An interesting read about the state of the camera industry..

Started Mar 25, 2014 | Discussions
Jim Radcliffe
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An interesting read about the state of the camera industry..
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I read this not long ago. Recent threads in this forum and a few who insist that the camera industry is imploding made me think that it might be a good read for many here.

Why the Camera Industry is in The Dumper And What Can be Done About It. By Michael Reichmann

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Jim Radcliffe
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Just a Photographer Senior Member • Posts: 1,368
Re: An interesting read about the state of the camera industry..
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Jim Radcliffe wrote:

I read this not long ago. Recent threads in this forum and a few who insist that the camera industry is imploding made me think that it might be a good read for many here.

Why the Camera Industry is in The Dumper And What Can be Done About It. By Michael Reichmann

That pretty much describes how I also think about the current market.
This article is a full hit on the nail IMHO.

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Jim King
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Re: An interesting read about the state of the camera industry..
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MR makes some valid points but I'm not sure I buy 100% into his overall conclusions - I think he is too pessimistic.  Science teaches us that extrapolation is risky, and I think MR is going out on a limb here. Breakthrough innovations are rarely if ever predicted from the existing technology base.  I would not bet that some "next greatest thing" won't pop up out of the bushes in the near future.

Gearheads will remain gearheads and our society is still churning them out, albeit not at the rate of the near past.  Enthusiasts continue to do creative photography - look at the image sharing sites. The question is whether or not the gearheads, enthusiasts, and pros as a group can sustain all of the current camera makers...

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Dick Ginkowski Senior Member • Posts: 1,963
Re: An interesting read about the state of the camera industry..
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Michael and I presented on digital photography in 2003 in front of nearly 200 die-hard film photographers.  Much more pointed than I was, he pronounced the imminent death of film.  Much of the room was ready to tar and feather him.  Three or four years later almost everyone there was shooting digital.

I take some of what Michael said with a grain of salt but we must remember this is a vastly different camera industry than it was 20 years ago.  Since electronics replaced film we have consumers who demand wizardry and, quite frankly, the manufacturers often give us what we don't need while holding back on what we do.  We aided and abetted them in creating this.

By no means am I saying one is "right" and the other is "wrong."  We are at a market that is maturing and, ironically, the smaller, mirrorless cameras are one of the last frontiers.  The down side, of course, is what happens to the rest of the product line.

Many years ago my prediction was the manufacturers would turn to making lighter, faster and more compact glass, using video technology in the process.

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fotophool Veteran Member • Posts: 4,331
Thom Hogan
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Don Karner Senior Member • Posts: 1,440
Re: An interesting read about the state of the camera industry..

Thanks for sharing this Jim.  A good, thoughtful read is good for a change!

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Jim Radcliffe
OP Jim Radcliffe Forum Pro • Posts: 11,813
Time will tell..

Jim King wrote:

Gearheads will remain gearheads and our society is still churning them out, albeit not at the rate of the near past. Enthusiasts continue to do creative photography - look at the image sharing sites. The question is whether or not the gearheads, enthusiasts, and pros as a group can sustain all of the current camera makers...

Herbert Spencer and Charles Darwin may have some input regarding that.  Camera makers may need to be smarter and offer less of the point and shoot gear (which cell phones are replacing) and focus on the enthusiast/hobbyist and Pros.

Whether he is right or wrong.. it is a very interesting time to be a photographer at any level.

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Jim Radcliffe
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Re: Thom Hogan
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fotophool wrote:

On much the same subject...

http://www.dslrbodies.com/newsviews/have-we-gone-as-far-as-well.html

fotophool

Good one.. thanks for sharing that link.  I had not read that one.

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Dick Ginkowski Senior Member • Posts: 1,963
Re: Time will tell..

I think there will be less of an emphasis on entry level point and shoots, to be sure.  Of course, all of the major camera companies could, if they wanted, become cell phone manufacturers.

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Albert Valentino Veteran Member • Posts: 6,908
Re: An interesting read about the state of the camera industry..
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The thing for me is, if it does the job, no need to replace it. In the past 10 years I owned four different cameras. My last purchase was Dec 2012 with the Fuji XE1, then the Nikon D300 in 2008 and before that the D200 in late 2005 and the D70 in spring 2004.

Glass is at the heart of any system and more important than the camera, which is a big part of why the Fuji system works.

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Jim Radcliffe
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Re: Time will tell..

Dick Ginkowski wrote:

I think there will be less of an emphasis on entry level point and shoots, to be sure. Of course, all of the major camera companies could, if they wanted, become cell phone manufacturers.

It's probably not out of the realm of possibility... Canon Cell phone with fast L glass super zoom... weighs 2 pounds... and you get a nifty bag to carry it in... press a button and it sends them to your printer so the prints will be waiting for you when you get home.  

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Jim Radcliffe
OP Jim Radcliffe Forum Pro • Posts: 11,813
Re: An interesting read about the state of the camera industry..

Al Valentino wrote:

Glass is at the heart of any system and more important than the camera, which is a big part of why the Fuji system works.

Agree with you mostly... the sensor does have "some" impact... but for the most part, better glass means better photographs.

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Les Lammers
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Re: An interesting read about the state of the camera industry..
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"But, don't despair. The market isn't going away. If you are reading this and you are an enthusiastic photographer, recognize that in some ways you are in the golden age of photography. We now have tools that surpass our dreams of just a couple of decades ago. It's up to use to use them to create interesting and worthwhile images."

That about sums it up.

