Compact system cameras are stealing the market from DSLRs and becoming increasingly attractive to enthusiast photographers, Angela Nicholson takes a look at what 2015 might have in store…
We’ve been talking about the rise of the compact system camera for a while now, with 2013 being a pivotal year for the genre and more CSCs being announced than SLRs.
This trend continued during 2014 and high-end models which are designed to tempt enthusiast and professional photographers have become increasingly important.
This has been backed-up by the arrival of more high-end lenses with better build quality and larger maximum apertures than earlier optics.
The new breed of smaller, lighter cameras has proved popular with lifestyle, documentary and wedding photographers who want something more discrete to use as well as something that’s easier to carry. Olympus’s OM-D series and Fuji’s excellent X-series have continued to draw praise.
The prevalence of camera phones has also been a hot topic of conversation over recent years and it has taken a huge bite out of the lower end of the compact camera market. This fierce competition is forcing manufacturers to rethink what they do.
Most have responded by concentrating on cameras that offer something that the cameras on phones generally don’t – extensive zoom ranges, waterproof construction, traditional controls, larger sensors and high-end features.
Wi-Fi connectivity is also fast becoming an essential in a compact camera to allow quick and easy image upload to a ‘phone and subsequent sharing on Facebook and Twitter etc.
We’ve also seen an increase in the number of compact cameras with larger sensors, and some like the Fuji X100T, Panasonic LX100 and Leica D-Lux (Typ 109) have retro controls that give an extra element of enjoyment for enthusiasts.
It’s an interesting time for photographers of all levels and our thoughts are naturally turning to what 2015 might hold.
We saw a lot of downsizing towards the end of 2013 and this continued into 2014 with the introduction of models like the Olympus OM-D E-M10, the ‘entry-level’ Olympus OM-D, and the Nikon D3300.
However, there is a developing sense that some cameras have reached their natural minimum proportions, with some users preferring to have a large grip and controls that are easy to see and operate. It’s interesting to note that Samsung opted to give the excellent NX1 SLR-like proportions and styling.
Panasonic also introduced a new member of its GM line of compact system camera in the guise of the Lumix GM5, which is a little larger than the tiny GM1, but comes with the addition of a built-in viewfinder.
The most impressive feat of downsizing during 2013 was seen with the introduction of the Sony Alpha 7 and 7R, followed up by the addition of the Alpha 7S and subsequently the Alpha 7II in 2014.
These cameras have full-frame sensors, but are about the same size as the Olympus OM-D E-M1 – an excellent camera, but as a Micro Four Thirds model, it has a sensor that’s smaller than the APS-C sized devices in most DSLRs and some compact cameras.
I wonder if Sony might turn its attention towards medium format photography and introduce a camera built around its 43.8×32.8mm CMOS sensor that is found inside cameras such as the Pentax 645Z.
If the company directed its drive for downsizing and attractive pricing towards this area, perhaps medium format cameras would have a resurgence amongst enthusiast (and pro) photographers.
A camera built along the lines of the Mamiya 7, but with an electronic viewfinder and automatic focusing rather than a direct viewfinder and manual rangefinder focusing would be very interesting indeed.