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Tuesday, 02 December 2014


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Thom Hogan has written recently about this too, in his, "More Doom and Gloom" article. He also comments on the likely knock-on effect for, "Web sites counting on advertising and affiliate income to cover their content creation" ...not good.


Just FYI, Thom Hogan has a thoughtful article about this same Sony graphic here: http://www.dslrbodies.com/newsviews/more-doom-and-gloom.html

Optics still matter and there are some things that cell phones cannot yet do.

it is clear that what cell phone cameras can’t do is optical zoom (yet) and physics does define some of the limitations of sensor capture efficiency. Specifically, larger sensors do by default make for more pleasing images from a number of perspectives including sensitivity, color aberration, optical bokeh, etc… In addition to the benefits of a larger sensor with larger pixel imaging sites (5.8 µm² for the RX100 III vs. 1.5 µm² for the iPhone 6), making the optical elements of a camera bigger and made of glass elements with coatings enable better image quality. I talked about all of that after spending a weekend in Portland with the Sony RX100III here:

A tailoff in sales is not so surprising, is it? Once all the camera buyers have bought their cameras, they stop buying. Isn't that what happened with film SLRs? I don't see why that would automatically cause a drop-off in lens sales. All those bodies will need lenses.

I fully agree with the three stooges from sigma being the bedrock of a good Sony system. I had a strange experience with a Nex 7 though. I fell for the camera/50mm combo for walk around. It's strange because the camera failed to excite generally (I sold it after 8 months) and I really struggle with the traditional portrait focal length (45mm oly is rarely used), but that combo I still miss. It had a rich, clear but not "biting" sharpness and a focal length that really worked for me. It also made some of the most "glowacious" mono images I have created. Maybe it was just a good contrast to the olympus?

Interesting points. I do wonder about the prediction that Fuji, Olympus, et al will go full frame. No argument on everyone seeking higher margins. However, I think Olympus and Fuji are already showing their product strategy for higher margin cameras and lenses. It seems to be through better specified bodies with more capable lenses.

I would think the investment needed to move to a full frame product strategy from 4/3 or APS-C would be significant for Fuji or Olympus. It is also a strategy that has them going head to head with Canon, Nikon, and Sony. All in the context of camera divisions that have not shown a profit in years. It's a high risk strategy that would seem to depend for success on CaNikny failing to innovate and execute in their product strategies. That would be a tough sell to the C-suite.

The idea that Sony knows the future better than the endless trail over millennia of failed prognosticators seems odd to me.

Just because they are willing, and foolish, enough to make detailed predictions doesn't mean they know more than others who choose not to do so.

Well the Fuji x100s is a really awesome camera and, at the present price of $849, it's a killer deal. If you like a 35 mm FOV that is. Incredible lens and really lovely looking files, even the JPEGS are lovely. Many photographers have gone to using JPEGs instead of RAW from this camera with JPEG settings tweaked different ways for 3 or 4 custom settings sets (BW, Velvia look, 1970's color look, etc..). David (The Strobist) Hobby has written eloquently about using the camera in this way.

[I]t is clear that what cell phone cameras can’t do is optical zoom (yet)...

Yes they can.

Maybe not...


In this write up I just addressed "conventional" stills cameras. For cellphones the future is different. Computational imaging is going to have a significant impact on future cellphone cameras. They may even end up using more sensor area (by adding more cameras. Or perhaps under 16 small lenses, like Pelican suggest) along with a lot of computation to deliver significantly better images.

Apple has been patenting dual camera setups for the rear camera with a higher resolution monochrome camera and a lower resolution color camera whose images are merged (in interesting ways) to create the final image. Along with with superresolution (using camera shake and multiple images to make sharper final images) and 3D imaging (to give a depth map to the image that you can use for selective focusing) will result in images from future cellphones looking more like images from larger sensor cameras. That will have an impact on the market for conventional ILC cameras.

@Richard Newman

Sony has a requirement to make the information they disclose to their investors as accurate as possible. Especially their warnings of downsides. So their worst case has to be pretty bad (all the stuff on the left side of that chart) but reasonable.

This is about demand for products not technology. The market is shifting. The new technology that is currently being developed will apply to the growth markets on the right side of the chart. I don't think we'll see a lot of computational imaging in conventional DSC or ILC cameras.

Video might affect the market for ILCs but I suspect that's already factored into Sony's calculation. Sony don't care if the camera is only for stills or for 4K (or by 2017 8K) video they've been working on sensors for both. The issue is what the market wants and the market wants fewer ILC cameras.

@Robert Roaldi

A tailoff in sales is not at all surprising but for someone in business to say it is a reinforcement that the market is changing. People will be more happy with their current cameras. This idea of "the last camera" has been a trope for Thom Hogan for some time now: is the camera you currently own potentially your last camera?

@Grant Tomlinson

Larger than "full frame" may be the route for the non-Canikony camera makers. I could see Fuji making an "X100-like" camera using the Sony 50Mpixel 645D sensor and invoking their own history of the FW690. A sort of X645. This route has the advantage of not needing a full new lens set which has been the problem for moving to a different sized sensor. Olympus could try this too but the lack of a digital Trip (so far) makes one wonder if they like that idea. Same with Ricoh. Their focus would be how small can you make a GR with full frame or even a 645D sensor? It's just another model revision for them with a bigger lens.


Sony has a better grasp of this because they've doubled down on making sensors. Forget Sony the camera company. Most of their money over the next few years will be coming from image sensor manufacture. This is an area where they need to understand their market.


Maybe not. Thin is in. :-)

But computational imaging will get cellphone cameras part of the way there without increasing the thickness of the camera but not to superzoom focal lengths.

For those interested in what computational imaging might hold you might read these links for an overview:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superresolution (using camera shake to make sharper images)

@ Kevin Purcell

I agree that major listed companies like Sony can be relied upon to forecast their market share and earnings accurately on a year-to-year basis. More iffy over the medium term. They tend to be conservative though, lest a shortfall lead to an investor backlash.

It seems that Sony, the Colossus straddling the sensor market, is channeling Paul Valery: "The future [of digital imaging] isn't what it used to be."

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