« on: July 22, 2012, 06:21:13 PM »
With the rumored specifications for an entry-level full frame DSLR, coupled with the announcements of the past year, it seems to me that Canon's product road map for the near future is coming into focus.
My guess is that the rapid pace of advancements in DSLR technology during the first decade of this century made it difficult to plan new product releases with any consistency. As the market and technology matures, I think we will see a more consistent approach from both Canon and Nikon.
I'm more familiar with Canon, so I'll use their products, but I think the same will essentially apply to Nikon.
Entry-level DSLRs: Canon has consistently offered several choices in the Rebel line, from a very low cost budget model up to a fully tricked-out version. The aim was to make sure they leave no potential customers on the table due to budget constraints, while at the same time having sufficient models to allow retailers to up-sell customers. With the T4i, I don't see that changing. The only change is that the bar keeps getting raised.
Step-up/enthusiasts DSLRs: Canon and Nikon currently have only one model each in this category. For Canon it is the 60D. While many 40D users were surprised when Canon seemed to "downgrade" this model, it is quite clear from their sales that they knew what they were doing. It appears that this line will soon split in two. An APS-C version and a full-frame version. Aside from the sensor, expect that these two cameras will be essentially the same – composite body, flip-screen, touch-screen, same or similar autofocus, etc. Given the differences in sensor size, the APS-C version will have a faster frame rate, while the full-frame version will have better high ISO performance. I will be surprised if either one offers micro-focus adjustment. (I think Canon feels the hassle of dealing with customers who screw up their lens' focusing isn't worth the effort. I know people on this forum consider it an important feature, but this forum is not typical of the customer base.)
Professional/pro-sumer DSLRs: This category has been filled by the 7D and the 5D. The problem in the past though, was that the pace of change was so fast that in the year between the 5D and 7D releases, the technology and market changed enough that Canon ended up with a 5DII that lacked many of the features found in the 7D. Just as the 60D and the "entry-level" full frame will likely mirror each other, I expect the 7DII and the 5DIII to mirror each other in features as well, with the size of the sensor being the main differentiating factor. The 7D, with its APS-C sensor, will likely have a higher frame rate, while the 5DIII will have a one-to-two stop advantage in ISO performance. But, other than those differences, necessitated by the sensor sizes, expect the two to share almost all other features.
Finally, of course, both Nikon and Canon have their flagship DSLRs. We've seen their offerings there and I don't expect it to change.
The wild card, of course, is the rumored high resolution DSLR from Canon. If it materializes, I expect it to be the same body as the 5DIII, but with a slower frame rate and lower maximum ISO. I expect the pricing to be identical to the 5DIII. Buyers can pick their poison – the 5DIII with superior low-light performance or the 5D HD with up to 46mp resolution.
This all seems logical and consistent with both Canon's and Nikon's actions of the past year.