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Author Topic: The camera industry in difficulty?  (Read 17959 times)

Kevin Raber

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Re: The camera industry in difficulty?
« Reply #20 on: December 19, 2016, 10:19:45 am »

There is a lot more going on behind the scenes than a lot of people really know and over the next few months, I believe a lot will be revealed that may show how the industry is going.  I think Henrik said it best in our interview of Henrik https://luminous-landscape.com/catching-henrik-hakonsson-ceo-phase-one-interview-kevin-raber/. We will be seeing consolidation and maybe even mergers as well as new owners and acquisitions.  After the holidays I am thinking of interviewing some front line camera sales guys that will let us in on what they are seeing.  Also, I believe there will be news about some camera makers and suppliers and changes with them.  This year 2016 every camera company was trying to get a product to stick.  Phase One was the first out of the gate with the 100MP camera. and it is a fine camera and they are doing well.  Why? they are focused on a small but excellent product line with a well-defined market.  They don't try to be everything to everyone.  They know their audience and they focus on it. 

Look at Sony last year.  They introduced 9 cameras and one of those was even updated within 9 months of its previous version.  They own the sensor market for the most part.  While I don't think you will see that many new cameras from Sony this year you will see some amazing ones.  Ask yourself why they are introducing G-Master lens with a road map for more. Sony will be camera company that sooner or later Nikon and Canon are going to have to contend with.  Especially if some of the rumors on future cameras are real.  If you take some of the technology they have shown in their latest cameras and repackage it into a pro-grade camera then there may be a significant new camera.  Sony's CEO is very dedicated to the photography and making the finest cameras.  i think they will surprise us next year. 

The data shows that all camera sales are declining but the rate of decline is less in mirrorless and frankly I think you will start to see an upswing in the mirrorless market over the next 24 months.  Another thing is that now that our industry has matured in the sense of availability of good digital cameras many photographers are upgrading at a slower pace.  Differences in cameras aren't significant enough for a lot of shooters to buy a new version of a camera.  Many are skipping versions and waiting for something much more significant.  From what I have been told by counter salesmen at a few camera stores this is particularly true for the Canon 5d IV and even some Nikon models.   Meanwhile, Fuji and Olympus have made significant new cameras this year and while late in the year, word has it they are selling very well.  I think this will bear watching as we move into next year.  Also, we'll see how the new entries into the so called medium format market go.  If Hasselblad can deliver their X1D and it is accepted it could be interesting and more than anything else will be the Fuji GFX.  Fuji has big plans for this format.  I think it will be successful and there will be a lot of interest. 

All of this and more will have an impact on the sales numbers and the market.  I also think camera makers should interface better with the mobile phones and I mean in an almost seamless way without a lot of work by the photographer.  Then you get kind of a marriage of both worlds.  I'd love it if I could shoot with one of my higher MP cameras and be able to see my images on an iPad or iPhone and then be able to do something with an app and post it to social media.  Today doing that can be a painful experience of trying to pair, sync or sign onto a device.  Many people using mobile phones will sooner or later looking for a camera that may be better but they will not want to sacrifice their mobile phone.  Wouldn't it be cool to be out shooting with a larger MP camera and then get back to the car or home and see all the images on your mobile devices, without the hassle of having to pair or sync these devices?

I'll have more to say on this topic in an article next year.

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David S

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Re: The camera industry in difficulty?
« Reply #21 on: December 19, 2016, 10:30:21 am »

Fuji sales of XT-2 must be good enough as I ordered one (in Canada) 5 weeks ago and it looks like I won't get it till middle of January.

Dave S
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ErikKaffehr

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Re: The camera industry in difficulty?
« Reply #22 on: December 19, 2016, 03:35:27 pm »

Hi Kevin,

I don't think I agree. If we look at the initial data I have posted it seems that the camera advanced camera market before the digital boom was 5-10 MPieces. Check the 2004 data analogue sales around 10MPiece and very little ILC sales. 2005 analogue sales almost zero and ILC starting up.

In 2012 there was something like 17 million ILCs sold and in 2016 the figure is more like a bit over 9 millions. It may be that we are going to a stable market for ILCs and advanced cameras around 5-10 MPieces. Replacement buys and new customers. The big loosers are low end compacts.

I would think that smartphone cameras are getting more capable and we see new smarphone cameras like the Hasselblad True Zoom.

I don't feel that is a bad thing. Folks take a lot of great pictures with smartphone cameras and they are perfectly good enough both screen and decent size prints. You recall when Michael shot a P45+ and a Canon G10?

