Resolutions revisited – what we hoped for, what we got
About this time last year we sat down as a team to write some new year’s resolutions. But not for us – where’s the fun in that? No, we wanted to help our favorite camera and lens manufacturers out, by writing some for them.
Wishful thinking? Sure. Reasonable? Not at all. Borderline condescending, from a group of keyboard warriors who would struggle to complete a moderately complex jigsaw puzzle, let alone make a digital camera? Absolutely.
We didn’t get everything we wanted in 2019, but some of our resolutions / wishes / predictions (just go with us on this one, and don’t think about it too hard) did come true.
Feel free to play along at home via the comments.
Our 2019 resolutions for Canon:
- Add IBIS to the RF lineup and update your sensors (or buy Sony’s).
- Make the RF mount an open standard.
- Reclaim your ILC video crown – no more cropped 4K!
- Dump the M-Fn bar…
- Make the 5D Mark V a true digital EOS 3.
- Think different – embrace computational photography.
How things panned out: 2.5/6
Our resolutions for Canon in 2019 were ambitious, and probably for the most part unrealistic. What can I say? We’re big picture people.
The RF mount isn’t going to be opened up any time soon (why cede those lens sales to third parties when you don’t have to?), the EOS 5D Mark IV wasn’t really due for an upgrade, and while we know that IBIS is coming to the EOS R lineup, it didn’t happen in 2019.
But Canon did develop a very nice new sensor, in the form of the 32MP APS-C sensor used in the EOS 90D and EOS M6 Mark II. Not only does it offer excellent resolution and good dynamic range, it also works with an updated processor to allow for un-cropped 4K video. There are rumors starting to float around of an upscaled version of this sensor coming in the RF line possibly next year, so we’ll see. Canon also (sort of) dumped the M-Fn bar, omitting it from the EOS RP.
It remains to be seen whether the controversial control will be re-introduced in a future R-series model but we won’t be sad if it isn’t. We’re not against the concept of a touch-sensitive control of this kind, we just want one that works.
Our 2019 resolutions for Fujifilm:
- Make a full-frame X100 / monochrome X100 / 28mm-equiv X100.
- Continue improving your face and eye-detection autofocus.
- Make a proper X70 successor.
- Refresh your F1.4 primes.
- Don’t try to palm us off with 15fps ‘4K video’ ever again. For shame.
How things panned out: 2/5
Well, we didn’t see that full-frame X100-series in the end, but honestly that was probably a stretch. Fujifilm was pretty focused on its medium-format GFX range in 2019, but the company did release the unique X-Pro 3 (we didn’t see that one coming!) and update its entry-level X-A7 lineup. We were very pleased to see that the X-A7 finally offers proper 4K video. No more 15fps!
Fujifilm has also continued to work on its autofocus. A major firmware update was released for the X-T3 in spring, specifically aimed at improving face and eye-detection AF performance. Fujifilm has also improved the implementation of Face/Eye AF in the X-Pro 3, which presumably will filter down into future models.
Our 2019 resolutions for Leica:
- Stop with the special editions already!
- Make a Q2 – maybe even with a 35mm lens…
- Make an M-mount camera with an EVF.
- Improve service / repair times.
How things panned out: 1.5/4
Asking Leica to stop making special editions is like asking a Kuh not to muh. This year saw the launch of the ‘Safari’ edition M10-P, the Lenny Kravitz ‘Drifter’ edition M Monochrom (with snakeskin finish, no less) three limited edition versions of M-mount lenses, and no fewer than three special edition CLs: ‘Bauhaus’, ‘Urban Jungle’ and ‘Edition Paul Smith’.
Ouch. It’s almost as if Leica wanted to put us in our place.
Meanwhile, although we’re still waiting for an M11 with an EVF, Leica did release the Q2, which comes with some really welcome upgrades compared to the original Q. Ditto the SL. The company also claims to be continuing to invest in improving service times, which, because we’re feeling generous, we’ll say earns them a 0.5.
Our 2019 resolutions for Nikon:
- Keep developing that Z-series lens roadmap.
- Bring 3D AF Tracking to the Z-series.
- Make an FTZ adapter with a built-in AF motor.
- Make the Z mount an open standard.
How things panned out: 1/4
We didn’t do a great job of anticipating Nikon’s moves in 2019, but nobody said that new years’ resolutions were easy, especially when you’re making them for other people. Nikon didn’t add a version of 3D AF tracking to the Z-series this year, but it did introduce a new camera, in the form of the APS-C Z50. Pending some final testing, we’ve been pretty impressed by its performance so far, but it basically has the same autofocus behavior as the Z6 and Z7.
The only one of our resolutions on behalf of Nikon which ended up becoming reality was perhaps the most obvious one – continued development of the Z-mount lens lineup.
We’ve really been impressed by the Z-series lenses so far, and 2019 saw the release of the standout Z 24-70mm F2.8 S and Z 85mm F1.8 S, with more still to come on the roadmap.
Our 2019 resolutions for Olympus:
- Start making small cameras again.
- Update the OM-D E-M5 II.
- Simplify your cameras’ menu systems, please!
- Add PDAF to your lower-end PEN and OM-D cameras.
- Add a large sensor to the TOUGH range.
How things panned out: 3/5
Olympus didn’t release a whole lot of products this year, but the OM-D E-M5 lineup did see a refresh in the form of the very powerful E-M5 Mark III. Despite being packed with powerful features (many of which were inherited from the E-M1 Mark II) it is even smaller than its predecessor, and features on-sensor phase-detection autofocus.
Sadly it still features a dense and complicated UI / menu, but 3/5 ain’t bad.
Our 2019 resolutions for Panasonic:
- Ditch field-sequential EVFs.
- Either fix DFD for video, or use PDAF instead.
