Canon's ILC strategy: The G1 X Mark II doesn't have a mirror.

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Canon's ILC strategy: The G1 X Mark II doesn't have a mirror.
7 months ago

First let me say that in lieu of "mirrorless" I'll be using the term descriptive of the camera system's primary characteristic rather than what it's missing, namely a mirror.

The choice of diction, in fact, expresses one of the primary issues with the ILC market:  describing a type of camera with reference to what it is missing when compared to an established type of camera system, namely DSLRs, reveals its identity crisis.  I say identity crisis because the ILC concept doesn't have an identity that is strong enough to stand alone even when choosing terms to describe it.

Yes, I think this detail matters.  Call it public relations, brand management, or name recognition, the words people hear can dramatically alter their perception of a product.  They also have a perception of a technology as a whole based on who the major players are.  Right now, the big boys haven't lent any legitimacy to the ILC market place by not putting forth enough effort to get the attention of the public who are still far more interested in the established DSLR market.  There is momentum in the market and that makes abandoning it or even lending any publicity to the ILC market foolish.

I disagree with others who believe "mirrorless" is any more interesting, useful, or functional than DSLRs simply because they are marginally smaller or don't have the mirror mechanism.  PDAF and all the mechanics involved with DSLR design are so reliable that people don't worry about whether they will work properly or last, and the ergonomics of a larger grip on a very light body is undeniable.  That being the case, "mirrorless" needs to separate from DSLR cameras entirely, promote their ILC abilities as a technology associated with their brand, and they need a product that can do to ILC what the iPod did for digital music players.

In the mean time, Canon isn't letting up with advancing already established camera types.  Everybody is comfortable with DSLRs and with P&Ss after more than ten years of the two becoming deeply rooted in the minds of the public.  Making a camera like the G1 X Mark II that will perform admirably in the P&S category while nosing into DSLR territory in terms of image quality is something they had to do in order to bridge the gap without advertising the inevitable growth of the ILC market.  Perhaps they hope that having a fast G1 X II that has a lot in common with two very successful camera types will further delay ILC growth, or kill it entirely, by motivating others to compete in that realm rather than ILC.

Sony protected its own interests in the ILC market by using a 1" sensor in the RX100II and RX10, but the RX10 and RX1 priced themselves out of the P&S (fixed lens) market leaving the RX100II as the only real model that was smaller than an ILC while still appealing to the high image quality crowd.  They didn't want the RX100 to be as serious of a photographic tool as their ILCs (no flash hot shoe, OVF, or EVF option) but the G1 X forced them to quickly rethink that strategy and release the RX100 II a year later.  I think that alone shows how Canon and Sony are approaching these segments.  Also, Sony's A7 and A7r couldn't price, feature, or perform themselves into relevance thanks to a thriving FF DSLR market.

Two years after the G1 X was released, Canon also had to make some concessions to the RX100 I, Mark II, and the ILC crowd.  They had to make an EVF optional, which meant ditching the OVF, and they had to make the lens hold up much more favorably against other P&S cameras as well as make it a serious competitor for ILC and DSLR lenses.  That meant improving close focusing distance, maximum aperture, zoom range, and AF speed (part of the new lens design).

Since I personally think size and ergonomics are a huge selling point for DSLRs, I think the size of the G1 X II is a perfect middle ground that will draw in DSLR users like myself, point and shooters, as well as ILC fans.  The lens will force ILC users to take another body with no mirror seriously despite having a fixed lens, but for all those who think not having a mirror coupled with small size is the primary selling point of an ILC the G1 X II will hit all the high points (especially since most people never change the kit lens on their ILC anyway).  As long as the AF speed is really twice as fast as the G1 X all except those who require the quickest AF will also take notice.  Even those who do change lenses probably won't be able to do much better than the G1 X II lens without buying more than one lens and paying hundreds of dollars more.  And even then those lenses will be huge by comparison to the collapsing G1 X II lens.

In the end, the pricepoint and functionality of the G1 X II could very well further establish the large sensor compact camera and lend it the cachet for the public and, therefore, other camera companies to take it as seriously if not more than the ILC market.

 howardroark's gear list:howardroark's gear list
Canon PowerShot G1 X
Canon PowerShot G1 X G1 X II Sony Alpha 7 Sony Alpha 7R Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 Sony RX1 Sony RX100 Sony RX100 II
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