With all of the changes happening in the imaging world, it makes one ponder if entry level cameras will disappear over the next few years.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
It was that many years ago when camera manufacturers could count on a predictable progression of purchases from consumers.
Many folks would get their first experience with photography by purchasing a point-and-shoot camera. Then if they were bitten by the photography bug, they’d buy their first interchangeable lens camera with a kit lens or two. These entry level cameras and lenses were competent enough and offered improvements in image quality and more photographic options.
Unless a camera manufacturer was asleep at the switch, they could often squeeze more money out of their customers over time by offering them a series of cameras with incremental improvements. Camera model updates were frequent and often focused on sensor improvements.
Eventually real improvements in sensor performance slowed, and camera manufacturers shifted their incrementalist approach to create a mega-pixel competition. It was a variation on the same, old dusty marketing approach.
After the mega-pixel craze started to fade, another new mantra was pushed into the market… larger sensor cameras became the goal at the end of the never-ending road of incrementalism.
While all of this was happening consumers were leaving the dedicated camera market by the millions and moving over to new imaging technology being offered by smartphone manufacturers.
Increasingly the majority of consumers were getting their first taste of photography from a new and different source, their smartphone.
Traditional camera companies saw their sales opportunities shrink to smaller and smaller segments of the market. Their futures becoming narrow and questionable.
All of this leads us to look at the camera market differently. Since the predictable spiral of incremental up-selling is breaking, what’s the point in producing entry level cameras?
Developing low priced, entry level cameras eat up precious R&D budgets, which are likely in a declining state in most camera companies. It seems to me that camera companies would be much further ahead to really examine why people create images. Then, figure out how to bring consumers into the dedicated camera market, after they have had their initial photographic experiences with smartphones. Entry level cameras don’t help camera companies do that task.
I think there is a predictable outcome for camera companies that continue on the path of incrementalism. Now is the time for true innovation and creativity with cameras and lenses. Dedicated cameras need to offer more capabilities in order to stake out niche markets that don’t compete head-to-head with smartphones. They need to help consumers create photographs that are not possible with their smartphones. Not just bigger sensors or more megapixels. Those are the tools of battles that have already been lost.
If camera companies want to grow, they need to develop new approaches to the market that offer more value to their customers than what simple incrementalism can deliver.
Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process.
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