All neat features in digital photography start off in point and shoot (P&S) cameras as an experiment. Whoever comes up with the idea first, gets to sell more P&S cameras (which, by the way, largely outweigh DSLR sales) because people love more usable features. Once the feature is solid and becomes a standard, it then gets introduced into the semi-professional market, eventually becoming a standard feature in professional cameras.
Being able to record video or viewing the scene in “live view” mode is not anything new – it has been done for years by pretty much all semi-advanced P&S cameras. However, the story with SLR cameras has been different, since the light does not fall directly on the sensor – it gets mirrored into the viewfinder. Because of the way SLR cameras work, there were two major limitations: first, whatever comes through the lens needs to be on the sensor continuously and second, SLR sensors are much more sensitive to light. Once the challenge of keeping the shutter open and capturing the image in live view mode was overcome, most DSLR manufacturers started introducing it in their cameras. As of today, live view is now becoming a standard feature in most consumer, semi-professional and professional equipment.
On August 27, 2008, Nikon introduced the new Nikon D90 DSLR camera. Nikon was the first DSLR manufacturer that incorporated HD video recording into an amateur DSLR camera. This revolutionary move is going to trigger all other competitors to work on this feature, which in a couple of years will become a standard. The early version of video recording is very limited (time limits, no autofocus, mono sound), but wait 18-24 months and you will be amazed by the developments. I cannot wait for a moment when I can use a long lens and capture wildlife in action in full 1080p HD, wirelessly transmitting the video directly into my laptop and use ultra wide, fisheye and lensbabies types of lenses for cool video effects! I hope that within the next two to three years, besides all other new innovations, most DSLR cameras will be equipped with video capability, GPS and WiFi :)