This is the time of year when folks reveal their thoughts of the future… so I thought it may be fun to publish my 2022 camera predictions. These may be somewhat different than what you may find on other photography websites. 🙂
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge. Photographs have been added to serve as visual breaks.
Camera manufacturers will streamline their product offerings.
As camera manufacturers continue to be challenged to sell and build products, they will be taking a hard look at their product portfolios. Product lines, as well as specific items within those offerings, will be critically assessed. Products that struggle to generate a profit, or have limited upside potential, will likely face cancellation, or be quietly withdrawn from the market. Benign neglect may become evident.
Computational photography technology will increase.
Continued development of the photographic capability of Smartphones will force camera manufacturers to bring more computational photography technology to their products. Companies that fail to meet this challenge will put their future at risk.
No camera manufacturer will exit this year.
The past number of years have continued to be challenging for the camera market and 2021 was no exception. Companies have taken actions to adjust their fixed costs to better align them with market realities. I think it is doubtful that any camera manufacturers will exit the market in 2022.
Brand and product positioning will increase in importance.
As market conditions tighten it will become increasingly important that camera manufacturers have a clear brand strategy and position their products effectively within specific buyer segments. When you think about individual camera brands today, what one word immediately springs to mind when you think about each brand? If one word (hopefully a positive one) doesn’t immediately come to mind, then that brand has a weak market position.
Market segmentation will also become critical so camera manufacturers can spend their research and development dollars for maximum effect. Smaller volume brands will need to become laser focused on niche markets to remain viable in the future.
Hype about camera technology will increase.
As manufacturers vie for a share of the market they will focus on small, technological differences and push them as hard as possible. This will become hype on steroids. Sales success will become focused on convincing buyers that certain technologies are a ‘must have’. We may see the megapixel race ramp up if new sensors are introduced. Along with that, relatively small improvements in sensor performance will be aggressively promoted.
Some cameras will be marketed as status symbols.
Much like Smartphones have become status symbols with many buying groups, camera manufacturers may specifically market some products in a similar fashion. This may involve manufacturers purposely trying to create ‘gear envy’ in various market segments.
Sponsored website content will increase.
As various online platforms change their monetization policies it will lead to more sponsored website content. Some content creators will choose to personally deliver paid advertising messages to their audiences to add ‘credibility’ to the sales pitch. Camera market influencers will emerge and be rewarded for promoting certain brands over others. Information credibility will be challenged in the future.
Photography websites will continue to struggle. Some may fail.
The old model of photography websites generating high levels of profitability by sharing in advertising revenues and by taking a small commission on ‘click through’ sales has been under intense pressure as the sales of camera equipment eroded. Some photography websites have been under financial pressure for a number of years. This will continue into the future and may lead to some websites disappearing from the market. Some photography websites that survive may do so by becoming little more than new gear shopping channels.
Technological innovation may be viewed as a magic bullet to fix skill deficiencies.
Some photographers will fall prey to all of the hype about new camera technology and may view buying new gear as a ‘magic bullet’ that will magically improve their photography. While some computational photography technology will deliver new and better ways to create images, not all photographers will spend the time and effort needed to learn how to effectively leverage it. This may create unforeseen consequences for manufacturers.
Dissatisfaction with cameras may increase.
As a perfect storm of over-hyped camera technology combines with status symbol marketing, and an erosion in media trust, dissatisfaction with cameras may increase. Consumers may discover that all of that money that they invested in new camera gear hasn’t resulted in any appreciable improvement in the quality of their photographs, or in the their enjoyment of creating images. In short, the promises fell short of their expectations and dreams. This may encourage more camera buyers to leave the market.
Most young people will continue to avoid buying dedicated cameras.
Many young people today were brought up using a Smartphone to create images. As this technology continues to improve, they will have very little motivation to buy a dedicated camera. It is likely that the only young people that will invest in camera gear are those that have a significant interest in a specific photographic genre that is not well served by Smartphone technology… nature, wildlife and bird photography are examples.
The average age of camera club members will continue to rise.
As the camera market continues to mature, so too will the average age of camera club members. Camera manufacturers will continue to struggle to find ways to bring new, young buyers into the market. Investments in psychographic research will be pursued by the most innovative camera companies as they investigate ways to integrate cameras into lifestyle choices.
The number of ‘bricks and mortar’ camera retailers will continue to decline.
As the volume of cameras and lenses continues to drop over time more and more ‘bricks and mortar’ camera stores will disappear as they will not be able to cover their fixed costs. Camera buyers will initially be comfortable buying camera gear online, but eventually they will miss the expertise that was once offered by their local camera store. They’ll also miss the opportunity to actually hold and operate a number of cameras before they invest their hard earned money. To compensate some camera manufacturers may create short duration loaner programs to help promote their equipment… or expand their existing programs.
Many cameras will continue to collect dust.
Many buyers will lose interest in their newly purchased camera gear, especially if the benefit of its technology was oversold to them, or if the purchase was originally made based on it being a status symbol. Some photographers are very well meaning when they purchase camera gear, but fail to challenge themselves to go out and actually use it. Cameras collecting dust in a closet seldom represent motivation to buy more gear.
People will continue to spend money on camera gear they don’t need.
This is the saving grace for camera and lens manufacturers. As long as they can somehow convince camera owners that their current gear is inadequate, unfashionable, or otherwise deficient, they can keep the revenue train chugging on a while longer.
Aging photographers will make their last big investment in camera gear and may change brands and/or formats.
For those of us that grew up with cameras and love the experience and challenge of using a dedicated camera for photography, our next big investment in camera gear may be our last. I know this was the case for me back in 2019 when I purchased my Olympus gear. There certainly was a business case for it at the time… but there were also personal ‘post business’ considerations for me.
I wanted to meet my clients’ needs, but also purchase gear that would enable me to expand my personal love of photography for many years into the future. These ‘final purchases’ made by aging photographers like me, likely represent the last big, hurrah for camera manufacturers.
When aging photographers make that final big investment it will involve a lot of critical thinking and emotion. They may put their current brand loyalty and experience aside, and really think about the kind of camera gear that will be their best choice for their final decade creating photographs.
The future will be the past.
When I bought my first interchangeable lens camera back in 1974 the market was quite small and specialized. It was comprised of three basic groups. Professional photographers. People who needed an interchangeable lens camera to help them do their regular work. And, well-heeled amateurs with the financial capability to invest in a very expensive hobby. Other than those groups anyone else with a camera owned a simple point-and-shoot unit that they used mainly for family snaps and holiday photos. This last group is dominated by Smartphones today.
In the future its my belief that the camera market will return to where it was back in the early 1970’s with overall market volumes about 50% or less than what we are currently experiencing. Which brands remain standing at that point is anyone’s guess. My vote would be with the brands that were the most effective niche market competitors and were successful creating and using psychographic segmentation.
Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Most images were produced from RAW files using my standard process in post. Crops are indicated. This is the 1,115 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.
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