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02-24-2021, 03:54 AM - 3 Likes   #1
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Decoding camera industry trends

I've obviously been taking at new cameras being released in the last few years, with lots of new mirrorless models appearing in 2018.

Now, we see a trend that crystalize, we can imagine the untold rationale that camera manufacturers seem to have in mind with regards to new camera system designs.

Let's decode.

1) Smartphone have eaten a significant portion of the camera market, and more of the compact camera and entry level camera segments

2) Most people never print their photos on paper or canvas, even less print larger than about 8x10"

3) The rise of social media for sharing small size pictures and video content, including video blogs of all kinds

So the average camera manufacturer adapts to his market, in 10 points:

1) No need to increase sensor size, people don't print, resolution doesn't matter much except in spec sheet comparisons, since absolute image resolution is not what most customer use, perceive image quality in social media can be lifted by smoothing out noise in camera, e.g the in-built noise reduction in raw file from Pentax (accelerator chip at high ISO), Panasonic S1R (noise reduction at low ISO to make camera look good in DXOmark, photon2photos and DPReview), Canon EOS R5 in-built noise reduction as well.

2) Mirror-less: camera must read sensor fast because exposure metering and auto-focus information is read from the image sensor. Resolution and image quality not the primary concern, noise can be filter via camera processor.

3) Video 4K, 30ips and 120ips if possible (slow motion): again new sensors must be optimized for speed of readout because speed allow things such as un-cropped 4K, or recording video at 120ips for slow motion effects.

4) Image stabilization: tripods are cumbersome and now mostly forbidden in all museum and other places of that kind, and who want to carry a tripod in airplanes & hikes. Easier to snap pictures with camera hand-held, on the go.

5) Connectivity: the trendy customer want to post his small photos on social media for instant sharing with the world, big files aren't welcome, in-camera beautified small JPEGs are ideal, hence the marketing claims about nice JPEG colors, in camera film simulation claimed by Fuji especially for x camera (mass market)

6) Nature & Wildlife photography: Well, if larger pictures are not need because of being shared via internet, perhaps what smartphones CAN'T do is to take quick bursts moving animals in the wild (or even not so wild racing cars or airplanes, or similar). For this, a small sensor with quick burst rate and very good autofocus tracking with a long lens, with some in-camera digital massaging of the files should produce good enough images for posting in social media. Decoded: Pentax new K3 mkIII.

7) Dare to say it: even the professional nude shooter in studio is not interested in high resolution, his web customers of the porn industry will buy 4K images to post in their internet porn sites. Regarding noise in image, he doesn't care because he's projecting lots of light with a bunch of strobes towards his subjects. Eye AF is a must have (also for non-nude people photos). So why would he need more than 4K except for cropping image in post?

8) Product photography: well, since most product pictures are aimed at being posted online, 4K image are more than enough. Why do more?

9) Fashion, press, magazines: paper product are sold less and less, basically A4 (letter size) most of the time. Every fashion show , magazine, newspaper are primarily being read online, for online use 4K images are plenty big enough.

10) Photo prints labs may suffer. Some consolidation here. CEWE buys White Wall to include their higher-priced high-end prints in the offering. Maybe some plans to phase out the low cost silver developments. Inkjet on the rise, silver is legacy. We can hardly find C-print machine by Lamba Durst group website, they seem to have moved to industrial inkjet printing for printing on products in manufacturing plant. Hopefully they still maintain C-print machines for photo labs that still use them. Anyway, it is now possible to buy a professional Inkjet printer to make 44" wide print, for a few thousand $ (Euros) + website to run an online boutique photo lab, no need to invest in a large C-print machine that cost hundred of thousand $ (Euros) just for a start. The inkjet trend also comes with an increasing choice of high-end (read expensive) inkjet papers papers such as Canson inkjet fineart papers, Hahnemuhle inkjet fineart papers, even metallic paper for Inkjet!!!..

The trend is going south for the "Ansel Adams" type of photographers, the digital camera industry doesn't care about the Ansel AdamsS anymore, no enough money to be made there.... This small niche leaking into Ilford market segment seeing a slow rise of demand for film rolls... as well as ebay seeing a number of sell/buy of old used film cameras. It's looking like Ilford getting some more business in recent year (I don't have numbers to prove it, but I feel like Ilford might be getting some revival, they even released a small 35mm film camera with fixed lens recently, interesting...). There have even been some revival of old film brand (I forgot the name..).

Maybe new film cameras on the horizon, reusing some electronics from digital cameras, bundled with film rolls kits and film development services? Why not all-in-one bundle film SLR camera + film rolls + film development service offered by the same company?


