Future of Canon Mirrorless Cameras, Should You Invest in It?

purple Galaxy, stars, future
The Canon EOS M didn’t came as a surprise. We knew that Canon just couldn’t afford waiting until Olympus, Panasonic and Sony will put its mark in this market, doing the same for the Mirrorless what Canon have done in the DSLR market. But that’s not all of course. Canon is losing more and more DSLR customers in favor of Compact System Cameras. It seems that Canon didn’t want to go in that path. Maybe because by doing so, it encourage people to buy CSC over entry-level DSLR cameras, making them choose alternative Mirrorless / CSC, and losing the option to sell more enthusiast cameras when they upgrade in the future.

It seems that the Canon EOS M came to life not because Canon wanted to, but because it had no choice. Canon waited as long as it good until a red line is crossed and then start developing its first CSC. Nikon was first to enter before Canon. As for July 2012,  Nikon 1 J1 is among the top 10 selling CSC in Japan, grabbing the 5th and 10th position (According to BCN Ranking).  That of course is a great achievement.  Sony is also looks very strong with two models in the top 10, the NEX-7 (8th place) and the NEX-5n (6th place).  No doubt that the NEX-5N is holding on so good, that thanks to its incredible high ISO performance, what a great camera.

So where Canon EOS M fits in all that shatter? Does Canon have any chance in succeeding in this highly competitive market, after such a long delay?


Canon and The Future of Compact System Cameras

I personally think that Canon has all the ingredients it needs in order to succeed. The problem for Canon is that Panasonic looks very strong now, and Olympus is already far ahead with a pro-Mirrorless model, the Olympus OM-D E-M5.

First of all, Canon has its most valuable weapon, its brand name. This by itself has a strong impact on how this market will be developed in the future to come. A few years ago we might be thinking of choosing Canon over Olympus, because we believed that Olympus wasn’t up to the big guns. However, this has completely changed, and giant companies like Panasonic, Sony and Samsung are also in this game. Great for the customer, bad for Canon.

Canon EOS M mirrorless camera image

Canon needs to make things fast. Introduce at least one more CSC and more lenses. Hopefully it will be done in Photokina 2012.  Although the EOS M is compatible with other EF / EF-S lenses using the EF-EOS M adapter, people will prefer not going in that direction. They want to use dedicated lenses and preferably more compact and less heavier lenses. Why purchase a compact mirrorless camera and use EF or EF-S lenses, it doesn’t make sense. We bought a CSC because we want to enjoy its compactness, don’t we? – Even so, the EF-EOS M adapter costs around $200, it’s not cheap at all. You might be able to get it as part of a Kit in a cheaper price, but still, its not the ideal solution.

Most of the people who will buy this camera won’t be those who want to move from a Canon DSLR to CSC, but people who want to buy their first Compact System Camera. I do believe that their will be people that will sell their entry-level DSLR cameras and move to Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens cameras. However, Canon doesn’t look that attractive right now, so most of them will prefer getting a Panasonic or Olympus CSC instead.

So it’s up to Canon to release more mirrorless bodies and lenses fast. By doing so, it might get a chance to gain more customers fast, as people anonymously waiting to see what products will be introduced in Photokina. In fact, many people are waiting just a bit longer in order to make a smarter buying decision. We don’t want to buy the Canon EOS M now and find out that a better model is introduced in Photokina 2012.

Canon failed to innovate quite miserably in the past couple of years (my own opinion, you might disagree).  Look at what Olympus and Panasonic were able to achieve with their CSC cameras (ie. Olympus 5-axis image stabilization, weather-sealed camera body, Panasonic ultra-fast AF, etc.). It seems that most of the technology innovation find itself inside CSC bodies, rather than on entry-level or even enthusiast DSLR cameras. Professional photographers will make their own choices, for them, this is 100% DSLR, no doubt about it.  It seems that the best ‘bet’ would be to put your money on CSC, rather than on an entry-level DSLR camera.

Most of us cannot afford paying such a high price, but even if we did,  would we buy a Nikon D4s over a more compact high-performing Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens camera?

Compact size is the factor here. People want to buy a compact camera, a small camera that will be easier to carry around. This gives us more chances to get great shots.  I can’t remember how many times I left my DSLR camera at home because it wasn’t comfortable to carry around.

