As an enthusiast the camera market is depressing.

Started Aug 13, 2013 | Discussions thread
antoineb Veteran Member • Posts: 6,626
hmm. crystal balls? return on investment?

John Miles wrote:

I simply detest the fact that in being an enthusiast I am placed in a minority that has little bearing in the way manufacturers design and promote cameras.

It appears to me now that the only viable equipment route is DSLR. Beyond that the often truly pathetic camera designs that are released offer no redeeming qualities that might tempt the enthusiast.

Why do camera designers fail so comprehensively to create and maintain a check list of camera features that build into a competent camera? It is infuriating when a design is released with 5 of 6 of the major points you were looking for. For a market so diverse you would think that options beyond the DSLR would be available.

The small in the hands, small focal range camera abounds, with countless options available. Why are so few trying to be different if they are already struggling with current sales? There are gaping holes in the camera supply market that are not being explored. Where are the superzoom 4/3's? Where are the full frame compacts? Where is the wealth of 2/3" cameras.

I know people will instantly respond with a host of reasons why a certain type will not happen, but that is irrelevant. The camera market is suffering and the manufacturers need to experiment.

Why did Olympus make in body IS and Panasonic in lens IS? Why did they bother agreeing the 4/3" format and then cock that bit up? Somewhere along the line error is building on error to make long term camera ownership a shambles. Who is prepared to commit to a camera system that might not be there next year? How many of us can actually genuinely afford to change entire systems THAT often.

The more I look at it the more I can see the poor state the camera market is in. From inclusion of movie potential in camera design to the wasteland that is the manual zoom superzoom market, I have many personal reasons to consider the camera choice before me ZERO. But I am certain that, for whatever reasons, I am not alone in considering the market flooded yet optionless.

Hmmm.  I agree with you that there probably is way too much choice.

I think the fault lies with those main problems:
- camera manufacturers do not own a crystal ball that tells them what percentage of the market wants how much in terms of features.  Therefore they have to experiment, and sometimes they are successful, and sometimes not
- camera companies, or departments, have to earn an economic return.  This means that not only must you get the market and product right, but you must also attempt to achieve this while requiring an investment that is small enough so that the said return is generated.  This has probably pushed some manufacturers to launch several products very close in specs in the hope to fill shelves (or internet space) with very low additional R&D cost - note that sometimes such strategies can work well
- finally the rise of the smartphone has meant that besides the two questions above, which are part of everyday life in many fields, camera makers see pretty much the whole market going away from below their feet.  Which only serves to make them even more nervous regarding making any daring or expensive move

Look at me:  I own a decent DSLR and a couple good lenses with it; it delivers good image quality, it has nice controls; on the other hand it is quite big and heavy and so stays home a lot; and it can't film (well it can film if I give up on AF and am happy with mono sound - when my iPhone has video with AF and stereo sound).  I own a pocketable superzoom which delivers IQ marginally better than that of the iPhone (except blue skies where it beats it by a mile, flash, or higher ISO) - it can go anywhere and has that extra reach when I see distant wildlife for example.  I own a non-pocketable superzoom from 2007 but have never bought the successor models because Pannasonic made them increasingly bigger and heavier reaching into DSLR body territory.  At the end of the day most of my photography happens with my iPhone: it is always with me, the IQ is quite good, the macros are very nice, it can film - I miss the high ISO, the flash, the zoom, and occasionally continuous shooting.

The options?
- DSLRs remain good, good IQ, good controls once you go for the enthusiast models.  They also remain big and heavy, and need big and heavy lenses once you go beyond a 50mm f1.8.  They used to be unable to film but it looks like the Canon 70D can actually film with AF and record stereo sound - well done Canon (Nikon can't do that at all)
- full-frame compacts exist. They are very expensive though and still mostly only a curiosity item
- APS-C compacts exist.  They deliver the goods though for the time being don't seem fully mature
- m43 exists.  Perhaps Panny and Oly haven't coordinated their image stabilisation, but there is a wealth of good cameras with good controls, typically more physical on the Oly side and more digital on the Panny side.
- m43 superzoom seems very unlikely:  if you wanted some zoom then they would have to become quite large and people might just revert to a DSLR
- 1'' sensors offer quite good IQ.  The Sony RX100 is a very nice compact camera though sure due to its tiny size there is compromise on the controls.  Some of the Nikon 1 models are quite good and the IQ and performance is excellent
- superzooms remain good.  Their IQ isn't stellar with their tiny sensors but it has gone up a bit over the years.  Their zoom offers great flexibility.  Some of them have some form of manual control though it tends to be not so convenient.  Too bad most manufacturers have made them bigger every year so that they overlap with DSLR territory (in 2007 my FY18 weighed just 360 grams vs 600-700 grams for latest models)
- pocketable superzooms tend to offer lesser IQ and more importantly much less control

What am I doing?  I'm just sitting on the sidelines.  I don't really see anything on the market, that makes me think that it would change it all for me.  Especially not for the stills.  Sure any of the m43 mirrorless would give me comparable IQ, and much better video.  I'm thinking about the RX100 because it would give me some flexibility, be the same size as my pocketable compact, and deliver significantly better IQ.

 antoineb's gear list:antoineb's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 Olympus TG-610 Nikon D7000 +5 more
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