Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Abandonment of the Old Guard

I think that it's high time that everyone abandon Nikon and Canon. The various other companies on the market are pushing the boundaries of design and technology to a much greater degree. They're taking more risks. They're doing more of everything. They're the underdogs and have the least to risk, but Canon and Nikon, who have essentially dominated the digital market since it became viable, obviously have so much to risk, they're unwilling to do so. This makes them lazy.

Olympus was the first one to take a risk with 4/3's; it failed. But Micro 4/3's is proving to be a new paradigm of sorts. It already has copycats from both Samsung and Sony, and Nikon will likely be the third when they, belatedly, announce their own compact mirrorless cameras this year. Lord knows what the hell Canon is doing. They've got some big-ass laurels, and they are taking a big nap on them.

Look at Sony. Always successful in the compact market, their share of the dslr pie is minuscule. Six percent, according to Wikipedia. That's the same as Olympus. Compare this to Nikon and Canon at forty percent each. I can only imagine that their share of the top-pro market is even smaller, where seemingly every lens you see on the sidelines of a football game is Canon. Pentax is even worse off than Sony. Considering the age of their brand, and how legendary their K1000 is among enthusiasts, the fact that their market share is below five percent is really kind of shocking. They have no significant presence in any market. But suddenly, here comes a resurgent Pentax, with the best APS-C camera on the market, the first sub-$10k medium format camera, and renewed interest in their own optics. We have Olympus and Panasonic with the m4/3's market and an entirely new paradigm. We have Sony with its translucent-mirror SLR's. Even Sigma is experimenting with the Foveon sensor! Truly, the only companies on the market that haven't done anything groundbreaking are the two leaders. I think that it's time to vote with our wallets.

What I am absolutely not doing is claiming that Nikon and Canon are making bad cameras. I have a Canon EOS 20D that awakened me to the possibilities of digital photography. I love it. Nikon has grown increasingly impressive since the release of the truly stellar D3; with the D3x variant being a camera that I've never had a chance to play around with *single tear*. If anything, within the boundaries of traditional cameras, Nikon and Canon undoubtedly are making the best hardware. Their ergonomics are excellent, their lens selections are unmatched, and their second-hand markets are enormous. What I'm saying is that their reluctance to move away from that traditional model is inhibiting advancement that is happening slowly, where it could be happening quickly. And they will have little incentive to change as long as they together hold over eighty percent of the market.

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