Updated Mirrorless sales thread

Started Dec 15, 2014 | Discussions thread
sderdiarian Veteran Member • Posts: 4,229
Re: A return to normal sized cameras

Colin K. Work wrote:

Marty4650 wrote:

DSLRs became huge and bloated, and it took M4/3 to bring digital ILCs back to what was considered normal sized 40 years ago.

When you compare a well specked Olympus EM5 to a bottom of the line Canon 1100D, the EM5 looks tiny....

But the EM5 is really around the same size as a "full frame" 35mm Olympus OM1, Pentax Super ME, Canon AE1, Pentax MX, Nikon FE, or Konica FS1.

The EM5 isn't "small"... it's "normal sized."

The Canon and Nikon DSLRS (with the sole exception of the Canon SL1) are simply way too big.

I wonder if there is a goldilocks size for a camera. People go on about how wonderfully small some m4\3 cameras are, but back in the day, there were no end of miniature cameras available - from the specialist Minox to half frames which could use standard 35mm film. I remember Pentax bringing out a high spec system based on the 110 film cartridge (I think).

But none of them really had wide appeal - they can be enticing, but I think in real world use, too small can be as annoying as too big.

I've been tagging along and, first off, Marty, I've really enjoyed your graph and images, they've added a lot to this conversation.

And, Colin, I feel there is definitely something to the "goldilocks" optimal size for a camera.

For film, I used a succession of small but capable SLR's (Konica TC, OM-2S, Minolta 5), all being comfortable in the hand, light and compact enough to carry all day while performing as well as their larger brethren.

When I migrated to DSLR's, after a good deal of research I landed back in the Olympus camp with first an E-510 followed by an E-620, both coming closest to the small form-factor of my SLR's, albeit chunkier.

When I first got my E-M5, I was surprised to find it actually smaller than my OM-2S, being 1/2" shorter in length (maybe you could show this, Marty?) and a bit lighter as well. I was concerned when first using it that they'd gone too far and perhaps should have added 1/4" to the length, but I've adjusted.

I feel the E-M5 (and E-M10) are as small as I'd want to go for my primary camera, anything smaller such as the jewel-like GM1 being more of a specialty camera to me. While bigger is definitely not necessarily better, there's also a limit to going smaller in terms of comfortable usage.

Changing gears, given the cannibalization of camera sales by mobile phones, I feel mFT is well positioned in terms of small size/capable performance to entice mobile users looking to grow their photographic capabilities. Given this, mFT cameras will logically become increasingly compatible with mobile phones/tablets, more familiar in their UI's and have screen sizes increased to the degree practicable (a balance, back to that goldilocks "optimal size").

Fads wax and wane, and while we've now experienced the "gold-rush" boom years followed by the sales bubble bursting of digital cameras, mobile phone sales have also flattened, especially premium phones, and become ultra-competitive as Chinese manufacturers broaden their market penetration.

Their camera quality improvements have also crested (the iPhone 6 is not that much better than my older 4S), screen sizes have reached their practical limit (5-5.5") and they're relying increasingly on gimmicks like health monitors to push their brands. There's only so much you can do with a small sensor and lens.

Mobile phones do have the advantage of being a necessity (they are still phones after all) with 2 year plans subsidizing their cost. The idea of leasing a camera, guaranteeing the latest technology every two years, seems sensible on the face of it, but plays against my nature in wanting to be able to buy a camera of any brand when it appeals to me. Crux of the matter, cameras are not a necessity for me, they're a hobby I happily spend money on.

That's a defining difference, cameras having become more than ever a true leisure item (pro's aside, no harm intended). People enjoy spending money on items of interest for their free time, and cameras and photography in general are an excellent fit. It's for this reason I feel there will be first a flattening of the sales nose-dive followed by a sales rebound for enthusiast cameras.

In the CIPA statistics Marty posted it could be added that we are now at the same shipped volume of digital cameras as in 2003, when the bubble began to take off. From an earlier thread:

"The peak hit in 2010 of 121,767,000 cameras being produced compared to 42,061,000 just a decade earlier can best be described as meteoric, as can 21,089,000 ILC's in 2012 compared to 7,575,000 just 5 years earlier.

For historical reference, in 1970 5,480,000 cameras were produced, in 1980: 15,732,000, 1990: 28,500,000, and in 2000 42,061,000 (of which 10,820,000 were now digital)."


With the "subsidy" of compact sales gone, camera companies are continuing to adjust to a new market reality, with cameras aimed at enthusiasts now carrying most of the load. There will possibly be fall-out from this, but I see CSC's as better positioned to withstand it than DSLR's.

From the same thread:

"CSC's now appear to be holding steadier than DSLR's:

  • 2012: SLR's 16,860,000, CSC 4,229,000
  • 2013: SLR's 13,635,000 (81% of 2012), CSC 3,182,000 (75% of 2012)
  • 2014*: SLR's 10,260,000 (75% 0f 2013), CSC 2,744,000 (86% of 2013)

Based on this, I'd rather be a company investing its future in CSC's than DSLR's. Unfortunately CIPA doesn't break mFT's out from the overall CSC category."

We'll see where it lands, but in the meantime we're all enjoying a renaissance in camera technology and design right now. May it continue forward, and thanks for an interesting conversation along the way!

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Sailin' Steve

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