Camera sales are falling and it's partially our fault.

Started Aug 2, 2013 | Discussions
(unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 5,590
Camera sales are falling and it's partially our fault.
7

No doubt many of you have read the article - http://www.dpreview.com/news/2013/08/01/camera-shipments-2013-CIPA

Depressing reading! Of course there may be many reasons for this including the often repeated impact of smartphones and in many regions a less than buoyant economy but perhaps one of the major reasons is just us.

By us I mean the typical 'enthusiast' that lurks around forums such as these.

Given the nit picking, jargon using, back biting, photographer jacket wearing, brand defending, DxO data repeating, 100% viewing, DR criticising, armchair experts in marketing, trust me I'm an expert-ing, cat and duck photographing, bokeh examining .................. and general willy waving - why would most newcomers, especially younger people, have the slightest interest in becoming part of that rather sad image?

Cope
Cope Veteran Member • Posts: 6,328
Re: Camera sales are falling and it's partially our fault.
3

Most amateur photographers do not frequent web forums, so any conversation here is not likely to affect their purchase habits.  I can tell you that I bought my wife a Nikon Coolpix S4000 a couple of years ago, and the battery will not hold a charge for more than a week.  Because of this, and because she has an iPhone 4, I am hesitant to buy another P&S and risk low battery life when she has a phone that will run all day and take good pictures.  I believe smart phones are the main issue here.

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Dave Lively Senior Member • Posts: 1,805
Most people do not know DPR exists
7

When most people buy a camera they ask friends, look at reviews online or go to a store.  They know better than to go to a forum where anyone can post anything.  They want to be able to take images that are good enough for their purposes and there is no way they are going to spend hours going through the forums.

Images being "good enough" hurts more than compacts.  I have some friends with 5-8 year old SLRs with the kit lens and maybe a fast prime and/or long zoom.  The only one thinking of upgrading is the one whose camera has a broken flash which would cost a lot of money to have fixed.  She bought the camera because she wanted a camera fast enough to take good photos of her dogs playing, with a lens long enough to take wildlife pictures and be able to take decent pictures indoors.  Her 8 year old Canon Rebel did all of that just fine until the flash broke.  There was a big surge of new buyers when DSLRs first became affordable but it is over.  Camera makers are going to have a hard time convincing current DSLRs owners to upgrade when their current camera does everything they want it to.  That leaves them with a much smaller first time buyer market and a small group of enthusiasts.

windsprite
windsprite Senior Member • Posts: 2,477
Re: Most people do not know DPR exists

Dave Lively wrote:

Images being "good enough" hurts more than compacts.

I think you've identified much of the "problem" here.

There was a big surge of new buyers when DSLRs first became affordable but it is over. Camera makers are going to have a hard time convincing current DSLRs owners to upgrade when their current camera does everything they want it to. That leaves them with a much smaller first time buyer market and a small group of enthusiasts.

Yup. Just today I was saying on the Nikon forum that after going through a bunch of DSLRs since 2005, the D700 is so good that it makes it really hard to justify an upgrade. And that's a 5-year-old body with several cameras available that are all upgrades in some way (D3, D3S, D3X, D800, D4, D600, etc. ...). I am addicted to DSLRs, so most likely I will buy a new one before long, but since buying the D700, the gap between cameras has become much longer. I imagine people who are less addicted can buy most any camera on the market today and remain satisfied for a pretty long time.

Julie

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D Cox Forum Pro • Posts: 18,063
Re: Most people do not know DPR exists
1

Dave Lively wrote:

When most people buy a camera they ask friends, look at reviews online or go to a store. They know better than to go to a forum where anyone can post anything. They want to be able to take images that are good enough for their purposes and there is no way they are going to spend hours going through the forums.

Images being "good enough" hurts more than compacts. I have some friends with 5-8 year old SLRs with the kit lens and maybe a fast prime and/or long zoom. The only one thinking of upgrading is the one whose camera has a broken flash which would cost a lot of money to have fixed. She bought the camera because she wanted a camera fast enough to take good photos of her dogs playing, with a lens long enough to take wildlife pictures and be able to take decent pictures indoors. Her 8 year old Canon Rebel did all of that just fine until the flash broke. There was a big surge of new buyers when DSLRs first became affordable but it is over. Camera makers are going to have a hard time convincing current DSLRs owners to upgrade when their current camera does everything they want it to. That leaves them with a much smaller first time buyer market and a small group of enthusiasts.