A group of experts with 200 years of digital photography amongst them could not really tell them apart at 13x19". So, I think that G10 was good enough, for 13x19". No surprise for me, as I found my Sony RX100 can make decent prints at A2 (16x23") and I could not see the benefit of P45+ over my 24 MP full frames below A1 (23x32"). Phone cams are in a rapid development.

Phone cam technology of course moves upscale. So in 5-10 years when phonecam technology has migrated to MFD, Phase One we will have the IQ6-650MP. But 15-20 MP phone cam technology will be good enough for anything except 8K projected at say 4 m wide and watched at 1.5m  distance (*), or large prints.

It may be that ILCE makers like Sony will have a larger piece of the advanced camera cake, but I don't think cake will grow that much because of phone cam users moving upscale. What I think increases the market is folks in India and China and others countries getting richer and being able to buy photo gear.

But, 10 million pieces of cameras is still a decent market.

Best regards
Erik


There is a lot more going on behind the scenes than a lot of people really know and over the next few months, I believe a lot will be revealed that may show how the industry is going.  I think Henrik said it best in our interview of Henrik https://luminous-landscape.com/catching-henrik-hakonsson-ceo-phase-one-interview-kevin-raber/. We will be seeing consolidation and maybe even mergers as well as new owners and acquisitions.  After the holidays I am thinking of interviewing some front line camera sales guys that will let us in on what they are seeing.  Also, I believe there will be news about some camera makers and suppliers and changes with them.  This year 2016 every camera company was trying to get a product to stick.  Phase One was the first out of the gate with the 100MP camera. and it is a fine camera and they are doing well.  Why? they are focused on a small but excellent product line with a well-defined market.  They don't try to be everything to everyone.  They know their audience and they focus on it. 

Look at Sony last year.  They introduced 9 cameras and one of those was even updated within 9 months of its previous version.  They own the sensor market for the most part.  While I don't think you will see that many new cameras from Sony this year you will see some amazing ones.  Ask yourself why they are introducing G-Master lens with a road map for more. Sony will be camera company that sooner or later Nikon and Canon are going to have to contend with.  Especially if some of the rumors on future cameras are real.  If you take some of the technology they have shown in their latest cameras and repackage it into a pro-grade camera then there may be a significant new camera.  Sony's CEO is very dedicated to the photography and making the finest cameras.  i think they will surprise us next year. 

The data shows that all camera sales are declining but the rate of decline is less in mirrorless and frankly I think you will start to see an upswing in the mirrorless market over the next 24 months.  Another thing is that now that our industry has matured in the sense of availability of good digital cameras many photographers are upgrading at a slower pace.  Differences in cameras aren't significant enough for a lot of shooters to buy a new version of a camera.  Many are skipping versions and waiting for something much more significant.  From what I have been told by counter salesmen at a few camera stores this is particularly true for the Canon 5d IV and even some Nikon models.   Meanwhile, Fuji and Olympus have made significant new cameras this year and while late in the year, word has it they are selling very well.  I think this will bear watching as we move into next year.  Also, we'll see how the new entries into the so called medium format market go.  If Hasselblad can deliver their X1D and it is accepted it could be interesting and more than anything else will be the Fuji GFX.  Fuji has big plans for this format.  I think it will be successful and there will be a lot of interest. 

All of this and more will have an impact on the sales numbers and the market.  I also think camera makers should interface better with the mobile phones and I mean in an almost seamless way without a lot of work by the photographer.  Then you get kind of a marriage of both worlds.  I'd love it if I could shoot with one of my higher MP cameras and be able to see my images on an iPad or iPhone and then be able to do something with an app and post it to social media.  Today doing that can be a painful experience of trying to pair, sync or sign onto a device.  Many people using mobile phones will sooner or later looking for a camera that may be better but they will not want to sacrifice their mobile phone.  Wouldn't it be cool to be out shooting with a larger MP camera and then get back to the car or home and see all the images on your mobile devices, without the hassle of having to pair or sync these devices?

I'll have more to say on this topic in an article next year.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2016, 12:14:56 am by ErikKaffehr »
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Paulo Bizarro

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Re: The camera industry in difficulty?
« Reply #23 on: December 20, 2016, 03:55:06 am »

Sure the DSLR's might have stayed roughly the same...but the money making lower end camera market is diving...it's this lower camera market that drove revenues for the camera makers...not DSLR's.

