The new Panasonic GH5 and more of my thoughts on the future of Digital Imaging.

The new Panasonic GH5 and more of my thoughts on the future of Digital Imaging.

It never ends! The upgrade train keeps on rolling by, making stops across the world right to our doorsteps under disguise of a UPS or Fed Ex truck. Camera manufactures today, even with slumping sales across the board (compared to previous years) are still going for it big time with flagship models that are more Niche, which is exactly as I thought it would be. Even Sony’s incredible A-6500 could be considered an APS-C flagship as that little speed demon does things we could have never dreamed a camera could do just a few short years ago.

With Hasselblad now being owned by Chinese Drone manufacturer DJI (according to my friend Kevin Raber a Luminous Landscape (see the story here), and Samsung pretty much out of the camera game, and Sigma trailing behind in sales and ideas… who is left here? What is the future of the digital camera market? Point and shoots are all but gone thanks to smart phones, and with new smart phones like the iPhone 7 mimicking shallow DOF lenses, it’s only a matter of time until I feel the APS-C market will decline even further. 

That leaves Niche cameras. I consider Leica a niche camera maker, and I feel while they may suffer a little over the next few years, they will survive. They are never about larger numbers or millions of bodies sold. They are about their user base who is very passionate about the brand, and loyal as can be. Even me, a guy with access to any camera I want..I still LOVE my Leica cameras and want more. Olympus is sort of of a Niche brand as well these days with their well crafted, pricey and unique offerings with M 4/3. The EM1 MKII at $2000 is the most expensive M 4/3 to date, but it is one hell of a well engineered and amazing pro camera. I think they will be OK for quite a while. Then you have their direct counterpart who has many fans, Panasonic.

Panasonic just announced the new GH5, and it is taking aim at the Em1 MKII. $2,000, 4K at 60fps, 10-bit 4:2:2 recording, 12 fps, 5 Axis IS, no low pass filter, and nearly twice as fast processing. Seems they were on the same page as Olympus here. Yes, I see this as a Niche camera as well. Back in the day, Panasonic would release those ridiculous little tiny M 4/3 cameras that were borderline junk. Today they are making nice solid pro gear, at least with the GH5. That, truth be told, is the only way to compete with smart phones of today.

I wrote an article some time ago where I said I feel the future would be higher end, well made niche bodies. We are seeing that now with the new Olympus, this new Panasonic, The Leica SL, M, T, etc.

But what about Sony? I also see and feel they may have some changes coming over the next 2-3 years. They will be forging ahead full steam for sure with mirrorless tech, and my guess is something big is coming from them, maybe even over the top. Then there is Fuji, who are also doing well. Fuji has loads of fans and while I am not one of those hardcore fans I applaud them for bringing passion back to so many photographers who fell in love with the Fuji design, style and of course COLOR. Their Xt2 is fantastic, and I still have a love for their little X100 series. With their medium format coming, THE GFX 50S, they are also breaking into the high end Niche area which is where the future of Digital MIRRORLESS is going.

I am not even mentioning DSLRS which have been doing the same old same old forever now, albeit with some enhancements in focus tech but it seems to always be more of the same. I was shooting the 5D IV and was thinking…”This feels similar to last time I shot a 5D”. Similar IQ, feel and experience. Not much TRUE advancement that makes much of a difference in experience and output…and they are suffering for it with slumping sales (DSLR’s in general). Until Nikon and Canon make that BIG bold move into mirrorless, the right way, with worthy competition to Sony, Fuji, etc I will just see them as very slowly dying brands. DSLR sales today are nothing like they were just a few years ago. Yea, DSLR guys will get mad at me for saying that but mark my words..see where we are in 3-4 years. Also, no need to get mad as these words are just MY opinion 😉

So I predict Sony will come out with something big soon, something pro and off the charts. I think they have to. Fuji is doing it, Micro 4/3 has done it, Leica has done it. It’s the future of all digital imaging as more and more continue to ditch their camera for their advanced smart phones. Mark my words 😉

We will also start seeing more and more digital imaging WITH DRONES. We already are. I own a Phantom 4, and have a Mavic Pro on the way. I love these drones for video and getting incredible PHOTOs. That is also the future of digital imaging…maybe we will see a Sony drone soon 😉 In fact, Ashwin Rao, Bo Lorentzen and I are currently in the planning stages for a Palouse Workshop with cameras and drones both for this June. It is going to be EPIC AND AMAZING. The Palouse was my fave workshop of all time (see some of the images here)…MORE here. Details soon.

