What cameras we can have for 2014?

Cameras are evolving, so it’s an exciting time for photographers. We take a look at what 2014 may bring…

We’ve been talking about the rise of the compact system camera for a while now, but 2013 has been a pivotal year for the genre with more CSCs being announced than SLRs. We haven’t just seen cameras to entice new photographers towards interchangeable-lens models: there are also now more options for serious enthusiasts and pros who want to use a smaller, lighter camera.

The prevalence of camera phones has also been a hot topic of conversation over recent years. It is really biting into the camera market, especially at the lower end. This fierce competition is forcing manufacturers to rethink what they do. Some have responded by concentrating on cameras that ofer something that the cameras on phones generally don’t – extensive zoom ranges, waterproof construction, traditional controls, larger sensors and high-end features. Others have introduced cameras that are designed to complement a phone, ofering Wi-Fi connectivity for quick and easy image upload to the handset and subsequent sharing on social media.

It’s an interesting time for photographers of all levels, and our thoughts are naturally turning to what 2014 might hold. Here are five key trends to watch out for…

Smaller cameras

We saw a lot of downsizing towards the end of 2013. I think this trend is set to continue during 2014. The Panasonic GM1, for example, is a tiny Micro Four Thirds model that the company is pitching into the market among compacts, not making a big deal of the fact that it can accept interchangeable lenses. The most impressive feat of downsizing was seen with the introduction of the Sony Alpha 7 and 7R.


The mini Lumix GM1 is a Micro Four Thirds camera

These full-frame cameras are about the same size as the Olympus OM-D E-M1 – which achieves its size because it has a smaller sensor than the APS-C sized devices in most SLRs and some compact cameras. What’s more, this shrinkage doesn’t come at a hugely inflated cost, as their price tags sit comfortably around those for the Canon EOS 6D and Nikon D610.

New features

So far, only Canon has put a touchscreen on an SLR. We hope that Nikon will follow suit in 2014. It’s much quicker to make some setting changes and select your AF point via a tap of the screen than via button and dial controls. Touchscreen control and Wi-Fi connectivity are more prevalent in compact system cameras.

We anticipate seeing manufacturers spread this technology throughout their range in the coming year. I’d like to see more manufacturers develop iOS and Android apps that allow remote control over the camera – not just triggering the shutter, but enabling exposure adjustment, AF point selection and white balance changes, for example. It would be nice if a camera’s entire menu could be accessed via a smartphone. A phone’s screen also makes a good stand-in for a vari-angle screen on a camera.

We’ve been asking manufacturers for a smarter levelling system in cameras for a while, and we have high hopes that this might appear in 2014. Many cameras have the ability to detect when they’re not level and can display the level of correction required on-screen, but these indicators aren’t always easy to see and sometimes you have to shoot ‘in the moment’. I’d like the level information to be stored with the image EXIF data and to be given the option to correct wonky horizons automatically using this information when processing the file.

Light leaks and frames

Retro effects were big in 2013. This looks set to continue in 2014, so we can expect to see more square images, dark corners and grain efects. Olympus leads the way, with filter efects ofering an extensive array with the ability to customise with the addition of borders and alternative styles. Crucially for enthusiast photographers, Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras also allow raw files to be recorded whenever an Art Filter is applied to a JPEG shot, so there’s always a ‘clean’ file for post-processing. Some are predicting that flare efects will be big in 2014, so we can probably expect to see a new set of filter efects appearing in cameras.

Lovely lenses

Over the last couple of years or so, there have been lots of lens announcements and upgrades made to bring optics up to the standard of the cameras that they are used on. As pixel counts climb, lens resolving power needs to be improved. We’ve also started to see a renewed appreciation of prime lenses, especially those with large maximum apertures. They ofer the optimum in image quality (when closed down a stop or two) and complement the raft of retro-styled cameras nicely.

The death of the SLR

While there’s still some life left in the SLR, there’ll be fewer reasons to buy one, as electronic viewfinders (EVFs) continue to improve and CSC AF system performance carries on getting better. As photographers start to realise some of the benefits, such as the ability to see the impact of settings changes, EVFs will get greater acceptance. The AF system in most CSCs is already fast enough for most users in daylight conditions. It’s only in low light that they start to struggle, or when the subject moves quickly around the frame away from the active AF point.

However, it can’t be long before this particular nut is cracked. Canon and Nikon may lead the market with SLRs, but they don’t yet seem serious about compact system cameras. As enthusiasts and pros move towards CSCs, they will have to get more involved. Could 2014 be the year that we see high-end CSCs from these two manufacturers? It may not be in 2014, but we think SLRs will become like rangefinders are now: available, but serving a niche market.

Predictions for 2014!

  • Small cameras will be big in 2014
  • Self-levelling images
  • CSC AF will match SLR
  • More pros will switch to using a CSC
  • Nikon to put a touchscreen in an SLR
  • Canon to introduce a high-end CSC
  • Wi-Fi connectivity to become the norm
  • Better remote control apps
  • Widespread in-camera frame, light-leak and flare effects
  • Small CSCs increasingly used instead of compact cameras