Also the adverts for the camera said it was practically perfect and would do everything you could possibly want.

So why buy a new one ?

MisterBG Veteran Member • Posts: 6,094
Re: Most people do not know DPR exists

D Cox wrote:

Dave Lively wrote:

When most people buy a camera they ask friends, look at reviews online or go to a store. They know better than to go to a forum where anyone can post anything. They want to be able to take images that are good enough for their purposes and there is no way they are going to spend hours going through the forums.

Images being "good enough" hurts more than compacts. I have some friends with 5-8 year old SLRs with the kit lens and maybe a fast prime and/or long zoom. The only one thinking of upgrading is the one whose camera has a broken flash which would cost a lot of money to have fixed. She bought the camera because she wanted a camera fast enough to take good photos of her dogs playing, with a lens long enough to take wildlife pictures and be able to take decent pictures indoors. Her 8 year old Canon Rebel did all of that just fine until the flash broke. There was a big surge of new buyers when DSLRs first became affordable but it is over. Camera makers are going to have a hard time convincing current DSLRs owners to upgrade when their current camera does everything they want it to. That leaves them with a much smaller first time buyer market and a small group of enthusiasts.

Also the adverts for the camera said it was practically perfect and would do everything you could possibly want.

So why buy a new one ?

You're right.

Cameras are so good these days that the only time you need a new one is when the one you have either breaks down/wears out or is stolen.

pavi1 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,852
Re: Camera sales are falling and it's partially our fault.

Camera sales are falling because once you have one that meets you needs, you don't buy another one till the one you have breaks.
The companies who planned properly will survive. Those who did not will go away.
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Everything happens for a reason. #1 reason: poor planning
WSSA #44

Tom Axford Veteran Member • Posts: 3,641
Camera sales reflect the rate of development of the technology
2

I think camera sales to a large extent follow the rate of development of new technology.

When I started using film cameras several decades ago, I purchased a new camera about once every ten years at most.

Camera development speeded up in the 1980s and 1990s with the development of autofocus and other goodies. When digital came in, the speed of development increased further. Recently, I have been buying a new camera almost every year because significant improvement occur at that sort of speed.

However, cameras are now so good that it is getting harder for the manufacturers to improve their performance sufficiently to persuade us to part with our money for a new model. My guess is that the market will slow down gradually and return to a level that is more sustainable in the long term. But it is always hazardous trying to predict the future, I could be totally wrong!

jkoch2
jkoch2 Senior Member • Posts: 1,198
Re: Camera sales are falling and it's partially our fault.
1

meland wrote:

Depressing reading! Of course there may be many reasons for this including the often repeated impact of smartphones and in many regions a less than buoyant economy but perhaps one of the major reasons is just us.

...why would most newcomers, especially younger people, have the slightest interest in becoming part of that rather sad image?

Correct.  Who in blazes wants to take sides in a debate over camera brands or lenses?  It's about as rewarding as to argue about global warming or wars between Medieval clans.  The obsessions with mega ISO pixel peeping or narrow DOF are very obtuse subjects to most people.

Old vets' clubs, bowling leagues, and lodges like the Lions, Moose, Elk, Kiwanis, KOK, Junior League, and Oldfellows are also rather dull, chilly, or spooky for outsiders.  Some religious congregations face a similar dilemma: no easy balance between the tradition-bound elders, who might be stingy but pay the parsons purse, versus the need to recruit new members whose kids, music, noise, and different tastes will disrupt the ancient sanctity.

A phone is more entertaining, obviously.  People carry them everywhere and use them ceaselessly.

lbj1891
lbj1891 Regular Member • Posts: 231
Re: Most people do not know DPR exists

windsprite wrote:

Dave Lively wrote:

Images being "good enough" hurts more than compacts.

I think you've identified much of the "problem" here.

There was a big surge of new buyers when DSLRs first became affordable but it is over. Camera makers are going to have a hard time convincing current DSLRs owners to upgrade when their current camera does everything they want it to. That leaves them with a much smaller first time buyer market and a small group of enthusiasts.