The era of the expensive, big bad ass niche camera and flying camera is upon us. Let’s enjoy the ride.

64 Comments

  1. Sony and Fuji are only now barely catching up to the Samsung NX1 from 2 years ago. Yet they are still behind. All that being said, My sony A7’s and A6300 are leaving my inventory since they give me too much trouble for what it’s worth. I keep shooting my Samsung NX1 and NX500 over my Sonys. I will be giving Fuji another try, now that they FINALLY have a new 24 MP sensor 🙂

  2. I see how the Phone companies are eating into the low end camera business. But what I don’t understand is why the Camera/lens makers are not trying to get into the phone business.

    Why isnt Olympus/Fuji selling lenses and camera modules to the phone companies? Maybe they already are – but I haven’t heard of it.
    Would you buy an Phone with Olympus/Fuji branded integrated camera? Zuiko lens? Zeiss or schneider Lens?

  3. This is a thought provoking article and I’d like to add a thought or two. Cameras are about as good as they can get them now, it’s the sensor and processor which gets upgraded every year, (almost) rendering the camera body obsolete. Lenses are always a great investment providing you don’t change sensor format.

    I would love to see a camera coming out with an interchangeable sensor and matching processor board/electronics. That would be interesting. With the continuing miniaturisation of electronics it is very achievable. You could then keep your beloved camera which you can operate in the dark and forget having to learn new menus or worry about having the latest and highest res/performance sensor etc

    Ricoh tried it with a changeable sensor/lens combo which didn’t really do well as when you changed sensor you were stuck with the lens they offered, but it was a good idea.

  4. I have sold my Leica M9, Nikon Df and Fuji Xt1 gear. What a relieve. I have had it with digital. Its just ugly whatever size sensor you use. I bought on ebay a Contax G2 and a Rolleiflex. Its such a delight to shoot film again. Taking pictures like the old days. Going to the lab and make contacts and print the ones you really like. I have missed that feeling so much for the last 10 years (when I sold all my film cameras to buy the first 5D). Its not about sharpness or resolution, its all about the beauty of light, and only film can really represent that beauty. (I’m a filmmaker and shoot on 35mm and digital Alexa, its the same in the film world, digital is just ugly). I can recommend anybody to buy that analogue camera again. Do it now, they are really not expensive.

      • There’s no need to be snide toward Matthijs’ comment. He seems to be genuine in his appreciation of shooting film and developing in the dark room. I think there’s room for both. It’s difficult for me to shoot film if I need to turn something around quickly for an editorial assignment. If I can, I try to shoot both film and digital at the same time in different formats with different stocks so I can get a range of outcomes.

  5. I absolutely agree about connecting with the camera you use and getting to love how you can use it to make the images you want. No argument there !
    I respect other peoples opinions and if doing the upgrade thing does it for you then great.

  6. All the latest and greatest. Still like an Optical finder. Want a mechanical mirror lock that is easy to do as older film cameras had. Want ISO25 with high quality and even better would be down to ISO3.
    Would like removable optical finders like on the older Canon F and Nikon F series bodies.
    Cameras too tiny to be used easily when wearing gloves are not a good deal for many of us. Battery life that is crap in sub zero(f) temperatures are not worth it.
    Where is Eye Controlled Focus like on the older Canon EOS3?

  7. Didn’t Leica make a hybrid digital and film SLR ? Was well engineered but not successful as the pace of digital development made it obsolete so quickly.
    Truth be told digital photography is a mature technology now.
    There is very little in the way of technology that can make you a better photographer.
    Ask yourself the simple question : Will this new product X make me a better photographer ? Will it make me briefly happy until next expensive upgrade -different story.

    • Mostly none of these cameras of the last 10 years will make anyone a better photographer. But enjoying the hobby immensely only comes when you have the camera you can truly connect with. Cameras, even back in the film days were never made to make anyone a better photographer. But they offer features that some need, some want and some hate. So as always choose the one that connects with you the most.

