Mirrorless Takes Another Hammering

Started May 17, 2013 | Discussions thread
cptobvious
Regular MemberPosts: 494
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Re: Mirrorless Takes Another Hammering
In reply to rattymouse, May 18, 2013

Olympus' high end (OM-D and E-P5) are priced too high to compete with DSLR, except in Asia where it's marketed heavily and established.

Here's the current state in the U.S.

  • The average person is satisfied with their phone for taking pictures.
  • The average person with a casual interest in photography will buy a low-end Canon or Nikon DSLR, NEX or m4/3 with kit lens only.  These days no one is buying the new model because everyone knows they get replaced every year and the improvement increments are getting smaller every year.  People are buying last year's model or the model from 2 years ago, at a discounted price that provides little profit margin to the manufacturer.  Yet there's still a glut of oversupply of these old models out there.
  • The average professional photographer (wedding, corporate, journalist etc.) is shooting a full-frame Canon or Nikon only.

That basically leaves a small niche market of hardcore enthusiasts with higher than average disposable income who can afford to shell $2000-3000 for a new system, of which Olympus, Panasonic, Sony and Fuji are fighting over for market share.

Now, in order to return to profitability, Olympus needs to increase their market to woo over some of these casual photographers with disposable income, but it's an uphill battle:

  • Basically no marketing of their high end products.  People don't know why they should pay $1000 for a E-M5 or E-P5 body only when you can get a larger-sensor new D7000 with a lens or a 7D for the same price.  It's hard to go to a store and pick up an E-M5 in person unless you live in a large city.  Heck, when I was in San Francisco I had the hardest time finding a camera store that had one of these.
  • Lenses cost just as much or more than FF lenses and Olympus charges $75-80 for a lens hood.
  • Tracking AF not there yet

The only immediately apparent advantage of the E-M5 over the DSLR (without the benefit of holding both in your hands) is the smaller size and weight.  I have a theory this appeals much more to Asian buyers because they tend to live in densely populated cities with more going on.  There are a lot more street shooting opportunities for which a smaller camera is beneficial.  But for your average American prospective buyer living in suburbia or out in the country, driving an SUV and living in a bigger house, smaller isn't necessarily better.  They are probably not carrying their camera around as often as someone living in Tokyo because frankly there isn't as much to photograph, so size is not the main determining factor.

So basically, if Olympus wants to convince these people that this camera is better despite a smaller sensor, they need to drop the prices, rather than keeping it the same or higher (after factoring in cost of lenses).  I have a feeling they believe they are like Apple, being able to charge premium prices for better-than-average products (which are nonetheless made in China), but without having to market like Apple through advertising and hands-on experience.  I just don't think they are going to get there like this.

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