Last edited by biz-engineer; 02-24-2021 at 04:10 AM.
02-24-2021, 04:08 AM - 3 Likes   #2
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I think the biggest "trend" I see is the over use of weird filters. Who cares about resolution or noise or dynamic range if you slap a filter over top of your image that wipes out half of the original content of the image?
02-24-2021, 04:15 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
I think the biggest "trend" I see is the over use of weird filters. Who cares about resolution or noise or dynamic range if you slap a filter over top of your image that wipes out half of the original content of the image?
I agree. I think photo effects are like salt in our food. Every time I try to reduce salt when cooking, the food doesn't taste as good as what I'm used, because I'm of the generation of people who were raised with food containing all kind of taste enhancing additives. Now if I compare an HDR photo seen on electronic OLED HDR display to old film photo, the film photos look flat. We are getting use to over-saturated images with active lighting displays, plus tone mapping (filters as you say) etc., perhaps becoming desensitized to smoothly toned and less punchy images.
02-24-2021, 04:18 AM - 1 Like   #4
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Biz-engineer, you nail it and peoples who dismiss it have a hard facing the reality.

02-24-2021, 04:43 AM - 2 Likes   #5
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There's another point. With cameras becoming less normie they become lifestyle accessories. You set yourself apart using a camera but it becomes important what camera you use. The film revival is, I believe, partially driven by this. Vintage cameras from plastic point and shoots to Leicas are accessories that show your cultural credentials. The plastic Olympus mju ps might for instance have more streed cred than a Leica in certain groups.

Fuji and the GR has managed to nestle itself slightly within this group. Of course digital isn't as cool as film but Fujis and GR's seem to be accepted. Digital slr's in general are an anathema for this group of young people because the haptics and style of their parents Canon Rebel with a zoom lens is just terrible. (as always the preceding moment is the worst) Conjuring images of tourists following a guide or the uncle with the massive lens, high fps and all sorts of accessories.

Pentax could be advantaged by it's niche status and generally good build quality but to succeed with this group of young people they would have to distill the cameras even more. There is evidence Pentax might understand this but few companies would have the balls to follow through. They would have to be tough enough to produce a dslr equivalent to the GR. Purposefully leaving out features and honing the feel and use case of the camera.

It seems more and more are also finding 24mp to be an ideal file size.
02-24-2021, 04:47 AM - 2 Likes   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
Maybe new film cameras on the horizon, reusing some electronics from digital cameras, bundled with film rolls kits and film development services? Why not all-in-one bundle film SLR camera + film rolls + film development service offered by the same company?
I guess it is time for a new way of thinking. Manufacturers are moving up in price point. From $500-600 Sony a6000 to $6,500 Sony A1! I shot a perfectly fine video for a client with a Sony a6000 camera about five years ago. The video was not the best it could have been because I did not know how to color grade and do fancy editing not because the camera was not capable. To all the nay sayers talking about Pentax dying. Well, it looks like the entire camera industry is dying. As phones and phone camera technology evolve, we may see the entire camera industry becoming what Leica is today, a niche, albeit a very pricey negligible slice of imaging world!

I was one of those wannabe Ansel Adams types who wanted to create spectacular nature shots and sell 60"x90" prints to elite clients for a small fortune!! I even bought a 44 inch printer to do my own printing. I got the K1 and was considering a 645Z maybe even a GFX 100 because the 645Z resolution was not enough!. Then reality and Covid hit. I sold the 44" printer and I think my K1 has more resolution than I know what to do with. My two Pentax and two Fuji cameras with a ton of lenses sit in my camera bags and a dedicated cabinet these days as I shoot most of my images, and videos with a five year old iPhone. Go figure.
02-24-2021, 06:03 AM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
I've obviously been taking at new cameras being released in the last few years, with lots of new mirrorless models appearing in 2018.

Now, we see a trend that crystalize, we can imagine the untold rationale that camera manufacturers seem to have in mind with regards to new camera system designs.

Let's decode.

1) Smartphone have eaten a significant portion of the camera market, and more of the compact camera and entry level camera segments

2) Most people never print their photos on paper or canvas, even less print larger than about 8x10"

3) The rise of social media for sharing small size pictures and video content, including video blogs of all kinds

So the average camera manufacturer adapts to his market, in 10 points:

1) No need to increase sensor size, people don't print, resolution doesn't matter much except in spec sheet comparisons, since absolute image resolution is not what most customer use, perceive image quality in social media can be lifted by smoothing out noise in camera, e.g the in-built noise reduction in raw file from Pentax (accelerator chip at high ISO), Panasonic S1R (noise reduction at low ISO to make camera look good in DXOmark, photon2photos and DPReview), Canon EOS R5 in-built noise reduction as well.

