Why ‘real cameras’ are coming back
"Real cameras" are poised to make a comeback in 2020 after three of the world's biggest photography companies launched new products in just one week, and urged aspiring photographers to put down their smartphones.
Canon became the latest company to join the trend today, in a move one of its executives said would "put a few people back in their boxes," with the announcement of two new cameras, the development of another, and a new cloud service.
And the market leader will go up against three other major camera firms launching new gear in the last fortnight, including Nikon, Olympus and Fujifilm.
If successful, the new wave of cameras could help turn around the fortunes of an industry challenged by smartphones, after worldwide camera sales fell by 4.2 million sales last year, according to Statista.
Canon's big announcement today includes one new lightweight DSLR camera, the EOS 850D, due in April, an advanced compact camera, the 24-megapixel EOS M200, due this month, and the development of a new EOS R5 camera capable of shooting 8K video and 20 photos per second.
The Japanese camera giant will also launch a new cloud service called Image in April that is designed to automatically store photos for 30 days and transfer them to other services, such as Google Drive.
Canon Australia consumer imaging director Jason McLean told News Corp Australia that announcing three cameras at once, just one month after releasing its flagship 1DX Mark 3 camera, made a huge statement about its investment in "real cameras" and the health of the photographic industry.
"This will attract an enormous amount of attention and hopefully people reconsider not only how much a real camera can play a role in their life but maybe it will put a few people back in their boxes," he said.
"There's a lot of rhetoric out there, competitors in our category and outside who have really taken a view of what role they play in the real camera market and the photography market.
"That's over now. 2020 is the dawn of our new decade and it's the right time to launch what is going to be a revolutionary line-up."
Mr McLean said the year would be a big one for photography, with the Tokyo Olympics increasing demand in July, and support from the Australian retail industry after spotty Christmas sales.
He also dismissed claims by smartphone makers that cameras on the devices were capable of capturing "professional" or "DSLR-quality" images, such as those made by Samsung over the 108-megapixel camera in its Galaxy S20 Ultra smartphone revealed this week.
"Realistically, there's no major broadcaster shooting on a smartphone in the upcoming Olympics," Mr McLean said.
"There was no one shooting on a smartphone at the Australian Open, that is my view. And I'm sure the Academy Award-winning movies, none of them were shot with a smartphone. The reality is for those moments that make a difference, the real cameras get results."
Other cameras unveiled this week include Nikon's new professional D6 DSLR camera that Nikon Australia general manager John Young said was built for speed, and Olympus' OM-D E-M1 Mark III camera, described as a professional camera in a lightweight form.
Fujifilm launched a follow-up to its popular rangefinder camera in the X100V last week, and confirmed plans to release another camera, the X-T4, in the coming months.
But the camera makers could have a lot of ground to make up with consumers after falling sales, particularly for basic compact models.
Sales of dedicated cameras have dropped significantly over the past five years, from 43 million in 2014 to 15 million last year, although consumers are spending more on advanced cameras with interchangeable lenses.