How Internet News Distorts Things

(commentary)

dpreview today published an interview with Samsung executives about the NX1. Their title for the piece was “CES 2015 Samsung Interview: Mirrorless to Outsell DSLRs ‘in three years’”. I’m pretty sure that little headline will go viral in the photo community pretty fast.

However, the actual quote in the interview is “In the last year…market reports are predicting that in 2018/19 mirrorless cameras will outsell DSLRs.” In other words, Samsung was quoting one of those private, for-money-only market analyst reports. I say “one” and not “reports” because I only know of one that makes the prediction Samsung claims. Others that I’m aware of say something slightly different. Indeed, there’s great disagreement amongst analysts on where DSLR sales will eventually settle (if they don’t just decline into oblivion).

I’d also point out that, even if that analyst report quoted by Samsung turns out to be correct, that doesn’t necessarily mean great things for mirrorless cameras. Mirrorless cameras peaked in sales two years ago and have been flat since. The report Samsung referenced assumes that significant current DSLR volume will become mirrorless volume, for example.

Oh, and did I point out that these expensive reports are targeted at…you guessed it…camera and camera accessory makers, companies like Samsung? Thus, in the case of Samsung you have them parroting something they paid money for that tells them what they wanted to hear. I note that Samsung didn’t mention other aspects of that report that might be unflattering to Samsung, or other reports that disagree entirely. In other words, Samsung was picking and choosing what to repeat.

But again, it wasn’t Samsung’s words in the first place that dpreview put in the headline. But I’ll bet that even before I can post this we’ll see the “Samsung says mirrorless will overtake DSLRs” statements all over the photography side of the Internet. And it all will have started with dpreview’s lazy and sensationalist headline.

Look, I believe we should have the debate over what ILC cameras should be like in the future. They very well may end up being predominately mirrorless at some point. However I think a lot of whether that will happen or not will be up to what Canon and Nikon decide to do. Those elephants in the room can hasten or stall the point where a crossover might happen just by how they iterate their consumer DLSRs. Note that Canon stuck their toes in the water both ways (EOS M = mirrorless, SL1 = smaller DSLRs).

Meanwhile, there’s a bigger elephant in the room—call it a dinosaur—and just choosing mirrorless or DSLR doesn’t change the fact that it’s more important to the health of the camera industry: DCF and all the baggage that came along with it pretty much defines an inefficient and film-like workflow that is now holding back camera sales. The smartphone workflow won the day, and the camera makers still haven’t responded.

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