Will ILCs soon become obsolete ?

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axlotl
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Will ILCs soon become obsolete ?
2 months ago

Panasonic FZ1000. If this photo had been taken with a larger, more expensive camera would you be able to see the walkers' name tags ? Would anyone care ?

I read recently a report of Canon's latest quarterly results for camera sales. Interchangeable Lens Cameras (ILC) are down 19% year on year and Compacts down 38% year on year.

At the same time I noted a high level of interest on the dpreview website for the Panasonic FZ1000, a new "all in one" superzoom camera.

What does this tell us ? Two obvious things, I think.

First regular compact cameras are being replaced by smart phones, en masse.

Second, customers are increasingly opting not to buy a new ILC.

I have been using ILCs for almost 50 years. I find the least appealing feature of the interchangeable lens camera is precisely that which defines it, namely the requirement to change lenses if a wide range of focal lengths is required. I am not alone.

I understand industry data indicates the majority of ILC buyers mount a kit zoom or superzoom lens to their ILC and leave it there permanently.

The message is: (almost) everybody hates changing lenses and most camera users avoid doing so. Even professional photographers will carry two bodies, one with a standard zoom lens mounted, the other with a tele zoom lens, so as to avoid having to change lenses.

Aspheric lens elements Recent developments in technology have made highly accurate aspheric elements available in mass produced lenses for consumer products. Those same aspheric elements allow lenses to be made which have a longer focal length range and more compact dimensions at a lower price point than was possible in the pre-aspheric era.

Rise of the superzoom, "all in one" camera. This type of camera has been around for several years but has until now not managed to challenge ILC hegemony of the quality camera market. Indeed this camera type has for years been referred to as a "bridge", presumably meaning a bridge between compact and ILC types.

Until very recently most superzoom cameras used very small sensors with a diagonal of about 7.7mm. but the latest ones including the Sony RX10 and Panasonic FZ1000 use the larger 15.9mm sensor providing much better picture quality. They are able to do this because of the benefits offered by lenses containing multiple aspheric elements.

These new superzoom cameras are starting to make ILCs look irrelevant. They are less bulky and less expensive than an ILC with superzoom lens mounted. I would say right now the picture quality of the RX10 and FZ1000 is good enough for most photographers most of the time and that most users are probably wasting their money on larger/more expensive ILC kits.

DSLR - vs- MILC A few years ago I thought that the DSLR as a camera type would be overtaken by the Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens type (MILC). I still think the MILC will become more popular than the DSLR but I now think they will both be overtaken by the fixed zoom lens type. Maybe I should add--If camera buyers make logical decisions, which is probably a contestable idea.

I think that great changes are coming to the market for new cameras.

I think that the number of different makes, models and manufacturers will fall steeply to a much lower level than that which prevails now.

I think that ILCs will be overtaken by cameras with built in zoom lenses which will better serve the majority of buyers' requirements.

If users can have the main advantage of an ILC (choice of different focal lengths) without having to change lenses and without losing picture quality, I would say it is game over for the ILC.

We shall see.

Andrew

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10
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