Downsizers

I've written about Samplers, about Leakers, about Last Camera Syndrome folk, but it appears that there are still categories of camera purchasers that I haven't written about. 

Recently I got an email from someone that reminded me of another category I've wanted to write about: Downsizers. This particular person decided not to upgrade from their Nikon D7000 to a newer D7200 or D7500, but rather ended up with a Canon G5X. He downsized.

That isn't as unusual as you might think, and it once again calls attention to Nikon's terrible decision not to produce the DL models (or update the Nikon 1, or update any true pro Coolpix). 

It isn't just smartphones that have gotten better over time until they became "good enough." Putting 1" sensors in small cameras was a big step up from the even smaller sensors that compacts and casual cameras had been using. In particular, the Sony RX-100 is a common camera I see people downsizing to, as it fits in a shirt pocket, so it's convenient enough to use over a smartphone. 

Other examples of the small camera we've seen are the Canon GX series, the Panasonic LX and Z series, and even something as big as the Fujifilm X100.

But you also see downsizing in the move many make from DSLR to mirrorless. The Canon M5/M6/M50/M100 are near Canon DSLR-like in ability and image quality, but considerably smaller. Sony, of course, capitalized on the smaller A7 body sizes with some early small (but mostly poor) f/4 lenses, highlighting the fact that you didn't have to hang a four pound brick off your neck when you traveled with full frame.

Note the three "hot" cameras in full frame at the moment: the big-as-always but better-than-ever Nikon D850, which is catering to the faithful; and the two A7 Mark III models that are as good enough but smaller and cater to the downsizer. 

It's not that capable DSLRs aren't selling. They are, and they continue to outsell mirrorless cameras. It's that slowly but surely, people are peeling off from the DSLR duopoly for one reason or another. Last Camera Syndrome folk just stop updating their bodies. Samplers don't update their DSLR but rather check out a mirrorless system to see if it's "good enough." Some Samplers turn into Leakers when they discover that the mirrorless system is good enough, and that it has some other attribute—typically size/weight—that is appealing. Downsizers just get tired of pulling their four-pound behemoth out of the closet every few months to carry along on a trip they want to document.

The only camera company that I think gets all this is Canon. (Okay, it's possible they're just iterating everything because, well, they can.) In the Canon world, DSLR users can: (1) stay with DSLR and just continue the upgrade cycle; or (2) downsize into a smaller DSLR (SL2), mirrorless (M), or compact (GX). Heck, we even have a GX, M, and DSLR set of cameras using the same APS-C sensor, so it isn't exactly image quality you're changing as you downsize in the Canon world.

If you wonder why Canon is continuing to dominate compacts and ILCs, it's simple: they dominated before and they have all the cameras necessary to keep people from leaking or downsizing outside the brand.

Yes, yes, I know that some of you are screaming at your computer/tablet/phone as you read this: "but Thom, the Canon sensors suck." No, they don't. They may not quite currently hit the levels that the Nikon/Sony sensors are reaching in terms of dynamic range, but note the words "good enough" and how many times they appear in this article, in other articles and reviews, and in customer discussions. 

Good Enough usually wins in the marketplace. There's usually a solid niche available for Better Than Others. But Good Enough is where the volume will be. 

I'll be writing about the Sony RX-100m6 and the Panasonic ZS200 this summer. I believe my conclusion will be that one of those is Good Enough, while the other isn't. Downsizers stay tuned.

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