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Business / Philosophy of Photography Taking pics is one thing, but understanding why we take them, what they mean, what they are best used for, how they effect our reality -- all of these and more are important issues of the Philosophy of Photography. One of the best authors on the subject is Susan Sontag in her book "On Photography."

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Collapse of digital camera sales is accelerating
Old 08-03-2016   #1
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Collapse of digital camera sales is accelerating

The new digital camera sales data from the CIPA for the first half of 2016 is published:
http://www.cipa.jp/stats/dc_e.html

The collapse in sales has even accelerated: -34% (!!) less sales compared to the same period last year. In 2015 it has been -15% compared to the same period in 2014.

So this year only about 11 mio. cameras have been built so far. Therefore it is clear that even with a very good second half of the year the total sales of 2016 will be below 30 mio. units.
That volume is about 25-30% lower compared to the film camera sales volume 16-20 years ago.
So, concerning sales volume the digital camera industry is now in a much worse situation compared to the film era.

It wouldn't be surprising at all if after Samsung we see further manufacturers leaving the market in the coming years.
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Old 08-03-2016   #2
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Yikes, the sky is falling . . . again !
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Old 08-03-2016   #3
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People are probably taking more pictures than ever - but caring less about them than ever. Seems to fit in with the general attitude of our culture at the moment.
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Old 08-03-2016   #4
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I think a lot of this is due to the maturity of the technology personally. My six year old D700 is a prime example .. aside from being 12 megapixel it's still as good as anything else I own.
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Old 08-03-2016   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tunalegs View Post
People are probably taking more pictures than ever - but caring less about them than ever. Seems to fit in with the general attitude of our culture at the moment.
I agree that people are taking more pictures than ever - it has become so easy. Don't know about caring less about them, though. Today a lot of people do some sort of post processing (applying filters at least), share the pictures online etc. In the 80s and 90s everyone just used their cheap P&S film camera, had the film developed and showed the prints to friends before there were thrown into a box or, if they were pictures of the holidays or the baby, put into an album. Today people have these shots printed in a photo book. I don't really see a huge cultural difference there...
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Old 08-03-2016   #6
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I think a lot of this is due to the maturity of the technology personally. My six year old D700 is a prime example .. aside from being 12 megapixel it's still as good as anything else I own.
This... My 1DS MkII still takes great photos.

I wonder if lens sales have collapsed at the same rate.
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Old 08-03-2016   #7
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Most people are perfectly fine with the IQ of shots taken with their phones. For the purpose of posting these snaps online to show off where there right now, the quality is mighty fine. Nearly everybody carries a cell phone with built in camera all the time. Almost nobody but RFF nerds will carry a dedicated camera anymore.
On the other end of the spectrum there is the new Phase One 100mp medium format camera capable of 10k video recording...
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Old 08-03-2016   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daveleo View Post
Yikes, the sky is falling . . . again !
No, it will remain where it is.....

Honestly, I am very relaxed because I am just aware what will happen:
- the decline will continue in the coming years
- I expect the bottom of the sales volume in the 15-20 mio. units p.a. range
- at that level the market will be too small for the current number of manufacturers
- companies like Casio, Panasonic, Sony, Ricoh / Pentax, Olympus probably will have to leave the market; but do we really need them? I don't think so, the others will fill the gap
- digital cameras will be significantly more expensive in the future, because of the strong decline in production there are negative economies of scale with increasing production costs per unit
- the remaining manufacturers need compensation and new market segments, new niches: Therefore we will see new film cameras in the coming years (film demand for instant and professional film is already increasing).

