I am getting a big headache, migranis extrapolis ;)
Wannabe pros, tech-bloggers, big mouths around the globe are claiming the death of DSLR. Luckily, not yet the death of professional photography like Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, or the Chicago newspapers lay-off of their photographers, or indicated by the times’ pro-active use of Instagram posts.
What do these people say?
- “Look what I use, a nice mirror-less, tiny kit, and I sold my huge monster”
What they don’t say?
- “I spent too much for equipment I never needed, because my photography is done by Photoshop anyway.”
- “Please convince me that I did make the right choice.”
- “Oh, I just see, I could have made my photos even with my newly purchased mobile phone.”
- “I’m a pro blogger and app re-seller, selling stuff and photos to a personality-fan, not so much to an photography Art enthusiast.”
- “I’m not a pro photographer, having to feed my family with my art, weddings, travel, fashion, news, … -photography. I’m just doing this photography for fun, as a hobbyist, just more often and feel like a pro. Love people who admire me as a pro.”
Now, go into arguments with them using facts. They say:
- “DSLR are too bulky”, but mean: “pro cameras are big and heavy”
- “DSLR mirrors are old tech”, but mean: “don’t want mechanical parts”
- “DSLR market will die”, but mean: “pls let me be right, just lost so much money transitioning”
- “DSLR market will die in 5 years”, but mean: “I am right, if not I’ll extend the term I promised two years ago”
- “this will replace my big system”, but mean: “I’m moving anyway professionally to medium format as a primary system, and love to use the new mirror-less as may daily street photography, family camera”
Now the technical arguments:
- “the shutter gets silent without mirror”
- “the frame-rate is much faster without slow mechanical mirror elements”
- “the modern compact design is more ergonomic”
- “mirror-less cover all ranges of photography and video as good or better then DSLR”
What’s the fact?
- the point and shoot market is declining, rapidly
- the mobile photography usage already surpassed all historical figures and is still growing the next unspecific number of years in still and video formats.
- camera manufacturers are trying to find a new, more lucrative market, cashing in 1000$ per sale, with a healthy margin of a few hundred USD per item.
- the big DSLR market sale is in the consumer and amateur range around 500$ – 700$ as a APS-C based kit including lens. Very tight margins for the manufacturers.
- the professional photographer has and needs a full range of perfectly connected fast lenses, from fish-eye to huge-tele, and zoom variants to partly own and others to rent for specific applications.
- the professional photographer requires professional repair and replacement services globally and reliable, not finicky camera bodies in first place.
- the mirror-less market referenced resides above 1000$ including lens for m43 & APS-C, and around 2000$ – 7000$ for a full frame kit.
- the low-end mirror-less market goes between 600$ and 900$, as a kit.
- excellent mobile replacements are available for 200$ under contract in USA, and for 500$-700$ off-contract.
- the enthusiast market went retro, totally contradicting the modern approach initially expected from mirror-less. They even look like SLRs, or at least like an old rangefinder. Hipster society.
- m43 photo quality lacks professionally compared, even though good enough for average amateurs liking. Any DSLR of the same generation tops that easily.
- mirror-less lens portfolio is mainly covering wide-angle to mid-tele, with average speed lenses f4 up. Some rarer specific lenses go below at f2.8 or 1.7, not many though, certainly not as many as with DSLR.
- mirror-less consumer cameras in The low-end range with electronic only shutter are silent.
- mirror-less amateurs cameras with leaf shutter are still silent, too
- mirror-less amateurs cameras with mechanical shutter are loud, the latest Sony releases are the loudest by far, reaching easily the levels of older DSLR, who were the loudest of all.
- mirror-less cameras cover high-speed frame rates only with electronic shutters, some reaching but not surpassing the in most other cases much faster DSLR.
- mirror-less cameras batteries are too small to give a full day photography experience while using LCD or electronic viewfinder, and seize at around 300 frames.
- DSLR run 1600 frames and more with one battery, full day availability.
- as mirror-less cameras become finicky and quickly drawn their batteries, they now are fitted with the same huge battery monster grips that are optionally available to DSLRs. Speaking of small! LOL!
