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Consumers prefer having the convenience of uploading their photos instantly to Facebook or Twitter

Smartphone cameras may not be as sharp as a lot of the digital cameras available, but many consumers still prefer to have connectivity over the best photo -- and this is hurting mid-tier mirrorless camera makers.  

A new report from Reuters says that Japanese camera makers like Panasonic, Fujifilm and Olympus are losing out when it comes to their mirrorless cameras because consumers prefer having the convenience of uploading their photos instantly to Facebook or Twitter. 

Mirrorless cameras, which were introduced around five years ago, were meant to be the middle ground between low-end compacts and high-end single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras. They terminate internal mirrors that optical viewfinders typically use, and allows users to compose images via electronic viewfinders or liquid crystal displays. The end result is a camera smaller than an SLR, but with better quality than compacts or smartphones thanks to larger sensors and interchangeable lenses.

However, Japanese camera makers that depended on this mid-tier haven't seen much of a return. Panasonic, for instance, saw a 40 percent drop in overall camera sales from April through September of this year. From July to September, it held 3.1 percent of the camera market -- a drop from 3.8 percent during the same period a year earlier. 


Panasonic DMC-G5
 
Critics argue that LCD screens can never compete with the clarity of an optical viewfinder, which doesn't help the mirrorless camera's cause. While mirrorless looks to be a big deal in Japan, it has failed to catch on in the U.S. and Europe. 

Panasonic, Fujifilm and Olympus have pretty much been pushed out of the SLR market, since it's dominated by the likes of Canon and Nikon. 

Sony is another strong camera player, since it makes sensors for many camera manufacturers and has its own smartphone division.

Analysts, such as Ben Arnold from NPD, have said that the mirrorless camera makers should ditch their current ideas and instead focus on the detachable lens market and connectivity. 

Sony did this with its two QX lenses, which are small, clip onto smartphones, have their own sensors and processors, and are operated wirelessly. 

Source: Reuters



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Bull
By bug77 on 12/30/2013 3:56:18 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Mirrorless cameras ... were meant to be the middle ground between low-end compacts and high-end single-lens reflex


There is no price point between high-end compact cameras and entry-level SLRs. Mirrorless costs as much as DSLR. and requires additional lenses as well. That's why they're loosing.
As for smartphones, they're a new category of the same photo market, it's expected they'll take market share from everyone ekse, but hurt the low-end the most.




RE: Bull
By Moonwave on 12/30/2013 5:54:55 PM , Rating: 2
Totally agree.


RE: Bull
By althaz on 12/30/2013 8:23:21 PM , Rating: 1
I think the author meant in terms of size.

Additionally, mirrorless cameras are substantially cheaper than entry-level SLRs and can also take better photos.

The problem with mirrorless cameras is that Sony owns that market almost completely with their NEX line (which when it launched was head and shoulders above everything else available, although that is no longer the case).

Additionally, it's not a very big market and as this article points out, it is only really likely to shrink from here on out.


RE: Bull
By SPOOFE on 12/31/2013 12:00:23 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
mirrorless cameras are substantially cheaper than entry-level SLRs and can also take better photos.

I think both assertions are completely incorrect.


RE: Bull
By Heidfirst on 12/31/2013 2:46:36 AM , Rating: 2
They do cost less to manufacture. But we are not seeing that difference at retail (i.e. the manufacturers are taking a higher profit) except on close out sales for the last generation etc. .
At some point that will change as the market gets tougher.


RE: Bull
By nafhan on 12/31/2013 9:56:16 AM , Rating: 2
Yep. Plus, the camera manufacturers and almost anyone who's owned an SLR knows that the real money is in lenses, and the lens selection and pricing for mirrorless cameras kind of sucks.


RE: Bull
By bug77 on 12/31/2013 11:17:38 AM , Rating: 2
One could argue that if you're ok with photos taken with a smartphone, you're not in the target segment for interchangeable lenses to begin with. And if you are, there are few reasons to choose a mirrorless over a DSLR.


RE: Bull
By SPOOFE on 12/31/2013 4:41:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
the lens selection and pricing for mirrorless cameras kind of sucks.

For Sony, Samsung, and Fuji's systems, yeah. But m4/3 has a really robust ecosystem for lenses, especially primes but with a few solid zooms thrown in. In fact, I would call the m4/3 dedicated lens selection to be superior to Nikon's DX or Canon's APS-C. It just hasn't translated into sales numbers.

