11. A Mirrorless Canon camera with an AF point Joystick
Canon was very quick to see the potential of touch control. And in most cases, it has also recognised that many photographers want touch control combined with physical controls. However, it’s yet to give one of its mirrorless cameras a joystick for setting the autofocus point.
Even the full-frame EOS R, which is aimed at enthusiast photographers, doesn’t have one. To be fair the ‘Touch & drag’ option that allows you to set the AF point using the screen while you look in the viewfinder works well. But there are times when it’s faster, easier or more convenient to use a dedicated control.
Elsewhere we’ve seen manufacturers adding this functionality, but so far Canon has resisted. Maybe we’ll get lucky this Christmas?
10. Dials with Selective Locks
It must seem like photographers are impossible to please sometimes. If a camera dial doesn’t have a lock we complain that it gets knocked out of position. If it has a lock, we complain that it’s too fiddly to use.
Some manufacturers including Fujifilm, Olympus and Panasonic, however, have a neat solution. Selective locks on their top-end cameras. You can chose whether to lock the dial or not. They’re great because you can leave the dial unlocked while you’re shooting and lock it when you put the camera in your bag. Or you can leave them always unlocked or locked – whatever you prefer.
However, with the exception of Fujifilm, these selective locks tend to be limited to the mode dial. Even Fujifilm only uses them on the shutter speed and sensitivity dial. It means that the exposure compensation dial is unlocked.
So please Santa, can selective locks to be used more widely? I’m fed-up of fiddling with locked dials when I want to make quick settings change. And even worse, I hate shooting with the wrong settings because an unlocked dial has moved while I was carrying the camera between shots.
9. Animal Eye AF Firmware Update
Eye Autofocus, or Eye AF, has been around for a little while. But since Sony has enabled it in continuous focusing mode it’s become a very desirable feature. It’s enquired after as soon as a new camera is announced.
The ability to identify one of the subject’s eyes and to focus on it in a flash is incredibly useful to wedding, portrait and social photographers.
What’s more the eye stays sharp even if the subject moves towards or away from the camera. It means you can be braver with the aperture selection and shoot with shallow depth of field if you want because the most important part of the subject is sharp.
It’s part of what has made the Sony A9, A7 III and A7R III popular cameras with these types of photographers.
At Photokina, Sony said that Animal Eye AF is coming soon. There was no more information than that. We don’t know if it will be in a new camera or if it will be a firmware upgrade.
Naturally, we’re really hoping that it will be a firmware upgrade. It’s a reasonable expectation as when I interviewed Yosuke Aoki, Vice President and Head of Digital Imaging Group, after the Sony A9 launch, he indicated that more functionality would come through firmware upgrades. It’s a strategy that has worked well for Fujifilm, winning the company more loyal users.
- Read more: Sony: Animal Eye AF coming soon
- Read more: Sony Interview: Sony A9 firmware upgrade could bring more touch-control
Why do we want it?
You may have noticed that we’re dog fans here at Camera Jabber. We can’t resist photographing our dogs. They make willing subjects and don’t seem to get bored of romping about. So Animal Eye AF would be a big bonus for us and legions of dog lovers.
Wildlife photographers and videographers will also appreciate it enormously. It would get the focus right where it needs to be.
Now that Canon and Nikon are in the full-frame mirrorless market, and Panasonic will soon be joining, Sony probably feels the need to raise its game a bit further. What better way than to offer a firmware upgrade to existing cameras? Or maybe someone will beat them to it?
Either way, what a Christmas present it would make!
8. App-controlled lighting for Live View Adjustments
App-control of studio lights isn’t new. Broncolor has had it for a while and Profoto recently introduced it with its new B10 lights. But what I’d like is something a bit more advanced.
Imagine if you could take a shot, ping the image to your phone and then adjust the lighting by moving your finger on the image? Even better, how about being able to do it in live view mode?
It’s something I suggested to Anders Hedebark, the CEO of Profoto a while ago and he looked at me like I was mad. But the way technology is developing, I think it could be possible.
OK, so getting it by Christmas might be a bit of a stretch. But how cool would it be to be able to tap on part of the scene and drag your finger down to reduce the power of the nearest light? And then you could tap and drag on another part to adjust the brightness of another light. It would be like using Adobe’s Targeted adjustment tool but in real time and before you even press the shutter release.
