2015 Cameras in a Nutshell

  • Selfies
  • More pixels
  • Refined focus systems
  • Iterate current models
  • Have a full frame option in your lineup

That’s it. Everything we’ve seen so far and everything I know about what’s coming later this year all fits within those parameters. Is that enough to make you buy?

More important, is it enough to attract the next generation of sophisticated camera users?  

After a brief lapse where the camera makers all went into temporary shock thinking camera sales had peaked and might not be coming back, they’re all now rushing towards the next door of an imagined future, which is to keep replacement/updating cycles going in hopes that this defines a “bottom” to the market they can live off of. 

Canon, I think, seems to be doing about the best job of that at the moment. Virtually everything in their lineup gets replaced/updated/pushed upward in what’s looking to be about an 18-month cycle. The 5D even morphs into three cameras giving you a choice of which way to upgrade (or buy multiples ;~). 

Nikon, too, is continuing the update/iterate thing themselves, though they seem to be steering erratically (e.g. D700->D750, D300->nowhere, V1->V2->V3, etc.) on everything except the DX consumer bodies, which just seem to get another hundred tacked onto them with regularity. 

Meanwhile, another way to deal with sales and profit drops is higher prices and lower costs. Wait, what higher prices? Well, here in the US, we’re not seeing the price drops you’d expect with the yen devaluation. That’s higher prices. 

This all seems a little too formulaic and by-the-books to me. In the tech world if you do that sort of thing too long, someone comes along and busts you with total disruption. But there doesn’t appear to be any such entity going to pop into the market in 2015, so why not just execute the same old plan? ;~)

One market analyst following Nikon basically thinks that they’re just going to repeat the 1990’s all over again. In other words, keep iterating, be happy with the current market share, and do what they can to maintain it while increasing profit per product. It seems pretty clear that Nikon’s plan to derive 100b yen in revenue from medical next year is out of the question. There isn’t an entity anyone sees that Nikon could afford to buy that would give them that payback so quickly. So it’s Back to the Past. Wait, isn’t it supposed to be Back to the Future? ;~)

It’s not a terrible plan that the camera industry is following. It’s just not anywhere near an optimal one. I just don’t see anything changing from the old Canon/Nikon/Sony(Minolta) market shares any time soon, plus there’s no market growth, so…stagnation of position, basically. 

So, at the end of this year, 40% of you will be shooting with Canon ILCs, 33% with Nikon ILCs, and something like 17% with Sony ILCs. Which will let you take selfies, have more pixels, have some sort of improvement in the focus system, be derived from a current model, and are probably full frame. 

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

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