2021 Imaging Trends

The Nikon Df

I have just completed the article on the imaging trends for the upcoming year and you can read more in Techgoondu.com. In it, I have discussed the three main imaging tools in use today from beginners to professionals.

The first contact with photography amongst the youngsters was the smartphone, and it is tough not to see why. The smartphone is with us most of the time and modern parents are using their phones as a way to distract their kids while working from home.

The adults are relying more on their smartphones rather than the big and bulky cameras such as the DSLRs. In fact, the mirrorless is comparatively big too. Part of the blame why cameras are getting rarer goes to the manufacturers that promise a smaller camera alluding that the mirror box in the DSLR took up a chunk of the space when even an old Nikon FM, even with its mirror, is still smaller than the modern DSLR. But when more mirrorless cameras are introduced over the past few years, they are nowhere smaller than the DSLR when there’s a lens in front.

Ergonomics plays a part in how a camera is handled and the big chunkiness of the camera is to help in that area and is especially important when there’s a big lens in front. This is one point that doesn’t sit well with users who just want to shoot something quickly and is easy to carry around. They make this worse when the lenses that go with the new systems are anything by dainty. In fact, the mirrorless is the new DSLR in terms of overall size with its own pros and cons.

With lesser people printing their photos these days, the need for such high-quality images is rare these days amongst consumers.

Hence the smartphone camera gets our focus (pun intended) when Huawei launched the P9 with help from Leica. Manufacturers of smartphones took up the challenge to improve the image quality using social media consumption as the basis of comparison. They are good enough, professional-looking even when viewing through apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram but is not up to par with professional standards. With lesser people printing their photos these days, the need for such high-quality images is rare these days amongst consumers.

The Sony RX100 Compact Camera

In the middle of crossfire, the compact camera is the first victim of sorts. They do not have the same computational photography of the smartphones that improves on images from small sensors and yet the raw image quality is not on par with the bigger cameras.

It is getting expensive too. The latest RX100 Mark 7 is priced at S$1649 and the ZV-1 starts from S$999. This is the effect of very low economies of scale. Sony is appealing to a consumer base that is paying a lot more for their smartphones too, making it a tough sell. An average consumer will buy a smartphone more readily than a camera if given a choice.

If it is of any indication, the serious camera market is going through the same curve too. The number of people buying such cameras is shrinking and out of those numbers, more will be buying mirrorless cameras. I foresee the DSLR camera will be a niche market for action and wildlife photographers soon. When lesser people can buy lenses for their systems, the cost of R&D and manufacturing will increase exponentially. No wonder Nikon shifted most of its camera production to Thailand since the 90s and Olympus has sold its camera business to Japan Industrial Partners (JIP).

It will be a tough road ahead for camera manufacturers as we expect more consolidation with Sony, Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon and Panasonic serving lesser users in the coming years.

The DJI Mini 2

DJI has been dominating the consumer drone market for quite sometime now but I am glad they are not resting on their laurels. I own a Spark before buying the Parrot Anafi because of the later’s ability to fly longer. Problem is both of them are bad at flying over long distances, a problem when using using normal WiFi signals to control the drone.

Mini 2 improved with longer flight time than the Spark and yet has the same communication system as its bigger sibblings. This is one drone that can fly longer and further without breaking its video feed. I also feel the drone is the recipient of the recent advancement in small sensor image capture. Its night time photo and video has improved to the point I can use it for social media.

The drone market is now seeing a new competitor in the Sony Airpeak. The Sony offering does not have a gimbal camera but one that allows content creators to latch a A7 mirrorless camera unto the drone. It is by no means a consumer drone but this space needs more competitors to make it vibrant.

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