News/Views

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This page of the site contains the latest 10 articles to appear on bythom, followed by links to the archives.

Catching Up

I’ve posted some articles on my other sites in the past several days you might want to take a look at:

As always, here are the pages to bookmark and visit if you don’t hit those other Web sites every day:

Camera X Isn’t Better Than Camera Y

I’ve tackled this subject before, but it bears repeating in today’s endless discussion of “which camera is better?” The correct answer? It probably doesn't matter. And certainly not in the down-in-the-weeds details such as any minor dynamic range differences.

We have this curious intersection of marketing-induced paranoia going on, and the savvy camera makers are fueling that fire. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Bragging Rights (“mine goes to 11”). Dead versus Woke (DSLRs versus AI-inclusive mirrorless). And much more.

Thus we get endless “R5 or Sony A7R Mark IV/A1” or “Z6 II or Sony A7 Mark III” types of questions consuming electrons over the Internet. Heck, we even get the same question within a brand (e.g. “buy the older Z6 or the new Z6 II?”).

The simple answer to that last question is this: buy the older model to save money; or buy the newer model to still have the most capability at the end of a long ownership. 

I can’t believe I wrote this first in 2004, but here it is: “If you can’t get great images from any of the current DSLRs, it’s not the camera that’s the problem.” That’s not only true today, but it’s octupily true, and may even be true of some compact cameras and even smartphones. These days you don’t have to micromanage exposure any more to get great photos. You also don’t have to fully master an autofocus system to get great photos. You don’t even need to buy high-priced models to get a reasonably fast frame rate for continuous photography. All models you can buy include a lot of features, probably more than you’ll use. 

If you haven’t read The Tip of the Iceberg article I referenced at the beginning, please do so now. Why? Because many people are making the mistake of comparing Camera X to Camera Y in isolation and then either (1) are assuming that choosing one or the other is the same cost to them; or (2) are comparing the cost of Camera X to Camera Y versus the feature/performance set. 

So let’s take the Canon R5 versus Sony A7R Mark IV choice question that I saw circulating today: 

  • The Sony right now is cheaper. But that might only be true if you were going to also buy all new lenses and accessories for both cameras (tip of the iceberg, baby). If you were already a Canon owner, you have lenses you can use already, and probably many accessories, as well.
  • The Canon R5 has 8K. Actually, we can find several features that one camera has that the other doesn’t. So is that feature actually something you need or will even use? If not, you don’t need to consider it; considering it would be FOMO.
  • Canon is the market leader overall, Sony is the market leader in mirrorless. Doesn’t matter. Repeat: doesn’t matter. For sure Canon, Nikon, and Sony will be in business making cameras tomorrow, just as Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai will be in business making cars tomorrow. Wanting to own the “winner” is just bragging rights. Which likely won’t last very long.
  • What do you know? Canon cameras operate like Canon cameras. Sony cameras operate like Sony cameras, though Sony has been reworking the menus and controls lately. I’ve written this before, too: if you have to think about where a control is or how to make a feature active, you just missed the photographic moment. It’s why on critical assignments I use two of the exact same camera, not mixed models.

You’ll notice that I’ve made no reference to dynamic range. No reference to 45mp versus 60mp. No reference to “color fidelity” (whatever that is). No reference to a lot of things that come up in the X versus Y discussions. Why? Because these things rarely are inherently useful in differentiating which product to buy. Moreover, "what’s best” changes constantly. 

What I might mention that’s useful is whether or not the lenses you want to use long term are available or will become available (though again both cameras could likely adapt lenses you might already have). But even there, I need to repeat a relative of the third bullet: betting against Canon, Nikon, Sony, and even the L Alliance to fill out a lens set in the next few years would be a bad bet. All the mounts will eventually fill with plenty of choices, just as they did in the film era and the DSLR era.

Finally one other thing I’ve mentioned before: in marketing, confusing the potential buyer with lots of choices and small feature/performance differences means that someone—typically the sales person the customer interacts with—can steer them to a particular item they really want to sell. If you don’t know that those sales people are incentivized from time to time with dollars, goods, or travel, then you’ll certainly fall prey of buying what someone else wants you to buy. 

Key takeaways:

  1. Think of the entire photographic “system” you’re assembling, not a single item like a camera body. 
  2. You’re being “steered” towards decisions by FOMO, bragging rights, and incentivized sales people (to which I’d add YouTubers and more). 
  3. What’s “best” today won’t be tomorrow, whether that be a system, camera model, or feature.