Yup. Just today I was saying on the Nikon forum that after going through a bunch of DSLRs since 2005, the D700 is so good that it makes it really hard to justify an upgrade. And that's a 5-year-old body with several cameras available that are all upgrades in some way (D3, D3S, D3X, D800, D4, D600, etc. ...). I am addicted to DSLRs, so most likely I will buy a new one before long, but since buying the D700, the gap between cameras has become much longer. I imagine people who are less addicted can buy most any camera on the market today and remain satisfied for a pretty long time.

Julie

Right. Even the D3100 I recently purchased as my first camera feels like it will be around for a very very long time. As much as I would like to "upgrade" one day, I know I won't because it will be for superficial reasons. With the way I take care of it and the ability to get any broken part repaired, I won't need to REPLACE it for several years to come.

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Originally posted by brianj-
"As to why we come here, I have no idea, the forums are just a shadow of their old selves, in fact the Beginners Forum should be renamed into 'What camera should I buy' forum.
Anyway it keeps a lot of people off the streets and that is a good thing."
Anonymous-- "I'll be glad to discuss composition with you. As it is those "special moments" you record remind me of bowel movements."

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Dennis Forum Pro • Posts: 17,679
Re: Camera sales are falling and it's partially our fault.

pavi1 wrote:

Camera sales are falling because once you have one that meets you needs, you don't buy another one till the one you have breaks.

Yeah, I hadn't really considered this, but I think this might be a big factor that's coinciding with the whole cell phone craze - as in people who might have considered upgrading from a p&s to a DSLR now never want to give up the convenience of a cell phone camera.  (Cell phones are blamed for shrinking p&s sales, but they might be impacting entry level DSLR kits, too, to a small extent).

Anyway, we've passed the point where upgrading is important to IQ/capability for most people.  Your 1, 2, 3 year old camera might not be as good as the latest, but it's mature enough that there's less reason to spend money on an upgrade then there was in the past.  And sales were growing while prices were dropping, but entry level kits have been in the $500-650 range for a few years now, so there probably is less of a backlog of people waiting for prices to drop.

I doubt it has anything whatsoever to do with forum infighting.

- Dennis

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Dennis Forum Pro • Posts: 17,679
Re: Most people do not know DPR exists

You have companies each reaching out to grab a different slice of the ever-shrinking pie (like Sony with its surprising RX100 & RX1) ... but aside from that continuous effort, they ought to go back to basics and try to sell all those system owners on accessories.  Particularly lenses.  Does it really matter whether they're selling bodies or lenses ?

- Dennis

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lbj1891
lbj1891 Regular Member • Posts: 231
Forums not that important in real life
1

Dennis wrote:

pavi1 wrote:

Camera sales are falling because once you have one that meets you needs, you don't buy another one till the one you have breaks.

Yeah, I hadn't really considered this, but I think this might be a big factor that's coinciding with the whole cell phone craze - as in people who might have considered upgrading from a p&s to a DSLR now never want to give up the convenience of a cell phone camera. (Cell phones are blamed for shrinking p&s sales, but they might be impacting entry level DSLR kits, too, to a small extent).

Anyway, we've passed the point where upgrading is important to IQ/capability for most people. Your 1, 2, 3 year old camera might not be as good as the latest, but it's mature enough that there's less reason to spend money on an upgrade then there was in the past. And sales were growing while prices were dropping, but entry level kits have been in the $500-650 range for a few years now, so there probably is less of a backlog of people waiting for prices to drop.

I doubt it has anything whatsoever to do with forum infighting.

- Dennis

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This is true. Contrary to the way most people feel, the forums are irrelevant to most people's lives. For example, reading this forum will make you believe there is a huge mirrorless camera craze sweeping through the globe. Last time I was out around a lot of people, I saw maybe 3 mirrorless cameras and too many DSLRs to count.

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Originally posted by brianj-
"As to why we come here, I have no idea, the forums are just a shadow of their old selves, in fact the Beginners Forum should be renamed into 'What camera should I buy' forum.
Anyway it keeps a lot of people off the streets and that is a good thing."
Anonymous-- "I'll be glad to discuss composition with you. As it is those "special moments" you record remind me of bowel movements."

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OP (unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 5,590
A positive image counts though

lbj1891 wrote:

This is true. Contrary to the way most people feel, the forums are irrelevant to most people's lives. For example, reading this forum will make you believe there is a huge mirrorless camera craze sweeping through the globe. Last time I was out around a lot of people, I saw maybe 3 mirrorless cameras and too many DSLRs to count.