  8. Nice topic Steve. Let’s see in five years who has bet on the winning horse.

    I used Canon FD mount during the Seventies and Eighties and then all of a sudden those guys changed to EF. After seeing their first EOS 1 in a Singapore shopwindow I ran away to Nikon. Always liked their cameras and lenses from the film era a lot. When changing to digital their cameras became uglier and bulkier too and in case of the full frame versions that I needed for my lens investment also very, very expensive. In the meantime I got the lovely Contax G system too and expected that brand to move over to digital seamlessly. Kyocera made other decisions.
    I could also mention my various medium formats here, like the Mamiya RB67, Plaubel 67, Pentax 67, Rolleiflex TLR and Mamiya 7. But I won’t.
    As soon as Micro Four Thirds was introduced I switched my system again and this time I put it all the eggs in one basket. It brought back my love for photography and with so many companies in that system it seems a save bet. Okay, knock it off: so far, so good.

    Due to the succes of smartphones the market for compacts completely collapsed. I believe there is still a demand for high end all-in-one cameras with a large viewfinder (and a tilting LCD and a built in flash). Not those tiny fiddly ones but something like an improved Panasonic LX100 or Fuji X30. In my environment there are a lot of people who would like to buy such camera. Especially my older sixty plus friends who don’t want to schlep around with lots of gear and those who never got used to cameras without viewfinders. Let alone smartphones. There surely must be a market for a PEN-F with a fast fixed high quality zoom.

  9. Yep your right.

    The biggest losers will be Canon and Nikon. And with the shrinking “profitable” market you have to find your niche. Leica obviously has, Fuji has, m4/3 has and I think Sony has now also. And with my discussions with Nikon Users….. they are also at the same track…

    As for the GH5… well after those specs… it had to be an instant buy…äh… pre-order. Just to many improvements. And also I’m happy with their developments on the AF side (the GH4 sucks with 300mm F4). This will keep my system simple -> Leica M plus GH5.

    B

  10. I have six mirrorless cameras, the latest being the Sony a6500, and frankly don’t understand all the excitement. To me, beyond slight advances in this and that, new mirrorless cameras are basically derivatives of previous models. You know, the same old, same old.

  11. Sigma trailing in ideas…? Hmm… I just got a DP0Q and I have never seen a camera that shoots such accurate color (at low ISO of course) or such detailed SOOC jpeg. First time I don’t need to edit my photos in post. Perhaps those features are not “ideas” but for me they are more desirable than perfect ISO 6400 or 18fps. It seems most camera manufacturers have forsaken color science and SOOC photos which are ready for production (even printing) as soon as they are written on the card.
    With that said, I am seriously considering the Pana GH5. I am happy GM1 owner, but perhaps it’s time to upgrade.

  12. Interesting post and responses…and I agree with a lot of them. I still have my Oly EM5 and yet I’m still amazed by the images it can produce from my 20/1.7 and 45/1.8 lenses. Much less the 8×10 prints that I’m able to get from Mpix are outstanding. But I’m not going to lie, I still get worried that M4/3 will get dropped to the wayside and cameras will advance. Heck, there are over 100+ lenses available through BHPhoto, and it’s highly unlikely the tech will die…and still I worry. And it’s not so much from APSC or FF cameras, but honestly, from the massive success of Sony’s RX100 cameras. Many a times I’ve come close to pulling the trigger and purchasing that little pocket rocket, yet I can’t get myself to do so. IMO, it is the perfect travel camera. Fuji has got the APSC market locked down, but I can see the 1” market pulling sales from M4/3. And it doesn’t help that one can buy an older generation RX100 brand new, with still very relevant tech, at a low price from BHPhoto. As for solving my Sony RX lust…I’ve recently purchased a used 14/2.5 to satisfy my wide-angle need. Long live M4/3.

    • you should check out the Panasonic LX100/Leica D-Lux109. talk about a little pocket rocket. I’m amazed every time i see the photos that come out.

  13. “Be Rich or Go Phone” (great quote from one of your contributors!) Truth. Sad truth. I like many who stop by your site am an enthusiast who migrated from 35mm film SLR to digital to mirrorless. I have the Sony a7ii and would love to upgrade to the Rii but at $3,500? got started in 5th grade (made a pin hole camera in science class and I was hooked). Now at age 50, I still love the art and science of photography but am disheartened at the ever increasing cost to keep growing as a photographer and upgrading my gear, not to mention computer, software and storage. As the market shifts with the middle falling out–the place where many enthusiasts like me live, not liking what we are seeing.

  14. I need to take that 200 thousand shot in a digital camera before I will buy again a rangefinder or mirrorless. I hope. Im honestly an FF guy coming from my love of film.
    I hope that oly will make a 4ti sized full frame digital stills only camera using om mount. How cool is that? Thats what we call niche.