- Make a full-frame 4K video camera.
How things panned out: 2/3
With so many announcements in late 2018, it was hard to make too many specific resolutions for Panasonic in 2019, but the company did check off two items from our wishlist: An (apparent) move away from field-sequential and towards OLED electronic finders, and a full-frame 4K video camera, in the shape of the Lumix DC-S1H.
The S1H is an interesting product, coming so quickly after the launch of the S1R and the more video-oriented S1 – itself a hugely capable camera for shooting video, especially with Panasonic’s paid DMW-SFU2 update. The S1H can shoot perfectly good still images from its 24MP sensor, but it’s really a video-first product, and the first ‘consumer’ camera to be certified by Netflix for broadcast-quality recording. Impressive stuff.
Ricoh / Pentax
Our 2019 resolutions for Ricoh / Pentax:
- Make a true successor to the K-1.
- Give your fans a proper mirrorless camera.
- Make a full-frame GR to compete with the Leica Q and Sony RX1R II.
How things panned out: 0/3
It was a very quiet year for Ricoh in the end, with the GR III the only significant new Pentax-branded product released in 2019 (actually late 2018, but it became available this year).
There were some signs of life though – Ricoh did unveil a new wide zoom for APS-C – the HD Pentax-DA 10-17mm F3.5-4.5 ED fisheye. This year also saw a small refresh of the HD Pentax-FA 35mm F2 AL, with new coatings and a redesigned aperture diaphragm. Will we ever see a K-1 III, or a reimagined Pentax-branded mirrorless ILC? Nothing is impossible but we get the sense that 2020 will be a make or break year for the Pentax brand.
Our 2019 resolutions for Sigma:
- Create a range of compact F2 lenses.
- Try again with the 24-70mm F2.8 Art.
- Develop some native Sony FE lenses.
- Reverse-engineer the Canon RF and Nikon Z mounts
- Create a range of full-frame Merrill compacts.
How things panned out: 3.5 / 5
Well, either we got unusually good at guessing, or Sigma listened to us (I’ll leave you to figure out which is more likely) because of our five resolutions for Sigma in 2019, three of them became reality. This year we saw the porting of Sigma’s popular DC DN range of fast prime lenses to Canon’s EF-M mount (hey, they’re F2.2 equivalent), the release of the distinctive and very compact (albeit not for everybody) 45mm F2.8 for E and L-mount, and the launch of two high-performance ‘DN’ zoom lenses, also for E and L – one of which sort of counts as a second try at the older 24-70mm F2.8 Art.
The only one of our resolutions which definitely didn’t come to pass is reverse-engineering the Nikon Z and Canon RF mounts, which to be fair may be a decision out of Sigma’s hands. Meanwhile the full-frame fp earns a 0.5 for being pretty close (in spirit) to a full-frame Merrill, while offering so much more, especially to videographers.
Our 2019 resolutions for Sony:
- Release a Cyber-shot RX1R III.
- Create some new APS-C lenses.
- Make your video and stills AF experience consistent.
- Release an FE 35mm F1.8. Your non-pro and pro customers will thank you.
- Focus on user experience.
How things panned out: 4/5
Another very good showing for the resolutions crew in the end, but Sony has been releasing so much new technology every year that we felt pretty optimistic about this one.
2019 saw the release of some really welcome E-mount APS-C lenses, including the excellent (albeit pricey) E 16-55mm F2.8. And we finally got that FE 35mm F1.8! Meanwhile the company did make efforts to improve the UX of its latest cameras, particularly in the a7R IV, which also offers a more consistent stills / video autofocus and user experience,
It’s a shame about the RX1R III, though. Maybe in 2020.
Our 2019 resolutions for Tamron:
- Continue developing full-frame E-mount lenses.
- Reverse-engineer the Canon RF and Nikon Z mounts as soon as possible.
- Resist the temptation to create large, heavy F1.4 glass.
How things panned out: 2/3
Again, the decision whether (or when) to reverse-engineer the Nikon Z and Canon RF mounts is probably down to Canon and Nikon, so we’ll let Tamron off the hook for that one. Ultimately, while the physical dimensions of the mounts themselves can be copied, the protocols governing data transfer between camera and lens are protected by IP, and licensing will happen on Canon and Nikon’s respective schedule (if it happens at all).
As for the other two resolutions, we’re pleased to see that Tamron did indeed continue to develop new native E-mount glass, in the form of the 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VXD and 17-28mm F2.8 Di III RXD. Meanwhile, the company announced three lightweight (I’ll get in terrible trouble in the comments section again if I suggest they’re ‘compact’) F2.8 primes. But alongside these small (ish) lenses, Tamron also sneaked in one of the highest-performance 35mm F1.4s we’ve ever used, in the form of the SP 35mm F1.4 Di USD.
We’ll forgive it.
Looking ahead to 2020
So there you have it – not all of our 2019 resolutions became reality, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned in 2019 it’s that we don’t always get what we want. Another thing we’ve learned is that lexicologically speaking, things get really complicated when you start trying to make resolutions, which are really requests, but also kind of predictions, on behalf of third-parties.
Lesson leaned. So what does 2020 have in store? As always, the future is hard to predict, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try. Here are some resolutions predictions from the DPReview team – feel free to add your own in the comments.
- ‘Professional’ mirrorless ILC from Canon and / or Nikon.
- At least one more serious DSLR from either / both of the above (in addition to the EOS-1D X Mark III and D6).
- Computational imaging approaches will continue to make their way into dedicated cameras across the board.
- More affordable full-frame L-mount ILC from Panasonic (and maybe an APS-C body?).
- New X100-series or similar compact from Fujifilm (possibly with a medium format sensor?).
- More lenses, and a sub-$1000 full-frame E-mount camera from Sony.