7. In-camera angle recording
Maybe it’s because I shoot with my left eye, but I’ve never been very good at getting horizons level in my shots. That’s why I always turn on the electronic level as soon as I’m handed a new camera.
If you’re shooting with the viewfinder, the electronic level is a major bonus. You can see straight away whether everything is aligned or not. However, if you’re using the screen to compose the image, it can be trickier. In bright light, for example, it’s hard to see the line at all. On other occasions, it’s hard to see if the line has changed colour or is level – especially if the screen won’t tilt towards you.
However, it struck me a while ago that if the camera can tell whether it’s level, it could also record the angle at which the shot was taken. And if that information is recorded with the image, then surely it wouldn’t be too much of a drama for the image to be levelled post-capture. This could be done in-camera or using software like Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom or Camera Raw.
Of course, these software packages have levelling tools, but they rely on there being something straight in the scene. And although the automatic tools can work quite well, they don’t always get it right.
So I’d really love it if we could have in-camera angle recording in time for Christmas please!
6. A mirrorless Nikon camera with Two card slots
I’ve shot extensively with the Nikon Z 6 and Z 7 and they’re really fabulous cameras. Their control layout is excellent and they feel great in your hand. Crucially, the images they produce are also fantastic – whether you shoot with one of the new Z lenses or an F-mount optic.
I think the 24Mp Z 6 is exactly what a lot of Nikon photographers have been hoping for. It’s the all-rounder of the two and it’s a great choice for enthusiasts.
Meanwhile, the 45Mp Z 7 is like a mirrorless version of the D850 and is aimed at pro or semi-pro photographers. It’s superb. Its AF system isn’t quite as snappy as the Z 6’s, but it’s fast enough to shoot sport and it captures lots of detail.
Either camera would make a good choice for shooting weddings. But there’s one aspect that makes some people anxious, they each only have one memory card slot.
For many photographers, including many pros, a single card slot isn’t much of an issue. I shoot with one card 99% of the time and I’ve never lost any images through card failure. But for wedding photographers, the stakes are a bit higher.
I asked a few wedding pros if they’d ever had an SD card fail on them at a wedding and a couple said they had once. It’s not a frequent occurrence, but it is a very stressful one.
Nikon has plumped for XQD media in the Z-series, and that is more robust and reliable than SD media, but many wedding pros have got used to the safety net of a second card. Splitting raw files on to one card and Jpegs onto another means that if one card fails, they still have all their images.
The decision to keep the Z camera size down and use just one card port is something that’s likely to be debated for some time to come. In a couple of years, we may look back and wonder what all the fuss was about. However, it’s a real shame that there’s a doubt at the back of some people’s minds about the new Nikon Z-series.
Neither the Z 6 nor the Z 7 is designed to replace the Nikon D5, the company’s flagship DSLR. When a mirrorless replacement comes out I think it’s a fairly safe bet that it will have two card ports. But I can’t help wishing that Nikon would quash the issue and introduce a mirrorless camera with two card ports now.
5. A mirrorless camera from Pentax
The mirrorless camera market has been building for a while but the arrival of the full-frame Canon EOS R and Nikon Z 6 and Z 7 will take it up a notch. Many photographers have been waiting for the two biggest names in camera manufacturing to commit properly to mirrorless technology before investing.
So it looks like 2019 could be a big year for mirrorless cameras. But where does that leave Pentax? It dabbled in mirrorless cameras a few years back. There was the cute, but unpopular, Q and the unwieldy K-01. Since then, it’s been very quiet on the subject.
And it hasn’t exactly been bombarding us with new DSLRs either.
In fact, much of the recent conversation about Pentax seems to centre around whether it will stay in business. It would be a real shame to lose Pentax. Many photographers started their photography with a Pentax camera and many still have a selection of lenses.
Also, Pentax has introduced some great technology over the years. Its DSLRs tend to be rugged and durable for instance, and the SR (Shake Reduction) system has evolved to enable horizon correction and composition improvement.
It would be lovely if Pentax could introduce a mirrorless camera that saw it right back in the game. To be honest, I think it’s unlikely, but I’m prepared to believe in a Christmas miracle.
4. A Lens Cap that Stays on
A traditional lens cap is a simple and easy to use device but most camera manufacturers seem to struggle to produce caps that stay on. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard the clatter of a lens cap behind as I’ve been out with my camera. And it seems nigh impossible for a lens cap to stay on when a camera and/or lens is in a bag.