Sure, we all know that. But what we need to do is to consider Apple, Samsung, and Huawei are also camera makers today:)

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Re: The camera industry in difficulty?
« Reply #24 on: December 20, 2016, 04:02:12 am »

Kevin,

Thanks for bringing your insight into this. Personally, I think that until the market driving company like Canon and Nikon decide what their future path is, we will not see a major difference. You give very good examples but these come from companies that do not "rule" the market overall. Phase One, Fuji, even Sony... you mention that Sony are introducing the G master lenses for a reason. Sure, they are able to resolve more lpm, and this is also the drive from Zeiss with the Otus and recent Milvus lenses.

But the truth is that Canon has gone down this road much earlier, with a 50mpx sensor in a DSLR, and the updates on their core lenses: the new 16-35 f2.8 L MKIII is just an example. Nikon has also introduced in 2016 an amazing lens, the 105 f1.4. The thing is, especially Canon, they have the size and momentum to compete in all market tiers, offering slid choices in several segments.

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Re: The camera industry in difficulty?
« Reply #25 on: December 20, 2016, 09:04:09 pm »

The thing is, especially Canon, they have the size and momentum to compete in all market tiers, offering slid choices in several segments.

Why you say "especially Canon"?
Solid choices? Canon seem to me to be low end choices.

Nikon offer best DX, best FX, action camera.

Nikon old D810 landscape camera still better in many respect than newer Sony.
Better in every respect than Canon.

Of the Top 10 premium-quality prime lenses, 4 are made by Nikon (Zeiss only has 2, Leica only has 2, Canon only has 2). Nikon doubles top scores over others.
Of the Top 20 premium-quality prime lenses, 9 are made by Nikon (Canon makes 6, Zeiss makes 3, and Leica stays at 2). Nikon still dominates, completely.
(Does not yet include new Nikkor 105 f/1.4!!)

http://www.lenscore.org

Of the Top 10 premium FF camera, Nikon makes 6, Sony 3, Canon 1.
Of the Top 10 premium ASP-C cameras, Nikon makes 5, Sony 2, Pentax 3, Canon 0
(Does not yet include Nikon D500, which is better than all of them!!)

http://www.senscore.org

The only element "especially" about Canon is its absence from the very top compared to others.
The "especially" element actually applies to Nikon, with respect to its complete dominance at very top compared to others.

CONCLUSION: if there is a "niche market specialist" in the best DSLR + lens market offerings for the consumer, Nikon is company which seem to have a lock on it.
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shadowblade

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Re: The camera industry in difficulty?
« Reply #26 on: December 20, 2016, 09:19:41 pm »

Why you say "especially Canon"?
Solid choices? Canon seem to me to be low end choices.

Nikon offer best DX, best FX, action camera.

Nikon old D810 landscape camera still better in many respect than newer Sony.
Better in every respect than Canon.

Of the Top 10 premium-quality prime lenses, 4 are made by Nikon (Zeiss only has 2, Leica only has 2, Canon only has 2). Nikon doubles top scores over others.
Of the Top 20 premium-quality prime lenses, 9 are made by Nikon (Canon makes 6, Zeiss makes 3, and Leica stays at 2). Nikon still dominates, completely.
(Does not yet include new Nikkor 105 f/1.4!!)

http://www.lenscore.org

Of the Top 10 premium FF camera, Nikon makes 6, Sony 3, Canon 1.
Of the Top 10 premium ASP-C cameras, Nikon makes 5, Sony 2, Pentax 3, Canon 0
(Does not yet include Nikon D500, which is better than all of them!!)

http://www.senscore.org

The only element "especially" about Canon is its absence from the very top compared to others.
The "especially" element actually applies to Nikon, with respect to its complete dominance at very top compared to others.

CONCLUSION: if there is a "niche market specialist" in the best DSLR + lens market offerings for the consumer, Nikon is company which seem to have a lock on it.

Lenscore and Senscore are a load of crap. Who knows how they derive their numbers? Their process is completely opaque, they don't publish any of the raw numbers or their methodology and all they give is an arbitrary score. And, in most cases, their relative scores are contradicted by every other review site out there (Digital Picture, DxO, Photozone, etc.) which either publishes its raw measurements or provides sample images so we know what they're talking about.

Subjective rankings (e.g. 'these cameras are the best 10 out there' or 'these are the three lenses you must own') are worse than useless. They're no better than a articles which say, 'These are the ten best holiday destinations in 2017' - nothing more than clickbait.

D810 beats 5Ds in landscape (due to DR), but 5Ds kills D810 as a studio camera, where you can control the lighting. It has higher resolution, better connectivity, a better LCD, etc. And the Pentax K1 kills both of them when the subject doesn't move and you can find a lens which fits your application.

