Well, maybe we should all jump off of a cliff...

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Fmrvette, Aug 5, 2013.

  1. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Real Name:
    Kirk Tuck has a...ummm....somewhat downer view of the camera market in toto going forward...

    The Visual Science Lab / Kirk Tuck: Has the bubble burst? Is that why camera sales in N. America are down by 43%?


    Maybe I'm not the target audience for this article, although it seems to be aimed less at pros and more at hobbyists.

    I don't disagree with the P&S vs. smartphone - but the rest of the article just seems...depressing. Like we've come to the end of the road for hobbyist photography and it's time to take up something less expensive, such as collecting used aircraft carriers.

    Perhaps my perspective is in the minority; I don't shoot for others (except, of course, for the Princess of the Exchequer), I shoot for myself; I don't really care about technical expertise, "close enough" is "good enough"; I don't share (many) photos on the web (my FlickR account is anemic by any standards); and I print my "keepers" and put 'em on the wall.

    And perhaps, just perhaps, DSLR sales are down because most folks who want one have one and in the current economy see no reason to "upgrade" for the sake of upgrading. If your mom 'n pop whiz bang 16meg camera with kit lens will capture little Johnetta at her soccer match then are you likely to fork over more cash for another camera that will do...exactly the same thing?

    I've two friends, one has a D80 :eek: and the other a D3100 - and neither are prospective customers for upgrading. They bought a few lenses, a flash each, and are good to go for the foreseeable future. In the year(s) that they made the purchases they were chalked up as "DSLRs sold" - and now they'll be shown as a "drop" in DSLR sales because they ain't bought one lately???


    In Ye Olden Days if you bought a Nikon F 35mm SLR body and were a hobbyist, there is very little chance you would have needed to replace the body within a year or two. Or five. Or ten.

    We have been on the digital "longer/lower/wider/faster/better" merry-go-round for the last decade when true progress was being made in imaging quality on (seemingly) a monthly basis. Now we have finally arrived at a point where a medium priced camera body and a medium priced kit lens will garner "good enough" images - and suddenly the hobby is over???

    Good grief.

    It's no more "over" than it was when the Pentax K-1000 and a great lens could rival what the "pros" did with their professional Nikon bodies. A hobbyist with a K-1000 and suitable lenses did not have to replace the body every year.

    One might argue that the film progressed in Ye Days of Yore and that hobbyists could change the film rather than the body, unlike today when changing the "film" means changing sensors, which entails a new body.

    Not so, Grasshopper. :biggrin:

    How many hobbyists stuck with Tri-X for decades? Or 64 ASA slide film? Or Kodak ASA 100 color film? Sure, it might have been fun to try out the latest Fuji or Kodak to see what was up with that but most folks that I knew in the 1960's and 1970's had a favorite film that was (again) "good enough". Same thing with sensors.

    Nikon and Canon (and Olympus and Pentax) all survived when camera bodies were purchased as long term possessions - and they will continue, IMHO, to survive when the diaspora of the digital revolution in camera technology has slowed to a trickle.

    I'm with my friends who have the "older" Nikon bodies above - my E-M5 does what I want it to do and until it breaks and the repairs are not cost efficient I doubt that I'll be in the market for a new camera body.

    I like the way Mr. Tuck writes but I think he is reading too much into the sales numbers.

    If Olympus or Panasonic or (enter your favorite manufacturers logo here) go belly up - then the market will constrict and folks will migrate to the remaining possibilities on an as-needed basis.

    If Olympus goes out of business at noon tomorrow I won't be headed up to Woodward Camera to buy all new Nikon gear. My E-M5 would continue to function until it failed and then I would make a reasonable decision as to a replacement kit.

    And if ALL of the manufactures fail or if the few remaining sources of supply run the prices up to unaffordable levels...

    Well, there's always that used aircraft carrier market to investigate.


    Just my 2 cents on a Monday afternoon, full worth at least half of that.


  2. rklepper

    rklepper Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 19, 2012
    Iowa, USA
    Real Name:
    I find it unlikely that any of the players will "fail" more likely be bought by another conglomerate. Seems the way of inks.

