I had an interesting talk with one of my work hosts today about cameras in Japan. I asked him what the most popular camera in Japan was, and he immediately said Nikon. And then he said “and Canon, too.” And then he reached into his pocket and pulled out his smart phone, which was his camera. It’s all he wants, needs, and can afford. It allows him to make stills and video, and to share it with his family and friends either directly by showing them on his smart phone screen or putting them up on any number of social networks.
And he’s not the first Japanese to say this. Others I’ve talked to since my first trip to Japan in December 2013 have said essentially the same thing. And it shows in the general crowds of people I see around me. No matter where I go, I see very few DSLRs. In fact, I see very few “just cameras” at all. The only time I saw any to speak of was at the park when I first arrived. There, I saw three, two Sony E-mount cameras and a Nikon DSLR equivalent to the D5500. Everybody else was using their smartphone.
I’m an anachronism when it comes to “just cameras.” And I think the pool of us particular anachronisms is growing smaller, partly through us dying off, and partly through some of us saying the hell with it and embracing the smartphone camera. And it’s killing the entire ILC market in the process. I’d embrace the Samsung Galaxy S4 more if the output weren’t such crap (see above for example). That photo at the top of my Olympus E-M10 and the two lenses (Panasonic 14mm and Olympus 17mm) is probably the end of the line for me. The next camera I get won’t be an E-M5 II or even an E-M1 II, but probably the Samsung Galaxy S6. I can’t see spending thousands of dollars any more for cameras. I can justify a good camera these days if it’s part of something else that I need, such as my cell phone.
I’ve tried to experiment with using WiFi to move photos off my E-M10 to my iPad and then up to Flickr. But its a lot easier to just move the photo straight from the S4 where it was taken to Flickr. Although, truth be told, moving images up to Flickr can be painfully slow these days, regardless of the method (phone, iPad, or notebook). But the steps are far fewer to move from captured image to final destination if you’re using your smartphone. And none of the camera makers really seem to understand that. Cost and the aggravation of getting the images off the ILC cameras such as the E-M10 are killing interest and patience for a lot of potential customers. For an awful lot of people ease of use trumps any superior image advantage that the ILC has over the smartphone.