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Author Topic: Why the camera industry is in the dumper  (Read 5645 times)
Justinr
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« Reply #20 on: March 14, 2014, 07:08:52 PM »
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There are two ways you can look at the situation. You can hold yourself aloof from 'the rabble' and declare to an ever emptier room that you are simply so much better that you deserve protection from the hoi polloi and a guaranteed living or you can get down amongst them and prove your worth in creating more saleable images. True, with stock the sheer number of people you are up against may prove too much of a tide to swim against and so other avenues need to be explored. That's very easy to say I know, but if I am not as pessimistic as I once was about professional photography for I rather feel that the penny is dropping with a growing number of people that good photos do not automatically come in the box with an expensive camera, for they have tried that and it doesn't work.
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KevinA
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« Reply #21 on: March 14, 2014, 07:20:40 PM »
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It's worth pointing out that 'hobbyists' would not be providing images if there were not a demand for their output. Why pour vitriol upon them when they are only serving a gap in the market? Pros have to show that they have something better to offer, more attractive, more effective, more commercial, that's how a free market works we are continuously reminded and I speak as a bit of unrepentant old lefty generally, so let's go and do it.
I'm not saying hobbyist should not turn a penny, I question the commitment to it being a hobby. It's always been possible for anyone to submit to an agency.  The reason so many do now is because it's cheap and easy.
 The goal all the time is for it to be easier and less involving, higher iso, more fps more more more. That to me that is the opposite of what you would want out of a hobby isn't it?
Someone mentioned stamp collecting, I would think to be a successful stamp collector requires a lot of input, time and dedication. Gaining the knowledge is part of the hobby.  If photography is a hobby why would you not want to explore it, why would you not want to see what hand printing an image feels like?  getting involved with the process.
 Just hitting a button on your handheld computer and viewing on a computer screen, or maybe knocking out a print on the Epson at a flick of the fingertip must  lose the fascination at some point. you might as well say texting is a hobby. There is little core of dedicated hobby photographers to support a mass global camera industry investing in r&d for the next improvement. Sure there are the dedicated, I doubt enough to support the industry anything like it is now. The dedication of the masses that call photography a hobby will swerve when the next gizmo becomes a hobby. When having the latest greatest camera no longer impresses other people, when a dedicated picture taking camera is not so cool, it will no longer be their hobby.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2014, 07:40:41 PM by KevinA » Logged

Kevin.
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« Reply #22 on: March 14, 2014, 07:39:26 PM »
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Kevin,

For me that is an incredibly axiomatic post.  Were it not so wordy I'd crochet it into my pillow slip.


Walter,
I had to look up the meaning of axiomatic, still little idea as to how you used it. Either confirming it or questioning it,  I can't hear the tone of voice you typed it in. Anyway cross stitch might be easier. :-)
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Kevin.
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« Reply #23 on: March 14, 2014, 08:37:35 PM »
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The upsurge in photography as a hobby since digital is not because it's within the reach of more people, it's because it's within the reach of more people that don't see you need to make an effort to "take a good photo". There was a lot to learn when you needed to know why you would choose a certain film etc. You learnt, it cost money and you kept on learning, you couldn't do it if you didn't
I suspect lots of the new world enthusiasts have found you don't need to make an effort with your phone either.
I've mentioned this as being an issue in many areas since digital arrived. Barriers to entry are to my mind a good thing at times, because it weeds out the lazy dossers.  Plus it also gives people an appreciation for those who have taken time to master things, as that part is still tricky. Now people value very few things as they assume the computer did it.
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WalterEG
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« Reply #24 on: March 15, 2014, 12:28:00 AM »
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Kevin,

I meant it in the sense that your statement was a fundamental truth in my eyes.

axiom |ˈaksēəm|
noun
a statement or proposition that is regarded as being established, accepted, or self-evidently true : the axiom that supply equals demand.
• chiefly Mathematics a statement or proposition on which an abstractly defined structure is based.

Cheers mate,

W
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Rob C
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« Reply #25 on: March 15, 2014, 05:25:52 AM »
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It would be amusing were it not so sad. The suggestion is made that rather than complain, folks might consider getting down to it and proving themselves better than the competition.

It strikes me that anyone capable of writing shit like that has never been in a position of success in his/her life. Perhaps a little research into the number of top, very talented photographers who have simply walked away from the business or even taken themselves right out of life would provide the truthful answer and illuminate the minds of those who think it's about 'proving yourself better'. Being 'better' is not always the solution or answer to the problems that are created outwith the photographer's control.

Life deep in the professional photographic world isn't like it looks from the edges.

