Monday, 29 June 2009

Three types of camera user

The new Olympus E-P1 is causing some buzz and there is some interesting comment over at Colin Jago's photostream. This got me thinking about who actually uses cameras and how. I have quite a lot of first-hand knowledge as I seem to be "camera guy" in my circle of friends, family and colleagues.

Type 1: the point and shooter

Easily 95% of camera users are the casual snappers - holidays, social events and the like. They want easy. they want decent pictures. Auto everything, please, and make sure the exposure is right. Most frequently asked question: how do I turn off the auto flash? (No, really.)

If Olympus thinks that the E-P1 is simplifying the DLSR in a way that will appeal to this lot, I think they're way off base.

Type 2: what do these buttons do?

I reckon this is the majority of DSLR buyers. Want some more control and better image quality (I won't say better quality pictures, hah!) but largely use auto stuff. P-mode abounds, all auto focus, auto exposure. Exposure compensation is advanced. Dabble in RAW but don't want the hassle. go on courses to learn what the buttons do (manual, what's that?). most frequently asked question: what aperture should I be using?

The E-P1 might appeal to this lot but it does have largely the same features as a DLSR and costs way more than an entry-level from the big manufacturers. I think price alone will stop this group buying it.

Type 3: I want it my way

Of camera buyers, they aren't many, but I bet they're a huge chunk of the spend. Gear mad, or very focused on particular usage. All the advanced amateurs and pros are in this group. Know how they want to the camera to work and want to be able to set it up that way. gripe about all manner of nuances in features, performance, ergonomics. Post-process everything. (I'm one of these.) Most frequently asked question: how do I set the ?

No camera will ever satisfy all of them but some will figure out how to get it to do good things. I think it is those type threes that can live with the compromises that will try the E-P1.

Notice I haven't said much about camera type. Type ones buy P&S, whichever was recommended to them, type twos tend to buy entry DSLRs and may have a cheap pocket camera, type threes probably have a bunch of cameras & lenses, small to large. they want small cameras to be as fully-featured as the top-end DSLRs. Why should the new E-P1 behave like an entry-level P&S?

And it's not just Olympus. I think all camera makers are missing some vital points. Most people want basic, simple cameras that give good results. The top end want a bunch of features that lets them shoot the way they like but wrapped in different sized packages.

1 comment:

  1. Hi again Martin, your absolutely right in your analogy of camera users, most users (including myself) never use a fraction of the features on most models available today,and I think the manufacturers include nearly everything (including the kitchen sink) just so they can cover a wider market, as they probably know that there is no such thing as an ideal camera for everyone!
    I would have to class myself as a type 2, bordering on type 3, haven't gone down the DSLR route just yet, still clutching onto my trusty bridge model (Minolta A200), I do like a lightweight compact camera that does a wide variety of things while traveling, even if I have felt it wanting in picture quality sometimes!
    Now if someone brings out a compact DSLR similar to the Canon 500D, with a swiveling LCD, full HD (at 30 fps), inbuilt Geotagging, and coupled it with an ultra compact 18-300mm lens, then I would be a very happy man!!


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