twice before introducing something that may steal some sales from it. OTOH, their current non-DSLR lineup does not have an advanced camera. The highest spec'ed are the SP-350 and SP-500, so there is room for something above those...
  • C-series: Just like the Canon G-series, this has been one of the historic digital camera line-ups, but the last ones were the C7070 and C5500 (5x "sport zoom") at CES 2005 (January). (The smaller C-series/D-series (competitor to Canon Sxx) stopped even before the C-series). The SP-series seems to have taken over this segment. So is the C-series gone for ever? Maybe not. Olympus resurrected the E-series for their DSLRs after all...
  • long zooms Once upon a time Olympus ruled the long zoom world with the C7xx-series (and the cult model C2100UZ (aka UZi)). But Olympus did not update their lens design, while the competition came up with 12x zooms and more importantly image stabilization. This left Olympus behind. They only have one long zoom right now, the SP500 (Aug 2005). The last of the C-7xx was at PMA 2004 (C765, C770). If Olympus develops or licenses image stabilization we will obviously see more models. If no stabilization, then we'll probably see just a 7mp refresher. Olympus has been historically among the first to jump onto higher megapixels.
  • SP series: The SP series debut happened in August 2005, with the SP-500 (mentioned above), along with the 1/1.8" sensor based SP-350, and SP-310. The SP-700 came quietly in Sept 2005 but did not fit the profile of the earlier SP-series, however Olympus is using the SP-series the same way Nikon is using the S-series, to showcase a variety of their buy-me-please cameras. The SP-320 (also 1/1.8" CCD) came later on (Jan 2006). Expect at least one SP-series camera at Photokina, probably a 10mp SP-flagship and a 7mp long zoom. Historically Olympus has used sensors from multiple vendors so they are harder to gauge :) And how about a 5x sport-zoom transfering to the SP-series from the C-series?
  • Stylus: The big success of the film brand has not translated well to digital despite the bonus offering of splashproofness compared to most of the competition. One thing they've done well is keep the model numbers and the number of megapixels consistent :) And they have the whole range, from 3mp to 8mp, so a 10mp Stylus should be just around the corner, but perhaps at PMA 2007 instead of Photokina. The last barrage of Styluses came in Jan 2006 with the 810, 710 (aka 700) and the debut of the drop-proof 720SW. Sensor-wise the 8xx-series is at 1/1.8", while the 7xx-series is at the new size of 1/2.3" (who makes this sensor???). Not afraid of being accused of churning Olympus announced the Stylus 600 in Aug 2005 (the conventional 1/2.5"), the 800 in May 2005 (1/1.8"), and the Verve S at PMA 2005 (1/2.5"). Before that, the 500 (Nov 2004), original Verve (Photokina 2004), 410 (PMA 2004), and the debut of the Stylus line-up at CES 2003 (Jan) with the 300 and 400. So what's the pattern? Stylus seems to be more of a CES/PMA series, with newer models announced when new sensors become available. They seem to be using a two/three-tier sensor line-up along with the -SW (shockproof 720SW) model. I would expect a more advanced -SW if it can be adapted to the 1/1.8" sensor..
  • entry level: Olympus ran out of model numbers for the D-series, so they rebooted to something Fun (like finding an xD card instead of SD/CF), and Easy (like taking panorama shots using a non-Olympus memory card). The last of the D-series came in early 2005. The FE-series made its debut in August 2005 with three megapixel-staircase models (FE100,110,120). (Megapixel-staircase: 4mp, 5mp, 6mp). But the fun continued in January 2006 with four new FEs, giving the original FEs just 6 months (!). This time four FEs were announced ranging between 5mp and 6mp (FE115, 130, 140, 150). Given this pattern Olympus should squirt five new FEs at Photokina ;-) But if a cheap 7mp 1/2.5" becomes available, then there should be a 7mp FE.
  • Misc Olympus tried a few other experimental models but they didn't see to have made it, like the AZ series and the IR series, with the last one IR300 at PMA 2005. I doubt they will attempt any follow-ups.
  • Stop with the stupid panorama dependency on Olympus-branded memory cards. It's silly, stupid and childish. Grow up please :-)
  • Time to embrace SD? Fuji and Olympus are clearly losing sales because of their stubborness to use xD, despite the price drops in memory card prices. One very clever solution would be to develop dual-drives for their cameras so they can take both xD and SD cards. A single-slot drive for smaller cameras, and perhaps a two-slot drive for the bigger/more advanced cameras. This is common sense :-) This scheme would enable xD to continue to exist and be compatible with past, present and future cameras, and would not alienate current xD users, which would slowly phase out to SD.