D5 beats 1Dx2 in certain very-challenging AF situations (in most situations you can't tell the two apart, unless one of them is set up incorrectly) but the 1Dx2 beats the D5 when you need to shoot video, or when you're shooting subjects at low ISO (very common in photojournalism or when using flash) or when you need a high-end long-tele zoom (the Canon 200-400 with inbuilt TC doesn't have a competitor which even comes close).

Anyway, this has absolutely nothing to do with whether Nikon, Canon, Sony or anyone else is in trouble as a company (i.e. what the thread title says). You can make the best cameras in the world and still go bankrupt. And you can make a fortune out of junk.
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mecrox

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Re: The camera industry in difficulty?
« Reply #27 on: December 21, 2016, 06:08:42 am »

Sure, we all know that. But what we need to do is to consider Apple, Samsung, and Huawei are also camera makers today:)

A very good point. And increasingly it is companies like those and the Silicon Valley types which have the R&D funding and the expertise to develop (and patent) the most telling new ideas and applications. Not a happy position for the traditional photography industry, potentially anyway. It can produce superb hardware, no question, but increasingly that may contain electronics and software it doesn't really own and has little control over. And those are the bits with all the value. I have no idea what the future will bring but it is pretty hard to believe that in 2025, say, the same six or seven traditional outfits will be making the same traditionally styled things they have until now. I do have a sense it is end of era time. There may be many things to regret about that but with the money position - turnover, margins, profit - looking so weak I don't think things can just carry on as is, at least for quite a few of the players. Maybe some consolidation - fewer but stronger players, perhaps by then allied with the new electronics powerhouses - is the answer.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2016, 06:15:42 am by mecrox »
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BrownBear

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Re: The camera industry in difficulty?
« Reply #28 on: December 21, 2016, 06:59:39 am »

I have no idea what the future will bring but it is pretty hard to believe that in 2025, say, the same six or seven traditional outfits will be making the same traditionally styled things they have until now.

There's a whole lot in that.

I have a small window into the upper levels of "Silicon Valley." Nothing specific and certainly not to the detail of photo capture, rather more about process.  New products don't appear suddenly in a vacuum, rather they follow years of research and technical study, pre-prototypes, prototypes, Betas, and finally production models.  My source doesn't get down to details, rather he just shakes his head and laughs. His words are approximately "You just won't believe what's coming up through the departments. It's a new world out there, making today's models look like Model T's."
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Telecaster

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Re: The camera industry in difficulty?
« Reply #29 on: December 21, 2016, 04:52:07 pm »

I'd like to fast forward straight to stuff like cameras with integrated & configurable fluid-based lenses, direct 'net/LAN connectivity (and firmware upgradability) and friendly interfaces that let you hide or expose as much of the camera/device's underlying complexity as you wish. Where's my Tardis?!

-Dave-
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FabienP

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Re: The camera industry in difficulty?
« Reply #30 on: December 21, 2016, 05:33:25 pm »

Camera manufacturers have done a tremendous job by updating their camera hardware since the early digital era. They still have to catch up on the software and connectivity side of things. The problem is that they do not make any money with software updates and thus have no incentive to backport firmware updates to previous models, as it would kill new sales.

There have been small steps to provide apps for cameras or optional features for a modest price (for instance Sony) but so far this is marginal at best and not many features are exposed in the SDKs made available to third party developers. Also, I think manufacturers are literally hostile to people who add functionality to existing firmware (such as Magic Lantern for Canon cameras) as it makes artificial segmentation of products by withholding functionality more difficult.

I am not sure I would buy yet another camera for more megapixels but I would welcome software enhancements, even if I have to pay for those:
  • A menu system that does not show the JPEG related options and greatly declutters the interface. A menu structure that makes sense would help, too.
  • Reliable histograms (based on RAW readings)
  • Custom crop ratios in EVFs
  • Some assistance for focus stacking, possibly even automating the whole capture

The list is by no means complete and each user might have different requirements. But most of these things could be done on current hardware and would be cheap to develop compared to new sensors or autofocus technologies.

Now, would it attract new customers and lead people using other systems to switch brands? Not sure about that...

And if the camera is bulkier than a smartphone it will be left at home anyway.

Cheers,

Fabien
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chez

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Re: The camera industry in difficulty?
« Reply #31 on: December 21, 2016, 08:02:20 pm »



And if the camera is bulkier than a smartphone it will be left at home anyway.

