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Observations on brand penetration

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by meyerweb, Jun 4, 2012.

  1. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 5, 2011
    I recently got back from a trip of a bit over two weeks, to a number of locations in the Mediterranean. Mostly prime tourist locations. Actually, it was a Mediterranean cruise. About 2400 tourists on the ship, and stops at 10 different locations in 5 different countries where there were thousands of other tourists. I saw a LOT of people with cameras. Asians (on the ship, mostly Koreans and Japanese, but some Chinese as well), Europeans (east and west), Americans and Canadians, primarily.

    (Links to photos will follow once I have time to go through them all.)

    Anyway, I made a point of paying attention to what kinds of ILCs I saw people using. Not surprising, but Canon and Nikon are, by far, the 800 lb gorillas. Even more so that I expected. I would guess that 98 to 99% of the ILCs I saw people using had Nikon or Canon written on the front (and on the strap). Yes, that high. I was surprised, and expected to see more MILCs, but they were few and far between.

    The vast majority of the Canon's were Rebel / nnnD series bodies, but I saw a lot of 60D and 7D bodies, and more FF bodies (mostly 5Ds, but some 1Ds) than I expected. I noticed a number of Japanese tourists with Nikon 800D's (easy to spot--the strap says 800D in big letters). I'm not as familiar with Nikon's lineup as Canon's but I suspect the percentage distribution between amateur, advanced and pro bodies is similar. And this was true of Asians as well as westerners. Almost everyone carried Nikon and Canon, regardless of where they came from.

    Other than those, I noticed a very few Sony A series DSLRS (2 or 3), and a fair number of NEX bodies. Pentax bodies were more common than the Sony A series, but still very few and far between. Among m43, I noticed more Pens than Pannys (no OM-Ds) by a little bit, but not a lot of either. The most common MILC was the Nikon, mostly the J1.

    Very unscientific, I know, but I came away with the feeling that all the MILC makers really need to do a much better job at marketing their products if they really expect to make inroads against the big two, at least in the west.

    Some random impressions: the little DSLR bodies are really pretty darn small. Other than lenses, I'm not sure the typical entry level DSLR buyer is going to complain that DSLRs are "too big." If that's true, then m43 needs to market more than just "small."

    The 7D body is huge. The first time I noticed one I thought it was a 5D until I actually saw the lettering. It seems considerably bigger than my 50D.

    Not everyone who buys an 800D is going to see the benefit of all those megapixels. The two I was close enough to notice the lens had slow consumer zooms on them. I also noticed one woman shooting a 1Ds Mk III with a 28-135 consumer zoom on it. I actually talked to this woman, and she's a professional portrait photographer, so who knows.....

    Lot's of people have no idea what a lens hood is for. I had to laugh at the number of people wandering around taking pictures with the hood on backwards, as for storage.

    While there were a fair number of people taking pictures with their phones, the vast majority of people had a real camera, mostly small P&S or DSLR, but quite a few superzooms, too.

    The iPad is an absurd looking camera. I saw at least half a dozen people wandering around taking photos and videos with iPads or other tablets. To say this is not the ideal format for hand-held photography is an understatement.

    I saw a very, very few people using tripods. The first person I saw with one I thought "must be a very serious photographer." Then I noticed he was mounting a dinky little P&S camera on it, and setting it up so he could take pictures of he and his girlfriend using the self timer. I think every picture he took was of he and his girlfriend in front of some vista. If they ever break up, he's not going to have any pictures to remember his trip by. :) 

    The standard method for handheld photography with P&S bodies now seems to be to hold the camera at arms length with only one hand, squint, press the shutter release, and then see what you actually took a picture of. If you're too close or too far from your subject, don't adjust the zoom or move your feet. Bend at the waist until you guess the framing is correct. I saw one woman bent almost parallel to the ground so she could get the camera far enough from the subject. I was so tempted to walk up and say "Why don't you just take 2 steps backwards?"

