Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

On trying to understand Canon and Blackmagic's strategy on cameras...

25 posts in this topic

Posted · Report post

DSC07428b

According to CIPA, Japanese shipments of cameras are down 47% year-on-year.

That's a bleak figure, although there aren't the kind of big product releases so far this year that there were in the first half of 2012.

However I think it's too easy to blame smart-phones or to mention product cycles as the reason for this decline. What about the actual cameras? In my opinion everyone seems to be making strange product decisions that I doubt serve either shareholder or their customer.

[url=http://www.eoshd.com/content/10907/on-trying-to-understand-canon-and-blackmagics-strategy-on-cameras]Read the full article here[/url]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Maybe there is less thought going on there than there is here.  Nikon and olympus' lack of interest in this sector is also baffling.  They don't suffer from vertical integration.  They could release a raw shooting 1080p camera that would knock all the competition out of the park (save hacked 5d3) at the same price point.  The only reasons I can see they don't is SONY.   

 

And as for them, I wonder how crippled the video will be on the next gen NEX cameras? 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

The problem is simple cameras are not advancing because it is getting cheaper and cheaper to make them with advances in computing and software development.  Red camera , Blackmagic cinema and I phone are working on the same principal. The  difference in sensor/lens size and a processing power, everything else is software. It is not hard to imagine that in a near future we will be able to assemble 4k cameras at home at low cost. It comes down to processing power and software, which get cheaper every month. There is also practical limitation with resolution (4k is more than enough for 2d cinema). So I really don’t know how else camera manufacturer can make profit in the near future. It will be more software companies that take over and maximize use of hardware - sensor and processor power inside a camera as we see it happening with hacking now - So the Hasselblad pimped camera business might not be that bad strategy for camera makers after all, thay just need to get better designers, but that is another topic  ;)))

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Enjoyed a lot of your points, especially the one noting that it's ludicrous that these companies are using stupid simple 3$ features like headphone jacks to swing us around by the necks and "protect their higher models". It's pathetic, more competition needs to enter this industry and actually sell devices that are in line with what is technologically feasible at the moment. If someone came in and tried to do what BlackMagic was doing but actually thought out their production flow and business model, Canon/Nikon/Panny/Sony/Olympus/Red/etc would be forced to compete or be crushed. BlackMagic has an opportunity to exploit a VERY vulnerable exploit in this market...yet they choose to remain so small that they cannot sustain the demand for their product. Seriously, they could be industry leaders. It's suicide, because it's only a matter of time before someone else comes in and does what they're doing and does it better.

J.P likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

+1 on third party affiliations.  Look at the GH2....  I'm still finding videos shot with that thing using the hack that make me say, "why did I buy a BMC?" 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

I think the Camera makers need to make a decision for the future.  They need to stop thinking in the past.  Kodak failed to move for the future.  Apple made decisions that ensured that they had a meaningful existence beyond the Computer.  These companies should be thinking modular and more about how the public actually uses their products.  That's the one thing I like about what Black Magic Design's approach which is more like Apple in it's thinking.  They have a beginning of an ecosystem of hardware and software.  I think they've made some mistakes, but the basic attempt was noble.  I still think that the original BMCC was not a complete bullseye in terms of what users wanted but it was a pretty good attempt. 

 

What I don't understand is why these companies don't seem to just poll the user base and see what they want???  I think the closest I could guess is a system that is not too far off from what you get with a GH3, but with RAW capability and a lossless compressed codec that allows longer record times.  Something modular so users could get what they need and want and nothing more.  Seems simple enough to me.

 

Thank God for Magic Lantern.  I bought a 50D and have been testing and learning how to work with it.  It's not a perfect system but for the price it's what i'm willing to deal with.  I paid $450 for the 50D and $120 for a couple of 32GB Komputerbay CF cards.  Now i'm exploring what lenses I will need and the accessories to make using the camera easier.  It's very affordable and fun.  It's also very funky and not very close to perfect.  The files are large and it's not all fleshed out, but my buy in was so low that it's been worth it.  I will most likely buy a BM Pocket too.  It's just crazy that we have to hack our way to what we want rather than the Camera makers just listening and giving us the products we want.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Seriously? After all the times I've chimed in with my analyses, you're still baffled?
I'm not going to repeat it.

"I just find it bizarre that such simple things as headphone or microphone jacks can be the difference between a camera appealing to all the market or a magnitude less of it."

And about segmentation. There are only two segments in a fickle market. Smart & Stupid.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

I see it differently : we're all spoiled without even realising it.  For 98% of my work (commercials, music videos, documentaries and wedding videos) my T3i and Nex5N give me all I need.  I've never had any complaints whatsoever from any clients, nor TV-stations (my music videos are broadcast on national TV) that the image quality of my work wouldn't be good enough.

