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Saturday, 13 November 2010

Comments

Thanks for posting this interesting knowledge of the marketing strategies for cameras. I hardly ever buy cameras but that is interesting what you say about the white cameras in Japan. Great blog.

>>If you want to score serious points with your photographer wife or girlfriend this holiday season, guys, you know what to do.<<

Nice try - but I think my wife would have me committed.

Hmm, the camera is now a fashion accessory.

I think you're going to be heavily in the minority on this one Mike.

The K-5 is much too small to be considered a 'man's camera' in today's land of 5/7Ds and D700s with obscene zoom lenses. As solid as it is, the K-5 is roughly the size of that Rebel you get your wife. And don't even think about putting a Limited Lens on it and expecting anything but empathic smirks from the "L" guys.

The K-5 is a definitely a serious, purpose-built tool but its the opposite of overt. No, I consider my K-7 more like another famous "man's man" tool, a Walther PPK ; )

although the post is kinda funny, underneath lies an in my opinion important question: the majority of well-known photographers are male, most of the articles online and off-line are written by male photographers and it seems the whole industry and community is dominated by males. On the other hand, e.g. on flickr, quite a lot of the more interesting, less obvious photostreams are done by female photographers.

Maybe it has also to do with the increasingly importance role that computers and technology in general in photography - fields that have been for ages dominated by men.

In addition to that, many photo fairs provide (almost exclusively) female models - who often are presented in a "sexy" way, i.e. primarily to please men. (Also, the linked site "joyful nudes" on this blog has (almost?) no male nudes. On flickr on the other side there are indeed plenty nude male photographs, but still, i think, more nude females.)

I think this is a topic that should be way more discussed in the community - and not only by reproducing stereotypes like "women like simple" or "gals like pink". I know plenty of women who really love dark, mean devices and do love complexity.

Absolutely love the DeWalt K-5. ROTFL.

Marion,
I do often feature female photographers, to the point that I've been criticized for it.

You're right, though.

"many photo fairs provide (almost exclusively) female models - who often are presented in a 'sexy' way"

Speaking of which, I also once got reamed out but good at a photo fair for not taking pictures of the hired female models but rather, taking pictures of all the men photographing her. One guy yelled "Don't you know what you're supposed to be pointing your goddamn camera at?" which has always been a favorite quote.

And of course the elephant in the room in photography is that nobody ever talks about or analyzes pornography from a photographic standpoint, apart from a few very sobersided academic treatments.

Mike

P.S. The "Joyful Nudes" is not a "linked site" but rather a paid advertisement. Just sayin'.

The M9 is "... oh so expensive ..."??? Piffle!!! Fiddlesticks!!! A mere Volkswagen next to the latest "Limited Edition" titanium "I just wear it, stupid. You don't really expect me to take pictures with it do you?" $22,000+ M9.

So here's the scenario .... Hally Berry in her Bond Girl bikini emerging from the water against a cloud specked Caribbean sky carrying a LimEd titanium M9. She pauses, frames a shot of you languidly reclining on your Louis Vuitton suitcase packable beach chaise (A mere $5000) and gently presses the shutter ....

CUT!! CUT!!! Whaddaya mean the camera's not waterproof????

I have it on excellent authority (mine!) that all Minox cameras are bought anonymously for cash by furtive little men wearing big black hats and a black cloak.

You are a brave guy. Here in Ann Arbor, the politically correct capital of the planet, they are already burning you in effigy. Well....not ALL of you, just parts of you.... =0

lol! though i must say the ultimate cordless drills have for a long time been Panasonics, just saying… :P

Mike, dunno if you're aware of this but your post is also filled to the brim with the american way of seeing gendre difference. If the japanese people have their pink cameras, the classic stars-and-stripes guy has the SUV as a standard, or at least a large four-door sedan, with the mandatory automatic gearbox. You mentioned something like that in here, so I suppose this post has a covert *SA somewhere.
As opposed to this, an average european guy wouldn't need to manipulate a pickhammer in order to be secure of himself.

