This is a continuing debate that I see in the various fora to which I belong. Just to add a bit of spice to the whole thing Tony Northrop has produced his take on what the future holds. Now, I realize that he has some controversial views on elements of photography, but apparently he was a director of marketing for a fortune 100 company and accuratlely predicted both the challenges around 2000 and the demise of his own company. Business analysis is his thing...
Anyway for what it's worth, here is a link to his presentation: Are DSLRs Dead?
Doubtless this will invoke some reactions from our own members
The big camera makers, Canon included, missed the opportunity. I and a bunch of photographers I know told Canon they need to make P&S cameras act and respond more like a cell phone. They didn't heed that and they lost a market that will never recover. Just now are they offering touch screens, GPS, and wi-fi that works. Too little, too late.
Ole Tony's best asset is Chelsea! I don't agree with a lot of what he says. He's entertaining I guess. Sexiest Geek Alive is hardly high credentials for .......well, much of anything.
As I said: Doubtless this will invoke some reactions from our own members
Q.E.D. !!! :
For me this simply creates a focus on questions that were already there:
1. Did the big camera companies drop the ball in improving camera interfaces (as has been suggested) and has that had a significant impact on the camera market?
2. Is the disruptive dominance in the market of cell phones a function of their multifunctionalism and convenience, combined with the types of images that people are taking for social purposes in particular - and could camera manufacturers actually counter that?
3. Did the big camera makers take into account the dramatic drop in market size of cameras (in this case DSLRs), when they decided to invest in a new tech - especially new lens mounts?
4. The new FF DSLRs are coming in at an expensive price point, does that mean that the target market for this tech is the much smaller prosumer market rather than the previous one where for example Canon dominated in the lower-end units (and seems to still do so within its shriking boundaries). In Canon's case we have the M series and EF-M lenses, but to look at Nikon: they gave up on the Nikon 1 mount fairly quickly.
I have huge respect for the major players in the camera business - my gear is massively dominated by Canon, but I also use Nikon and Olympus for specific reasons. I would be sad to see that history and diversity go, especially to the cell phone monster!
I agree with one comment from Nelson. With the shrinking market and the plethora of brands and lens mounts our there something has to give - I just can't see them all surviving. I feel pretty confident in Canon, a but less so about Nikon - their market share is much smaller overall, and certainly desite user loyalty some of the other brands face a bleak future.
The question we get time and time again in this forum from new users often comes down to whether to buy gear based on the EF, EF-S, EF-M or RF mounts, in other words what should they invest in for the future, Right now we are crystal ball gazing and I wonder how much the manufacturers are looking at theirs...
I don't think lens mount has much to do with it. Many people just use the lens that came with the camera. What matters is this from a The Online Photographer comment:
"a few weeks ago, as I was sitting in the first class lounge in Union Station (Chicago)—at the mid-point of our three-city/three-train/3,000 mile trip—I overheard a conversation wherein a woman was asking for help with her new camera, a mid-level Nikon DSLR. She was desperate, inasmuch as she was on special trip for which she had purchased the camera, and as yet had been unable to make a picture. Literally, unable to make a single picture.
"I stepped up and offered to help. You might think, after nearly two decades of digital camera(s) usage [also, Mark is an accomplished professional—you met him in the post "Elephant Tongue and Hypnotized Chickens" —Ed.], it would not be a herculean/rocket science task to get her started. While I was eventually able to get her reasonably set up, there was not a single camera function for which access was intuitive. What a bad joke the whole experience was, both for her and me.
"After getting her functional (in a very rudimentary/basic fashion), off she went, reasonably happy, only to return five minutes later with another it-won't-work issue. Utterly shameful and ridiculous on the part of camera makers who have created this mess."
This was from a post that Cameras are no longer "fun" - which is another part of the problem.
" Utterly shameful and ridiculous on the part of camera makers who have created this mess."
I actually agree because like I said a bunch of us sent letters and talked with Canon reps which both fell on deaf ears. You have to make electronic gear that functions similar to a cell phone. These younger people have one in their hands around 8 years old. It is what they know. They were the future 10 years ago and now they are lost as we have all seen.
However, I find it extremely difficult that somebody could not take a single picture with a Canon or brand_N camera. Both have a totally automatic mode where nothing from the user is required. Had it been a D5 or 1DX, yeah, more challenging.
And, BTW, the pro market will still be here. That is Canon and Nikon as there are no other pro cameras made. I understand some may think their expensive Sony or Olympus, or whatever is a pro model. It is not just don't kid yourself.
I suspect some form of the intermediate market will still be viable. You always have the enthusiasts that doesn't want to drop ten grand to start taking high quality photos. Photos that so far a smartphone can't deliver again don't kid yourself.
And, Canon if you happen to read these replies don't miss the boat again and screw it up all over. Make these intermediate cameras more functional like a cell phone. Wi-fi that works, GPS that doesn't drain the battery and touch screens that anybody can figure out.
As Canon and others navigate this rapidly changing market, they should end up with consumer and pro models with very different interfaces. As Ernie noted, the lower and midlevel models aren't as intuitive as they should be and many newer users are overwhelmed by the multitude of controls. For this market, models with a simple and intuitive interface that is largely accomplished through the touch screen will work well.
However I hope that they don't go "touch screen crazy" for the upper end models because having separate dedicated and semi-dedicated controls are extremely useful for those of us who want to be able to get the most out of the gear and change setups quickly when needed. When I need to change shutter speed or aperture on the fly I don't want to have to deal with a touch screen; I want something that is easy and intuitive to change without taking my eye away from the viewfinder. I recently bought a set of Hensel studio strobes that feature a nice WiFi interface and dedicated app to control the lights but there is still something satisfying about using the nice quality rotary control on the back of the strobes to set the output rather than sliding a finger on my iPhone or iPad which takes some real precision if you want to use the one tenth F steps the strobes provide.
The interface needs to be function over form and this drives me slightly crazy in the automotive market. I have three vehicles and in my GMC Sierra 2500HD Denali pickup and Corvette Z06 there are a multitude of real controls for the HVAC and infotainment systems that are well placed and I can easily make any setting change I wish without having to spend time with a touch screen although both vehicles have that capability. My Cadillac ATS has a beautiful interior but the touch screen and touch controls (no real buttons or knobs) require far more attention than real dedicated controls. With the ATS I have to look at the controls and display screen while in the Corvette and pickup I can reach over and use the controls without taking attention from the road, the same feeling I get with my Canon 1 series DSLR bodies. I will never care for video as much as I do for still photography and although my Canon XF-400 camcorder performs quite well and produces nice video I hate the control interface which is almost entirely driven from the nested menus on the touch screen. It has a limited ability to assign functions to a few actual buttons and rotary controls but for me it will never have the smooth intuitive interface that I get with my 1 series cameras.
"I hope that they don't go "touch screen crazy" for the upper end models...."
Pros are not beginners or even intermediate enthusiasts. Canon knows this.........................I hope, because I don't want touch screens at all.
Several of my most recent camera purchases have touch screens, and while I recognize the benefits of the technology I turn the feature off and prefer to use the buttons and menus that are second nature to me now. Find that my nose or cheek will brush the screen while looking through the viewfinder which is an unnecessary distraction. Doubtless that makes me some kind of ancient relic but it's what I like and it works for me.
09/26/2023: New firmware updates are available.
08/18/2023: Canon EOS R5 C training series is released.
07/31/2023: New firmware updates are available.
05/31/2023: New firmware updates are available.
05/18/2023: New firmware updates are available.
03/30/2023: New firmware updates are available.