The bottom line is that the only real advantage for MILC's is size, and one of the issues that the camera industry has to deal with is the perception that "big camera" equals "more professional/impressive". And even for the smaller size/weight advantage of mirrorless systems, there still tends to be only a couple body/lens combinations that are "pocket size" small, which has developed into a sort of benchmark in the size discussion.


RE: Bull
By nafhan on 12/31/2013 5:28:42 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I would call the m4/3 dedicated lens selection to be superior to Nikon's DX or Canon's APS-C.
That's because Canon's full frame lenses can be used on their APS-C bodies (but not vice versa). They make a few low end EF-S lenses, and that's it. Anything up the chain from that is an EF lens that will work just fine on an APS-C body. That's a huge selection of lenses from a number of manufacturers. I think Nikon's APS-C line is similar. Not to say that m4/3 doesn't have a good selection, but I'd be surprised if it was anywhere close to what you can get with EF-S/EF lenses.

I'd agree that a MILC + pancake lens would be just barely pocketable, and that that's an advantage in some situations. I actually strongly considered getting a MILC a few years back when I got my first DSLR for that reason. I decided against it, because it would have been slightly more expensive, for slightly worse performance and slightly worse picture quality (at the time).


RE: Bull
By SPOOFE on 12/31/2013 5:39:48 PM , Rating: 2
I'm aware that FF lenses can be used on APS-type bodies. That's why I said "dedicated". If you want to expand into "non-dedicated" systems, m4/3 has an advantage there, too: Just about ANY lens can be adapted for it. Of course, that just nips into the "size advantage" even more, as adapters and overly-large lenses just add to the bulk.

I'm only pointing out the puzzling nature of the m4/3 environment. Panasonic's been a minor darling of the indie videographer world since their GH series kicked off. Olympus really knocked one out of the park with their OM-D's. Both have released some highly regarded lenses in the past couple years and see plenty of support from third-party manufacturers. Yet the entire system is struggling.

Meanwhile, Canon has let their APS-C lineup dawdle, using the same sensor across several generations and only recently stepping up their game with the 70D. Similarly, Nikon's been practically ignoring their bread-and-butter DX lineup. Both of the Big Two have essentially ignored their high-end APS-like pro body update cycle. And they're thriving, at least compared to their contemporaries. It puzzles the hell out of me.


RE: Bull
By nafhan on 12/31/2013 8:20:03 PM , Rating: 2
The APS-C bodies are made to work with the full frame lenses. The fact that these lenses work with APS-C and full frame (no adapter needed) is a positive - not a reason to pretend they don't exist. If you weren't taking that into account when you made your buying decision, you overlooked some excellent, inexpensive lenses. In m4/3's, for instance, there's nothing like the 50mm f1.8 without paying quite a bit more or buying an expensive adapter.

Still, I'm not certain what's going on with m4/3's, either. Despite how I may have come across, those are my preferences, I feel like it should appeal to a lot of people, too... Dunno.


RE: Bull
By SPOOFE on 12/31/2013 10:35:22 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The APS-C bodies are made to work with the full frame lenses.

Sure, but that's not what I'm getting at. It's obvious that Nikon and Canon are taking a "just get a FF lens" attitude on a lot of their lens offerings, especially since the D3 and Nikon's joining the FF club.

The result has been a poor selection of wide angle lenses for both systems that aren't hideously overpriced or oversized. For telephoto shooters it's a big bonus, but landscape shooters get pushed to Sigma or Tokina offerings. And on the Nikon side many of the small wide angle FF lenses - 18mm, 20mm, 24mm - won't autofocus on inexpensive DX bodies. It's a terribly incomplete strategy, and despite the clamor for humongous apertures, there's still plenty of demand for small, inexpensive f/2.8 primes.

quote:
In m4/3's, for instance, there's nothing like the 50mm f1.8 without paying quite a bit more or buying an expensive adapter.

Panasonic's 20mm f/1.7 has been very popular, and on m4/3 has a pretty normal FOV, and it's not terribly expensive. It's no $100 nifty-fifty, but then, even Nikon's moved away from that category (their most recent 50mm f/1.8 was north of $200) and Canon's is getting a lot less love these days, as well.