- today’s DSLR are the best cinematic low-budget video cameras you can use, sharpness, shallow death of field. Recent Sony full frame mirror-less remains to be tested for its capabilities. The larger sensors are more targeted by the negative rolling shutter issue.
- again, for consumer video snapshots, the “best” is to use the mobile option, unless you need an action cam.
- most bloggers are not paid by the manufacturers, nor can they use or own the equipment they promote. But YES, there’s NO honest scientific review out there, it’s all subjective, some very obvious. Why? They “survive” with the “relationship” to manufacturers and shops. They need to comment on most rumored and newest equipment, just to get hold of it, make manufacturers and distributors aware of them as a sales tool. They have no time and means to properly test it, thus write without a scientific base. But, that’s OK for most of us readers, collecting subjective messages. What’s not OK, is that the fuzz is multiplied by all wannabe related bloggers, re-posters (that love to be called curators), and just produces a social viral marketing buzz about a message, product, brand of a specific brand or set of brands, driven by manufacturers who started the controversy discussion initially. This is how this industry survived the struggles of the film to digital change, it took a few years and revised marketing concepts.
- another market trend is not a new trend anymore. For the last 3 or more generations of digital photographic equipment (started already in the film age), software is embedded into the cameras to reduce negative impacts of optical and mechanical elements with a matrix of internal correction and exposure parameters, now more and more with sensor supported automation, specifically adjusted to the manufacturers accessories, adapters typically can’t bridge to foreign extensions, i.e. adapted lenses.
- more or less complex wi-fi, NFC connectivity to upload your pictures via your mobile to the social cloud is available to more and more of all types of systems. It kinda works.
What will happen?
Apple will soon show camera manufacturers and other industries how you evolutionary develop a technology brand into a lasting lifestyle brand, with reliable and consistent, distribution channels and marketing, while innovating technology, markets and ensuring strong margins. Leica has done that already successfully, without damaging its so much older history, just recently A. Kaufmann was awarded accordingly as most innovative CEO. Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, Ricoh-Pentax, … will continue to strive for a way out of their dilemma, Hasselblad had big dreams without substance. We saw individual crappy lifestyle products combined with cheap marketing. Fuji’s photography strategy is mid-term, their long-term focus is cosmetics and healthcare. Sony’s big business is yet to be found, photography it isn’t. The near future is not asking for miniature, but even more complex 2./3. Level products, but for a modern lifestyle sustained by personal lifestyle partners that make your life not just stylish for the next 3 months, but consistently easier and less cluttered in many ways, handing you the key device to better control all these life-situations you’re in.
The user who can’t simplify his life himself, will outsource it to these new partners.
There is huge potential for many companies, while Leica will remain a niche, Apple is entering that space at large, look at all the key personalities and expertise they have concentrated in the recent few months. Nest is another example. Microsoft still has to find a strategy, same as Google, while amazon may be able to quickly fill that demand, too, with a slightly updated strategy and set of services.
Oh sorry for that rant.
What will happen in the camera market?
Whatever you want, and are willing to pay for. Everything is available now, excellent all-you-can-dream lightweight lower budget DSLR, hipster high-price miniature bad-ass sensor cameras, mobile all-you-need-all time photo and video devices and awesome-all-of-my-crap-photos-as-soon-as-uploaded-and-share cloud services.
There is no bad camera around anymore, unless you’re looking at the sellout boxes for 149$ or below. Near professional quality is available from 500$ on. Please just don’t buy dead or never have been brands, such as Rollei, Polaroid, Kodak, … Do buy the best you need and can afford from active innovation drivers and get it into your hands first, guide yourself through it, understand the complexity of its use and menu ergonomics, then check if you’re not far better off with a high-end smartphone camera – no extra to carry, always available.
if something kills DSLR, it’s not mirror-less,
but mobile & social & software & lifestyle!
The quality is there, and still improving with big leaps.
– buy what you need, not what you want.
– be creative.
– don’t waste your time with the above and above referenced crap ;)