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Jim Radcliffe
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Re: An interesting read about the state of the camera industry..

Les Lammers wrote:

"But, don't despair. The market isn't going away. If you are reading this and you are an enthusiastic photographer, recognize that in some ways you are in the golden age of photography. We now have tools that surpass our dreams of just a couple of decades ago. It's up to use to use them to create interesting and worthwhile images."

That about sums it up.

I agree.. the sky is not falling.  It is the best time ever to be into photography.

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Brian Caslis
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Re: Time will tell..
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Dick Ginkowski wrote:

I think there will be less of an emphasis on entry level point and shoots, to be sure. Of course, all of the major camera companies could, if they wanted, become cell phone manufacturers.

No they couldn't. Cellphones nowadays means software as much as hardware. I've never seen a group of companies so incredibly bad at software as the camera companies. Fuji is probably the best at firmware but they are not fantastic compared to cellphone companies. And the software they produce? Terribly bad. This probably one of their biggest challenges going forward as software takes on a bigger and bigger role in picture taking and processing.

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jrk
jrk Senior Member • Posts: 2,186
Re: An interesting read about the state of the camera industry..

I very much enjoyed the read, and I must admit I agree!  I realized quite a while ago that the reason my pictures were not on the cover of National Geographic wasn't because of the gear I was using, it was because I sucked at being a photographer.  I have since tried to focus (no pun intended) on learning to be a better photographer rather than on getting the latest and greatest gear.  My current DSLR is a Canon 50D which is probably 8 years old. I have recently invested in the Fuji X-E2 and X-E1 as my ILC system and plan to stay with them for quite a while.  I have tried to build up my collection of lenses, having realized that is the better investment.  I love the design of the Fuji X-cameras, with simple manual controls for basic photographic settings.  Hopefully Fuji will continue to refine these, providing what is really needed.

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Daniel Lauring
Daniel Lauring Veteran Member • Posts: 9,342
Re: An interesting read about the state of the camera industry..
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I would agree with both articles.  Even film camera sales were driven by technology toward the end of their lifecycle with amazing autofocus and improved metering.  Than there was the drive to digital which is reaching a pinnacle.

Today image quality, for the average user and use, is already very good with all cameras and everything from m43 up is better than film ever was so that isn't so much a driver.

The last drivers are function, features and size...but even those we reaching limits.  Focus speed and accuracy still could stand some improvement but you can't get much smaller without negatively affecting working gear.

Extra features are nice, like special panorama functions, wifi, etc.  But there is only so much you can stuff in a camera before it gets way over the heads of the average user.  Video is nice, possibly a must for high end gear soon, but the shape and features diverge a little between the two formats so that is limiting.

Bottom line, we might see a little better image quality, which mostly will drive smaller sensors to perform like bigger ones did a few years ago, which will drive more compact, lighter cameras.  We'll see faster, smarter processors which will drive better focus speed.  We might see some leaps of technology in really high end gear (like individual pixel location read and dump to improve dynamic range.)  But, none of that stuff is essential to most photographers and none of it is really holding them back today.

It's going to get harder and harder to sell people on getting a new camera every year or two so the surviving players are going to need to figure out to work in an industry that doesn't work on that model.

Eclectant
Eclectant Forum Member • Posts: 52
Re: An interesting read about the state of the camera industry..
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I think the bottle neck lies in what happens to the images once they are taken, and unless processing and printing becomes much easier and less time consuming, a lot of people are going to stay frustrated with their cameras and pass on the upgrades. For social media sharing and iPad viewing almost any camera today is good enough.

Home printing is a nightmare for a lot of photographers, and  making large prints is the major reason to have anything over 16MP. All the post processing, calibration, printer profiling etc. is a whole different skill set, very frustrating and time consuming for most.

People are learning that even cameras from last generations,  far exceed their abilities to exploit them fully.

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Graham Hill Senior Member • Posts: 1,355
Re: An interesting read about the state of the camera industry..
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Daniel Lauring wrote:

It's going to get harder and harder to sell people on getting a new camera every year or two so the surviving players are going to need to figure out to work in an industry that doesn't work on that model.

Absolutely right. Despite the best intentions of the head-buried-in-the-sand crowd, most camera companies, including Fujifilm, make ZERO profits from their camera operations. Fujifilm has never, repeat NEVER turned a profit selling cameras. These great cameras exist only by the good will of Fuji's legacy. They are a sink hole that swallows up cash and nothing more.

Olympus has suspended ALL dividend payments until their cameras turn a profit.

Panasonic has stated that any business that does not produce at least 5% ROI is destined to be shut down.

Sony at best breaks even making cameras.

Ricoh losses money making cameras and appears to be closing down the Ricoh side of their camera division in slow motion.  Pentax's future is uncertain as it too is not profitable.

Canon and Nikon, while still profitable, are seeing profits slip dramatically.

The world economy continues to be swirling the drain. NOT a good time for the above situations.

There are too many suppliers and not enough customers in the camera business. Painful times await.

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Daniel Lauring
Daniel Lauring Veteran Member • Posts: 9,342
Re: An interesting read about the state of the camera industry..
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Graham Hill wrote:

Despite the best intentions of the head-buried-in-the-sand crowd, most camera companies, including Fujifilm, make ZERO profits from their camera operations. Fujifilm has never, repeat NEVER turned a profit selling cameras. These great cameras exist only by the good will of Fuji's legacy. They are a sink hole that swallows up cash and nothing more.

Reminds me of the quote, "We lose money on every one but make it up in volume."

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