    KODAK

    DSLRs
  • Kodak abandoned professional DSLRs, their last DSLRs being the /c and /n at PMA 2004. Prior to that Kodak made the notorious blunder of rushing the announcement of the 14mp FF DCS-14n so they can win the press conference against the Canon 11mp FF 1Ds. They may have won the press conference but because they rushed the camera out too soon they also ruined its reputation. Kodak has increased the number of advanced non-DSLRs it makes (P-series), but will they attempt consumer-level DSLRs? They make various big sensors and they have the previous experience and 4/3rd membership. But they also have to find a way to make camera bodies and be able to offer them at a very competitive price. I doubt they will do so at Photokina 2006. But don't count them out :-)

    non-DSLRs
  • P-series: Increasing in number. The series made its debut in August 2005 with the P880 and P850 (5mp,12x IS). The P880 got most of the attention because its zoom lens started at 24mm wide. A rather creative design, the return of Kodak to wide-angle since the Kodak DC4800. A step in the right direction for sure. The P series got another superzoom in June 2006, the P712 (7mp, 12x IS). The big question is where we will see a replacement for P880, perhaps one using one of the 10mp 1/1.8" sensors? (I am assuming the P880 uses a 1/1.8" sesnor, as the specs do not mention the size).
  • long zooms: Zooms are us! Kodak started off with the 10x optical zooms but later on developed (or licensed) a 12x stabilized zoom lens, which made its way into multiple bodies. Their zoom line-up is as follows: P712 (June 2006), a 7mp 1/2.5" CCD 12x stabilized superzoom; Z612 (PMA 2006), a 6mp 1/2.5" 12x stabilized superzoom; Z650 (January 2006), a 6mp 1/2.5" CCD 10x superzoom; P850 (Aug 2005), 5mp 1/2.5" 12x tabilized superzoom; Z7590 (Jan 2005; 5mp,10x); Z740 (Jan 2005; 5mp 10x). So the replacement pattern is as follows: P850 -> P712, and Z740 -> Z650, and Z7590 -> Z612 (with stabilization added in the mid-range zoom). So they have three zoom line-ups and they have all been updated as expected. Nothing here!
  • dual lens/dual CCD: Great innovation on paper, less than stellar in execution i'm afraid. Started on the 2nd day of 2006, the V570 was the first dual-lens/dual-CCD camera from Kodak offering a 5mp with a 23mm wide lens along with a typical 3x zoom lens. This design was updated just a few days V705 (Aug 2006) with the 7mp 1/2.5" sensor. An eight month cycle or perhaps a rolling product cycle with the older model sliding into the cheaper slot. On top of that Kodak also introduced a dual lens/dual CCD 10x-ish (38-380mm eq) zoom camera with the aptly named V610 (April 2006), by using a standard 3x zoom and a 130-380mm (3x zoom ratio) lens. Again the design and promise on paper was great, but the implementation was less than stellar to put it in very mildly. There is room for improvement and perhaps if they have some major impromvements they will release an update, but that will more likely happen at PMA 2007. Nothing here, since Kodak just announced a handful including the V705 :-)
  • bijou V-series: These are the traditional single-lens, shiny, fashionable, ultra-compacts which I am separating from the dual-lens/dual-CCD for obvious reasons. This line-up was started in May 2005 with two 5mp models (V550, V530), and then continued with the 6mp V603 (PMA 2006; absent from the dpreview Timeline). A 7mp version is likely since Kodak has fully embraced the 7mp 1/2.5" sensor. Probably at/by PMA 2007 though.
  • mid-range: The C875 (Aug 2006) is the new mid-range from Kodak with 8mp 1/1.8" 5x zoom. Prior to this the midrange took a little bit of a break. It was occupied by Z760 (May 2005), Z730 (PMA 2005), and Z700 (CES 2005).
  • C-series: Squeezed between camera phones and the Nikon El Cheapos, this is where Kodak picks up most of its market share. Also affected by the recent trend to not buy camera+printer bundles (partially because of cheaper and easier ways to print at every street corner (groceries, drugstores, etc)). However most of the losses went to Fuji and Olympus (thank you xD card), but Kodak has to continue to offer competitive entry-level models in order to maintain its market share. The C-series consists mostly of fixed lens camera at the bottom, and a range of 3x compacts stagged on top of that with megapixels and LCD-size being the visible differentiators. The latest batch was just announced with the 7mp 1/2.5" model, C743 being the leader of the pack.