 

Only 3 years ago, all of the people who complain about Canon today, would've given up both of their legs for a camera that you can buy today for a little over 400 EUR. 

 

Last year I was in the market for a new camera.  I was considering a second hand 5D MkII, but opted for a T3i and a NEX 5N.  Both cost me less than 700 EUR.   That's even cheaper than my very first HDV camera (a Canon HV30).    I can shoot whatever I want, and the NEX gives me wonderful slowmotion when I need it.  On top of that, both cameras are extremely good photo cameras, which has allowed me to do more photo assignments.

 

I'm not even talking about the Mosaic Engineering AA filter for the T3i (which significantly improves the footage and gets rid of 90% of moiré and aliasing) or Tragic Lantern for the T3i (which allows you to increase the bitrate to >120Mbps).

 

What I'm trying to say is that today even the cheaper DSLR's are no longer limiting filmmakers.  All this talk about dynamic range, sensors, ... is interesting for people who like to indulge in the technical side of things, but the vast majority of the audience and clients couldn't care less, as long as the result looks great.

jgharding and Jeff Orig like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

@PAVP :

 

I would call Apple anything but modular, except for the Mac Pro line.  But every other product they make, is a closed system with very few tweaking options for the user (especially compared to Windows).

However, I think this is Apple's strength, cos it allows you to focus on what you want to do, and not how you want to do it (since Apple has more or less decided that for you).

 

Furthermore, I don't think you understand the difference between developing and engineering things, and actually making them.  There's a huge difference between something like Magic Lantern, which is purely development and a much more horizontal process, and mass-scale production, which by definition has a more vertical and hierarchic structure.  It's the only way to keep production as cheap as it is.  If you want your production to be more modular and flexible, this will increase your costs exponentially (and people are already up in arms about camera's costing too much today).

 

Also, you say you want manufacturers to poll users so they can make the cameras that you and me want.  Problem is that we all want different things : you might need 4-track audio when shooting, while I don't need a mic nor headphone port.  Or I might want 50p while you'd rather have a built-in vectorscope.  I might want RAW, while ProRes is fine for you.  I might want a built-in viewfinder, while you prefer uncluttered HDMI so you can attach an external screen.  The only way to make everyone happy, is to include ALL possible demands from users.  Which increases costs and has clients skip the camera cos it has way more features than what they need.

Jeff Orig likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Sometimes I wonder is anyone will ever be happy with their cameras. I mean, wasn't the 5DIIIRaw enough? Wasn't even the GH2 enough?

 

There's too much focus on camera specifications sometimes, when it's actually how you use a camera and what you do with the footage in post that makes a difference to the audience's experience.

 

When you get deep into actually creating with the gear you actually own, you soon forget about camera specifications and it becomes an irrelevent factor - they're good enough already, which leads me on to my final point.

 

I think the decline in camera sales is simply down to the fact that there aren't dramatic improvements in image quality these days. The 'good enough' bar was hit years ago. I recently bought a FinePix F460, and I was flicking through the images and they look better colour and lighting-wise in the majority of cases than my GH2's JPEG output (RAW is a different story, of course, as is resolution). So for many situations, I can take this £20 camera with me (which was released in 2007), and take photos that are in practicality just as good as my GH2's. There's a £980 price difference between what I spent for them.

 

How can this be? Well, a photo is only as good as what you're actually photographing, and its composition. No one cares when viewing the image afterwards that individual leaves on a tree aren't as clear under a magnifying glass. They care about the composition, and the colours, and the lighting, and of course, the subject.

 

Similarly, no one cares if they can't quite see into the shadows because of limited dynamic range when the content draws them into the production. This is why I think, personally, cameras have already reached good-enough levels with the M43 cameras, 5DIIIRaw, D5100, and of course standard camcorders (even 5 year old ones) all shooting [i]exceptionally[/i] good video.

 

I realise that many here will disagree, but it's important to not get bogged down too much in camera specs at the expense of creativity. It would be interesting to see some articles on how to deal with limited dynamic range, or how to minimise image artefacts, and essentially push the cameras most people have already to the limit, as it might add an extra dimension to the site.

 

Please, don't take this post personally. :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Well the strategy of blackmagic is exciting and perplexing... I  jut received news cinema camera has a price reduction from 2995.usd to 1995.usd... that will upset a few people and equally bring joy to others....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Yup....pretty amazing news from Blackmagic:

 

 

We have done it and from today the Blackmagic Cinema Camera EF and MFT models will be reduced in price to US$1,995. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

"I’m all for segmenting models from one another – so how about improving video dramatically on the higher end models leaving more room to improve video on the mid-range cameras?"

