Declining MFT/mirrorless camera sales?

Started Jan 1, 2014 | Discussions
brycesteiner
brycesteiner Senior Member • Posts: 1,923
Re: Spoken like "grandpa"
1

Barry Stewart wrote:

Lab D wrote:

I remember when old people and the occasional young person claimed phones with touchscreens would never catch on because they didn't have the tactile feel and response of real buttons. Then they said smartphones and tablets would quickly die unless they came with a real keyboard of some kind.

Now I read these same people saying they need an OVF and lots of buttons on their cameras and that touch shutters (selecting a focal point and activiating the sutter with one touch) and EVF will never catch on.

Things never change.

Hey, I resemble that… partly.

We didn't "need" anything at Christmas 2012, so my wife convinced 'us' that we needed an iPad. I enjoyed flying around our area with the 3-d map for a few hours, then I went back to my desktop computer. It maybe has 30 hours of use, after a year. My desktop: over 1,000 (maybe 2?).

I admit, it is handy for traveling — but I absolutely hate the keyboard on the thing. Not so much the lack of tactile keys… more the having to switch layers to get at the numbers and extra characters.

As a teacher, I use them for the learning apps — but give me a full computer for regular work.

On the other hand, I love the touchscreen on my E-PL5.

I don't mind touch screen phones, but I hate touch computers and iPads. I hate trying to look through everyones' fingerprints. It is filthy and harbor nest for germs!

Using a mouse is much easier, quicker and I don't have too look at the fingerprints while getting my work done. I'm sure my mouse doesn't have any viruses or germs since it's made by Apple  

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aljudy Senior Member • Posts: 1,208
Re: A report in Bloomberg says otherwise

brycesteiner wrote:

al_in_philly wrote:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-18/olympus-expects-camera-unit-to-return-to-profit-next-year.html

Perhaps it's all about the transition away from P/S as the profit base.

I think this is right on especially in light of the new article on DPReview:

http://www.dpreview.com/news/2014/01/02/best-gear-of-2013-the-results-are-in?utm_campaign=internal-link&utm_source=mainmenu&utm_medium=text&ref=mainmenu

It's amazing how the lowest camera sales in continual decline, mirrorless, are the most owned of any of the cameras in the favorites of 2013. Oh well.

It seems there are major contradictions in "facts"

All or most mirrorless owners are here may explain that...  Al

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aljudy Senior Member • Posts: 1,208
Re: Declining MFT/mirrorless camera sales?
1

Joel Stern wrote:

These threads are running rampart here and Fuji ang other forums. Doom is not upon us. If you use a real camera you will never be happy with a smartphone's IQ..

Way too general of a comment. I use a real camera, but in daylight I am happy with my smartphone camera IQ. I am an active person who jogs, hikes, bikes; my smartphone is with me everywhere and photos I've taken while actively out in the day are very good. I'll add a link to some smartphone photos for examples:

https://plus.google.com/photos/115239312088619037429/albums/5891330882772338225/5896551617265959154?banner=pwa&pid=5896551617265959154&oid=115239312088619037429

https://plus.google.com/photos/115239312088619037429/albums/5891330882772338225/5895319932360820770?banner=pwa&pid=5895319932360820770&oid=115239312088619037429

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Vlasty Senior Member • Posts: 1,856
Re: Declining MFT/mirrorless camera sales?
1

Joel Stern wrote:

These threads are running rampart here and Fuji ang other forums. Doom is not upon us. If you use a real camera you will never be happy with a smartphone's IQ..

The problem is that most people don't have a "real camera" anymore, nor do most want one.

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jalywol
jalywol Veteran Member • Posts: 9,811
I think you have to look at this from the bottom up...
4

....rather than the top down?

Photography is a way to record history, for most people. Family history, events, etc. When photographic processes first became available at a price that people could afford, they started having their portraits taken for posterity. Later, when roll film was developed, it meant that smaller cameras could be designed, and more people became able to use the medium. It still was a hobbyist's forte, though, until the first affordable portable cameras (Brownies) were marketed at the turn of the last century. Kodak alone sold over 1,000,000 Brownies in the first five years of production (according to the George Eastman International Museum of Photography and Film)...and the era of the point and shoot had begun.

