An example of mirrorless losing to DSLRs

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by pdk42, Feb 28, 2014.

  1. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    A good friend of mind decided recently to get himself a "proper camera". He tapped my brains for what to buy and of course I plugged mirrorless and u43 in particular (by way of context, I've been a keen amateur since my teens back in the 70s and have been through many systems, including about 6 years with Canon DSLRs). What did he buy? - a Nikon D3100.

    Why didn't he buy mirrorless? - two reasons:

    - Price. Nikon was £300 with kit lens. Nearest Oly is the OM10 at twice that price.
    - Image. The Nikon looks more like what he thinks a serious camera should be.

    I think this sums up the real impediments to greater u43 penetration, at least in the UK (and I think the US too). Both need addressing.
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  2. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    well he is buying a model that has been superceded twice, and is 3-4 years old - it is obviously priced to clear old stock - so comparison with OM10 is a little unfair.

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  3. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    I think the reasons are, in positions 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, price. And then everything else for most people. And to be honest, for quite a few incidental shooters, a DSLR is probably the better option. Backpackers and other (ultralight) travellers who want optimal flexibility, on the other hand, are almost all better served by a mirrorless system. Unless they have a sherpa to carry around the heavy, high-quality glass. I suspect my full Africa travel setup will only be 4-5 lbs heavier than just my camera gear was for South Africa. And the focal range coverage will be greater, with faster aperture glass.
  4. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin .

    Oct 9, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    I was doing a little research for a co-worker recently who was considering an entry-level DSLR and I found that, as long as you compare cameras of the same vintage, the Panasonic G series cameras (being the most DSLR looking cameras in m4/3) where price competitive with cameras like the Nikon D3xxx and Canon 600/650/700D when comparing equivalent lens kits. Heavily discounted older stock that has been priced to clear will always be anomalies when it comes to value comparisons.
  5. betamax

    betamax Mu-43 Regular

    May 7, 2011
    NSW, Australia
    Real Name:
    I've had similar experiences with people returning to photography, who had it as a hobby in school. They're all after something that looks like a DSLR. Chuncky grip. Hump. EVF. And the modern look.

    Maybe the E-Ms could be based on the SP-100 and leave the small diminutive look to the Pens.

  6. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Its not a us versus them. I don't see the story as mirrorless loosing out. What I see is a consumer buying what fits them and their needs.

    The biggest benefit MFT brings to the table is a balance between features, quality, and most importantly size. We have to be honest with ourselves. Not everyone places a high priority on size. For many years, I didn't. Of course my life was different back then and so were my priorities.

    Just be happy you have a good friend to share photography with.
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  7. Jimwest

    Jimwest New to Mu-43

    Jan 20, 2014
    I have very similar experiences and like you I suspect the situation in the US is much the same.

    I also was trying to convince a friend to go mirror-less for his first camera I suggested a EM5/GX7 but he scoffed at the £700-800 price, I then suggested an E-PL5 at £450. In the end after directing him to DXO mark he bought a Nikon 3200 for £320 nearly 30% less than the E-PL5 for a camera which probably has better or equal IQ/viewfinder/established system and large sensor format.

    M-4/3 does not really compete on price at entry level unless you buy the older models, but these are not available from High Street Shops. Panasonic/Olympus have done very little to really tell consumers what their product is/where it fits in etc. In the western world markets DSLR is synonymous with "serious camera", the average person who doesn't read endless internet forums/reviews/stats has no real reason to buy a relatively un-established format which is more expensive than the alternative established system product. Perhaps the only real compelling argument is size, but I find most people are happy to carry a DSLR for a holiday/event and can always use their smartphone if they do not have their DSLR with them.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't see this as an M43 vs DSLR thing. It's just curious that so little has been done to market the system products to the masses. It may in fact be deliberate from Panasonic/Olympus, perhaps they would rather have a smaller market share of dedicated users which can support higher priced products and greater margins rather than trying to race to the bottom and compete with Canon/Nikon in absolute market share/pricing terms.
  8. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    This is exactly the issue as I see it. I'm not saying that there's no place for DSLRs, but if u43 is to succeed longer term, we need greater market penetration and in volume terms that means at the lower end. Changing beginners' expectations that "serious cameras" needn't look like DSLRs is part of it, but that will only happen if they can buy competing u43 kits at prices similar to the D3200s and 600Ds of this world. That means £300-£350 in the UK. There is no u43 camera with kit lens at that price. The e-m10 is £700 and the GX7 about £800. Even an E-PL5+14-42 is around £450 and it'll be hard for debutants to be convinced that that is a "serious camera".
  9. AceAceBaby

