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Nikon Vs. Canon: Who Cares?

Balanced Rock, Balanced Camera

Balanced Rock, Balanced Camera, by Bryan Davidson

This is a big part of the reason Nikon and Canon bore me.

When was the last true innovation from Nikon or Canon?  They sell very high quality products, sure, but where’s the evidence that they are creating anything new?  These are some of the big camera innovations of the past couple of years:

  • Minolta (now Sony, Olympus and Pentax): Sensor-based stabilization
  • Pentax: high-quality, compact, APS-C primes
  • Olympus: 4/3 mount which led to the following innovation
  • Olympus and Panasonic: micro-4/3 which is innovative because of packing a large sensor in a small camera and for multiple companies sharing a single lens mount
  • Samsung: Mirrorless APS-C camera
  • Sony: Worlds smallest APS-C, the NEX-3 and NEX-5 with unfortunately one of the worlds worst user interfaces
  • Sony: First digital translucent mirror cameras, the A33 and A55
  • Sony: Sweep panorama, in-camera GPS, phase detect auto-focus during live view, least-expensive and highest resolution full-frame DSLR (A850), best viewfinder (A900)
  • Sigma: First large-sensor compact camera
  • Sigma: Foveon sensor (every pixel collects red, green and blue compared to Bayer sensors where every pixel only collects one color)
  • Leica: first full-frame digital rangefinder (M9), and most expensive logo (D-Lux 3)

Neither Nikon or Canon have sensor-based stabilization, a large sensor compact camera or anything that sets them apart other than market share.  I’m not trying to say that Nikon and Canon are bad, they’re just boring.  Kudos to Nikon for the D40 and to Canon for the Digital Rebel, but other than incremental improvements what have they done lately?

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3 thoughts on “Nikon Vs. Canon: Who Cares?

  1. Always the way though, isn’t it. The dominant players don’t have to try too hard and rely on competent products and brand recognition instead of innovation.

  2. jbhaferkamp says:

    @bryan:

    This is the way of the normal business cycle, though. The market leaders — who were once the market innovators — now become the boring business people who are too far removed from the consumer to be innovative. They concern themselves with market share because that’s now a major part of their organization. Growth begets the status quo — at least that’s what we’re taught in business school.

    However, there are tremendous opportunities for innovators to not only grab the rest of the market share but begin to move the market in a new direction. The difficulty is that the leaders have so many resources that when they get wind of the new turn in direction, they shift their massive resources that way and crush the little guys (usually in a recession like this one), thereby solidifying their positions in the market and choking out any innovative companies; a true David-Goliath situation with the odds stacked way against the little guy.

    Competition does lead to innovation, but the part people forget to mention is that the innovators usually don’t become giants (ask any companies caught out in front of Microsoft or Google in the past decade). It looks like we’re stuck with the big two. They likely won’t get left out in the wind. If new innovations make sense in the pro market, Canon and Nikon will begin implementing them.

    • Yeah, I have no doubt that Nikon and Canon will continue to be successful, but I’m concerned that they will also continue to be boring.

      I think it’s exciting that in the last couple of years we’ve gotten to see a lot of innovation that actually impacts traditional photography such as better high-iso performance, smaller cameras with big sensors, stabilization, along with some helpful and fun gee-whiz stuff like GPS tagging and sweep panoramas. It makes up for all of the gimmicky crap we’ve seen for so long like high megapixel counts, digital zoom, smile shutters, blink detectors, and the worst: ugggh! SCENE MODES.

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