Smartphones may have taken over the world, but camera manufacturers are still working hard to keep their rightful place in the hierarchy of photography equipment. With each year comes a new crop of advanced digital camera technologies, each one more interesting and innovative than the last. So what does 2017 hold for camera innovations? In this article, we discuss the most important (and most realistic) camera trends for 2017.
1. Better Full-Frame Camera Options
In general, regular consumers don’t really care about bigger camera sensors—but photographers do. An advanced digital camera with a full-frame sensor offers better image quality and unbeatable ISO performance, which is why some people prefer full-frame options to their crop-sensor counterparts.
There are plenty of rumors and speculations about what the world’s biggest camera companies have in store for us, but the most prominent rumor is that we may be getting more full-frame camera options this year. And as far as advanced digital camera trends go, that is definitely exciting news for serious photographers.
Rumor has it that Nikon has three full-frame cameras in the works: the Nikon D760, which would succeed Nikon’s highly popular D750; the Nikon D820 (may also be called D850), which is expected to have 4K video recording and a 42MP sensor; and the Nikon Df II, which would be a full-frame mirrorless that retains the Df’s classic retro design.
Many tech websites and blogs have also been buzzing about the possibility of Canon releasing its first full-frame mirrorless camera sometime in the near future. Obviously, thanks to Sony, full-frame MILCs are nothing new—but it is exciting to see what Canon comes up with on this front.
The rumor mill also predicts that Canon is working on the EOS 6D Mark II, which would be a follow-up to the EOS 6D, the company’s popular entry-level full-frame DSLR camera.
2. The Resurgence Of Film And Analog Cameras
Despite the abundance and widespread availability of highly advanced digital camera options, it seems that interest in film and analog cameras has been steadily growing among consumers—from casual shooters to professional photographers—these last few years. This is evident in the success of Fujifilm’s Instax line, which includes some of the best instant cameras on the market today.
Lately, film manufacturers have been enjoying an increase in revenue as well, thanks to more people going back to film. Kodak, Fujifilm, and Harman Technology have reported a surge in film sales over the last two or three years, which likely spurred Kodak’s decision to bring back its classic Ektachrome color-positive film.
Analog photographers have always been around to keep the interest in film alive, but it seems even hardcore digital fans (who have only ever used an advanced digital camera in either mirrorless or DSLR form) may end up jumping on the emerging film trend, especially now that companies in the photo imaging industry are slowly making more products geared toward film shooters.
3. Smaller, Tougher, And More Powerful Point-And-Shoot Cameras
It’s no secret that point-and-shoot cameras have significantly faded into the background over the last few years. Thanks to smartphones, point and shoots became more and more unnecessary—in the eyes of consumers, that is. Nonetheless, camera makers are hoping to change their minds.
At the CES 2017, brands like Canon, Nikon, and Fujifilm unveiled point-and-shoot cameras that were specifically built and designed for all-around use, which tells us that one of the most obvious advanced digital camera trends for point and shoots is that they are going to be smaller, lighter, and extremely durable.
Canon released some new additions to the IXUS line, which are extremely slim and feature HD video recording as one of their most attractive selling points. The company also unveiled the premium PowerShot G9 X Mark II, which is a slightly updated version of the G9 X but with a few under-the-hood enhancements. It now has improved autofocus tracking, built-in image stabilization, and the new DIGIC VII image processor, which enables RAW burst shooting at eight frames per second.
Nikon and Fujifilm, meanwhile, focused on creating cameras for families and adventure seekers. Nikon released the CoolPix W100, an advanced digital camera with 1080p video recording, larger buttons for kid-friendly operation, and a highly durable body that is waterproof, shockproof, and freezeproof.
Fujifilm also has something similar in the FINEPIX XP120—an ultra-rugged compact camera that is dustproof, waterproof, freezeproof, and shockproof. It also features a 16.4MP back-illuminated CMOS sensor for better low-light shooting.
4. 4K Video Recording And Improved Image Stabilization
4K video recording is nothing new in the advanced digital camera world, but up until recently, only high-end mirrorless cameras and a few DSLRs offered it. [pullquote]This year, however, one of the most realistic camera trends you can expect to see is the proliferation of cameras with UHD video capability.[/pullquote] Prominent brands will likely start offering more advanced digital camera options (even those on the lower-end of the spectrum) to feature 4K video recording, along with in-camera image stabilization to avoid shaky footage.
The cameras that were announced at this year’s CES had little to no noteworthy innovations to speak of, but the most interesting of the bunch was the much-awaited Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5, which features ultra-HD 4K video capture, 5-axis image stabilization, and 6K Photo Mode for capturing high-quality stills from video clips.
Another favorite was the pocket-friendly Panasonic Lumix GX850. It is a mirrorless camera that can fit in the palm of your hand but offers 4K video recording, a sophisticated autofocus system, and a large LCD screen with hands-free shutter-release functions.
5. After-Capture Focus Selection
A few years back, a highly innovative and advanced digital camera emerged on the market that offered the most interesting feature—it allowed you to adjust your focus after you’ve shot your picture. For photographers who are constantly struggling with capturing the right focus, this feature is highly useful.
Unfortunately, the camera, which was called Lytro, has since been discontinued. But its legacy remains intact thanks to Panasonic.
In 2015, Panasonic announced a new feature called “Post Focus” that they were incorporating in some of their digital cameras. Similar to the focusing feature in the Lytro camera, Post Focus allows users to adjust the focus point of an image even after they’ve pressed the shutter button. The way it works is similar to exposure bracketing. It shoots a burst of images with different parts of the image in focus, stacks them together, then allows you to choose which part of the image you want to be in focus simply by touching that particular part of the image on your camera’s LCD screen.
Panasonic continues to include this focus stacking feature in its latest advanced digital camera products, and many experts predict that other camera makers will soon follow suit.