23rd Oct 2009
Over the past few posts we’ve covered in some depth where the major 3 players in the DSLR space are (Nikon, Canon & Sony), but what about the others?
Both Pentax and Olympus are steadily releasing consumer grade DSLR’s, but as the years go by they appear to be falling further behind – the investment needed to develop a state of the art DSLR is immense, you are now developing a state-of-the-art electronics product. Combined with the current economic woes, there is a good chance we may see some of the smaller players either consolidate in an effort to contain costs, or fail completely – indeed Hoya’s management have gone on record more than once recently, claiming Pentax may need to find a partner to survive and that Pentax may no longer belong under the Hoya umbrella – a far cry from the Pentax we knew 20 years ago (indeed the first SLR I ever used was a Pentax SP1000).
Given Canon is currently introducing new technology, and Nikon is currently releasing updates/improvements to existing models, we expect Canon to have the technological edge for the next 18 months or so, until the Nikon D4/D400 come out. Because of this, we also expect Canon to stop losing market share to Nikon as they have been the past couple of years, maybe they’ll even gain a little back. However with Sony’s aggressive pursuit of the consumer DSLR market, we expect both Canon and Nikon to give up further market share to Sony (worth mentioning, is over 90% of Nikon’s sales is sub $1,000 cameras – the D90 and below.) The next big innovation from Sony we expect is video – Sony has extensive expertise making both pro and consumer video gear, so when they add video to their DSLR line-up, expect them to do it right and be equal too, or possibly ahead of Canon. Nikon will likely take several more years to get video right on their cameras, but they will get it right.
Sony’s next move may be to try and introduce a pro model DSLR – this is a risky move, but they have very successful pro video cameras in the market. However breaking into the pro camera market that has been dominated by Nikon & Canon for decades won’t happen overnight. Their lens line-up also needs beefing up for that to happen.
Another threat is the so-called ‘Hybrid’ camera market, small mirrorless cameras that take interchangeable lenses like the Olympus EP-1. These cameras are small, relatively cheap, “better than a point & shoot but not quite a DSLR” cameras, and if you are never planning to go pro probably sufficient for the vast majority of your shooting, and certainly less intimidating than some DSLR’s currently on the market. So far only Olympus and Panasonic have offerings out there, but that will change, and that may transform the entry-level DSLR market completely over the next few years – given that’s where most of the sales volume for all the big three comes from, at some point they’ll have little choice but to compete in that space.
As the Chinese curse goes, “May You Live In Interesting Times”…