Photographers who really care for photography will have the tools they need. Personally, I can comfortably live with all of these developments...
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Old 08-03-2016   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith View Post
I think a lot of this is due to the maturity of the technology personally. My six year old D700 is a prime example .. aside from being 12 megapixel it's still as good as anything else I own.
I think this is most of it as well. I think when digital photography began it seemed like every year or two the cameras got substantially better and for the past 5-6 years aside from video capabilities we haven't seen much in terms of cameras doing something vastly better than the previous model. Just incremental updates. We have almost perfected the "designs" and now it's about making such and such camera sharper and the general population would be more than content with a camera from 5 years ago that still works for them instead of upgrading yearly. Also, I feel like a lot of digital camera sales to people who aren't into photography like we are come from point and shoots and those have been replaced by phones.
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Old 08-03-2016   #10
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@Skiff . . . . pretty reasonable thoughts there. I esp agree with your ending sentences.
Technical change is inevitable. Adjust to it, find your own new processes, but don't agonize over it.
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Old 08-03-2016   #11
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99% of the people do not know how bad their pic are. No idea of composition etc

My granddaughter just came back from vacation with iPhone pictures. Great exposures and composition. Never had a photo lesson in he life.

Her dad had a beautiful panoramic done with a M8 & 24 mm lens. It was printed on metal and glossed and 48" long. Absolutely gorgeous.

I have 800 series Nikon and M8 and M9 and still have a D3 and D700. The Nikons make more than acceptable pic for most purposes.

Cameras are like cars. The purpose is to move you from A to B. A well serviced ten year old will do the job. Want auto transmission, air-conditioning, leather seats, etc, perhaps you need a better or newer car. Otherwise Betsy will do.

Also look at the economy. Food clothing shelter are necessities . A fancy new camera is not. As long as the economy is in the tank, luxury goods can only be sold to rich folks.
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Old 08-03-2016   #12
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The pics folks are taking with their latest generation smart phones are as good as what we took with Kodak Instamatic cameras back in the 1960's. Which is the level of photography most of the world is fine with. And most folks have their smart phone with them 24/7. So where is the market for the vast majority of digital cameras.

Pros and folks who are serious about photography will keep buying DSLR's and other higher end digital cameras, but we're a small segment of the market.
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Old 08-03-2016   #13
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Quote:
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...
Pros and folks who are serious about photography will keep buying DSLR's and other higher end digital cameras, but we're a small segment of the market.

Agree. Dedicated cameras (digital and film as well) are slowly becoming a niche product instead of a mainstream product. Mostly amateur photographers and professionals are buying cameras. General public is turning to cell phones. Why not? they weight less than a dedicated camera, they already are carrying them in their pockets or purse, they give you more than acceptable quality for most application,etc.

Accept it people, camera users are slowly becoming a dying stock .

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Old 08-03-2016   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tunalegs View Post
People are probably taking more pictures than ever - but caring less about them than ever. Seems to fit in with the general attitude of our culture at the moment.
That's what I feel too.
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Old 08-03-2016   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skiff View Post
No, it will remain where it is.....

Honestly, I am very relaxed because I am just aware what will happen:
- the decline will continue in the coming years
- I expect the bottom of the sales volume in the 15-20 mio. units p.a. range
- at that level the market will be too small for the current number of manufacturers
- companies like Casio, Panasonic, Sony, Ricoh / Pentax, Olympus probably will have to leave the market; but do we really need them? I don't think so, the others will fill the gap
- digital cameras will be significantly more expensive in the future, because of the strong decline in production there are negative economies of scale with increasing production costs per unit
- the remaining manufacturers need compensation and new market segments, new niches: Therefore we will see new film cameras in the coming years (film demand for instant and professional film is already increasing).

Photographers who really care for photography will have the tools they need. Personally, I can comfortably live with all of these developments...
I agree with most of this, but seeing what happens in the personal computing realm, prices won't go too high. Also, I can't see how Sony is leaving the market when the provide sensors for so many other companies.
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Old 08-03-2016   #16
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General public is turning to cell phones.
They've turned long ago...
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Old 08-03-2016   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skiff View Post
- the decline will continue in the coming years
- at that level the market will be too small for the current number of manufacturers
- companies like Casio, Panasonic, Sony, Ricoh / Pentax, Olympus probably will have to leave the market; but do we really need them? I don't think so, the others will fill the gap
-
Agree with this.

Those that remain in the game will fill the gap, but they'll have to downsize too (actually are already being forced to).
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Old 08-03-2016   #18
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The lower numbers are probably attributable to a variety of factors, as already mentioned. Other factors may include increased use of iphones and tablets for photography, the April earthquake in Japan, etc...

