What Type of Buyer Are You?

It seems that a lot of folk are confusing themselves by not understanding where they fit on the time continuum of products. 

As I see it, you're one of three basic buying types (careful: tongue in cheek):

  1. Future Framer — You hang on the rumor sites as if your life depended upon it. You constantly discuss cameras that don't exist yet. You see your "next camera" as solving some small, probably esoteric problem that won't really make your photography better. You seek bragging rights for what's in your gear closet. 60mp full frame isn't enough and anything less than a perfect lens gets your scorn. You'll pre-order the latest and greatest if it is hyped enough.
  2. Present Practitioner — You have a relatively current camera and related gear, perhaps with some gaps that you would fill if the price/timing was right. You spend most of your time trying to get the best out of what you've got, because you know it is capable of a lot more than you're currently achieving. If you've fallen a bit behind in gear, you're looking at products that are already on the market that will get you up to current capabilities.
  3. Completed Consumer — You needed a camera, so you bought one. You don't need another as the one you have is fine for what you do. Maybe you'd buy a replacement if yours broke, was stolen, or lost.

I'm seeing a lot of #1's these days on the Internet, while I see a lot of #2's when I'm out taking photos ;~). It's getting rarer and rarer to see #3, as they are the ones that are most likely to use a smartphone or just not bother with taking photos at all any more. 

It's not just users that are confused. The camera makers are confused, too. 

Fujifilm, Olympus, and Sony all abandoned DSLR early, as they simply couldn't make any inroads into the DSLR Duopoly. They all chose to play in the smaller mirrorless pool that would likely be the future bigger pool. Pentax dipped a toe into the small pool and immediately retreated to doubling down on their existing DSLRs, but then didn't make much of a step forward with those. Canon and Nikon both dabbled at the small pool (M and CX) while cranking hard on the big pool before eventually deciding they needed to make a full transition from DSLR to mirrorless. Canon basically said "we're giving up on DSLR" while Nikon equivocated in their usual corporate non-speak. 

The reality today is that there are still two markets, DSLR and mirrorless. In 2021 the DSLR and mirrorless pools will now switch sizes, with one still being the big pool (mirrorless) and the other being the smaller pool (DSLR). Yet Canon and Nikon, who own 97% of the DSLR pool seem to think that they should just get out of that pool completely. Wrong, wrong, wrong. And that's because of customer #2, above. 

I've written this before: it's worth iterating some compelling DSLR products, just not an entire line. For Canon, that would have been the 7D Mark III and 5D Mark V, and perhaps another camera or two. For Nikon it would be the D580 and D880, and perhaps a better D7800 that didn't take away features but instead added some. All of those cameras would continue to sell in reasonable (small pool) quantities if marketed to buyer #2 properly. 

The problem with making both DSLR and mirrorless models, especially ones that might overlap, is that it requires real marketing messages from the makers. You have to be able to target and inspire the remaining #2 DSLR crowd, and you have to be able to target and inspire the new #1 mirrorless crowd. It seems that both Canon and Nikon are incapable of resolving that in their corporate offices, though, let alone communicating it to users. 

Looking for gear-specific information? Check out our other Web sites:
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