Cheers,

Fabien

I think the camera would be left at home regardless if its smaller than the smartphone as the smartphone can text and make phone calls...and take photos.
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ErikKaffehr

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Re: The camera industry in difficulty?
« Reply #32 on: December 22, 2016, 12:45:23 am »

Hi,

I wouldn't spend 3k$US on a new menu systemů, but I guess I would not do an upgrade for megapixels either. But who knows?

The other points you make are on my top priority list, too.

Best regards
Erik

...

I am not sure I would buy yet another camera for more megapixels but I would welcome software enhancements, even if I have to pay for those:
  • A menu system that does not show the JPEG related options and greatly declutters the interface. A menu structure that makes sense would help, too.
  • Reliable histograms (based on RAW readings)
  • Custom crop ratios in EVFs
  • Some assistance for focus stacking, possibly even automating the whole capture

The list is by no means complete and each user might have different requirements. But most of these things could be done on current hardware and would be cheap to develop compared to new sensors or autofocus technologies.

Now, would it attract new customers and lead people using other systems to switch brands? Not sure about that...

And if the camera is bulkier than a smartphone it will be left at home anyway.

Cheers,

Fabien
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shadowblade

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Re: The camera industry in difficulty?
« Reply #33 on: December 22, 2016, 02:15:06 am »

Cameras are not unique in being supplanted by multifunctional devices.

A modern smart phone is a lot like the wrist- or forearm-mounted multifunctional devices of science fiction, with the only difference being that it is carried rather than worn. It's a multimodal communications device, a timepiece, a video and sound recorder, a camera, a navigational aid, an image projector, a concierge, a PA and more.

Sure, a single-purpose device of the same size and weight would do some of these things better than a multifunctional device, but the multifunctional device does it more than well enough for most purposes, and there's something to be said for versatility and integration. That leaves single-purpose devices as specialised tools for specific, demanding purposes, rather than everyday tools.

It's not just cameras (apart from the high end) which are disappearing. Many people no longer wear watches - they are now a fashion accessory rather than a timepiece. Dedicated GPS devices are becoming less necessary. Dumb phones have mostly disappeared. So have portable voice recorders. So have electronic dictionaries, electronic notepads and similar devices. Camcorders have become much less common than a decade ago. Even Gopro is suffering.

If camera makers - chiefly Nikon, but also Canon, to a lesser extent - fail to adapt, their fate will resemble Nokia's. Nokia was the king of dumb phones - another single-purpose device whose purpose was subsumed by multipurpose devices, in a similar way to what is happening to the lower end of the camera market. They failed to adapt to new markets and new technology and, as a consequence, have all but disappeared.

And phone cameras are only going to get better. In a few years, improvements in diffractive optics will allow for much larger sensors and wider apertures without increasing the device size and thickness, while electroactive polymers will allow for true optical zoom without needing an extending lens or moving lens elements. Capacitors, to replace lithium-ion batteries, already hold more energy and charge faster. They won't match full-frame interchangeable-lens cameras, but, for anything other than large prints, high-detail publications or certain technical uses, they may be good enough.

If there's one company well-placed to take advantage of all this, it's Sony. After all, they also make smartphones and other electronics, in addition to being a major supplier of sensors. It wouldn't be a stretch for them to make a string of interconnected devices, all centred around using the Xperia phone as a central controller and display.
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davidgp

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Re: The camera industry in difficulty?
« Reply #34 on: December 22, 2016, 02:35:27 am »


If there's one company well-placed to take advantage of all this, it's Sony. After all, they also make smartphones and other electronics, in addition to being a major supplier of sensors. It wouldn't be a stretch for them to make a string of interconnected devices, all centred around using the Xperia phone as a central controller and display.

If one thing we can soy from Sony it is that their software interfaces are not their strong point (I have the Sony A7 II for the last six months and I miss my Canon 5d II menus of 2008).

Sony is already putting a big OS in the camera, they are using android... But really... Their App Store implementation is a bit of a joke... Try to buy one of their apps from Europe... Only way is to buy one of those PlayStation gift card... I was not able to use my credit cards nor PayPal account... Was a bit of a joke...

I'm not interested in controlling the camera with the phone... For my style if photography... Landscape one mainly, I have my hands already busy with the camera, tripod, etc... I don't need to be worrying also for my phone to take pictures... It will get in the middle...

Curiously... After seeing Kevin videos of Hasselblad interface or phase one interface I think Japanese interface designer should take notes of how simple a camera interface can be at the same time as practical...