    Sensors
  • They are offering big sensors (4/3" and above) to Pentax (645D), digital backs, Leica, and Olympus (Four Thirds). Perhaps they were commission by Olympus to develop their new high-end 4/3rd sensor?



    PENTAX

    DSLRs
  • 645-series: Long talked about, something concrete should be announced formally at Photokina
  • K-series: Expected is a mid-range model (forum name: K10D), and rumored and hoped for is a flagship model (forum name: K1D). The "K10D" is expected to feature a 10mp Sony sensor but there is also talk of it using a Samsung sensor or a Cypress sensor (a 9mp Cypress sensor had been announced late last year). The K-series made its debut in May 2006 with the K100D (first Pentax Anti-Shake) and K110D.
  • *ist series: The DL2 (Jan 2006) and DS2 (Aug 2005), (aka Samsung GX1L and GX1S) were probably made for the sake of Samsung so they would debut with a big 2.5" LCD. The *ist series is probably over as they now move to a more Pentax-sounding name, K-series :-) The DL made its debut in June 2005, while the DS made its debut at Photokina 2004. The original *istD was announced formally as a product at PMA 2003.

    non-DSLRs
  • Mid-range: Pentax announced the A20 before I could speculate on a 10mp upgrade to the 8mp A10 (CES 2006). A camera with a 1/1.8" sensor is rather rare these days :)
  • Splashproof: Pentax announced the W20 before I could speculate on a 7mp 1/2.5" upgrade of the W10 (PMA 2006), which replaces the WPi (Aug 2005), which replaced WP (Jan 2005).
  • Sleek compacts: The S7 (7mp 1/2.5") continues the tradition of the Pentax S-series (previous one S6 (Aug 2005)). The T-series made its debut at PMA 2006, and will probably see a 7mp upgrade as well, if not at Photokina then at/by PMA 2007.
  • The rest: Pentax announced the 7mp 1/2.5" M20 before I could speculate on an M10 upgrade. The E-series may not get a 7mp upgrade right away, they might be waiting for sensor prices to fall further down because the E10 (Jan 2006) is the entry-level model. Incidentally all these new series (A-,T-,M-,E-) were introduced in early 2006 (CES/PMA).
  • Nothing in 2006: The last ones of their series: S60 (Aug 2005), 60 (Jul 2005), SVi (May 2005), MX4 (10x zoom, Photokina 2004), X (Photokina 2004), 750Z (Photokina 2004). The S60/60 were probably replaced by the M-/E- series. There is no new 5x Pentax, so an update to either the SVi or the 750Z is less unlikely. How about a new X? And what about the long zooms? Pentax tried a hybrid design for the MX-series, but it didn't really takeoff and I don't think Pentax is going to attempt anything in that segment (unless they get a helping hand from their friends at Samsung). More likely scenario: None of these get refreshed.


