« on: September 12, 2011, 05:02:21 AM »
I've just returned from the World Rally Championships in Coffs Harbour, Australia. Everyone had a camera, and for a motor sports event, there was a surprising amount of camera talk and discussion. I'd say that nearly one third of families had a DSLR and Canon was easily the most popular. No surprises there - Canon is No. 1!!!
What do I learn from events like this? Firstly, there is a good, general understanding of the benefits of different types of cameras. Just like you don't bring a knife to a gun fight, most people appreciate that a phone isn't the best for fast action. Its just that a small percentage of people don't care - They're just happy being at the event and they'll rattle of a few photos to show friends and family what it was like.
Secondly, many people that aren't into photography are still interested in why a DSLR performs better. I lent my camera to a few people throughout the event for a couple of passes and they were surprised by the vast difference in focus speed and frame rates. Potential future customers? Possibly.
Therefore, will compact users ever buy Canon or Nikon? Yes - of course they will. As with any other purchase, they'll weigh up the pros and negatives. But right now, if you want a camera that is more durable, performs well in low light, is better for sports, for fast focusing, then you are going with a DSLR. The majority of people contemplating an expensive camera purchase understand this. Are these benefits of a DSLR worth the extra cost, complexity and weight? Everyone has their own answer.
Therefore, my opinions...
What about compacts? In five years time, this market won't exist. Phones are already good enough.
What about mirrorless? The future is looking bright. As an owner of one myself (Olympus EPL-1), I can confirm that the image quality is at least on par if not better than a 30D. I'd suspect that it is comparable with modern DSLRs too. It is a fraction of the weight and is significantly more enjoyable to carry around. Sure, focus is a bit slower, but not dramatically so. Battery life is also woeful with about 300 shots / charge. But for an everyday use camera that will produce better results that your phone, why wouldn't you choose one?
My family camera prediction? People looking for a simple, light weight, lower cost, quality image camera will choose mirrorless. People looking for more robust performance will stick with a DSLR. Canon is the market leader in DSLRs, and there is no reason for this to change.
The end result is that Canon will lose sales by not being in the mirrorless market. But will this impact on their overall profitability given that they will retain the higher end of the market? Only a Canon exec would know the answer.