Luminous Landscape Forum

Site & Board Matters => Rantatorials => Topic started by: Damon Lynch on May 19, 2015, 04:38:08 pm

Title: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Damon Lynch on May 19, 2015, 04:38:08 pm
Hi Michael and everyone else our community, today's rantatorial (https://luminous-landscape.com/rantatorial/no-guts-no-glory/) provides food for thought. My dominant response to the article is "yes there is a problem - but what is the precise problem, exactly?" It's an ancient truism that figuring out the problem is most of the battle. If we try to solve the wrong problem we've often solved nothing at all. They hypothetical camera Michael speaks of would be nice, but still rather bland and uninteresting.

A smart phone is a small powerful computer that can do many things, one of which is communicate.

A modern DSLR is a small powerful computer inside hardware that can take photos, and it does pretty much nothing else. This is the main problem: with its small powerful computer, a camera could be doing a lot more, but it doesn't.

Imagine if your DSLR could share its images with a local wireless "mesh" network without relying on any one cloud provider, and it just worked. For instance, imagine if you and your buddies could be in the middle of nowhere, or in the middle of a very busy city street, and have your photos instantly wirelessly imported to a nearby computer where a clever software program could assemble them in some interesting way in real time, e.g. 3D model, or 2D panorama, or even just a slideshow of the images that can be manipulated spatially or temporally for creative effect.

Imagine if using the camera GPS and compass you could get your camera to pull up other images from sites like Flickr or 500px that were taken from the same place but at a different time, with the ability to filter using criteria like time of day, time of year, weather conditions, focal length etc.

All of this is perfectly doable, but not by any one camera manufacturer or software provider. Just as computer manufacturers don't succeed when they tightly lock down what you can do using hardware they build, camera manufacturers should open access to the camera computer by providing a platform on which we can run an operating system of our choosing with applications of our choosing.

Even huge corporations with their fingers in many pies like GE have realized the wisdom of providing a hardware platform for people outside the company to innovate with their own software and hardware -- why can a refrigerator do cool things (http://www.forbes.com/sites/janakirammsv/2015/05/12/canonical-and-ge-announce-smart-fridge-powered-by-snappy-ubuntu-core/) along the lines I'm advocating here, but our DSLRs cannot? (Pun intended ;D) Why can we not load a powerful yet lean OS onto our camera's computer, and use it to run applications that could well enhance our creativity and connection to others?
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 19, 2015, 05:30:14 pm
Thom Hogan and Michael Reichmann both seem to delight in explaining how to save the camera industry, by trotting out various fantastical ideas. Michael is essentially proposing Sony put out a halo product (halo products are a pure marketing move) aimed at grabbing mindshare from the tiny tiny tiny fraction of the market who are basically just like Michael. Thom's ideas are all basically the same sort of thing: "do X because that would make me and the three other chaps just like me love you. Not that we'd BUY one obviously, but we'd sure nod approvingly"

They're both quite wrong.

It's *over*. The game is up. The selling 20M DSLRs per year are gone, and they're never coming back. The correct strategy is to position your company to be the dominant player in the considerably smaller market that we'll eventually stabilize on. There may be parallel work in capturing some of the revenue from phone-based imaging, and there's a bunch of possible plays there -- but those are separate from the interchangeable lens camera market. That market is shrinking, and the weaker players are going to wash out.

In the interchangeable lens market, I see Canikon moving slowly and carefully. I think they both feel that the situation is fragile, and that they need to protect their current position. Sony might well benefit from a wild Hail Mary move, mainly because they have literally nothing to lose -- without a major change in the market, they are simply not going to be present as players in some modest number of years.

I'm pretty sure that a halo product is the wrong move, though. It's a way to spend a bunch of money to capture the love of an incredibly small number of people.

The market has divided, and very few people have picked up on the essentials of that. Pundits are still obsessed over whether phones can deliver enough quality, and such nonsense.

Market Slice One
The bigger market is people who just want pictures. They don't give a damn about depth of field or pixels or blah blah. They just want pictures of the kid making the cute face, or grandma holding the baby, of the bunch of flowers, of their lunch. They mainly want pictures for the purpose of sharing and forgetting these days, but sometimes they want pictures to stick in a Shutterfly book or whatever. They Just. Want. Pictures.

5-10 years ago if you Just Wanted Pictures you bought a Canon Rebel. Now you use your iPhone and it is objectively a FAR SUPERIOR tool in EVERY IMPORTANT WAY.

That's why the DSLR market as we knew it is OVER. The people who want pictures don't want a DSLR. They don't want a DSLR with WiFi, they don't want a DSLR with whatever feature you suggest. What they want is a cell phone with a camera. It is literally the perfect tool for their needs.

Market Slice Two

Everyone else. Sometimes it's the same people on a different day. They do want some sort of control. They're making pictures for the sake of the picture, not to simply record something. They might want control of DoF, they might want instagram style filters, they might want darn near anything. Some of these people will use iPhones by preference. They share online, they print, they *do* everything the first bunch does, and more besides, but they do it for different reasons.

This is where Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Sony are fooling around. This is the slice of the market that is shrinking inexorably, down to.. I don't know. A few million units a year, most likely. 1 million? 5 million? I don't know. Somewhere in there though.

This is the market Canikons are moving to dominate. They need to figure out how to scale their businesses back without destroying them (and that's an internal business matter) while simultaneously positioning for, first, profitability and, second, eventual dominance.

How do you dominate this market?

Well, you have to segment it first, because "everyone else" covers a ton of territory. If you're in the interchangeable lens camera biz, you need to not worry about those Photographers who want to use a cell phone or similar. They you need to figure out:

- what problems the ILC-using Photographer types have, and solve them
- who the influencers in those communities (if any) are, and influence them

I don't know what problems exist for the ILS-using photographers. There are methods for figuring this out, and they do not include sitting in front of your computer guessing.

Certainly Michael and Thom are, to a degree, influencers. But so are Eric Kim, Ming Thein, Michael Johnston, Daniel Milnor, and and and and the list goes on. And every one of them wants something different. I'm not sure, honestly, that influencers exist in the ways that they used to, so quite a few of the tools in the traditional marketing toolbox become unavailable.

Anyways. Wishing very hard won't work, and neither will trying to woo the cell phone users back.

Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: michael on May 19, 2015, 05:48:04 pm
All interesting ideas.

The problem is that the engineers and planners at major manufacturers live in a silo called "cameras". They are not in the imaging business, they think that they are in the camera business. Self imposed blinders.

This happened to the railroads 100+ years ago. They thought that they were in the train business. In fact, they were in the transportation business.

Worse yet, many of the engineers that I've met from camera companies aren't even photographers.

Michael


Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 19, 2015, 05:59:27 pm
Well, yeah. The "transportation" business has been taken over by cell phones, and they are the perfect tool for "transportation" as we see it today.

There's no space for Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fuji in there, except possibly as OEMs? There's a "Nikon Inside" play that's possible, maybe.

But separate from that, they need to figure out how (if) they can make money in the "train" business. There's no law that says there's any way at all to make money there, but the indicators are very clear that at best there is a great deal less money to be made.

There is a separate angle, which is to try to predict what "transportation" (imaging) will look like in ten years, and try to get out in front of cell phones. That's a longer term play, and extremely high risk. But there's probably no choice.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Peter McLennan on May 19, 2015, 06:59:16 pm
Cameras have become commodities.  Like many other products of the digital age, they've disappeared into the woodwork. 
The always-handy phone does everything most people want and it's more than good enough for them. 

Dedicated users like us will continue to demand and enjoy more capability, but we're a dwindling minority. Nobody else cares. They're just out there enjoying the camera that's with them.  Like Michael on his walk today.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 19, 2015, 07:09:59 pm
My thought is that the DSLR/ILC market will shrink to, roughly, 1980s level SLR sales levels, but there's a lot pf variables.

There's a LOT more affluent humanity around that can afford to play (-> more sales of ILCs). There's a LOT more options for people who want to be amateur photographers (-> fewer sales of ILCs). I am confident that some sort of market will remain, probably something similar to the 1980s era of SLR sales, which was the domain of the "serious amateur". The only substantial photographic technology that has ever disappeared (as far as I know) is dry plate.

But if there's only 1/10 the money available, this means that the pace of innovation is going to drop off. It's not clear how much innovation is actually required at this point. What problems, really, can be usefully addressed? Obviously there are incremental improvements that can be churned out everywhere, but what is there that's both "mainstream" in the sense of "is interesting enough to >10% of whatever the market winds up at to generate a sale in the next 2 years" say.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Peter McLennan on May 19, 2015, 07:25:31 pm
It's not clear how much innovation is actually required at this point.

Exactly.  That's Hogan's point.  High end cameras are already good enough.  Better than most of us, in fact.
 
Of course, we could always do with a little more exposure latitude...
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: michael on May 19, 2015, 07:34:38 pm
A Honda Civic produces good transportation, but that doesn't mean that there's no market for high end cars, SUVs, minivans, sports models and the rest.

Sophisticated cameras will always have a market. The mass market is long gone to smartphones. The question is who will dominate the high ground, and how will they accomplish this as its size diminishes?

It just isn't clear yet who will make and sell enthusiast and pro cameras in the years ahead. But it's clear that a number of brain dead companies are going to drop by the wayside and the death march won't be a pretty one.

Michael
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 19, 2015, 07:34:46 pm
I worked for a guy who referred to products reaching "black telephone" stage. The stage of the standard ATT black telephone. It was "done", it was perfect. It did the job it was designed for, and which everyone wanted it for, perfectly.

It was only replaced when the world was disrupted and the job it was perfect for was no longer relevant.

DSLRs may not be quite there, but they're close. And, simultaneously, the world disrupted, and here we are. There is generally no road to success from this position. Check and mate.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Rory on May 19, 2015, 08:14:17 pm
All these phones are making for more photographers, and over time, many will want more than what their phone can provide.  Physics will make it tough for the phones to equal the type of images from much larger ICL cameras.  To me, the logical approach for the camera companies is to build a logical bridge for the phone user that wants to "upgrade".  Perhaps a camera that uses the same OS and is tightly integrated with their phone.  One thing that makes phones so desirable is the large developer community continuously adding functionality.  No reason why this could not happen for DSLRs too if the companies opened up their firmware with hooks and an SDK.  I sure would like a custom app that allowed me to create intelligent focus stacks.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 19, 2015, 08:38:56 pm
But phones make better pictures than purpose built cameras, much of the time. The small sensor means the whole picture is 'clear'.

This idea that people will upgrade to a DSLR is just demonstrably false on so many fronts.

I'll say it again: the iPhone is literally the perfect device for many people's picture making needs. There is no up from there.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Iluvmycam on May 19, 2015, 10:34:26 pm
I covered a lot of what I had to say about what is wrong with the cam biz in my post on my blog entitled What is the best camera in the world.

Just as the world is flooded with photogs that market is overloaded with crappy cams. They need to get back to basics with the cams.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Peter McLennan on May 19, 2015, 10:57:06 pm
I covered a lot of what I had to say about what is wrong with the cam biz in my post on my blog entitled What is the best camera in the world.

A link would have been useful.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Schewe on May 19, 2015, 11:04:57 pm
Worse yet, many of the engineers that I've met from camera companies aren't even photographers.

