What Thom Wants for Christmas

Yeah, I know. This article might seem a bit like a five-year old who's just got the Christmas toy catalog and goes into full parental persuasion mode. But bear with me a bit. I think there's useful information here.

Let's start with existing products I don't own:

  • Nikkor 180-400mm f/4E. If you haven't seen my "quick review" of the lens based upon only a short period of time with it, you might want to check that out. Yep, this lens is a whopping US$12,400. But it's probably worth it if you have the 180-560mm focal length need in one flexible optic. The problem for me is I can't justify the cost given what I already own in this range, so I hope I've been good this year and Santa is being generous. 
  • Sony A9 and a Sony 400mm f/2.8. Another of those things I don't need because I've got it covered already with existing gear. Still, my experience with the A9 shooting sports was that there are times when I could really appreciate its silent 20 fps with no viewfinder blackout. And if I'm going to ask for the body, I might as well ask for the lens I'd want, too, right? Fortunately, I've got a D5 and a Nikkor 400mm f/2.8, so this is just a pure lust-for-one-more-little-bit-of-performance-in-one-particular-area request. (Note: B&H has the A9 at US$1000 off as I post this.)
  • An unknown video camera. I'm in the midst of replacing all my video gear, so now that the old stuff is gone, what do I replace it with? That's a good question to which I don't yet know the answer. Blackmagic, Canon, Panasonic, RED, Sony? All make something right in the level I'm targeting. I'm slowly going through the options and attending events to get hands on experience with each. Maybe Santa knows better than I?

Next, let's move onto products that don't exist, but should. Maybe the elves at the North Pole have been working overtime on things that will pop up as surprise presents under the tree?

  • Any Wide Angle DX prime. I see Nikon's still selling DX cameras. I see that they also haven't  had a DX lens announcement in a year-and-a-half, and no DX prime announcement in seven years, oh my. Did some of the elves take a long nap? Are they missing from the workshop? Do we need to send out a search party? 
  • The 12-24mm f/4 DX update. See above.
  • The 200mm f/4 Micro-Nikkor update (or the return of the 70-180mm). Macro ends at 105mm for Nikon these days, but not for the rest of us. 
  • A 400mm f/4E PF. Loved the 300mm and 500mm, now let those who need 400mm enjoy the show, too. 
  • Firmware updates. Add D9 and Group H/L to the D5 generation cameras that don't have these modes, add Infrastructure Wi-Fi support to the D7500, D500, and D850, fix the Z6/Z7 AF-C modes, and that would be a good starting point from which Nikon could probably sprinkle a few additional morsels to make us happy. 
  • m4/3 in a compact body. Hey Olympus elves! Hope you're working on a new compact camera. Call it the TG-Max. Stick your m4/3 magic into a new Tough body and lens combo and try to keep that from running away in price and you've got a hit (and Santa can just drop it from the sky down the chimney rather than having to carefully place it under the tree). Something everyone would want in their bag for those wet occasions, too. Seriously. Almost every photographer's tree would have one under it at Christmas if this existed...
  • a Vlogging camera that was designed for vloggers. Elf-size small, because it has to be able to run on a small, light gimbal. ILC to support changing lens needs. Long battery life, because we're vlogging all day. Connectivity that works, because we want to vlog in real time or as close to is as possible, so give us streaming and fast Wi-Fi transfer. A ready-to-cut compression, like ProRes. A twist and flip LCD, because we aren't always behind the camera. Better in-camera amps, because we're tired of amp noise. Headphone and mic jacks, for sure. 4K top end is enough, but 60P would be nice with that. If not, make sure that the 1080P gets to at least 120 fps. Smartphone remote control (of everything) a big plus. Sensor size? 1" to APS-C is probably enough, but error on the larger side if you can. 
  • A DSLR-like Sony A7xxx. Yes, I understand the A6xxx series bodies. I just don't feel like they're the ones I want. The really small offset rangefinder style just exacerbates the Sony UI/ergonomic issues for me. Just scale the DSLR style correctly and give me everything else I expect in the top-end APS-C camera and I'll be happy. A mini A9, basically. If the Sony elves need direction, have them talk to the Fujifilm elves.

I could probably go on infinitely about products that need to be developed, as every camera and lens maker has plenty of gaps and needs. But the above list would make me happy for at least a few days after Christmas. 

Finally, I would like some more generic things; let’s call them stocking stuffers:

  • Four hours in Tokyo with the Z series autofocus designers. 
  • Four hours in Tokyo with the Sony A7 series UI, menu, ergonomics designers.
  • Some clearer idea of what Canon and Nikon will be doing with DSLRs for the next few years.
  • Shooting Wazzu football at a bowl game, preferably a championship game.
  • A winter tour in Yellowstone with all my new gear (see above ;~). 
  • Time to finish all the dangling projects still sitting on my desk...
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