Where is the industry heading - some thoughts.

Started Mar 31, 2014 | Discussions thread
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Re: Where is the industry heading - some thoughts.
In reply to GeraldW, Mar 31, 2014

Richard Weisgrau wrote:

Personally, I think the fact that Apple has hired camera designers in the iPhone division and has applied for several related patents is a predictor of the future of smart phones. Cell phones have put a dent in P&S sales. The newest (good) smart phones are pounding that dent deeper and deeper and will continue to do so. As I often remark about my iPhone: "I have a camera that has a phone built into it." I have no doubts that smart phones will squeeze the P&S makers harder and harder over the next decade.  I do not think that the top end FLCs will be as affected during that decade.  That will come later when the smart phone cameras reach a state of sensor technology to enable switching.

The camera phones are a growing industry and one that's improving rapidly.  Samsung and Sony are both big in cell phones.  Personally, I'm not much of a cell phone user.  I do have one; but it's very basic and just used for voice.  I think Apple sees that they have to be prepared to compete in the photographic part of the business as it evolves.

That said, I think sensor and EVF technology will be the determining factor in what ILCs take top billing. Right now the SLR optical finder can't be matched with an EVF. But in 2005 I had a Panasonic Lumix 5mp Lc1 with a crude EVF. Today I have a Lumix G6, and its EVF is many times better than  that of the Lc1. The introduction of hybrid VFs as in some Fuji models offers a glimpse of the kind of innovation that could be a game changer when it comes to preferred VF systems. It remains to be seen, but the SLR optical has pretty much reached its pinnacle, so if an EVF can ever match it, look out DSLRs.

The best EVFs are now good enough for most activities.  My first was in a Canon Pro 1.  It was easy to use; but had a 1/4-1/3 second lag.  The latest cameras have cut that lag down to under 20 milliseconds.  The mirror time on a DSLR is longer than that.  Your G6 has a good EVF; but even that is at least one generation behind.

When it comes to the popular camera companies I don't see any of them dropping out. They will adapt, stop selling some configurations, and add others. But this digital camera market (worldwide - and that is an important word) is in its infancy, and big players do not lay down and roll over when the going gets tough. They tend more to adapt to changing markets. Years (1960s) ago Leica and Nikon each made one camera. As the market changed they changed with it. Except Leica Camera almost went out of business because it was slow to give up its old strategy. Who would have ever thought that Leica would design and set the QC standard for some Panasonic lenses? No one!

If you look back we have already lost Konica and Minolta, Contax and Yashica, and Bronica.  I don't think any of the current major companies are invulnerable.  Several have long traditions in the business (Canon, Nikon, Olypus, Ricoh/Pentax); but Sony, Panasonic and Samsung do not and would be much quicker to throw in the towel.

I have seen so many changes in the photography marketplace over the past 5 decades that I just take them in stride and wait to se how they turn out.  In the meantime, I buy the gear I think will work best for me and what I want to do with it. My Nikons (47 year user) are gone and Panny Lumix G gear is growing.

My first good camera was an Argus C4 back in 1955.  Talk seeing about changes!  I tend to prefer some brands over others; but like you, I'll buy what works for me.  I recently sold my DSLR and lenses and am looking at the GX7 and the E-M10.

Thanks for joining in.

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Richard Weisgrau

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Not quite as simple though. Photography has transitioned and continues to, into the realms of digital. Just because a brand has been in photography does not guarantee it can avoid throwing the towel. Look at IBM "laptops". Look at Minolta, Yashica and Konica, all well respected names. Pentax is now Ricoh. Olympus has had to reinvent itself with m43. Fuji is sticking with mirrorless.

Sony and Panasonic have a long history in another area that has consolidated: videography. And electronics is their playground which is at the core of digital imaging. Optics is a different area but little has changed in terms of outsourcing. Collaboration may have, in fact, increased.

I can't speak for Panasonic, but Sony's emphasis on product development has been on digital imaging and that really began 3-4 years ago. It has also been a bright spot in their bottomline and that is before making a major push into ILCs which I would has just about begun now. And increased popularity of smart phone cameras also adds to it (for sensors).

It will be interesting to watch the photography landscape over next 4-5 years.

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