Jennifer Connelly in Blood Diamonds with Leonardo DiCaprio using a black Leica M6 isn´t too bad either:
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_oayiTfMlvHc/Rd-JvYSD8VI/AAAAAAAAAF0/9SlrA2UcmmE/s1600-h/Leica.jpg
Paul

Yeah, there is definitely male and female-oriented marketing. One of the most brave companies in that respect is Carl's Jr, at least in the US. Their Paris Hilton ad was unabashedly directed to the under-30 guys crowd. Heck, it worked for me too, though I am "a bit" over that demographic. Recently my wife pointed out that they have a Kim Kardashian ad. Looked at it and went "ugh, what a chick flick". Every guy I have spoken to since agrees that this particular ad is directed to gals, not guys. After all, gals are the predominant demographic that watches the Kardashian trash.

I'm not sure if you have the term Metrosexual in the US: here in the UK it is in fairly common usage, denoting a sophisticated man not afraid of being in touch with his feminine side. Naturally, Canon ads in the UK feature metrosexual men. Personally, the ads don't work for me.

My first proper camera was a Pentax Spotmatic that was issued by the Australian Army for use in Vietnam in 1971. Mine was "inadvertently" retained by a young Australian officer who 13 years later I worked for on his farm in Victoria. He sold it to me.

It was a fairly simple and solid camera, with a serious dink on the side of the pentaprism that apparently was obtained on the battlefield. Manly enough, I'd have thought: certainly for me.

Pentax is as masculine a name as Kotex. Canon's the name to go with for big, expensive, over-compensating guns.

A few thoughts:

Well, the mystery is solved. Now I know what the D in K20D means: Dewalt. I think the K-5 would look quite good in yellow and black; the building site macho look.

"Don't you know what you're supposed to be pointing your goddamn camera at?" I laughed out loud at that.

My view on those big cameras and huge lenses is,
"It weighs how &%@@£$ much?!

I drive a 21 year old Toyota pick up when I am in Canada. Luckily, my Japanese born wife will get in it, but she does refuse to drive it. But I have a white Oly EP1 and a red Pana G1.
Since I dip snuff and watch rugby, I guess I am secure enough.

Re: white cameras. I think the Japanese marketers misread the North American market. I have ONLY seen the Pentax K-x white in the hands of male photographers. It is fetishized as the "Storm Trooper" camera. Is there anything more male-dominated than Star Wars fandom?

I just visited Japan this summer and they make tractors in pink and purple. I saw a men with girly colored power tools.

" the majority of well-known photographers are male, most of the articles online and off-line are written by male photographers and it seems the whole industry and community is dominated by males. On the other hand, e.g. on flickr, quite a lot of the more interesting, less obvious photostreams are done by female photographers."

Easy to assert, but perhaps more difficult to defend, unless you're speaking from some NY or LA photo milieu. What current male photographer is better-known than Annie Leibovitz? What male art photographers are better known to the public than Cindy Sherman, Sally Mann, or Nan Goldin? Women have always been prominent in photography, and many of the most interesting photographers have been women. I'd suggest that Julia Margaret Cameron was the first real important "art photographer," rather than early photo techie.

"Audrey Tautou holding a Leica M is absolutely the sexiest thing that has ever happened anywhere."

Audrey Tautou holding a stick would be about the sexiest thing that ever happened anywhere.

I think this last week's glorification of the K5 has gone too far, though, especially the comparison to DeWalt. It does nothing but stoke gear acquisition syndrome, while, as everybody knows, most people don't even get the most out of their current camera, whatever that may be. Ridiculous.

Amazon says my K5 will arrive on Tuesday, insh'allah. I have several Limited lenses waiting for it.

JC

It's not the marketing that makes me dislike the Nikons - it's the size. While I'm a Pentax gal (and have been one since my first film SLR), I did look briefly at Nikons and Canons to see what the competition had to offer.

