I've speculated the same several times since before the 7D was even announced,
and so have others. As a member of Minolta Europe's newsletters and such, I get
survey requests from them regularly. The most recent smelled to me like they
were not happy with 7D sales rate (several questions on "have you bought" and
"price/value"). It did not have much suggesting that a new body was in the works.
In a 5D: I guess we would expect the same sensor, no anti-shake, a smaller
display as being the major change from the 7D. One control for aperture/speed
instead of 2, no PC sync, mostly polycarb body. Other minor nits.
In a 9D: First let's address full frame and IMO it is "no". There are not
enough pros using Maxxum 9 full time with the revenues to back a 5K to 7K body.
I certainly would love it, but I'm not forking the bucks for it.
What could they do for a 9D.
-The Maxxum 9 all metal body
-Full 100% (or even 120%) viewfinder.
-1/300 sync speed. (Or, like the D70, 1/500 or so).
-10, 12, 14 Mpix sensor. Possibly CMOS.
-Larger battery pack (or 2nd battery in grip with optional Li-ion or
other battery choice)
-ISO 50, remove special setup to get ISO 3200.
-High bandwidth/realtime wireless data dump (to cam-bag datapod)
-AF assist light (not flash based as on the 7D and Maxxum 5)
-Improve on the data transfer rate (to flash)
-Improve frame rates overall
-Fix the USB 2 to have real USB 2 performance (unless a
wireless is incorporated.
-Improve startup ready time.
-- r.p.e.35mm user resource: http://www.aliasimages.com/rpe35mmur.htm
-- r.p.d.slr-systems: http://www.aliasimages.com/rpdslrsysur.htm
-- [SI] gallery & rulz: http://www.pbase.com/shootin
-- e-meil: there's no such thing as a FreeLunch.