    Cruise ship photographers are hacks. They wander around taking both candid and posed shots of the passengers, and then post them for sale. The number of awkwardly posed shots, and shots with the tops of someone's head or one side of their body cut off may have outnumbered the decent images. And all the candid shots are with direct, on camera flash. Not even a bounce card. When I retire, I'm going to try to get a job as a cruise ship photographer. I'm at LEAST as talented as they are. ;) 

    With the high-ISO performance of today's cameras, flashes and fast lenses are almost unnecessary. Even inside cathedrals, mosques, and other similar locations I could generally use my 7-14 f/4.

    A while back I replaced my 20mm f/1.7 with a PL 25mm. I think I may trade back. I mostly want the faster lens indoors, and often found the 25mm FOV was too narrow for what I was trying to capture. I'd love to have the 12mm f/2, but may get the 12-35 f/2.8 instead. Not as fast, but much more versatile.

    Finally, and please don't anyone take offense. Shoot the way you want to shoot. But....

    I don't understand how anyone who's ever used a camera with a good eye-level VF can prefer using the LCD to compose images. In bright outdoor light, framing is nothing but guesswork. I used the flip-out screen of my GH2 from time to time to get an angle I couldn't get otherwise, and in normal daylight I was largely guessing about framing. As one of my traveling companions said after taking a photo with his Canon P&S: "I'll have to wait to see how that turns out. I can't see what I'm taking a picture of because the sun's too bright....."
    • Like Like x 6
  2. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    I have spoken with a few cruise ship photogs, they have absolutely have no professional training. It is basically all on-the-job with a more experienced cruise photog giving instructions. (Sorta like the blind leading the blind.)

    The non-photographer consumer will buy anything that has their image. I've seen this time-and-again at soccer tournaments.

    Very interesting observations to percentage of camera ownership. Being immersed in this forum one really does realize how small a market segment µ4/3 has carved out from the entire photo equipment pie.

    Thanks for sharing ... so let's see some images.

  3. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    If cruises are your thing and you don't care about money or Legionnaire Disease ... then being a cruise ship photog may not be a bad thing (especially for a retired photographer). A real photog can not only take none-flash images of the passengers but also hold seminars to teach peoples how to use their kit lens armed dSLR's.

  4. crsnydertx

    crsnydertx Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 31, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Did you observe many/any "enthusiast compacts" (e.g., Canon G12, Olympus XZ1, Fuji X10, Panny LX5) among the P&S crowd? Always curious as to how many non-DSLR folks are in that user group.
  5. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 5, 2011
    Gary: images are coming, but I just got in Saturday night and haven't had a chance to work through them yet. The ship did offer a "digital photography" class, but I have no idea what it actually covered.

    I'm not sure I'm all that serious about being a cruise ship photographer, but it might be fun for a little while.

    And yes, I know what you mean about soccer tournaments. Pictures of the kids are priceless. I've shot more than a few soccer tournaments myself.

    Chuck: In all honesty, I didn't really look that closely at the non-DSLR, non-MILC cameras. There were just too many of them. I do remember noticing a few Canon G series, but whether they were G10, G11, G12 or whatever, I don't know. I didn't notice any G1x cameras, but that doesn't mean they weren't there.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    I don't know about a big stable cruise liner, but in general tripods are not something you want to use on a boat. On a regular sized boat you will only introduce motion through the tripod. Image Stabilization is the way to go. I'm sure with the size and stability of a cruise liner though, that a tripod could still be useful. People probably just don't want the inconvenience... I know I wouldn't.
  7. dcassat

    dcassat Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 16, 2011
    Wow, I hope you had a chance to look at the water or sites!
  8. RevBob

    RevBob Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2011
    NorthWestern PA
    I agree completely about the Ipads - ridiculous way to take photos and really hard to hang around your neck on a strap or tuck in a pocket like a camera.
    As for the VF - I used dslr's for years, both film and digital. I had no trouble adapting to the LCD, infact, I prefer to shoot that way. I have a Delkin hood over the creen that allows usage in bright sunlight even on my E-P1. I have no problem composing shots just the way I want them. I think it's a matter of personal preference. :biggrin:
  9. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 5, 2011
    I wasn't clear. The tripod was being used ashore, at some of the sites we visited.