    AceAceBaby Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 21, 2013
    It doesn't look like a format/form factor debate to me. It looks like the friend bought the cheapest possible ILC in the store. If it had been a Canon or an Olympus on the day, it probably would have been bought.
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  10. Andym72

    Andym72 Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 4, 2013
    Reading, UK
    I'm not surprised. Did you read the interview with the Nikon execs that was posted to DP Review last week?

    They tested US consumers, showed them a DSLR and a Mirrorless (I'm assuming Nikon models with the badges removed) and told them they had the exact same image quality. The US consumers still went for the DSLR, when they asked why they were told "bigger is better". They didn't ask "why is bigger better", but I'd be willing to bet the answer would be "pros use big cameras". There was also some mention of Europeans seeing DSLRs are "status symbols".

    Both of these are examples of perceived prestige, the "Halo Effect" cognitive bias. DSLRs are a "proper camera" (I'm putting this is quotes because personally I think statements like this are bull, but it is an all too commonly held belief).

    And yes, price is an issue, but I think more people in the US and Europe get that miniaturisation comes with a price premium, but they are not prepared to take a 100% price premium.

    How are Panasonic and Olympus going to sort this out? I'm not sure, but it would seem Sony were onto something with their A3000 - small DSLR form factor and pared right down to the bare minimum to get the price low (although I think Sony went a little too far on that front, the EVF on the A3000 is like watching a slideshow!).
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  11. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    I don't even recommend m43 when asked by friends which camera to buy. It's way too expensive and for serious enthusiasts only who are willing to invest in quality lenses. Can't imagine amateurs fiddling with Oly menus or dealing with subpar Pana colors and skin tones. I sway them to Sony RX100 which I myself enjoy. Outstanding colors and sharpness right out of camera. Two friends of mine bought it at my suggestion and could not be happier with the results. I don't recommend DSLRs to anyone cause they simply won't be used. They stay at home 90% of the time. For me, m43 is the best balance of size, quality, flexibility, etc. but it's very expensive compared to established DSLRs. Regular people don't pixel peep, budget Nikon 35mm f1.8 is just as good as Olympus 17mm f1.8 for way lower price. with better tracking for kids.
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  12. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Real Name:
    I think there are a couple of issues that complicate the analysis.

    • The UK is the place where Olympus is probably the least price competitive. I have no idea why, but it's been the case for at least 5-6 years. In the US, low-end m4/3 is price-competitive with low-end DSLRs. $390 for the D3100 kit vs. $400 for the E-PM2 kit.
    • Nikon in particular has a huge stock of older generation bodies. The D3100 is 3.5 years old. It's been replaced twice, first by the D3200, then by the D3300. If you go back 2 generations in m4/3, the bodies are pretty cheap too. But you won't be able to find them new in stores.
    • While it's true that sales at the low end drive volume, it's also true that low-end buyers are the least profitable, not just because margins on entry-level equipment are lower, but entry-level buyers stick with what they get - they tend not to buy additional lenses and other accessories. Success for m4/3 means profitability, which is much easier to achieve selling GH3s and E-M5s than GF6s and E-PM2s.
    • The expectations game is hard to win because it requires sustained marketing to a huge audience. That said, I think the explosion of cellphone camera use is going to erode the notion that you need a 'big' camera to get good images. The problem is that argument will apply to a degree to all dedicated cameras in the long run.