Back of the Envelope Math

bythom backofenvelope

I keep seeing the “there’s no market for entry APS-C cameras” statement being batted about the Internet. 

Last year Japanese digital cameras shipped 8.8m units (compacts plus all ILC). That represented a value of 420b yen. I’ve noted before that the Japanese are trying to keep that overall number as high as possible, because it drives component costs, spread of R&D and manufacturing dollars, overhead, and more. 

While one tactic the camera makers are using is trying to get you to transition to higher-priced full frame mirrorless cameras, the other tactic they’re using is to fill their lines with other things that will sell. 

In terms of volume, APS-C is the image sensor most of the ILC units currently sold are using. The average selling price of those bodies is under US$1000. 

So let’s get out our envelope and pencil some numbers on the back. 

Assume 5m units and 500b in revenue (rounded numbers from where we’re currently at). That’s US$1000 a unit, though that’s not the final sale price, it’s what the camera company took in. 

Next, we have to make an assumption about APS-C versus full frame. Nikon’s been pretty successful at full frame. They’ve never sold more than 20% of their units as full frame, though. The same appears to be true with all the other makers, as well. So let’s say 20% of those 5m units are full frame, which is a nice round 1m units (warning: I’m pretty sure that number is higher than current full frame volume, but we’re just sketching out some numbers to show you the reason why the statement in the first paragraph will prove wrong).

Let’s further assume that those 1m full frame units sell for an average of US$2000 (warning: also likely too high a number). That’s 218b yen. The camera companies still need another 282b yen of revenue to keep their heads above water. 75b will come from compacts, but we’re actually now short almost equal to the revenue from full frame to make our 500b yen number. That has to come from crop sensor ILC.

What number would make that work? How about 3.8m units at US$500 average? (Again, that’s not the retail price, it’s the price the Japanese sold the unit into distribution for.)

Can the Japanese sell 3.8m APS-C units a year? They already do. And they’ll be highly motivated to make that number work going forward. Not only does it keep the overall dollars taken in at an acceptable level, but it also generates new potential customers to later upgrade to full frame. 

Of course the issue is going to be driving as much cost out of such product as possible while providing as much benefit as possible (over a smartphone) at the same time. That’s a tight, tough design space, but when you know what it is you have to achieve, that’s more than half the solution to the problem. If you don’t know what you have to achieve, you will only solve the problem by random chance. 

This, by the way, is Canon’s conundrum. The M series was designed to be just that: as much cost removed as possible while providing something beyond a smartphone is capable of. The problem is that M doesn’t eventually lead a user to RF. Moreover, since the M’s have a paucity of lenses that go beyond 70mm equivalent, they don’t really offer optical option advantages over the smartphones. That makes the M’s a hard sell. 

A Nikon Z30 wouldn’t have the same “doesn’t lead to full frame” problem, but the paucity of lenses (buzz, buzz) still makes Nikon’s problem similar to Canon’s. 

Sony is mostly using older cameras to get entry model prices down (e.g. A6000) rather than have a specific entry model (e.g. an up-to-date A5xxx). The Alphas do lead to full frame, and Sony has a better lens set for APS-C than Canon and Nikon, so Sony will more likely succeed in their goals for APS-C than their main rivals. 

Fujifilm is “all in” with APS-C. XF doesn’t really lead to GFX other than the brand name on the front of the camera and the film simulations. Fujifilm’s problem, therefore, is different than Canon/Nikon/Sony: Fujifilm either needs medium format to produce more volume or they need even better high-end APS-C cameras. Probably both. 

Personally, I’d have a line that had two low “hook them” cameras, and otherwise mostly concentrate on higher end cameras. The trick is how big can you make the gap between the hooks and the big fish you really want to sell. Make that gap too big and you don’t get much action. Make it too small and you don’t get all the dollars you could have.  

Getting back to the first paragraph: "there’s no market for entry APS-C cameras”. No, there has to be a market for APS-C or else we’re going to lose a lot of camera makers. They have high motivation to make a low end work, and they are constantly analyzing that trying to get their product optimized to what they can sell. 

Ten years ago I published an article and presented to Japanese executives with my thesis: that smartphones would constantly erode the bottom of the dedicated camera market, while the top of the market would basically be full frame. My prediction was that smartphones would first start gobbling low end 1/2.3” sensor compacts, then larger sensor and higher end compacts, then 1”, and eventually start competing with m4/3 and maybe APS-C. Thus, the space between the smartphones and the top full frame cameras would get smaller and smaller.

I called this the Big Squeeze. 

