Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What's in Store for 2013?

Olympus E-PL1 and 45mm f1.8 lens

A new year brings new thoughts, new purpose and some forward thinking.  Of course all these things should happen every day, but when the occasion suits it (like after the Ball Drops) why not get in the spirit?

I thought it would be fun to make some 2013 camera/photography industry predictions and look back on them in a years time to see how accurate my meandering thoughts turned out.  I looked back last year and I guess I forgot to write this post, so no guesses can be made about my accuracy.  Oh well, here goes:

  1. The Rise of the Mirrorless Camera:  DSLR's aren't going anywhere, at least not in 2013, but the popularity of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras is going to continue to gather steam in 2013 eating away at the point and shoot and DSLR  markets.  High end point and shoots and low end DSLR's should be looking over their shoulders with concern (yes that's you Canon Rebel) as photographers are going to be increasingly spending money elsewhere.   Olympus, Panasonic Sony and Fuji are in a particularly strong position to capitalize on this popularity and while Nikon and Canon will continue as the most sold brands (largely due to the names stencilled on their neck straps), their market share will dip as a result of their rather boring offerings in this segment.  Nothing helps set photographers free from legacy glass that ties them to a brand like a completely new system.
  2. Speaking of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, we should see some further maturing of the systems that exist.  More lenses and better cameras are coming for sure.  I predict that Sony and Panasonic will be increasingly popular with video centric types while Olympus and Fuji will grow strongly with the still photo crowd.  While I think it's a bit of a mistake, I suspect all the manufacturers will further water down their lineups with lots of options from entry level point and shoot based offerings to higher end cameras (spec'd above even the GH3, OMD NEX7 and XPro1 crowd)
  3. Point and shoots will continue to die a slow agonizing death that few will miss.  Some offerings will remain popular, particularly cameras touting special features like being waterproof, drop proof or having built in Wifi or Android functionality.  
  4. Apple will get involved again in the camera market.  They can't let Android based Samsung have all the fun.  Wait for it.
  5. The photography business will continue to water down.  Just when you thought it was watered down already, more people will hang shingles and sell their work, the bar will be lowered and it will require creativity, persistence and amazing marketing savvy to remain on top.  Let their be no doubt that the biggest and easiest way to make money in this field will be selling to other photographers in the form of books, ebooks, workshops, gadgets and video tutorials.  The first wave of photographers that came in on digital (like myself) will start being the old school people they replaced and will see increasing competition from a new young crowd that are more nimble, fearless and creative with their devices and art than those that came before them.  
  6. Canon will release a big megapixel DSLR camera to compete with the D800.  This is an easy one.  The real question will be if anyone will care and if Canon will learn to stop being a follower and start to innovate again like they did with the 5D Mark ii.  A 7D Mark ii will make an appearance as well and higher spec'd than the previous 7D in hopes of appeasing those professionals that lost crop sensor support with the discontinuation of the 1D Mark IV.  Dual card slots and a better focusing system in a weather sealed body will be the minimum.  
  7. Olympus will post a profit in their camera division and their ties with Sony will become clear over the next year.  For everyone that thought they were on deaths door (including me) the turnaround will be a big surprise.  
  8. Sony will gain market share in DSLR's and at the same time pull a typical Sony move and make noise of abandoning the market altogether in favour of their NEX line making everyone nervous.  Sony has done amazing things in the camera market, but Sony is Sony.
  9. Panasonic will lose money despite a very cool GH3 and likely GX successor.  At some point Sony will start dropping more hints about a larger sensor camera with a new format and will begin to focus more and more heavily on video.  
  10. Fuji will continue to be a niche company that keeps pumping out cool stuff that every Leica wanabee will wish they owned.  Their cameras will rock, but their market share won't.  Go figure.  The one thing you can count on is Fuji setting the tone for what is in fashion in photography and a new X200 as well as further advances in their mirrorless cameras won't disappoint.  
  11. Pentax will put out a full frame DSLR and a successor to the 645D.  The real question will be if anyone will notice.  Pentax could be the dark horse company that came from nowhere and actually gains attention again in the pro market.  
  12. Hasselblad will spend the year trying to recover from the embarrassment of the Lunar camera while looking over their shoulder along with other medium formats at the D800 sales.  It makes no difference that the same "full frame" users that talk about the superiority of their large sensors (to APCS etc users) will know that medium format sensors are larger and better than what they have, they'll simply look at the megapixels to price tag ratio. 
  13. Leica will not be the only company to have a monochrome only camera.  If I were to guess, I'd say only Fuji could be that cool and do it at a better price, but it was such a brave and novel idea I can't see the Leica sitting alone in the market for long.
Well that's it.  13 predictions and all but one about gear.

One thing is for certain, at least to me, the photographers out there that focus on creating quality, thoughtful work will flourish.  The ones with the most meaningful and well imagined marketing will make the most money.  Hopefully everyone else can just point their cameras (no matter the brand) at things that interest them, make some nice images and enjoy life.  

Happy 2013, and best of luck to you in the coming year.

No comments: