Cat­a­lysts For Change

Camera - - WHAT’S NEW - Paul Bur­rows, Edi­tor

How read­ily would you change cam­era brands? We’ve dis­cussed brand loy­al­ties here be­fore, but cam­era mak­ers seem to gather ‘rusted on’ devo­tees more than just about any other cat­e­gory of con­sumer prod­uct, even cars. So what does it take to make a loyal user fi­nally jump ship? A lot, it would seem.

I sus­pect there’s a fair amount of angst among the own­ers of Aus­tralian-made Fords and Hold­ens now that their next pur­chase will have to be an im­port. If you were buy­ing Fal­cons or Com­modores be­cause you re­ally liked the fact that they were lo­cally built – and so had a unique el­e­ment of ‘Aus­tralian­ness’ – you’d now be tempted to ap­ply some other cri­te­ria to the se­lec­tion of your next ve­hi­cle… well, every model on our mar­ket is an im­port now, isn’t it? Such a big dis­rup­tion is bound to be a cat­a­lyst for change.

In the cam­era world the dis­rup­tions are gen­er­ally tech­nol­ogy-re­lated, ei­ther di­rectly or in­di­rectly, and right now it’s all about mir­ror­less cam­eras. How ap­peal­ing do the ben­e­fits have to be be­fore D-SLR users will make the switch? The likes of Sony, Panasonic, Olym­pus and Fu­ji­film must be pon­der­ing this ques­tion as Canon and Nikon con­tinue to sell D-SLRs by the truck­load. As both Canon and Nikon have been top of the ILC pops for a very long time – well be­fore mir­ror­less was a gleam in Panasonic’s eye – there’s a lot of brand loy­alty slosh­ing around here. It has to be what’s driv­ing D-SLR sales be­cause even the likes of the Nikon D850 can’t re­ally match it with, say, Sony’s A7R III or the A9. I say this as a ded­i­cated SLR user – from 35mm and 6x6cm to dig­i­tal – but there re­ally is no longer any valid rea­son for hav­ing a re­flex mir­ror… it quite lit­er­ally just gets in the way. If you’re still a ded­i­cated D-SLR user, you may well think this is heresy, but I sus­pect you won’t when both Canon and Nikon un­veil their high-end mir­ror­less cam­era sys­tems… which is now an in­evitabil­ity. It seems both are likely to main­tain as much com­pat­i­bil­ity with their ex­ist­ing D-SLR lens sys­tems as pos­si­ble so, if they can match the top-end mir­ror­less bod­ies for shoot­ing speed and aut­o­fo­cus­ing, it’ll be a no-brainer.

This is why I think both are tak­ing their own sweet time with mir­ror­less. True, it looks like Nikon prob­a­bly ini­tially mis­read the likely mar­ket (hence the ris­i­ble 1 Nikon sys­tem), but I’m cer­tain that both it and Canon have been well aware of where things are go­ing for quite a while now. Even if Sony et al are start­ing to gain some sig­nif­i­cant ILC mar­ket share with their mir­ror­less sys­tems – and Sony’s stated in­ten­tion is to be num­ber one – Canon and Nikon are still in the box seats.

How come? Well, most own­ers of Canon and Nikon D-SLRs will now sit tight and see what the im­pend­ing high-end mir­ror­less of­fer­ings look like. I can’t see ei­ther de­but cam­era be­ing any­thing less than ei­ther the A7R III or the A9 so they’ll be good, right? In which case, you can ei­ther ditch your D-SLR right away or hang on to it for a little longer, se­cure in the knowl­edge there’s a cred­i­ble mir­ror­less sys­tem wait­ing for you down the track. Sony, by the way, al­ready knows this is what’s go­ing to hap­pen and is pre­par­ing for “com­peti­tors be­com­ing more ag­gres­sive in the mar­ket” with its key ob­jec­tive be­ing to “strengthen prod­ucts”.

Of course, if ei­ther Canon or Nikon (or both) fall short of ex­pec­ta­tions, all bets will be off and brand loy­alty will stand for noth­ing so you can then ex­pect whole­sale de­fec­tions, but some­how I don’t think this is go­ing to hap­pen. There have been plenty of sig­nif­i­cant turn­ing points in the his­tory of both (I give you the Nikon F and the Canon EOS 650 just for starters), and an­other now lies just up ahead. Please fasten your seat­belts.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.