Dealing With the New DSLR Market

Dealing With the New DSLR Market


Interesting doings these days in DSLR country While the industry appears to be shying away from calling the Micro Four Thirds (MFT) system a new market segment—upon closer inspection, it really is. And more interesting than that is the fact it sets up an interesting dynamic within the category that never existed before.

In a market that has been dominated by Canon and Nikon for years, these latest developments cast the category in a new light. While Olympus and Panasonic continue to broaden their MTF offerings, Samsung has launched their own interchangeable lens model, the NX10 and now Sony is giving us their rendition of the mirror-less, interchangeable lens camera, calling their new line of cameras and lenses NEX.

You'll also hear the acronym EVIL tossed around when discussing these new, more compact DSLRs, standing for electronic viewfinder interchangeable lens cameras. Not so sure that acronym has a very strong pair of legs, though “Star Wars” fans might dig it.

Sony and Samsung have opted not to go the MFT route and instead have decided to go with a larger sensor in the APS-C format, as used in many of the traditional DSLRs (yes, we can call the “other” DSLRs “traditional” as the tech has been around long enough to do so). Our guess is these two companies' developers simply feel this will give them an edge in image quality, particularly when it comes to depth-of-field.

The basic idea here was to appeal to the female audience that has been looking for cameras that take better pictures but were intimidated by DSLRs due to the bulk and steep learning curve.

The fact that these MFT and other new DSLR models are relatively compact allows the shooter to blend in a bit more as well, which usually lends itself to better picture-taking opportunities. The extra lenses are smaller too which might encourage consumers that would normally have no interest in changing lenses to perhaps get into this game now as well.

All the above must have Canon and Nikon thinking. While no one was really threatening their dominance in the DSLR front, these emerging categories have surely prompted more than a meeting or two at their respective headquarters. In other words, don't expect either company to stand around and watch while an entirely new DSLR-esque category shakes things up.

While we're not suggesting recent DSLR announcements from both haven't be stunning, neither company will sit still if market share, at some point, is actually at stake here.

While the DSLR category has enjoyed some solid growth the last few years, those numbers are leveling off a bit. The emergence of some new options and an overall broadening of the DSLR base is good news for imaging retailers and should inject new life into the category. The accessory market also gets a lift when life is good in DSLR land.

However, it is more vital than ever that the new directions and opportunities in this category are explained and sold accordingly. One thing the industry might want to consider is re-naming “Micro Four Thirds,” which says nothing to the average snap shooters; EVIL will simply scare them away and “mirror-less digital camera with interchangeable lens capability” will bore them to death. Too much alphabet soup.

Another point to consider—the HD video capability in these things, while incredible, is a tricky feature to master. Help your customers get the most out of it by fully explaining how to correctly use it.

For dealers, as Ricky used to frequently say to Lucy, “You've got some splainin' to do!”