Sales of stand alone cameras have fallen yet again. Partly due to the Japanese earthquake, but I'm sure it's not just that. New models have failed to appear yes, but there is plenty of stock sitting in shops and warehouses that is finding difficulty in attracting buyers. And as I predicted some time ago, mirrorless interchangeable cameras sales are dropping as well as their DSLR equivalents. Nikon are apparently in the process of 'killing off' the 1 system, Canon and Nikon seem reluctant to risk new 'pro spec.' mirrorless launches and we will have to wait for the Panasonic GH5 and Olympus E-M1 (II) upgrades. So why in the face of this do I think this is good news?
Well first off, I don't personally see it as bad news, unlike some others. I don't have a vested interest in the success or otherwise of the stand alone camera market. This website provides only a small fraction of my income. It matters little to me whether my readership falls and it has no impact on my standard of living. But more than that I see this 'bursting of the digital camera bubble' as having some positive effects. And the following is an explanation of that.
1) The end of the cynical upgrade.
For too long now camera manufacturers have been releasing pointless upgrades that contribute little to our experience as photographers and appear to be no more than manufacturers attempts to promote dissatisfaction with what we own and make us flock to the next new shiny toy in the shops. Cameras really don't need this gimmick driven practice that serves virtually no purpose other than to make us have to change our batteries even more often. It certainly has little to do with enabling us to create better images.
2) Culling of the 'internet guru' culture.
As well as too many camera models we are certainly 'blessed' (????) with far too many blogs, review sites, YouTube 'performances and so-called 'experts'. And anything that sends these people off to contemplate another way of making a living, brings a smile to my face. Because the standard has been dropping consistently over the past few years, even though it started from an admittedly low base. The vast majority of this bandwidth clogging, poorly written and presented content is drivel. And inaccurate drivel at that. These days it seems that people don't even bother to get their facts right. They seem far too busy trying to get an invite to the next camera company junket and racking up their internet hit numbers and therefore income. And I for one would shed no tears if they all disappeared to some kind of cyberspace retirement home!!
3) Maybe the manufacturers who survive will concentrate on what they do well.
Too many companies have over extended themselves. Partly because that's what they are 'programmed' to do, partly because they all think they are Apple and partly because the corporate mentality of the electronics giants means that their arrogant ignorance in trying to achieve dominance of a market that used to be a 'gravy train' is as misguided as it is offensive. Their attempts to get us to buy into their brand identity to the exclusion of all others and the dishonest way of doing that with their web 'shills' is both repugnant and self destructive at the same time. Just how much longer will companies like Sony and Panasonic accept falling profits in their camera divisions before pulling the plug and departing the marketplace as quickly as they entered it.
4) It's still about the pictures.
Maybe, just maybe, if we do return to something resembling film camera sales levels the photographic internet might be less inclined to bicker about trivial differences between gear and concentrate on what is really important. Creating images. But then that might just be my fantasy!!