More adjustable film cameras followed (35mm, twin lens reflex, etc), but those were more enthusiast products, and were not affordable snapshot cameras for the bulk of those wanting to capture everyday images.

Fast forward to the 1960s.....the Instamatics, with their drop-in film cartridges were a giant success. Polaroid marketed the first instant cameras in 1948, but in the 1960s the first affordable Polaroid camera was released (the Swinger) and it was also a giant hit, selling in large quantities to the "average" consumer. Of course, the SLR market was also growing, but the investment to get an SLR with a kit lens was a whole heck of a lot larger than that required for an Instamatic or Swinger....and most people didn't bother. (If I recall, back in 1971 or so, when I desperately coveted a Minolta SRT 101, they went, with the cheapest kit lens, for about $200 (from the lowest priced NYC dealers )....Instamatics ranged from $9.95 to about $30 (unless you wanted to get into the metal-bodied, full rangefinder ones, which were very expensive...but those were more comparable in adjustability and lens quality to a basic SLR, so they would have been considered enthusiast cameras at that point, too).

Fast forward a few years, and compact point and shoot film cameras using 35mm film came on board, and were also very popular; they were cheap, they produced good looking 4x6 or 5x7 prints, and they were very easy to use. SLRs were still being produced and used by the enthusiast community, but that was not who bought most of the cameras out there.

In the 2000's digital technology merged the categories a bit....now people could buy a relatively inexpensive point and shoot camera that did not need film, and with which you could have instant access to your images via the rear screen (or quick access if you wanted a hard copy and printed them at home). Everyone who would have bought a Brownie, or an Instamatic, or a Swinger back in the day, now had a different option that combined the best from all three, and at a reasonable price. The era of the digital point and shoot was at hand.

Of course, the enthusiast section of the market was clamoring for the high end digital version of their SLRs at this point, and the camera companies obliged. Pricing, of course, was much higher for the higher level lenses, sensors, bodies, and features, but enthusiasts have always been willing to pay for these features, AND ALWAYS WILL BE. Regular consumers have NEVER seen the point to all of this gear, and are happy to be able to capture an image and share it with their friends and family, in the easiest way possible.....and the gear obsession of the enthusiast is, was, and forever will be a mystery to them.

So, what happened after that? Well, the smartphone and tablet technology appeared, of course. When digital photo technology allowed competent performance in a sufficiently miniaturized size, the smartphones became the current equivalent of the Instamatic AND Polaroid. Ok-to-pretty good IQ, always with you, easy to use, easy to edit, and instantly accessible to show family and friends via the online infrastructure that has arisen in the past few years. As a result, your average Joe (or Jane) with a half-decent smartphone is going to use that for most of their image taking.

Does this mean that the enthusiast market is going to vanish???? Of course not! Just like SLRs and Instamatics coexisted in the 60's and 70's, smartphones and tablets will fill the average user niche, and the enthusiasts will continue using more capable gear for their endeavors.

I actually think part of the problem with the media reports is that there are now SO many cell phones and tablets out there that people who would not have had ANY kind of camera on them before, now have one available, so it looks like everyone is using one of those to the exclusion of anything else. In reality, it would not surprise me if the number of enthusiast cameras was relatively constant in terms of percentages of use if one compared current usage to that of 40 years ago...and perhaps even higher.

In some ways, the smartphone camera may actually prove a blessing in disguise for the enthusiast market....It may very well weed out the lower-end enthusiast cameras, but it will for sure open up the higher end camera market to smartphone users who discover that they really are interested in photography and they can't do what they want to do with the smartphones....the same way that most of us got interested back in the day, after using a basic snapshot cam and realizing there was a lot more potential there to explore......

Now if only the news media would approach their coverage with this in mind, we would not have these remarkably lopsided articles about the demise of the photo industry....

-J

Joel Stern
Joel Stern Forum Pro • Posts: 10,926
Re: Declining MFT/mirrorless camera sales?
1

Vlasty wrote:

Joel Stern wrote:

These threads are running rampart here and Fuji ang other forums. Doom is not upon us. If you use a real camera you will never be happy with a smartphone's IQ..