This is actually very sad. Compare the camera engineers to the Camera Raw engineers. Thomas, Eric and crew are avid shooters...they eat their own dog food. If the camera makers can't find engineers who have a passion with photography, there will be no passion in their products. Users will perceive that. Mike, Kev and I know a couple of people working at Apple who are both engineers (hardware & software) as well as passionate photographers. That makes a huge difference because those engineers want to produce things that they want to use...if Nikon/Canon can't find camera engineers with a passion for photography they are lost.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 19, 2015, 11:13:36 pm
Did you know that many of the people who design rockets are not astronauts?
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Schewe on May 19, 2015, 11:19:16 pm
Did you know that many of the people who design rockets are not astronauts?

We're not talking rocket science here...we're talking about a love of image making...science VS art is the age old conflict of photography. Do you are about art or science? My answer is yes...but if you don't/can't care about art then you'll never be able to create stunning images–which is what, I think, we all want to do. Right? Or do you just want to produce technically excellent images with zero heart?
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 19, 2015, 11:31:33 pm
What do my desires have to do with it?

The guy who's packing a faster buffer management implementation into a lower power chip doesn't have to know a thing about photography. The guy who's designing a more efficient focusing motor doesn't have to know a thing about photography.

Cameras aren't simple mechanical contrivances any more. They're complex systems of hardware and software, very little of which requires any sort of passion about photography to do well.

I want to make meaningful pictures. I'm an astronaut. I want to ride a rocket designed by people who are safety and reliability nuts, not space nuts.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Schewe on May 19, 2015, 11:37:19 pm
I want to make meaningful pictures. I'm an astronaut. I want to ride a rocket designed by people who are safety and reliability nuts, not space nuts.

So, you are an astronaut? (cool) Are you ok riding a rocket designed by a nerd who is not concerned about getting you to land where you are pointed at? Do you care if the fellow designing your "systems" wants you to make a soft landing? Or are you ok with making a splash at the point you were aimed at?

Personally, I would be more interested in gaining that engineers "passion" for getting me where I want to go and living through the landing. Just sayin'
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 19, 2015, 11:47:36 pm
Huh? I don't see how you can make such remarks unless you neglected to read the last words of my previous, or are making a little joke.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Schewe on May 19, 2015, 11:52:12 pm
Huh? I don't see how you can make such remarks unless you neglected to read the last words of my previous, or are making a little joke.

Partly a small joke, partly a comment on NASA...do you really want to launch on the lowest bid rocket? I would rather launch on a rocket made by guys passionate about going into space!

Sorry if my language ain't perfect...but I steadfastly believe "passion" is an important ingredient in everything we do.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 20, 2015, 12:28:35 am
I certainly agree that passion is a good thing, even in an engineer. My point is that it needn't be a passion for photography, even if you're designing camera systems!

It could usefully be a passion for optics, or efficiency, or reliability. Or smallness.

Michael may be saying that the engineers designing photography-relevant systems may not be photographers. Things like menu and control layouts, things like focusing rings. And that would be a bad thing, to be sure.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: aduke on May 20, 2015, 12:55:40 am
The analogy with rocket designers is what do they do on Sunday afternoons?  Do they watch football on TV or or they out in some field shotting their own model rockets? How many equip their model rockets with cameras? Basically, is their interest merely professional or are they involved on a personal level?

Alan
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: michael on May 20, 2015, 06:35:14 am
Last year I spent some hours discussing features which a next-generation camera system might have. This was with the head of engineering for a major Asian camera maker.

I suggested that since the sensor "knows" in real-time how every single pixel is responding to light, an auto exposure system could be designed that created the prefect technical exposure...one in which no pixels were blown (or at least ones where the user had set a threshold for the number of 255+ pixels allowable (specular highlight accommodation, for example).

In other words, the system that displays a live histogram knows which pixels are overexposed, so why not harness this information to create the perfect ETTR exposure, thus producing optimum dynamic range and SNR.

It would be very simple to then "normalize" the exposure for rear LCD display, for in camera JPGS, and for display on the rear LCD. I told him that Adove even already had a place holder for a "normalization" value in the raw file's data field, in anticipation of such a system

His reply was they traditional DSLR metering was what photographers preferred; ie: the type that measure multiple zones in the image and then balances them out according to set algorithms.

I replied that this made sense for film-based systems a decade or more ago, but that digital solved its own problems, and that the tools for creating a much more accurate and advanced system already was in the camera, but just needed to be harnessed.

I won't bore you with the rest of the conversation, but I can assure you that this particular head of engineering liked what his predecessors did, knew that it worked well for film, and that he therefore saw no reason to switch to something that his competitors didn't do.

He understood the problem. He understood the proposed solution, and agreed that it was a superior approach. But, his reply showed that he just didn't want to start drawing outside the lines and get in trouble with his conservative management.

Michael
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Chris_Brown on May 20, 2015, 11:21:18 am
I, for one, would love to see Canon bring a smartphone to the market. If a watch company can do it, why not Canon?

(http://www.canonrumors.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/39830054_1_460.png)
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Isaac on May 20, 2015, 01:40:29 pm
There's no space for Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fuji in there, except possibly as OEMs? There's a "Nikon Inside" play that's possible, maybe.

"How Sony Makes Money Off Apple’s iPhone" (http://www.wsj.com/article_email/how-sony-makes-money-off-apples-iphone-1430274602-lMyQjAxMTE1NDIwODUyMTg4Wj)

"40% of All Camera Sensors Sold in 2014 Were Made by Sony" (http://petapixel.com/2015/05/01/40-of-all-camera-sensors-sold-in-2014-were-made-by-sony/)
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Jeremy Roussak on May 20, 2015, 02:39:11 pm
A link would have been useful.

Given recent experience, I'm not sure that that's true.

Jeremy
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Zerg2905 on May 20, 2015, 03:03:09 pm
I agree: "Market Slice One" is huge.
On the other hand, to collate another reply, a Lamborghini can transport you from point A to point B. A Toyota will do the same. But DIFFERENTLY. So, for the ultimate photo experience, some will still buy (a) the Lamborghini. DSLRs (with all enhancements) will still be with us for a while, I believe.
Zerg
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Telecaster on May 20, 2015, 03:49:00 pm
…but I can assure you that this particular head of engineering liked what his predecessors did, knew that it worked well for film, and that he therefore saw no reason to switch to something that his competitors didn't do.

He understood the problem. He understood the proposed solution, and agreed that it was a superior approach. But, his reply showed that he just didn't want to start drawing outside the lines and get in trouble with his conservative management.

IMO companies where attitudes like this are prevalent are pretty much asking to be plowed under. And likely will be.

I'm not all that fussed about the equipment used to take photos. Taking the photos matters to me. Even having them as records is less important than having been there, and seen that, then to take them. Photo tech is always changing, yet we always seem to think our preferred tech represents a plateau of accomplishment that can/will never be supplanted. This is delusional.

Tech drives style…so it'll be interesting to see what creative people create using smart devices with their increasingly sophisticated capabilities.

-Dave-
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 20, 2015, 04:05:14 pm
The thing is that even a relatively modest software change such as Michael is going to cost something like $100,000.

You need to develop the algorithms. Then the menu items to control the new feature. Then update the documentation. Then you need to build test equipment to test the feature on the manufacturing line. Then you need to train manufacturing people to use it, and write documentation for the test equipment, and so on.

Since we're not philanthropists, we need to see $200,000 in profits, at least. This means you gotta show me a couple thousand units of sales based on your new feature.

Is that going to happen?

I dunno. Sure, Michael might buy one (but probably not, because it would be in the wrong body or at the wrong time, or, or, or). Would anyone else buy a camera based on a new esoteric exposure mode, or is virtually every single buyer out there pretty much happy with the gigantic sheaf of time-tested exposure modes already available?

Is this the sort of thing that moves the needle on sales? I am dubious, but I don't know.

What I do know is this: Michael doesn't know either. There are ways to find out, but I don't see Michael talking about the focus groups and market surveys he's performed. He's simply telling people at camera companies about this idea he has.

It's not a bad idea, and manufacturers do like to hear these ideas. But if they only ever hear about ETTR and new exposure modes from one source, they're simply not going to care. They need to hear it, or similar ideas, or problems that would be solved by the idea, from multiple sources. Then they'll consider spending some money to focus group it, or otherwise measure the value of the new feature. And then if THAT proves out, they'll go ahead and implement it.

My sense is that camera makers are not hearing anything about how they need to improve their exposure calculation technology, except from Michael.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Telecaster on May 20, 2015, 04:30:33 pm
My sense is that camera makers are not hearing anything about how they need to improve their exposure calculation technology, except from Michael.

The "camera" makers that really matter now have already got this covered. Because people now working for them were listening—or maybe even had the same thoughts themselves—years ago when such ideas were first proposed. Their names are not Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Olympus, etc.

-Dave-
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 20, 2015, 05:26:21 pm
Soo.. what ARE their names?
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: foxhole510 on May 21, 2015, 01:23:02 pm
 I agree with Michael rant and think his vision for the next camera is a logical step but there is part of the equation that includes our addiction to better more sophisticated cameras at a pace that never seems satiated. This might be a function of our seeing practical camera features not being implemented fast enough.
I am not sure where the line is of unimaginative overly cautious manufacturers and our constant need to be fed yet another camera.
We all have friends/photographers that are on a tight budget and make due with old equipment, producing images that are indistinguishable from newer equipment. I am glad Michael pushes for better equipment and I am equally glad for friends that work with old equipment and keep me humble.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: ripgriffith on May 21, 2015, 03:46:15 pm
... there is part of the equation that includes our addiction to better more sophisticated cameras at a pace that never seems satiated.
When I buy a new camera, it is usually because of only one or two improvements over my previous one, and within the same family because of my investment in glass.  On the other hand, it frequently comes with a whole raft of new features I may never learn or use.  If the instrument provides me with the means of making a picture of adequate resolution, sharpness and dynamic range under the conditions in which I am shooting, then I am satisfied, and I do not care if it has 57 varieties of films to mimic or a touch-screen which will immediately send images to my Aunt Tillie in Hoboken. If it has these features, I generally disable them if I can.  As with my computer, I would take them off the start menu if I could (this might be a useful new feature: the ability to completely remove unwanted feature-bloat from your camera).  I hasten to add, this is just me.  I am very conservative in this respect:  my camera serves one, and only one function... to take pictures.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: jjj on May 21, 2015, 04:33:45 pm
He understood the problem. He understood the proposed solution, and agreed that it was a superior approach. But, his reply showed that he just didn't want to start drawing outside the lines and get in trouble with his conservative management.
Is this a cultural issue? Whether of that specific company or a country that is conservative in some ways.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: jjj on May 21, 2015, 04:39:55 pm
I dunno. Sure, Michael might buy one (but probably not, because it would be in the wrong body or at the wrong time, or, or, or). Would anyone else buy a camera based on a new esoteric exposure mode, or is virtually every single buyer out there pretty much happy with the gigantic sheaf of time-tested exposure modes already available?