I think software is going to be one of the key factor in the camera for the future... But camera makers need to think in terms of practicality and user friendliness before just starting to out there every option... In that Hasselblad video where that engineer was talking about the thoughts about the software interface... That it is what other camera makers should think about...

Paulo Bizarro

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Re: The camera industry in difficulty?
« Reply #35 on: December 22, 2016, 04:28:02 am »

Why you say "especially Canon"?
Solid choices? Canon seem to me to be low end choices.

Nikon offer best DX, best FX, action camera.

Nikon old D810 landscape camera still better in many respect than newer Sony.
Better in every respect than Canon.

Of the Top 10 premium-quality prime lenses, 4 are made by Nikon (Zeiss only has 2, Leica only has 2, Canon only has 2). Nikon doubles top scores over others.
Of the Top 20 premium-quality prime lenses, 9 are made by Nikon (Canon makes 6, Zeiss makes 3, and Leica stays at 2). Nikon still dominates, completely.
(Does not yet include new Nikkor 105 f/1.4!!)

http://www.lenscore.org

Of the Top 10 premium FF camera, Nikon makes 6, Sony 3, Canon 1.
Of the Top 10 premium ASP-C cameras, Nikon makes 5, Sony 2, Pentax 3, Canon 0
(Does not yet include Nikon D500, which is better than all of them!!)

http://www.senscore.org

The only element "especially" about Canon is its absence from the very top compared to others.
The "especially" element actually applies to Nikon, with respect to its complete dominance at very top compared to others.

CONCLUSION: if there is a "niche market specialist" in the best DSLR + lens market offerings for the consumer, Nikon is company which seem to have a lock on it.

It seems you have missed the part about "size and momentum"; Canon are a much larger company than Nikon. That takes care of the "especially" part. Nikon may be the best at everything, but it seems that the majority of SLR users (pros, enthusiasts, and amateurs) prefer Canon, go figure...

Canon is absent from the very top, really? This is laughable.

mecrox

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Re: The camera industry in difficulty?
« Reply #36 on: December 22, 2016, 04:44:24 am »

If one thing we can soy from Sony it is that their software interfaces are not their strong point (I have the Sony A7 II for the last six months and I miss my Canon 5d II menus of 2008).

Sony is already putting a big OS in the camera, they are using android... But really... Their App Store implementation is a bit of a joke... Try to buy one of their apps from Europe... Only way is to buy one of those PlayStation gift card... I was not able to use my credit cards nor PayPal account... Was a bit of a joke...

I'm not interested in controlling the camera with the phone... For my style if photography... Landscape one mainly, I have my hands already busy with the camera, tripod, etc... I don't need to be worrying also for my phone to take pictures... It will get in the middle...

Curiously... After seeing Kevin videos of Hasselblad interface or phase one interface I think Japanese interface designer should take notes of how simple a camera interface can be at the same time as practical...

I think software is going to be one of the key factor in the camera for the future... But camera makers need to think in terms of practicality and user friendliness before just starting to out there every option... In that Hasselblad video where that engineer was talking about the thoughts about the software interface... That it is what other camera makers should think about...

Software is a good example of how the traditional camera industry has suffered. In recent years, huge expenditure and research in many industries has been put into how humans interact with machines, objects, technology, problem-solving, machine-learning. This is the kind of research only the largest, most forward-looking companies can afford but when the payoff eventually comes it is huge. It's the edge that allowed Apple, say, to take out Nokia. Self-driving cars are likely to be the next one. The problem is that all camera companies are minnows by comparison and simply cannot afford the research, least of all in a sharply declining market. And it shows - when was the venerable camera file system last given a thorough makeover, for example? There is a ratchet effect here, too. With each passing year, the weight of expenditure and research elsewhere knocks traditional camera companies even further behind.

My own hope is that in coming years, some mixing and matching starts to occur. The best elements of some current camera companies could be acquired by outfits who do have the expertise to do a proper software job, for example. I don't think camera companies as they exist today have the funds or the expertise to manage it and it is hard to see a rosy future without some breaking up and rearrangement in the traditional camera industry.
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shadowblade

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Re: The camera industry in difficulty?
« Reply #37 on: December 22, 2016, 04:47:32 am »

If one thing we can soy from Sony it is that their software interfaces are not their strong point (I have the Sony A7 II for the last six months and I miss my Canon 5d II menus of 2008).

