Reuters Reports Only Canon, Nikon and Sony Will Survive in the Camera Market

An article in the New York Times claims that only Canon, Nikon and Sony will be able to survive the current economics of the camera market. I'm not entirely sure I agree. This and other articles blame improvements in cell-phone cameras for eroding the DLSR market. That's just not true, as the customer base is simply not the same. I'm sure that great cell phone cameras are hurting point-and-shoot camera sales, and to that end, some manufacturers have dropped many of their lower-end models. That makes good sense.

Further, while companies like Fujifilm, Olympus and Sony continue to create innovative designs and push technology forward, Canon and Nikon continue to market decidedly "me too" models that are barely upgrades from previous models. This, coupled with really disappointing efforts to meet the innovation of other makers in the mirrorless markets, make Canon and Nikon increasingly irrelevant in a changing market.

Another area the report claims that Fujifilm, Olympus and Panasonic fall short in is the addition of wireless connectivity to their cameras. In truth, all of the manufacturers save one are slow to add WiFi and the ability to easily upload pictures to Facebook and other social media outlets. The manufacturer leading in that area isn't even mentioned in the article at all: Samsung, with their Galaxy NX, offers this capability across all sectors of the market.

Of course, only time will tell who will remain players in a difficult-but-slowly-improving economy. But I wouldn't count anyone out at this point.

X10 First Impression

20130917-080528.jpg After all the noise I've made about getting this new camera, I thought you might be interested in my first impressions. I've not taken any pictures with it to speak of -- I've just putzed around with the various settings either in the conference room at the office, or in the kitchen late last night -- so nothing worth posting yet. So these comments will be limited to the "look-and-feel" of the camera and controls. I'll do some subjective imaging impressions very soon.

Right off the bat, the X10 simply oozes quality. It is very reminiscent of classic rangefinders from the likes of Minolta, Konica and Contax. Some other folks have even compared various Fujifilm models to classic Leicas, and based on my first impression here, I can see why. Although a little smaller, the X10 has a feel that is very similar to the rangefinder models that I've used or handled.

The construction is all metal, with real leather applied. This is wholly unlike any of the competition at this price point -- similar models from Canon, for instance, are made of composite plastics. The controls feel solid, with detents that click positively into position. All of the buttons feel solid and are well placed. The only control that concerns me is the sub-command dial that surrounds the 4-way switch. It's made of an engineering plastic that I know is very strong, but the part is fairly thin and feels just slightly flimsy. I don't remember reading any user complaints about, and Fujifilm used the same part on the step-up X20, so I'm confident that it should hold up just fine.

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My X10 from Wolfe's came with the original Fujifilm "ever-ready" case thrown in (it regularly sells for about $50!), which, like the rangefinders of the past, must be removed to access the battery or "film" compartment. Fujifilm have redesigned the case since the original model to allow access to the batter and SD card compartment without having to remove the case.

I'm really looking forward to getting out and shooting the X10 this week and weekend.

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Choosing a Travel Camera

Taken somewhere in North Dakota with a Canon SX110is. So, here's the scenerio: You're going on a trip and you want to take a digital camera. But, you have very limited space - certainly not enough for a DSLR and lenses - and equally limited access to electrical power. So what do you do?

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A few years ago, I was presented with exactly that scenario. We were going by train, 2/3 of the way across the country, to Montana, and I wanted to carry as little as possible. I also had a budget. So, I started researching compact cameras. What follows is a little food for thought on choosing a traveling photo companion.

My criteria was "simple". The camera needed to be:

  • something smallish and light
  • a large LCD screen
  • manual exposure control
  • quality lens
  • decent optical zoom range
  • image stabilization
  • excellent image quality

Since I knew that access to power for recharging batteries might be sketchy, I also decided that the camera should use commonly available batteries.

At the time, I selected a Canon SX110is.

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The little Canon has proven to be an excellent traveling companion, and I've taken so many pictures with it that I've completely lost track of how many. I've purchased at least one other point-and-shoot since, but I still use the Canon a lot.

Most digital cameras these days can produce excellent images, so finding a good camera is pretty easy. What is difficult is finding one that you can take anywhere in the world and be assured that you're going to be able to power it, especially when you need or want to travel light.

One power source that's available pretty much everywhere in the world is the AA battery (it's referred to as a Mignon battery or LR6 battery in other parts of the world), so I think that choosing a camera that can be run on AA batteries is an important choice for a travel camera.

A search of the B&H web site reveals about a half-dozen point-and-shoot or advanced compact cameras that meet all the criteria, and two DLSR models (both from Pentax in a wide variety of colors). While my personal criteria calls for something in the point-and-shoot category, coupled with a super-zoom lens like the Tamron 18-270mm or Sigma 18-250, a DSLR like the Pentax K-30 could be considered as a good on-the-go camera when travelling light.

All images on this post made with a Canon Powershot SX110is.

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Another "Future of Photography" post

Much in the news of photography today, much of which is not good. First up, our favorite camera store, Penn Camera, has filed for bankruptcy. They'll be closing stores almost immediately. That leaves only a very few, scattered independent shops in our area, most of which suffer from small product lines. The logo from 1987 to 2006. "Evolution of...

Second, Kodak is also filing for bankruptcy. In my opinion, this has been a long time coming, and taking our Kodachrome away was the nail in the coffin. Not that I ever liked Kodachrome. I always thought Fujichrome was a much better film.

Sony Alpha NEX-7

Meanwhile, Trey Ratcliff has posted an interesting article on his blog announcing the death of the DSLR. Instead, Trey imagines a future of 3rd generation digital cameras, most without mirrors, and many without even any kind of viewfinder except for the big screen on the back. Indeed, new mirrorless cameras like Sony's new NEX-7 offer all of the image quality of today's APS-C DSLRs in an amazingly compact package. With adapters available allowing a wide ranges of lenses to fit on the NEX cameras, they're sure to be a hit. The NEX-7 is poised to be a very capable, professional quality camera once some serious lenses are available.

Full circle?

Years ago, professionals relied heavily on superb-quality 35mm rangefinder cameras with interchangeable lenses from Lieca, Nikon, Canon, and others. They loved them for their small size and weight and excellent image quality. A glance at the pages of any new photography magazine shows some of those same players are back at it today, introducing high-end "digital rangefinders" aimed squarely at professional or semi-pro markets.

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