Now we see through a glass, darkly...
- Apr 5, 2016
Apologies in advance for the length of this post. Just pointing out a few things.
I’m not sure past sales figures are that relevant. The market has changed significantly over the past few years. Canon has significantly built out its R system and has put most of its research, development, and marketing dollars into full frame mirrorless. (As have their major competitors). Quoting sales figures for budget DSLRs is also not relevant when there is no competing mirrorless product.
Even if budget DSLRs represent the bulk of sales today, the trend lines are not moving in that direction.
Enthusiasts are driving the market today. While enthusiasts may constitute a small portion of the market by unit sales, they represent the foundation and future of the market from a revenue outlook.
Enthusiasts are the only segment that is not in decline. They have high discretionary income that is generally insulated from market fluctuations, which is why Canon, Nikon and Sony are all targeting enthusiasts.
While Mr. Mitarai stated that Canon will continue to develop and sell DSLRs, the end of the line for its flagship DSLR is not a vote of confidence in the future.
It is unlikely that Canon will be developing “L” series lenses for a non-existent camera. Does anyone believe that Canon will develop Big Whites and fast primes and zooms in the EF mount if they don’t have a flagship EF body to mount those lenses on?
I believe there is a slim chance that Canon may eventually release a “final” full frame DSLR that they can leave on the market for the next 10-20 years, just as they did with their final film SLR. It is also possible that Canon may update some popular EF lenses to reflect improved manufacturing efficiencies, but I doubt we will see new optical formulas or newly introduced lenses.
The M and the Rebel lines have an overlapping audience, but there are a couple of defining differences.
The M line is targeted to consumers who prioritize size.
The Rebel line is targeted to consumers who prioritize cost.
Combining the two into a single market is misleading.
In my view, the M line is difficult for Canon to transition to the R system, due to design limitations. Nor do I see much point in trying to do so. People who buy into the M line may pick up one, two or three lenses depending on the level of their interest and are likely, again, to prioritize size. But, an M user is not going to care about mounting a 100-500 zoom or a large, fast prime on the body.
Rebel users are price driven. If Canon decides to develop a range of R bodies that compete with Rebels for price these consumers will happily buy the R bodies. As others have pointed out, no Rebel buyer is going to care if the body is mirrorless or mirrored. In fact, most probably won’t know the difference and if the ads tell people mirrorless is better, they will buy it. (After all, it worked with enthusiasts, who delude themselves into believing they are more discerning)
There is nothing magical about the APS-C format for Rebels. Film rebels were full frame and no one ever thought they should be otherwise. APS-C was simply a cost-saving format at a time when sensors were a major cost of a digital camera body. If Canon decides to make a range of low-cost mirrorless R mount bodies (Rebels) they can just as easily be full frame as APS-C. In fact, there are some good reasons for Canon to standardize the R system as full frame, just as film cameras were all full frame. Not the least of these reasons is to eliminate customer confusion over different formats.
There is a market for an APS-C enthusiast body, but I don’t know if the market is large enough to make such a body cost effective. Only time will tell. In favor of such a body would be that the market would be enthusiasts who are not price sensitive. An R90 and/or an R7 might be worth Canon’s investment. One upside is that the R mount, unlike the EF mount, does not require special lenses, although I think a single 15-85mm lens might be worthwhile. An argument against an APS-C R is that as resolution increases for full frame bodies, there is less and less incentive to purchase a specialist APS-C body. Couple that with low-cost telephoto lenses like the 600 f11/, 800 f/11 and new 100-400 and you begin to slice that potential market into ever smaller pieces.
Quoting one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th Century:
For all except the penultimate paragraph I say, "Stop posting the facts. It leaves us with nothing to argue about."
Regarding the market for APS-C enthusiast bodies, though, I think it is precisely those enthusiasts who ARE the most price sensitive that want an APS-C RF body the most. Sure, we're not as price sensitive as the typical Rebel buyer, but we are more price sensitive than most of the enthusiasts who populate this forum as well as all others who buy 1D X series and R3 type bodies and great whites for personal use.
The big savings isn't necessarily on the body. The real savings is on the cost and weight of the lenses needed to get the same angles of view for field sports under lights (football and soccer at the less than professional or large college level) compared to a FF while preserving f/2.8 for the needed Tv.
As of about 2018 when the EOS R system was introduced:
7D Mark II + EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II = $1,699 + $2,099 = $3,798
7D Mark II + Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2 = $1,699 + $1,399 = $3,098
1D X Mark II + EF 300mm f/2.8 L IS II = $5,999 + $6,099 = $12,098 (plus you still need another body and 70-200mm for when the action gets closer at the end of the play)
1D X Mark II + Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 S = $5,999 + $3,599 = $9,598
Whether there are enough of us still around is the question only Canon gets to answer. As the demand for professionally done images of scholastic sports and similar things (school theatrical productions, band competitions, cheer competitions, etc.) continues to decline, there are fewer and fewer doing it as a side hustle or just trying to break even to support their photography habit.