Is this the sort of thing that moves the needle on sales? I am dubious, but I don't know.
Let me see, you release a camera with same features as usual plus one extra trick - a USP which is that no longer will your highlights be blown or shadows be murky and noisy. Because all parts of the image will be perfectly exposed - with manual tweaking of said exposure to bias attributes of the 'perfect' to be exactly how you like it.  Nah can't see that selling, other than to photographers who want well exposed shots.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: jjj on May 21, 2015, 04:52:03 pm
I am very conservative in this respect:  my camera serves one, and only one function... to take pictures.
Yet there is a huge number of ways of doing just that and features not directly involved that can be of use - wifi offloading for news reporters for example. I don't think I've ever used shutter priority on a camera for example, yet others love it. SP doesn't get in my way, so I don't really care that it is there. However I do appreciate that cameras with a multitude of functions like that will then sell to a very large number of people. More specialized and more limited cameras tend to appeal to far fewer people and will thus be very expensive. So the 'less is more' attitude taken to camera design may well result in more money being paid out for a less functional camera.
However what would be a good idea is cameras that are far more customisable than they have started to become now with some manufacturers. Your being able to choose the functions a camera has, where they are accessed and maybe even analogue knobs and dials that change to reflect that would be a big step forward in ergonomics.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Damon Lynch on May 21, 2015, 05:44:38 pm
Is this a cultural issue? Whether of that specific company or a country that is conservative in some ways.
As a hypothesis this idea has a common-sense appeal, but in my opinion it would be exceedingly difficult to test empirically. To test it properly we need to understand sufficiently well the multiple systems that companies and peoples inhabit, which is an extremely difficult task. By "multiple systems", in a company I mean production system, product design system, payroll system, etc. From a systems perspective it is impossible for any one person or even a team of people to have a deep understanding of these systems and how they work and interact internally, let alone how they interact with outside forces. In a society and its multiple cultures it's far more complex.

To take a real life example, did you know that companies like Intel hire cultural anthropologists? They do so because they learned the hard way it's a good idea to have people who are not engineers anticipate how their products will be used in the future that has not yet fully emerged. As you may know the duration from initial CPU design to production is approximately 5 years, loosely speaking. A lot can happen in five years, so anticipating future needs to inform design today can be incredibly helpful. Some of us no doubt remember the Pentium 4. It was a failure in laptops, running too hot and using a lot of power. Failing to anticipate how people would use their CPUs was a costly screw-up for Intel. Thanks in part to the field research of its anthropologists Intel is less likely to do something like that again.

I mention this because when the first ever cultural anthropologist was initially hired at Intel, he was invited into a senior level meeting and the guy running it (a luminary in modern industry) asked people to introduce themselves. When he learned the anthropologist was there, he told him to get the hell out of there, because his work was not needed. As I recall his choice of language was not polite. In any case, the luminary was wrong. The anthropologist was needed, and he went on to prove his value. Now, was the luminary "conservative" or did he merely not yet understand the ways the anthropologist -- who had special skills and approaches the luminary was ignorant of -- could fit into the various systems at work in Intel?
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: jjj on May 21, 2015, 05:52:59 pm
I mention this because when the first ever cultural anthropologist was initially hired at Intel, he was invited into a senior level meeting and the guy running it (a luminary in modern industry) asked people to introduce themselves. When he learned the anthropologist was there, he told him to get the hell out of there, because his work was not needed. As I recall his choice of language was not polite. In any case, the luminary was wrong. The anthropologist was needed, and he went on to prove his value.
In what way?


Quote
Now, was the luminary "conservative" or did he merely not yet understand the ways the anthropologist -- who had special skills and approaches the luminary was ignorant of -- could fit into the various systems at work in Intel?
I'd definitely use conservative to describe the lack of wanting to understand. So it seems like you are asking was he conservative or was he conservative.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 21, 2015, 06:11:27 pm
My bad, I didn't realize that Michael's proposed exposure mode was magical.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Damon Lynch on May 21, 2015, 06:28:45 pm
In what way?

By using standard anthropological field research methods. For instance Intel now has empirical data showing how features like being able to very quickly increase processor frequency in one or more CPU cores within thermal constraints  (aka "turbo boost") is actually used by on a day to day basis.

I'd definitely use conservative to describe the lack of wanting to understand. So it seems like you are asking was he conservative or was he conservative.

Then by definition every person on the planet is conservative, because there is far more to understand than we'll ever be able to.  We all make our choices as to what we ought to focus on in our limited time. In any case, I'd be extremely cautious to describe a leader of one of the most innovative post-WWII industries as "conservative", especially considering the stunning manner in which Intel has come to dominate large swathes of the industry.

To take another example. Is Pakistan a more conservative society than the U.S.? Most Americans who know something about South Asia would say "of course it is". Yet Pakistan elected a female leader to national office years ago. There are still U.S. states that have never done the same, let alone nationwide.

The term conservative in this context is totally meaningless and its usage reflects only the value judgements of the person using it.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: jjj on May 21, 2015, 07:04:08 pm
Then by definition every person on the planet is conservative, because there is far more to understand than we'll ever be able to. 
I said not wanting to understand, a very different thing. Nothing to do with context or value judgement.
However I'd say the US is pretty conservative on the whole, when seen from a European perspective.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: jjj on May 21, 2015, 07:06:28 pm
My bad, I didn't realize that Michael's proposed exposure mode was magical.
It'd be helpful if you quoted who you are replying to.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: ErikKaffehr on May 22, 2015, 01:01:33 am
Hi,

My take on this is that the good times are over. We are simply close to saturation. Also the cameras are essentially good enough.

Where to go now?

1) New markets. Many places in the world have expanding economies. China and India are prime examples. These markets are less saturated than the traditional ones, I would assume.

2) Moving upscale. Canon have been quite smart on improving their lens programme and eventually introduce a new camera that actually makes use of those lenses.

3) Increase margins. Lower production costs and sell higher priced products. Sony is good at this, the cameras are very simple as they remove many moving parts. Calibration and adjustment gets much easier if you move AF to sensor, remove a flipping mirror and a folding mirror on the backside of that mirror and an AF device. Just two things in order to keep things aligned sensor and lens.

4) Connectivity. A camera with built in cell phone is not a bad idea. Cell phones are practical as photographic devices but DSLRs are pretty useless as communication devices.

I would say that we have enough megapixels for up to A2 size prints, 16-24 MP is good enough for that. Going up in resolution has advantages but that may be theoretical more than practical. For instance, it could be argued that better resolution allows for better sharpening with less artefacts. Obviously a high resolution system allows for more cropping than a low resolution one.

A2 may be the largest size folks may be printing as desktop printers are normally A2 or smaller. But, if a larger print is needed the advantage of more pixels can be seen. My own experience is comparing my 24 MP Sony Alpha 99 with my P45+. Up to A2 size I cannot really see any advantage of the larger sensor. At A1 I would say the advantage of the 39 MP P45+ is clearly visible, at least at close scrutiny.

Another smart move from Sony is that they have set the E-mount free. Anyone can have access to specifications and there is no licensing. So, lot of vendors can make lenses for the Sony. The Zeiss Loxia and Batis lenses are examples of that. Now, the Loxia lenses seem to be a reiteration of the ZM lenses but the Batis seem to be constructed for Sony from the ground up. The Batis lenses go far ahead E-mount in integration, tough, that lines of lenses needs some deep cooperation with Sony.

Best regards
Erik


Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: ErikKaffehr on May 22, 2015, 01:11:22 am
Hi,

A typical astronaut flying the (now discontinued) Space Shuttle used to be an Air Force Colonel or so. Mission specialists have generally some higher degree within some field of science.

A story says that they planned a day of instruction to learn the astronauts to load the IMax camera before going to space. They, just opened the camera and put in the film. Training done in a few seconds. Oh, they obviously cheated. Found the manual and read it before going to training.

I guess that any airline pilot needs a lot of training on all aspects of the aircraft they are flying, down to wiring diagrams for essential systems.

Best regards
Erik

So, you are an astronaut? (cool) Are you ok riding a rocket designed by a nerd who is not concerned about getting you to land where you are pointed at? Do you care if the fellow designing your "systems" wants you to make a soft landing? Or are you ok with making a splash at the point you were aimed at?

Personally, I would be more interested in gaining that engineers "passion" for getting me where I want to go and living through the landing. Just sayin'
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Dave Millier on May 23, 2015, 08:30:25 am
Companies in consumer tech markets seem to be feature copiers.  Company A adds a new feature, within 6 months every competitor does something similar. Feature-wise the products tend to converge so you have lots of choice but no choice.  They also tend to feature bloat which I guess is the consequence of endless small iterations in product cycles.  As an owner of many different brands, what I see is that they differ most in form factor, control layout and operational details.  You can own a dozen cameras and find they everyone fun of them is deficient in some annoying way. I can certainly blend my idea of the perfect camera from the models I have in the cupboard but I suspect I shall never be able to buy such a beast.  The best chance we have of getting designs that are highly refined for practical field use rather than simply random collections of features is to have the decision makers on design matters being actual photographers who use the products daily.

Just to give a couple of examples:

1. Michael reviewed Canon models for years and remarked on how inconvenient it is to acutate mirror lock up yet nothing was done. If the design boss was a photographer shooting lile Michael does this would have been a major issue that needed to be fixed. I guess he wasn't and didn't care about such a trivial thing so it went on and on and on.

2. I have 3 fuji cameras and none of them is capable of  automatically displaying a histogram immediately post capture like every other serious camera can. You have to go into playback mode to see a histogram like a p&S from 1999. What's going on here, does no one at fuji ever check the highlights aren't blown? A split second glance on the post capture preview screen is all it takes and every camera provides this useful function - except Fuji. It's so annoying

Actually, here's a third:  on EVF based cameras, it is very helpful to be able to see shooting info on the screen.  It can also be very distracting to have the screen covered in a hundred icons. Many manufacturers allow some customisation of the info shown but in my experience you can never customise it exactly how you want it.  I like the my fuji's do it because it can be set to be quite minimalist, I almost like the way my Panasonic does it because you can have a minimalist screen with just the essential data BUT if you want to see the live histogram, you have to have the whole screen covered with dozens of icons!  Why don't vendors make this fully programmable?  There is a firmware hack for older canon P&S called CHCK or something that allows you to program exactly what is displayed and exactly where on the screen it should appear. This is the kind of benefits you can get from opening things up. 

I don't always agree with Thom Hogan but he makes some good points.  The good old days may have ended for volume camera sales but there is still plenty of scope to explore niche markets and pick up every sale from currently un-served customers whose needs aren't like a homogenised hypothetical mass market buyer.


Hi,

My take on this is that the good times are over. We are simply close to saturation. Also the cameras are essentially good enough.

Where to go now?

1) New markets. Many places in the world have expanding economies. China and India are prime examples. These markets are less saturated than the traditional ones, I would assume.

2) Moving upscale. Canon have been quite smart on improving their lens programme and eventually introduce a new camera that actually makes use of those lenses.

3) Increase margins. Lower production costs and sell higher priced products. Sony is good at this, the cameras are very simple as they remove many moving parts. Calibration and adjustment gets much easier if you move AF to sensor, remove a flipping mirror and a folding mirror on the backside of that mirror and an AF device. Just two things in order to keep things aligned sensor and lens.

4) Connectivity. A camera with built in cell phone is not a bad idea. Cell phones are practical as photographic devices but DSLRs are pretty useless as communication devices.

I would say that we have enough megapixels for up to A2 size prints, 16-24 MP is good enough for that. Going up in resolution has advantages but that may be theoretical more than practical. For instance, it could be argued that better resolution allows for better sharpening with less artefacts. Obviously a high resolution system allows for more cropping than a low resolution one.