Rob C
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SimonF
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« Reply #26 on: March 15, 2014, 05:30:59 AM »
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Yes the Camera Industry is in the Dumper for several reasons that Michael alluded to.
That doesn't necessarily mean the Photography industry is in the dumper. What all you guys seem to be saying is that the Photography industry is in the dumper.
Digital HAS changed things just as all technological breakthroughs do. I am sure that when George Eastman first introduced the Kodak people said the same, just as when Photography was invented someone said that from today painting was dead.
When the television was first sold someone said that the radio was dead (or was it the cinema?) It hasn't happened, things have just changed.
Yes the camera in a cellphone has impacted on camera sales, but on the compact part of the camera industry not really the high end DSLR's.
Sure the fact that we can now download our images to a computer to view them instead of having them printed has had an effect on the photo finishing industry, but that industry has changed as well and now offers more products than ever. Who back in the film days had their images printed on canvas or corrugated iron?
The quality of imaging is better than it has ever been and certainly better than any thing film could produce.
But a good camera does not a Photographer make, just as having an F1 Ferrari in the garage doesn't make you Michael Schumacher.  
I think like Michael that the Camera Industry has reached a Plateau for now. Whether this will change I don't know. But mostly we are at a point where the resolution is excellent from any DSLR be it APS sensor, Full Frame or the very small medium format market.
In most cases people would be hard pushed to spot the difference in format if they saw prints side by side.
I am also sure that there will be a major change in the sensor technology in if not the next 5 years then certainly the next 10.
But 99% of people are more than happy with the images they get with whatever they shoot with be it a cellphone or a Phase one medium format.
So as it must have been back in the days of film, the camera market is slowing down. Really it lasted so long only because manufacturers kept putting new things in a camera rather like the computer industry. They seemed to have treated it a bit like the car industry, but even that model has slowed down.
The market for images has changed, but it won't go away. It has changed from film to digital just like it changed from wet plate to dry plate and roll film. But it won't go away.
But that isn't what Michael was saying in his article. He was saying that to keep in the game manufacturers have to actually listen to their customers, and it seems to me at present that most manufacturers aren't. Nikon's acknowledgement of focus problems with the early D800's and the dust/oil spot problems with the D600 were bad to say the least. In fact I think the only thing that forced Nikon to acknowledge th problems with the D600 was the threat of a class action law suit. They must have known they would have lost that one and the damage to reputation (to say nothing of the actual financial cost) had the potential to be huge. Witness the completely different response by Sony and Fuji to light leak problems with their latest cameras. Did they learn from the D600 debacle or are they just better customer service orientated?
I believe that there will be another big jump in the mega pixel race before the technology changes completely, but the big question is whether we really need it. 36MP in the D800 and the Sony camera is enough to print something almost as big as you can imagine, so what is more MP going to achieve apart from bigger files?
If Nikon came out with a 54MP camera I can't see myself buying one just for the extra resolution. It isn't worth the money. And therein lies the problem. We have reached the point where it is beyond good and people are seeing that and don't go out and buy the latest just because it is newer.
Now if a different sensor technology came out say similar to the Foveon chip which substantially produced a better image in a smaller file then I MIGHT be tempted. But until that happens I am quite happy with my D800.
 All this doesn't change the fact that the Photographic industry as a whole has changed and manufacturers are seeing it as part of the bottom line because manufacturers of products that weren't anything to do with Photography are jumping on the bandwagon. That's all it is, but the camera manufacturers haven't learnt to push into competing unaligned markets (apart from Kodak who made stupid statements such as aiming for the no 1 position in the inkjet printer market years after Canon and Epson had secured a big hold on that market) .
To those of you who complain that the industry is dying go away and think about it and remember that Michael was commenting on the CAMERA industry not the Photography industry as in the taking and selling of images.
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Justinr
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« Reply #27 on: March 15, 2014, 05:38:25 AM »
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I'm not saying hobbyist should not turn a penny, I question the commitment to it being a hobby. It's always been possible for anyone to submit to an agency.  The reason so many do now is because it's cheap and easy.
 The goal all the time is for it to be easier and less involving, higher iso, more fps more more more. That to me that is the opposite of what you would want out of a hobby isn't it?
Someone mentioned stamp collecting, I would think to be a successful stamp collector requires a lot of input, time and dedication. Gaining the knowledge is part of the hobby.  If photography is a hobby why would you not want to explore it, why would you not want to see what hand printing an image feels like?  getting involved with the process.
 Just hitting a button on your handheld computer and viewing on a computer screen, or maybe knocking out a print on the Epson at a flick of the fingertip must  lose the fascination at some point. you might as well say texting is a hobby. There is little core of dedicated hobby photographers to support a mass global camera industry investing in r&d for the next improvement. Sure there are the dedicated, I doubt enough to support the industry anything like it is now. The dedication of the masses that call photography a hobby will swerve when the next gizmo becomes a hobby. When having the latest greatest camera no longer impresses other people, when a dedicated picture taking camera is not so cool, it will no longer be their hobby.

