The Camera: Society’s Latest Addition to the Luxury Product Lineup

Innovative cameras - Leica M-D
Have you noticed that cameras and lenses these days are becoming more and more pricey? Well, the good ones are at least…

And that every phone manufacturer is trying to create a camera that can take the place of your DSLR or mirrorless camera in some way? If it isn’t with just RAW files it’s with the depth of field effect. It’s kind of crazy, right? But in many ways, it makes sense. The camera is becoming more and more of a luxury item. It’s no longer (and hasn’t been for a while) an item that everyone needs to have. Instead, people use their phones not only because the image quality isn’t too bad, but people have simply just lowered their standards in some ways.

Combine this with the fact that people don’t want to carry a whole lot of stuff on them (with the exception of the new MacBook owners) and a person’s laziness is what ends up taking over. Why carry something big and heavy when what’s on you all the time just works out well enough, right? It’s the mentality that is killing DSLRs–this is part of the reason why mirrorless cameras have become so popular in the past few years and continue to be on the rise overall.

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Then consider this: camera manufacturers in some ways just can’t keep up. For example, everyone likes simple connectivity. Sony has the easiest setup, but what makes no sense is why camera manufacturers haven’t targeted consumers with some of the more consumerish features that they know and love. For example, what about augmented reality with all the cool stuff that Snapchat is able to do? Since a lot of the new cameras are targeted at the selfie crowd, why not take it a step further?

I’m sure that when you combine this with better image quality that people will overall just be happier about the images they’re putting out.

Instead these cameras are meant for people to potentially take seriously, even if you just keep it in auto mode and shoot to your heart’s content. Why you’d spend $3,000 on that makes no sense to me, but it’s what people do.

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We’ve seen this trend before: film became a luxury and niche product. So too did Hifi audio. If folks buy these things now, it’s because they’re of a very discerning nature; but the truth is that most of society is pretty basic. They don’t understand cameras, the idea of millimeters, what ISOs or shutter speeds are, etc.

In the next few years, cameras will become more and more expensive because the technology is becoming better and because people are purchasing less of them. The image quality overall is just so good that they’ll be fine with it. But where the market can still work out in their advantage is with lenses and lights. No one knows what an 85mm f1.4 can do for their photography until they try it. So like many other in-person experiences, these things need to be felt, seen, and realized in person.

And in the end, the camera will become a luxury device.