A2 may be the largest size folks may be printing as desktop printers are normally A2 or smaller. But, if a larger print is needed the advantage of more pixels can be seen. My own experience is comparing my 24 MP Sony Alpha 99 with my P45+. Up to A2 size I cannot really see any advantage of the larger sensor. At A1 I would say the advantage of the 39 MP P45+ is clearly visible, at least at close scrutiny.

Another smart move from Sony is that they have set the E-mount free. Anyone can have access to specifications and there is no licensing. So, lot of vendors can make lenses for the Sony. The Zeiss Loxia and Batis lenses are examples of that. Now, the Loxia lenses seem to be a reiteration of the ZM lenses but the Batis seem to be constructed for Sony from the ground up. The Batis lenses go far ahead E-mount in integration, tough, that lines of lenses needs some deep cooperation with Sony.

Best regards
Erik



Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: bythom on May 23, 2015, 10:27:01 am
Micheal's idea for Sony is probably close to something they'll pursue. It won't help the camera industry one bit. It might sell a few more Sony cameras than Nikon D810s.

Since I was mentioned earlier in this thread and dismissed, I would like to point out that my point has been and continues to be that cameras have not progressed with the high tech progression. And I think my track record in Silicon Valley shows that I was always just ahead of the curve, not behind it or deviating from it. I'll stand by my ability to analyze tech. After all, my PhD work was in New Technology and Management. If I can't understand where tech is and where it is going, than I failed in my academic endeavors.

The camera makers treat new cameras much like a computer maker treated computers in the 90's: just add the latest CPU from Intel and a feature or two and call it new. At the point where clock speeds didn't really make much difference to what the user was doing, sales stalled. A few makers rethought the product and modernized it with new capabilities that better matched the other things that a consumer/business might be using. That is NOT really happening in the camera business. When it does happen--WiFi for instance--it happens with inadequate and limited capabilities and terrible software implementations. Why all cameras can't pull GPS data from my phone, why we're still restricted to 8.3 filenames where all the characters are reserved, why motion sensors haven't really been used for anything other than moving lens elements or image sensors (and with poor discrimination, which is one reason why we keep seeing bad results in a specific shutter speed range), why cameras don't detect temperature and adjust noise reduction, and a host of other things that are happening elsewhere in tech, I don't know. I can only think of two reasons: inability to recognize new opportunities, or laziness.

Over time, all hardware products become software devices. If there's anything I learned in my decades in Silicon Valley, this is key. If you've paid attention to what's happened to your car, it's true there, too. Detroit has done a better job of running with the trends in tech than camera makers, and that's an indictment of the camera makers, not an endorsement of the auto makers.

As for the suggestions made by ErikKaffehr, here's my reaction:

Quote
1) New markets. Many places in the world have expanding economies. China and India are prime examples. These markets are less saturated than the traditional ones, I would assume.

New markets have a habit of skipping over old technologies in tech. A good example is cellular and solar in Africa. Easier to put up cell towers and use solar panels than it is to wire huge parts of the world that don't already have them. What's happening in most of the emerging markets is that the smartphone is replacing other things very rapidly. In order to fully take advantage of a DSLR, you'd need a computer. What if you skip having a computer? ;~)

The camera companies have been chirping about how emerging economies would be the new growth for quite some time now. Then in their financials they put statements like "China's sluggish economy meant that we didn't get the growth we expected." But what's really happening is that the person you'd want to sell a US$500 camera to in China isn't buying one, they're using their smartphone.

Quote
2) Moving upscale. Canon have been quite smart on improving their lens programme and eventually introduce a new camera that actually makes use of those lenses.

This is another of the camera company mantras: when business gets tough we go upscale in order to get more dollars from fewer people. This is EXACTLY what's happening right now, and it isn't stopping the trend. Indeed, it has the potential for worsening the decline in camera sales and creating just a small, high-end niche market. This is the same tactic the HiFi companies took, and look where that got them against CDs and eventually MP3s.

You must embrace what's actually happening with all your potential customers, not try to micromanage a few of the existing ones.

Quote
3) Increase margins. Lower production costs and sell higher priced products. Sony is good at this, the cameras are very simple as they remove many moving parts. Calibration and adjustment gets much easier if you move AF to sensor, remove a flipping mirror and a folding mirror on the backside of that mirror and an AF device. Just two things in order to keep things aligned sensor and lens.

This, too is already happening. Even in DSLRs. Just disassemble a D5500 versus a D5000, for example. But it doesn't actually relate to the problem at hand: how do we sell more cameras? Demand for cameras is down (soft), thus prices for cameras will go down (soften). All cost management does is try to retain or increase margin as prices go down. But the problem isn't that prices are going down. That's a symptom. The problem is that demand for cameras is going down. Way down. Precipitously down. This means that there is something fundamentally wrong with the product definition as it is currently being practiced.

Quote
4) Connectivity. A camera with built in cell phone is not a bad idea.
Connectivity good, cell phone not so good. We don't need to duplicate a smartphone inside a camera. The Nikon and Samsung experiments in Android cameras have pretty much proven that. A camera needs to be a camera. But it absolutely needs to today connect to your other things. And it needs intelligent software inside when it makes that connection.

Technically, cameras are way behind the times. The reason why I don't want it to be a smartphone is that my smartphone is better at so many things than the camera is. Take post processing, for instance. On the back of our cameras we have basically a VGA monitor. On my smartphone I have an HD monitor. Far better. So if I'm going to change anything about the image I shot, I'd rather do it on the smartphone than the camera. Even better would be to use my tablet or laptop. But look at what Nikon's doing: their mobile app for iOS and Android limits the size of what's brought over to the phone or tablet and has no way of talking to my laptop. Dumb. Stupid dumb. It's done this way because of costs and time, in all sorts of ways. But that just solves Nikon problems, not user problems. If you don't solve the user problems, Nikon will have MORE problems ;~).

Heck, we still have USB 2.0 stuck into most cameras. And even the USB 3.0 in the D810 seems to be bandwidth limited. Thus, we still need card readers to transfer files fast. Sneaker net for the 21st Century.

Since this is the rantatorial forum, let me rant: the camera makers are headed to near extinction with their present course. Yes, Fujifilm and Sony are doing some nice things. Doesn't matter if you only sell a few hundred thousand of them a year.

Michael had one thing dead on that should send shivers down the spines--what remains of them--of the camera companies: each year fewer cameras are being sold, but each year far more images are being taken. That's the Kodak problem, all over again (each year fewer rolls of film were being sold, but each year far more images were being taken). The results, if you ignore addressing the problem directly, will be the same for the camera companies as they were for Kodak.

People think I started writing about all this to get hits on my Web site, to massage my ego, or some other silly thing. No. I started writing about the coming problem last decade because I don't want to see the business that I am part of die off. I wanted to elevate the discussion of what cameras in the future needed to look like. I even went to a couple of camera companies in Japan at my own expense and showed executives there what the world was going to look like and how they should change their product to live in it. I don't want to see Nikon (or Canon, Fujifilm, Olympus, Sony, et.al.) fail. But that's where they're headed with current practices. That should bother all of us who use cameras. The industry that produces our key tools is now short-sighted and in trouble. That industry is not finding new customers; it's mostly living off those of us incrementally updating our gear. That means that ILC sales will plummet more than 50% more in the coming few years down to something in the 4-6m unit a year range. At some point, it is no longer a "consumer business."



Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 23, 2015, 11:59:43 am
I have a PhD in mathematics, but since I haven't actually done math in a few years, I'm no longer specially qualified to comment on the field, except in very broad and fairly vague terms. Just sayin'.

The point I am trying to make is this:

- the community of internet-famous technophile photography pundits, taken as a whole, has a general habit of telling the Camera Industry how to fix their problems by saying, essentially, Stick more technology into it, and build an awesome camera just for me.

- this is a bankrupt strategy. The pundits are telling the buggy whip manufacturers that if only they would use more modern glues the whole car problem would go away. The car problem is not going away, the buggy whip industry is going to suffer a drastic contraction, and that doesn't have anything to do with buggy whips. Going after the buggy whip side of the equation is not going to lead to salvation.

- it is, however, an excellent strategy for drawing an audience, since the aforementioned pundits have an audience consisting largely of technophiles. Telling technophiles that the answer is more technology is always a popular strategy. Whether it's right or not is irrelevant, when your job is punditry.

The DSLR makers need to plan for survival in a new world. They are not going to wish the new world away, nor will they engineer it away.

Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 23, 2015, 01:13:42 pm
Just to expand slightly, and point out the precise fallacy that is in play. Let's pick on Thom's USB 3.0 example.

Upgrading from USB 2.0 to USB 3.0 in any product of any kind is a differentiator. The purpose of rolling this out is to separate your product from the competitor's. You're already dealing with a customer who's going to buy. The feature serves to help the customer decide which product to buy.

There are two points here:

- determining whether or not a differentiating feature is worth it or not is a solved problem. All the players have plenty of staff who know how to do it, and we should assume that they're doing it. Included in the calculation: expense of doing it, projected increase in revenues, and degree of difficulty for a competitor to match the feature. The last one is arguably the most important, incidently.

- differentiating features do not create new markets, nor do they substantively alter existing ones.

So the Internet Pundit Standard Speech is:

- the market is collapsing
- the solution is to try to capture a slightly larger slice of the collapsing market by building me a camera

To which the only really sensible response is 'Huh?'
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Peter McLennan on May 23, 2015, 02:49:17 pm
Michael has been making this point for years, and now Thom Hogan (welcome!) has chimed in with the same point he's been making for years on his site. 

Namely: It seems like nobody at the big camera companies actually uses their products.  The camera designers do not appear to be photographers.

To which we all should be saying "WTF?". 

Kodak failed due to conservative, short-term thinking.  With few exceptions, the big camera makers seem to be displaying the same attitude. If they persist, they'll likely suffer the same fate. 

I used Sony professional camcorders for years and it was very apparent that their camera designers were photographers.  Every button, every knob, every connection point was designed with the user in mind. And if something was wrong and we complained about it, Sony fixed it.

I'm a long-time Nikon user, but were I starting over, it'd be Sony all the way for me. Many's the time I've said to myself about my Nikons "It's a good thing I can make such good pictures with this thing, because it's sure a PITA to use."

Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on May 23, 2015, 02:52:41 pm
... - differentiating features do not create new markets, nor do they substantively alter existing ones...

Perhaps not, but they are like the  proverbial gym shoes when chased by a lion: they won't help you outrun the lion, but they will help you outrun the competition ;)

P.S. For those not familiar with the joke: Two guys in a jungle come around a corner and meet a lion head-on pawing the ground. One guy ever so carefully reaches into his knapsack and slowly takes out a set of Nike running shoes, never once breaking eye contact with the lion. The second guy hisses: "What are you doing, you can't outrun the lion" And the first guy says: "No, but all I have to do is outrun you"!
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: AreBee on May 23, 2015, 02:57:19 pm
Slobodan,

Quote
...like the  proverbial gym shoes when chased by a lion: they won't help you outrun the lion, but they will help you outrun the competition

I'd be willing to bet that lions prefer the taste of lean meat to fat.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Dave Millier on May 23, 2015, 04:22:28 pm
So, all the people who aren't interested in photography but who thought digital cameras were fun, got bored and switched their attention elsewhere (and will switch again and again). That leaves a drastically smaller market but a market of people who actually do photography and care about the fine details of their cameras, not just whether they have move MP than their neighbour Joe's.  They ought therefore, make a bit more effort to keep what's left of their customer base sweet by working hard to make their cameras work well in the field and be very practical. Kind of back to the film era, really.


