memory storage cards will soon hold 1,000GB Over the last five years, memory cards have not been able to keep up with popular usage patterns in phone, camera and PC media. Phone cameras, in particular, have been getting far better for both stills and videos.
It’s not unusual now for an ordinary person to shoot a few different videos on a daily basis, using up 100MB (0.1GB) of their phone or camera’s 16GB or 32GB storage memory in the process. This has been a great boon to companies like Dropbox and iCloud, both of which now make ever-increasing sums from people’s monthly cloud storage subscriptions.
To tackle this, some phones allow you to put a MicroSD memory card into the phone to hold photos or videos. But even then, most cards are limited to 32GB or 64GB, which fill up quickly for people taking a lot of pictures. Sandisk chose IFA to unveil its newest memory card, which has a whopping 400GB of storage in a little plastic thing the size of your little fingernail. While this won’t initially be cheap (costing well over €100), the good news is that this will make still-hefty 128GB MicroSD cards cheaper, with prices now already falling below €50 (the equivalent of five months’ cloud storage fees with Dropbox). Nikon had arguably the smallest tent in the whole conference, manned by two people and a handful of D850 cameras (with no battery grips or new lenses). When I visited it, there was no-one else going near it. Even BlackBerry had more visitors.
Fujifilm, which is one of the few camera companies actually holding its own in the market, skipped out on the event too.
The message the camera market is sending out is a desperate one – it’s sinking and its biggest practitioners can barely afford to take out a stand at the world’s most important trade fairs.
Even if they can afford it, they don’t think anyone will be bothered to go over and look at their wares, which are starting to take on the aura of niche professional machines rather than fun devices to tempt a mass market.
To be fair, both Panasonic and Sony had plenty of camera equipment, lenses and other optical gear on site. But that was only as part of their giant enclosures which featured everything else from TVs and fridges to smart home speakers.
Ironically, talk of cameras dominated some of the launches at IFA – but it was in phones and drones. Several phone manufacturers unveiled dual camera models at the event, while DJI hyped up the large enhanced cameras on its new Phantom 4 Pro Obsidian model. This is sadly typical of the global trend. Cameras are now spoken about and measured in conversations about phones, not standalone DSLRs, compact or mirrorless devices.
In a vicious circle that will accelerate the departure of cameras from the mainstream, camera manufacturers are now paying less and less attention to ordinary consumers and retrenching to professionals or wealthy hobbyists. As such, while the price of most tech goods is going down, the price of new cameras is going up, with fewer and fewer major launches focusing on sub-€1,000 models.
are finally starting to pipe