The problem is that most people don't have a "real camera" anymore, nor do most want one.

Agreed...

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Guy Parsons
Guy Parsons Forum Pro • Posts: 32,317
One person rebels.

Vlasty wrote:

The problem is that most people don't have a "real camera" anymore, nor do most want one.

My daughter for one missed a real camera (needed repair) and was not satisfied with her smartphone efforts so has gone back to a small pocket camera (24-240mm equivalent zoom) to better record her kids growing up. WiFi camera so no problems to get images easily to farcebook or wherever.

Regards.... Guy

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jkoch2
jkoch2 Senior Member • Posts: 1,198
Look at this from the bottom [line] up...
1

jalywol wrote:

In some ways, the smartphone camera may actually prove a blessing in disguise for the enthusiast market....It may very well weed out the lower-end enthusiast cameras,

Canon and Nikon, if they survive the bumps, might indeed sit pretty if three or four competitors fold or exit the camera business. But less competition will allow them to raise prices, offer fewer models, and cater only to the most traditional groove of DSLR clients, which will upgrade bodies every 4 years or so, no matter the price or modest the advantage.

but it will for sure open up the higher end camera market to smartphone users who discover that they really are interested in photography and they can't do what they want to do with the smartphones....

Like presuming that readers of People or Examiner will evolve into enthusiasts of Milton or Leibnitz.  Or to imagine that eaters if McFish sandwiches will morph into trout fly-tyers.  If it ever happened, it would be for the wrong reasons, or entail monstrous results.

the same way that most of us got interested back in the day, after using a basic snapshot cam and realizing there was a lot more potential there to explore......

Unless friends continue to respond mainly to casual people-shots, which is about as sure as Newtonian laws of motion, momentum, and gravitational force.

Now if only the news media would approach their coverage with this in mind, we would not have these remarkably lopsided articles about the demise of the photo industry....

Unless cameras are a profitable business, they will revert to a rich man's fancy, sort of like yachts, antique ornaments, coveted "masters" canvasses, or private planes: if you shuddle at the cost, or even ask about price, you can't afford them.

It is not mere "noise" or impertinent banter that P&S sales are a disaster, DSLR sales flat, and mirrorless market shares in decline.  Smart phones are simultaneously the elephant, 800 lbs gorilla, and T-rex in the room.  The global camera industry is a wee appendix, as risk of relegation to "sunset" status, except as a pricey retro niche.

If the market bottoms in 2014, that may be the "silver lining" for two of the manufacturers, but not even that, unless growth for upper-end models perks up.

The total unknown: whether two or more companies can make money from selling high-end stuff only, without the economies of scale formerly offered by P&S stuff, and will a slow down in the appreciable qualitative advances.  After all, the 2010-2013 stock of cameras is already very good--even too good for most people's needs.

Tidewater Contributing Member • Posts: 823
Re: Declining MFT/mirrorless camera sales?
1

!. Yes I use my smartphone sometimes. The screen is very hard to see outdoors in the sun. I use it for travel and various occasional activities. The lack of an evf is a big limitation for me as well as optical zooming. I also chronicle with a P&S. with a nice zoom and low light stacking. Other serious cameras sometimes come along for serious hobby shooting.

2  I don't really care what happens to the industry. There will be useful electronics of some sort.

3 The camera is eventually history. It is a matter of time before the sensor and the processing power allow us to capture videos and stills with tiny sensors in our sun glass frames or whatever. It will capture very decent images and process them and send them somewhere like the cloud for later use. The DR and the focus will equal the human eye or better. All sorts of sensors and computer chips will be everywhere doing things like that. The Google glass can probably do a lot already. It responds to eye blinks to take pictures and who knows what else. The timing will probably be MUCH FASTER than we can imagine. This can happen within the decade.

