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Today we are going to look forward to the year ahead with some speculation, rumor and guesswork. But before we get ahead of ourselves lets take a very brief look at the last year. It was an interesting year for photography, the compact digital camera continued its long lingering death at the hands of smartphones, the seemingly unstoppable rise of the DSLR stopped and actually went into reverse and mirrorless cameras began to make a serious impact on the photography world. So what of 2014?
Cameras: Times are getting tough for the traditional manufacturers, yet whilst they will continue to bring out new DSLRs, they are more likely to be refreshes of existing models. Nikon are believed to be updating the D4, possibly to the D4s or x, with an announcement expected as I write, the much rumored D400 may also be launched, a long waited replacement for the highly regarded D300, possibly bucking the trend towards full frame sensors and staying with APS-C. In the world of Canon, there is the possibility that the 7D will see a mkII version, still staying with the APS-C sensor but with with a greater megapixel count.
Whilst it is not expected to be a major year for DLSR releases two areas where we may see some big releases are in the mirrorless and large sensor, prosumer compact ranges. Expect also the variety of mirrorless lenses to become wider as more people take to the format. Some companies to watch at the moment include Sony who are widely rumored to be producing a sensor that will eclipse even the Nikon D800’s 36mp offering and who have also produced some very interesting cameras using a range of different technologies. We would expect them to continue this trend into 2014. The other company doing well in the overall gloom is Fuji who seem to have found their niche in their retro styled large sensor compacts.
mtoo, on Flickr
Software: Could this finally be the year of Aperture Four? Many expected their to be at least an announcement with the new Mac Pro but despite a big upgrade to Apple’s editing suite, FCPX there has been little or no evidence of a new Aperture. This is not unusual for Apple and the release of the Mac Pro has demonstrated that they have not abandoned the professional market, so there door is still open for an update.
Lightroom meanwhile has taken advantage of Apple’s reticence with Lightroom 5 and although not widely rumored to be releasing LR6 this year we may see some big updates to LR5. Adobe’s big gun, Photoshop CC is now rent as you go, so updates are more likely to be incremental rather than big bi-annual releases. What may be interesting is as the anniversary of the CC release approaches, how the pricing structure may look, whether loyal customers will get discounted monthly fees or whether Adobe will price hike the entire suite. Like Apple, it is often hard to judge Adobe.
One area I would expect big developments is in the prosumer level software. Jumping on the loss of customers from Photoshop, products like Capture One and the excellent Pixelmator will continue to offer increased usability and function. Another area worth keeping an eye on is the freeware, open source software, there are already some excellent apps out there such as DarkTable.
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jsogo, on Flickr
Mobile Photography: Love it or hate it, mobile phone imaging will continue to grow in 2014. Photographers will continue to write blogs on how they captured and entire location shoot on an iPhone 5s, although this is more often than not to gain media publicity rather than for any real life purpose. There will continue to be a plethora of bolt on lenses and other add ons, as well as increasing sophisticated apps. One thing we hope doesn't happen is the addition of a mobile photo to a camera, but don’t hold your breath.
usbfever.com, on Flickr
Social Media: Social media will continue to be an important place for photographers, the trend for blatant copyright infringements may see a slow reversal with sites like Twitter, Facebook and G+ quickly and efficiently implementing DMCA notices, although they do need to make photographers more aware of this powerful tool. Video will become an increasingly useful medium for photographers, not just shooting on video but using the medium to demonstrate shoots, ideas and techniques. One thing that will not disappear in 2014 is the trend for “Photoshopping” images and passing them off as originals to gain a greater social media following. Hopefully photographers will become more vocal about this blatant misdirection and force the creators to be a little more honest about their work.
There will of course be new social media networks, perhaps even one devoted to photography, but their success depends on usability and their ability to market themselves in a crowded internet.
Personally, I do not expect 2014 to be a landmark year in Photography. Developments will be evolutionary rather than revolutionary. One area I do expect to see some major changes is in the stock photography market. Optimistically I am expecting to see a small revival in prices and quality based on the sheer amount of bland imagery now on the market. Stock libraries that can refine, edit and more importantly rate their image collections so that buyers can more easily find what they are looking for, may well be rewarded with increased demand.
Of course this article was written without the benefit of hindsight, so to see if any of this comes true, revisit this page in January 2015.