I have a PhD in mathematics, but since I haven't actually done math in a few years, I'm no longer specially qualified to comment on the field, except in very broad and fairly vague terms. Just sayin'.

The point I am trying to make is this:

- the community of internet-famous technophile photography pundits, taken as a whole, has a general habit of telling the Camera Industry how to fix their problems by saying, essentially, Stick more technology into it, and build an awesome camera just for me.

- this is a bankrupt strategy. The pundits are telling the buggy whip manufacturers that if only they would use more modern glues the whole car problem would go away. The car problem is not going away, the buggy whip industry is going to suffer a drastic contraction, and that doesn't have anything to do with buggy whips. Going after the buggy whip side of the equation is not going to lead to salvation.

- it is, however, an excellent strategy for drawing an audience, since the aforementioned pundits have an audience consisting largely of technophiles. Telling technophiles that the answer is more technology is always a popular strategy. Whether it's right or not is irrelevant, when your job is punditry.

The DSLR makers need to plan for survival in a new world. They are not going to wish the new world away, nor will they engineer it away.


Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 23, 2015, 04:28:52 pm
Many commenters and pundits continue to conflate the problem of better serving the buggy driving market with the problem of the car.

Sony might outrun Nikon but they'll find that they're still in the jungle with a lion.

Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: bythom on May 23, 2015, 05:14:10 pm
Quote
Many commenters and pundits continue to conflate the problem of better serving the buggy driving market with the problem of the car.

Your analogy might have applied to the transition from film to digital, but it doesn't apply to the transition from digital to digital ;~). Again, fewer cameras are being sold, but MORE photos are being taken. With things that have image sensors, memory, communication, etc., in them, just as do cameras. One has to conclude that there is something wrong with the way cameras are being developed, which gets me to this:

Quote
It seems like nobody at the big camera companies actually uses their products.  The camera designers do not appear to be photographers.

To a degree far more than it should be true, that's true. I have to compare Tim Cook's wearing and using an Apple watch for months before it was introduced to what I see the Japanese camera management teams doing. It's generally easy to see when a company is truly interested in the customer versus when they're not. It's generally easy to see when a company uses their own products and the ones designing it test it to the nth degree in real situations before launching it. Plus one really sad truth about camera advertising for years and years now has been this: many of those images you see in the ads weren't actually taken with the camera in question. Often not even by the brand in question.

Quote
- the community of internet-famous technophile photography pundits, taken as a whole, has a general habit of telling the Camera Industry how to fix their problems by saying, essentially, Stick more technology into it, and build an awesome camera just for me.

First, I'm a photographer. Second, I have decades of experience in consumer high technology. Third, I want my problems solved. Apparently you don't want problems solved. Fourth, there is exactly zero ways to insure that a problem you're facing with a camera product actually gets heard by someone in Japan that has a chance of fixing it. Even those of us who cover the industry, those of who use the pro products professionally, rarely get a chance to give direct input about our experiences into the teams that design the products we use.

As for "stick more technology into it," I don't know how you move into the modern era without using technology, both hardware and software. That was true when I entered the PC business in the late 70's, it's true today, and I think it'll be true in the future. We can try the alternative if you wish: take technology out of the product. Don't think that's going to make anything any better.

Quote
Upgrading from USB 2.0 to USB 3.0 in any product of any kind is a differentiator.


No, it's a performance upgrade. USB is a standardized way of communicating between devices, it's not there for differentiation. NOT updating to the newest standards is akin to saying to your customers "you don't need any additional performance."  If you wanted to differentiate with the basic communication channel, you'd do something like introduce Firewire ;~). Oh, wait, Nikon once did that, then changed their mind.

My point in mentioning USB was simple: if the camera companies are going to insist on the current workflow models (and that includes for tethered shooting, which a lot of us do), it would be nice if they'd pay attention and keep the product up to date with the current technology. In other words, they can't even keep what they've been doing current in terms of technology, and it means that all of us pros in our studios are stuck with the same performance as we had over a decade ago when tethered.

Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: rmyers on May 23, 2015, 07:20:04 pm
More people are using phone cameras to make images now, and for a lot of people, these are more than adequate.  Can the major camera manufacturers find a way to convert those people back to the type of cameras they make, or can they somehow jump on the phone camera train?

If no, what is left?  What is left is the enthusiast market and the professional market.  The question is how many units per year this market represents, especially with the level of performance being offered by current cameras?  The number of people that are using a camera phone represents a loss of units sold per year.  The fact that many, especially enthusiasts, have no real reason to upgrade their "traditional" camera represents a loss of units sold per year.  

How many camera companies can survive serving the reduced market?  Mergers and acquisitions could be an answer.  Real technological advances could be an answer, but is there enough market left to pay for real technological advances, if any in fact exist?



 
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 23, 2015, 09:39:17 pm
There are two quite distinct markets.

There are the several billion picture-takers whose needs are perfectly satisfied by the smartphone. Perfectly. This market is unavailable to Nikon, Canon, et al. The market, in the industry parlance would not let them succeed because what they would need to do is build a smartphone, and the market is pretty full up on people who are very good at building smartphones.

The few million people who want a camera for one reason or another is what's left. That's what Nikon, Canon, et al have to work with. Unless someone can figure out how to create a radical market shift, this is the playing field, and it is shrinking. Fiddling around with exposure modes and USB standards is not going to make the playing field any bigger.

There's no magical "well if you just put the right tech into it, you'd capture a measurable slice of the smartphone picture takers" because, let's review, those people already possess a device which perfectly satisfies their needs. To capture any useful slice of this, you'd have to build a better smartphone (whatever that even looks like) and persuade a useful population that a Nikon-built smartphone is actually a thing they ought to buy. This is a total non-starter. Would you buy a Nikon phone? No, you would not. Nobody would.

I've said essentially this before in this thread, I think, but apparently to no effect. In fact, in the very first reply to this thread,
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 23, 2015, 09:46:08 pm
"USB 3.0 is not a differentiator, it is a performance upgrade"

What? "differentiator" is not the opposite of "performance upgrade". What on earth are you going on about?

Of course it's a differentiator. It does not in any fundamental way change your product, it simply makes your product do the same thing faster. So you introduce it NOT because it's a game changer, because it opens new markets, because it allows users to use your product in fundamentally new ways.

You introduce it because you think you can sell some more units on the faster performance before the other guys catch up. You introduce it because the other guys haven't yet.

And my point is that without a game changer, you're just making better buggy whips, and Henry Ford is still eating your lunch.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on May 23, 2015, 10:39:42 pm
... There are the several billion picture-takers whose needs are perfectly satisfied by the smartphone. Perfectly.

I think, Andrew, that you are overplaying this argument.

Yes, there are those who are "perfectly" satisfied by the smartphone. And yet, there are others, within the same group, who are seeing the limitations of their phone cameras (noisy low-light situations, flash photography with permanently burnt retinas, not just red, etc.). I am actually often bugged by friends, total amateurs, who want to step up, to recommend them a "true" camera. I am trying to persuade them their phones are good enough for their needs, yet they keep coming back, asking for a step-up advice.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 23, 2015, 10:57:52 pm
Well, it HAS been pointed out to me that it's a bit tautological. There IS a set of people whose needs are perfectly served by the smartphone, and for that group, by definition, the smartphone is the perfect device. But that is not the whole of what I am saying, by any means.

How big is that perfectly-served group? I dunno. It's not 100% of the cell phone picture-makers, for sure.

There's always a spectrum and some blurry lines and some overlap. I simplify, indeed, for the purpose of argument. But the basic thrust, I maintain, is correct, that the camera makers are excluded, irrevocably, from the mass market of picture-making-people, because they build cameras and not phones.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Telecaster on May 23, 2015, 11:46:33 pm
I'll just say—as someone who prefers using dedicated cameras to smart devices for pic taking, yet who uses the latter quite often as well—that unless camera makers start paying heed to the kind of tech advances their more serious customers insist upon, $$ will stay in wallets.

No more incremental upgrade BS. Michael's desire for perfect-as-possible exposure every time…do it, period. Easy-peasy full data set wireless communication with my smart devices…do it, period. Firmware updates direct-to-camera, no intermediary devices needed, with undo capability…do it, period. Idiotic shutter speed choices in Av mode with Auto ISO enabled…fix it, period (I'm lookin' at you, Sony…but not just at you). In a shrinking market you must start listening to your customers…so do it, period. Otherwise, as Thom (rightly) implies, you'll be the next Kodak. And you'll deserve it.

-Dave-
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 24, 2015, 12:21:15 am
Are you really under the impression that michael's scheme gets perfect exposure every time? Point it at the sun and think through what happens.

Then think about how you'd fix it. Congratulations, you just invented Matrix Metering. Which is available now.

---

"In a shrinking market you must start listening to your customers" is exactly the kind of thing that's obvious, but not even necessarily true.

If you are trapped in a shrinking market, you plan for how to be the dominant surviving player. That means that you need to:

1) survive
2) be dominant when the smoke clears

Survival is hard. Going big at a time when you need to be shrinking your company without destroying it might not be the right choice. Cutting staff cheaply and with minimum pain might involve offering many of your senior people generous severance packages, which is going to interfere a lot with your ability to deliver nifty new features. If you have any sense at all, you're spending a lot of engineering effort cleaning your bills of materials, planning for a simplified product line. You might be
looking at how to cut things back to a smaller number of base platforms, and a smaller number of pluggable modules, while still being able to deliver a sensible
range of products.

You're spending engineering resources on scaling the company down, safely.

USB 3.0? Get serious. Call me when the other guys deliver USB 3.0. In fact, call me when the other guys do it and it moves the needle on their sales. We're busy
trying to figure out how to cut the company in half without killing it.

---

Pile all the features you can think of into one camera? Great idea! How do you price this thing?

Price the camera low, let's say $1700, and now you can never sell a camera for more than that. EVER. Whoops. Where the hell did all my margin go?
Price the camera high, let's say $6000,  and the internet explodes in fury at your stupid pricing model and nobody buys the damn thing.

And what product do you follow it with?

Now it's next year. What are we going to build? Aren't we done? We built the all-singing all-dancing camera, and now, even if we had any money which we don't (see above) what on earth would we spend it developing? Does the armchair/internet businessman answer now change to "well, build some cameras with fewer features. You know, what you were doing before you went broke following my advice?"

Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Jeremy Roussak on May 24, 2015, 04:10:30 am
I'd be willing to bet that lions prefer the taste of lean meat to fat.

I'm willing to bet that they wouldn't run past the obese sluggard to get to the lean sprinter.

Jeremy
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: AreBee on May 24, 2015, 04:47:00 am
Jeremy,

Quote
I'm willing to bet that they wouldn't run past the obese sluggard to get to the lean sprinter.

If they first get the lean sprinter the lion can afford to have its cake and eat it.

Yum.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: graeme on May 24, 2015, 08:21:28 am
I think, Andrew, that you are overplaying this argument.