Sony is already putting a big OS in the camera, they are using android... But really... Their App Store implementation is a bit of a joke... Try to buy one of their apps from Europe... Only way is to buy one of those PlayStation gift card... I was not able to use my credit cards nor PayPal account... Was a bit of a joke...

I'm not interested in controlling the camera with the phone... For my style if photography... Landscape one mainly, I have my hands already busy with the camera, tripod, etc... I don't need to be worrying also for my phone to take pictures... It will get in the middle...

Curiously... After seeing Kevin videos of Hasselblad interface or phase one interface I think Japanese interface designer should take notes of how simple a camera interface can be at the same time as practical...

I think software is going to be one of the key factor in the camera for the future... But camera makers need to think in terms of practicality and user friendliness before just starting to out there every option... In that Hasselblad video where that engineer was talking about the thoughts about the software interface... That it is what other camera makers should think about...

Then don't control the camera with your phone. Technology isn't about you - it doesn't stop progressing because you like your current tool. Where there's an application, it will be developed.

For many others - both photographers and casual users - it'd be an incredibly useful tool.

Control 3 Gopro-style cameras through the one interface, to capture a scene from different angles simultaneously. Scatter 10 of them around a waterhole and use them to capture wildlife at dusk, controlling each one individually. Attach a flash unit to a drone and use it to provide lighting you otherwise couldn't achieve in that environment. Point two of them in the same direction for stereoscopic shots, and control them simultaneously. Spend an afternoon placing them all aroumd a mountain, then use them to shoot the sunrise from six different locations - then retrieve them all by drone before moving on. The list of applications is endless.

And these 'Gopros' won't be the current small-sensor, fixed-focal-length toys currently available. They'll have APS-C or full-frame sensors (made cheaper by economies of scale, since almost every device will have one or more imaging sensors) and a variety of lenses, made lightweight and compact through the use of diffraction technology and polymeric components, with zoom provided by shape-changing electropolymers. All controlled remotely and housed in a tough, lightweight and shockproof polycarbonate housing. Store five of them, and five Speedlights, in a Pelican case for a portable studio, all controlled remotely via a tablet.

Think of cameras as speedlights which take photos - the eyes of the imaging system, rather than the brain, as it is at the moment. You can use just one, or more than one, and can put it wherever is best for the shot, not just somewhere where you can get your eyes behind it.

I remember these same arguments when digital replaced film, and when Photoshop replaced the darkroom. Each time, you had a core group of Luddites who liked their existing tools, couldn't see how the new technology could be an improvement, feared the democratisation of photography and generally despaired at its future. And, each time, they turned out to be wrong. No-one would use a technology unless it was better for the task in at least one key way. And, now, images are being created which would never have been possible with film, or with darkroom techniques. The same thing happens in other fields, too - the doom-and-gloom when command line interfaces were replaced by GUIs, when film-based X-rays and CT scans were replaced by monitors. The Luddites were never right, and those who couldn't adapt or couldn't take advantage of new technology found themselves surpassed by those who could.
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Tony Jay

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Re: The camera industry in difficulty?
« Reply #38 on: December 22, 2016, 06:25:26 pm »

The only constant is change!

There is no avoiding it and there is no stopping it!
I am not just talking of "technology" here but our planet and societies are in a constant state of ferment whether we like it or not or understand and perceive it or not.
Much of this change is not comfortable (at least for me - I see a lot of badness coming) but denying its reality is not helpful.

The key to dealing with change is how it is managed.
This is relevant on an individual level, community and society, governments and companies.
Of course the response to the same issue will of necessity be different depending on the level at which it is tackled.

The photographic industry as a whole, IMHO, has not necessarily been very successful in tackling the issue of future-proofing themselves. By definition this cannot be a one-off process but needs to be an ongoing endeavour.
Think of Kodak - they invented the digital sensor!
The digital sensor killed Kodak!
Kodak completely failed to understand the implications of their very own invention!

Currently I see, on a smaller scale, a lot of the one-dimensional thinking that led to the demise of Kodak in many other companies that belong to the larger family of the photographic industry.
The issue is not one of technological advances necessarily but a failure to see how the market as a whole is changing.
Strategically Kodak never really understood how the market would change as a consequence of their own invention, how other companies would exploit that technological breakthrough - they stuck resolutely to film and print as the core of their business never believing the situation we now see as reality would ever happen, and died a horrible death as a result.
Currently, most camera manufacturers are not at the cutting edge.
I emphasise again that IMHO the issue is not primarily technological but rather a failure to read the market.