  15. An interesting post no doubt, some good points made.
    What I keep hearing from people is an exhaustion and frustration with the upgrade thread mill.
    They upgrading purchaser frequently loses out financially on the sale or trade in process -sometimes significantly and does not elaborate about this. They feel consoled by their new purchase.
    They may not continue with this behaviour indefinitely !

    • So true. The Gear Acquisition Syndrome keeps the photography economy (or what’s left of it) running, but it’s rarely the solution for getting better photographs.

  16. Hi Steve. How much is too much?
    Love many, trust few, but always paddle your own canoe.
    An old saying that’s probably more relevant today than when it first came into use more than a century ago. At that time the subject was the character of people. Today, I apply it to the vast and accelerated tidal wave of technology for technology’s sake. 1K, 2K, 4K, 8k Dr. Suess. True, I’m a bit of an old fart but I work in a school with young, budding artists who seem to embrace film technology as more simple and understandable. They enjoy the process of ‘making’ something tangible. Perhaps this is why niche companies may survive; a business model about photography slightly ahead of profit, supported by enthusiasts. Many art schools dumped their film gear years ago, leaving film as a niche product and, seemingly, a refuge from hyper-technology. Many young people are and will be shaping photography through simple ( on the surface) technology and the web. Some schools never abandoned film for chips, and some did. We’re seeing enrolment dwindle and guess what they’re looking at?? I know because we maintained our wet spaces for those niche interests, carefully boxed up what we weren’t using and quietly stored it. We are now un-boxing as we prepare for a NEW wet-process class in response to student demands! Seems every student was able to show up with a 35mm camera…Hmmm

    • Yessssss!
      You are validating my investment in hasselblad, Leica, and Nikon film stuff. I had to buy a refurb d7100 to use the old glass……and one Leica x vario.

      I love the clunk, grind, and whir of mechanical genius…..and good film.

      Snapshots……smartphone.

    • I’m still using my film camera! That Canon F1n full frame will outlast all these super new digital wonders. A digital camera is outdated so quickly you can’t keep up with it. Digital large format seems to be the trend though, at a cost.

  17. Happy New Year, Steve! Interesting reflections. I used to be an avid Ricoh GRD shooter. It was my every day, every where to go camera. Not any more. My phone took its place. I was very reluctant at the begining, not anymore. I used to record video with a semi-pro Sony video cam. Not anymore. My phone and a Go Pro with a Ginball replaced it. I only keep a digital Pentax k01 and a digital Nikon, to be able to use old glass with them. I love the unexpected or unorthodox results. Maybe I will get a small digital ML good for video and stillsl, most probably a Pana. And I keep a Leica M3 with a cron and a Hassy 503 cx. I don’t think digital MF wil be the way to go, too expensive. Drones, however, look exciting. Have fun in La Palouse, I would love to join you (if I weren’t in Europe (too short on time and funds))

  18. See this news today?
    http://petapixel.com/2017/01/05/kodak-ektachrome-film-coming-back/

    That’s right kiddies, film is BACK!!!
    So can’t afford one of these disposable niche digi camera thingies they are coming out with now?
    Step up to the past, get a medium format Yashica, or Rollei, or Mamiya, or Hasselblad or or.. for pennies on the dollar. Put a roll of gen-you-whine film into it. And enjoy the art again .

    A Fuji GW690 film rangefinder (Texas Leica) costs maybe $500. For a camera that gives an image size almost three times larger than a $12,000 Hasselblad digital ‘medium format’. Want to shoot digital? Do that while you are snapchatting.

    Film. It does a body good.

    Peace out.

  19. Interesting point about the price of admission. Increasingly, with cameras there seems to be a relatively high price penalty for early adopters vs a relatively low performance penalty for late adopters. Sensor tech is now well developed and, while we’re still seeing a lot of innovation from companies like Olympus, IQ improvements are becoming more incremental. My E-M1 is so good I don’t feel the same imperative to upgrade that I did a few years ago, and will probably wait for the price of the E-M1 II to fall. However, I am excited about the new lenses, which look really good and a better long-term investment.

    • At least with Oly with the E-M1ii, Fuji with the X-T2, and apparently Panasonic with the GH5 there are some makers throwing every bit of tech and performance they can in to their flagships at a pricepoint, which makes the premium more palatable. I feel with Canon and Sony they intentionally hold back features to differentiate product lines to feed the GAS cycle. The a6300 -> a6500 cycle was a disgrace to me.