There are a few soft caps available these days that are designed to protect your lenses a bit more, but I wish the ones that are supplied with lenses did their job a bit better. Maybe Santa can get his elves working on it in time for Christmas?
3. Instant Wireless Image Transfer
A few manufacturers now have cameras with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity built-in to enable a permanent low-energy connection to a phone ready to transfer images automatically. However, none of them works flawlessly.
Of all those I’ve used to date, Nikon’s SnapBridge system in the Z6 and Z 7 is the best. However, even that doesn’t reconnect and operate automatically after the paired camera and phone have been out of range of each other. I find it can usually be triggered to reconnect and transfer by opening the app and tapping on the phone and camera icons, but it’s frustrating that it’s necessary.
I have an Apple Watch that manages to reconnect to my iPhone without me having to do anything and I wish camera manufacturers could manage to do something similar with a camera and phone connection.
Why Auto Transfer Images?
I love the ease with which I can share my shots on social media when small versions of images shot on a camera transfer automatically to my phone. I can even give them a tweak with Snapseed or Instagram on my phone before sharing them if I like.
That automatic connection is far easier than faffing about firing up the camera’s Wi-Fi network and connecting my phone each time I want to transfer an image. Without it I sometimes find myself shooting a scene twice, once on a camera and the second time on my phone to share. That’s crazy!
So please, can I have a stable camera to phone wireless connection and instant automatic image transfer for Christmas?
2. GoPro audio connection update for Karma Grip
GoPro may have introduced the Hero7 Black with its amazing HyperSmooth stabilisation, but I’m still hoping that the company will update the Karma Grip to enable an audio connection. Of course, it might choose to do this with a hardware update, but what I’d really like is a firmware update that enables the USB port in the existing Karma Grip to be used to connect a mic.
We’re big GoPro fans here at Jabber HQ, and we all have a Karma Grip. It might be largely unnecessary with the Hero7 Black, but it’s a really useful accessory for the Hero6 Black. As well as stabilising the footage very effectively, it’s comfortable to hold and has controls to stop and start recording.
That’s really useful. Instead of having to reach round to press the record button on the camera, you can use the control on the Grip.
GoPro makes a mic adapter for its cameras, but they connect to the same ports as the Karma Grip. That means you’re left with just the onboard mics. They’re not great at the best of times and when the Hero6 is mounted in the Karma Grip, it’s worse.
However, the base of the Grip has a USB-C port. It’s used for charging the Grip, but surely it could also be used to connect a mic via an adapter? Maybe there are some vital connections are missing, which would mean that GoPro would have to bring out the Karma Grip 2.
Either way, it would be a neat solution to the GoPro audio issue. The Hero cameras are designed for action with etc Karma Grip smoothing out wobbles and shake. It’s not ideal to have mic cables trailing from the camera, but the base of the Grip would be a convenient location.
So I’m adding a GoPro audio connection update for Karma Grip to my Christmas wish list.
1. A Sony A7 camera with a vari-angle screen
If I had to pick one stand-out camera of 2018 it would be the Sony A7 III. It’s a superb camera at a great price. In fact, its price has really put the cat among the pigeons because it’s a tough one for the manufacturers to match.
Its 24Mp full-frame sensor packs a nice balance between detail and file size, plus noise is kept under good control. It also has an excellent autofocus system that gets fast-moving subjects sharp, Eye AF that works incredibly well in continuous focus mode and there’s a generous array of video features.
However, if there’s one feature I wish it had, it’s a vari-angle screen.
A tilting screen is great for low-level images until you want to shoot landscape format images. Then suddenly it’s no use at all. It really frustrates me. Of course you can connect your phone to the Wi-Fi system and use that as a remote screen, but it’s not so easy to do when you’re shooting handheld.
A vari-angle screen is also useful for selfies and self-portraits (i think there’s a difference). You just flip the screen out and round to face the front and you can see the composition. You can even tap on the screen to makes sure that the focus is in the right spot and then set the self-timer running.
It’s also handy for video if you want to vlog or present to camera. The alternative is to connect your phone or use an external monitor. It’s all feasible, just not as useful as a variable screen.
So that’s why, all I want for Christmas is a Sony A7 camera with a vari-angle screen.