Here’s how camera marketing influences R&D

13 Feb

So we have two companies – jointly referred to as Canikon – who’ve each introduced a lower-spec 35mm digital SLR to create a new low tier beneath their more pro-focused models. The announcements first surprised me in that they suggested that Canikon had magically independently come up with the same general concept, or, much more likely given other parallels between the two companies, that there is either intense industrial espionage between them, or happenings that anti-trust regulators should disapprove of.

Never mind which, the idea in both cases was that in order to offer the consumer a camera with a less expensive sensor, an entirely new camera had to be designed around it so that it could be crippled in a gazillion other ways, to retain incentives for customers to keep buying the pro models.

Let me rephrase that: Rather than save money on R&D and give you the camera you want, with a cheaper image chip and less resolution and maybe colour accuracy, Mr. and Mrs. Canikon spent additional money on R&D to give you something crippled: Low frame rates (6D), minimised autofocus capability (6D, D600), crippled auto ISO (6D), lack of built-in flash (6D), and crippled user interface (D600).

Now, I could understand a lot of that if it were the case that customers looking for a more afffordable full-frame SLR also wanted the smaller body, but if it’s really the case, as it seems to be, that the major cost component in a full frame SLR is the bigger sensor relative to APS-C models, why not give customers an option to have a D800 Lite?

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