Now in its third year, PetaPixel has gathered its team together to guess the things they just know are going to take place over the next calendar year. All of us are, as usual, ready to be very, very wrong.
As we explain every year, thanks to our constant inundation with technology, imaging, and art news, we at PetaPixel get to talk about some of the coolest tech and most interesting trends all the time and can’t help but speculate on what is going to happen next. And while we are probably too informed on the topic given that we are steeped in it on a daily basis, that probably doesn’t mean we’ll be right by much more than they would be (like how being knowledgeable about football doesn’t mean you’re going to draft a great fantasy team), but it’s still a blast to discuss.
Checking Our Work
But before we get into this year’s predictions, let’s see how accurate we were last year. As is tradition, what’s the point of making predictions if we aren’t held accountable for them?
Prediction: The EOS R1 isn’t coming in 2023.
Result: Correct. I don’t see an R1, do you?
Prediction: Canon, Nikon, Sony, or OM-Digital will make a camera equipped with AI-based computational power akin to what is seen in smartphones.
Result: Maybe true, but only technically. Sony did finally add some features to its a9 III that feasibly could be argued as such, but it was not to the degree that we were hoping for.
As this week’s podcast guest Gordon Laing notes in his video above, Sony didn’t really go into a lot of detail on what exactly the a9 III will do on the computational front, but it is clear that it can. It seems that it will be able to deliver reduced noise by compositing RAW images, and Sony said it will work better than before at dealing with motion. Sony explained to us that it will be able to just ignore areas that moved and stack areas that didn’t.
Prediction: The Sony Alpha 9 III is coming this year, not a successor to the Alpha 1.
Result: Bang-on! While the a9 III isn’t technically available for sale yet, Sony did prove it exists and it is definitely not an Alpha 1 successor.
Prediction: Another major firmware update will make the Nikon Z9 feel new, but there won’t be a wholly new camera to succeed it.
Result: Correct, although we sold Nikon short: we actually got two updates in 2023. The first came in June and added the ability to use it like an intelligent camera trap. Another came in October that was smaller but added the much-requested bird detection autofocus.
Prediction: The Type 1 sensor will become commonplace in smartphones, even with established manufacturers.
Result: Wrong. We wish we were right, we really do. There wasn’t much movement on the Type 1 side at all in 2023 actually, which is a big disappointment.
Prediction: A major camera maker will finally partner with smartphones in some way.
Result: Wrong. This one really came as a surprise since there were many indications to expect it, but it did not happen.
Prediction: Canon and Nikon will try for a piece of that vlogger pie.
Result: Half true. Nikon stayed its hand and focused on the high-end, but Canon didn’t and released the PowerShot V10 that was made specifically for vlogging. Canon also made a totally separate SKU for its R50 called the “Content Creator Kit” that clearly prioritizes vlogging.
Prediction: Apple’s VR/AR headset will let you edit photos and videos in a virtual environment.
Result: Correct. Wow, we were right on the money with this one. While the Apple Vision Pro has not been officially released (and some don’t even think it’s a finished product yet), Apple did show the ability to work in a wholly virtual environment — and that includes editing photos.
Prediction: Leica will add phase detection autofocus to its SL-series mirrorless cameras.
Result: Wrong. We really don’t know what happened here because Panasonic went hard with phase detection in 2023 and Leica, which works closely with Panasonic, did not do anything with its SL line other than release a couple of lenses. Instead, it focused on its rangefinders.
Prediction: Ricoh will make major changes to how it manages cameras, which includes Pentax.
Result: No, at least not that we could see. Given how Ricoh was poised for a major internal overhaul, either that never happened or it was done quietly, because we haven’t seen anything to suggest Pentax is operating differently than it did in 2022.
Bold Predictions for 2024
That’s an excellent showing from our astute team, with more than 50% accuracy on predictions for 2023. But can they repeat in 2024? Some of these predictions are even bolder than last year…
1) The R1 will be announced in 2024 and will feature a global shutter
If you listen to the podcast this week, you’ll hear that the team isn’t wholly on board with this one. On one side, there is 100% consensus that Canon will release the long-awaited R1 in 2024, but what kind of sensor it will have is still hotly debated. Most of the team believes that it will feature a global shutter sensor given that there are indications Canon has been working on this camera for some time before it hit a bottleneck — many on the team believe it wasn’t the sensor that was the issue, but processing.
Another portion of the team thinks that the R1 won’t have a global shutter, but just a very good stacked sensor.
2) Panasonic will kill the S1 and S1R line
After the runaway success of the S5 II and S5 IIX, Panasonic will focus its efforts on three cameras in its S-series. Even though the S1 and S1R have been languishing without updates for years now, Panasonic will instead give us a new S1H, continue to focus on the S5 series, and then release a new flagship full-frame photography camera, but it won’t carry the “1” in its name. Oh, and expect phase detection as a standard going forward.
3) Sony’s a9 III will get a firmware update to allow CFe 4.0, unlock 240 FPS
We weren’t happy to see a new, high-end, data hungry camera from Sony in the a9 III and not see it accompanied by the latest in memory card technology. But after thinking about it, we actually believe Sony put the hardware required to support CFexpress 4.0 in the a9 III and before the Olympics next year, the company will release a CFexpress 4.0 Type A card, a firmware update to the camera that supports it, and then as an added bonus, all that throughput will allow Sony to up the maximum photo burst from 120 FPS to a whopping 240 FPS.
4) Sony will usher in the return of the premium, all in one compact
Even though some of us have given up hope that Sony will ever give us a successor to the RX1 series, some of us truly believe that after looking at the state of the market, Sony will in fact usher in the return of the premium, all-in-one compact camera. Whether that be the RX1 series, the RX100 series, or something totally new, 2024 will see something from Sony that will try and grab a piece of that popular compact camera pie.
5) Canon and Nikon will add C2PA via firmware before the 2024 Olympics
Maybe it’s not that bold of a prediction, but with Sony and Leica already on board, it makes sense that Canon and Nikon will release firmware updates that bring content authenticity to their mainline cameras. Nikon will add it to the Z8 and Z9 while Canon will add it to the R3 and R5. Oh, and Canon’s R1 will have it baked in right from the get-go.
6) Canon won’t release another “high resolution” camera, perhaps ever
While we are fairly confident the R1 is coming in 2024, we are less confident it will feature what most photographers would call “high resolution.” We don’t expect it to exceed the 30-megapixel range, actually, and on that note we really would be surprised if we ever saw Canon play in the “high resolution” sandbox ever again. It’s more likely that the company focuses on performance at lower resolutions, because let’s be real: it hasn’t had great success when trying to go relatively higher (the 5DSR was not good).
At 45 megapixels, the current high-resolution EOS R camera, the EOS R5, doesn’t quite match the high-resolution full-frame efforts from Sony.
7) Pentax won’t release the promised 35mm film camera
Pentax is taking its sweet time with that promised 35mm film camera and we aren’t feeling confident we’ll see it in 2024. But that said…
Bonus: But Pentax will release a vintage-inspired DSLR
This fruit is hanging too low to ignore. Even if it’s just a reskin of the K3 III or the K1 II, Pentax will tap into the nostalgia and give us a vintage-inspired DSLR. And you know what? That sounds great.
8) Sigma’s full-frame Foveon sensor is coming in 2024, or not at all
Sigma’s full-frame Foveon sensor has been a topic of discussion in every edition of the Bold Predictions we’ve ever written. This time, we think it’s finally going to show up. Sigma already had to start from scratch with this sensor twice and has likely sunk way too much money into the endeavor to spend any more time on it. At this point, Sigma’s CEO might be willing to accept being haunted by his dad rather than lose more money.
9) Sony and Canon will continue to release vlogging cameras despite DJI clearly having won
DJI’s Osmo Pocket 3 is a very, very good vlogging camera. It’s so good, in fact, that none of the “main” camera companies have come close, likely because they lack the expertise in gimbal design. That won’t matter though, because despite the fact that DJI has all but sewn up this end of the market, Sony and Canon will both keep releasing new vlogging cameras. Will anyone buy them?
10) DJI will release a handheld large-sensor camera
On that note, DJI will up its game and release a camera like the Osmo 3 but with a larger sensor and the ability to swap lenses. Such a design wouldn’t even require DJI to do much research and development. It already has a compact gimbal system for an interchangeable lens camera in the Ronin 4D and the company joined the L-mount alliance this year. Expect this to look something like a one-handed Ronin gimbal with an APS-C or full-frame sensor sitting on top. Oh, we bet it will also allow you to swap that camera module out and will use the same locking mechanism found on its Inspire drones.
Image credits: Elements of header photo licensed via Depositphotos.