There are several ironies about the digitalisation of photography that I reflect upon with a certain wry amusement. The foremost is the enthusiasm with which it was greeted by professionals; it was cheaper, quicker, more cost efficient for not only did it do away with film but also the necessity of having someone else do the printing, the photographer retained control of the whole process as Rob C. has pointed out. Now we are told that digital cameras have ruined photography because anybody can now do it cheaper, quicker etc.

The second great paradox is that the very companies that pro's slavishly exulted for producing ever better equipment were the very ones promoting their cameras to the public with the suggestion that they could now take shots as good as any professional. Why we were not boycotting Canon and Nikon rather than salivating all over their latest cameras and lenses? Items of kit, BTW, that relied heavily upon IT for their design and manufacture, the same sort of technology that was found in the cameras themselves. The camera companies pulled off an almighty con in my view, but it's too late to do anything about it now.

I would agree entirely that the camera to many just became an extension of the PC, something useful to do with the shiny new computer, and this has transformed image capture into a whole new sphere of social discourse. Note that I said image capture and not photography for we all appreciate that the two are different although the most people don't, or I should say, didn't, for I get the impression that the recognition of a photographers skill is making something of a comeback which brings me to a third inconsistency.

How often do we reassure ourselves that a good picture can be taken on any camera? We then wonder why people think they don't need photographers anymore, the answer is because we've just told them that! Sure, in the right hands and right conditions pretty images can be created on most devices but their performance envelope is quite constrained which is why Canon and Nikon sell cameras at 5,000 bucks as well as 50, to ensure that good photos can be taken under a much wider range of conditions and with a better image quality.

We also fall into the trap of talking about photography as one great homogenous craft which simply isn't true. There are those who can do very well in a studio while others will present landscapes with a sentiment that adds greatly to the viewing pleasure and so on.  Adam Smith came up with the idea of the division of labour and he was probably right, to a point, and I don't see why photography should consider itself immune to the strictures of that theory.

I will happily repeat the cliche that the digital process put a bomb under the world of photography, but I rather hope and believe that the smoke is clearing, the debris settling and we can start to rebuild the trade, it won't be the same as it was before and to try and impose the old structure will the biggest mistake of all.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2014, 06:04:17 AM by Justinr » Logged

Justinr
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« Reply #28 on: March 15, 2014, 05:52:31 AM »
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It would be amusing were it not so sad. The suggestion is made that rather than complain, folks might consider getting down to it and proving themselves better than the competition.

It strikes me that anyone capable of writing shit like that has never been in a position of success in his/her life. Perhaps a little research into the number of top, very talented photographers who have simply walked away from the business or even taken themselves right out of life would provide the truthful answer and illuminate the minds of those who think it's about 'proving yourself better'. Being 'better' is not always the solution or answer to the problems that are created outwith the photographer's control.

Life deep in the professional photographic world isn't like it looks from the edges.

Rob C


Not every pro photographer is going to reach the top of their profession just as not every footballer gets paid £300,000 a week. The vast majority will happily earn a living below the favoured few and it is these that I address, not wannabe superstars.

I for one fought the onslaught of digitilsation like heck as you may recall, and I still think it can't do B&W 'properly' but then I wised up and decided that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Now, it's still early days but I made some big changes to my approach to photography, call it sh*t by all means, but I'm not the one here that's thinking of giving it up, in fact I've put some money back into it over the last few months and plan to do the same before the year is out (touch wood).

BTW, How did these heroes reach their exalted position if it wasn't by proving themselves better?
« Last Edit: March 15, 2014, 05:55:51 AM by Justinr » Logged

Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #29 on: March 15, 2014, 06:21:42 AM »
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When I was young and pondering to become a professional photographer my idea was (after various talks with my parents),
that this is a market, where quality of work is only a small part of the equation of success.

I felt, that I might just not reach a position where I wanted to be, even if I were very good.
So I became a physician.

After all, I think it has two sides now:
Sure - it's sort of easier for me to make a living than for the average photog, but I still have a feeling I made a mistake.
Don't get me wrong - I love my job, but with hindsight I think one should follow what one really wants to do from the very beginning.

Reason is overrated.

Cheers
~Chris
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KLaban
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« Reply #30 on: March 15, 2014, 07:08:26 AM »
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I for one fought the onslaught of digitilsation like heck as you may recall...

How could we possibly forget?
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Justinr
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« Reply #31 on: March 15, 2014, 07:09:57 AM »
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How could we possibly forget?

And now I am reprimanded for not being backward enough!

'tis a funny old world.
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Justinr
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« Reply #32 on: March 15, 2014, 07:11:16 AM »
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When I was young and pondering to become a professional photographer my idea was (after various talks with my parents),
that this is a market, where quality of work is only a small part of the equation of success.