Also, although the 2016 numbers are lower, the month-to-month variances seem to be consistent with variances in previous years, except for March to April 2016, which looks flatter than previous years. Don't know if that was due to the earthquake, but I would drill down on that to find not-so-obvious indicators of the sales slump.
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Old 08-03-2016   #19
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I agree with most of this, but seeing what happens in the personal computing realm, prices won't go too high. Also, I can't see how Sony is leaving the market when the provide sensors for so many other companies.
Concerning Sony: I meant they may have to leave the camera production. Not the sensor production. If they don't do silly things, they will probably remain No. 1 sensor manufacturer .
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Old 08-03-2016   #20
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Quote:
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Agree with this.

Those that remain in the game will fill the gap, but they'll have to downsize too (actually are already being forced to).
I suppose it will be similar to film production scenario. Companies are still producing films but at lower scale and to fulfil niche requirements.
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Old 08-03-2016   #21
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Concerning Sony: I meant they may have to leave the camera production. Not the sensor production. If they don't do silly things, they will probably remain No. 1 sensor manufacturer .
But aren't they doing pretty well with their A6X00 and A7 series cameras?
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Old 08-03-2016   #22
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But aren't they doing pretty well with their A6X00 and A7 series cameras?
"Well" is relative. If you look at the CIPA data you see that mirrorless is also declining.
From the manufacturers I've mentioned above considered as probably "endangered" in the coming years Sony is probably the "least endangered", the "strongest of the weaker ones".
But if we look at the Sony company history they have proven to be quite consequent or "brutal" in cutting complete product categories. And they have lots of other different products in their portfolio. They simply don't need cameras to survive as a company.

Nikon and Leica e.g. are different to that: They are (mainly) camera companies: They have to stay and have to adopt to the changing market to survive as a company.
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Old 08-03-2016   #23
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Let's take average, but slightly advanced consumer who knows how to google it.
I search camera model and go on Flickr to see pictures.
I'm doing it from time to time. Just did it last night again. This is what I'm finding every time. If new model comes and it doesn't have decent sensor size, the images looks like worthless garbage comparing to my 500D Rebel which we paid 1000 CAD for. Right now where are many fancy looking compacts for same price and images from them aren't as good as pictures which I could get from consumer DSLR made in 2009.
As result where is useless dump of new, expensive compact cameras with IQ worst what in my current, nothing special mobile phone.
While I have ditched dedicated digital cameras for video years ago already, because mobile phone does it better and with same quality.
To me this current trend to have tiny sensors in big, fancy retro looking cameras is dead end fetish.

Just as example, from yesterday search on Panasonic.ca web site. First, did any of you noticed what almost all camera manufacturers web sites are not fast and convenient?
Canon, Leica and Panasonic those web sites I was trying to use. Dead slow to navigate... So, back to last night search to replace my small trusty 8MP Panasonic Lumix with Leica Zoom in it. Similar size pocketable compact Lumix has same crappy IQ as my current Lumix. Zero reason to buy. And only camera which has decent IQ and somewhat compact was LX100. But it costs 1000 CAD and size is next to my old consumer DSLR, which has IQ similar to LX100. No reason to buy, either.
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Smart Phones
Old 08-03-2016   #24
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Smart Phones

Digital cameras include the point a shoot ones. Those have been the most affected by the smart phone. The FF DSLRs are good cameras, but the idea that every year needs to be upgraded is not sustainable. No body can afford that. Except, rich Leica owners who keep upgrading their cameras, for the benefit of the lesser rich Leica users who buy second hand.
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Old 08-03-2016   #25
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Right now where are many fancy looking compacts for same price and images from them aren't as good as pictures which I could get from consumer DSLR made in 2009.
Like what? ... please provide a few models.
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Old 08-03-2016   #26
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I am more into film but the digital cameras I already own work just fine thank you. No need for any more of them.

Now film on the other hand. I always seem to need more.
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Old 08-03-2016   #27
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What bothers me are the ergonomics of new cameras. Since a camera has become software, they have become more complicated to operate, not easier. And harder to achieve what you want to do. I think there are people giving it up because of that.

