Why the difference in mirrorless's popularity in the West and the East

Started 11 months ago | Discussions thread
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ultimitsu
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Why the difference in mirrorless's popularity in the West and the East
11 months ago

Background

After so many threads on mirrorless demand falling and mirrorless not popular in USA and UK. I think by now we can agree that mirrorless is not doing too well in the USA and UK, but it is doing quite well in the richer eastern countries especially Japan. So the next logical question is "why". Some people contribute this to the sheep effect, or "Americans think bigger is better", or "people buy what pros use" etc. While I think there is some truth in them I think they equally apply to Japanese or other Asian people. They are just as likely to have the sheep effect as the White people and they too follow what pros use. so the reason for this difference in popularity cannot be explained using these reasonings.

My view is that there are two fundamental reasons for this difference. The first is the priority of buying a system camera, and the second is the impact of SLR's size and weight.

Priority

In Western countries, due to more liberal laws and low population density (thus more land for public leisure use), people tend to have multiple hobbies that could be quite costly, such as fishing (boat), hunting (rifles, reloading), water sports (jet skii), snow sports (SUV to skii fields), or mountain biking. As a result many people do not upgrade their cameras often. When they contemplate on buying a SLR class camera, it is a significant purchase and it has to be  a significant upgrade from their current 5 year old P&S. Generally what they want out of this new camera are:

1, as much better image quality as possible

2, significantly better battery life than P&S

3, blurry background / subject isolation, they like that "professional" look

For these people,even though m43 delivers better IQ than P&S, DSLR is always one step better due to the larger sensor. Secondly SLR will always have significantly better battery life because OVF uses zero power. Lastly SLRs will always have better subject isolation not only because of the larger sensors but also because the dirty cheap 50 F1.8s. Every SLR owner I know buys a 50 F1.8 as their first or second lens. They are only 100 USD. the 45 F1.8 for M43 is 5 times the price and doesnt quite match the blur of a 50 F1.8 on APS-C.

It is for these reasons. I do not think many people of above description opt m43. the main m43 buyers in western countries are people more experienced in photography and do not like the bulk of SLR. they know how to get more out of M43 and they do not mind spend 1000 on two or three primes.

In the richer parts of Eastern Asia things are a little different. people tend to spend more of their disposable income on electronics. Many people buy a new camera, a new phone, a new computer and a new TV every 18 month to two years. They do no necessarily need a significant step up from P&S. for them a gradual improvement will do. They also have more "chase the latest in electronics" type per capita than western countries. Because mirrorless is relatively new, It bound to attract buyers who are after "the latest".

The size and weight problem

Most people accept that mirrorless have a size and weight advantage. What they disagree is the importance of this advantage. My observation is that living in a western country (New Zealand) almost everyone goes everywhere in their own car. For majority of the distance covered, the bulk of SLR is of no concupiscence because it just sits in the back seat. We only feel the bulk when we are actually using the camera. To many, it is completely tolerable. In comparison, in most Eastern Asian countries, due to the heavy population density and often the strict regulation on and the high expense of car ownership, majority of people do not own cars, their traveling and commute rely on public transport. the bulk of DSLR is suddenly much more "in your face". It is for this reason the Eastern Asian photography hobbyists may be much more sensitive to size and weight and mirrorless's bulk advantage appear much more attractive.

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