4. Very sophisticated pro type cameras with a hundred setting in and on it will not be needed very much. They are like the old room filling computers of 50 years ago. The computer chip and a high res screen, on line, will take, share and view very decent images and this fulfills most of our needs. The process is well underway. Already we can view many thousands of images of everything imaginable on flikr etc and it will get easier and faster.

jalywol
jalywol Veteran Member • Posts: 9,811
Re: Look at this from the bottom [line] up...
2

jkoch2 wrote:

jalywol wrote:

In some ways, the smartphone camera may actually prove a blessing in disguise for the enthusiast market....It may very well weed out the lower-end enthusiast cameras,

but it will for sure open up the higher end camera market to smartphone users who discover that they really are interested in photography and they can't do what they want to do with the smartphones....

Like presuming that readers of People or Examiner will evolve into enthusiasts of Milton or Leibnitz. Or to imagine that eaters if McFish sandwiches will morph into trout fly-tyers. If it ever happened, it would be for the wrong reasons, or entail monstrous results.

Oh come on now. You are exhibiting some terrible snobbery here.

NOBODY was born with an enthusiast's camera in their hand. I would venture to guess that just about everyone who uses a higher end camera started with a snapshot cam first. Sure, most people never went further, but a proportion did and do.

The same thing will happen with smartphones. Those who are satisfied with what they can get from the smartphone output will continue to use them, but the offshoot who are not will look further. Those are the people who will drive the market.

If you want to be really presumptuous, you could even say that since MORE people are using basic smartphone cameras than ever before, an even larger percentage will want to get into enthusiast cameras than ever before, so the market should at least remain stable, even if it does not grow.

Now if only the news media would approach their coverage with this in mind, we would not have these remarkably lopsided articles about the demise of the photo industry....

Unless cameras are a profitable business, they will revert to a rich man's fancy, sort of like yachts, antique ornaments, coveted "masters" canvasses, or private planes: if you shuddle at the cost, or even ask about price, you can't afford them.

I don't think you quite have the scale right here.....

It is not mere "noise" or impertinent banter that P&S sales are a disaster, DSLR sales flat, and mirrorless market shares in decline. Smart phones are simultaneously the elephant, 800 lbs gorilla, and T-rex in the room. The global camera industry is a wee appendix, as risk of relegation to "sunset" status, except as a pricey retro niche.

Enthusiast photographic equipment has never really been much more than a niche market......it's just because of the advent of digital technology and the reduction in price with the increase in quality and availability that the photo market grew like it did in the past 10 or so years. As the products and market matures, it is bound to contract back to being on a stable, rather than growing, sales track. I think you are far too gloomy about it.

-J

n3eg
n3eg Senior Member • Posts: 2,598
Re: Declining MFT/mirrorless camera sales?

My smartphone is a backup for a backup.  Both my vehicles have 14MP 8x zoom point and shoots in them with charged batteries.  My computer case has an 8mp 12x zoom bridge camera.  This is for when I'm not bringing my E-PL5 which assumes the traditional role of the DSLR in the family of cameras.  Not to mention my Z990 for home photos...

Yes, my smartphone is 8mp, but it underexposes 1 stop and has lousy DR.  A HDR or RAW app might make it acceptable, but it would still be a smartphone.

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brycesteiner
brycesteiner Senior Member • Posts: 1,923
Re: Grantham

Barry Stewart wrote:

grantham wrote:

Your's is probably the best post in this thread, all the nitpicking by all the Gearheads, does not make any difference at all,ever since I bought my G1 I have wondered how long Panny would last in the Camera biz without a visual presence in the retail stores, except for a few low end P&S cameras,in my town ,abt 60k I have only met 1 person using a M43 Camera, it seems clear that most people simply are not aware of M43 or simply don't care either way, there is no indication that m43 is going to be a force to be reckoned with, hope I'm wrong, time will tell.

Ken, I was also impressed by Reg's response. To a large extent, we at DPR forums don't wag the dog.

BUT: we can be the seeds of change, if we care to. We show our families and friends the gear we've downsized (or upsized) to and the results we get and they have reason to pause and consider. Some of the seeds will fall on fertile ground. Others will get washed away by the tide.

BTW, if you live in my town (Chilliwack), that would make 3 m4/3 users!

