Why Are Cameras Dying Off?

Started Jul 13, 2013 | Discussions thread
GeraldW
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Re: Why Are Cameras Dying Off?
In reply to BYRON MCD 77-81, Jul 13, 2013

The graphs that accompany that article don't tell the whole story.  They do show the decline in P&S cameras; but they don't show the decline in interchangeable lens cameras in the first third of 2013.  CIPA data clearly shows a year over year decline for the same period in 2012.

I also don't buy that it's the economy.  Car sales are up in North America and some other areas; but Interchangeable Lens Camera sales are down in the same areas.  Only Professional level DSLR's are steady or up.

One theory that makes sense to me is that the market is reaching saturation.  Nearly all the film folks have converted, and the first DSLR buyers have upgraded.  New gimmicks are not sufficient to cause replacement of 2, 3, or 4 year old DSLRs.

Anecdotally, several of my more serious photographic friends are discovering how good the better fixed lens cameras (FLC's) are.  Cameras like the G15, G1x, LX7. XZ1 & 2, RX100, and the new Fujis.  One, who does some professional work has decided not to upgrade his DSLR; but to make more use of his G15.  He also uses an i phone on occasion.

Less serious people, like my son, are finding their camera phones are pretty good and good enough that he doesn't bother carrying even a small camera like his SD850IS.  He did take it to Ireland; but only to have a longer lens for a few shots.

If you look back on photographic equipment sales over the last 50 years or so; there have been sales doldrums like this before.  In each case something new came along to revive the sales until that became passe'.  A memorable example was the Minolta Maxxum and AF.  It created quite a stir and caused all the major companies to scramble to compete.  Digital was another.

So what would cause a similar stir in the current environment?  Something like a greater dynamic range than the current 8 bit color depth in each channel.  Move up to 10 or 12 bits per color and the dynamic range moves from being like slide film and moves to being like print film.  Maybe something to increase signal to noise ratios.  Then small sensors could compete with today's large ones and we could have smaller, lighter higher performance cameras.  Gimmicks like face and smile recognition are not going to do it.  But part of the problem is that those technologies are also applicable to ipads and camera phones.

Remember that the horse and carriage never did find a way to compete with the automobile, and gas lights never did find a way to compete with electric lights.  And except for a few die-hards and some hobbyists; digital has replaced film; just as film replaced earlier imaging systems.

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Jerry

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