You are right - forums are irrelevant to most people.  But image is important, especially to encourage people to get interested in photography.  And whether it be grubby paparazzi, middle aged photographers in the park or tourists on safari, unfortunately our image isn't very aspirational.

tko Forum Pro • Posts: 12,073
that is exactly what drives sales
2

Enthusiastic, driven, nitpicking, perfectionist. That describes golfers, long distance runners, video game players, French Chefs and most other serious hobbyists.

When you exploit the lowest common denominator, pushing cell phones and instant apps, that's when you lose enthusiasm. Your hobby turns into McDonalds, respected by no one.

So, all these dumbed down posts drive down the core of photography. My cell phone is as good as your large format. Why I can't carry an extra half pound of camera gear. Why can't they sell me a 100:1 ultra zoom for $100. Why do I need a fast lens. Why would I ever need a wide angle, high ISO, or the ability to changes lenses. I'm not a pixel peeping, I don't do post, I don't do raw, I just want to push that button, hear that click.

You think golfers would ever use foldable, plastic clubs, because those heavy metal ones are inconvenient? It's the perfectionist who drives sales as their enthusiasm trickles down. Here, the disdain for anyone who actual works hard to take a good photo, and understand the process, trickles up to taint the entire market.

meland wrote:

No doubt many of you have read the article - http://www.dpreview.com/news/2013/08/01/camera-shipments-2013-CIPA

Depressing reading! Of course there may be many reasons for this including the often repeated impact of smartphones and in many regions a less than buoyant economy but perhaps one of the major reasons is just us.

By us I mean the typical 'enthusiast' that lurks around forums such as these.

Given the nit picking, jargon using, back biting, photographer jacket wearing, brand defending, DxO data repeating, 100% viewing, DR criticising, armchair experts in marketing, trust me I'm an expert-ing, cat and duck photographing, bokeh examining .................. and general willy waving - why would most newcomers, especially younger people, have the slightest interest in becoming part of that rather sad image?

Mahmoud Mousef Senior Member • Posts: 2,604
Re: Camera sales are falling and it's partially our fault.

meland wrote:

By us I mean the typical 'enthusiast' that lurks around forums such as these.

If someone wants a camera, they buy one.

Additionally, we are under no duty to be a mega-corporation's mouthpiece nor should we care if a camera manufacturer has sales peaks and valleys, because slow-downs often result in better products with less stagnation.

The reasons you cited for a lack of sales is creatively-written but I don't think it's really relevant to a worldwide global slowdown of camera sales. The possible (and likely) reasons for dipping unit shipments have been discussed at length already, so I won't repeat them.

If anything, all the discussion on forums like these encourage more sales of cameras and accessories. They do to me.

Amamba
Amamba Senior Member • Posts: 1,900
Re: Most people do not know DPR exists
1

Dave Lively wrote:

When most people buy a camera they ask friends, look at reviews online or go to a store. They know better than to go to a forum where anyone can post anything. They want to be able to take images that are good enough for their purposes and there is no way they are going to spend hours going through the forums.

Images being "good enough" hurts more than compacts. I have some friends with 5-8 year old SLRs with the kit lens and maybe a fast prime and/or long zoom. The only one thinking of upgrading is the one whose camera has a broken flash which would cost a lot of money to have fixed. She bought the camera because she wanted a camera fast enough to take good photos of her dogs playing, with a lens long enough to take wildlife pictures and be able to take decent pictures indoors. Her 8 year old Canon Rebel did all of that just fine until the flash broke. There was a big surge of new buyers when DSLRs first became affordable but it is over. Camera makers are going to have a hard time convincing current DSLRs owners to upgrade when their current camera does everything they want it to. That leaves them with a much smaller first time buyer market and a small group of enthusiasts.

How often did cameras upgrade 50, 30 years ago ? They stayed current far, far longer, yet it didn't kill the industry. About the only real "upgrade" was the introduction of AF lenses. Now, there's a true upgrade of features every 3-5 years - better processors, better low light performance, integrated video.

My speculation is, the DSLR market today is probably at it's high point compared to, say, 1970s. It's just that the overall camera buying bubble burst.

