Canon's latest and greatest image processor,
the DiG!C 4.
Quick, how many new camera models were announced at the Consumer Electronics show this year? The quick answer: 45. Now, most of these were just standard updates of current models, but there were some new models that hit the market for the first time. This just goes to show that camera technology is moving as quickly as computers, and new updates are available almost all the time.
Here's the point: there was an old rule that, when you look to upgrade your camera gear, you should upgrade lenses more frequently, as a lens is forever, and a camera body is only temporary. Well, this still isn't terrible advice, however here's what has changed - when you had that old film camera, every time you put in a new roll of the latest and greatest film, you were putting in the latest and greatest technology. That old Nikon D70s in your camera bag can't hold a candle to the new technology in the latest Nikon D90. ISO 102,400? Forget about it in anything that's even 6 months old!
So, does this mean that your Canon Digital Rebel is not capable of taking a good picture any more? Not at all! It's just that buying a new camera is just as important as buying a good lens. It's all a balancing act. Here are a couple tips to help you out. First, in general, the camera that comes out 6 months or a year after the one you just bought (assuming the same level of camera) is probably not worth the money from an image quality standpoint. The biggest distinction between the latest round of entry-level D-SLRs and their predecessors is the introduction of HD movie recording. Being that HD recording on a D-SLR is in it's infancy, and is not as polished as most want to believe it is. From an image quality standpoint, though, there isn't a huge jump except maybe academically.
The other big piece of advice is that you should buy based on your needs. The big jumps in camera tech is in the image quality at higher ISO and megapixels. If you do not need to shoot in lower lighting conditions or make very big enlargements, you may not really need an upgrade.
Now, there are a lot of blanket statements here, but take them and use them as a tool for your decision. And there's the rub: you still will need to buy a good lens, but that will be a topic for another article.