    CASIO

    non-DSLRs
  • 1/1.8" EX Z-series 10mp for the Z1000 (April 2006), up from 8mp (Z850, PMA 2006) and 7mp (Z750, PMA 2005). Casio was never afraid to push the megapixel envelope.
  • 1/2.5" EX Z-/S- Casio has a three tier series, upgraded with the 7mp 1/2.5" sensor a few weeks ago. This is the EX-Z700 (replaces the Z600 (Jan 2006), which replaced the Z500 (Aug 2005)), the EX-Z70 (replaces Z60 (PMA 2006)), and the EX-S770 (replaces S600 (Oct 2005) which replaced the S500 (June 2005)). A DiVx version of EX-S600 was announced in June 2006 by appending a "d" to its name. On top of that they introduced an entry-level LiIon Z, the Z5 (5mp,3x, May 2006). The EX-Z/EX-S series are very popular in Japan and have caught on with the rest of the world markets. Casio is producing almost two models per tier per year, which is a lot of churning even by digital camera standards. But the previous models are simply staircased in their product line-up, they are not removed.
  • AA-based: Ripe for an upgrade to the latest sensors: Z120 (1/1.8" 7mp, Aug-2005), Z110 (1/2.5" 6mp, Aug 2005), Z10 (1/2.5" 5mp, Aug 2005). Unless Casio decides to take another break from AA-cameras.
  • misc Casio is not afraid to experiment. Some of their experiments have turned into success stories like the EX-Sxx series. Others have evoked "What were they thinking replies" (EX-P505, Jan 2005).
  • Nothing in 2006: EX-P505 (Jan 2005), QV-R62 (Dec 2004), P700 (Aug 2004), P600 (PMA 2004), QV5700 (PMA 2002!). Unlikely to see anything new, although every two years Casio tries its hand at a mid-range/prosumer_junior type (P700/P600 in 2004, QV5700 in 2002).


    PANASONIC

    DSLRs
  • Flagship Just like the LC1, the L1 was meant to be a flagship model to announce to the world that Panasonic is in the DSLR business.
  • amateur-level No word on those yet, but we know there is the 7.5mp LiveMOS sensor. Unlikely at Photokina, most likely sometime in 2007. But I could be wrong :)

    non-DSLRs
  • LC-series The then flagship LC1 and its Leica equivalent were announced at PMA 2004 (late 2003). The L1 seems to be the new Panasonic flagship, so I doubt there will be a replacement here. The LC-1 was using a 2/3" sensor. However, some of the technology and design could find their way into a more affordable prosumer if Panasonic decides to produce one.
  • Big FZ-series July 2006 saw the FZ50, a 10mp replacement to the 8mp FZ30 (July 2005). Nothing new at Photokina
  • medium FZ-series The last of the medium-size FZs was the now legendary FZ20 (July 2004), about a year after the ground-breaking FZ10 (Oct 2003). Whether there will be a medium-size FZ is subject to debate. Some argue that the FZ20 was spawned into the two FZs (FZ7, and FZ30), others argue that there is room in the market for a continuation of the FZ20. Probably there won't be one, but it would be a pleasant surprise if they do continue this series
  • small FZ-series: The FZ7 (Jan 2006) leads the way. A 7mp version is the likely outcome. given Panasonic's previous moves. But they can't name it FZ7 :-) Panasonic already has a 7mp 1/2.5" sensor in the FX-series. A better idea would be to work out the noise issues of their sensors and then release a new round of cameras. But that's just me :) Its predecessors saw the light at PMA 2005 (FZ5, FZ4). These were the first small FZ-series to use a 1/2.5" sensor. The FZ3 and earlier models (July 2004) was using a 1/3.2" sensor. The pattern suggests the new one will come at PMA 2007, but I get this gut feeling it will be at Photokina 2006.
  • TZ-series Started out at PMA 2006, the TZ1 has its following. As with most Panasonic sensors noise is an issue, more so on this camera which uses 5mp out of a 6mp sensor. So an upgrade with a 7mp sensor would produce a 6mp-ish TZ2. I sincerely hope Panasonic works on fixing the sensor first, but unfortuately the marketing people are running the show, so a 6mp-ish TZ2 (using a 7mp sensor) is a likely outcome.
  • LX-series In lockstep with the FZ30/FZ50, the LX1 made its debut in July 2005 and the LX2 exactly a year later. Similar issues with the big FZs. No replacement expected
  • FX- ultra compacts Growing in popularity, Panasonic inserted a 7mp 1/2.5" sensor and upgraded to a three-tier line-up in July 2006 with the FX50 at the top, and the FX07 as the mass market model. The bottom tier (budget model) is the 6mp FX3. Expect nothing new here at Photokina. The precursors: FX9 (July 2005), FX8 (May 2005), FX7 (July 2004). The poor battery life of the FX7 likewise forced the mid-season update with the FX8.
  • midrange zooms: Undervalued and underappreciated for its price point the 6mp LZ5 offers a 6x MegaOIS lens. Introduced in Jan 2006 alongside the 5mp LZ3. A 7mp version is a likely outcome and they can name it LZ7 even :-) The LZ-series made its debut at PMA 2005 with the 4mp LZ1 and 5mp LZ2. A PMA 2007 7mp upgrade is more likely.
  • entry-level Often forgotten about despite its MegaOIS 3x lens, the LS series was last updated in Jan 2006 with the LS2 (5mp), which followed the 4mp LS1 (PMA 2005). More likely: a 6mp version at PMA 2007 :-)