2) Mirror-less: camera must read sensor fast because exposure metering and auto-focus information is read from the image sensor. Resolution and image quality not the primary concern, noise can be filter via camera processor.

3) Video 4K, 30ips and 120ips if possible (slow motion): again new sensors must be optimized for speed of readout because speed allow things such as un-cropped 4K, or recording video at 120ips for slow motion effects.

4) Image stabilization: tripods are cumbersome and now mostly forbidden in all museum and other places of that kind, and who want to carry a tripod in airplanes & hikes. Easier to snap pictures with camera hand-held, on the go.

5) Connectivity: the trendy customer want to post his small photos on social media for instant sharing with the world, big files aren't welcome, in-camera beautified small JPEGs are ideal, hence the marketing claims about nice JPEG colors, in camera film simulation claimed by Fuji especially for x camera (mass market)

6) Nature & Wildlife photography: Well, if larger pictures are not need because of being shared via internet, perhaps what smartphones CAN'T do is to take quick bursts moving animals in the wild (or even not so wild racing cars or airplanes, or similar). For this, a small sensor with quick burst rate and very good autofocus tracking with a long lens, with some in-camera digital massaging of the files should produce good enough images for posting in social media. Decoded: Pentax new K3 mkIII.

7) Dare to say it: even the professional nude shooter in studio is not interested in high resolution, his web customers of the porn industry will buy 4K images to post in their internet porn sites. Regarding noise in image, he doesn't care because he's projecting lots of light with a bunch of strobes towards his subjects. Eye AF is a must have (also for non-nude people photos). So why would he need more than 4K except for cropping image in post?

8) Product photography: well, since most product pictures are aimed at being posted online, 4K image are more than enough. Why do more?

9) Fashion, press, magazines: paper product are sold less and less, basically A4 (letter size) most of the time. Every fashion show , magazine, newspaper are primarily being read online, for online use 4K images are plenty big enough.

10) Photo prints labs may suffer. Some consolidation here. CEWE buys White Wall to include their higher-priced high-end prints in the offering. Maybe some plans to phase out the low cost silver developments. Inkjet on the rise, silver is legacy. We can hardly find C-print machine by Lamba Durst group website, they seem to have moved to industrial inkjet printing for printing on products in manufacturing plant. Hopefully they still maintain C-print machines for photo labs that still use them. Anyway, it is now possible to buy a professional Inkjet printer to make 44" wide print, for a few thousand $ (Euros) + website to run an online boutique photo lab, no need to invest in a large C-print machine that cost hundred of thousand $ (Euros) just for a start. The inkjet trend also comes with an increasing choice of high-end (read expensive) inkjet papers papers such as Canson inkjet fineart papers, Hahnemuhle inkjet fineart papers, even metallic paper for Inkjet!!!..

The trend is going south for the "Ansel Adams" type of photographers, the digital camera industry doesn't care about the Ansel AdamsS anymore, no enough money to be made there.... This small niche leaking into Ilford market segment seeing a slow rise of demand for film rolls... as well as ebay seeing a number of sell/buy of old used film cameras. It's looking like Ilford getting some more business in recent year (I don't have numbers to prove it, but I feel like Ilford might be getting some revival, they even released a small 35mm film camera with fixed lens recently, interesting...). There have even been some revival of old film brand (I forgot the name..).

Maybe new film cameras on the horizon, reusing some electronics from digital cameras, bundled with film rolls kits and film development services? Why not all-in-one bundle film SLR camera + film rolls + film development service offered by the same company?
Maco direct in Hamburg is good for analouge materials.I would like to have a more simple dslr camera, without autofocus but with a bright wievfinder with microprism and splitfield, 24 mp is enough
02-24-2021, 06:07 AM - 1 Like   #8
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Good write up with a hint of mischief...

02-24-2021, 06:57 AM - 1 Like   #9
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Interesting thoughts, only time will tell about prediction accuracy.

Anyway I have just bought a new phone and its main camera is a mighty 64 MegaPickles and 4K video so I can now get rid of my 645z with its measly 51 MegaPickles and travel light and be trendy

