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Monday, 21 March 2016


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Mike, I agree that we're treated to a wealth of new camera offerings, and in fact, too many Hobson's choices (opposite every MacDonalds a Burger King, and close by a Wendys). I've solved the problem for myself by committing, after lots of research, to a single brand, Fuji. So whenever reviewers tout the new best Sony, or Panasonic, or Olympus models (I'm talking mirrorless here), I just keep track of what Fuji has on its horizon.

I could just as well have chosen one of the others: what really matters is my committing to a single brand, and that (to quote Robert Frost) has made all the difference.

It would be interesting to look at the market changes in terms of the size of the sensors. I think the current break-out hides some other interesting changes with respect to the sensor sizes.

The fall of the digicam has at least one positive outcome: by and large, these days most photographs are made with wide prime lenses. This already has an arguably beneficial effect on the typical look of photos (though the choice of subject matter might still be questionable).

These data are not surprising to me at all; Thom Hogan has been assiduously covering this trend for some time now, and the downward trend continues.

Here's the deal as I see it: there are only so many people that need interchangeable lens cameras, and Canikon have not been innovating in the way that I define innovation: the creation of a revenue stream that did not previously exist before. Canikon have been pursuing a path of incremental innovation, or "incrementalism", and it is very difficult to grow organically by incrementalism.

Fujifilm on the other hand, pulled one out of the hat brilliantly: after the S1/S2/S3 series, they had virtually no ILC business, their business was strictly "point and shoot' compact cameras. They noticed this clear trend back prior to 2010, and developed the Fuji X line of cameras....which for Fuji, BTW, has resulted in a revenue stream that did not exist before. True innovation.

So, while Canikon sales are declining year over year, the Fuji X-Pro2 is sold out pretty much everywhere.

As Specialized Bicycle used to say, "Innovate or Die".

Per Mike's reply to Andy Sheppard: Actually, acc. to analysis by Thom Hogan and CIPA, there has been a pretty steep decline in ILC cameras, which peaked 2012, and is now down from that peak by approximately 35%. While 2015 had a smaller decline from 2014 than previous years, the decline from the peak in 2012 is quite dramatic.

Data at Thom Hogan:

And doing what Canikon have been doing, putting out cameras with more and more megapixels is not going to change that trend, because the VOC says that the majority of customers aren't looking for more resolution, they are looking for more connectivity.

Mike, in response to Andy S.'s featured comment on the entire camera market being something like 30% of what it was in 2010, you note that most of the decline is in point and shoots. Ok, but wasn't that the bread and butter of all the camera makers (save, perhaps, Leica)? That's a lot of lost income in just a half a dozen years, with no true replacement income in sight. Without that income, what are the odds that all of the camera (and lens) makers of today will be in the photography business in, say, three- to five-years?

"The fall of the digicam has at least one positive outcome: by and large, these days most photographs are made with wide prime lenses."
I think the market would argue vehemently that most photographs are made with zoom lenses.

Also, recalling Ctein's comments a while ago, we apparently are on the brink of a sea change; computational photography. The LIGHT 16 is just the slightest beginning. I for one, not missing 35 years of shooting film, will miss classic digital photography.

I consider myself a serious ameteur photographer. I am more concerned with making images that please me than what gear I use. When I shot Canon AP-C I found compelling reasons to upgrade from the Rebel to the 40D and then to the 7D. When I switched to M4/3 I started with a Panasonic G5. I soon upgraded to a GH-3, not for IQ, but for more controls. I found no compelling reason to upgrade to the GH-4 since most of the "improvements." were aimed at video which is of no interest to me. I do not expect that the GH-5 will inspire any GAS that I can't resist. The extra resolution of the GX-8 and the dual IS doesn't temp me enough to buy it. I am focused on learning to get the most from what I have instead of chasing the latest gear. I think that the latest cameras are so good that mostly the gear hounds and the working pros are excited about the new releases. Maybe the serious enthusiast photographers are satisfied with their cameras - no compelling need to upgrade.

About the only thing I would consider buying right now would be a macro in the 90 to 100 mm range made for my Panasonic, but only if it had a tripod ring. An f/4 would be fine, smaller and lighter, but it would be derided by the gear heads as too slow.

Bloomberg news reports that: Camera maker Nikon is the most-shorted stock.

This means that the investment community is betting that Nikon's stock will continue to tumble. As a Nikon owner and customer of fifty years, this is troubling, especially since Nikon is primarily a camera company.

Many of their new products show only incremental steps in engineering and their pricing is often at a premium compared to the competition. Their foray into the mirrorless market with their V1 series never got traction and credibility in the marketplace (I have a V1 and I like it but bought it at close-out pricing).

Nikon is way behind Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, and Fuji in mirrorless offerings and it is late in the game for catch-up.

Big companies like Kodak have declared bankruptcy and this could be in the cards for Nikon too. I hope not since Nikon users will be unable to buy and service their products.

All industries change their products and producers over time. Look back 50 years ago at the camera industry and you will see that there has been a large turnover of manufacturers.
The bottom end of the industry is seriously swagger way by the iPhone and company but yesterday, in a tourist walk around London, I saw more people than ever using real cameras.
Recently two friends have asked me for advice on which cameras to buy their partners. After spending ages reviewing the market and visiting camera stores, I said to one, there is just one criterion- How much do you want to pay and maybe do you want a viewfinder or not? Just about every camera is so good it more than exceeds everything that you need and we are also talking about sensor size. To illustrate this last point I showed two prints of photos that I had taken recently; they were about 10 x 8. These were taken by my small sensor Canon S95 and carried full character.
Furthermore all of this can be superseded when you go into post-processing. "What's that?" He said. I explained. He was overwhelmed.

As many posters have noted, we care about these business issues for two reasons: 1) they largely determine the investments that are made for the capabilities that produce capabilities that we care about (or not . . .); and 2) for ILCs at least, when buying we invest in an architecture that, should it be orphaned, dramatically reduces our future choices.

The biggest economic conundrum right now is "why do so many firms stay in the money-losing mirror-less game?" It has been a terrible financial game for the firms so far with no obvious light at the end of the tunnel; breaking-even in one accounting period (Olympus) is counted as a huge achievement! The only answer that i can offer is the view that manufacturing marginal cost savings of mirror-less vs dSLR are so large that *when* mirror-less takes over it will rapidly displace SLRs for all but specialized uses.

Let it be so -- and it may not be -- but even then there surely will not be room for all these architectures. Canikon won't wish to miss this bet either, but neither has moved in a serious way yet. So a dramatic shake-out seem inevitable and, like with SLRs, it is hard to believe that there will be room for more than two big players. For those of us buying mirror-less now, keeping this in mind would seem important.

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