I totally agree! 

The consumer is aware enough of image quality to tell the difference between the AVCHD codec and a superior 4.2.2 codec. No need to cripple a viewfinder spec or leave out a headphone jack. Crippling usability is simply nasty and cynical marketing. 

If sales have almost halved then it's their own fault. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

@ TJB : I'd beg to differ.  "The consumer" doesn't see the difference between AVCHD and 422, especially considering the moment they get to see footage it's been edited and graded and either converted to DVD or online streaming.  I challenge you to go out in any street in any big city and ask people at random what the difference is between AVCHD and 422.

 

To make things even more complicated : the implementation of AVCHD by Sony differs from that by Panasonic.  And Canon's 8-bit codec with relatively slow Mbps can sometimes look better than another manufacturer's 10-bit codec with higher bitrates ...

 

If DSLR sales have halved, there's a very simple and logical reason : most people who are interested in shooting with a DSLR (and the majority of people still use 'm for pictures) have one by now and are perfectly happy with it.  As long as it doesn't break down, they see no need to replace it.

And rightfully so.  The boom that started 3 years ago had to slow down one day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

"I challenge you to go out in any street in any big city and ask people at random what the difference is between AVCHD and 422."

 

I totally agree with you. No one in the street knows the difference. Those of us that know there is a difference can't often see the difference except when pixel peeping. However, picture editors can usually pick the difference and most at least that read this website or are looking at the difference between say the C100 and the C300 know there is a reasonable difference especially when it comes to post. Despite this, I don't think it's a hinderance for manufacturers to market, design and sell cameras according to video quality alone without destroying the core functionality of a camera. Leaving a headphone jack off a camera or omitting ND filters is really not the best way to convince me to spend another $1.5K or far more on the next "best" model. Hence, the money stays in my pocket, sales fall by almost half and my perfectly good 5 year young camera continues to get used. 

 

I also agree that the boom will slow. Here's some free advice for Canon, Pana etc. Design, market and sell a high spec camera at a reasonable price and sit back and rake it in. What would Sony's balance sheet look like if the FS100 had ND filters, a proper viewfinder and a 4.2.2 codec. They need to know that the marketing strategy of tiny incremental improvements on cameras don't sell anymore if at all. Either does giving us IBIS and then neglecting to give us a mike jack. No thanks, no sale.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Pascal, you speak much sense in a clear way. 10 points!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

The Blackmagic Cinema Camera just took at $1000 price drop.  FFFFFUUU!!! I just bought a 5DMK3 a day ago lol. Well guess I'll scoop up the Cinema Camera now as well.  At least my 5DMK3 will retain it's resale! :-)

 

http://www.bmcuser.com/showthread.php?4892-Yust-got-this-mail-from-BM

http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/

 

How does this in any way effect your 5D Mark III purchase?

They are quite different cameras. The 5D Mark III has a much larger sensor, better suited to the EF mount glass you will use on it. It is much cleaner in low light and the form factor is better. It is much lighter, runs for hours on a tiny internal battery, has no fan, uses small CF cards, gets constant firmware updates and takes 22MP professional quality stills. Blackmagic have their work cut out to compete with it.

peederj likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

If DSLR sales have halved, there's a very simple and logical reason : most people who are interested in shooting with a DSLR (and the majority of people still use 'm for pictures) have one by now and are perfectly happy with it.  As long as it doesn't break down, they see no need to replace it.

And rightfully so.  The boom that started 3 years ago had to slow down one day.

 

You are right, and same thing murdered the TV industry.

 

Most people are happy with what they have.

 

Tiny little incremental product updates year-on-year give people no reason to upgrade!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

How does this in any way effect your 5D Mark III purchase?

They are quite different cameras. The 5D Mark III has a much larger sensor, better suited to the EF mount glass you will use on it. It is much cleaner in low light and the form factor is better. It is much lighter, runs for hours on a tiny internal battery, has no fan, uses small CF cards, gets constant firmware updates and takes 22MP professional quality stills. Blackmagic have their work cut out to compete with it.

 

I still think that all those weaknesses aside, the BMCC still produces a better overall image, except in low light. In daylight it's no contest.  So i think they are pretty well matched (for video), with pretty clear strengths and weaknesses.

 

BMCC does comes with resolve, but the 5D's ability to do stills is huge, so if you have a real interest in stills, this has to turn the scale back in favor of the 5D3. But now with the BMCC only costing $2000, it's very competitively priced indeed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

In day light I prefer the 5D's image in raw as well. Full frame rendering of the glass, smoother fine detail and less false colour speckles, less moire. Rolling shutter isn't as severe either, and crop mode comes in very handy when you want to grab a quick telephoto shot on a standard prime.

