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Andrew Reid

Open letter to Japanese manufacturers on the enthusiast video market - improve or lose it

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The reason people are "complaining" about the likes of what is offered by Canon, Sony etc. is because we are in one of those "shut up and take my money!" situations yet these companies don't seem willing to take it. Usually, a company tries to anticipate a growing market, or even create one where none existed prior (Apple has been good at both). But what it boils down to is the company is taking a gamble that if they develop a product, there will be a market of people willing to buy it once it hits shelves. But we already have a market in place, and it is not being exploited.

When it comes to video, since the 5DMkII "accidentally" sparked the DSLR video revolution, there have been many hundreds of thousands (millions?) of consumers who have been standing there, money clenched in their fists, ready to throw it at the first company to make the camera that they are asking for.

 

If Canon would simply make the camera that the market is asking for, they would corner it instantly. Because Canon already has all the pieces on their shelves to make this camera. It isn't "whining" to tell a company that they accidentally made a product that is excellent for something it wasn't designed for, and all we're asking for is for Canon (or whomever) to use that as a starting point to intentionally make something that is even better.

Also, just to point out, basic economics is about "supply and demand" not "supply and we'll-take-whatever-you-are-kind-enough-to-give-us." As consumers we have every right to keep our money if we are not offered the product we want.

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

I wish we could have a modular camera system, where we could essentially tailor the camera features for ourself by purchasing options (frame rates, codecs, etc) to attach or upload to a starter-body.

 

This will never happen of course.

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The argument of "still cameras are for photos and video for video" is the central problem here, get rid of that outdated mindset, and think that a camera is capable of doing either in great quality; that is a wonderful thing. In this day and age why does one have to carry a video AND stills camera?
 

 

I would agree with you in respect to camera ergonomics, user interface, storage etc. - cameras can be designed to do both well, as Panasonic's GH series shows (among others).

 

But there are differences and limitations in sensor technology that can't be overcome because of simple laws of physics. You either have a high resolution photo sensor with a small pixel pitch, which means relatively low native ISO, higher noise and lower dynamic range unless you enter full frame territory; or you have a lower resolution (1080p = 2 Megapixels) sensor with big pixels resulting in high native ISO (800 on the Blackmagic Pocket), high dynamic range (13 f-stops) and low noise. 

 

The only way to work around this would be an APS-C/Super 35 size sensor with native 8 Megapixels / 4K video resolution, which would hit the sweet spot between the two. But I don't think that the photo mass market would accept APS-C with only 8 Megapixels.

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I do not understand your obsession with video on stills cameras. Video is an added feature on a stills camera so how can you compare them to a BMCC that is made purely for video? Stills cameras will always be stills cameras, the video will get better as the tech gets cheaper but it will never be the main focus. We are a small market and will be treated as such.

 

This.

 

Did you see my thread about the 50D price "bubble"... or lack thereof?  Niche market is niche.  1080p 15 second+ clips in cropped mode raw and I got mine for $350.  Everyone said rush out and get them while they last.  There are still tons of them showing up on eBay every day.  If I was working at Canon I think that would be a pretty strong indication of the size of the DSLR raw video market.

 

My girlfriend makes prints in her basement darkroom.  She also shoots tons of digital.  There is no way she would tolerate the raw workflow or fiddle with the BMPCC flat image.  And if she isn't going to do it I guarantee you 98+% of other people won't either.  BMPCC is supposed to be revolutionary and change everything.  Yet it reeks of an unfinished product.  That's the difference between the video mode on Canon rebels and the BMPCC.  You can get a Canon with kit lens for less than $500 and start shooting in the parking lot of the store where you bought the camera.  I would be really curious to know how many rebel owners even use the video mode beyond the first few weeks of owning the camera.  I would be curious how many of the persistent users ever use manual exposure.  I personally don't know anyone that does.

 

My girlfriend sends me iphone video clips via Whatsapp on a regular basis.  I have to constantly remind her her Rebel does video and she has nice expensive L glass.  Again this is someone who shoots FILM and spend hours in a darkroom making prints.  It just tells me all the stuff we like and hate about hybrid camera video is pretty niche.  I wish Canon would do something about it but comparing the feature overload of Magic Lantern (which I like) to the simplicity of the Canon menus tells me one of those solutions is for a niche enthusiasts’ market and the other is for an increasingly competitive consumer electronics mass market.

