CP+ Shakeup: Few New Cameras Unveiled, Major Industry Move

Camera & Technology

March 19, 2024 ·

Dan Wells

CP + Wrapup:

Just when we thought we were exiting a quiet CP+ season, and when we were beginning to focus on a bunch of upcoming reviews, Nikon had to shock the world by buying RED.

CP+ wrapped up without any new camera announcements from big names like Canon or Nikon. Only two major new cameras were unveiled overall. One of them, the Sony A9 III, is an incredible technological feat but realistically, it’s not a camera for mainstream use outside of sports photography. The only truly mainstream camera to be released so far this year is Fujifilm’s X100 VI, and even that is only “sort of” mainstream – it’s a high-end, fixed lens compact.

There have been plenty of images of the X100VI on the Web lately, so how about its great-grandfather instead? Here’s a Fujica Compact 35 from 1966. There’s a family resemblance (image from Michael Gatchell on Camera-Wiki).

The X100 V was impossible to find for years, as it had become a TikTok favorite (oddly, it was always out of stock when first released, then became somewhat readily available, then disappeared from stock again as TikTokers started buying them in droves).

Fujifilm, preparing for massive demand, moved production of the X100 VI from Japan to their very large plant in China, where they can produce 15,000 X100 Vis per month. Even with the accelerated production schedule, it will be tricky for them to keep up.

Some sources state that there are as many as half a million preorders for the X100 VI in China alone, which would be three years of worldwide production – but some of those may be “lottery entries” for the chance to purchase one, and others may be multiple preorders by the same person (who only wants one camera but has ordered without deposit from multiple stores). Even given all that, I would be very surprised if Fujifilm doesn’t have several hundred thousand solid orders worldwide – the cameras built before launch plus the first year or so of production are probably already sold (although Fujifilm may figure out how to increase production).

To put this in perspective, annual sales of ALL digital compact cameras combined (except smartphones of course) are about 1.7 million units annually. Fujifilm looks like they can take 20% or more of the market (which stretches from $100 kids’ cameras to Leicas) with a single $1600 model – if they can make enough of them. 

The actual best-selling compact cameras in the world (and an excuse to use an Apple press image, after featuring Leica recently). A handsome pair of iPhones 15 Pro, one of them a Max. Any new flagship iPhone will sell more units on opening day than the most successful non-phone compact will sell in its lifetime. 

The other cameras we’ve seen so far this year include a Leica SL3, a Hasselblad and a $2000+ Micro 4/3 body from OM System. None are fully mainstream – a $7000 camera and a $8200 camera from legendary boutique makers sharing space with a $2200 camera with a very unusual balance of extreme speed and relatively low image quality.

The lens market has been equally short of mainstream introductions. Sony’s 24-50mm f2.8G is indisputably a mainstream lens, one that creates interesting tradeoffs against Sony’s own 20-70mm f4 G. The two lenses are almost the same price and weight – take your pick between an extra stop of light or meaningful extra range at both ends (for most people, the range is the right pick). The next most likely 2024 releases to interest many LuLa readers are an f1.4 fisheye and a 500mm telephoto! Every other 2024 lens release is either Micro 4/3 (including a Sigma telezoom that mysteriously doubled in price when it got OM System branding) or a minor-brand value lens.

It says something about a shortage of mainstream lens releases when this almost counts… The fascinating new Sigma 15mm f1.4 fisheye kitted out for astrophotography.

Nobody knows what the EOS-R1 will actually look like, but we know what job it will do. Canon made the F1 High Speed to do the same job at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

We’re still expecting some cameras and a bunch of lenses from most manufacturers. The most prominent “we’re waiting for them” cameras are a pair of higher-end Canons, which should satisfy speed-hungry users, but perhaps not those looking for ultimate image quality. The EOS-R1 remains in near-total radio silence, but if it is anything like what’s been expected, it will be somewhere in the 24-45 MP range, but extremely fast – possibly even SONY A9 III level fast.

The outlines of the successor to the EOS-R5 are becoming a little clearer, and they are looking a great deal like a Canon competitor to/version of a Nikon Z8, with the Sony A1 being close in concept as well. The EOS-R1 was always going to be a speed camera, but the R5 successor staying at 45 MP and primarily increasing speed could be a disappointment to landscape and architectural photographers. 

