With the proliferation of all kinds of gadgetry not only for everyday needs, but also for needs we thought we would never have, the camera market sadly seems to be moving in the same direction. Actually, it is already half way there. New cameras, lenses and accessories keep popping up every few months and come in all shapes, forms and colors. The camera market seems to be experiencing the same over-saturation that other electronics companies are seeing today. People do not want to buy new TVs anymore, so manufacturers are trying to find new ways to sell more TVs by adding more features. The approach is built on typical consumerism – make something look shiny and more interesting than it was before and it might lure people into buying it every year. Camera companies are sadly following exactly the same practice. Announcements are becoming more important than the products themselves, so manufacturers are pushing more redundant choices year after year just to make headlines.
As recently as five years ago, we did not have DSLR cameras in different colors. Silver and Black were the only colors used and they were good enough to cover the majority of the products. Not anymore. Now we have every manufacturer selling entry-level choices in different colors. Pentax is selling the K-50 in 120 different colors and you can customize it any way you want. Now that we have pretty much hit the innovation wall, camera manufacturers seem to be trying the same cheap tricks just to make their products look a little more attractive. They want you to think that once you buy a certain color, you will stand out from the crowd. What nonsense. Pink Nikon D4s anyone? And if color is not your thing, they will make a new DSLR with mostly the same specs every year! A perfectly good example of such behavior is now Nikon with its never ending line of basic DSLRs.
Since the lion share of of Nikon’s DSLR sales come from entry-level cameras and camera sales are on a steep decline globally, Nikon clearly pointed out earlier last year that it wants to concentrate on entry-level cameras. As a result, we have seen two new entry-level models announced within the last 6 months (Nikon D5300 and D3300), with probably faster refresh cycles in the future due to the new corporate strategy. If Nikon follows the point and shoot (and recently mirrorless market) past, we might see entry-level DSLRs pop out every year. If you look at Nikon’s current DSLR line, we have the following cameras listed: D3100, D3200, D3300, D90, D5100, D5200 and D5300 – a total of 7 DSLRs! And this list does not include the Nikon D3000 and the D5000, which you can still buy new today. I cannot imagine the pain a typical buyer goes through when trying to pick one camera among such a wide array of entry-level choices. It confuses the heck out of them as they try to figure out different models, prices and value. Choice is not always a good thing. We are getting spammed with DSLRs just like point and shoot cameras of yesterday. Although Canon follows a similar practice with their line of Canon Digital Rebel cameras, at least they have only four listed on their website. Why continue pushing such old cameras as D3100 and D90? The D90 is now almost 6 years old, so why is it still listed on the website? I get it, too many of those were made and there is still plenty of inventory left. But for 6 years?
Instead of pushing more crap-gadgets to the consumers that clearly do not want them, why not work on pushing existing inventory and working on releasing cameras with innovative features every 3-4 years instead? I would welcome a D3300 with a built-in GPS, WiFi, a well-balanced 16 MP sensor and a fast hybrid / electronic viewfinder. That would be innovative. But when I look at its current specs and see the same camera as the D3200, plus a couple of extra features here and there, I realize why Nikon is in trouble. So much waste to create, market and sell something that is practically the same as the predecessor.
Time for a change. Nikon needs it badly.