What is "Real" Innovation in Camera Technology?

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Wildkits
Wildkits Junior Member • Posts: 36
What is "Real" Innovation in Camera Technology?

In a Nikon Z thread, I got into a discussion about whether the compact Canon RF 70-200 was an innovative new product.  Of course the question got obscured by assertions that the Nikon 70-200 S  was "better", and that the Canon was undesirable because it did not accept teleconverters and was not robust enough for professional use.  True or not, these claims are not relevant to whether the lens is or is not innovative.

Instead, the more interesting counter to my assertion was the reductive argument that the Canon lens is not innovative because telescoping lenses are not new--there are plenty of examples on the market already.  Ironically, the rebuttal highlighted the Nikon 500mm pf lens as an example of a truly innovative product (to be honest, the response wasn't clearly stated, so I'm not sure if he was asserting that the 500mm lens was innovative or simply compact).   Of course, pf  lenses have been produced before with Nikon's own 300mm pf introduced a few years earlier and Canon's original 400mm DO lens introduced as far back as 2001.

So maybe I'm biased.  As the owner of both the Canon RF lens and the Nikon 500mm pf, I think both lenses are innovative. We can debate on how innovative these lenses are but for me they are both exceed the innovation bar.   But maybe my bar is too low.  For me, If something has never been done before, that is strong evidence of innovation regardless of whether it could have been done before. I consider setting the bar at a level of "nothing like it has ever been previously produced" as too high.

So, that begs the question of what is truly innovative in camera tech?  I don't consider adding more megapixels to a camera to be "innovative".  It may be an evolutionary improvement, but innovative?  Of course, I see the contradiction between my reticence here and my previous assertion that innovation is something that hasn't been previously done.  If Canon (or anyone else) produces a 90MP full-frame camera, does that qualify as innovative or simply evolutionary?  Rumor has it that Canon might release a 135mm f/1.4 lens.  I think that this lens is one that hasn't been done--well, at least not well--before.  Does it qualify as innovative?

How high should the standard be for a product to be considered innovative. If Sony releases an a7IV that improves on AF, resolution, EVF, ergonomics, and menus, is that innovative or simply evolutionary? What if instead some company releases a full-frame camera that does "true" unlimited 8k video without overheating.  Is that innovative.

Or am I overthinking this?

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