 

It's interesting.  Here in the US the only big brick and mortar electronics store still standing (sort of) is Best Buy.  Consumer electronics is a tough business unless you are like apple and can turn it into a religion so you can churn out one broken product after another and have your consumers blindly accept it.  I can't tell you how many phone calls I've gotten from my girlfriend about broken iphones.  Either the phone doesn't connect to wifi straight out of the box or after a wonderful OS update wifi is no longer available.  My windows phone?  Connects every time.  No problem.  Yet somehow Apple is continually given all this praise.  Well Canon can't really rely on the now dead Steve Jobs' showmanship.  Unlike apple they can't ship out cameras to working pros that break the way iphones do.  Look at how many bugs digital Rebels have.  Now look at how many complaints there are about just wifi alone with the iphone.  That’s not even to mention other things like the disastrous mapping debacle.

 

Sorry for the long post but we all have to keep things in perspective.  Apple is about creating a myth or culture.  It is not about creating great reliable hardware.  Apple has never been about playing in the value end of the market.  Canon is a value player.  JCPenny hired an apple marketing guru.  Their sales plummeted and their bottom line got destroyed.  Working pros and camera reviewers are not going to allow Canon to charge a puffed up premium for stuff the majority of folks are never going to use… particularly if it is as flaky as iphone wifi, or mapping, or itunes, or…

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The reason people are "complaining" about the likes of what is offered by Canon, Sony etc. is because we are in one of those "shut up and take my money!" situations yet these companies don't seem willing to take it. Usually, a company tries to anticipate a growing market, or even create one where none existed prior (Apple has been good at both). But what it boils down to is the company is taking a gamble that if they develop a product, there will be a market of people willing to buy it once it hits shelves. But we already have a market in place, and it is not being exploited.

When it comes to video, since the 5DMkII "accidentally" sparked the DSLR video revolution, there have been many hundreds of thousands (millions?) of consumers who have been standing there, money clenched in their fists, ready to throw it at the first company to make the camera that they are asking for.

 

If Canon would simply make the camera that the market is asking for, they would corner it instantly. Because Canon already has all the pieces on their shelves to make this camera. It isn't "whining" to tell a company that they accidentally made a product that is excellent for something it wasn't designed for, and all we're asking for is for Canon (or whomever) to use that as a starting point to intentionally make something that is even better.

Also, just to point out, basic economics is about "supply and demand" not "supply and we'll-take-whatever-you-are-kind-enough-to-give-us." As consumers we have every right to keep our money if we are not offered the product we want.

 

Very well said. Thanks

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Canon dont care, they know better. Nikon is still living in their golden cage. They only change when they must. Their engineurs are great, but we can only enjoy fragment from their ideas and developments. Bosses in their suits are suffocating in tight ties and also dont care, they know better. :)
I like Sigma with their new lenses which are now better than Canon or Nikon ones :D

Wonder when China and Korea start to catch up in camera bussines?

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nice topic.  i'm of the belief that if only Sony released their upcoming full frame nex with the following:-

 

Xavc 10bit 4;2;2 recording to card (similar quality/data rate as used on the bmpcc)

pixel binning as has been used on 5dmk3 for clean 1080p or better

 

these simple additions, even if it cost £1000 more for the model with these features it would still be the go-to for still/motion picture dslr style camera.

 

I'd love a 5dmk3, but the lack of oled evf is now a real turn off as a user of manual focus lenses for still photography and I am holding fire on a 5dmk3 purchase in the hope that Sony pull something out of the bag...  the a 1DC with decent codec, features like sony added to their A99 (which has a great feature set, but a lacking video quality) and at a reasonable price of <£4000.  

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Canon dont care, they know better. Nikon is still living in their golden cage. They only change when they must. Their engineurs are great, but we can only enjoy fragment from their ideas and developments. Bosses in their suits are suffocating in tight ties and also dont care, they know better. :)
I like Sigma with their new lenses which are now better than Canon or Nikon ones :D

Wonder when China and Korea start to catch up in camera bussines?

 

The question I have is does anyone have any proof to back up these statements?  The DSLR and mirrorless market are competitive.  The US stock market is up massively this year and where are DSLR and mirrorless sales?  Down year over year.  What I would like to know is what are the actually margins on consumer mass market DSLR and mirrorless cameras.  Engineering, testing, and supporting features costs money.

