DPReview just released their annual camera industry prediction video where Chris and Jordan discuss what they think will come from the leading producers. I think they are mostly right on the nose.
2020 was an “upset apple cart” a year. I think if it were not for the COVID-19 pandemic, we would have seen different decisions from the big camera manufacturers, and that many of them looked at what they could do this year, and if they found that they could wait a year. to before taking that action, they chose to.
So looking at next year, this is what I (along with Chris and Jordan) think you can expect from the big names in 2021.
Chris and Jordan are pretty spot on in the analysis of Canon’s position: the company is in very good shape when it comes to the high end. Right after the launch of the EOS R, Canon spent most of its time expanding its lens lineup. When it finally released the R5 and R6, it was a robust lens library to back up the two cameras.
The thing is, almost everything Canon sells in the RF line is extremely expensive, making it challenging for anyone on a limited budget to get a toe in Canon’s mirrorless pool. The DPReview video duo believe we’ll see cheaper Canon camera equipment in 2021, including an RP replacement, and I tend to agree with them.
One area that is a bit of a wild card is what Canon plans to do with the M-mount. As Jordan says, “The M50 Mark II was a bit of an embarrassing upgrade.” It is true. The camera does not deserve the “Mark II” name, as Canon essentially gave it a firmware upgrade and put it up for sale. I’m certainly not sure about this hot take, but I think Canon will keep it around. I do not get the feeling that the company will make smaller sensor products in the RF line, and the M line is a perfect place to offer that kind of support while the RF line continues to accommodate those who want a full frame.
Canon is hard to predict, because while it’s early in the mirrorless game for it still, the company seems so well positioned to do what it wants. The company’s mirrorless strategy seems to have paid off, and now there is so much flexibility in where Canon can take its mark that it’s hard to predict. Canon fans really only have many reasons to remain optimistic.
Pentax / Ricoh
I think if you’ve been aware, it’s a little easy to guess what Pentax / Ricoh will do in 2021: not much. We get the Pentax K3 Mark III, maybe a new GR under the Ricoh brand, and maybe a Pentax lens, but the company has repeatedly underestimated for years. Management has repeatedly said that it will never produce a mirrorless Pentax product, and I see them how long it takes the company to make lenses for its SLR cameras. There is no way that Pentax at its current pace can compete even if it produced a great mirrorless ILC: you have to wait 5 or 6 years before there was any kind of flexible library with first-class glass to use on a camera.
I’m a little excited to see how the K3 Mark III integrates on-sensor stabilization since we’ve not seen that technology in a DSLR before (at least not to my memory, I can be wrong). Other than that, there is little to say when it comes to Pentax / Ricoh.
I have to admit that I can not predict Fujifilm. I like the cameras, but I’ve never been a “Fuji guy.” Jordan has a small expectations list for the company in 2021, which mainly focuses on the company’s video capacity. Fujifilm has steadily increased its video gameplay over the past two years and entered Panasonic’s micro-four-thirds space. I think what Jordan is saying here is a smart guess: expect them to give video players more.
I also agree that it would make sense to watch Fujifilm play a little more with medium format cameras. Right now, these cameras are big, big and still relatively expensive. Fujifilm can try to compress the excellent 100-megapixel sensor into a smaller, cheaper and even more accessible body.
Chris does not seem to believe that we will see much in the way of cameras out of Leica this year, but there are rumors that swirl that disagree, such as one that suggests a cheaper rangefinder, as well as a new CL camera in early 2021 .
Over the last two years, Leica has still made many cameras, and I think Chris’s opinion that we will instead see more optics from the company this year is a pretty safe bet. L-Mount can use more interesting, faster glass. I also think that Leica should take advantage of the ability to make interesting lenses in contrast to the current trend of high-performance, self-contained glass. I hope we see them play a little in that room.
We get to this more in the Panasonic section, but Leica’s autofocus needs work: it’s not a good sign that the SL2 did not win me over before I used manual focus lenses. Unlike Panasonic, which has DFD technology, Leica has only a competent contrast-based system without the intelligence behind it. Leica either only needs to license what Panasonic has, or it must add phase detection. This midfield it sits in does not work for anyone more than a hobbyist.
Nikon has repeatedly been featured in a negative light in the news this year, mainly due to its financial situation. Things do not look good at that end, but I do not think we are close to seeing the end of Nikon. No, instead I think the company will do what they continue to threaten: make more mirrorless lenses and produce another DSLR.
Jordan’s prediction of a Z-mounted sports house to compete with the Sony a9 is a pretty good guess, and I agree that we will see a new sports body from Nikon in 2021, but it could be either an SLR camera or a mirrorless one. I’m not sure if Nikon has the technology to make a high-performance sports mirror-free yet, but we know it can do so with SLR cameras.
Sigma is primarily known as a lens manufacturer, but it is technically also a camera manufacturer. While Jordan says he hopes to see a mirrorless camera from Foveon, I’ve in doubt. I have said for many years that I expect them to use that technology again and always predict that “this year will be the year.”
I think I’m done hoping there.
I bet we see a compact, street / travel-oriented mirrorless photo-focused camera from Sigma, but I doubt it uses the Foveon sensor. It has been so long since it has been seen in a camera that at this point I have to believe that Sigma has trouble making it a convincing alternative when faced with the market.
What is more likely is that an “I-Series” camera fits Sigma’s latest compact prime phones.
Chris and Jordan have the same mind as me: it’s hard not to think this is just the beginning of the end for Olympus. Japan Industrial Partners (JIP) bought the brand last year, and it’s hard to believe that it will slowly just let the brand die off.
Financially, I do not know how it makes sense for JIP. The purchase of Olympus was not cheap and letting the brand slowly disappear does not seem like a weak financial strategy to me. I have a little more confidence that Olympus will stay for a while than Chris does, but that’s very difficult to say. We rarely see new owners of camera brands in this industry, so it is difficult to look at situations from the past and as a barometer of what we see now. Unfortunately, we just have to wait and see.
Panasonic is my favorite camera brand, and I have no qualms about saying so. I switched to Panasonic with GH4 and now happily use GH5, S1, S5 and S1H. There are many who do not use Panasonic products who say that the company’s DFD technology is bad and its insistence on contrast-based autofocus never comes anywhere, but I disagree. I think Panasonic will stick to DFD and continue to improve it. At this point, if Panasonic were to use phase detection, it would have already done so.
I’m also with Jordan: I’m 100% sure we’ll see the GH6 this year as a video-focused micro-quarter camera that will have at least the same specifications we see in the a7S III. I do not think video players will have more resolution, and as such it will be a camera that will focus on absolutely rocking 4K performance.
I think if 2020 were a normal year, the a7 IV would already be on the market. Sony took a very conservative approach to 2020 because, let’s face it, the company no longer needs to take any risks: it kind of owns the mirrorless space. It will not last forever, but with Canon to breathe a sigh of relief, and as such we will definitely see Sony release some impressive new products in 2021, starting with an a7 IV.
I think Sony will also make a stronger case for the APS-C line, and hopefully it will leave the body in the a6000 style. Fujifilm can use stronger competition, and I think Sony recognizes that.
Also some of the older G-Master lenses badly need an update – I look at you 24-70mm f / 2.8. I’m pretty sure we’ll see new versions of these lenses come this year with updated optics and the brand new autofocus motors.
Do you agree with Chis and Jordan? What did I miss or get wrong? What are your predictions for 2021? Let us know in the comments.