 

Both are a league ahead of the usual DSLR video quality though. Hell they are a league ahead of FS100 as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Dslr sales are falling because the main manufactors aren't giving a good reason for people to upgrade.  They are repacking the same tripe for the past few years.  If they want dslr sales to improve, they need to sell their "regular" dslr with the same quality as their cinema line.  They need to innovate -- add more features, etc.  Perhaps make their camera's even smaller, etc...

 

In the audio/visual field, there are many manufactors who aren't losing sales.  For instance, you have gopro, you have blackmagic, etc.  Granted I agree with a lot of people -- we are at the point where the camera doesn't really matter for the film makers.  Movies and features can be made with almost any camera now.  HOWEVER, people do buy products that are "compelling".  Look at gopro.  How many people are actually going to go wingsuit flying.. OR motorcrossing?  OR swimming with sharks, etc...  However, these same people buy gopros by the boatload -- gopro's are "compelling".. they are the best at what they do at a price point where consumers will buy.

 

The dslr manufactors better start introducing "compelling" products @ a price point where consumers will buy or else they will be left behind... actually, they are already starting to be left behind.

Zach likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

I think Canon just think it's weird there are this odd group of people savvy enough about image quality to care about moire but unable or unwilling to bring themselves to buy the C100 + Ninja 2 that gives you Canon's best sensor, best ergonomics, and best 1080p picture for only $6500 ready-to-shoot, batteries and media for a whole day of footage included.

 

A couple wedding shoots and that's paid off. A single corporate shoot and that's paid off. Entirely. Who are these people and why are they still insisting on DSLR kludges for video? Only dual-use with stills shooting in one body justifies it. In which case the 5D3 is pretty damn good and they let you use the Ninja with it or the RAW hack for $4000 ready-to-shoot batteries and media included.

 

I think the real issue is these people have this mental block about whether their work deserves a professional solution or not. The C100 is smaller and lighter than the BMCC and about the size of a gripped 5D3. The Ninja 2 is smaller and lighter than a V-mount battery solution for the BMCC and requires no more cabling. Plus it adds a handy peaking monitor, and records direct to ProRes 422 HQ in a mature implementation with review and even in/out point and favorite/reject settings via XML. People in that uncomfortable market segment just aren't willing to take themselves seriously...it's not the extra $2500. If it really was about money then camera image quality is probably far down on the list of daily compromises they might complain about.

 

So I don't think Canon particularly finds that segment helpable, and it's tough love to force them up into the pro level. Having the C100/Ninja 2 do I want to struggle with my 5D3? No, but I use it for stills and B-cam work without hesitation. Do I want to use Rebel footage at this point? Hell no but I've learned how to massage out a lot of the codec misery if I absolutely needed to. Below the 5D3 only the RX100 and GoPro Black make sense for me due to form factor and salvageable IQ (fisheye distortion correction, NR, etc.).

 

BMD on the other hand has its sights exactly on that segment, people who are willing to suffer to save that $2500. That's a surprisingly big segment given all the fuss they have kicked up. I would rather have one of the small Panasonics than any of the BMD products. And the rigging requirements, post workflow for RAW and its storage requirements makes it a pound foolish proposition anyway. The BMD option actually costs more than the C100 + Ninja 2 TCO for less quality and far more hassle on set and in post.

 

And that answers your bafflement: what's going on here, the anomaly, is based on this mental block, this self-esteem problem shared amongst that segment. It's not that they don't have money. It's not that they are unwilling to buy fancy toys or adopt a pro workflow. It's simply that the camera component specifically is a symbol of their stature that they are unwilling to bring themselves to amplify. It's sort of a modesty thing.

 

Get over it and go make something worth looking at.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

While there are many good points in this column it makes the error that the decline of camera sales stems from poor decisions among the camera makers.

 

The undeniable fact is that a gigantic new market for cameras was created by the digital revolution. This market is populated by a staggering number of people who have zero interest in what enthusiasts think, say or do. As such, they are motivated by ease of use and availability. Thus the smart phone trumps even the cleverest of P&S cameras. 

IQ is irrelevant to most of the market as even VGA was good enough to view on their phone.

As for video, we are talking about an even small market. My Dad astonished his friends in the 60's by actually splicing his own Super 8 and creating imaginative short films that we enjoyed enormously. The idea that the hobbyists of today are any different is delusional.

 

The biggest danger is that the loss of resources for R&D due to migration of sales to phones. While we moan that that camera maker X declines to add some new whiz-bang feature or upgrade to their products, THEY are finding it harder and harder to pay for the sparkly things we are asking for.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites