Welcome to a new year and a new decade. 2020, here we come. The question now is, where are we headed? Yes, that includes you.
At the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week, Nikon is widely expected to announce the new 24-megapixel D780 and Coolpix P950 cameras, together with new lenses for both F-mount and mirrorless Z-mount bodies. If you're more of a Canon fan, announcement of the new EOS-1D X Mark III DSLR is also expected, as are announcements from Sony, Panasonic and others. Everybody is getting in on the act.
Of note, the Nikon D780 should have dual SD card slots. Whether camera's really need support for two memory cards or not, it seems the powers that be have convinced both consumers and manufacturers that they do. I don't recall anyone ever complaining about film SLR cameras not letting you load two rolls at the same time, but time marches on, and expectations change. The D780 is also expected to include both Bluetooth and Wi-fi connectivity, a feature that should be standard in today's world. GPS support should be standard, too, but somehow that message hasn't gotten through yet. If they can fit a GPS antenna into phones, there's no reason they can't do likewise with cameras.
I've never really known what to make of the Coolpix line of cameras from Nikon. New models come and go with such frequency that it would be easy to assume that these things must be disposable. In this case, the upcoming P950 looks to be a somewhat scaled down version of the current P1000 with a slightly smaller zoom range. Non-SLR cameras are increasingly a dying breed, anyway, being squeezed by the increasing capabilities of cell phone cameras that most of us carry in our pocket all the time. And for anyone who considers themselves "serious" enough to justify a dedicated camera, the mirrorless revolution is squeezing the prosumer market from the other side. If you can have a lightweight Z 50 or similar with interchangeable lenses and a vast line of accessories, why would you settle for a Coolpix?
I've never been to a CES show, but from all reports, they are quite the spectacle, if you're into that sort of thing. Keep in mind that this thing covers pretty much anything electronic intended for consumers (hence the name of the show). Photography is but a small part of it. But to get the most publicity possible, many new product announcements are timed to schedule of the CES show each near, and (insert your favorite brand here) is probably a part of it. You can put on your home theater geek one minute and get up close and personal with the newest big lenses from Nikon and Canon (and Sony) the next. The show is put on by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and I believe is always in Las Vegas these days.
CES isn't the only show either. There's photokina in Europe later this spring for instance. But it's at these times that we get the greatest clarity as to what the big camera makers are up to and what they plan for their future. The further out we look, the less certain forecasts can be, but at least at a few specific times throughout the year we get some insight. It's just that CES is the first of 2020, and for us in the United States, clearly the one with the biggest impact.
I have a confession to make. The title for this week's article came to me early on, what with the turn of the decade here and all. The CES show gives us a rare but reasonably clear view on what's to come and I just published my annual top ten list looking back on the year just ending. It seemed too good of a title for an article and too good of an opportunity to let slip by. Personally, I'd love to go to CES someday, but the title seemed to hold the potential for a more expansive look at the year to come. It has stuck with me recently for obvious reasons, but that was only the jumping off point.
It's not the technology that matters, it's what we can do with it. I love that the advances of technology are allowing us to create images not previously possible, in some cases even by the best of professionals. Technology has lowered the barriers to image making in so many ways. And it is allowing us greater control over the image-making process itself.
Good photography should be about more than just what we photograph. It should be about how we view that subject. Your point of view is an inherent part of every image you make. It makes sense to make use of that to its full creative potential. Or at least it makes sense to me.
All that lovely new photo gear is cool indeed. But every bit of it remains but a tool to help you solve problems. If you keep buying newer and better tools, you should be looking for ways to use them to expand the limits of your photography. Let that be your 2020 vision. Call it a New Year's resolution if you prefer.