Yes, there are those who are "perfectly" satisfied by the smartphone. And yet, there are others, within the same group, who are seeing the limitations of their phone cameras (noisy low-light situations, flash photography with permanently burnt retinas, not just red, etc.). I am actually often bugged by friends, total amateurs, who want to step up, to recommend them a "true" camera. I am trying to persuade them their phones are good enough for their needs, yet they keep coming back, asking for a step-up advice.

I recently attended my niece's 18th birthday party. It was held in the local village hall & had some quite spectacular coloured disco lighting in an otherwise dark room. On a whim I took along my 60D & 17 - 85. That's not a brilliant low light combo & I'm crap at this type of photography - I barely know how to use the built in flash.

The next morning I was sorting the pics I'd taken ( in Lightroom ). My niece walked in & said that '...everyone at the party was taking photos all night'. I thought 'Right I won't bother with these then'. She then said 'But none of them came out'.

Everyone else had been using smartphones.

My poor handheld / lowlight photography skills combined with a real camera produced 140 useable photos for her social media use.

Everyone else's  poor handheld / lowlight photography skills combined with a smartphone produced 0 useable photos.

So I think the death of the real camera industry is a bit overstated. It's contracting massively but that's OK by me. I wouldn't care if all camera / computer / imaging software tech stopped progressing at all - it's good enough for me right now & I just get pissed off learning how to use the 'upgrades'. Maybe they could stick with current tech & concentrate on making it cheaper.

Graeme

PS. Maybe the above story could form the basis of an ad campaign to woo smartphone photographers to try dedicated cameras. If Canikon's marketing dept email me I'll provide my bank details...
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 24, 2015, 09:52:32 am
The old 'a real camera works in low light' story!

Yes. It's true. There are several relatives. You also can't shoot sports with a phone, e.g.

But the important part of the story is that 'everyone was taking pictures with phones'.

The fact that the pictures didn't work out doesn't matter. Sure, every now and then a cell phone user buys a real camera. Every now and then someone with a real camera lets it gather dust. The markets are a bit fluid, and camera sales are not zero and won't go to zero in the forseeable future.

The larger picture is clear, however.

Billions of photos with phones. Millions with cameras. Every day.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: graeme on May 24, 2015, 10:56:57 am
The fact that the pictures didn't work out doesn't matter.

Right. OK.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on May 24, 2015, 11:18:10 am
... Billions of photos with phones. Millions with cameras. Every day.

Somewhere along the way, and after four pages of it, I lost your point...what is it? Other this stating the obvious, that is.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: ripgriffith on May 24, 2015, 11:22:08 am
Somewhere along the way, and after four pages of it, I lost your point...what is it? Other this stating the obvious, that is.
Always with the perfect observation... +1
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 24, 2015, 11:25:28 am
It is that there are, or at any rate one can usefully consider there to be, two markets and Canon et al can compete in only one of them.

You're correct that this is obvious. And yet.

All else I have said is either to demonstrate why this is true, or to discuss consequences of it.



Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on May 24, 2015, 01:01:47 pm
...to discuss consequences of it.

Which are simple, really:

1. Run even faster in order to stay in the same (or lower) place... put the sneakers on, so to speak, outrun the competition (i.e. improve technology) - which is what Michael and Thom are saying

or

2. Curl up and cry - which seems to be what you are suggesting
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 24, 2015, 01:06:24 pm
That is, to my eye, not what Michael and Thom are saying.

Thom has explicitly stated in this thread that the larger mass market could be cracked if only camera makers took his advice.

Michael, to my eye, had implied it.

ETA: not sure where you're getting the 'curl up and cry' I've made numerous suggestions for what they might be doing that is constructive. What is annoying people is that I am pointing out that rolling out their pet features isn't.


Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: AreBee on May 24, 2015, 02:14:47 pm
Perhaps Nikon, Canon etc know exactly what they're doing and simply are milking the market through incremental improvements.

Occam's razor, and all that.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on May 24, 2015, 02:22:16 pm
... I've made numerous suggestions for what they might be doing that is constructive...

I must have missed that... like what?
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 24, 2015, 02:36:14 pm
Post #61. Paragraph starting 'survival is hard'
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on May 24, 2015, 03:00:56 pm
Post #61. Paragraph starting 'survival is hard'

In other words, to curl up and cry... after you cut the company in half.

After all, you'd have a lot of free time to do that, once you "simplify your product line" and "offer cameras with fewer features." You can then sit and wait for the hordes of customers excited by the "fewer features." The emphasis being on "sit and wait" (= curl up and cry).

Scaling down in a crisis is a palliative, tactical response, not a strategy.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: JeanMichel on May 24, 2015, 03:01:28 pm
Four pages of interesting reading. I do not know too much about marketing strategies and am also one who believes that the definition of "obsolete" is "it works", so I am sticking with what I think is a state of the art Canon 5d2, but am looking at the newest offering from Sony. I also stick with a Leica M9  (with my 40 to 50 years-old lenses) and wishing for the cash to buy their newer bodies. In some ways, Leica does have guts and does get glory, albeit with a rather modest market share. They, Leica, like the programmers of Lightroom and ACR understand photography and their products make it very possible for photographers to make their very best images. I have no idea as to where mass photography is headed -- but I am quite sure that cell phones will be replaced by something else sooner than later and all those images and videos will evaporate. Sa for new technology, perhaps this could be part of camera future: http://engineering.columbia.edu/columbia-engineer-invents-video-camera-runs-without-battery
Jean-Michel
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: AreBee on May 24, 2015, 03:08:16 pm
Slobodan,

Quote
..."simplify your product line"...

Thom Hogan has advocated for a long time that Nikon simplify its product line.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on May 24, 2015, 03:15:56 pm
Slobodan,

Thom Hogan has advocated for a long time that Nikon simplify its product line.

That might as well be, and it might make sense, but in which context? I doubt it is in the same context as Andrew's "simplify your product line AND offer fewer features."
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 24, 2015, 03:24:03 pm
If you want to equate 'run the now smaller business unit' with 'curl up and cry', Slobodan, far be it from me to deny you the opportunity.

Companies shrink and expand business units all the time to fit market needs. It is absolutely strategic. The strategy is 'right-size business units to fit the markets' the tactic is 'shrink/grow this one over the next so and so years'


Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: AreBee on May 24, 2015, 03:32:01 pm
Slobodan,

Quote
...in which context?

Thom Hogan considers that there are too many models within Nikon's lineup of camera bodies.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on May 24, 2015, 03:42:24 pm
Slobodan,

Thom Hogan considers that there are too many models within Nikon's lineup of camera bodies.

Rob,

That is tautology.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on May 24, 2015, 04:12:32 pm
If you want to equate 'run the now smaller business unit' with 'curl up and cry', Slobodan, far be it from me to deny you the opportunity.

Companies shrink and expand business units all the time to fit market needs. It is absolutely strategic. The strategy is 'right-size business units to fit the markets' the tactic is 'shrink/grow this one over the next so and so years'

When your market drops and you adapt to it, short-term, by downsizing, that is, in common parlance, a no-brainer, not strategy. Simplifying your product line in order to get rid of the less profitable and concentrate resources on the more profitable is a no-brainer, a tactical move, not strategy. Once you are done with (hopefully) soft-landing, what is next? "What is next" needs to be a vision for the way up, not just how to land your ass softly when you fall. I have not heard from you what is next. At least Michael and Thom offered some way out. Your "strategy" seems to be "less of the same" (or "curl up and cry") after downsizing. What's next, Andrew?
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: AreBee on May 24, 2015, 04:16:00 pm
Slobodan,

Quote
That is tautology.

"simplify its product line" could have referred to a range of options - all bodies to share the same battery type, all bodies FX only etc. I later confirmed the simplification advocated by Thom Hogan that I had in mind to be a reduction in the number of camera bodies.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 24, 2015, 04:19:35 pm
What's next is really hard to see in this kind of wildly dynamic situation. I'm pretty sure 'more of the same' is no better an answer that 'less of the same'. Less of the same is better in the short term.

I did write something a few days back. It's a bit far afield from this thread. Whether it represents an actionable course for Nikon is a good question.

http://photothunk.blogspot.com/2015/05/the-future-of-imaging.html
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: mezzoduomo on May 24, 2015, 05:09:18 pm
I did write something a few days back.....

http://photothunk.blogspot.com/2015/05/the-future-of-imaging.html


Thx, Andrew. Your blog post was quite interesting and definitely worth the time.
This thread, on the other hand..... ::)

Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on May 24, 2015, 05:11:22 pm
Shrinkage of the consumer segment for camera makers is not that really new. What follows is not a deep analysis, but rather sharing some anecdotal evidence.

Back in 70s-80s, where I grew up, it was quite popular to flaunt an SLR, Canikon if possible (i.e., not Practicas or Zenits). Then consumer video cameras became the talk of the town and everybody who is anybody had to have one. Then it was Hi-Fi. But my friends and I did not abandon SLRs. We instead sifted through classifieds, looking for bargains, created by those who were selling their cameras and lenses to make room for the latest fad.

I guess what I am getting at is that there has always been a core of photographers that are the loyal clientele for camera makers. Just as Canikons of the world survived the surge and fall of consumers chasing the latest fad in the 70s and 80s, counting on their loyal core (i.e., enthusiasts and pros), they will do it again. Smaller perhaps, consolidated, etc. But even back then, they did not survive by just shrinking, but by innovating along the way. Auto exposure, micro-processors, eye-focus, auto-focus, etc. If you can't expand the customer base, you can at least entice existing customers into upgrading more frequently. But you have to excite them, not just offer a bit more chrome here and there. And that is the gist of what Michael is saying.

Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 24, 2015, 08:38:42 pm
I absolutely believe that there is a core of "serious photographers" who will provide a stable market for Canon, Nikon, etc. It may even be larger than it was in, say, the 1980s or so, now that we have China and India as populations with more disposable income. It might be smaller, though, for.. some reasons.

And, I agree that this market will drive innovation, eventually.

My sense is that the coming contraction is going to be pretty dramatic, which suggests a fairly dramatic approach to right-sizing, which suggests that a slowdown in innovation may be a smart business move in the coming years. 2 years? Plus or minus a few.

I do think you are misreading the pundits, Slobodan. I don't think they are suggesting that camera makers innovate to dominate the remaining smaller market. I think they are suggesting the camera makers innovate to capture the cell-phone photographers. I suspect that the pundits don't actually distinguish between these markets, they're lumping them all together, and taking the opportunity to say "Nikon/Canon/Etc are a bunch of dummies and I am smart!" which is a fairly arrogant position to take.

But we've been over that, and I am fully prepared to agree to disagree on this point, Slobodan, and you may have the last word on it if you like!
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on May 24, 2015, 09:41:54 pm
... "Nikon/Canon/Etc are a bunch of dummies and I am smart!" which is a fairly arrogant position to take...

Hard to believe that such huge companies could be dummies, right? But... having worked for one of them (Kodak) in their final years, I can tell you that even I was smarter than them ;)

Linking to something else that has been said in these threads, I was, surprisingly, the only photographer among the senior management (well, at least in that affiliate). I told my boss, the general manager, who happened to be quite close to the corporate honchos, that film has about five more years. He laughed it off, saying that the developing word (i.e., India, China) would provide markets for film for years to come. Incidentally, I bought my first digital camera exactly five years later and never ever used film again.

