(Inspired?? by a post about Sigma and Pentax appently announcing decreasing sales figures)

I've always found Pentax to be very frustrating. In my last days of film I used a couple of MZ 35mm cameras and a 645. There was then a long wait for them to get into digital. By then I'd sold my limited lenses and gone elsewhere.

It seems to take them ages to get round to anything, and of course they come up (down?) with something like the Q system. My last experience was with the K-5, nice camera but not quite as good as it could be, as I found out when I bought a Nikon D7000.

I've more or less given up on them now, and I'm not convinced Ricoh can revitalise them.

Sigma do still make some unique and useful lenses, but their camera excursions, particularly the overpriced SD1, have been a bit of a disaster. Having the boss whining on twitter about how he was sorry that the SD1 was ridiculously expensive, didn't help.

I suspect companies are just hanging on and trying to see the recession out. Those with lots of resources and other product lines like Samsung, Sony and Panasonic will presumably survive quite comfortably and the others will hope they can hang on. Some presumably will go the way of Pentax and merge.

When it comes down to it, just how many camera manufacturers do we need? When I started out it was Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Olympus and Minolta who dominated everything, with companies like Leica on the (high priced) periphery. Fuji made film and a few others knocked out some compact cameras. We now have Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, Fuji, Pentax, Sigma, Ricoh, Samsung and Leica making and marketing what might be described as "serious" digital cameras. Add in Kodak and Casio and a few others in the point and shoot market, and thats 13+ camera manufacturers competing for whats going to be a less than thriving marketplace for some time to come.

If those 13+ are all still doing what they do now in 5 years time, I would be very surprised. Kodak seem about to wave bye bye soon anyway, and Ricoh have swallowed up Pentax.

There's an awful lot of duplication anyway, and not just in the P & S market. It seems to me companies have too many cameras on sale that are just covering price points rather than catering for needs. Do we really need anything more than a beginner/basic model, a mid-range model and a high specification "pro" model in a DSLR range?

Personally I'd love to see a return to "modular" systems, whereby you can have a motordrive if you want it etc. This could even be extended to sensors.
Instead of coming up with all-in-one, everything you need in one package systems how about a camera with a choice of 12, 16 or 20MP sensors? It would save on manufacturing costs, keep product lines running longer and still provide an upgrade path. Add in choices of AF speed, buffer size, fps etc. and you could have a much more cost effective system. Car manufacturers do it, so why wouldn't it work for cameras? Save on re-tooling, advertising, packaging and probably keep more photographers happy.

For example if I own an Olympus E-P3 and I decide I want more MP's, then the only way I can do that is change brands. If I've owned my E-P3 for a while, then it may just be that I quite like it and would maybe like to upgrade to something similar, thats just got higher specification. At the moment my choice is either wait (and hope) that my company of choice comes up with the right product for me, or else switch brands. In which case I may end up being a "lost" customer.

A friend of mine once suggested that companies now want us to "join their team" and base our lives around their products. Bought it, accessorised it, got the T-shirt. Apple, bless them, are very fond of promoting the "i-life" and its not an uncommon phenomenon. Take your Panasonic card out of your  Panasonic camera, which you keep in your Panasonic bag and put it into your Panasonic TV while cooking your dinner in your Panasonic microwave, seems to be what all these companies would like us to do.

As a long term committed "non team player" I find this anathema, as I'm sure many others do. Maybe one day the people who actually run these organisations might wake up to the fact that the answer is to give us what we want intead of what they think we want.