The Smartphone revolution, and the way things are done as consequence has already had a profound effect on what we traditionally think of the camera industry.
Whole classes of cameras have already become redundant and unmarketable at any price.
These types of cameras were always the prime money-spinners for those manufacturers.
Phase One and Leica may never have produced point-and-shoot cameras or low-end DSLRS but they have always only represented a very small niche market.
Canon, Nikon, Sony (Minolta), Pentax, Olympus, etc have always relied very heavily on those types of cameras for their profitability and ultimately their viability.
The market that traditionally bought point-and-shoots and low-end DSLR's have resolutely changed allegiance to the Smartphone.
The rapidity with which this realignment of the market has occurred has given every camera manufacturer a bad case of whiplash.

Currently the companies that manufacture cameras that also have several other strings to their corporate bows are coping with the situation much better than those whose operations are largely dependant on manufacturing cameras.
This is the reason for the current concerns about the future of Nikon.
Other companies may be just as stressed but it may not yet be so obvious.

Unless some major thought is given, and very rapidly, by the camera industry, to how they are going to re-engage with the market and regain lost market share and create a new market for their products then real trouble lies ahead.

Kevin hinted at a whole raft of industry-wide changes coming in the new year.
News like this could be reassuring or it could merely portend a coming disaster.
I really do not get the impression that any of the manufacturers are really demonstrating a proactive approach at the moment but rather a reactive stance in response to unwanted, unpleasant, and unforeseen realities.
In other words their current corporate strategies are well behind the curve.
The question then becomes, which companies can get ahead of the curve to produce cameras that can really capture and recapture market share.
For those companies that cannot succeed here I foresee fire sales and bankruptcies of camera divisions or potentially whole companies.
In ten years time I foresee an industry with a lot fewer names competing.

Hopefully, though, at least some of those changes that Kevin hinted at represent constructive win-win partnerships and mergers that strengthen the industry rather than a representation of a failure to adapt.

Change, evolution, and revolution are inevitable and ongoing. Change cannot be ignored - it can only be managed.
How we manage change, individually, and corporately, will define the history of what for us is still in the future.

Tony Jay
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davidgp

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Re: The camera industry in difficulty?
« Reply #39 on: December 23, 2016, 03:20:01 am »

Then don't control the camera with your phone. Technology isn't about you - it doesn't stop progressing because you like your current tool. Where there's an application, it will be developed.

For many others - both photographers and casual users - it'd be an incredibly useful tool.

Control 3 Gopro-style cameras through the one interface, to capture a scene from different angles simultaneously. Scatter 10 of them around a waterhole and use them to capture wildlife at dusk, controlling each one individually. Attach a flash unit to a drone and use it to provide lighting you otherwise couldn't achieve in that environment. Point two of them in the same direction for stereoscopic shots, and control them simultaneously. Spend an afternoon placing them all aroumd a mountain, then use them to shoot the sunrise from six different locations - then retrieve them all by drone before moving on. The list of applications is endless.

And these 'Gopros' won't be the current small-sensor, fixed-focal-length toys currently available. They'll have APS-C or full-frame sensors (made cheaper by economies of scale, since almost every device will have one or more imaging sensors) and a variety of lenses, made lightweight and compact through the use of diffraction technology and polymeric components, with zoom provided by shape-changing electropolymers. All controlled remotely and housed in a tough, lightweight and shockproof polycarbonate housing. Store five of them, and five Speedlights, in a Pelican case for a portable studio, all controlled remotely via a tablet.

Think of cameras as speedlights which take photos - the eyes of the imaging system, rather than the brain, as it is at the moment. You can use just one, or more than one, and can put it wherever is best for the shot, not just somewhere where you can get your eyes behind it.

I remember these same arguments when digital replaced film, and when Photoshop replaced the darkroom. Each time, you had a core group of Luddites who liked their existing tools, couldn't see how the new technology could be an improvement, feared the democratisation of photography and generally despaired at its future. And, each time, they turned out to be wrong. No-one would use a technology unless it was better for the task in at least one key way. And, now, images are being created which would never have been possible with film, or with darkroom techniques. The same thing happens in other fields, too - the doom-and-gloom when command line interfaces were replaced by GUIs, when film-based X-rays and CT scans were replaced by monitors. The Luddites were never right, and those who couldn't adapt or couldn't take advantage of new technology found themselves surpassed by those who could.

I agree with those examples, let me write my ideas other way... What I want to say it is that the camera must still stand by its own... It's usability via software and hardware controls must be on its own... Even though you can do what you explain... Because in a great majority of scenarios one person will interact with just one camera to make just a photograph...
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