Friday, March 2, 2012

The 5D Mark III Confuses Me

Canon announced the 5D Mark III today, and while it doesn't scream "arrogantly clueless" like their abandonment of the mirrorless market and the ridiculous price on the G1X, it certainly doesn't assuage my fears about Canon.

What puzzles me is the price, which comes it at one thousand dollars more expensive than the 5D Mark II when  it launched, and fifteen-hundred more than its current price. Canon has tried to explain this away by saying that the camera is not a replacement for the MkII, but is instead meant to sit between it and the 1DX.

Combined with the revelation that there will be no replacement for the 7D, the 60D replacement will move upmarket, and the 1DX being called a "replacement" for the 1D and 1DS even though we know that a high-resolution studio camera is in the offing, it all gives me the impression of a company that has no idea in what direction it wants to go.

Further compounding this impression is their release of an entirely new system for video, which will have new lenses, yet another SLR-styled camera, and more hyper-expensive accessories. Obviously, Canon does not believe in the maxim that less is more. They believe that more is more, and even more is a lot more.

It's hard for me to totally mock Canon just yet. They are being annoyingly cagey with details about their cameras. We've seen only a smattering of demo photos, and no serious hands-on have taken place. But considering the different philosophies and market strategies exemplified by The D4 and the 1DX, I do not hold out much hope for serious innovation and change.

Compare this to Sony, who has pushed the APS-C market into entirely new territories with the NEX-7 and A77, and their incredible innovation appears primed to continue into the full-frame market. Sony is manufacturing the sensors in all of the best cameras currently on the market. Length-to-length, Sony's system is cheaper than either Nikon or Canon (granted, the recent increase in lens prices goes some way to eliminating this). Truly, Sony is going that one bit farther in every respect.

Canon could have brought it. They could have unified the concepts of the new Canon C-Series with their standard line. But no. They instead chose to further fragment their line-up. That behavior annoys the hell out of me, because it stems from a company that knows that they have their professional market by the balls, and this market will be much more willing to plunk down cash since investment in a competing system would cost more and be more problematic. In economics terms, people who are invested in Canon's system have turned Canon products into inflexible goods.

And because of this, instead of bold steps, we get incremental upgrades, features that should have existed in their previous generation of cameras, and a system designed to milk money from customers, all for a lot more money than last year.

Man, what a deal.

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