    Oh yes. I mostly looked at cameras while moving from place to place, or waiting to go somewhere.
  10. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Oh okay! That makes a lot more sense then. ;) 
  11. Roger

    Roger Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 2, 2011
    Western PA
    Very interesting reading. You had me laughing before I finished. It is too bad that micro 4/3 isn't marketed more aggressively. I was in Washington D.C. recently (tourist area) for most of a week and only saw 2 micro 4/3's cameras.
  12. stratokaster

    stratokaster Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 4, 2011
    Dublin, IE
    Earlier this spring, I spent 8 days in Istanbul and tried to pay attention to what cameras people were using. Of course, Canon and Nikon were the most ubiquitous, but I also saw a fair number of Panasonic Micro 4/3 cameras (mostly GF-series) and several Pens (mostly E-PL1 and E-PL2). Sony NEX-series cameras were slightly less common than Micro 4/3. I also saw at least 10 people with Leica Ms, one guy with Samsung NX10 and one guy with not one, but two Sigma SD1 bodies (one had an UWA zoom mounted and the other — Sigma 50-150).

    By the way, when I was in Barcelona during the Mobile World Congress, the picture was completely different — the most common camera among journalists from various tech websites and blogs (including me) was the Panasonic GH2.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Interesting report :smile:

    For the first, as you can see, the Sony α55 is just about the same size as the OM-D E-5; so I agree, something other than size must be marketed.
    -> Compare camera dimensions side by side

    Do you laugh at MFT users without lens hoods too? :smile:
  14. M4/3

    M4/3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 24, 2011
    So what cameras do most Japanese tourists bring with them when they tour other countries? I would think the Japanese are perhaps the most camera savvy people in the world. So it wouldn't surprise me if Japanese tourists use alot more compact system cameras than American or European tourists. But I'm just guessing.
  15. stratokaster

    stratokaster Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 4, 2011
    Dublin, IE
    It is not 'about the same size' because the A55 body is more than twice as deep. And if you take lenses into account, the difference becomes even more significant.
  16. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    But then there are those Micro Four Thirds users who like to use legacy SLR & DSLR lenses - which arguably then negates a portion of the Micro Four Thirds size & weight advantage :wink:
  17. stratokaster

    stratokaster Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 4, 2011
    Dublin, IE
    I suspect this argument becomes less true every day :)  People were using legacy glass (mostly fast fifties) when there was no fast native glass available. I guess today many are skipping such lenses because of excellent Olympus 45/1.8. With the arrival of such lenses as Olympus 75/1.8 longer legacy lenses will also become obsolete.
  18. applemint

    applemint Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 24, 2012
    Was out and about again in town (Edinburgh, Scotland) this weekend and noticed exactly the same thing. Didn't see any MILCs that I can recall (although they are less noticeable obviously due to size) but wandering around places like the Royal Mile where tourists will have their cameras out and not packed away in their bag, I would say almost every ILC I saw was an SLR with about 70% Canon and the rest Nikon. Unscientific again of course, but Edinburgh is I think the second most popular tourist destination in the UK after London and there are certainly lots of tourists about at this time of year.

    By the way, back in the day when I had a film SLR the first thing I did was buy a generic unbranded neck strap - I don't like being a walking advert for a camera brand. :smile:

    There was a really interesting post I read a while ago on another forum or a blog from a UK amateur/hobby photographer who quit their day job and took up a job as a cruise ship photographer, but I had a quick Google and could not find it - it was an interesting read though and certainly eye opening.
  19. Al.

    Al. Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 3, 2010
    Hull, East Yorkshire, UK
    I too have just returned from a cruise round Italy, Sardinia and Spain and did some camera spotting too, and of the 1000's of Nikon and Canons saw one Gh2, one Pen, one leica, and 5 sony NEX......Oh and the i-pads

    The japenese tourists were laden down with DSLR's too
  20. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Installed base for entry-level DSLRs is huge. They've been selling by the millions for years before MILCs even existed, and outside of Japan, they still outsell MILCs by a large margin.

    I think it's more about replacement. Most people with entry-level DSLRs won't replace them until they die. Unlike gearheads, they get by with the camera they have and unless there's something egregiously wrong, they won't change mid-stream.

    That's probably bad news for all camera manufacturers but there it is.

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