Now we see through a glass, darkly...
- Apr 5, 2016
I'm trying to figure this out. It seems we now have at least two tiers of "enthusiasts."
Tier One would be comprised of people who have developed an interest in photography and are willing to invest somewhere around $1,000 to pursue that interest? Tier Two would be people with serious GAS issues who buy multiple cameras and multiple lenses and spend thousands of dollars on their hobby?
It seems to me that this is more of a continuum rather than a distinction. I don't know where the line is and I'm not sure when I crossed the line, but I'm pretty sure most people who end up in the "spending thousands" category got there through the gateway drug of one body and one lens. True not every recreational user becomes an addict, but a certain percentage do.
So, I'm trying to figure out what all this has to do with the discussion. If I understand correctly @Michael Clark seems to have a pretty narrow definition of the M line and is appalled at the idea that Canon might decide to offer a high-end "enthusiast" camera in the M line, when he believes that only the R line should be reserved for "enthusiasts." Am I close?
I'm squarely in the "I don't know what the heck Canon is doing these days" camp (which might be a camp of one). Canon might create a one-off APS-C body in the R line. Or, it might decide to keep things clean by reserving the R for full frame and the M for APS-C. I think I could make a pretty good case that drug-dealer Canon might get a lot more people addicted if they used the most popular mirrorless line on the planet (M) to entice people with a seductive top of the line M camera that would appeal of all tiers of enthusiasts.
But, heck if I know what their strategy might be.
To me the line is somewhere around the difference between folks who decide to buy a ("a" as in "one") "real" camera to take photos of the things they do anyway and the places they would already go as they live their lives as contrasted with other people who buy cameras and lenses (MANY lenses), and then decide to go certain places and do certain things, which are places and things they probably wouldn't otherwise go to and do, primarily in order to take photos.
Pretty much everyone you describe in your first paragraph falls into the second group in the paragraph immediately preceding this one. But the first group is who are buying the majority of cameras. They're who are buying the vast majority of EOS M cameras, too.
I'm not appalled at anything. I don't think only the R line should be reserved for "enthusiasts". It's Canon's company and they can do with it whatever they wish.
I just think Canon has made it fairly clear, through what they've offered in the EOS M line over the eight-plus years it has been in existence, what Canon wishes the EOS M line to be.
For the vast majority of those eight years the "enthusiasts" have been begging for Canon to release "a fuller range" of EF-M lenses.
They've been crying for at least a mid-level (or higher), constant aperture, walk-around zoom.
They've been constantly puzzled at the lack of a "real" telephoto lens for EOS M.
Don't you think if Canon were designing and marketing the EOS M system for those "enthusiasts" they would have already done at least some of that over the past eight years?
Instead, Canon has offered a limited but very consistent line of compact, lightweight, and affordable bodies paired with a limited range of compact, lightweight, affordable lenses that are all 61mm in diameter. Every single lens. All of 'em.
That system has quietly become the best selling mirrorless camera system in the world not because "enthusiasts" are buying them in droves but because those who, at least for the foreseeable future, want only a compact, lightweight, affordable camera and a compact, lightweight, and affordable lens or two are buying them in greater numbers than other folks are buying other mirrorless camera system. The enthusiasts and vloggers who are buying EOS M cameras and EF-M lenses, particularly those in North America or western Europe, may be making a lot more noise but they are only a drop in the bucket compared to the legions of EOS M buyers in Japan, the Pacific Rim, and even emerging markets like India.
Canon is still the company that "stays the course" and takes their time to move the rudder of their various ships and point them in different directions. I'd be really surprised if Canon alters the course of the EOS M system at the same time they are pushing their upper tier DSLR buyers into EOS R territory. Could they do that? Sure, there's always a chance. But it seems to me, based on observing Canon's history over the past four decades, that it is highly unlikely they will go that route at this time.
As to the "certain percentage" who start out in the "one body - one lens" camp and go on to be what I call enthusiasts: I'd say it's probably well less than two or three percent of those who at one time or another buy a "real" camera. It's almost certainly less than five percent. And, truth be told, most of us that do later get much more into photography in terms of how much gear we own would have bought more when we started out if we could have afforded more when we started out. I sure would have!
Of all of the people I know through non-photography related connections, such as family (including extended family like cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and such), grade school, high school, college, various non-photography related jobs, church, local social circles, friends of family members, family members of friends, etc. there are dozens upon dozens who at one time or another bought either a single SLR and one or two lenses during the film era or a single entry level digital body and the kit zoom that came with it and maybe one or two other lenses (a nifty fifty and/or a 55-250 or practically "free" 75-300?). Among those hundreds of people in my life who bought cameras, there's only two that I know of who have bought more than one interchangeable lens camera body in, say, any ten year period - and I'm one of those two folks.
Just look at the difference between the number of Rebels sold over the years versus the number of 1D, 5D, 7D, and even x0D cameras sold. Just look at the number of compact "point and shoot" cameras sold in relation to the number of DSLRs sold between around 2000 and 2010 when no one could make digital cameras fast enough to sell what the market wanted. It's a very wide pyramid, with the base being much larger than the peak.
Phone cameras have all but replaced compact point and shoots. That was at least 75-80% of the digital camera market during the digital photography explosion.
Micro Four-Thirds, EOS M, Fuji APS-C, and Sony APS-C has replaced a LOT of the Rebel/D3x00/"other" (Pentax, etc.) APS-C DSLR market, especially outside of North America where entry level APS-C DSLRs still sell in significant, though greatly reduced, numbers. Even with the huge drop in sales for those types of cameras, those types of ILCs still outsell all FF ILCs. That was another 15-20% of the digital camera market during the heyday of digital camera sales.
Sony α, Nikon Z, and Canon R are transitioning many mid to upper level DSLR users to FF mirrorless. But those were only about 5% of the total market at the peak in around 2010.
We are not the typical buyer, even today, of interchangeable lens cameras! Stop thinking that everyone that ever buys a single ILC will eventually get GAS and want to "transition" to higher tier cameras like we did! Very few actually do.