Thoughts on camera features.

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by acearchie, Sep 18, 2014.

  1. acearchie macrumors 68040

    acearchie

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    #1
    So it struck me recently that isn't it the case that camera manufacturers are holding back on certain features for as long as possible so they can capitalise on sales of the current product.

    When Canon first brought out it's DSLRs product updates were frequent with quite large changes coming in.

    Recently I have noticed that it's almost like they hold of until someone bites and releases a camera with a certain feature.

    For example. With Canon the 6D and the 1Dx were the low light kings.

    Out of the blue sony comes out with the A7s which blows everything out of the water, especially for video.

    Soon after Samsung releases a camera with an even larger ISO range and Canon does the same with the 7Dii.

    Whilst I'm not sure what the next big new features are with digital cameras I can't help feeling that with a lot of users opting to use their mobile phone cameras rather than DSLRs that Canon and others are focusing too much on squeezing as much revenue as they can rather than focusing on innovation and what the consumers want.
     
  2. Apple fanboy macrumors Core

    Apple fanboy

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    #2
    Nikon are no better. D5300 has built in Wifi and articulated screen. D7100 doesn't. The whole line up has too many options and too much overlap IMO.
     
  3. Meister Suspended

    Meister

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    #3
    I agree. It's very odd.
     
  4. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #4
    How is that new exactly? I can think of a few examples in the Canon and Nikon line-up of the last few years where the respective company held back features (the paltry AF system in the Canon 5D Mark I and Mark II comes to mind, or the small buffer on the Nikon D7000/D7100). Nikon's latest full frame camera line-up is quite confusing, there is large overlap between the Df, D750 and D610.

    On the other hand, I think dslrs have become so good that there is very little left to innovate. Even mid-range cameras feature 6+ fps and ISO sensitivities well in excess of 6,400. The AF system of my D7000 would have been a good fit in Nikon's top-of-the-line model a few years earlier. In short, dslrs are so good that they are rarely the limiting factor. And any Canon vs. Nikon forum slug fests feel like comparing horse power figures of your cars even though all you do is drive around town.

    The biggest push comes from mirrorless manufacturers, and both, Canon and Nikon, don't dare to enter the mirrorless market in a serious fashion (many of the EOS-M lenses are not available internationally and Nikon's System 1 uses a tiny sensor).
     
  5. kenoh macrumors demi-god

    kenoh

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    #5
    I just think it is hard to innovate. Hard to come up with something new so they need to drip feed the features in to capture peoples interest as a way of keeping some kind of predictability around revenue. Also, features these days depend more and more on things like faster image processors and better battery life.

    The latter is the biggest inhibitor in technology design that and heat dissipation. So maybe they are still trying to work out how to add them in without murdering battery.

    Next, it is easier as 2nd place in the market as you have someone ahead of you to try to catch. When you are up front, you have to think of new stuff yourself which is harder.

    We are our own worse enemy in this too. The release a new camera and we all jump on it to see what new toys there are to play with and often buy because of the next killer feature.

    Dont know, just thoughts...
     
  6. JDDavis macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

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    #6
    I hope I don't get obliterated for this but I wonder if Nikon or Canon are being forced down the path that Apple (to me) clearly went down. Shirk the pure pro market in favor of the consumer enthusiast and casual user market.

    To me, Apple saw where the money was and felt they could give consumers pro quality devices (maybe not pro specs) that they would by in mass. They still build the Mac Pro for the true power user. Nikon seems to be wanting more consumer enthusiasts to invest in FF with the 610 and 750. I think DSLRs are in a bit of a churn until the big boys figure out where the tech and the big money market are going.

    I'm sure there will alway be a D4s type DSLR out there but does a company like Nikon have the cajones to try to convince pro users that a $1200 DX or FF camera is good enough to meet there needs. Apple basically did that. Jobs said an iMac or a Macbook Pro is good enough. You don't need the highest spec possible to get the job done. My wife is a "power user" and has used Macs for years in her job. They always bought the top of the line "pro" computers in thier work. Now she uses a Macbook driving a retina display and it works perfectly.

    Just rambling I guess. I guess what I'm saying is Apple shifted to product quality and user experience over simply having the best/latest specs. It's not a direct analogy for the camera industry but it could be experincing the same shift that Apple wanted to get out in front of. The model seems to want consumers to upgrade tech every 2-3 years or so.
     