RE: Bull
By nafhan on 1/1/2014 12:57:48 AM , Rating: 2
I guess I don't have much more to say about this other than I'd still prefer my tradeoffs to yours, and in a different situation, that might be different.

Also, happy new year's, and thanks for the interesting discussion.


RE: Bull
By SPOOFE on 1/1/2014 4:08:27 PM , Rating: 2
Happy New Year indeed.

My preference is for nice big full frame sensors and the oft-gigantic lenses this entails. I also accept that this is not desirable for most potential consumers.

On paper, the specifics of m4/3 make it seem like it should be a very desirable system, especially over Nikon DX/Canon EF-S. But those latter two are clearly thwomping. I can only guess that the big difference is that Nikon and Canon have the pedigrees that make them more popular, but then, Olympus and Panasonic aren't exactly no-name brands.

But whatever. It's a mystery and consumers are often fickle. :D


RE: Bull
By nafhan on 1/2/2014 9:43:53 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I can only guess that the big difference is that Nikon and Canon have the pedigrees that make them more popular
That and people want to be a "professional" (which an SLR does for them, I guess?). I understand cameras and take better pics than quite a few of these "pros". That's really saying something about their abilities, not mine; I don't have any illusions that I'm an incredible photographer. I just find it a pretty obnoxious to see friends and family occasionally paying for terrible pictures and talking about how great they are. I would imagine an actual photographer would find it even more annoying.


trends are trendy
By Nortel on 12/30/2013 3:53:07 PM , Rating: 1
"Sony did this with its two QX lenses, which are small, clip onto smartphones, have their own sensors and processors, and are operated wirelessly." This was a laughable solution which involved pocketing an awkwardly attached expensive cylinder. It didn't help much that these ad-ons were only compatible with a couple phone models.

With smartphone camera's becoming 'the norm' along with obvious quality improvements, I think the trend is a one way street. Smartphones are the future, get on-board somehow or you will miss the boat.




RE: trends are trendy
By Flunk on 12/30/2013 4:23:30 PM , Rating: 2
They sold a bunch in Japan.


RE: trends are trendy
By nafhan on 12/31/2013 10:54:38 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Smartphones are the future, get on-board somehow or you will miss the boat.
It's going to be a while before sensor/DSP tech manages to replace, say, 11 two inch wide pieces of glass with silicon. It will happen at some point, though.

In the nearer term, what I'd like is for SLR's to start including BT+NFC for easy pairing with smartphones and tablets. Using a Nexus 7 (or iPad) as a remote control, monitor, and file manager/image editor for an SLR would be great. You can sort of do this now with third party products, but I'd really like to see it supported and developed by the camera manufacturers. That would be a huge value add for the customer that (I think) would not be terribly expensive for the camera manufacturer.


RE: trends are trendy
By SPOOFE on 12/31/2013 4:52:48 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It's going to be a while before sensor/DSP tech manages to replace, say, 11 two inch wide pieces of glass with silicon. It will happen at some point, though.

True, though I can't shake the feeling that any tech advance that improves cellphone cameras would likely be a tech advance that also improves larger-sensor cams, as well.


RE: trends are trendy
By nafhan on 12/31/2013 5:38:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I can't shake the feeling that any tech advance that improves cellphone cameras would likely be a tech advance that also improves larger-sensor cams, as well.
I completely agree. However, as inexpensive cameras improve, the number of people who want something better will shrink, too.


RE: trends are trendy
By SPOOFE on 12/31/2013 5:44:35 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, and I think that's just going to eradicate the middle ground. You either want "small and convenient", in which case you already HAVE it with your cellphone, or you want "very high quality" where you accept the requisite device size to attain that quality.

I think we're going to see low-end DSLR sales shrink and less emphasis on kit zooms. The big players will see some contraction but it'll be mostly high-volume/low-margin items. They'll survive, I think, by nixing the low-end and focus more on mid-range and high-end. There was a time when Canon and Nikon's cheapest DSLR was at the $1000 mark. I wouldn't mind returning to that again.


Facebook and twitter?
By kmmatney on 12/30/2013 4:08:35 PM , Rating: 3
I don't think most consumers care about having instant access to Facebook and Twitter. Most people prefer smartphone camera as they always have their phones with them.