  20. I’m just curious if the GH5 really has to be that big. It’s bigger than the A7 series and with a much smaller sensor. With my type of shooting that extra size rules it out for me as I travel as light as possible 99% of the time.

    • I am not interested in it myself but many love the GH series for the video. I feel they have always been large and odd shaped. But its going to be faster than an A7 and over $1500k less with smaller lenses. So there is that 😉

  21. The cameras are nice, but I think a big part of it is the lenses. I shot a couple parties over the holidays. At none of them was I the official photographer but was asked to get some photos. The person mainly getting the photos for the host or hostess used a cell phone. Three times I was asked why my photos were better as well as a couple more invitations. Even though I shot only the 25/1.7, 42.5/1.7 and the 75/1.8 with one of those old worthless Panasonics :), I explained fast lens and how the transition from in to out of focus as well as the out of focus gave a more natural look than their smartphones and apps for softening backgrounds. 2 of those people have their Olys and lens now and I am working with them to get the started smoothly with cameras. The third from a birthday party I did last night has ordered a EM1 with the 12/1.4, and the 2 1.2 lenses (of which I am envious). That is only 3 cameras, but it came from word of mouth and lenses. Previously I have had 2 people buy micro four thirds cameras because of the long lenses. We were out shooting and they liked 600 (equivalent) capability. 2 or 3 friends have purchased RX10 IIIs. As I travel, I stop at all visitors bureaus. Those who do not have calendars of post cards, I shot the places they want. This gives me the opportunity to talk cameras. I am not a good photographer as I still have all the habits from film. Still, I can get photos and processed in such a way that people with cell phones will purchase them. Some places allow me to give a talk (unpaid) at which I really promote cameras as well as selling a few photos and CDs (if I am lucky). While this helps with my travels and purchasing camera gear, I feel that future of what I love also depends on introducing new people to it and encouraging them as they begin to use a camera. If we all demonstrated what a camera can do to our cell phone friends who are beginning to enjoy taking photos, we could help keep camera photography growing and healthy. Niche cameras and lenses that expand the capabilities over a cell phone make this easier. Your site also is a big help in this as I can send people here and they find enthusiasm and fun which they then want to be a part of. Alas all the spec and comparison urls are boring to someone new to cameras. I think the next big step in cameras will be when they prefect cloning and there are 1000 Steves promoting good cameras, lenses, etc. Thank you for your site.

      • Olympus doesn’t make one, but cameras in the “Pen F full frame” size are all over the place. Don’t for get, the frame size of the original Pen F film camera was 18x24mm (giving up to 72 exposures on a roll of 35mm film.) So APS-C (14.8×22.2mm) is actually a pretty close match to the Pen-F’s “full frame…”

        …hey, that’s no sillier than arbitrarily calling 36x24mm “full frame” just because the Multi-Speed Simplex camera of 1914 happened to introduce those dimensions…

  22. “The era of the expensive, big bad ass niche camera and flying camera is upon us. Let’s enjoy the ride.”

    Sure, let’s enjoy the ride. But how many of us can afford the ticket?

    I agree with your observation that the middle is falling out of the camera market, with phones gobbling up the bottom end and everybody else hunting for higher profits in the exotic territory of expensive niche models.

    But meanwhile, middle-class disposable incomes remain stagnant at best, and photographers who are “serious” but not rich are starting to feel we’re no longer relevant to the camera companies.

    For example, I look at the Fuji GFX50S and think, “Yeah, that would be great for how I work”… but at the predicted $8,000 price tag (body, EVF, and standard lens) it’s just never going to happen.

    In the past there’s always been a range of options — if a Hasselblad was too expensive, you could buy a Bronica or even a Praktisix and still get good pictures, although maybe not quite as elegantly.

    But now we seem to be moving toward a future in which the only choice is “be rich or go phone!” Is that where we really want to be?

    • You know, I agree. I mean, I will not be able to keep affording all of these high end cameras. No way I could buy the Fuji, it is out of the question for me. The next Leica..I’ll have to sell something else to fund it. Be rich or go phone, thats classic 😉

    • …or go film.
      Perhaps there are not much more megapixels to be found in a sensor and digitals stop being a kinda disposable thing

      • I didn’t think I would say this again, but I do believe there is a future in film. Film sales seem to start picking up, and every time I think about getting into another medium format digital system, I look at the numbers and tell myself to shoot more film again. I am starting to see that this new digital technology is starting to become and “old people thing” (over thirty years-olds) because we are the ones that can afford it. Meanwhile I see kids in LA with their cell phones, old film cameras, and Fuji Instax. It might be the right time to pick up a Hasselblad and some lenses.

        • So do I.
          Amazing how manufacturers are looking for the retro after surpassing the digital technological barreer.
          No phone camera, thanks, other than as a note book vusual recorder.
          But a pretty film camera costs very small money…

      • I just read that Kodak is about to re-introduce Ektachrome 100, so maybe there’s life in the old dog yet. But film for most of us is still never going to be more than an occasional-fun proposition, because it’s just too much of a PIA if you need to distribute your pictures digitally. Scanning, dust-spotting, etc. takes time and reduces quality, and the results still aren’t as clean as those you get with a digital camera.

        If you DON’T need to distribute digitally, film is still awesome. Pick up a projector and a bunch of round trays at the junk store and you can knock your audience’s socks off with images that make 4K video look sick.

        • Right, practically all film works go today via scanning.
          Developing slides like Ektachrome or even color negatives it’s becoming a crazy task.
          Film manufacturers are increasing their production though. And a general deceptive feeling about the digital world seems to be in the air.
          Many photographers not in the hurry of selling tomorrow are retaking film

      • George, you seem to be a very passionate film shooter. You’re website shows it all. I’m very happy to see that because I’m a film shooter as well. I think it is dangerous to go film because GAS is worst.
        Knowing digital is disposable keeps us from buying more digital gear. I stopped at A7II and an M9. Our company use an A6000 and a Kiss Canon also. But, I have so many film cameras.
        My Gas goes from owning the 1950s cameras like S3 to the latest Minolta 9 with some point and shoots 30 of them? I’m now in the CCD realm because I love the M9. David Hancock did explain to me on his opinion on this. And it stalled my buying 3 CCDs which were the last of Pentax, Nikon and Sony. It is so damn cheap and I get to use my lenses on these system.
        Just yesterday after just almost 2 years the A7II I use needed repair. Finally, it is back and I’m loving it again the same time I loved it when I used it before I went film. it takes great pictures of my kids. Enough for an enthusiast. As my wife says she doesn’t mind the film shots and grain but she just cannot wait for the film getting developed. Times have really changed. I agree. Sending the pictures from the 7II to my phones through wifi is so damn easy. I will save so much time and focus on my work and quality time with kids more.
        In short, except for the G2, Pen F and Hasselblad 503/500 maybe. I hope I’m done with buying gear for film. I just want to take photos print them and display them.
        I honestly stopped going to steve’s website because it just induces GAS. It is such a good site it will make you buy another camera.
        Our life is Work, Family and Hobby in that sequence. This is the reason we buy gear. At night we normally don’t go out and shoot because we will have so many shitty result it is a waste of time and also security reasons because of the place I live in. Instead of taking photo after work I just look for gear watch reviews and all. I’m wasting so much time I should redirect this energy to work and just find time to shoot whenever possible. Before I made photography a hobby I was a workaholic really bad workaholic. I’m happy I found a hobby. I love photography and these cameras really is just a tool for us to create fond memories. It is also a tool to share to other people our photos not to be critiqued but to share our memories.
        No bottom line just sharing my experience. May enlighten some people.
        BTW I’m now trying to do Large Format too.