There was a surge in camera buying when digital first became affordable. It continued with Facebook and other easy photo sharing sites. It is now being killed by phone and tablet cameras getting better and better. I bought my kids cheap Nikon P&S to get them to learn photography, these cameras proved to be a complete POS and barely better than a camera on my phone. The bottom of the market is literally falling off, and this is the cash cow, they probably make more on volume P&S sales than on DSLR sales.

The DSLR market also had a spike when they first became affordable, now inevitably it cools down because it got saturated, yet people still upgrade DSLRs much more often than they did film SLRs.

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DSHAPK Contributing Member • Posts: 782
Re: Camera sales are falling and it's partially our fault.

Cope wrote:

Most amateur photographers do not frequent web forums, so any conversation here is not likely to affect their purchase habits. I can tell you that I bought my wife a Nikon Coolpix S4000 a couple of years ago, and the battery will not hold a charge for more than a week. Because of this, and because she has an iPhone 4, I am hesitant to buy another P&S and risk low battery life when she has a phone that will run all day and take good pictures. I believe smart phones are the main issue here.

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If your iphone runs all day, I'm jealous. We all have to carry chargers with us. I guess if you don't actually use the phone it has a great long battery life.

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mosswings Veteran Member • Posts: 8,207
Re: Camera sales are falling and it's partially our fault.
4

meland wrote:

No doubt many of you have read the article - http://www.dpreview.com/news/2013/08/01/camera-shipments-2013-CIPA

Depressing reading! Of course there may be many reasons for this including the often repeated impact of smartphones and in many regions a less than buoyant economy but perhaps one of the major reasons is just us.

By us I mean the typical 'enthusiast' that lurks around forums such as these.

Given the nit picking, jargon using, back biting, photographer jacket wearing, brand defending, DxO data repeating, 100% viewing, DR criticising, armchair experts in marketing, trust me I'm an expert-ing, cat and duck photographing, bokeh examining .................. and general willy waving - why would most newcomers, especially younger people, have the slightest interest in becoming part of that rather sad image?

+1 to all those who commented that photography fora have nothing to do with the collapse of the photo industry.

The simple reason is demographics.  For the most part millennials and those younger have completely different priorities and interests than the boomer and gen X cohort that drove camera sales in years past. It has been consistently true for generations that the needs of most are met by whatever "brownie" camera equivalent has been current.  In today's market, that is the smartphone, providing far more features and easy connectivity than any conventional camera user could ever dream of.

Cameras today function as a part of the instant communication network.  Smartphones serve that purpose with far greater aptitude than an conventional camera, which was not designed to make communication easy.  Consider the pain that even a wifi-enabled camera user has to go through to simply publish a picture.  It's torturous compared to the click-click-click of a smartphone linked to Facebook or whatever.  The DSLR user is a hair-shirted monk by comparison (and I shoot mostly DSLRs, so no flames on that opinion, please).

Millennials and younger have other things to spend their time and money on than fussy mechanical objects. You may have noticed that they are delaying or reprioritizing all sorts of things - relationships, home ownership, car ownership, etc.  Perhaps when they enter family-raising phase of life they may turn to better cameras, but those devices won't be traditionally configured in the main.

Meanwhile, camera manufacturers continue to stir the pot that is aging away with retro designs and features targeted towards the 50-somethings, the traditional age demographic for "serious" cameras and the only demographic with sufficient disposable income to afford precision photographic equipment. That cohort is now far less able to do so, and many (like Barnaby in his editorial) have realized that it doesn't take such expenditure or weight-lifting to get spectacular performance.

We're in the middle of an extinction event here, folks.  Somewhere out there are tiny little mammals ready to take over from the rapidly-falling dinosaurs.

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003tvd Contributing Member • Posts: 935
Re: Camera sales are falling and it's partially our fault.

For whom is this phenomenon a problem? The camera manufacturers? Tough. Adapt or die. Memory card makers? Boo hoo. Retailers selling cameras? Start selling phones and capturing the printing from phones market. Us, here on forums? Darn, less newbies over whom we can laud our superior equipment. Not everyone who takes pictures is a photographer, most are picture-takers......no more, no less. Image quality has only ever mattered to a small percentage of happy snappers. IQ (for the masses) will always be trumped by convenience, ease of use, cost, etc., and now, easier sharing. What's easier than snap with iPhone, send to friend in seconds, enjoy?

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