Nearly every Nikon DSLR about broke my wrist; Canons did not. (Nor did Pentax.)

As for pink cameras, I like the dark ones because they're less likely to show up if shooting a reflective surface, and I dislike anything branded pink because I have issues with several pink-based marketing campaigns for other products. (The only compelling reason I ever heard about getting something pink came from a female construction worker; she liked her pink hammer because it was the only one what was never "borrowed" by her co-workers.)

I agree with Marion's take - and want to add that one of the things that keeps your site in my bloglist is the absence of the usual hoo-rah machismo too often in evidence at other photo sites.

The photo hobbyists I've known -- over 40 years or so -- skew VERY heavily male, though by no means totally. But, observing out the windows at work the people doing wedding portraits before fairly expensive weddings (the building I work in rents its lobby and grounds for weddings quite a lot in season), the people shooting these expensive weddings skew just as heavily female.

Photography and computer programming, two things I pretend to know at least a little about, both seem to have been open to women rather more than many professions in early years, but have not attracted anything like equal numbers of men and women.

I don't really care -- so long as we're not behaving improperly to produce these results. I'll settle for "equally open to both" if it's really true, and accept the balance that results. But I don't for a moment believe that there's any inherent sex-based distinction that produces the results I'm seeing, so I'm suspecting things being done along the way to bias things.

I can't tell if you are joking. The pink Pentax, I can see your point on that, but the M9...you've got to be joking. So if Agassi is used to market the Rebel to women, then Tautou is used to market Ms to men.

By the way, if you walk onto a construction site with a DeWalt anything, you might as well be wearing dress. Real men use Makita. :)

I knew there was a reason I shoot with Nikons. I just couldn't put my finger on it until today, when I saw that video.

Hi there!

This reminds me, I once tried to find for you, unsuccessfully, an example clip of one of the Konica Minolta adds they used to run here in Japan for the Alpha D5 (I think that was the model name). They featured attractive young women who apparently had some gender specific inability to press a shutter release without moving the camera down about 2 cm during the shot. Thus they always took blurry photos, until rescued by KM's Anti Shake system.

And that now reminds me of a poster I once saw in (I think) the Nikon Salon in Shinjuku, which featured an attractive young woman with something like an FM2 and a caption something like "I can do it myself" (or "I can do manual" ?)

And that in turn reminds me, there is a huge (well, significant?) market / sub culture here in Japan of young women photographers. They have their own camera preferences (at least, certain slightly arcane film cameras seem cooler than others) and their own magazines. Just the other day I flicked through one that was filled with fluffy and embroidered camera straps and other accessories. Other magazines feature woman photographers almost exclusively. As someone else mentioned in relation to Flickr, I often find this work more interesting.

Yet another, somewhat pervy magazine I saw featured sexed up school girl / young women animé characters touting popular current camera models. Not sure who that was aimed at.

John Sypal has an interesting 2 pages on Flickr called Tokyo camera style, with maybe about five shots of what constitutes the 'young woman' camera chic.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tokyocamerastyle/

Peace and all that,
Dean

Mike, that Canon ad is just so wrong, on so many levels. I'm just saying.

Cameras should be black. Other colors such as yellow, pink, powder blue, purple, orange, etc. are OK only if the logo on the front of your camera says Fisher-Price or Playskool.

Somehow the "sold by e^basement via amazon" thing seems to detract just a wee bit from the M9's Fifth Avenue luster.

No, no, silver and black. Any and all departures from the look'n'feel of the '64 Spotmatic are anti-orthodox.

Mike

So, now i'm confused. My still-favorite film camera, the EOS A2/A2E/5 (which i recall was backhandedly complimented by yourself when your blog was a magazine) is a chick camera? Okay. Miatas are chick cars, and fun as hell to drive:)

But this does bring to mind the vivid yellow, red, and green Hasselblads that were pointed at wedding photogs at the dawn of digital - gender marketing or just questionable style?

