Olympus still hopeful. Is MILC a serious alternative for DSLR?

Started Jan 11, 2014 | Discussions thread
(unknown member) Contributing Member • Posts: 650
It's an Art and Culture Problem, not an Equipment Problem

HappyVan wrote:

At CES, Oly's Terada (product planning) offered this tidbit.

“Yet, as far as CSCs are concerned, Terada believes Olympus has the potential to take a large chunk of the market, in two ways: by winning over existing DSLR users; and by pulling in complete newcomers to system cameras.

‘The world of interchangeable lens has changed,' said Terada.

'This is our opportunity to grab current DSLR users to switch to mirrorless...

Read more at http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/photo-news/540335/ces-2014-olympus-may-re-enter-dslr-arena#91ahpQciSJY0fGGy.99

First, Terada is quietly acknowledging that DSLR is not going away. Indeed, the guys at Olympics are still emotionally attached to the DSLR because those were their days of glory. That's where their best lenses are.

In the next post (Is MILC a serious alternative for DSLR?), I will examine whether MILC (as a group) is really doing its job in pulling in new users, and converting DSLR users.

In this section, I will merely point out that the last 43 cameras were launched in 2010, and are due for replacement. The last film cameras were sold in 2002. Therefore, the M43 OM-D cameras are essential to stop the lost of Oly DSLR customer base to other brands.

Historically, Oly DSLR market share was 6% in 2007 (according to wikipedia). Currently, Oly market share of ILC is just @3% globally! Since, most of the M43 cameras sold by Oly is without viewfinder, the inference is that Oly is seriously bleeding DSLR users to other brands.

Just to put a perspective on Terada's spin. Oly will maintain its own DSLR user base only when it sells enough cameras with EVF. That's equivalent to @6% of ILC.

At the rate that the Olympus DSLR customer base is eroding, it is unlikely that Oly will return to DSLR.

Speculating about a subset of camera design paradigms may be missing the larger point: it's not about cameras, it's about photography.

Why bother worrying about whether mirrorless can take a bigger piece of a doomed pie?

There is a whole generation of people for whom "photography" amounts to snapping smart phone photographs and immediately sharing them. Photography is everywhere, ubiquitous, constant, and easy; it's a means of basic communication.

In the past, popular ideas about photography--what it's for, what "good" shots look like--were shaped by professionals in print or in private commissions. Now, since everyone shoots and shares photographs all the time for any reason, there's no consensus. People who are into it on this forum get mad whenever anyone suggests that a smartphone can outshoot a "real" camera, but it's a non-issue for most people: they spend a lot more time with social media feeds than with magazines or other paid / professional media, and even that (what's left of it, anyway) is becoming increasingly "crowd-sourced." I mean, geez, Rolling Stone slaps a lousy smartphone instagram of the Boston Marathon bomber on its cover and people run around calling it a "glamour shot." The culture, in general, just isn't exposed to the professional or historic stuff a persnickety minority would call "good photography."

So, in the first place, cameras of any design that aren't connected and capable of publishing immediate results just don't have much of a role in our culture's expectations. And in the second place, those expectations have been shaped in such a way that they can't even imagine why a specialized camera might be necessary, or what it might do.

Right now, the various players in the photographic equipment business seems to be fighting over who'll have the honors of turning the light switch off as the last person to leave the room.

I personally think mirrorless has a ton of promise; but Olympus and Panasonic and Fuji have been as inept as CaNikon at recognizing big cultural shifts in how people regard and use photography. They all should've been spending time thinking about workflow: how do pictures get off the camera and on to the places people use pictures, today? How does that happen easily, quickly, and with high quality? USB cables, Olympus Viewer 3 and CaptureNX2 and DPP and Silkypix are not good answers to those questions. Neither are Nikon's goofy hang-dog wireless dongles. Neither are the kludgy in-camera RAW processing / editing features the manufactures include almost as an afterthought. Only now are we starting to get in-camera Wi-Fi options, but they're still too fussy and they're definitely too late.

Anywho, with the state of the Photographic art as it is, we'd be pretty unrealistic to expect a camera architecture swap--SLR to mirrorless--to make much of a splash in the popular imagination. The culture is falling in-line with Marissa Mayer ("there are no professional photographers any more") and Apple (who promoted the iPhone 5S's camera by swapping it, in slides, with a complete EM-5 and backpack of lenses). As far as most people are concerned, everything we're talking about has been kludgy and irrelevant for some time.

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