I just got a dlsr from 2004 and it feels better in the hand and everything is more logically placed than on the latest incarnation. The often needed buttons just fall on your fingers, no endless menus with settings nobody uses worded in the most idiotic terms.
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Old 08-03-2016   #28
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Quote:
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Some information on both companies:

http://www.nikon.com

http://www.leica.com

The Nikon sales rep had an office in the same building I had mine and they have some expensive stuff.

Take a peek, both companies are well into mutiple product lines.
Sorry, but you are wrong on that:
Leica Camera AG, the company we are talking about here, has for years nothing at all to do anymore with the other companies with the Leica name. They only share the name, nothing else!
In former times they belonged together (under their original name Leitz), but they split the company many years ago.

And for Nikon: Cameras and lenses are their main, most important business.
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Old 08-03-2016   #29
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One should remember that the main topic here is economics. Why should I buy a separated or dedicated device for my photos when I can get decent (and in some instances great) results with my mobile phone?


Current camera market is mostly made by professional photographers, amateurs like me and companies that buy cameras to keep detailed records from events or assets (I work for an insurance company and they buy digital cameras to keep records of events and meetings), not by the average people that just want to make a selfie or take some social or personal pictures.

That means that, like it happened to the film industry, it is becoming a niche industry instead of a mainstream industry.

Those are just my thoughts through.
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Old 08-03-2016   #30
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Originally Posted by mpaniagua View Post
One should remember that the main topic here is economics. Why should I buy a separated or dedicated device for my photos when I can get decent (and in some instances great) results with my mobile phone?


Current camera market is mostly made by professional photographers, amateurs like me and companies that buy cameras to keep detailed records from events or assets (I work for an insurance company and they buy digital cameras to keep records of events and meetings), not by the average people that just want to make a selfie or take some social or personal pictures.

That means that, like it happened to the film industry, it is becoming a niche industry instead of a mainstream industry.

Those are just my thoughts through.
I'm not so sure of that. If I look at my younger family members, then most of them do care about using a separate camera for personal pictures. Mostly it came when the kids came. But I do see a correlation between personal and professional interest in technology and use of dedicated cameras. Those in a more technical job or that have a personal interest in technology (even if it is cars or bikes or computers) will go to a dslr, those with higher but not technical education will go for a compact and those in marketing and management for a phone. Of course with the obligatory exceptions like a philosopher that develops and print film.
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Old 08-03-2016   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mpaniagua View Post
Current camera market is mostly made by professional photographers, amateurs like me and companies that buy cameras to keep detailed records from events or assets (I work for an insurance company and they buy digital cameras to keep records of events and meetings), not by the average people that just want to make a selfie or take some social or personal pictures.
I think the phone is handy for those who would have never used a good dedicated camera in the first place, those who use it for social media (look at me, look at what I like, look at what I bought) purposes... it's like another language to communicate with friends and isn't really about photography.

Those who like photography, these people seek out something a little better. There are many, many amateurs out there who use digital cameras (or cameras in general). Just walk the streets of NYC for a day and you'll see a lot of different cameras.

There's no doubt that camera phones have taken out the bottom end of the camera market. No need to buy a small sensor camera unless you want a zoom. If your kid is in sports and you want to make photos, you need to go DSLR or a decent mirrorless. That market is surely still there.

Digital camera numbers were bound to come down just like computer numbers did... after a certain point, people only upgrade these types of items 4-6 years. In film, people might not have upgraded for 20 years...
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Old 08-03-2016   #32
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On the other hand if the Galaxy KS campaign comes through to shipping rewards then we will have dry plates to shoot again.
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Old 08-03-2016   #33
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People are using digital cameras, and most people are getting far superior images compared to what they used to get years ago. They are satisfied with it all. There is no need to buy new cameras to get larger sensors or more resolution for extra cost. Therefore, sales slow down. People have excellent digital cameras already.