  7. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #7
    I really don't see that Apple abandoned the pro market in favor of consumers and prosumers -- especially since many people mean creative professional of a certain type (video, photos, web) instead of people who make money with their Mac as a tool.
    I think there is a lot of FUD going around, because things such as shipments and revenues from cameras are shrinking for the obvious reasons. However, what is important is not revenue, but that camera manufacturers make a profit. Canon and Nikon are pushing enthusiasts to buy full frame cameras very hard, e. g. by not making certain crop lenses (e. g. larger aperture primes). Some people are buying into the narrative that they »need« full frame cameras even though modern crop sensor cameras are so good that they easily get the job done -- and offer superior price/performance. For dslrs the lens line-up and lens roadmaps tell the story here.
    Huh? Apple does not skimp on specs: they use the same Intel processors as everybody else (or their own ARM processors which are at least among if not the fastest ARM cores on the market). There is less artificial crippling in their products as it is the case for many Nikon or Canon dslrs, because the differentiator between product lines is quite clear (e. g. MacBook Air vs. Retina MacBook Pro series).

    I'm not necessarily disagreeing with your conclusion about camera manufacturers, but I don't think your comparison to Apple is very apt here.
     
  8. Oracle1729 macrumors 6502a

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    #8
    Apple is just as bad. Look at their iToys since 2010, each version you get a faster CPU and 1 or 2 new features. That's how Apple went from 5 years ahead of Android to 2 years behind since 2007. There is nothing on the iPhone 6/6+ that hasn't been available for years. And you think Apple couldn't have added a larger screen and NFC to the original 5 2 years ago? Apple's Retina HD screens are still lower resolution than the comparable Samsungs. For differentiation, why do you have to buy the 6+ to get OIS in the camera?

    As for their computers, how often does the lower end version not have all the BTO options for the first 6 months? Why does the lowest end iMac have an ultra-lower power MBA cpu? So it doesn't take sales from the more expensive ones.
     
  9. Oracle1729 macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    I think cameras, like computers are starting to hit a performance wall. Early with digital cameras they were so primitive that with a little R&D the next version was leaps ahead and everyone had to buy it.

    But now, for example, Nikon will have a hard time convincing people who love their D8100 to upgrade. A bit more dynamic range would be nice, but not worth a $3000 upgrade, and higher iso at low noise is always welcome, but it seems like the D810 can handle anything I can see well enough to set up a shot.

    As far as bells and whistles, I don't think they're as relevant at the higher end. There's a reason my camera doesn't have features like smile shutter than cameras at 5% the price have. Why would I want an articulated screen when I never use it for previewing images. I've never used built in wifi in the cameras I have that have it. I do use an eye-fi card sometimes for event photography though, but I'd rather pay $100 for that than replace the body.

    I see myself keeping my current camera until it breaks, unless Nikon does something really amazing. And for how many FF cameras they probably sell, amazing is too expensive in R&D for them.
     
  10. JDDavis macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

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    #10
    Yeah the comparison doesn't work that great. What I was trying to say was that Apple (to me) set out to change what people thought a pro device was. That it was more about the quality/design of the product and the user experience (what a user is able to do with it) than raw specs. Yes their specs are basically on par with everything else though arguably not bleeding edge. I think Jobs wanted customers to stop focusing on having to have the bleeding edge tech spec in thier device. My experience falls in line with that because creative pros (excluding video) always wanted the "power" desktops and now most use iMacs and Macbooks...especially in web and graphic design.

    Kinda gone off track with the discussion on camera features. My questions/point that I haven't been able to adequately make is that we may see DSLRs go down the same path were the consumer product and the pro product blend together. There will probably always be a low end (ipad/Macbook Air?) and a high end (Mac Pro) but the middle may become increasingly consolidated. Who knows?

    The one interesting thing about cameras is that a 50yr old camera will still produce amazing images (in the right hands) whereas a 15yr old computer is really just a novelty.
     
  11. MacCruiskeen macrumors 6502

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    #11
    But to a certain extent they've always done that. The reason I have a Nikon F is that in 1973, my dad thought it was the thing to have, even though it was expensive and there was no way he really _needed_ that for the occasional vacation/holiday snapshot. And it actually didn't get much use until it became my camera a few years later. Today, though, it plays backup to my F2.

    The point is, they've always pushed aspirational shooters to buy more than they needed.
     
  12. Meister Suspended

    Meister

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    #13
    The :apple: retina is perfectly fine. More pixels means more computing power used and are you really able to see the difference? I am not. I still use my iPad mini and I don't miss the retina.

