Change is afoot and 2014 could well be the year that completely redefines the photo and video landscape as we know it. It doesn’t matter if you you shoot weddings, fashion, portraits, landscapes, products, food or concerts - these changes will affect us all. Here are three game changers - let's take a look at what they are, what they could mean for you, your photography and your business.
1. Sales Of DSLMs (Digital Single Lens Mirrorless) Systems Will Continue To Grow; DSLRs Will Continue to Slump
2013 was the pivotal year for the compacts/mirrorless market. More mirrorless cameras came to market than DSLRs in 2013 and they grew market share while DLSR sales slumped.
Six weeks ago, the NY Times reported that The Camera and Imaging Products Association, a trade group whose members include Fujifilm, Nikon, Canon and other Japanese camera makers, says overall shipments of digital cameras plunged 39 percent in volume, and 26 percent in value, from January through September. Fujifilm X-series devices and other mirrorless cameras, declined only 13 percent in volume and 5 percent in value during the same period, the trade association said, showing the marked difference in DSLR VS. DSLM market growth.
According to Bloomberg, Hiroyuki Sasa, CEO of Olympus, says its mirrorless cameras will rise to 1 million units as early as April 2014, and account for 5 percent of the global market share; if Olympus achieves those figures, it will bring $68 million in operating profit. “What mirrorless cameras can do has now become toe-to-toe with cameras with mirrorbox,” Sasa told Bloomberg.
What It Means For You
So is 2014 the year that signals the death of the DSLR? No - mirrorless systems still have some way to go, but as the new full frame bodies like Sony's A7R prove (UPDATE: and introduction of the A5000, the self proclaimed lightest interchangeable lens camera soon to be available), pressure is going to continue to bear down on Canon and Nikon to step up their game if they want to compete with the new mirrorless bodies. As prosumers in particular continue to redefine the market with their buying power, expect the mirrorless market to drive the momentum in interchangeable lens camera systems through 2014.
After spending the last month with Fuji’s new XE-2 camera , I’m convinced of the power mirrorless has. These cameras pack a huge punch and the small form factor doesn't compromise image quality from what I can see. I won’t be selling my Mk3 just yet, but I do want to put a mirrorless system and some glass through it’s paces this year and see how well it fares. Watch this space for developments of that - and let me know if you’d be interested in seeing a DSLR / mirrorless shoot off.
2. Stills and Motion Convergence Continues; 4K Set To Explode
The ongoing obsession with Instagram is testament to our ongoing love of making photographs. With that said, digital video consumption (and production) continues unabated. I wrote last year about how the photographic skill set is going to become a prized commodity as we continue to create more, increasingly compelling digital video. If you are so inclined, 2014 would be a great time to dip your toes into the wonderful world of video.
Meanwhile, 4K is coming - fast. Time magazine reported this week that Michael Dell said that his company would have 4K monitors on the market sometime in 2014 that were priced around $1,000. Dell currently carries a 32-inch model for $3,500 and a 24-inch model for $1,300. That puts home 4K viewership into the price point of a decent new large screen LED TV.
Further evidence of product shift and momentum for 4K comes from the dissolving of the OLED joint venture between Sony and Panasonic as both companies decided to focus attention and budgets around 4K production, instead of OLED. Sure, there isn’t much 4K content yet out there yet - but it’s coming and quickly too. Netflix has reported it will be streaming 4K content of shows and movies this spring and it began piloting "Ultra HD" content back in November.
RED have been capturing magazine cover shots from stills grabs from their 4K cameras for some time so it’s not likely to be too much of a surprise if clients start to cut the photographer line item in the budget and just request stills grabs from the video guy.
What It Means For You
Video is here to stay – and rich multimedia content is in high demand (and also just conveys the story or message in such an engaging way – check out the NY Times “Snow Fall” story to see a great example of rich multimedia content in action). As photographers, you’re in a great position to move into the world of video. But if that doesn’t appeal, think about the potential to partner with local video production crews. The key is to build strong partnerships with those whose work you admire so you can deliver richer, better quality content to existing and potential clients when they want more than just what you're able to offer.
UPDATE: As my colleague Dave Wallace has just reported, Sony have just announced at CES their $2000 4K camcorder. Check out the link for a 4K preview video - it's insane).
3. The (Wearable Tech) Revolution Will Be Televised – By You
Google Glass hits the streets this year. You might have seen the early adopters of Glass wandering about. Mat Honan of Wired Magazine spent a year with Glass, and while he began to amusingly refer to himself and other early adopters as “glassholes”, he said there is no escape from the fact that wearable tech is coming and it’s going to change everything. For those curious to get a feel what this might actually look like, you can get a first person perspective from the video below.
Wearable tech isn't going to replace our gear. What it's doing though is totally meeting a need for us to record everything, anytime, anywhere, in any place without holding a device.
If you haven't seen it, the Google Glass Photographer is a funny video that shows exactly what this change could look like in action.
Joking aside, how we begin to document our lives and the ability for us to do it in ways where the gear we wear (rather than hold) helps us to do so, will have a profound effect on what content we produce, how we produce it, and what we want to see from other content providers.
What It Means For You
From a gear standpoint, this doesn’t change much for your average professional, but it’s likely to be dramatic in terms of what people want to shoot, how they shoot it, and what clients will (and won’t) pay for. Just as we've seen with digital, the photography market will continue to split between the many millions (or billions) of people out there who would never pick up a "real" camera, and those who are using high end pro-sumer or pro products and equipment. Those who are well versed in lighting technique, post production creative work and who work well with people will probably all continue to be in demand as those are the sorts of skills "professional" photographers will be called in for.
Clients will continue to be split between the “DIY-style” brigade who will want to shoot things with an amateur or "minimalist" look and feel (either intentionally or as a way to reduce budgets, which I wrote about in relation to the world of music video budgets).
The key is to be clear with yourself about where you want to sit, don’t worry about trying to do everything and just focus on your area of strength and on meeting the demand in that way.
The Most Important Game Changer Of All - Is Still You
Don't worry, there is good news if this all feels a little overwhelming - the same principles of the last 150 years of image making will continue to shine through. The best visual media of 2014 probably won't be created with the hottest, latest, most expensive, newest equipment or stylistic changes. As always, it will be the simple ideas, executed well that capture the imagination of the viewer that will have the most resonance. This is important - the real game changer is and always will be you, and the content we create is really down to our own vision and how we choose to execute it.
If there are any other trends of changes underway that you’re interested in, or curious about, let me know in the comments below and I'll do my best to dig in to them and bring you the latest news and insights to help support your photography and business through 2014.