"the vivid yellow, red, and green Hasselblads...gender marketing or just questionable style?"

Yes? [g]

Mike

I adored my Aira. And my RTS III, each for different reasons.

Oh, the best pair of boots I ever owned were bought at Farm&Fleet...

you know, that chanel commercial is one of the few instances where the model is holding the right camera. stylists have to step it up!

So...men in ads mean the camera is for women, and women in ads mean the camera is for...women. But you're happy that the camera you just bought is for men, 'cause yer a guy and obviously want...wait, I'm confused. Is this another one of those mysterious American sex/gender insecurity things? I could never understand those, it's like a foreign language sometimes.

Poagao,
The man in the first commercial, which is for a camera, is being photographed. The woman in the second commercial, which is for perfume, is (really) a photographer.

IOW, not analogous.

I know it's complicated....

Mike

I thought real men shoot Deardorff? Damn, I'm ditching this beast for a Littman...


I don't know that bright pink is that bad - my teen daughter is a karate black belt and has pink sparring gear as do some other women black belts in our dojo. It wouldn't be a smart idea to try to take their pink sparring gear away from any of them. They're all plenty tough enough when necessary. In fact, the sensei often has them spar arrogant teen boys who need an attitude adjustment!

What's all that stuff on Agassi's head?

The pentax K-5 is really full of muscles. Look...

"What's all that stuff on Agassi's head?"

Most probably a HAIRPIECE, actually, as revealed in his recent autobiography. He began going bald very early and wore a weave through most of his period of early fame.

(I'm serious.)

Mike

Chick, macho or gender-neutral, that EOS 5 is the plug ugliest piece of plastic I've ever seen. It makes an Argus C3 look like something by Titian.

Still, if Audrey Tautou held it, I'd pretend to love it.

"Shake Reduction" ROFL.

Mike, I did understand that "joyful nudes" is an ad, but still it's a link ;-)

But yes, I agree with Rana: I also regularly visit this blog for the reasons Rana mentioned.

Maybe I was also wrong about the well-known photographers being dominantly men. This is likely not so clear. But IMHO the internet, and writing about gear and photography is dominated by guys.

Which just got me thinking: I don't remember too many female photojournalists... do I miss someone here?

re: Paul's link to the shot of Jennifer Connelly using an M6.

Why is the tip of her finger on the release? Don't they have anyone on the set to advise in correct handling of cameras?
The ball of the finger rests on the release and slack is taken up so that it would be hard to even see the finger move when the shutter is released. That is why they have that concave dish around the shutter button.
My OM-1 has a cup surrounding the release, same reason. (No, I don't understand the so called 'soft release' buttons.)

re: John Camp's comment;

"Audrey Tautou holding a stick would be about the sexiest thing that ever happened anywhere."

Amen.

Clearly you were convinced by Pentax marketing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gWDewkkkAI

Nikons are for men? What can be sexier than Michelle Pfeiffer firing the mighty F5 in The Deep End of the Ocean (1999). Answer: Michelle printing black and white in her darkroom, same movie.

> Nobody ever mentions this, but c'mon, everybody knows Canons are
> for women, Nikons are for men, right?

But what about this one ? ;-)

img2.imageshack.us/img2/2544/d3shk.jpg

Mike,

Speaking of DeWalt, here is your ultimate "guy" camera:

http://www.ryobitools.com/tek4/#/durashot-8-mp-digital-camera


Marion,
I suffer from "proper noun aphasia" and I'm not good at coming up with lists of names off the top of my head, but in terms of accomplishment photography is one of the least sexist of the arts, even of the professions--women have always been fewer than men in the field, but always present and at every level of accomplishment, even the very top ranks. In photojournalism I can think of Mary Ellen Mark, Esther Bubley, Adelie Hurley in Australia, Eve Arnold, Lee Miller in WWII, Carolyn Cole of the LA TImes, Susan Meiselas, Gisele Freund, Tina Manley...the problem is the label "photojournalist" and whether you mean only contemporary workers or intend to include historical figures. Many historical photographers are less easily categorizable. For instance I'd put Dorothea Lange in the "documentary" category and Margaret Bourke-White in the "professional" category, but others might think they qualify as photojournalists. Where would you put Graciela Iturbide? And so on.

