"Patience is Bitter...

Started Jan 19, 2014 | Discussions thread
TrapperJohn Forum Pro • Posts: 16,488
Market leaders usually lead

Nikon rose to fame in the 1960's for reasons of innovation: the F mount system, which took the SLR concept that Zeiss came up with, and eliminated the in body iris and leaf shutter that limited lens design. By 1970, Nikon had run Zeiss out of the SLR market. Canon caught Nikon in the 1980's, when they developed autofocus and IS, and Nikon was slow on both of them. Innovation propelled both to the top.

However, since that time, both have done very little innovation. The DSLR itself, the first commercially successful one, came from Kodak, the DCS series. C/N jumped in when Kodak started selling a lot of them. Olympus came up with live view, tilt/fold LCD, dust remover. Minolta developed IBIS. Sony and Panasonic put out the first serious cameras with EVF's. Nikon did build video on top of Oly's live view, let's give them credit for that. Otherwise, neither Nikon nor Canon have contributed much to new ideas, just a few more MP, another stop ISO, every two years. And that works, until MP and ISO start hitting a point of diminishing returns, where further increases just aren't that visible in the final photograph. As they are doing now.

C/N maintain their position by virtue of a lot of people who own their lenses, and a large selection of lenses. Aside from the niches that Olympus, Fuji, Pentax, and Sigma picked up on, and owner loyalty and value that Sony tried for, there wasn't a compelling reason to move from C/N and give up that extensive lens line.

There is now. Mirrorless hits them with size, right at a time when big cameras are falling out of vogue. C/N can't compete against that without giving up their greatest advantage, that installed lens base. Can't shrink the lens without losing their lens mount monopoly. That was evident in the rather lackluster mirrorless offerings they came up with. Nothing new, not even competitive with what was already out there, and especially, no base of existing lens owners to rely on. µ43 has the big lens base in this market, and that now includes the wicked sharp ZD lenses.

Who will provide the new ideas for the DSLR, now that the companies that were doing this have moved on to mirrorless? When Fuji developed the X-Trans sensor, which does have rendering advantages over traditional Bayer sensors, they didn't put it in a DSLR. They put it in the X series mirrorless bodies. And they didn't license it to C/N - didn't need to, they have a new market.

And that is why the EM1 came from Olympus and not Nikon, the A7 came from Sony and not Canon. Because Canon and Nikon have forgotten how to innovate, or how to compete with anyone but each other, or to do anything more than bump up MP and ISO every two years.

This won't happen overnight, but within five years, either C/N will clean out their mid and upper level management and start creating new, exciting products, or the limitations of the DSLR design will run up against a rapidly increasing µ43 lens base. Asia has already picked up on this.

It's easy to think that the camera market won't change because it hasn't really changed much since Nikon rose and Canon rose, but that's probably what Microsoft was thinking when mobile came along. Nothing can challenge us... until it did challenge them, and MS found, like C/N found, that simply putting their name on a mediocre product isn't enough, once the monopoly advantage is taken away.

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