Cameras and lenses will need to get more expensive; that’s how the industry will survive.
The new trend in cameras is that things are getting more and more expensive. But at the same time, people want better products. We think that the market is going to sort itself out. However, if cameras and lenses become cheaper, they also need to become more expensive. The more expensive cameras get, the more it means we’re evolving. And that’s a very, very good thing.
Most of the people who buy cameras these days aren’t professional photographers. They’re still hobbyists. But they’re all passionate photographers, no matter what. Lots of folks are very in love with the image-making process.
Why are cameras getting more expensive, you ask? Well, the camera on your phone can do a lot. But the higher end of cameras really needs to stand out from Apple, Google, Samsung, and the rest. So they’re trying harder. Innovations are there that haven’t come to phones. You’re paying for those innovations. But more importantly, you’re paying for your hobby or your profession the way you would any other.
I always equate the photo industry to the watch industry. Phones made watches obsolete, but they managed to evolve. 10 years later, phones made most cameras obsolete. And we’re still in an evolutionary stage. What this will mean is that you’re not buying a new camera every year. You’re not buying a new phone every year either. Instead, you’ll use your camera and lenses for a while. And that’s awesome! Hopefully, we’ll go back to a time when the digital cameras you own will last you almost a decade.
Combine all this with the right to repair as a modern movement and environmental responsibility. It might mean that the camera market actually becomes more sustainable. I like this idea. And you should too.
Where I think it’s going to make things fascinating to watch is with the used market. If companies are smart, they’ll start looking at the vintage market and reissuing hot products there. People will buy the new ones instead of the older originals. It will just drive the value of their company up.
Overall, I’m confident that the market is going to sort itself out. Innovations are going to become more expensive. And more modest products are going to have price drops. Indeed, they should. Why is a Nikon Z6 II so expensive if it’s not doing anything special? Comparatively speaking, it and the Panasonic S5 are almost the same cameras. But the Panasonic S5 does Live Composite shooting and is a bit pricier. It’s the only full-frame camera to have that feature. And the Sony a7 III is even more affordable! To that end, the market is going to sort itself out.
The same thing is going to happen to lenses. As the innovation happens, lenses are going to need to keep up. And lenses are doing that every year. There are various companies and lots of room to play. But this will happen if companies mostly just stay in their own lanes. They’re all recycling and using the same components, more or less.
I think that this will change if companies start doing something truly different. Canon, for example, makes all their own parts. So too, does Sony. Panasonic used to and doesn’t anymore. Leica makes everything that counts. Fujifilm does the same.
Let’s just see how the industry works over the next few years. This year is going to be big overall.