This is my view on it.
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Old 08-03-2016   #34
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Maybe digital camera manufacturers and retailers should not over-price their cameras and lenses?
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Old 08-03-2016   #35
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People are using digital cameras, and most people aregetting far superior images comapred to what they used to get years ago. They are satisfied with it all. There is no need to buy new cameras to get larger sensors or more resolution for extra cost. Therefore, sales slow down. People have excellent digital cameras already.

This is my view on it.
Agree with you on that raid. If you are satisfied with your current camera, you don't just buy another for a certain period of time. It means less demand for digital cameras. Add it to the large number of people that makes their photos with their phones and numbers start to add in.
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Old 08-03-2016   #36
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Collapse? No.

Delayed replacement purchases and upgrades as technology peaks and turnover is less and less necessary?

Yes.


This is exactly the behaviour one expects from a market when the underlying technology matures.
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Old 08-03-2016   #37
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Originally Posted by Skiff View Post
No, it will remain where it is.....

Honestly, I am very relaxed because I am just aware what will happen:
- the decline will continue in the coming years
- I expect the bottom of the sales volume in the 15-20 mio. units p.a. range
- at that level the market will be too small for the current number of manufacturers
- companies like Casio, Panasonic, Sony, Ricoh / Pentax, Olympus probably will have to leave the market; but do we really need them? I don't think so, the others will fill the gap
- digital cameras will be significantly more expensive in the future, because of the strong decline in production there are negative economies of scale with increasing production costs per unit
- the remaining manufacturers need compensation and new market segments, new niches: Therefore we will see new film cameras in the coming years (film demand for instant and professional film is already increasing).

Photographers who really care for photography will have the tools they need. Personally, I can comfortably live with all of these developments...
The commodification of the underlying parts will continue to make it cheaper to produce cameras. The delta between declining inputs and lower sales volumes still favours lower costs, not higher. There are no "negative economies of scale here" because the per unit cost on the factory floor continues to decrease.

That is MORE of a threat (bottom line and margins). Digital cameras will continue to get cheaper, in fact. Just like the power/cost of computing has done, and communications, and autos, and music. The biggest cost factor now for most tech items is advertising and distribution and warranty, not manufacture (not even close).

You've inverted the maturing tech curve. That's bias speaking.

There is little threat of manufacturers leaving the market, but dedicated cameras will be a sideline to larger businesses. The digital camera side is not the issue; it's the optical side where the big costs are.

The market will stabilize when cellphone camera tech (mostly optical now) matures and cannot incrementally improve the product nor its output.
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Old 08-03-2016   #38
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Collapse? No.
Collapse? Yes.
From 2010 to now, in only six years, the market has lost 75% (!!) of its sales volume. And the decline is continuing at accelerated speed. Just look at the CIPA numbers.
That is much much more than a normal market saturation.
By the way, it is even much more than the film sales collapse some years ago: From the record in 1999 to 2007, in eight years, the film market has "only" lost 66% of its volume.
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Old 08-03-2016   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timmyjoe View Post
The pics folks are taking with their latest generation smart phones are as good as what we took with Kodak Instamatic cameras back in the 1960's.
The cameras on the latest smart phones are better than most digital P&S cameras from 10 years ago. Forget going back 50 years...
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Old 08-03-2016   #40
mpaniagua
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aristophanes View Post
The commodification of the underlying parts will continue to make it cheaper to produce cameras. The delta between declining inputs and lower sales volumes still favours lower costs, not higher. There are no "negative economies of scale here" because the per unit cost on the factory floor continues to decrease.

That is MORE of a threat (bottom line and margins). Digital cameras will continue to get cheaper, in fact. Just like the power/cost of computing has done, and communications, and autos, and music. The biggest cost factor now for most tech items is advertising and distribution and warranty, not manufacture (not even close).

You've inverted the maturing tech curve. That's bias speaking.

There is little threat of manufacturers leaving the market, but dedicated cameras will be a sideline to larger businesses. The digital camera side is not the issue; it's the optical side where the big costs are.

The market will stabilize when cellphone camera tech (mostly optical now) matures and cannot incrementally improve the product nor its output.


Also, note that the decrease is about Quantity of Total Shipment, not income amount, which means its a problem of people not buying things, not stuff getting cheaper.
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