Neither Nikon nor Sony has been reliably reported to have a camera in the immediate pipeline. When we do see a Nikon, it is likely to be a replacement for the venerable Nikon Z6 II, possibly along with a replacement for the Nikon Z7 II. The Z6 II replacement will be an all-arounder, maybe a good deal like the Zf with different ergonomics, and maybe with some new REDdish video chops. The NIKON Z7 II replacement might bring a new and higher resolution sensor, but has been very hush-hush, and I haven’t read anything I would put much stock in about it. I haven’t heard anything AT ALL about a higher-end Nikon DX camera lately, although one is much needed… The next Sony will probably disappoint most of the LuLa readership – it’s probably a vlogger-focused (if not effectively vlogger-only) APS-C camera.

A Nikon Z6 II

And a RED Komodo-X. It is left as an exercise for the reader (and for Nikon) to combine the two into Nikon’s hybrid ambitions.

Fujifilm seems to have a couple of unreleased cameras for the first half of the year.  Judging from historical patterns, an X-Summit in late spring or early summer is a likely spot for whatever Fujifilm has up their sleeves. There are at least three or four Fujifilm cameras that could be introduced, and it looks like there may be two introduction “slots” at the X-Summit, so we’ll get some, but not all of these. One possibility is a GFX camera, maybe a replacement for the highly successful, three-year-old GFX 100S. The problem I see with that is that there is very little they could do to the GFX 100S (short of a new sensor) that doesn’t crowd the GFX 100 II. It might be a minor update with a fixed version of the high resolution Fuji GFX 100 II viewfinder and the latest X-processor, but without the GFX 100 II’s speed??? If they make it significantly faster or enhance the video capability, it gets very close to the 100 II. On the X series side, the X-Pro line could get the 40 MP sensor.

I’m a bit surprised that hasn’t already happened – it’s a contemplative, stills-centric camera that would be a good match. The other obvious possibility is a midrange (X-E series, X-S series or double-digit X-T series) camera or two with the 40 MP sensor. The X-T5 and X-H2 have been around long enough that Fujifilm may very well be willing to move the sensor down to a less expensive body.

We should see several interesting lenses, including most of the major players. Nikon “owes us” a fast, extremely high-quality 35mm prime, probably an f1.2 lens. It’s been on the roadmap for a while, and it could appear any day now. Sony, similarly, “owes us” an 85mm G-Master, either a new version of the f1.4 or an f1.2.

Fujifilm is likely to release several lenses in the relatively near future, including a replacement for the 18-55mm “super kit lens” for the X system and a 500mm f5.6 GFX lens that may be very compact. No, I haven’t forgotten Canon – I just don’t have a clear idea of their plans…

Nikon just bought RED Digital Cinema, catapulting their video ambitions to the front of the pack. Nikkor lenses were sought after in Hollywood for decades, and Nikon made a few (wink, wink) “SLR lenses” that were generally almost immediately remounted in cine mounts. The legendary 300mm f2.0 was such a lens – it came in an F-mount, but how many of the few examples produced were used in their original mount? They have never made serious cinema cameras. It is possible that we will see some RED technologies working their way into Nikon products as early as the Z6 III (if so, this deal would have to have been in the works for a while, and RED would have shared information with Nikon well before it closes). 

There aren’t very many images of Nikon’s early 1980s 300mm f2.0. Only around 450 were made, and many of them disappeared into Hollywood, where they still turn up from time to time.

All of Nikon, Canon, Sony and Panasonic now have major cinema camera divisions, while Sony and Panasonic are also very active in cameras for broadcast news and sports. Fujifilm makes high-end lenses for both broadcast and cinema use but is not active in cameras. Leica makes a few well-loved cine lens series but has never made anything close to a cine camera. OM System and Pentax stand somewhat alone among still camera companies in not sharing technologies between the still and movie worlds, while Arri, Blackmagic and a couple of others make only motion-oriented cameras.

They’re all cameras and lenses, no matter what you use them for – will it become increasingly necessary for successful manufacturers to serve both markets and share R&D costs?

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Dan Wells, "Shuttterbug" on the trail, is a landscape photographer, long-distance hiker and student in the Master of Divinity program at Harvard Divinity School. He lives in Cambridge, MA when not in wild places photographing and contemplating our connection to the natural world. Dan's images try to capture the spirit he finds in places where, in the worlds of the Wilderness Act of 1964, "Man himself is but a visitor". He has hiked 230 miles of Vermont's Long Trail and 450 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail with his cameras, as well as photographing in numerous National Parks, Seashores and Forests over the years - often in the offseason when few people think to be there. In the summer of 2020, Dan plans to hike a stretch of hundreds of miles on the Pacific Crest Trail, focusing on his own and others' spiritual connection to these special places, and making images that document these connections. Over years of personal work and teaching photography, Dan has used a variety of equipment (presently Nikon Z7 and Fujifilm APS-C). He is looking for the perfect combination of light weight, ruggedness and superb image quality.

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