 

 

The reason people are "complaining" about the likes of what is offered by Canon, Sony etc. is because we are in one of those "shut up and take my money!" situations yet these companies don't seem willing to take it. Usually, a company tries to anticipate a growing market, or even create one where none existed prior (Apple has been good at both). But what it boils down to is the company is taking a gamble that if they develop a product, there will be a market of people willing to buy it once it hits shelves. But we already have a market in place, and it is not being exploited.

 

Canon took a gamble on the EOS M and lost millions.  I bought one and canceled my order and got a 600D instead.  Even at $350 including pancake lens it was too expensive for me.  They are currently selling the EOS M package with the zoom lens for $350 and still can't shift that many of them... at least in relation to supply.

 

What I find interesting about this is there is absolutely no finished, nonhacked, raw nor 4:2:2 sub $3,000 camera out there.  No one is doing it.  And certainly no one is doing it on an APS-C or larger sensor.  I would love to shoot raw or probably more importantly prores 4:2:2 but the fact no one is doing it in a polished, nonhacked, ready for prime time camera in that price range tells you something.  Each manufacturer is bringing something different to the table but no one is bringing it all.  I like BMPCC because they bring something different.  But I can't ignore it's lack of polish, no stills, and smaller sensor when comparing it to the Canon 600D in my hand.  You can't get something for nothing.  That doesn't mean I don't pull my hair out when I see moire or mushy image quality in my Canon 600D videos.  I defintely want changes.  The competition is good.  In a few years I think we will see some interesting polished stuff out there.

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I think what your forgetting is the broadcast market globally is huge. Why on earth would they make pro kit at a knockdown price and the have the pro market buy that instead of their more expensive offerings. Why on earth would they give consumers access to pro equipment so they can compete with the pros.

 

Its easy to see why they wont. Morally they cant justify holding technology back so they just say nothing. But that is the nature of business and I'm sure they would all rather sacrifice their consumer offerings and keep the stills cameras and broadcast along with a smaller but still fairly decent consumer video market.

 

The large companies refusal to allow the technology to us without a massive mark up has meant Others are taking up the slack Just like what happened with the recorders like Atomos and letus adapters. Quite funny really.. We find a way..

 

 Its only by encouraging companies like BMD and Kinefinity will we get pro equipment.

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One should not forget that, in order to properly edit/post-process 10bit and raw footage, one needs pro editing software like Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, Avid or Vegas Pro. Most home video makers use budget editors (like iMovie, Pinnacle, Premiere Elements) that only support 8bit amateur video. The enthusiast, semipro and low budget pro market in between video amateurs/cell phone shooters and bigger budget pros (who can easily afford a $15,000 camera) is a small niche and likely not profitable enough.

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Andrew !!!!! 

Thanks a lot ! Please send this to all those brands ! Please ! 

 

We are waiting for years for a decent still - video system. 

 

Olympus has the stabilization (but no video quality and stills cant compete with 5D3 or Fuji X)

Canon with magic lantern has video quality (RAW)

Panasonic has video quality (GH3) and 1080P 60 FPS

Canon, Fuji X and so on have stills quality

Fuji, Olympus (..) has the compact size !! 

 

Jesus ! Give me a Fuji X-E1 (for size and stills quality) with 1080P 60FPS, stabilization and decent bit rates ! 

Or at least an Olympus with better video quality and 1080P 60 FPS ! 

The gopro does it, many camera do. Why the fuck they don't put it everywhere ? Even the black magic, no 60fps ? come on ! 

 

Imagine a OMD EM5 like body, with the 5 axis stabilization, the video quality of the GH3, and the mode of the gh3 (60 fps)  ! Would be a killer an open new world for video. 
Imagine video in paragliding, sports and so on with the stabilization and the 5 axis !! Images never seen before. 

 

 

COME ON !!! Give us quality, controls and options ! 

I am selling my Fuji X-E1 now because I have no manual control on video, no 1080P 60fps. Thus I am leaving without stab (the stab of the lens is decent and better than nothing), and without big bit rates. Quality is decent. See one of my videos 100% shot with it : 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAEFNKKaXA0&hd=1

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Nice post, but we've been in this situation for years now.  They aren't listening.  It's time to move on.  Depending on your budget and needs, support GoPro, Blackmagic, Kinefinity, Leica, Red or Arri.  

