Flings

In previous articles I’ve outlined Switchers, Samplers, Last Camera Syndrome, plus several other types of camera upgrade scenarios that have been getting more prominent in recent years. Today I introduce another: Flings.

A Fling is when you get so attracted to something other than the mount that's in hand that you become a Switcher. Only the switch turns out to be temporary, as you find something about the new system that just didn’t work out as you expected, and you want your ex back. 

Fortunately, cameras aren’t like boyfriends/girlfriends/spouses: they’ll take you back without comment or criticism or debate or acrimonious negotiations. Unfortunately, you’ll still pay a price, literally.

Flings are different than Samplers, in that Samplers stay with their mount of choice but add an option of another choice, mostly due to curiosity. Flings are full on abandonment of a system, but with an eventual return when dissatisfaction with the “new” sets in.

Flings are becoming an observable and measurable trend now. Not as big a trend as Switching, Sampling, or Last Camera Syndrome, but measurably significant. I regularly get “I’m back” reports from readers who drifted from a Nikon DSLR to something else, and then decided the something else wasn’t really serving them well.  

The D7200, D750, D810, and now D500 seem to be at the core of the former Nikon Flingers' return, which tells us that most of those who went on these Flings were in the high-enthusiast to pro range. I don’t see many dropping a D3300 or lower end DSLR and returning from a Fling. 

At the other extreme, there’s always been a very low level of constant Flinging at the very top of the DSLR market. Every time Canon and Nikon get slightly off each other’s cycles and have differing performance characteristics with the top end pro gear it seems that some pros have no loyalty to the horse they rode in on. But this is a bit to be expected: pros live in a rarified and highly competitive world where you look for any and all advantages to try to stand out. Small improvements in any kind of performance—dynamic range, autofocus, exposure, frame rate, etc.—might make the difference between delivering better results than your competitor. And pros are hard enough on equipment that they have to regularly update their battered gear. It’s also easy for Canikon to dangle incentives in front of a pro they want to attract and promote, making such pro Flings easier.

Personally, I’m not a fan of the Fling, though I understand the excitement and novelty that it produces. I don’t want to relearn UI and ergonomics, I don’t want cognitive dissonances in the controls as I shoot, I don’t care much about small improvements that will prove only temporary. I just want to concentrate on shooting, not the gear I’m shooting with. I can wait a year or two for my vendor of choice to catch up or exceed another vendor in terms of small improvements. Moreover, there’s the lens factor: I don’t want to be moving back and forth between mounts because of the sheer cost of making lens replacements. 

Still, it’s clear there are plenty of folks that went on Flings out there. You see them from time to time with a “I’ve returned to the fold” type message in any given dpreview fora. I see them regularly in my email stream. 

This is both good news and bad for the camera makers. The good news is that, once acquired and satisfied once, customers do tend to be long-term loyal. Yes, they may Sample or have a Fling from time to time, but eventually if the camera maker keeps iterating well, these folk come back. The bad news is that it is getting more and more difficult to pry a user from one mount to another permanently. This has implications on growth, because the overall sales volume is getting smaller, not larger. The camera companies would love to pry users from another mount and grab more market share, but recent history tells us that this is exceedingly difficult to do, and is measured in low single digit percentages when it does happen.

Finally, the other problematic aspect of Flings occurs within a single brand. A lot of us had a Fling with Nikon 1 for awhile, but ultimately found what Nikon was doing there just didn’t fully satisfy us. This has implications on future mirrorless offerings from Nikon that are different than the Nikon 1: those could turn out to be Fling candidates, too, rather than a permanent transfer from one type of Nikon camera to another.

So. Have you had a Fling? Did you benefit or learn something from the Fling? Are you still prone to having Flings? Are your Flings triggered by superficial or real desires? Step right up and let Jerry Springer interview you about your indiscretion...

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