    Of course :apple: is trying to make money. They put features into the + and leave them out of the other phones to get people to spend more. They also make the best rounded overall products.
     
  13. Oracle1729 macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    This is what's so funny though. When Apple has a feature it's the greatest thing ever. When Apple is clearly inferior it comes down to you just don't need that and you're better off without it because {insert reason here}.

    Samsung had bigger higher res screens first, now that Apple has a bigger not-so-high res screen you don't need the pixels. My Galaxy S4 screen looks much nicer than my iPad 4 screen.

    And the point of my post wasn't to put down Apple but that the post I was replying to said Apple didn't hold back features like "other companies" do. You seem to agree with me on that issue.
     
  14. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #15
    I understand why they're doing it, but Canon's and Nikon's actions are slowing down progress significantly. I used to love my Nikons, I always preferred their UI and feel to Canons (no offense, just a matter of personal preference and personal prejudice). But I know for a fact that I'll replace my D7000 + lenses + flashes with an X-mount camera.
    Yeah, your argument that user experience and quality are more important to Apple these days makes much more sense, and I think this is where Canon and Nikon go wrong: they are trying way too hard to rig their camera line-up -- which means crippling some bodies in strange ways, e. g. the way wireless or GPS is handled. Why don't all cameras (above a certain level) have these features by default? Ditto for video and articulated LCDs which may or may not be a big feature of the camera. I also understand the other part of your analogy, dslrs (just like computers) are so good that in many respects you don't need the most expensive camera for professional applications (professional as in making money with the tool called camera).
     
  15. v3rlon macrumors 6502

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    #16
    There is a lot that goes into designing devices that may not be immediately obvious.

    I remember hearing how AMD and Intel were holding back their 10GHz devices so they could trickle them out and milk consumers for money during the MHz wars.

    Clearly, this was not true.

    What if the deal for the wifi module didn't get signed until after the Nikon 7100 was designed and being implemented. Sure, we can add it in, but then we have to re-tool all those magnesium bodies and it sets us back 6 months and add so many millions to the cost?

    Or the GPS module drains batteries like no tomorrow. ACME GPS swears the next one will draw less power, but they said that about the last one. Do we want to wait 6 months and see? Plus we will have to test it and make sure there are no bugs. And that assumes ACME GPS delivers on time this round.

    Also, low power parts are also low heat parts. This is useful when planning a cooling solution. If you want to keep fans and/or noise down, use low power parts. Or maybe you have to buy this number of a specific Intel part to get the "Intel Inside" discount, and it happens to be the part that Intel is clearing out to make room for their next big thing.

    Or they wanted to hit a certain price point, and adding that feature moved it over the limit.

    And, of course, product differentiation. Maybe they needed the extra room in the bigger one. Maybe they did at design, and it wasn't until they committed that a better solution came along. The lead time to make some of these devices is amazing. It can take a couple of months to make a computer chip once the process is proven, never mind the bleeding edge stuff.
     
  16. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

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    #17
    I'll just put it out here - I always wonder how well some of the biggest critics of digital cameras would do if suddenly they were forced to use film only cameras. Must would fail miserably when it comes to low light and being forced to focus everything yourself. Having come from a many year trek through film camera land, I think that those baptized in photography with digital cameras need to really think again about the cameras and realize that while cameras might show some improvement, rarely does it improve the photographer as so much of the work is taken out of creating the image.

    As for Apple - I can't devote enough space to my and many others frustrations with their marketing model. Form over function rules the roost and almost nothing is really cutting edge at this point in time. I'll just say what I have always said (sans Linux users) -

    MAC computers hold the OS hostage
    Windows OS holds the PC hostage

    Game over.
     
  17. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #18
    I'm enjoying my new Nikon 610, but the manual - as thick as a paperback book - is still unread. I feel almost ashamed for using so few of the camera's many features; I would have been happier to buy a camera with far fewer buttons - as long as it shared the 610's image quality - but they're not available.

    That manual must be very off-putting to a photographic novice. The basics of photography haven't really changed so much: the balance between the size of the lens aperture at the moment the shutter is released, and the amount of time the shutter is open. All those modes and programmes and over-rides make the process more complicated, IMO, not less...
     
  18. initialsBB macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    Don't underestimate the technological barriers that need to be overcome, with exponentially rising manufacturing costs.
    The new low light cameras needed new processes like back-illuminated sensors (http://files.tested.com/uploads/0/1761/6641-sony_cmos_diagram.gif). These don't come cheap as they often need factory retooling.
    In the micro processor manufacturing process, for example, dutch company ASML who makes the lithography machines at the heart of the upcoming 10nm process bills the machines $100 million a piece. A new 10nm factory would use 10+ of these machines... and that's just for the lithography.
     
