Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pentax Has Gone Insane

I, like everyone else, just got to see the official shots of Pentax's upcoming super-teeny-weeny Q-Mount camera.

As with Panasonic and Olympus, Pentax seems to think that the money is to be made in trying to net people who are upgrading from point-&-shoot cameras. I have discussed why this is wrong. But, that shouldn't be taken to claim that there is no money to be made in that market. I'm saying that there isn't a lot, and that the market is very fickle.

If you go to Flickr's Camera Finder page, you can see which cameras are the most popular. The iPhone is now the most popular camera on Flickr. Followed by four rather expensive D-SLR cameras, including a $2,500 full-format camera. The top P&S camera doesn't even crack the overall top-30! Does this sound like a market that wants crappy pictures, even in a small body?

But, you say, Flickr is the domain of photographers and enthusiasts, and of course they are primarily concerned with image quality. That's why even the "most popular P&S cameras" chart has one of the largest cameras in the category, the Canon G11. Even the iPhone is explained by photographers liking Apple products a lot.

All true.

So if enthusiasts and photographers won't be swayed, then those who buy P&S cameras must be the ones that want these things, and the Micro 4/3's cameras that have so far failed to connect with that market must be missing that je ne sais quoi that the P&S buyers want, that when introduced, will turn the market into a massive, money-generating monstrosity.

Totally false.

If that assertion were true, then the GF2, which was significantly smaller and less pro-oriented than the GF1, should have sold better, or at least as well. It did not. It sold very poorly and is positively invisible on Flickr. Panasonic's most popular camera is still the GF1, which is now two years old.

The only reason why cameras as cameras do well is because of their association with serious photography. Cameras as toys do well for other reasons. Making a super-tiny camera won't get a company anywhere. They need to appeal to all of the other things that people in that market want. They want colors and style. They want flashy advertising and the ability to slide it in anywhere, be it purse or pocket. This will NEVER HAPPEN with an interchangeable lens camera (ILC) system. It's just mechanically impossible.

But still, there are many out there who want in on the ILC game, but can't afford the crazy-expensive lenses. Even Micro 4/3's lenses can exceed $1,000 for a single lens. That is most definitely the enthusiast domain. And that's a viable point. I think a toy-like ILC might be tenable. So maybe that's what Pentax has in mind. They don't want either market. They want a new market of people who are curious about playing around with cameras.

Yeah! That's a great idea! Lenses that don't cost much more than $100 each, and a camera that costs maybe $300 would be... wait. What? The camera is going to cost $800? Are you serious? I'm Googling this...

Yes! It DOES cost $800! Is Pentax fucking insane!

Yes. They are. It's the only way to explain this.

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