RE: Facebook and twitter?
By StrangerGuy on 12/31/2013 8:27:45 AM , Rating: 2
Not to mention software in standalone cameras are such a chore to use. I briefly got to use an Olympus P&S camera for work and I'm astounded by how something really basic like viewing the last taken shot can be made so unintuitive with the badly designed menu navigation. Whereas anyone can do the same thing with just a single touch for smartphones on the camera screen.


RE: Facebook and twitter?
By nafhan on 12/31/2013 10:04:29 AM , Rating: 2
Not specific to your P&S (which probably was terrible), but the goal of the software on a real camera would be to give quick access to any functions you need while shooting even if that makes it slightly harder to learn.

Still, though, on a modern SLR from Canon or Nikon it's pretty dang intuitive until you switch to manual (and, yes, there's a "play" button for picture review).


RE: Facebook and twitter?
By Reclaimer77 on 12/31/2013 12:02:05 PM , Rating: 2
What are you basing that on? Seems like billion of pics get uploaded to the Web daily. And most were taken on phones by a huge margin.


RE: Facebook and twitter?
By SPOOFE on 12/31/2013 4:49:24 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I don't think most consumers care about having instant access to Facebook and Twitter.

That's not the point. The issue is that, in this day and age, you have highly-sophisticated computing machines with cutting-edge technology incapable of doing what even super-cheap devices from half a decade ago could do. I can get cellphone connectivity on Mount Everest but I can't directly upload a shot from the middle of one of the biggest cities on the planet? How lopsided is that?


Detachable lens. No.
By ritualm on 12/30/2013 4:00:24 PM , Rating: 2
Those QX lenses look great on paper. Too bad they aren't:

1) it's yet another accessory that ends up getting lost in pockets, bags, or stolen outright.

2) they have their own batteries, so that's another device that needs a charger at the end of the day.

3) it's an integrated package. If the lens sucks, you can't just take that part off and put better glass in its place.

4) the best smartphone for picture-taking, arguably, is a Nokia PureView 808 - yet even that pales in the image quality department compared to mirrorless cameras.

If the sale proposition on mirrorless - a compromise of portability, lens selection and image quality - is questionable, it's not remotely close for detachables. The buyer is better off getting a conventional P&S instead.




RE: Detachable lens. No.
By Guspaz on 12/30/2013 4:52:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Those QX lenses look great on paper. Too bad they aren't


And yet Sony is laughing all the way to the bank, as they're the ones who make the camera modules in most smartphones anyhow...


Bold
By Moonwave on 12/30/2013 5:37:37 PM , Rating: 2
Reuters and this article got it wrong. "many consumers still prefer to have connectivity over the best photo". They could have written the same for SLR cameras. It does not only apply to mirror less camera format. Mirror less cameras do not cost less than entry level SLRs.




RE: Bold
By Moonwave on 12/30/2013 6:12:02 PM , Rating: 2
While Reuters' article is more nuanced and describes the struggles of Olympus and Panasonic, Tiffany Kaiser's article jumps to conclusions.


Not over connectivity
By Griffinhart on 12/31/2013 9:07:44 AM , Rating: 2
People are choosing Phones over most cameras because camera phones are usually good enough for most people and they don't need to carry yet an other device. Connectivity is just another benefit.




RE: Not over connectivity
By marvdmartian on 1/2/2014 9:38:31 AM , Rating: 2
Absolutely.

Personally, I still own and operate a "dumb" phone, and a seperate point & shoot camera, and I prefer it that way. Do I always have my camera with me? No, but I'm not so addicted to the "need" to have a camera with me all the time, either.

Quite honestly, when I see the crappy quality of the vast majority of cell phone pictures posted to Facebook, I'm glad it takes me more than 5 seconds to post a QUALITY photograph to FB. Even with a flash on the camera, it seems especially that low-light photos from cell phones are absolute crap.


never heard about this
By Murloc on 12/30/2013 7:10:47 PM , Rating: 2
this is the first time I hear about this kind of cameras




So what is the best approach...
By jabber on 12/31/2013 1:02:35 PM , Rating: 2
...for taking 500 shots on a two week holiday and then never looking at them again?

Isn't that what most people do?

The worst thing digital photography has done is make a lot of people send far too much of their vacation time looking at it through a camera lens that actually enjoying it.




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