Of course size is not the only factor, because if it was, many people might prefer using their mobile phone camera instead. In fact, that’s what happening. How many of you will trade a Compact System Camera or point-and-shoot camera for a Nokia 808 PureView?

In a few years time, the point-and-shoot market will shrink considerably (maybe they already are), and it’s already losing more market share every day. Don’t under estimate technology innovation. In a few years time will see many technology innovation in mobile phones cameras that will make point-and-hoot cameras obsolete.  Think more years into the future, there will be no reason to buy a CSC too. More money is spent into mobile phone technology, including mobile phone cameras. So we will see much more improvements in mobile phone cameras compare to any other digital camera market type (ie. CSC, P&S, DSLR).

So although CSC is the most growing trends right now, I do believe that it doesn’t have too much time to live. In fact, you can look at it another way. What if you could put a mobile phone inside a very sophisticated compact camera? – When you think about it that way, you can see that its not about the phone, it’s about the camera plus a phone (PhoneInside™).

Should I Buy a Canon EOS M Camera?

You might ask yourself whether you should buy a CSC at all or just grab yourself a shiny new Nokia 808 PureView with its 1-inch sensor and incredible image quality for both stills and video. The thing is that we can’t wait forever. It will take quite some time until both conventional P&S and CSC will become obsolete. Even entry-level DSLR will have their place in a few years to come. Too much money was spent on this technology, and camera vendors won’t give it up so fast. Of course what happens with competition, is that every once in a while, one company decided to break all the rules and gamble on a new technology in order to compete against the market leaders. It does that because this is its way to survive.

But what it has to do with you, the customer?

The thing is that you should base your buying decision on your current needs as a photographer, not in future technology developments. Life is too short for waiting years to enjoy something that you can enjoy right now.  You should remember that its now all about the camera, on the contrary,  its all about the photographer and the photos it takes. You can always upgrade to a new camera device in the future, no one will stop you from doing that.

Of course that leads us to the question, whether to buy the Canon EOS M or go either with Olympus, Panasonic, Sony, Samsung, Fujifilm ,etc.  I can write a book about that, but I will keep things simple. Buying a Micro Four Thirds camera is probably the best choice right now. Both Panasonic and Olympus are doing excellent job in maintaining a wide control over the CSC market.  Both use the same mount (micro four thirds), that means more lenses and camera bodies to choose from in the future. Furthermore, you won’t have to sell your lenses when you upgrade from Olympus to Panasonic CSC or vice versa.

You also have the option to enjoy a pro-model like the Olympus O-MD E-M5. A weather-sealed “Professional” model that is a hosts of great new technologies. Even if you don’t get the E-M5, it feels good that you know that their is a camera that you can upgrade too when time comes.

Sony has proven that its a one tough contender. The Sony NEX-5N is my favorite Sony CSC.  It has an amazing high ISO performance,  outperforming even the Canon EOS 5D Mark II (really). FujiFilm is a company that we all want to love. We hate to see Fujifilm struggles and we really want it to succeed in the CSC business.  Just by owning a Fujifilm camera takes you to a journey to the past, giving you a good feeling ,something that is beyond photography, a connection to great moments in the past… I have the same feeling myself.

Canon EOS M will be a good candidate when we see more lenses and at least one more body, a more advanced one. Don’t get me wrong, the EOS-M is a very neat mirrorless camera, but still not up to the competition. I migh have bought it over any Olympus PEN, but Panasonic just looks better at the moment.  If you don’t know, my current favorite is the Olympus OM-D E-M5 (love that camera).

If you ask me, I will wait. The thing is that the Canon EOS M will be available starting mid-September. So Canon actually gave you this waiting time without you needing to ask for it. I would wait until Photokia 18-23.09.2012 in Cologne and then make my decision. If you can offer yourself the Oly E-M5, I would get it without thinking twice. Although I always recommend reading the specs and reviews before making any decision.

So as you can see, we are leaving in kind of a junction, where great things are about to emerge, things that will change the Interchangeable Lens Camera market significantly. Now that Canon is in the game, things will be getting much more interesting. I just hope that Canon will be able to innovate much better than it does with its DSLR cameras. If not, bye bye Canon.

Disclaimer: I am not a fortune teller.