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Nice post, but we've been in this situation for years now.  They aren't listening.  It's time to move on.  Depending on your budget and needs, support GoPro, Blackmagic, Kinefinity, Leica, Red or Arri.  

 

>Leica

 

Wut..

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One interesting point that's rarely touched upon is how light-sensor cost-reduction differs from that of CPUs and

GPUs.

 

Both require bulk in order to maintain scale economy, there's a parity, but 'Moore's law' affects them differently.

For CPU and GPU the ever decreasing die size (that's the measurement in nm next to a processor) means that less

silicon can be used to produce the same integrated circuit, or that more can be packed in and you can gain on

various fronts.

 

Since a light sensor is of a fixed physical size, it's hard (if not not impossible) to reduce cost by reducing the amount

of silicon wafer used. Production efficiency and accuracy help, as can research and development and incorporation, (fewer cast offs and QC fails) but it's essentially a complex process and very expensive. Volume or refined production are key, and both are expensive. Hence Canon's incessant re-using of the old 18MP model, hence BMD's troubles starting in a new field, despite their heritage!

 

Sony re-use fewer types as they license sensors to others to make up numbers. Yet of course they still split one across many SKUs, and that is part of the reason they can make it in the first place: production is justified by return from the design stage.

 

Those who don't make vast numbers suffer with quality control or price, it's a hard balance. A perfect example is Blackmagic Design and their repeated sensor QC failures. They've managed to actually make Pocket cams because it's the same as the older sensor, just cropped. Now we can see in action why big companies do this. The 4K cams however, use a new sensor, so the problems arise again. Delays, brand damage, cancelled orders, so on.

 

Canon can pump out a huge number of functioning, identical units with a comparatively minuscule flaw rate. Since they're in a position of no competition (or negotiated competition, perhaps) in this respect and have Magic Lantern making up the firmware shortfall they needn't move too fast, just enough to stay ahead and as profitable as possible. Consumer cams may be in danger from phones, but enthusiast/pro crossover market is always quite small... for the simple reason that people tend to drop one way or the other after a time. They either rely on cameras for a living, or they drop out of "the race".

 

Blackmagic have shown that such a camera as we all desire can be made, but we all knew that. What they need to show is that it can be made reliably, on time, and be completed when released, supported, and keep working. So far these things haven't happened. Until then, the biggest players (unfortunately) don't have much of a reason to respond to a comparatively niche market... which is a shame... :/

 

Personally, and for what it's worth, I feel they would have been better off at BMD making just the 4K S35 camera with a bespoke flat mount that takes adapters to EF etc. This should have been the sole R&D on the camera side for all of the development time, been available at announcement and thouroughly tested. Remember there was no competition for this model, still isn't at the price point. It could have been developed more rigorously behind the scenes, perhaps with slightly more up-front investment, and released, Apple like, on an unsuspecting market.

 

Unfortunately, as it is we have obsolescence within a line that isn't even shipping fully, orders all over the place, glitches, all sorts. This is the Kickstarted/Public Beta method, I feel a 'behind closed doors' method, over perhaps these two years that have passed would have been preferable: one model, one solution, complete and functioning from announcement day. Imagine if we'd known nothing of these cameras until whenever it is 4K is shipping, and could have bought one right then, guaranteed working? Just my two cents.

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Magic Lantern has 27,000 members.  Let's say there are another 23,000 videographers who read EOS-HD, DP-REVIEW or nothing.  Let's put hard-core DSLR video users, both professional, semi-professional and hobbyist at 50,000.  Canon sold 9 million DSLR like cameras this year.  I assume Nikon sold a similar amount. The U.S. is over 300 million, even 10% of that is 30 million.  Even if Canon looks at their numbers only 50,000 / 9,000,000 equals 0.5 %, that's half of one percent. 

 

There are many ways one can try to increase market-share by 0.5%. I'm sure there are many good reasons why RAW like video is not it.  It's in the numbers.

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There are many ways one can try to increase market-share by 0.5%. I'm sure there are many good reasons why RAW like video is not it.  It's in the numbers.

 

And what consumer technology companies like Canon and Nikon do for sure: Factor in support and customer assistance costs. The fact that raw-like video won't work on 90% of the SD cards currently being used and sold (because they're too slow) would be enough to create a support nightmare. I think that this will remain a niche market for companies like Blackmagic for the next couple of years.