I'm not up on current magazine photojournalists in any comprehensive way (women or men). Maybe other photojournalists can cue us in to more names of current people in the field.

I should also mention that despite being a fan of many female photographers, I've also been wary of "ghettoizing" photographers (or any kind of artist) based on some category they happen to fall into. As soon as there's a category for "white male photographers" then I won't feel so bad seeing books organized around other group allegiances. In some sense it's up to the photographer to decide who and what they are, based on their subject-matter preoccupations. I'm vaguely uncomfortable with books of women photographers, black photographers, Jewish photographers, etc. *unless* they consciously decided to concentrate on issues of gender or race or religion in their work. It's more encompassing to think of people as photographers, somehow, and not pigeonhole them...when I think of Helen Levitt or Jane Bown, I just think of them as really good photographers. And oh yes they are women.

On the other hand it annoys me when I see lists of "top photojournalists" or something, and they're all white males. Really? I guess that's inconsistent of me, but there you have it.

Now I have about eight photographers in my head whose names I can't come up with, which will drive me absolutely crazy unless I can distract myself. Off to think about something else.

Mike

If you really want to man-up, you need to do like me and use a Pentax 67II as your walk around street camera. No one will accuse you of being a girly man with this beast.

The 67 with the 105mm 2.4 (AKA the Bokeh Monster) is is the perfect way to assert your manhood and take some great photos at the same time.

Mike,

Adding to your list of cameras marketed for women, the Panasonic G2 in Japan. http://panasonic.jp/dc/g2/index.html

Which hasn't stopped me from using or loving the camera (of course).

Bruno,
Very funny!

Mike

So much to say, so little attention span this far in...

(1) Part of what makes Audrey Tautou look so great holding that Leica is that she's holding it correctly. One of my pet peeves is actors playing photographers while holding the barrel of the lens overhand. (No camera support, limited flexibility, etc.)

(2) I always hated the "Rebel" line, based entirely on the name (and also the cheap plasticky feel of the lower end ones). It just sounds so juvenile. "Ooo, look at me! I'm such a rebel!" Oh, shut up.

(3) Where I live in Montreal, there are many cultural dividing lines. One of them is the orientation towards either a North American sensibility or a European one. It's a bit too easy to say that line is drawn on the language map (with anglophones being generally more North American oriented and francophones being more European) but neither is that wholly incorrect.

That said, I have noticed that in general, anglophones prefer Nikons and francophones prefer Canon. If I say that out loud it will spark a debate that will rage for centuries, as no one likes to be categorized, but that's just my observation. Just sayin'... (I prefer Nikon.)

John,
A Ryobi camera! I'm tempted.

Mike

"do like me and use a Pentax 67II as your walk around street camera"

I've been tempted, many times. If it just didn't sound like you were cracking a whip every time you exploded...er, fired the shutter....

Mike

I know plenty of women who really love dark, mean devices and do love complexity.

Eh... thing is, I'm not really sure complexity is helpful in photography.

I recently ran into another local photographer who was shooting at the WI Sheep and Wool festival. I was there wearing my handspinner hat. Had my camera with, but didn't actually take it out since about 90% of the time my hands were full of a spindle and some fiber. He was delighted that I could ignore his giant SLR and just keep making yarn, even when he really needed to get into my space to get a shot. Wasn't often, since he had selected a very giant lens.

And the end result shots were very different from what I would have taken. He ended up getting a really good portrait of me. As a spinner, I would have gone for a portrait of the yarn in progress. Very different point of view, and I think most people would see mine as more analytical.

