We've pored over more than 80 lenses and saw a handful of patterns emerge.
After interviewing many of the major players, we see the most exciting forthcoming technology in the design and manufacture of lenses specifically for DSLR video.
According to Mark Amir-Hamzeh, general manager of Sigma Corporation of America, these lenses could be fundamentally different from those designed for still photos, with extremely light and responsive actuators designed for smoother and absolutely silent autofocus. Stabilization mechanisms, also silent, won’t interfere with incamera sound recording.
Sharpness—so important to still photos—is likely to take a backseat to mechanics, with smaller, lighter, easier-to-move glass that will smoothly, rapidly, and continuously achieve focus. Power zooming, another potentially important feature, will also be silky and quiet, probably offering preset, variable zoom speeds.
As more and more DSLRs become capable of beautiful, high-definition video, the move to video-specific lenses could really take off.
One optical insider (who asked not to be named) hints at the mating of in-camera and in-lens image stabilization. If this comes to fruition, it could give photographers sharp pictures shot handheld at shutter speeds measured in full seconds—four or five times longer than what’s possible now.
It looks like lenses will keep working magic for your photos.