    I do think one thing that could help would be a bundle of a low-end mirrorless camera with a detachable EVF and grip. It'll look like a small DSLR, but you can convert it to a P&S when you like.
  13. Droogie

    Droogie Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 23, 2013
    Washington State
    However that doesn't ring true (the Sony recommendation) as the Sony RX is way more expensive then any entry level M43.
  14. spatulaboy

    spatulaboy I'm not really here

    Jul 13, 2011
    North Carolina
    Real Name:
    I have at least three people ask me for advice on cameras. In all cases I recommended m43 because it really does fulfill their needs. Everyone of them ignored my advice and bought Nikon DSLRs (3 and 5k series).

    The number of times I've seen them out with their cameras: Zero. When asked why they aren't using them: Camera's too big. :doh:
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  15. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Lumix G3 kit is current with your friend's choice,
    G5 kit is pretty cheap too. (or are there rules to this discussion that I'm missing?)

    "Mirrorless losing to DSLRs" just doesn't gel in my mind at all. I do see your point but I think its a ridiculous concept.

    Edit : I just checked CameraPriceBuster and there's a G5+Kit zoom for £249.00
    even cheaper than I expected!
  16. Subsonic

    Subsonic Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 24, 2013
    Real Name:
    I've used a computer analogy when trying to explain to folks the benefits of a mirrorless vs. a DSLR: A mirrorless camera is like an ipad, a DSLR is like a desktop computer.

    Desktop computers are giant, old fashioned behemoths leftover from a fading computer age. Only business/power users and old people buy them anymore. ipads are so much more portable, useful, modern, fun, cool, etc.

    DSLR's are giant, old fashioned behemoths leftover from a fading digital camera age. Only business/power users and old people buy them anymore. Mirrorless cameras are so much more portable, useful, modern, fun, cool, etc.

  17. dogs100

    dogs100 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 12, 2011
    N Devon UK
    Real Name:
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  18. Bull Winkle

    Bull Winkle Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 5, 2014
    I spent 2 years reading and asking questions about camera's before I left the land of point and shoot. I never had anything beyond cheap camera's my whole life. So even though I'm what my friends call me a "tech guy" ILC's were intimidating. I didn't have a close friend to mentor me when making this purchase. The friends who did have nice camera's were helpful in making my decision. I based my decision on size/portability, available lenses, and price. I only recently gotten my camera a E-pm2, it came with both kit zooms for 399.00. This camera was attractive because of it's size (it's really small) size of the sensor (from what I've read one of the best), and the availability of lenses, including the kit zooms that came with the camera (14-42 and 40-150). Size is important, I asked my friends how often they use their camera and what they told me helped me. They rarely take their camera out with them whether it's at the friends for holiday, family outings, day hikes, you name it. The camera and it's associated gear is too big. One friend told me it's like taking along another child that can't take care of themselves. I take my camera on my dog walks, it's so small, it will be in my backpack on overnight outings, I am still amazed at what they've managed to do putting so much capability in such a small and light piece of gear. And now why I picked the E-pm2, remember I told you I come from the land of point and shoot? That little camera is made for people such as myself, who know nothing about this craft. I've gotten started right away, using the auto setting, but I am also reading, both online at blog sites, this forum, and anywhere else about other manual settings, and although this might not be "the" camera for full manual shooting, it will do it through the menu, and when I can step off that bridge I will have fewer feelings of intimidation and hopefully be further along than where I started. My next camera if it comes down to that will be even an even more informed decision. Size does matter, it's that consideration that dropped me off on the doorstep of the m43 format. Good day.
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  19. sebs_color

    sebs_color Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 5, 2014
    Virginia Beach, Virginia
    Real Name:
    I'm new to u43 and I honestly had the choice of buying something like the d3100 or (what I ended up buying) the EPM2. It wasn't hard for me to find info quickly on u43 and I had never even heard of it just 3 months ago. Now it's all I read about and want to learn about. To me, u43 Olympus advertisement did an alright job attracting me into this.
  20. cmpatti

    cmpatti Mu-43 Veteran

    May 8, 2011
    Berkeley, CA
    My advice to people asking about cameras is similar. Modern cell phones probably best meet the needs of most users whose top priority is image sharing rather than image quality. For people wanting to step up from phones, I generally recommend the compact of the hour. I tend to recommend mFT only to photo enthusiasts who already have large DSLRs.