    But you are correct. Anyone who just wants a photo for Facebook is probably using a cellphone and not a "real" camera. Just has to figure into sales.
  3. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Real Name:
    One of these dark, dreary days I'm going to be up for renewal on my phone contract and they're gonna tell me that they only have smartphones available, that my dumb flip phone has gone the way of the rotary dial...:biggrin:

    It does have a camera...I just don't know how to use it, or get the photos off if I should happen to figure out how to make a photo. As a camera it makes a pretty good flash light :biggrin:.


  4. stratokaster

    stratokaster Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 4, 2011
    Kyiv, Ukraine
    Real Name:
    I think Kirk Tuck is absolutely right.

    There are many people who equal camera performance to artistic merit. There are folks who are so worked up about cameras that they feel mortally offended when somebody dares to criticize the camera they happen to own or have owned in the past. There are some examples even on this forum, although the situation here is much better than, say, on DPReview.

    Of course, such people existed even in the film days, but digital gave them power to measure and quantify differences between cameras, as well as something to brag about. As the craze subsides, those people will probably move along to greener pastures.

    It also has something to do with the nature of photography as art. At first it seems that photography is the art for the masses: no need to learn to draw, to sing, to play a musical instrument. One press of a button and you have a perfect impression of the scene you behold. Isn't it magnificent?

    Then comes a sudden realization that simply pressing the button is not enough. You still have to master composition, lighting and post-processing, and this is a difficult thing to do. Finding your vision is even more difficult. Suddenly photography turns out to be one of the most difficult genres of art precisely because it seems so simple on the surface. It's easy to take a technically excellent shot, it's hard to take a meaningful one.

    At this point, many photographers start feeling deceived. They've seen the pros and renowned art photographers at work and they seemingly do the same thing: press the button. It seems effortless. Why are their results so much better?

    The truth is that this effortlessness is false. Pros and fine art photographers are leveraging their years of training and experience to create pictures. I once saw an old artist at work who was doing quick sketches. He would draw just 3 or 4 lines and create an instantly recognizable and highly accurate portrait. It seemed both magical and effortless, but of course only the artist himself knew how many hours of hard work it had taken him to achieve this level of "effortless" mastery.

    This is why camera sales are dropping. People who want something to brag about are getting less and less return on investment as differences between older and newer cameras become less pronounced. Aspiring artists understand that their own skill is more limiting than performance of the camera. And people who just want to take beautiful pictures don't care about new cameras because their old ones are still going strong.
  5. Just Jim

    Just Jim Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 20, 2011
    *sigh* tempted... I Know I shouldn't click this buuuut.


    hmm.. yup. *yaaaaawn, typey type type* dude is cynical and typically annoying; check it's Tuck Time...

    *back to reading*

    This is photography, it's always been like this for over a hundred years. Who had the best enlarger, who had the best enlarger lens, who had the best paper, film, camera, emulsion, grain, grain size, grain quality, developer, jobo or trays, recipes, lens, body, autofocus, battery life, memory speed, sensor size, format, cmos or ccd, interpolation, it has gone on and on and on. ...And will go on and on. In what form? Who knows.

    Only one thing is the same, it's not a poor mans hobby to be good. And I'm sorry, an Iphone, a $500 phone that requires data and most likely internet service all totaling around $100+ a month to use, is not a plebian activity either. There is no democratization that will bring photography to everyone going on. All that's different is HOW we share, and regrettably... the lack of permanence. They're always there, by the thousands, and no one cares, most are bad for all of us, and good for increasingly few of us. Filed away on Facebook like the family slideshows of yesteryear sitting in our elders basements where no one cares. To be honest, if ten people look at a picture for 30 seconds or 300 people look at them for 3 seconds... what's the difference? Most pics die in ennui.

    The standouts will always come up, and be admired by larger groups. That's art. The proffessionals will always be crafty, and have a great way to conduct profitable business. The hobbyist will always be around sharing what they have, enjoying what they do, and if no on likes but their friends and family. They still won't give a damn because they had fun, like 100 years ago.
  6. AerialFilm1

    AerialFilm1 Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 15, 2012
    Wekiva, Florida

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  7. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Real Name:
    But Pavel, that wasn't what I gathered out of Mr. Tuck's article. For me the operative sentence he wrote is:

    "The vast majority of buyers of all cameras, DSLR's, mirror less, high end compacts, etc. were hobbyists and amateur photographers who, after years of pursuing some sort of competence in the craft have come to the conclusion that the whole art genre of photography is somewhat of a dead end."