Seriously though I believe there are still many people wanting to get prints and many labs available to satisfy the need both pro and amateur. From memory of old and a quick look on one Google page for the UK labs
Loxley, Whitewall, Metro, DS Colour, Max Spielmann, Simlab, Bonusprint, Digitalab, Mixbook, Snapfish,Photobox, CanvasPop, Xpozer, Nations PhotoLab, Metro Imaging, Shutterfly, Jessops, Tesco, Aldi, Boots, PrinterPix, Colorworld Imaging, OneVision, The Print Space, MyPhotoBook etc - the list goes on
02-24-2021, 07:07 AM - 1 Like   #10
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I have a Huawei P30 Pro. The cameras on it really are simply amazing for the purposes biz points out. They are simply not very amazing at all for landscape/nature...in Newfoundland, anyway. Camera system just doesn't scale to the environment. That said, for quick simple web stuff I usually just use my Huawei now as biz hypothesizes many others do as well.
02-24-2021, 07:17 AM - 1 Like   #11
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I agree with most of biz-engineer's points, but while I print very few of my wildlife shots, my aspirations often exceed the reach of my gear using the full APS - C frame and I do want the ability to do deep crops while still retaining good image quality. I'm often surprised by the ability of my K3 / DA*300mm / 1.4x TC in that regard, and I'm looking to the anticipated improvements in the K-3 III (if I can afford it!).
02-24-2021, 07:42 AM - 2 Likes   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by niels hansen Quote
Maco direct in Hamburg is good for analouge materials.I would like to have a more simple dslr camera, without autofocus but with a bright wievfinder with microprism and splitfield, 24 mp is enough
That would be extremely niche and cost as much or more than what Leica is currently selling...
02-24-2021, 07:52 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by jacamar Quote
I do want the ability to do deep crops while still retaining good image quality. I'm often surprised by the ability of my K3 / DA*300mm / 1.4x TC in that regard, and I'm looking to the anticipated improvements in the K-3 III (if I can afford it!).
then, and it would be my point #11 in the list, about Artificial Intelligence, for having bought Topaz Sharpen AI and knowing what it can do on bird photos! If feel being limited with a K3 and modest Pentax 300 f4 lens, Sharpen AI is your friend, and it's free to try for one month (without water marking photos).

---------- Post added 24-02-21 at 15:53 ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by niels hansen Quote
Maco direct in Hamburg is good for analouge materials.I would like to have a more simple dslr camera, without autofocus but with a bright wievfinder with microprism and splitfield, 24 mp is enough
Very interesting. I've got to dig in their website.

---------- Post added 24-02-21 at 15:54 ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by pinholecam Quote
Good write up with a hint of mischief...
I hope not too much mischief.

---------- Post added 24-02-21 at 16:08 ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by btnapa Quote
Well, it looks like the entire camera industry is dying.
IMO, back 5 years ago, cameras companies didn't measure the scope and impact of the trend. Even in the last two year, I guess Sony , Canon and Fuji were over-optimistic. I don't think their latest and expensive model will sell as much as they need to turn a profit, because the total market is shrinking faster than price increases, and price increases shrink the market further. All camera makers will be forced to slow down investments.

---------- Post added 24-02-21 at 16:36 ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by btnapa Quote
I was one of those wannabe Ansel Adams types who wanted to create spectacular nature shots and sell 60"x90" prints to elite clients for a small fortune!! I even bought a 44 inch printer to do my own printing. I got the K1 and was considering a 645Z maybe even a GFX 100 because the 645Z resolution was not enough!.
Interesting. I went through this route, until finding a Canon P2000 (the first model that takes ink recharges priced for professional, half the list prices for smaller printers) for sale in my area and for a very good price, then I've figured out the cost of ownership of the printer using ink periodically to keep print head from clogging, which make me change my mind on buying the printer. I didn't buy the printer because outsourcing prints is much more flexible (large choice of sizes, papers and print technology), no more expensive than owning the printer, and no need to care for the maintenance of the printer. I accumulate my files for printing in a dedicated folder each year, so that I outsource batches of prints once or twice a year in order to minimize shipment costs. My last batch was a batch of 20 prints 24x36" , the lab did a very good job .
02-24-2021, 08:46 AM - 2 Likes   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by house Quote
The plastic Olympus mju ps might for instance have more streed cred than a Leica in certain groups.
Then I must have a massive amount of street cred with the auto 110 and 5 of the 6 lenses
02-24-2021, 09:07 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by house Quote
There's another point. With cameras becoming less normie they become lifestyle accessories. You set yourself apart using a camera but it becomes important what camera you use. The film revival is, I believe, partially driven by this. Vintage cameras from plastic point and shoots to Leicas are accessories that show your cultural credentials. The plastic Olympus mju ps might for instance have more streed cred than a Leica in certain groups.
I can confirm this. When I search "Pentax" in the youtube search bar, the majority of video are about the Pentax 67 or 6x7. Some guys bought a Pentax 67 in ebay , for doing a wedding photo session for instance. Vintage has its charm. Digital is too easy, you press a button and get an image already processed, nothing to do. I'd be tempted to buy a Pentax 6x7 with the wooden handle, just to own it as vintage object, because I like the look of that camera. I've seen a guy shooting Venice carnival with a Pentax 6x7, that was impressive.
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