Death of the consumer camera

We saw this coming…

Have you been to Best Buy lately? Yesterday my curiousity to see what they had to offer was overwhelming. Let it be known, I do not promote buying photo gear from Best Buy unless you are looking for the most basic consumer level equipment. The last time I needed a piece of gear they tried to sell me a 5D Mark 3, after I specifically told them what I needed and had to reiterate I was a professional who already had thousands invested in Nikon. No offense to Cannon shooters, this comes down to the sales techniques of ‘BB’ which are horrendous. I still love everything else about the place.

Walking through the aisle it’s easy to notice that the consumer camera market has plummeted over the last decade. Rewind back to 2004. Film SLR’s were still marketed to the consumer market, Nikon Coolpix was offered with 10x optical zoom, which was amazing (from a consumer point of view). Digital Zoom was major technology, but many couldn’t describe the difference between optical and digital zoom. But wait, remember how expensive 4MB memory cards were? I actually can’t remember, that’s a legitimate question.

The rise of social media, or as Gary Vaynerchuk justly describes

The current state of the internet

It has certainly changed the way we look at photography. Gone, are the days we stock up on photo paper and research the best printers for photo printing. We are a society that is more interested in the filters. I die a little more each time I here that, but it’s true. Everyone wants to post as quickly as possible. Poised for the “likes” to start rolling in, confirming we’ve done a good job.

In February of 2017, Nikon released a statement that shook up (some people) in the photography community.

This is to announce the recognition of extraordinary loss — Nikon
Nikon DL Mirrorless

When this notice was released, many thought the company was about to collapse. This was made clear by the investors, as the stock fell 14.6%. The reality is, at least in my belief, Nikon was not going anywhere profitable with the consumer market. They’ve been working on selling and developing cameras for a market that has been dead for a few years now. Perfect example is the “DL” series that was pushed back at least three times. The amount of money lost on a line of cameras that never amounted to anything will make any investor cringe.

It raises the question; what was Nikon planning to do with the series? Maybe compete with the A6000 series that Sony has produce amazing results with. But then again, Sony produces tech found in Nikon cameras. Probably something to put deep though into.

With the iPhone 6 and 6s, it was evident the consumers have made a pivot. Our cell-phone cameras now boast better dynamic ranges, better contrast and clarity then a Cannon Powershot A85 (I sold a ton when I was a teenager working at Best Buy). The basic consumer doesn’t need all the fancy equipment to get their point across. It’s smoothly fitted into their jean pockets everyday.

PowerShot series was one of the top sellers in 2005

Leica may be the quickest company to “round second base” on this issue. Most photographers can’t even afford their cameras. Maybe until now that is, if you consider a Huawei P10. The manufacturer announced a partnership with Leica to produce “Leica-style portraits” in their phones. The P10 will utilize two camera sensors. One 12 megapixel color and one 20 megapixel monochrome. It is equipped with a 27mm-equivalent f/2.2 lens. The competition of the point and shoot consumer world has crammed everything into one. Kai Man Wong posted a nice VLOG about this phone on his YouTube channel

I wouldn’t mind seeing a Nikon partnership with Apple. Don’t get me wrong, I’m always going to invest in the latest and greatest professional equipment. Cell phones have still not come close to the quality and range of our SLR’s and Mirrorless market. I am bias to Nikon, though Fuji or Sony would be a partnership to really stir the pot. Why not?

‘The best camera is the one you have with you, when you need it the most ‘

Even if your snapshot mastery is interrupted by a phone call or message notification. Technology is indisputable in its quest to make life easier. The “middle man” camera has officially died. We have the iPhone 7 that can render background blur to give a similar effect of using an 85mm f/1.8 lens shot wide open available to the everyday person. Those Starbucks snapshots are going to look better than ever. As for Best Buy, it might be time to step up the game. B&H and Adorama are killing it, along with many other smaller shops.