    So my take away was (and is) that his reason that DSLR sales have slumped is because photography just isn't worth the trouble, it's a dead end.

    And that's where I take issue. I don't think one can estimate the health of the hobby simply by tallying camera body sales.

    And that, to me, seems to be the thrust of Mr. Tuck's position - that hobbyists have reached a "dead end" and are no longer reaching for their wallets.

    I think sales have been abnormally high for the last decade because technology has improved the breed so rapidly. Now that existing gear is "good enough" hobbyists are using what they already own and are not so willing to jump on the next new edition.

    I don't consider photography, as a hobby, to be at a 'dead end' - but neither am I going to rush out and buy the LX-7 when my E-M5 fits my requirements so well.

    The fact that I'm not (and others are not) reaching for a credit card seems to be, in Mr. Tuck's opinion, the death knell of the hobby. And in that opinion I think Mr. Tuck has left the path of wisdom.


  8. ajm80031

    ajm80031 Mu-43 Regular

    It's pretty obvious we're going to have less manufacturers in the photographic market. Profits are down for everyone, and nonexistent for most of the smaller players. With a 43% drop in sales, some of the marginal players have to be thinking of getting out. They'd be stupid not to. Losing money every year is not a way to run a business.

    If Kirk Tuck is correct that the drop-off in camera sales is because of people who seriously got into the hobby mostly to own/master the latest and greatest gear, well, those people are unlikely to have created much in the way of inventive or meaningful finished images. The impact on the amount of quality work being generated (photographs worth looking at for reasons other than just marveling about the sharpness or lack of noise at high-ISO) will be relatively minimal. Those of us who are more interested in the finished images than the gear will have less choices of what to buy, but so long as 3-4 manufacturers stay in the market most of us will likely still be able to find something that's a reasonably close match for our needs/preferences/budget.

    I just hope the remaining manufacturers don't get hyper-conservative and all settle on the same three or four product niches. We still need variety, still need players trying to make inroads into the Canikon stranglehold on sales with innovative new products. Without real competition from below, there's little incentive for the big players to innovate.

    It's a bit of a quandary for those of us who have jumped on the mirrorless bandwagon, especially in the U.S. The market share for mirrorless has flattened out at a level that's still pretty low, and some of the manufacturers who are currently in this market segment may decide to leave in the near future (like Canon has apparently done with their EOS-M line, at least in the U.S.) Our existing cameras won't suddenly stop working if our manufacturer/system of choice goes out of production, and used lenses will be available for a long time, but it would mean the cessation of further lens and camera development for that particular system.

    Which horse to bet on in the mirrorless space if you want a system that will continue to be developed in the long-term? Your guess is as good as mine. I've currently got a foot in two camps, Micro 4:3rds and NEX, and hope I haven't bet wrong on both of them...
  9. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Real Name:
    And in my case it's not a poor man's hobby to even strain for mediocrity :biggrin:.

    A few years ago my wife and I did a 13 day trip to Alaska, and another couple went along.

    I bought a then-new-to-the-market Nikon D70S with associated kit. The other fella brought his somewhat battered, older than skunk stink Pentax K-1000 with a couple of lenses and a brick of Tri-X.

    I made more images - but even taking processing into account he spent a LOT less money. Some of his images were quite good (although he brought the wrong lens on the whale watching trip and had to rely on copies of my images for his scrapbook).

    I don't know how many shutter activations that Pentax has but it's gotta be...a couple of gazzilion :biggrin:.

    My buddy spends no money on gear (hey, he already owns a camera and some lenses, right?) so the only expense to him is film and processing. Certainly not negligible, but neither is he a spendthrift. He just doesn't shoot as many images as I do (although his keeper rate is probably higher, he's a better photographer than am I).

    If Mr. Tuck based his prognostications on my friend's purchase record then the hobby of photography "ended" around 1997. Of course Kodak would still be going strong selling Tri-X. :biggrin:


  10. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Real Name:
    Ah, that's simple AJM!

    Buy whichever one I don't.


    My track record of backing the wrong horse is something wizard.


  11. Dave Jenkins

    Dave Jenkins Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 28, 2010
    The beautiful northwest Georgia mountains
    Real Name:
    Dave Jenkins
    There's an old saying that if you're not making it look easy, you're not doing it right.

