Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Real Future Of Cameras: Up For Grabs!

I discussed in my previous post why I don't think that modular cameras will make it big in any market except for the top-pro market, where it is already succeeding, so why bother discussing it.

There is one avenue that manufacturers seem to be avoiding that certainly is the future: openess.

As we go into the future, the old models are becoming increasingly restrictive. You buy a camera and, frequently, can only really buy lenses from that manufacturer. You can only buy accessories from that manufacturer. And if that manufacturer totally borked something in the interface to their camera (Helloooo Fuji X100), you're stuck with it.

But imagine cameras that are widely intercompatible. Imagine lenses that work well on a variety of bodies. Imagine software over which YOU have control. This is the future.

To see that this is a viable and valid future, one only need look to the iPhone. How the hell does something with a crappy, little sensor become the most popular camera on Flickr, when there are NO other cell phones anywhere near the top 10? Simple. Openness.

The iPhone became a photographic tool because application developers were given access to the sensor architecture. They were allowed to expand the camera. It became more than a camera; it became a platform for photographic development and experimentation. We can compare the success of the iPhone to the failure of Nokia, who have always produced the best phone cameras. Nokia tried to produce things by themselves. They didn't foster a platform on which others could develop. They tried to maintain complete control. And we all know how well that is turning out for them.

That's why I like m4/3 and 4/3 so much. There are some limitations to the sensor, certainly, but the entire thing is much more open than Canon, Nikon, or Sony. I can mix and match Olympus and Panasonic, with a smattering of Voigtlander, and their products compete based on their merits, not on whether I'm locked into one system or another. Competition based on value and quality? What a novel idea!

The first camera company to make a camera with an API and a marketplace owns the future. It's that simple.

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