    SAMSUNG

    DSLRs
  • Samsung versions of Pentax DSLRs models are likely. At some point there may be some differentiation between them while sharing a lot of common components, but I am guessing this generation will be Pentax-like.


    non-DSLRs
  • Big Daddy aka the Pro815D: Last year during an interview Samsung engineers talked about working for some form of image stabilization. Will we see an update to this big monster? Given that there is no new 2/3" sensor, they will either have to make one themselves, or use the same one or commission Sony to develop a new one?
  • NV series: Samsung has raised a few eyebrows with the design of the NV-series, which like the Nikon S-series and Olympus SP-series is meant as a showcase series, not grouped by functionality. Already offering a 10mp 3x camera (NV10), a bijou compact (NV3) and an intriguing 7mp 1/2.5" 28-200mm sensor anti-shake model (7x). I do not expect any new NV at Photokina.
  • L series: This new series closely linked with the AA-based S-series comprises the entry-level/mid-range product line of Samsung in a traditional megapixel staircase fashion.
  • S series: Same as above really, the S500 is lifting some eyebrows with its low price ($150) and stylish design (for that price point). This lineup also uses the traditional megapixel staircase, with the higher megapixel models having more features.
  • bijou compacts: Already an i6 and an NV3 are out, so expect no more.
  • A series: Probably retired in some ways, but the 4.8x 28mm- lens has not found itself in a new body just yet, although there is a 7x 28-200 in the NV7 which may find its way in newer, more affordable A-series bodies.
  • Misc: Samsung also has a series of hybrid camera/camcorder models, and they are also famous for making the two-headed monsters (a camera and a camcorder in one body with two lenses). Samsung is trying hard to break out, so I wouldn't be surprised if they tried new things as well. They are probably one more release away from catching up with the traditional digital camera manufacturers. The NV3 was the first Samsung camera recommended by dcresource, which was not very kind to its previous models.


    HP

  • HP announced a handful of token cameras a few weeks ago. I do not expect anything new, or if there is something new it will be very incremental updates.

    SIGMA

  • A new Foveon sensor? A replacement for the SD10? I have no clue :-)
  • If Sigma was serious about becoming a player in DSLRs, they could have made versions of their DSLRs in the various popular mounts (not just their own). But they may not be interest or have the financial resources to embark on such a project

    ZEISS

  • Already announced a handful of lenses, some for Nikon (with a promise for more), along with RF M-mount lenses, and a promise for more at Photokina.
  • Is this the right time for the Digital Zeiss Ikon? And if yes, who will make the sensor?

    LEICA

  • Details on the Digital M8 should emerge
  • A Leica-branded version of the Panasonic L1? Perhaps only after the Digital M8 is ready to go so it won't interfere with their branding and marketing efforts?
  • Leica-branded versions of the newest Panasonics, namely the LX2 and FX50/FX07?


    RICOH

  • Already announced the R5, there seems to be demand for an improved version of the electronics of the GR1 following the highly anticipated dpreview review. Ricoh deserves credit for trying to offer new designs and models and hopefully they can fix the major bugs of the GR1D with a new release at some point. I am not intimately familiar with the Ricoh line-up so I cannot make any specific predictions, other than the fact they are also going to be bound by the availability of new(er) sensors, so dont be surprised if you see 10mp 1/1.8" or 7mp 1/2.5" from Ricoh.


    FootNote: The pictures are all of existing models and are used to break up the sections between the various manufacturers. I have no inside knowledge :-) The pictures link to Amazon and any purchases will help this post grow even longer :)

    NOTE: This is pure speculation on my part :-)
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