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And what consumer technology companies like Canon and Nikon do for sure: Factor in support and customer assistance costs. The fact that raw-like video won't work on 90% of the SD cards currently being used and sold (because they're too slow) would be enough to create a support nightmare. I think that this will remain a niche market for companies like Blackmagic for the next couple of years.

 

Absolutely, and look at it from Blackmagic's POV. I'm sure they'd love to get even the littlest piece of Canon's high end market.  So while Andrew is trying to get the Japanese giants to look down at us, someone at BM is trying to get them to forget about us and look up at them ;)

 

I try to look at any RAW video on VIMEO, YouTube.  I read ML forums.  I believe there are, at best, maybe 20 people who shoot RAW on the 50D and maybe a few hundred, at best a few thousand, on the 5D3.   I've sent Andrew messages about focusing on EOS RAW stuff, but he always has some new more expensive camera he'd rather write about.  I don't blame him.  The real money for bloggers is in camera pornography.  

 

People who hack cameras like me--the last kind of customer you really want ;)  Unless you want to live in a cold-water flat and have maybe 3 lenses in your collection.

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The Innovator's Dilemma is a fantastic book - and we can see the rise and fall of great companies, as described by the book, repeating itself here.  Incumbents fall into the trap of focusing too much on their current customers' needs while failing to recognize and address the upstart.  

 

In each case, the upstart is inferior by every measurable standard.  Yet, the nascent technology improves under the incumbents' noses while the incumbents focus on meeting the needs of their existing customers.  The incumbents are rarely unaware of the developing competitive technology, but they need to meet sales targets and make payroll. If publicly traded, there's even more acute pressure to satisfy the existing customer base - on a quarterly basis.

 

To the demise of so many companies, the nascent technology eventually becomes good enough, and the incumbent is caught flat-footed, unable to shift to the new paradigm.  

 

It's extremely hard for any one company to address multiple markets.  I recall sitting in a town-hall style meeting with Steve Jobs, when one of my colleagues asked about Apple's enterprise efforts.  Having just left Oracle, I, too was curious about my new employer's enterprise positioning, after all, we had Xserves and RAID equipment to sell.  The defining moment for me was Steve's response, and I'm paraphrasing here - Apple is a consumer electronics company, not an enterprise company.  We cannot serve both masters.  Others have tried and failed.  Our goal is to make the best consumer electronics products possible.  If you want to sell enterprise, just walk down the street - HP, IBM, Sun.... they're all just down the street, and they're hiring.

 

And like that, the veil of confusion was lifted.  Having cut my technology teeth at Sun and Oracle, I was befuddled by so many "Appleisms" I encountered up to that point.  It's not that they didn't care about enterprise users - Apple just wasn't going to prioritize product specs or operations to the needs of corporate IT customers.  Where I used to present product roadmaps in previous jobs, as an Apple employee, I would learn about products at the same time as my customers.

 

So, why the Apple history?  I believe this is where most camera companies are challenged - i.e. which master do they serve?  Most companies are structured along divisional lines.  Each divisional VP is responsible for his/her own P&L.  The broadcast division is going to see the consumer division as competition and artificial limitations are often employed to keep products in their lanes.  

 

There are few camera companies that closely align with Apple's functional approach.  BM probably more than any other because they don't have a legacy camera business to protect.  Fuji seems to have a similar ethos, focusing on a particular type of photographer.  Fuji and BMC are not trying to be all things to all customers, and like Apple, they also face product constraints, if at different scales.  

 

If history has a way of repeating itself, I think Canon/Nikon/Sony/Panasonic have a lot to worry about.  While Canon and NIkon duke it out over NFL sideline status and Sony and Panasonic fight over the TV studios, millions of people just got 120 FPS cameras with built-in editing and the ability to upload to YouTube directly.  

 

Having spent the last couple of weeks hammering Apple's Motion 5 really hard (so addicted to flying cameras through 3D space and key framing rack focus!!!), I can't help but imagine the iPhone running something like Motion on iOS some day.

 

Software has a funny way of bending the laws of physics - that, I believe, is the space to watch for us image makers.  Cinematography is no longer a niche.  Even if our elevated sense of quality won't accept something like the iPhone as a story telling tool, for millions of people, it's good enough.  And, that, is what Canon/Nikon/Sony/Panasonic should be worrying about.

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