We’re deep into the squeeze. But it doesn’t mean that there’s no market for APS-C, it means that the products you can put into what’s left of the dedicated camera market are more narrowly defined and are under price pressure. 

Nikon’s Last Annual Report

bythom nikon ar

Nikon’s 2020 Annual Report was late. Then somehow it snuck into publication without the usual RSS alert, so most of us didn’t notice it. Still, it was months later than usual. Normally, I write about these reports when they come out, but this time around, I’m also late, partly for the reasons just stated.

Much of Nikon’s Annual Report this time was about Nikon’s structure and management plans, plus how that is changing or will change. 

Nikon’s “vision” has changed over the years. I actually like the current one: “Unleashing the limitless possibilities of light.” Or wait, is it “Unlock the future with the power of light”? (Redundancy happens a lot in Nikon’s corporate materials.) I still think Nikon is primarily (and best at being) an optics company, but you generally need optics if you’re going to do anything with light, so the current vision(s) is fine.

Of course, you don’t have to read very far before you get a slightly different take: Nikon claims their core competences are: opto-electronics and precision technologies. That’s important, because Nikon’s future growth strategy centers around material processing and automated manufacturing, which aren't things Nikon is particularly known for yet, but which does use their core strengths in different ways than their current largest divisions (Precision and Imaging). Some of this new business growth will come from acquisitions and partnerships.

“Reform cost structure” comes up early and often in this report, but this isn’t a vague goal. Nikon wants to get everything to an ROE (Return On Equity) of 8% or higher (that’s higher than they’ve been achieving, on average, in the past six years). 

Curiously, though, the part of the company you want to know about—Imaging—is marching to a slightly different drummer: “secure a stable…20b yen or higher operating profit.” To put that in context, under the accounting rules they’ve used since 2017, that would be a higher profit than the 2016/17 fiscal year and about the same as 2018/19. 

We don’t yet know whether Nikon is on track for that amount in the current fiscal year that’s just started, but we do know that the Imaging Group has now “quickly achieve[d] profitability” in the on-going imaging business. 

A couple of things struck me in reading the high level messaging about the Imaging Group:

  • "It can also be expected that the distribution of images will become increasingly more personalized in the future. In light of this new social trend, Nikon will focus on product and technology development as well as online services.” It’s that last bit that intrigues me. Nikon has the Nikon Image Space cloud-based photo service that is absolutely underperforming. SnapBridge is really just a bridge. So exactly what is Nikon focusing on in terms of online services? Or are they just posing by saying something shareholders want to hear? 
  • "Meanwhile, the Imaging Products Business is branching out from its currently BtoC-centric model to develop a broad spectrum of BtoB and other businesses in pursuit of paths to further growth.” BtoC is business to consumer, meaning Nikon selling you a camera. BtoB is business to business, and the Mark Roberts robotic camera acquisition awhile back is the first tangible example we have of that. The report discloses an additional investment I hadn’t reported previously in wrnch, a company working in computer vision and deep learning. Curiously, Nikon claims they have investments in 22 such companies, but I don’t see a complete list anywhere.

I was immediately amused when I got to the section labeled “Improvement of Employee Engagement.” Uh, ding ding, what Nikon really needs to engage is its customers. Far too many parts of the corporate report take consumers for granted. Granted, an Annual Report is targeted towards investors, but where is anything at Nikon targeted at customers? Indeed, Nikon keeps using “distancing” language when they do talk about customers, as in “responding  to customer expectations.” Nowhere does Nikon ever disclose how they know what those expectations are.

I won’t get into most of the raw numbers, as they reflect the period that ended over a year ago and I’ll probably be discussing them when Nikon reports this past year’s financial results later this month.

But I did want to address one thing (though the numbers will have changed slightly by the next annual report). Nikon ended up with 184.8b in cash last April, and A+ or A credit ratings. Those aren’t the numbers of a company about to fail (and indeed, Nikon didn’t fail in the ensuing 12 months and this year’s numbers are going to say essentially the same thing). In terms of who owns Nikon, 34% of the shares were owned by Japanese banks and insurance companies last year, 1.4% by Mitsubishi. Nikon is not a Mitsubishi subsidiary, obviously, though the Mitsubishi keiretsu still has influence. 

Another falsehood that keeps getting repeated on the Internet is that Nikon has substantively cut back on R&D spending. Not really. In 2015 through 2020 the overall R&D spending has ranged from 60.7b yen (2018) to 66.7b yen (2015). 10.5% of revenue in 2020 was spent on R&D, the highest percentage in the last ten years. Within Imaging R&D spending is down about 16% from its five-year high, but still substantive (at 21.2b yen/year, and it’s still the most Nikon spends in any division). 

No doubt that some of the R&D spending has shifted away from Imaging (and Precision) to the new businesses, but Nikon isn’t backing off deeper research projects. 

Nikon does make some lip service in terms of board diversity. The wanted to increase external directors on the board to 45% and the diversity of the board in doing so. However, I wouldn’t call their board diverse in any sense of the term. It’s mostly Japanese men with either electronics or banking experience. There’s one woman. They do better in their workforce where women outnumber men. But that actually makes things worse: we have a narrow group of men telling women what to do. 

We’re in the middle of the quarterly and yearly earnings reports in Japan, so I’ll have more to say in the coming weeks as we get more details that are more current.

The bottom line is the same as it has been for awhile now: Nikon is a company that is contracting, but still managing to make their financials work. They are trying to add businesses to flip contraction into growth, but it’s too early to tell what success they’ll have at that. 

Quiet Time

It’s quiet time in the camera industry. Besides the usual Japanese holidays and the quarter-ending business results quiet period, we have semiconductor shortages, the pandemic, and still somewhat weak demand in play. 

Canon did just make a statement that should raise eyebrows: they estimate 2021 ILC demand to be 5.8m units, of which they expect to ship 2.9m. 2020 final ILC shipments were 5.3m, so a near 10% increase is what Canon thinks will happen this year. I think that’s low if the pandemic eases, high if the pandemic continues to rage and slows International travel. 

It’s probably a good time to make some guesses about what the camera companies will or should be doing for the rest of 2021:

  • CanonPriorities: (1) fill out RF lens line; (2) eliminate DSLR models/options; (3) figure out APS-C (is it RF or M?); and (4) introduce a new lower end full frame model. Analysis: The huge battleship has its rudder hard to port, but big ships don’t turn fast, and the waters are rough and filled with others also maneuvering. What happens won’t be pretty, but I wouldn’t want to be on a kayak in the same waters.
  • FujifilmPriorities: do they have any in particular? Analysis: As far as I can tell, Fujifilm is just iterating on the same general plan as before, and thus we’re going to see them doing “more of the same.” We’re getting a lot of II versions of lenses instead of true gap fillers, and the T, S, E, Pro, A, H model mess seems like an on-going mess to me. Also, how does X get to 8K, and when? The Medium Format cameras aren’t exactly perfectly aligned, either, and the GFX100 and GFX100S have different problems, so there isn’t a “perfect” high-end, either. 
  • Nikon Priorities: (1) Z9 out and a leader; (2) APS-C figured out; (3) fill out the Z lens line faster, not at the current pace; and (4) another DSLR or two or not?. Analysis: Nikon seems reasonably organized compared to Canon. The mirrorless full frame lineup seems logical and is filling out, with only a Z8 (high megapixel pro) being a question still. Firmware is pushing the current bodies forward, though slowly. It’s everywhere other than full frame mirrorless that Nikon seems to be confused. So, using the ship analogy, Nikon’s lead admiral has his portion of the fleet moving in the direction they want to go and beginning to accelerate, but the other two admirals seem to be all-stop at the moment and pointed in no general direction. 
  • Olympus Priorities: OM Digital Solutions has a lot to prove, and they need to prove it quickly. (1) What will future OMD’s be like?; (2) cost, production, distribution, and marketing need to be proven to customers, not Tokyo bean counters; and (3) how to get to 8K?. Analysis: OMDS so far is talking a good story, but the proof will be in the execution. We have no real evidence of anything other than the transitioning of in-house to out-of-house went relatively smoothly in terms of current product. We really need a head-turning E-M1 Mark IV. We’re about to get a new Tough camera. 
  • Panasonic Priorities: (1) GH6 out and a winner; (2) m4/3 profitability; (3) L-mount viability; (4) the video group needs to embrace the L and m4/3 mounts or it's just more mixed signals to customers; and (5) focus performance improvements, stat. Analysis: Panasonic is in two different mount consortiums, and neither is exactly dominating. Panasonic’s cameras are well-regarded, but aren’t top sellers. Panasonic’s video group is still marching to a different drummer. Personally, I think Panasonic needs to give up the “we’ll build everything” mentality—they’re still active in the compact camera market—and come to a consensus on what they’re going to do best. There’s not enough volume left in the market to be a huge conglomerate, do everything, and make excellent ROI. And Panasonic is not close to being one of the top three makers in ILC any more. At the moment they’ll probably fight OMDS for fifth.
  • Sony — Priorities: (1) APS-C still needs work, particularly in making the models differentiated; (2) the A7 is looking old, and needs a IV (pardon the pun); (3) more telephoto lens options; and (4) what’s the next exciting technology? Analysis: Sony’s been sailing in one direction for awhile now, their fleet is all moving (mostly) together and is (mostly) complete, so everything seems like it is in good shape. One might say “just keep on executing.” But…the R3 and Z9 developments are signs that the semiconductor technologies Sony uses as primary weapons may now start to be equalled. The “next technology” leap is going to be a tough one, and a big one, because it will almost certainly require fully embracing computational photography. The fact that a Sony camera can’t currently combine an image using pixel-shift in camera isn’t a good indicator. 