Most of the spinners I was spinning with are good friends... and the camera definitely was intrusive to them. Too big, and even tho they weren't the subjects, they still shut down a bit while he was shooting. If it's me with my tiny point and shoot, they don't. Since my camera has a 33-100mm effective lens, I tend to end up very in your face if I'm going for a detail shot too. I'm a friend tho, and my bright red camera is so obviously an extension of me that it doesn't disturb them. Most of them like photography rather a lot too. It's a great tool for documenting projects and sharing a process with friends who live far away, so it's not just that I mentally identify as a photographer and they don't.

Humans. Such weird monkeys.

I found this ad for Nikon Korea. The translation says there are two kinds of people. 3100 or 7000. Probably the most gender neutral ad I've ever seen. Of course the narrator is an Asian sex symbol, so Nikon also probably for girls.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVcvs-IpJp4&feature=youtube_gdata_player

No, no, Canon is for gangstas, Nikon is for shorties... ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_H8TOKcfjg&feature=player_embedded

I am very, *very* impressed Canon went to the pain of procuring both a dry and a wet version of Andre's toupee.

(It's always amusing to read Ms Tautou referred to as "an actress", at least after seeing a few "films" she was paid to appear in.)

Mike,

"...I actually loved the Aria. (Not going there.) ..."

No worries - I still have a Nikon EM I bought in '83 to photograph our then 1-year-old daughter. I learned many years later that Nikon designed the EM with women in mind, as it was lighter and much more compact than any other Nikon. I always liked the camera, never thought of it as being especially "feminine," and passed it onto our son.

It may be a woman's camera but I'm a retro-grouch who likes things designed to do 1 or 2 things well. So I still want a Contax Aria because it's small and manual-focus. I'd probably go with the 45mm Tessar and 85mm Sonnar but not having shot with those focal lengths I don't know if that's enough of a spread plus I can't tell if 2.8 would be bright enough in the viewfinder.

I'm saving up for a lesser camera with 40mm and 85mm lenses. It will take me a long time to save up for them based on my current lifestyle so I'll have plenty of time to decide if I should continue saving for the Aria or not. Why aren't the Contax prices lower? They never did support it with many lenses anyway. I'd cover up the ia in Aria so it just says "Ar" and tell people it's a camera for pirates.

Wow, Agassi's mullet in that ad is definite proof that alopecia can sometimes be a force for good :-)

Speaking of real men and Leicas: http://www.flickr.com/photos/siboma2009/4252826777/

As part of my job, I often take latest and greatest digital cameras to social events. I usually let friends shoot with them if they ask. The only two cameras I've ever had difficulty getting back from women are the M8 and the K645D. In both cases there was much disappointment when they inquired as to the cost of the camera. Most of the time handing an EOS-1D or Nikon D3 type camera to someone results in them quickly giving it back without actually taking a photo.

I can verify that the M9 is indeed an objet de l'attraction. Which makes getting one even more of a problem if you're already married. However, if you are not, I suggest a Leica and a puppy as the perfect accessories for finding dates. Should you feel the need for a touch of masculinity, the Voigtlander 35mm f/1.2 Nokton is a good call and shows you're not just spending the money to prove you can. Beware bringing a Noctilux to the first date as it can be quite intimidating.

-Z-

I'm late to comment here but, Sony seems to be targeting women more than any other brand. There was that tiny grip on the early 300 series (still for sale, recently seen as a kit in Costco for a song). Anecdotally and from comments I have read, women seem to really like that smaller grip. It turns out a lot of guys are buying them for girlfriends and wives who want to get into DSRL photography. Most of the Sony bodies are also small below the 500 line. The A33/55 are also small.
Sony is releasing a PINK NEX body November 19 as well. http://goo.gl/zagI
If I had to choose a brand that targets women, it has to be Sony.

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