The Difference Between New Options and Changing Things

Camera introductions in the last twelve months tell an interesting story. Some new cameras change your expectations. Other new cameras are just iterative options that add to the camera body population on your dealer’s shelves. Let’s look at cameras introduced in the last year and see how they compare.

Changed how we think about a market:

  • Canon R7, R10 — Previous to these two cameras, Canon’s play in crop sensor mirrorless was an oddball with a unique lens mount (shades of Nikon 1). While nothing about these cameras' features or performance were unexpected or game changing, Canon’s decision to drop the DSLR defense and go all in with RF-S was. The DSLR Rebel/Kiss crowd now needs to think mirrorless. At least according to Canon ;~). Bar: not reset, just moved.
  • Fujifilm X-H2, X-H2S — 40mp crop sensor is new, stacked 30 fps+ stacked crop sensor is new. Both these cameras reset how we evaluate crop sensor camera options. 20mp now seems small, and 5 fps seems slow. Bar: reset, much higher. 
  • Sony FX30 — While this doesn’t do anything to the still photography market, the FX30 was a bit of a shock to the higher end videographer crowd. This is a full-fledged, professional, 4K video camera in a very small body, and it comes in at a price low enough to raise eyebrows. Bar: the moving bar just got smaller and more competitive.

Just your usual iterations:

  • Canon R6 Mark II, R8, R50 — Two of these are basically model updates, one is a move from M to RF-S. This is changing cameras to be more competitive as a producer, not as a user. Bar: just beefing up the bar.
  • Fujifilm X-T5 — All this does is move the older XTs up to the higher bar Fujifilm just set, basically. Nice to see someone move so fast, though. Bar: just beefing up the bar.
  • Nikon Z30 — Down in the kiddie gym with the 20mp bar, Nikon took off an EVF. Nothing to see here. Bar: still set too low.
  • OM System OM-5 — It’s really tempting to call this a logo change, though it was somewhat more than that. Bar: still set at the long-established m4/3 position.
  • Panasonic S5 II — Maybe this changed how you think about Panasonic—hey, they discovered fire, uh, I mean phase detect—but I doubt it changed how you thought about the market. A nice iteration that brings their full frame camera up to the place previously occupied by an older Alpha predator (see what I did there?). Bar: unchanged for you; Panasonic now aiming at higher bar.
  • Sony A7R Mark V — Personally, I consider this more of a “fix” than a “new” camera. The rough edges of the older Mark IV and its first use of 61mp have now all been filed off. Bar: looks shinier, but hasn’t really moved.

Did you fail to notice something? Think about it.

Four full frame cameras, none of which were really game changers, nine crop sensor cameras, five of which were.

If you won’t, I’ll call it: full frame mirrorless is fully mature (and can now rent a car ;~). Sony already has been piling on the iterations, but everyone is pretty now in that same game of inching the bar forward a bit, polishing it up so it's more shiny, and making loud noises while pointing at it. 

Meanwhile, the real action to watch seems to be in the crop sensor models. First off, there are more of them and they’re at lower average prices, so they drive the unit buying more than full frame. Second, it’s where the DSLR Duo (Canikon) used to dominate, but suddenly went weak in the knees, so there’s more potential for market grabbing there. 

Note to Canon and Nikon executives: even more crop sensor cameras won’t help you (both now have three). YOU NEED MORE CROP SENSOR LENSES! Kit plastic with pinhole apertures won’t cut it. Buzz, buzz, boyz. 

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