This is also the time of year that the upper management in Japan has finished their soul searching and is dictating the short, medium, and long-term plans to the rest of the company. As part of the year-end financial reports to shareholders, we’ll begin hearing more bits and pieces of those plans. 

I think we’ll have a late and busy spring in terms of camera announcements. We’ll also see the Japanese companies target the markets where the pandemic is reducing or in control and the economies are running stronger (China, Australia/New Zealand, US, and United Kingdom, probably in that order right now, but subject to change).

I’m not sure how “hungry” the camera companies are, though. Now that they’ve managed to survive (and most be profitable) at lower volumes pushing into higher priced products, I think they’re going to be more selective and cautious about aggressive sales. Previous generation products will lead the way, is my guess. 

Lexar CFExpress Card

This site’s exclusive advertiser currently has the Lexar 64GB CFexpress Type B card with card reader [advertiser link] on sale for US$99.99, a savings of 33%. B&H lists this as a “weekly special,” so the pricing is temporary, though I don’t know for sure when the deal expires.

I know many of you think that CFexpress is expensive, but we’re now starting to see spot sales like this on CFexpress cards. Just thought you’d want to know about this deal if you’re still looking for cards for your new camera.

Just a reminder about my card recommendations: D500, D5, D850, Z6 and Z7 users should probably just stick with XQD cards unless they have short-term plans to move to a camera that uses CFexpress. CFexpress in these cameras doesn’t add any performance, and sometimes actually causes small decreases in buffer performance. I’d buy XQD or CFexpress for these cameras based upon price. 

D6, Z6 II, and Z7 II users should buy CFexpress cards (and UHS II for the second slot in the Z models). These cameras do get a small performance benefit from using the latest cards. 

The Lens Parade

So far this year we’ve had one DSLR, two development announces, four mirrorless camera announcements, and no compact camera announcements. In 2019 it was no DSLRs, seven mirrorless cameras, and eight compact camera announcements. 15 actual camera releases versus 5. It definitely feels a bit like we’ve entered the camera desert and are happy to see even tumbleweed.

On the other hand, lenses are still proliferating, with well over two dozen new lenses announced this year so far (it may even be three dozen if we count everything; I’m still trying to catch up). Even that’s down from about four dozen in 2019—Sigma alone almost had a dozen that first quarter just bringing their Art lenses over to the L-mount—but it doesn’t feel significantly so. 

Here are some of the more significant of the recent lens announcements, just in case you missed them (unless something feels truly special, I just add new lenses to the sansmirror, zsystemuser, or dslrbodies data bases):

I expect this to trend to continue. Canon and Nikon have a couple of bodies to fill in, Fujifilm and Sony have one or two bodies to update. But the total body count for this year is likely to be on the low side.

Meanwhile Canon and Nikon have a lot of lenses to fill in, Sony is obviously still filling in gaps, while Sigma and Tamron are likely to try bringing existing lenses over to RF, L, and Z mounts this year. And of course, the Chinese optics companies are iterating lots of manual focus lenses still. 

To me, this feels like a “lens year.” We’ll know more about how the mounts are filling out with optics this year, much more. 

The Spring Z Sale

Nikon today announced new instant savings on three full frame mirrorless cameras:

  • Nikon Z5 is now $999 (save US$400)
  • Nikon Z5 + 24-50mm lens is now $1,299 (save US$400)
  • Nikon Z5 + 24-200mm lens is now $1,699 (save US$500)
  • Nikon Z6 is now $1,399 (save US$600)
  • Nikon Z6 + 24-70mm lens is now $1,999 (save US$600)
  • Nikon Z7 is now $2,299 (save US$500)
  • Nikon Z7 + 24-70mm lens is now $2,899 (save US$500)
  • You can add the Nikon FTZ adapter to any of Z body purchase for $99 after a $150 rebate

Some people have been asking me why such large discounts? Well, two of those bodies are the previous generation camera, and the third is Nikon’s entry camera, and it seems that Nikon wants to entice people into the Z System aggressively now, and with cameras on which they don’t have parts shortages or new manufacturing issues. 

We’ll also see firmware updates for all the Z cameras shortly, improving or adding various small bits and features. Following that, I believe we’ll get new lens announcements and perhaps a new camera announcement.

Note: Yesterday I posted the following articles on zsystemuser.com:

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The Consumers Are Restless

First some facts. In 2021 so far (3.5 months in):

  • Canon — one future camera (R3), three future lenses (100mm, 400mm, 600mm)
  • Fujifilm — two cameras (GFX100s, X-E4), four lenses (18mm, 27mm, 80mm, 70-300mm)
  • Nikon — one future camera (Z9), no lens announcements
  • Olympus — no camera or lens announcements
  • Panasonic — no camera, one lens (70-300mm)
  • Sony — one camera (A1), five lenses (24mm, 35mm, 40mm, 50mm, 50mm)

Normally in the first few months of each year, we get quite a few announcements, often triggered around big trade shows. We're three shows in, and we've got mostly squat, with Fujifilm and Sony being the main exceptions. Overall, we're probably at a quarter of the expected cameras, a third of the expected lenses for this time period.

It's basically like listening to crickets in Tokyo right now. The marketing departments appear to be on sabbatical. Management is huddled around Zoom meetings planning strategy. 

We're three months away from the (not yet cancelled) Tokyo Olympics. Normally that, too, would generate more apparent action in the camera companies—and probably explains the three cameras and two of the thirteen lenses that have been announced—but still not nearly as much action as we would expect. Given that the Tokyo Olympics won't have foreign spectators, the need to be marketing to the incoming crowds is nil. That's why the primary Canon/Nikon/Sony camera thrust has been at the pros who would be photographing at the games.

The camera business is mostly on hold at the moment. I expect that to change some in the next two months, but not a lot. 2021 is going to be a year of only a handful of new cameras as well as filling out lens lineups on known paths. 

I'm hearing more and more complaints from the enthusiast and pro practitioners about the quiet, and more and more complaints about things that are out of stock, as well (particularly Nikon, but it's happening with others, too, and will happen even more if other companies have to consolidate plants and other facilities). 

At the heart of this "quiet time" are four things:

  • The pandemic — offices got disrupted, travel by engineers to factories got disrupted, presentations from parts suppliers got disrupted and went virtual, some economies are lagging. 
  • Parts supply — semiconductor plants are pretty much fully booked, parts are still in short supply. A critical plant burnt down. Another plant closed for upgrade. Wafers are in short supply. 
  • Shipments — container supply in SE Asia is problematic. This appears to be partly residual damage from the US/China disputes where cargo started becoming highly one-way, as well as the fact that both the docks and return shipments of containers are operating slowly. Shipping costs have gone up. 
  • Contraction — the camera market is far smaller than it was even a couple of years ago. 

All of those things will resolve themselves in some way, though I don't think they'll resolve quickly.

Nikon has said pretty emphatically that they're planning (and managing) on being far smaller in the Imaging group than previously. Canon was making that same noise starting a couple of years ago, but hasn't really taken it to heart yet that I can see. Fujifilm and Sony are operating as if they can make it through the smaller market by filling more niches. 

The reality is simple: fewer products, higher prices, longer iteration cycles. That's the most likely combination of things that can weather the multiple storms and keep the dedicated camera companies in the camera business. Nikon, Olympus, and Panasonic already seem to be working in this realm. Canon still has some clear downsizing to do. Fujifilm and Sony probably won't be able to sustain their aggressive product pushes for very long; they'll have to figure out models to cut and get more aligned with the market.

My advice to folk is to think more long term. Your current gear still works, you don't need to be in a hurry to replace it, and when you do, it should be a carefully considered replacement. 

That said, my In Box gets more and more "where is the..." messages every day. The natives are getting more restless. 

This is exactly where marketing departments need to come to life. Unfortunately, marketing at the camera companies has now devolved to cut-and-paste product announcements (and, of course, we're getting fewer of those).  

Over on Sansmirror

It's been a mirrorless news week:

A number of cameras also got firmware updates (e.g. R5, GFX100. etc.), so check out the "most recent firmware updates" page.


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