I know at least 5 m4/3 owners who are in my circle. One is a camera shop owner and photographer. He is a licensed Nikon dealer (with lit sign on the front of store) and has a d800 but he uses the E-M5 for nearly everything because it is compatible with so many lenses. The day I visited he had just received the E-M1.

I think the E-M1 has been a great seller despite it's price. i haven't purchased one yet, but my son loves his and my brother-in-law bought one who lives in TN. There are a lot out there. I'm not sure if I would recognize every m4/3 out there since some are VERY small.

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Reg Natarajan
Reg Natarajan Junior Member • Posts: 33
Re: Grantham

BTW, if you live in my town (Chilliwack), that would make 3 m4/3 users!

Small world. I live in Surrey, just down the Trans Canada a bit. Cheers.

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Reg Natarajan

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Reg Natarajan
Reg Natarajan Junior Member • Posts: 33
Re: Declining MFT/mirrorless camera sales?

I love how you bring drafting alive, even to someone like me who knows nothing of the art.   It is also nice that a few here are refusing to become embittered over the fact that photography is changing, even if some of us might be a bit too old to change with it.

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Barry Stewart
Barry Stewart Veteran Member • Posts: 8,983
Reg

Reg Natarajan wrote:

BTW, if you live in my town (Chilliwack), that would make 3 m4/3 users!

Small world. I live in Surrey, just down the Trans Canada a bit. Cheers.

Surrey… yeah I've heard of it, LOL!

We were in Hawaii a few years ago and got on the elevator with a teenaged boy who had a Canada flag on his jacket. We wondered where he was from and when he said "Surrey" we said we were from Chilliwack… and he just stared blankly.

My wife and I couldn't believe it.

BTW: if you're interested in an FL-600 for $200, check Craigslist Vancouver. There's one on there.

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Barry

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Guy Parsons
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Comment
3

Just as the tablet computers proved that most people just do not need real computing power and large storage, the smartphones have proved that most people don't need a real camera.

Regards..... Guy

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dinoSnake Veteran Member • Posts: 3,214
Re: Comment

Guy Parsons wrote:

Just as the tablet computers proved that most people just do not need real computing power and large storage

No, tablets proved that most people just do not need real computing power and large storage accessible at all times.  Tablets, for the vast majority of their owners, are only secondary (or even tertiary) devices and, even then, tablets still have access to "large storage" via their connectivity to the 'cloud', which is their entire purpose of being.  No cloud storage = pretty limited point of a tablet.

richj20 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,179
Re: Comment
2

Guy Parsons wrote:

Just as the tablet computers proved that most people just do not need real computing power and large storage, the smartphones have proved that most people don't need a real camera.

Some like the tablet's camera. I photographed this in Zion National Park. Pretty good sized Live View Screen!

- Richard

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Guy Parsons
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Re: Comment
1

dinoSnake wrote:

Guy Parsons wrote:

Just as the tablet computers proved that most people just do not need real computing power and large storage

No, tablets proved that most people just do not need real computing power and large storage accessible at all times. Tablets, for the vast majority of their owners, are only secondary (or even tertiary) devices and, even then, tablets still have access to "large storage" via their connectivity to the 'cloud', which is their entire purpose of being. No cloud storage = pretty limited point of a tablet.

Main use of tablets from what I see as I wander about..... Internet browsing, online shopping, farcebook browsing, photo taking and uploading to farcebook, finding recipes and inspiration for what to cook, some online TV and some YouTube browsing, game playing, nothing serious or heavy duty enough to even warrant cloud storage for most that I see. They are nice toys for most it seems, but giving way to smaller and very capable smartphones now (it must fit in a pocket).

Granted some know how to use tablets properly to integrate with some real computing power at home, but for most it's just this year's gadget to buy, next year it will be something else.

I feel like Marvin the paranoid android , everything is depressing.

Regards...... Guy

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Vlasty Senior Member • Posts: 1,856
Re: my 3 cents
3

Great points. I really think its time that articles start using the term micro four thirds more. I think this is less a piece about mirrorless in general, than a piece about the whoes of MFT. Mirrorless is a term that covers far too many camera types, smartphones included. Mirrorless is here to stay, however MFT's has some big problems ahead.

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