I felt, that I might just not reach a position where I wanted to be, even if I were very good.
So I became a physician.

After all, I think it has two sides now:
Sure - it's sort of easier for me to make a living than for the average photog, but I still have a feeling I made a mistake.
Don't get me wrong - I love my job, but with hindsight I think one should follow what one really wants to do from the very beginning.

Reason is overrated.

Cheers
~Chris

You hobbyist you!!    Wink
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jjj
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« Reply #33 on: March 15, 2014, 07:35:04 AM »
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How often do we reassure ourselves that a good picture can be taken on any camera? We then wonder why people think they don't need photographers anymore, the answer is because we've just told them that!
Not sure how you managed to infer the latter from the former. Being able to take a good picture with any camera is a reference to the ability of good photographers and does not mean anyone can take a good photograph or that cameras make pictures all by themselves, with no photographers being needed.
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KLaban
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« Reply #34 on: March 15, 2014, 07:41:30 AM »
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And now I am reprimanded for not being backward enough!

No. I rather think you are being reprimanded for being a weekend-warrior who has made no contribution to - and couldn't give a rat's arse about - the industry.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2014, 07:46:41 AM by KLaban » Logged

Tony Jay
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« Reply #35 on: March 15, 2014, 07:46:21 AM »
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Not sure how you managed to infer the latter from the former. Being able to take a good picture with any camera is a reference to the ability of good photographers and does not mean anyone can take a good photograph or that cameras make pictures all by themselves, with no photographers being needed.
Yes I do have to agree with this conclusion.
There are a lot of excellent photographic tools out there but for many people using a big expensive DSLR with excellent lenses just results in the same mediocre images they shot with a point-and-shoot or a cellphone.
Good photographers on the other hand can often produce exceptional images with equipment that could be called mediocre.
This is particularly true if one regards good image making as producing images with emotional impact rather than just on judging images on resolution, sharpness, detail etc.
I am sure that all this is rather self-evident.

Tony Jay
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jjj
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« Reply #36 on: March 15, 2014, 07:58:56 AM »
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Yes I do have to agree with this conclusion.
There are a lot of excellent photographic tools out there but for many people using a big expensive DSLR with excellent lenses just results in the same mediocre images they shot with a point-and-shoot or a cellphone.
Good photographers on the other hand can often produce exceptional images with equipment that could be called mediocre.
This is particularly true if one regards good image making as producing images with emotional impact rather than just on judging images on resolution, sharpness, detail etc.
I am sure that all this is rather self-evident.
Apparently not. But thank god for all those people who think a better camera will make them good as the pros. It helps keep prices down. Smiley

And if you want to see good photographers using cheap cameras click this link.
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Justinr
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« Reply #37 on: March 15, 2014, 08:06:26 AM »
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No. I rather think you are being reprimanded for being a weekend-warrior who has made no contribution to - and couldn't give a rat's arse about - the industry.

Or perhaps I'm getting a little too close to some truths that those in denial find uncomfortable, hence the bitterness expressed.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2014, 08:13:13 AM by Justinr » Logged

Justinr
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« Reply #38 on: March 15, 2014, 08:12:37 AM »
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Not sure how you managed to infer the latter from the former. Being able to take a good picture with any camera is a reference to the ability of good photographers and does not mean anyone can take a good photograph or that cameras make pictures all by themselves, with no photographers being needed.

And therein lies the problem. It can also be inferred that you don't need to be a good photographer to take a good picture, if you are a camera maker/dealer/box shifter which interpretation would you be pushing? You and I know what is meant but to somebody with little knowledge of the craft it might induce a different belief altogether.
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mezzoduomo
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« Reply #39 on: March 15, 2014, 09:10:34 AM »
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"Things aren't the way they used to be. I'm sad because I've grown old and like most old men, I'm convinced that things were better in the past...when I was young."

I'm a hobbyist.

Photography (defined most broadly) is having a more profound and more positive impact on the human race than ever before.
Go ahead, make my day and try to argue with that point.

Photographs in many ("inferior/crappy/non-artistic") new forms are incredibly important to the communication and relationships between people, particularly young people. You know, the young: So easy to deride, so difficult to truly understand and respect.

Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat etc, etc, etc......are about pictures.  This ecosystem thrives on photographs, and its a very important aspect of life to a couple of generations of people all over the world. Its a big part of how they know, love, and connect with other people. Photography is at least partially about communication, and there is more photographic communication between human beings than ever before, particularly Millenials.

The old guard doesn't 'own' it anymore. The black box has been opened. The technology is cheap, ubiquitous, and the technical quality is improving exponentially. Newspapers jettison their entire staff of old white guys in vests, yet somehow....life goes on.

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