  19. Apple fanboy macrumors Core

    Apple fanboy

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    #20
    We're all enjoying your D610. Mind you you did nice things with that D200 as well.
    As for manuals, if your on iOS you can download the pdf version on the app store which is searchable and much more user friendly.
     
  20. fuchsdh macrumors 6502a

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    #21
    I was so happy that when I got my 60D, they split the manuals into English, French, Spanish, etc, so I could just recycle the 3/4ths of the massive tome I usually have to lug around with cameras and keep the relevant bits :)

    As to cameras, I think that it's a bit of everything going on. High-end cameras are getting cannibalized like the point-and-shoots, because taking shots on your phone is easier than dumping them off your camera. It's like digital music--for the vast majority of people the 256KBps iTunes downloads are good enough that they don't mind not having lossless. At the same time, DSLRs are a mature market--there's not much in the way of quantum leaps happening. If you're looking for innovations, to me that's either in different form factors (mirrorless). And there was that whole "shoot video with a DSLR!" fad when I was in college--that's crumbling too as the camera makers face stiff competition from upstarts (why pay for a 5D when I can shoot better looking video with less problems for less cost by buying a Blackmagic camera, for instance?)

    For me, as a prosumer user, there's just not enough advantages to spending the extra thousands to get full-frame sensors, et al, let alone to upgrade my camera every few years. At some point pro photographers are going to like to keep the same camera just like they did their SLRs for years and years.
     
  21. MacCruiskeen macrumors 6502

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    #22
    These things are not that difficult. All of my film cameras are fully mechanical and manual everything. I frequently shoot with ASA (sorry, ISO, I date myself there) 100 or slower film. There are marvelous technologies such as 'flash' and 'tripod' that make low-light shooting fairly trivial. Rarely do I need to shoot rapid-fire scenes at the bottom of a coal mine. I should say that setting up a night scene with a 4x5 field camera is nontrivial; the ground glass doesn't provide enough contrast. I've resorted to focusing with a flashlight.
     
  22. Padaung macrumors 6502

    Padaung

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    #23

    Ha ha, same here (but for the D600)! The manual has been sitting by my bedside for night time reading for nearly 2 years and I'm still only a quarter of the way in. Most of the camera is pretty common sense if you've used any other Nikon DSLR before, but I'm sure there must be a couple of nice new features I'm missing out on...

    However, I did read my D200 manual cover to cover soon after I purchased it.

    I think we may be approaching the Gillette school of innovation for DSLRs - it will soon be similar to after waiting 5 years, Gillette announcing a major breakthrough, after millions in research in achieving a better shave, by adding an extra blade.

    Lets be honest though, current cameras are bloody damn good: great high ISO quality, very good dynamic range, and great AF (I know people will always want better, but sit back and compare to previous cameras and you quickly realise how good the current generation is).

    I do think the camera companies are holding back with innovation though. Nikon, why do their cameras only connect via wifi to a mobile app and not a computer for instance? Surely it is possible to improve flash sync speeds (my first DSLR, a D70, could sync up to 1/500th. The D200 synced at 1/250th, and my D600 is now 1/200th!) or is this Nikon using feature differentiation to deliberately cripple some cameras?
     
  23. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #24
    I don't think it's a conspiracy, it's likely due to Nikon's teams vs timeline approach, where a team working on the next consumer camera has a shorter timeline than the team working on the prosumer camera, which is shorter than the professional line team. More recently, we've seen a huge push by Nikon to use common parts on different models wherever possible to get economies of scale wherever possible. As the market contracts, we're likely to see a narrowing of effort, but for now the playbook is pretty stable in terms of timelines, and Nikon isn't afraid to have its young, inexpensive models eat the older, more expensive ones as each team gets to innovate where they think they need to.

    Paul
     
  24. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

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    #25
    Oh we are in agreement. I pretty much feel that those that started with film have an advantage as they tend to be far more sensitive to environment and understand how to get around what might appear as limitations. Most that start with digital would hit a wall of frustration if they went to film cameras given they don't have to learn how to manually shoot, make decisions on adjustments based on situations of environment (adjust shutter and f-stop / exposure etc.).

    I came from a similar background and glad to see another that remembers ASA (and DIN) - grin.
     

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