If you’ve spent any time sitting around grizzled old photography veterans, you’ve probably been in the “Canon vs. Nikon” debate. As boring and pointless as they were, they characterized an industry that had two big players and a bunch of losers. There have been reports this week that Nikon may be withdrawing from the Single Lens Reflex (SLR) race. If this is true, it’s hard to underestimate what a huge shift this is for the photography industry.
Over the past decade and a half, several events have taken place in quick succession. The compact camera market, which at one point accounted for over 80% of camera sales by value, has been completely wiped out by smartphones. Increasingly capable smartphones and people’s changing attitudes towards photography in general have also begun to consume the SLR market. Since the vast majority of photos taken only end up on social media, posting speed has become more important than overall image quality. And then there was a whole new type of camera.
Back in 2009 Olympus has launched the EP-1 digital mirrorless camera. it changed everything. And in 2013, Sony completely reinvented the genre with the release of its Sony A7 full-frame mirrorless camera system, which put Canon and Nikon on the defensive. The first generation cameras were slow and bulky, but in a small body they provided exceptional photo quality. Fueled by arrogance and a deep misunderstanding of the market, Nikon has already launched mirrorless camera 2011but it was not impressive, and Canon did the same a year later, with equally boring EOS M. In the meantime, brands like Sony, Olympus and Fujifilm, not held back by their DSLR history, have been able to innovate in technology.
Canon and Nikon eventually won market share for mirrorless cameras, but by then the reputational damage had been done.
This week’s Nikkei report suggests that Nikon is phasing out its DSLRs focus instead on mirrorless cameras; a bold move if the company decides to go ahead with its plans, and it will mark the end of a 60-year streak of supplying professional tools to photographers of all stripes.
Credit: techcrunch.com /