    • Many people get interested in photography through cell phones and seeing photos of others. They look to step into camera photography and the high end is not a good starting point. Cell phones are $500 to $1000. I think their needs to be a starting point that expands the capability of cell phones at around $1000. This will not be the best. However if people can see where it will do more than their phones, then they will have a reason to purchase. Of course like us they will probably get hooked and planning where to get money for their next purchase. There are millions of people taking and sharing photos with cell phones. Many of them want to go further with their photos. However the impression you have to spend thousands of dollars to start is off putting. I understand sites are for enthusiasts who want the next great thing. However, I have used many kits lenses and beginning cameras and know their is a difference between them. Some are a better place to start than others. But I fail to see places that a newcomer can learn this. I would like to see a place promoting moving up to cameras at a reasonable price. Manufacturers advertise and want to see where they get the profit. It seems only Canon is trying to get new people into photography. If we do not get a way for people to begin, they the market will only shrink. The new niche products appeal to those of us who use cameras now and mean nothing to a newcomer. Who is going to move from a cell phone to a multi thousand dollar medium format camera? As the market shuts out newcomers, it creates its own shrinkage in future years. Just my opinion. I see on social media people who got their first camera for Christmas this year. Every one of them I have seen have Rebels. There are better cameras for the money, but we are so interested in the new great high end stuff and discussing it, that there is no place for new people to learn of other choices. We may not like the same old DSLRs. But when they have better marketing and convince many people DSLR is the only serious camera, the mirrorless cameras are headed down a long, but dead end road. Markets expand by having new customers. They shrink by moving existing customers up a ladder to higher end products. As at each level of the ladder some will not move up. I would bet with Oly that many will not go from the EM1 to the Mark II. The cost and capabilities of what they have will be a stopping place for some. I know a company has to profit today. But, they also need to prepare a road to profit in the future. Is high end niche cameras this raod?

    • I don’t see how you will effectively have a phone with a telephoto lens. I can see that compacts can’t compete with phones, but even a camera like an OMD EM10 offers a lot more than I can see a phone offering.

      • I see that as well, but we are either enthusiasts or pros. We make up a VERY small segment and for all of these commpanies to profit and stay afloat from such a small demographic, is tough. The masses who used to buy point and shoots, then graduate up to a DSLR…those days are gone. The masses now use their phone, and the upgrade comes when the next phone arrives. There will be and already are phones with tele lenes, and that trend will continue to grow. It’s about the numbers. Less and less buy cameras today, especially the standard best buy cheap SLR’s. It’s the enthusiast who cares about quality, lens choice, speed. No one else does as their phone makes them as happy as can be. There is a reason the #1 camera in the world is the iPhone 😉

        • The question is how big the dedicated camera niche will be. It will be a small segment of the overall phone-camera market, of course. However, since that is a (to put it mildly) huge market, I suspect that there does exist a way for camera manufacturers to convince enough people to buy in that all current brands could survive quite well.

          Additionally, if they play it right, camera manufacturers should be able to use the phone market as a gateway drug. I think that, for the forseeable future, anyone even slightly enthusiastic about photography will prefer the handling and image quality of a dedicated camera.

          • I tend to agree with you. However among people I know, I see the biggest move up from cell phones is to ultra zooms. And I do not know anyone who moved up from an ultra zoom to an ILC. They seem to get in these for something around $1000. They do it because they can see where it will do more. When I try to suggest trying an ILC I am meant with it does not add any more or it costs too much. The many on flicker, 500px, readily admit they would like to take pictures like the best they see there. But when they price the equipment they see, the $4000 plus cost scares them off. For what they do, a kit camera lens is a step down from their ultra zoom. To get faster lens for shallow DoF many would like is expensive. For ILC companies to take advantage of the phone gateway drug, they need a better preforming mid range lens set with a somewhat basic camera (as most still use auto). A couple better than kit zooms with a faster prime for $1000 to $1500 in a kit with the camera body seems to me the market point it would make sense to potential purchasers. Forget evf, have plenty of picture modes and basic PASM like the ultra zooms with stabilization, tilt screen for selfies and the market is there. The camera kit to purchase is not. And it cannot be complicated like buy this camera and this lens and this lens and…. It needs to be buy and use. Although I use micro four thirds so would like to see that, any ILC doing this would be welcome. The closest is Canon, but then when they want to move up from Rebel after a couple years, the price jump is pretty big.

  23. I have recently dumped my Nikon and Sony equipment for Fuji. I find that while Sony has cornered the market with technology, Fuji has a much more tactile hands-on experience that promotes artistic creativity. I believe the gap will continue to grow as phones take on a bigger percentage of photography. There will always be people though who long for a less automated world and will look to companies who have the same ideas.

    But the robots are coming and there is little we can do about that.

    • Agree. The Fuji X-T2 layout and controls actually promote manual shooting and as a result creative control is noticeably higher for me. But I’ll concede this is subjective, but the Fuji system is designed perfectly for me.

    • I too have finally gone Fuji. I owned an X-E1 and missed the shooting experience when I sold it. The went X100S, sold it to a friend to go X100T but converted it to IR earlier this year. No regrets, but agin missed the Fuji experience. Just got the X-T2 and am pleased beyond belief. I’l be selling my Nikon 810 to fund lenses for my new Fuji.

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