As it often happens in any market, the dominant manufacturers have settled into a certain routine in terms of new product launches - one that almost inevitably is slower than the up-and-comers in the same market space.
I think that the big battle is and will be in the "everyman camera" space. Compact, portable, feature-laden pocket shooters with very large LCDs.
Going out in Vancouver yesterday - the first bright sunlit day in months - I noticed that cameras were everywhere. I saw perhaps 3 other DSLRs wielded by mature folk and a gazillion various small compact digitals.
As I struggle with this month's assignment (kudos to Drazen again for making it a challenging topic) I was in the vicinity of many obvious and eminently shoot-able "landmarks" and cultural "features". It was virtually overrun with groups of young people, each wielding some compact digital.
The DSLR market may well - if it haven't already - fill the same role as race cars do for car manufacturers. This is not where the money is made, but where the tech for tomorrow's "every man camera" is being field tested.
The only real innovation in my sphere of interest is how the Nikon D3 is able to handle noise at very high ISO (6400). Other than that I don't see much true innovation.
- Articulated LCDs have been around for a while - but now they are being put onto cameras as well. OK..I'm happy for those who needs it, but I seriously wonder how durable they are.
- Live View - the DSLRs are just trying to catch up with a feature that has been on the compacts for years. I personally have no need or desire for that feature as it cannot reveal the subtleties that my eyes can see through the viewfinder.
- Going from 10 to 12 MP doesn't count as innovation in my opinion.
- "Automated" dust removal. Hmm..I have yet to be convinced that this is a key feature for any camera and it might encourage people to think they can swap lenses in all sorts of environments - because they have the dut removal. If I can't remove it with a blower, I'm taking mine down for cleaning by professionals.
When Pentax, Samsung or Sony have a large selection of high-quality lenses that are as good or better than Canon's & Nikon's, I might take more of an interest - but right now I don't consider them full-fledged alternatives to the Canon or Nikon systems as a whole.
As a Nikon user, the new 16-85mm VR is an interesting addition in and of itself - could be a perfect urban walk around lens for me - but it's priced almost similarly to the 18-200 VR. Less distortion and apparently no lens creep - but really, nothing to select one over the other for, given the 18-200mm VR's excellent performance. I could see if the 16-85mm becomes a kit-lens in the near-future and in a bundled form at a competitive price-point.
I think this PMA is revealing of both clear and unclear strategies. The newcomers clearly wanting to push more out there to grab some attention - loaded with fancy features, perhaps too fancy.
On the other hand we have Canon and Nikon who may not have a full-fledged strategy in place to answer this push - or they have one, but choose to see how the market reacts to all the new stuff, before launching it.
..I see this as the silence before the storm