Nikon just refreshed its D300 digital SLR camera into the D300s, with 720p video-shooting powers, a quieter shutter and in-video auto-focus. It's neat and all, but it has us wondering where else can next-gen DLSRs go?
The D300s is a 12.3-megapixel unit, with 51-point autofocus system, an improved 7-frames per second shooting rate in photo mode and twin memory card slots--one Compact Flash and a new SD one. It's biggest feature, however, is a 720p HD-video mode that also supports stereo audio capture (and external mic-inputs), and comes with contrast-detection autofocus powers. That will please the growing crowd of filmmakers who use DSLRs to shoot with.
It's an $1,800 unit designed to compete with Canon's video DSLR range--the sub-$1,000 EOS 500D and the $3,000 5D Mark II. That's all very good, but far from being a next-step D400, with improved features all-round, it's basically the old D300 with some extra tweaks thrown in. Canon, for sure, will catch up or supersede the D300s' specs with its own upcoming cameras, perhaps the rumored EOS 60D. This is how these two industry-leaders have been tweaking their DSLR offerings for years.
You could argue that video-capable DSLRs were going to arrive at some point, but when Canon and Nikon launched the first video-capable DSLRs last year, those units were still paradigm-breakers.
So here's an interesting question: Where can next-gen DSLRs go, in terms of hardware development? Sure, you can add in extra megapixels, but at some point the pixel count is going to become irrelevant--it already nearly is. And, similarly, you can boost the ISO range of the cameras, though an ISO of 12,800 on my Canon unit is already plenty--far beyond what most normal wet-chemistry film can manage. Will we see built-in GPS units for geotagging? Wi-Fi uploading as standard? I'm finding it hard to imagine what the next paradigm-breaking tech will be, so in my mind, the next couple of years of DSLR updates will merely be integrating all of this tech that you can already add as peripherals to the cameras. But over to you in the comments--you guys may have more insight.