The Camera Market Needs Canon to Stop Drinking Its Own Kool-Aid

Canon’s profits are tanking, and they are losing even more ground in the camera market.

Poor Canon; it seems as though things keep going from bad to worse for the former king of the photography castle. While Canon has been hard at work on all fronts, it seems as though their efforts aren’t producing the results they want. To be fair, earlier on this year, Canon’s CEO did say that he fully expects things to get worse before they get better, but I don’t think anyone could have predicted that their gross profits would tank quite so hard over nine months. Just what does Canon need to do to steady their ship?

Canon just released its quarterly operating statements, and they do not make for pleasant reading. Over the last three months, Canon’s operating profits are down a staggering 43.7% compared to the same period as last year. Ouch! Over the previous nine months, Canon’s operating profits are down 49.9% compared to the same period as last year too. Double ouch! Of course, it’s not just Canon who is hurting, but they sure do seem to be hurting more than others in the industry. So, one has to ask, just what does Canon need to do to turn this downward trend around?

There’s going to come a time when camera companies (Canon included) will need to consolidate. Personally, I feel like camera manufacturers (Canon and Nikon specifically) are hurting themselves by spreading themselves too thin. Canon currently has three different camera systems on the market right now.  At this time, Canon is trying to cater to EF mount owners, RF mount owners, and M mount owners. It boggles my mind that the M mount is still a thing.

Outside of Japan, the camera system has failed massively, and yet here we are with a new M6 II and a significant push on getting new lenses out for the system. Why? Why keep pushing such a fragmented lineup. Surely the goal here is to get people to the RF mount. M mount cameras simply won’t do that. I understand that the M6 II had probably been in development for some time, so to get some money back, they went ahead with the release, but it sends the wrong message.

The same can be said about the new 90D too. I personally love DSLR’s, but when you’re hurting as much as Canon is in terms of profits, it seems crazy to keep on producing cameras for a system they want to move on from. Again, the 90D had probably been in development for a while, but sheesh, when you’re 50% down in operating profits year-over-year, you have to cut your loses somewhere. So, it’s clear that one thing Canon’s needs to do is consolidate. They need to consolidate their entire lineup.

There are umpteen EOS Rebel cameras (T6, T6i, T7, T7i, etc.) on the market, then you have the EOS M5, M6, M6 II, M50, and the M200. Why are you overpopulating your own market, Canon? The term K.I.S.S comes to mind – keep it simple stupid! Personally, I’d kill off the M mount, and would start phasing out EF mount cameras. Going forward, their needs to be just five RF mount models on the camera market. An entry-level APS-C EOS Rebel, the Canon RP as a step up into Full-Frame cameras, the Canon EOS R to replace the EF Mount 5D, a high-resolution RF mount camera to replace the 5DSR, and an RF mount successor to the 1DX III. Five cameras, and you’ll have everything covered. Don’t even bother with point and shoot cameras: smartphones have killed that camera market.

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The next big thing would be to stop crippling your cameras. Really! Just stop it! You’re going up against Sony, who throws almost every killer feature into all of their cameras. Eye and face detect? Yup! Killer 4K video with high bit rates and 24p? Yup! IBIS on all but their entry-level cameras? Yup! Sure, Sony has made a mess with the number of cameras they have out too, but we’re talking about features here.

In this current camera market, you need every advantage you can get at every price point, so stop shooting yourself in the foot. It makes you look crazy, and it makes your customers want to jump ship. I was a Canon shooter for 17 years but couldn’t put up with you wielding your feature-cutting scissors any longer. I applaud your decision to update video features in some of your cameras via a firmware update, but we shouldn’t have gotten to the point where public pressure for you to release it was needed.

Canon, you do so many things right. You have the best ergonomics, the best menu system, true flippy screens, RAW files that are a delight to work with, and you make some of the best lenses available. Build on that! Throw all the features into your cameras, stop supporting models that don’t appeal to large audiences, consolidate, and give a clear message. The camera market is a mess right now, but you still have time to fix it. K.I.S.S and make-up with your fans and photographers before it’s too late.

Brett Day

Brett Day is the Gear Editor at The Phoblographer and has been a photographer for as long as he can remember. Brett has his own photography business that focuses on corporate events and portraiture. In his spare time, Brett loves to practice landscape and wildlife photography. When he's not behind a camera, he's enjoying life with his wife and two kids, or he's playing video games, drinking coffee, and eating Cheetos.