Speaking of India and China, you seem to be saying that's a lost market, as they will jump over DSLR phase straight to smartphones. Hmmm... I've been following international competitions for quite some time... there is a visible uptick in winners from those countries, and they are not winning with their cellphones, but by latest and greatest Canikons.

EDIT: This isn't about the "last word." It is an interesting debate and I am just trying to provoke you into brainstorming, rather than just poking holes in pundits' theories  ;)
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 24, 2015, 09:46:32 pm
I actually have no idea about India and China. They were far less of a factor last time camera makers were reduced to 'merely' the enthusiasts.

Whether they change the situation or not I have literally no idea, but I think it's clear you gotta go look.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: rmyers on May 24, 2015, 09:57:42 pm
So if Sony made the camera Michael described, would you ditch your current gear and buy it?  I am an enthusiast, and I am not sure what it would take to get me to upgrade from my current camera, but I do know I haven't seen it yet.

What would it take in a new camera to get you to

a) upgrade your current camera within your current brand / lens collection?
b) buy into a new camera system altogether?

Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: bokehcambodia on May 25, 2015, 04:09:59 am
What i want to add to this conversation:

The LENS LINEUP of CaNikon has so far always been the trump card, keeping users in their ecosystem (upgrading bodies), investing in a new first-party lens, etc.
But now what we see is that Sony has Zeiss branded lenses (very smart move to add another respected branding) and Sigma/Tamron churn out lenses better/cheaper than CaNikon's equivalents. (One might see a future where CaNikon licenses their designs for others, too, if they keep their heads in the sand any longer).

And Canon thinks pricing their new lenses 'premium only' (they are great, but Sigma ART is just a much better value e.g.) is the way to keep the profits with falling DSLR sales?
Is this a deliberate move saying they have given up the camera market profits and hope for lenses to carry them financially in the future? Dangerous.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: jjj on May 25, 2015, 08:25:16 am
But the problem isn't that prices are going down. That's a symptom. The problem is that demand for cameras is going down. Way down. Precipitously down. This means that there is something fundamentally wrong with the product definition as it is currently being practiced.
I'd take a slightly different tack on that part of your post which is otherwise pretty spot on.
Most people do not want or need a 'fancy' camera and never have done. The recent massive boom in cameras when digital arrived was simply a blip that is now over for two reasons - all cameras are pretty darn good now, so very little need for enthusiasts or pros to upgrade anymore and secondly smartphones for the rest.
A P+S in whatever form be it simple camera or smartphone is the ideal tool for the vast majority of people even if a percentage of them bought ILCs because they are 'better cameras', even if not appropriate for them. Now most people have a smartphone, the P+S market has collapsed along with the extra sales that fancier cameras got from those folk. What I thought was most interesting about the recent camera boom is that people who previously wouldn't have dreamt of purchasing a film camera over £70-80 were not only buying digital cameras costing hundreds of pounds, but replacing them every few years.



Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: jjj on May 25, 2015, 08:42:02 am
Hard to believe that such huge companies could be dummies, right? But... having worked for one of them (Kodak) in their final years, I can tell you that even I was smarter than them ;)

Linking to something else that has been said in these threads, I was, surprisingly, the only photographer among the senior management (well, at least in that affiliate). I told my boss, the general manager, who happened to be quite close to the corporate honchos, that film has about five more years. He laughed it off, saying that the developing word (i.e., India, China) would provide markets for film for years to come. Incidentally, I bought my first digital camera exactly five years later and never ever used film again.
Someone from that useless bunch now gives talks on how not to run a company. My girlfriend went to a marketing seminar he presented as part of work related training.

Quote
Speaking of India and China, you seem to be saying that's a lost market, as they will jump over DSLR phase straight to smartphones. Hmmm... I've been following international competitions for quite some time... there is a visible uptick in winners from those countries, and they are not winning with their cellphones, but by latest and greatest Canikons.
Indeed, keen photographers will buy serious/ILCs of whatever style and the rest will use their phones, exactly like other nations do.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 25, 2015, 09:51:57 am
It is an article is faith that Kodak was destroyed by management stupidity.

But, was there a sequence of decisions which, if made at the proper times, would have led to success? Or even survival?

If so, that would surely have been the most epic pivot in the history of history.

And a follow-up question, how much of the new Kodak's business would come from p&s cameras?
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Bernard ODonovan on May 25, 2015, 12:25:52 pm
Edited quote from: No Guts, No Glory

“It’s no secret that the camera industry is in poor health…

What to do then? I would realize that the smartphone has won, and that salvation for my company and product line lies with specialization and differentiation, and with offering those photographers who are seeking a superior picture-taking experience truly differentiated and therefore desirable products.”


Michael gets it… Other pundits seem to error by suggesting the disruptive effect of smartphones and or their usability can be reversed by adding usability gimmicks to traditional cameras…

Edited quote from: No Guts, No Glory

“Which brings us to the two companies that look like they know what they’re doing – Sony and Fuji.”


I would argue that Canon and Nikon are still getting it right for their core DSLR users…

Smartphones freed non enthusiasts from the burden of carrying a real camera…

Mirrorless has freed some enthusiasts and pro’s from the burden of a DSLR where their photography does not need that system…

High resolution full frame has freed some Medium format users from their burden of heavy gear where full frame does what they need…

The market is just adjusting as technology and product availability allows it… In every user group there will be users waiting for better alternatives…

Edited quote from: No Guts, No Glory

“I want to focus on Sony, because the rumour mill has been rife all spring with the expectation of a new camera to augment the A7 series. Will this be a 50+ megapixel model? Will it have in-body stabilization like the A7 MKII? Will it have 4K video like the A7s, but with in-camera recording this time.

Thinking what I would do if I were Sony – seeing that Nikon and Canon are on the metaphorical ropes, and that my (Sony’s) sales and market share is increasing steadily, is that I would blow the entire wad on a new super-high-end model. Hit the marketplace with the whole enchilada – 36-50MP, in-body sensor stabilization, and 4K video with in-body recording. Kick the competition hard while they’re down with an updated 7 series body. Mirrorless is now 50% of the interchangeable lens camera market in Asia, and growing steadily elsewhere. Sony is in a position of strength in this segment. Capitalize on it, now!”


The high end is already safe regardless of volumes going up or down so SONY may still keep the three lines of 7 series separate, “Sensitivity” (A7S), “Resolution” (A7R) and “All round” (A7). Hard to say if the IBSS gets added to all of these… People who need 4K may also need a real video camera, so SONY will not waste effort if they need to wait a few generations making it a standard feature with in body recording…

Edited quote from: No Guts, No Glory

“With some recent new G series and Zeiss branded FE glass from Sony, along with Zeiss’ own exciting new Batis lens line, Sony is primed. Introduce a no-holds-bared high-end FE mount model and the community of serious (non-smartphone) photographers will reach into their wallets.”

This is another area that will keep some Canon users with Canon and some Nikon users with Nikon, “glass”… Add to that style and street cred. No matter what SONY does their camera products lack design, they really did buy the old Minolta body division…

In a humorous video, a 1DX sports user advised upcoming 7D2 users to keep the booster on with their longest lens when walking into the sports photographers area, and to stay away for their own safety if they had a puny A7 SONY… You will not find these photographers discussing Dynamic range either…  ;D

Edited quote from: No Guts, No Glory

“Take half measures and dole out the features slowly over time, and Sony will give Nikon and Canon time to breath (if they still are doing so). In other words – wearing my marketing hat, I’d say – hit them hard with all barrels – now.”

It may be counterproductive to try to compete directly in areas where Canon and Nikon are strong. Better they continue to create the alternatives that some Canon and Nikon users will prefer and gain their own market as they have done…

The Smartphone has disrupted the mass market. The burden of supplying zillions cameras to non photographers has been lifted, this means all Camera makers can focus on enthusiast and pro’s… Good news for real photographers if those manufacturers can all manage to stay in business…

As affordable Large sensors become more readily available it should put some meat back into medium format market. I suspect we will see some range finder style cameras in these larger formats soon… It is starting to get like the film days all over again, and those past “gear” market models will be the future albeit with some users changing formats up or down for different reasons…

With regard to the Kodak school of business, Film was disrupted by digital eventually across all its market segments, it is very different to the disruption of smartphones which are limited to the mass market segment of camera users, albeit it a painful loss to bear. Kodak were supplying physical/chemical media in their home market which was one thing that allowed them to survive with good basic and aging business skills against competition until the digital era. The digital camera makers still have other market segments that are unaffected by smartphones. They will never grow them enough to replace the mass market, so they need to diversify and strengthen what they do have or adjust in size…

Canon had expanded overseas production for low end products in the boom days and have now already closed those factories and moved efforts home. They must have made hay while the sun was shinning as they are now buying up other companies (security Cameras) to diversify…

SONY is a major sensor maker for everything, not just handheld cameras. I would be more worried if I was a SONY user that they get bored of the camera market are start focusing on the pure sensors and other electronics… They have a bigger company to feed and a history of pulling out of markets they entered…

Fuji is playing it safe going for the retro rangefinder style APS C segment and a rumored medium format version in the future…
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: jjj on May 25, 2015, 01:28:14 pm
So if Sony made the camera Michael described, would you ditch your current gear and buy it?  I am an enthusiast, and I am not sure what it would take to get me to upgrade from my current camera, but I do know I haven't seen it yet.

What would it take in a new camera to get you to

a) upgrade your current camera within your current brand / lens collection?
b) buy into a new camera system altogether?
Make my life as a photographer easier. Now what makes my life easier is not the same as what makes someone else's and hence why cameras have a multitude of features.
Sadly some people ignorantly and selfishly refer to features they do not want as bloat.

An Olympus m4/3 system with a 14-450mm lens range that's about the same size as a Canon DSLR body and a single zoom f2.8 lens will do that if I want travel light for example.
I'm not a big user of tele lenses [at all] but after playing with the OM 40-150mm [80-300mm FF] f2.8 I really want one. And with long lenses, a smaller sensor with it's bigger DoF is an advantage in my eyes.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: PeterAit on May 25, 2015, 05:06:31 pm
The best thing that could happen to the Lula website is for the rantatorials to go away. They are hubris on a stick. Yes, I can (and do) ignore them, but really - what value do they bring?
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: jjj on May 25, 2015, 05:12:21 pm
The best thing that could happen to the Lula website is for the rantatorials to go away. They are hubris on a stick. Yes, I can (and do) ignore them, but really - what value do they bring?
Says Peter ranting in the LuLa forum.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Telecaster on May 25, 2015, 05:28:45 pm
I like the rants. You have to take 'em for what they are…part prognosticating, part wishlisting, part letting off steam. There's a proper place for all those things, and here it is.  :)

-Dave-
Title: mass-market non-phone cameras must just a bit too big to go everywhere
Post by: BJL on May 25, 2015, 05:40:58 pm
Some key problems for current camera makers (other than Apple, Samsung and maybe Sony) to deal with are:

1. The great majority of photographic needs formerly handled by dedicated consumer-level cameras will henceforth be handled by go-almost-everywhere multi-function devices that also handle communication, computation and other entertainment; call them "smart phones" if you will.

2. Any innovation that fits into a small enough device will be offered in those multi-function devices.

3. Most or all traditional camera makers have little hope of succeeding as makers of such devices: even the biggest and most electronics-savvy of the makers of traditional cameras, Sony and Panasonic, have tried and mostly failed with smart phones; Canon, Nikon et al can forget about it.

