Two years ago, I already thought that the landscape of camera industry was changing. I wasn’t sure whether it was for the better or worse, but rather, more choices. The camera market was becoming more complex than ever before.
We are at the very beginning of 2014 and I am already getting excited about the photographic industry in general. It’s very hard to disregard all the new camera products that was introduced over the past 12 months.
During the good old days when we used to buy films from our local convenient stores or even pharmacy and have them developed in a couple of hours, cameras were defined by negative formats and camera types. It was ver clear. Whether you are looking at 110, 135 or 120, a point-and-shoot for general people or SLR for the more advanced enthusiasts, you are very sure to know what to buy with the money in your wallet. Now, there are point-and-shoot, bullet-proof action type, advanced compact, professional compact (aka large-sensor compacts), interchangeable system cameras or mirrorless (in itself, there are micro 4/3, 4/3, APS-C, APS-X the so called cropped sensors, and full frame), DSLR (still have APS-C and full frame) and digital rangefinders. Just a few to name. Yes, there is still digital medium format but the price is so high that you can swap your Lexus for a body and a lens only so I am not drilling into this arena.
Despite all these different products, one thing is very clear. There is a big push in the mirrorless cameras market and it seems that the demand is there, both at consumer and professional levels. Whether you like it or not, they are here to stay and possibly changing the camera landscape forever. 2013 had been a good year for mirrorless. Panasonica GX7, Olympus EP-5 and OM-D E-M1 and the EVERYBODY-IS-EVER-SO-EXCITED Sony A7 and A7R full frame mirrorless system cameras. But what about the long established DSLRs? Well, I personally think that they are slowing down. I have always been a DSLR man and using my very established full frame Canon cameras for my weddings and portraits. However, ever since I got my OM-D last year (my review and impression is HERE), I have become a mirrorless fan. Not that it can replace my Canons or other cameras, because I still love to capture portrait with full frame cameras. Being a professional (an open-mind one), I am very impressed with the benefits from a mirrorless camera, small form factor, including lenses, light weight (portable) and, as of 2013, very high image quality in good light. When Sony announced the first full frame compact, RX1, in 2012, everyone already saw what’s coming. So when the A7 and A7R were announced, everyone jumped up and down. I was too. In fact, I was more excited about this announcement than the announcement of Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Nikon’s D800 and D800E. Even the latest Nikon Df didn’t really make my heart skip a beat (especially with that price tag).
Now the game is on. Sony, for once in the camera world, has set the bar. A bar that is very challenging to overtake. I still remembered the first time I asked about the Panasonic G1 M4/3 camera at a camera dealer in Hong Kong, the salesman laughed at me and said THIS type of cameras wouldn’t have a future. Look, 5 years on, there are tons of choices out there and most of them are pretty good and a few are just classics! If Sony plays the game right by investing more research into the mirrorless sector, then they can be the next Canon or Nikon. While Olympus and Panasonic will obviously continue their M4/3 format and Fuji in its APS-C size sensors, I can’t see Sony has much competition, until Canon or Nikon do something about it. But so far both BIG boys has failed with their attempts to COPY and ENTER the mirrorless sector. I personally don’t see the success in EOS-M or the Nikon 1 series. For the price, I have many other choices, better ones too. EOS-M was a real potential to get the professional Canon users, like myself, to get one because with the official EOS adaptor, I can use all my EOS lenses, properly. However, the sluggish first attempt was a disaster that made people forgot about it in a second. Canon seemed to have rushed the product so it wasn’t as polished as other mirrorless cameras too.
So 2014 may see either BIG boys offering something different in order to revitalise their declining DSLR market shares. Canon already announced the next EOS-M, which supposedly better but perhaps they have missed the boat already. Nikon will continue with its 1 series but neither will offer full frame mirrorless like Sony. Fuji’s long anticipated X-Pro 2 may be surfacing soon? Who knows. Leica, oh Leica, may announced M-P Type 240 or the new M Monochrom? 2014 can be the true year for mirrorless. DSLR is a mature product and there’s little room to improve apart from mega pixels, sensitivity and focus speed. Yet, there is still a long list for the mirrorless to improve. In the next few years, I can see mirrorless over take DSLR just like SLR took over from rangefinders in the 60’s and 70’s. Time has moved one. Canon and Nikon, you have been warned!
I am not here to offend anyone though and even I am a die hard Canon boy but I can’t ignore what’s around the corner! Still, I am still hoping to migrate over to Leica at some point, hopefully in 2014. It’s the RED DOT effect!