    I think the days of upgrading for better image quality are mostly past. Truth is, we had enough image quality with the Canon 5D. Now, for myself at least, given that level of IQ, I'm only interested in upgrading for smaller/lighter/clearly better in some useful way.
  12. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    :biggrin: :thumbup:

    Yes. And there's massive spare cash, and the technology is exciting, and tactile and the results are EASY.
    The natural levels of camera purchases should be way lower than they are.
    Actually I predict still more rising sales, just in China from now on, then later India.

    I have eight EIGHT cameras within arms reach. Only TWO of these registered on sales tallies, and only one was bought by me, new.
    Falling sales? Pfffft. Irrelevant.
  13. RnR

    RnR Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 25, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    I have to agree. A far better proxy would be the trend in images added to mu-43.com, 500px, smugmug, etc. Not sure if those numbers are available though, so could be hard to write an emotive blog article on them...
  14. ccunningham

    ccunningham Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 23, 2010
    You wouldn't mind making a quick rundown of the gear you currently own and are planning to buy, just for, y'know, the sake of discussion, would you?

    I know that feel, bro. I switched to the Maxxum system in 1990 (I got a steeply discounted 9000 and prime kit from the store I worked at, because the 9000 had been discontinued. I really wanted a N8008s, but sheesh, it cost over twice what I paid for my 9000.) Minolta got out of the camera business what, a little over a decade later? I still have my 9000 and 600si bodies and like four or five lenses. Tried the A100, didn't like it, couldn't afford the A700.
    I wanted something that just worked, and I didn't have trouble finding locally when I needed something, so gradually switched back to Nikon after trying Canon and Pentax briefly, then added an E-P1 some years later.
  15. ajm80031

    ajm80031 Mu-43 Regular

    Since you still have some Minolta glass, I've got a K-M 7D with very low usage I'd be happy to sell to you. It even has the permanent fix for the 'first black frame' problem applied to it. Surely a collector's item! :smile:
  16. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    As you all jump off the cliff together, please leave your camera bags a good ways from the edge. Camera sales have no bearing on my desire to take photos. That fire burns eternally, sometimes dim, but always present.
  17. goldenlight

    goldenlight Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 30, 2010
    Real Name:
    So very true, Jim. For too long manufacturers have had us on a merry-go-round of annual upgrades as in that period of time real advances in technology have been made. Now the technology has matured and current generation cameras are, as you say, good enough. Barring accidents or unrepairable faults I can forsee my E-M5 lasting me many years. Why should I upgrade now that I have the camera I want?
  18. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Real Name:
    It is funny, though, that we have articles comparing GAS to drug addiction and articles about how we're all bored and moving on.:smile: I'll admit though, the E-PL5 was a breakthrough for me in terms of IQ, which, oddly enough, was 16 MP. What's left?

    1. AF with better tracking.
    2. An EVF equivalent to the older SLR optical VFs.
    3. Even higher iso capabilities. Disney at night still causes me trouble.

    Still, where I am now is pretty good and I'm probably the weakest link.
  19. woof

    woof Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 18, 2011
    The present.
    Still shooting mine, as well as a 1957 Asahi Pentax Original. Those are the last cameras I ever really "needed." The rest have been more akin to "wants" or desires.

    I said some thing like this at some point... perhaps a little more callously... and was kind of chided for it. I agree wholeheartedly though. Yes, it WOULD be a shame. But I'd know just what to do. Nothing. Olympus going out of business would change the EM5 not one bit and the excellent glass I have would remain so until I got my ROI a decade down the line. Hell, it'd probably net a major buying opportunity for some of the glass I'd like to have but cannot justify.

    At the point that it died or no longer owed me anything I might set it with the Nikons and Pentaxes and get something like a Nikon or a Pentax. Heh.

    Well maybe a Nikon since the predictions of Pentax' demise have been hot and heavy since at least 2006 when I purchased a K10D. Those rumors really MUST be true - after all, I found them on the Internet! (Sarcasm NOT directed at OP).

  20. Just Jim

    Just Jim Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 20, 2011
    The K10D is still a stunner of a cam IMO. That thing at low ISO's is nothing short of fantastic. My mom has one and that thing is STILL sizzling at iso 100.