The only way forward I see is to offer differentiated products which address limitations that smart-phone photographers most often experience and which can only be overcome by technology that cannot be squeezed into an "every pocket, every purse" device by giants like Apple and Samsung. The "dedicated camera" must involve some upsizing, becoming the tool that people carry just some times, for the tough cases where the phone is not enough, and the most fundamental need for upsizing is the lens, not anything electronic (Also, computer fanciness is best handled by pairing to the phone that is going to be in the pocket anyway).  The most appealing "step-up" cameras must offer lenses with the ability to handle faster action, lower light and/or more telephoto reach than a phone, without the excessive image quality loss to heavy crops ("digital zoom") from an already small sensor.

After lenses, next big question is how large the sensor must be, bearing in mind that a larger sensor without a larger lens does nothing to help with any of the above limitations, while phone camera lenses cannot get much brighter, so some sensor upsizing is needed.  I suspect that the answer is "not much bigger"; not more than about two stops, so a linear doubling, which is still only about Type 2/3" (11mm diagonal)  So even the now fashionable Type 1" (16mm diagonal) might be a bit too large for the base level of cameras that appeal as overcoming the limitations of phone-cameras, and APS-C (28mm diagonal) and its lens sizes is almost certainly far too much of a jump.

The through-the-lens optical viewfinder of an SLR is hopeless at this format size, so SLR's are doomed for the bottom part of the "non-phone camera" sector -- thus, camera companies that want the business benefits of an interchangeable lens system (brand lock-in, follow-up lens sales) will have to get serious about having a compact mirrorless system as part of their portfolio.  Not to knock SLRs as a smaller but profitable higher end sector, or just as halo products.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: mezzoduomo on May 25, 2015, 06:50:58 pm
...You have to take 'em for what they are…part prognosticating, part wishlisting, part letting off steam...

-Dave-

...and part bloviating, part member-measuring.  ::)

I'm really quite surprised at the amount of time and effort expended by some to opine at length, here where it matters...not at all.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 25, 2015, 07:00:15 pm
Nothing really matters, in the end. Entropy wins. The universe reaches uniform temperature.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: jjj on May 25, 2015, 07:17:50 pm
Nothing really matters, in the end. Entropy wins. The universe reaches uniform temperature.
Or does it?
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: kodachrome on May 25, 2015, 08:18:44 pm
Michael has been ranting against Canon and Nikon for a long time now. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the gist of it seems to be that they aren't doing much in the mirrorless market. I agree that one would think they would be doing more in that area, but for many serious photographers, mirrorless cameras are worthless. That will probably change, but, for me right now, they are worthless, and I'm sure many other nature/wildlife photographers feel the same way. To be honest LL as a website has only a fraction of the interest to me as it did, because Michael would only talk about MF digital cameras and how great they were, now it's all about how great mirrorless cameras are. I'm sure they are great for their intended users, just like Canon/Nikon cameras are for their users.
The reality is that Canon came out with some really great products at the end of 2014, not that you would ever know it reading this website. The 7D MKII is a great, great camera for action, wildlife, birds, etc. They also came out with a MUCH improved 400mm f/4 DO II lens that is as sharp as the 500, but works really well with the 1.4X converter, which gives you a full frame equivalent of 900mm on the 7D MKII that is hand holdable for long periods. This is a game changer. They also came out with an amazing upgrade to the 100-400 zoom that is extremely sharp, fast focusing, and focuses to 3 ft at 400mm. I couldn't ask any more from Canon, unless they wanted to give me their products for free.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: thebatman on May 26, 2015, 07:22:12 pm
I've been following this thread and also been reading Thom Hogan's views for a while.  It's a great discussion although not many good answers for the camera makers, I'm afraid.  Two comments to add to the discussion:

One, I do believe anything beyond the core enthusiast/pro market is well and truly lost.  Like many (?), I had dabbled in photography but really got serious when I had kids (in the mid-2000s).  At the time it was very common at the playground to see most parents with their shiny new digital SLRs.   Now, it's so rare to see that, it's actually starting to become a bit *odd* to be seen toting a DSLR – literally everyone else is using smart phones and having a "real" camera is starting to stick out like a sore thumb.  No amount of feature enhancement will save you once your product becomes outré (see: station wagon, Blackberry, CRT monitor). I realize the readers of this site aren't really heavy into kids/family stuff, but you have to admit that's where a lot of market demand comes from.  Once I was hooked I dreamed of the same 5D Mk2 as everyone else…

Two, because the collapse of the market will be so severe, it's not crazy for a strong player (Canon, Nikon) to just sit back and wait for others to go bust/exit the market.  If your sales are declining 20% a year your R&D budget needs to fall 20% /year at least (probably more).  Similar to what others have said, will that ETTR mode or USB 3.0 connection really sell any more units?  Sadly, it's really not rational to spend much effort improving the products further.  Spend your effort managing expenses down in line with sales, hope 3-4 players exit, and then you'll have the (much smaller) market to yourself.  I don't like this one bit, but IMHO this is by far the most likely thing that will happen.  Sadly nothing these guys do will really affect overall sales levels that much.  I believe I was the last generation that really saw a DSLR (or anything more than a smartphone) as an important product to have.

Ken
Title: entry-level ILCs still rule for "family events", and probably sports
Post by: BJL on May 26, 2015, 09:36:35 pm
One, I do believe anything beyond the core enthusiast/pro market is well and truly lost.  Like many (?), I had dabbled in photography but really got serious when I had kids (in the mid-2000s).  At the time it was very common at the playground to see most parents with their shiny new digital SLRs.   Now, it's so rare to see that, it's actually starting to become a bit *odd* to be seen toting a DSLR . .  .
That is also what I see for "everyday" photography; the stuff that was mostly not done at all in the film era, before the 24/7/365 micro-documentation of our live began. But at the next step up of "events" like vacations, weddings, graduations, I still see a lot of basic SLR kits with f/5.6 kit zoom lenses in use; maybe as much as with film SLR's.  I do not know much about sporting events, but at a guess, SLRs still rule there too, and do handle that use case far better than any pocketable camera.  So I still see camera makers having hopes for the "family event" camera market, which is where film SLR's dominated once upon a time.

The bottom line is that interchangeable lens cameras still sell in significantly larger numbers than film SLRs ever did; just not a many as during the bubble.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: NancyP on May 27, 2015, 11:04:19 am
As far as Pakistan is concerned, bloodline is a significant factor - Benazir Bhutto was the daughter of General Z. Bhutto, president and prime minister of Pakistan in the 1970s, and founder of a major political party.  In the United States, the analogous phenomenon is the election of widows of politicians to statewide office - a local example having been Jean Carnahan formerly of the U.S. Senate, elected after her husband Mel, former Missouri governer and then-candidate for U.S. Senate, was killed in a plane crash. Missouri is a pretty conservative state, and it is unlikely that a woman would have been elected to the U.S. Senate or U.S. Congress without family ties (U.S.Rep. Joann Emerson is a political widow as well).
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 27, 2015, 11:26:33 am
I find it odd how people forget.

The 'I just want a picture' crowd has been well served for 100 years, starting with Kodak's preloaded camera. 'You push the button, we do the rest'

The cheap, easy to use, camera has been with us all along. Instamatic. Polaroid. In the heyday of Polaroid they sold twice as many cameras as the SLR makers.

That crowd is now moving rapidly to 100% phones, which serve them better than have ever been served, because phones are connected. That crowd did flirt briefly with the DSLR when the cheap kits turned up, hence the bubble of 20m units a year.

Bubble's over. Phones win.



Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: donbga on May 27, 2015, 04:14:07 pm
What a perfectly worthless thread.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: amolitor on May 27, 2015, 04:22:13 pm
What a perfectly worthless thread.


Thanks for your valuable contributions.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: Isaac on May 27, 2015, 05:33:19 pm
Quote
<Michael Reichmann>Thinking what I would do if I were Sony…

"FY2014 Results: Realized significant improvement in profit, despite a shrinking consumer camera market, by reducing fixed costs through operational efficiencies and shifting focus to premium products." [pdf slide 35, Sony IR Day 2015 (http://www.sony.net/SonyInfo/IR/info/irday2015electronics_presenE.pdf)]

"FY2015 Key Strategies: (1) Apply technologies in the high-end professional sphere [“4K” “High Frame Rate” “Wide Color Gamut”] to consumer products. (2) Establish ecosystem of strong differentiated products centered around our α-mount [Full-frame E-mount] system. (3) Expand operational best practices of the consumer business across the entire IP&S segment." [pdf slide 38, Sony IR Day 2015 (http://www.sony.net/SonyInfo/IR/info/irday2015electronics_presenE.pdf)]
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: thebatman on May 27, 2015, 05:43:10 pm
The cheap, easy to use, camera has been with us all along


I think you and BJL are saying the same thing then: the bubble is over, ILC sales will keep dropping until they hit a low "steady state" (which might be more than film SLRs used to do back in the day).  Makes sense to me.  I think the only debate is if companies <should> be innovating more to try to re-ignite growth.  Thom Hogan (and Michael?) seem to be saying yes.  I think we are saying that would not have much effect and the ROI would be low/negative.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: graeme on May 31, 2015, 10:12:07 pm
Of course, given the market opportunity, we all expect smartphone tech to continue improving in various ways - including low-light (http://www.sonyalpharumors.com/sony-has-a-new-12-mp-rgbw-sensor-for-the-next-iphone/).

Meanwhile low-light is the most obvious boundary I come up against with a bottom-of-the-range Sony A35 -- in particular, achieving good focus without flash using the EVF.

Absolutely agree.

My point was how forgiving a DSLR was vs a smartphone.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: BruceMax on June 01, 2015, 01:29:57 pm
I understand the concerns and approaches in the replies to "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial. I agree with the bits and pieces involved but it strikes me that the manufacturers have walked, maybe ran away from the consumer. Over the last 15 +/- years the manufacturers have made it almost impossible for the small, hometown camera store to survive by requiring them to carry relatively large inventories, so slowly, the local camera stores disappeared. Some states have 2 or less stores and probably some have none. My hometown camera store closed a few years ago and left only a big box store here and the big big city mail order stores, which by the way, do a pretty good job of taking orders and delivering product. The crux, for me ,is that many times, photography purchases are either well thought through or just plain lust satisfaction, impulse purchases. I suspect the latter accounted for 30-40% of purchases by folks hanging out at their local shop with the owner lovingly showing us the latest products while we egged each other on to buy the stuff. That was fun and it is no more and therefore, sales dropped by 30-40% because I suspect that was the percent of impulse purchases at your local emporium.

The big guys like Nikon, Canon, etc may eventually catch on and make it possible and profitable for the "little guys" hometown shops. Maybe they are hoping to be absorbed by Apple, which might be a good step forward.
Title: Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
Post by: jjj on June 01, 2015, 04:11:45 pm
I understand the concerns and approaches in the replies to "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial. I agree with the bits and pieces involved but it strikes me that the manufacturers have walked, maybe ran away from the consumer. Over the last 15 +/- years the manufacturers have made it almost impossible for the small, hometown camera store to survive by requiring them to carry relatively large inventories, so slowly, the local camera stores disappeared.
I think you find there was another reason, one far bigger and one that has affected a large variety of businesses. The www.