Serious Cameras for the Masses

Serious Cameras for the Masses - Austin, Texas

Serious Cameras for the Masses, Target – Austin, Texas

I know that when it comes to photography and cameras, I’m way out there. I probably know more than 99% of the people. And, if you follow my blog, you probably know more than the average person, too. So, it’s fascinating to see how the masses view the world of photography. Nothing better for this than going to Target, Walmart, or a Costco in the United States.

These big-box retailers are not what you call cutting edge. On the other hand, they probably have a good pulse on the tastes and needs of the average shopper. Even though we have a spectacular camera store in Austin, Precision Camera, of course, some will opt to get a camera at these mass-market resellers. For the increasingly diminishing few who want to step up from a smartphone camera, they probably think Canon or Nikon DSLR. Too bad because these DSLRs make the least sense.

In Target’s defense, they did add a Sony mirrorless to their display, partially hidden on the right side. If you move up to an electronics specialty store like Best Buy, you get some more choices. Sony seems to be making inroads.

These DSLRs are old technology and hopelessly bulky. I can’t see most people using these for any length of time. For the smartphone generation, the initial excitement of a “serious” DSLR will give way to laziness. Carrying around such a camera is cumbersome, and they will rarely use it. It’s only for those special occasions, they’ll say. Of course, because they don’t practice with their DSLR, they will make subpar pictures. After a while, they’ll notice that their smartphone pictures look better, and will declare them good enough. I’m sure a large number of these cameras sit in closets.

A smaller mirrorless camera will help, though most of these will ultimately go unused, too, unfortunately. I’m not talking about photo enthusiasts like you and I. We live to take pictures and talk about gear. But, for the folks who buy at Target, not so much. The continuously advancing smartphone cameras will improve quicker than their photographic skills. And, skills via continued practice is what you need to make good photos with these DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. Who needs skills when you have artificial intelligence automatically fixing all your mistakes.

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10 thoughts on “Serious Cameras for the Masses

  1. Here in Orlando, all you’ll see at a Walmart are the Nikon and Canon consumer APS-C cameras like the ones you mentioned. At the Targets and BestBuy stores, Sony has a much more commanding presence, with a mix of both APS-C and alpha 7 cameras and lenses.

    The biggest selections are at BestBuy, which include up to the D850 and Z series on the Nikon side as well as up to the 5DMk4 and R series on the Canon side. Sony is represented with more alpha 7 camera models than their APS-C cameras. Tucked in a back corner I even found a Panasonic G7 kit. But the big drive at the BestBuys are mostly “fool frame” cameras from all the majors (Canon, Nikon, and Sony). And being BestBuy, they ain’t givin’ em away by any stretch.

    1. I heard there are special Best Buys that carry a larger selection of cameras from the less famous brands. The one near me is a standard Best Buy, however, the one in South Austin has a special photography section that even carries Olympus.

  2. These DSLRs are old technology and hopelessly bulky.

    Low cost
    Crazy reliable
    Massive lens selection (including light-weight pancakes that you will struggle to find for mirrorless). Even the kit lenses are really good.
    No shutter black-out with optical viewfinder
    Long battery life
    sensor for sensor, really about the same size as a mirrorless camera.
    Excellent photos if you bother to learn how to use the thing.
    Much better low-light performance than a tiny phone sensor for indoor photos and actual optical zoom with a decent lens.

    I’d say that this is great for everyone except some hardcore enthusiasts who have to have the latest stuff and pros.

    1. Hi Jason,

      I don’t disagree with any of your points. However, this is in a context of a move up camera for the masses. I think for professionals and enthusiasts who know how to use a DSLR, they are great. Though I’m sure they’ll prefer the mid to high end models that have larger viewfinders and better physical controls.

      I’m not disputing that fact they these cameras can make strong images. It’s just that I doubt people will practice enough to become good at them. And, being larger and not having a full time readout like smartphones or mirrorless just makes the barrier to success a lot higher. So, for beginners, they are outdated and bulky.

      1. Those are some good points. I have wondered by the big camera manufactures have not done more to drop in some sort of instagram, youtube, whatever functionality. I have to jump through a few hoops to get photos from my Nikon DSLR to my phone.

        If they could somehow link it to your phone, take a shot, and then go to instagram… I think that would be a killer feature for a lot of people. I don’t know, I feel like they are missing a big part of the market.

      2. I think some companies have tried. Nikon has their SnapBridge that uses Bluetooth to continuously send photos from the DSLR to the smartphone, for example. But, I still believe DSLRs are too hard and cumbersome to use for most people, especially compared to smartphones.

        Look how much better smartphones have gotten over the last 10 years. Now, they use AI to intelligently know what you want to do. DSLRs, on the other hand, haven’t gotten any more intelligent. They keep on adding larger and more capable sensors and make better focusing systems but they are no smarter.

        Canon and Nikon have a monopoly on DSLRs but this is a classic case of business disruption. They are defending their DSLR business that will continue to fade.

      3. The smart phone software has gotten amazing at noise correction and processing and makes photos that look really good compressed down for Instagram. This is good enough for 99.9% of all the selfies, food photos, lifestyle flex photos, etc.

        But they still have a tiny, noisy sensor, and crap optics. I have tried editing my iPhone’s raw photos and they are really grainy, bad, and lacking in detail compared to my D750. And phones will continue to be limited in sensor size and optics.

        I think that there is going to continue to be a market for better cameras, though the point-and-shoot cameras are going to fade away. People want good pictures of little tommy and suzie at the ball game or dance recital or other events and I think that they are willing to have an entry level DSLR/ML interchangeable lens camera for these occasions. When I see a school event, I see a lot of people with low-end DSLRs instead of using the phone camera. I think that the camera manufacturers need to up their social media/connectivity game to thrive.

        There is no real substitute for good glass and a large sensor.

        But I could be wrong and that may be why I have not been put in charge of a camera company.

      4. Here’s the difference. You are a serious and experienced photographer, like me. Sure, we can take better quality pictures with our serious camera gear than a smartphone.

        Of course there will be a market for better cameras. And, we the enthusiasts and the pro photographers will be the ones buying them.

        But, for the vast majority of people, taking and viewing their photos on the smartphone is what they are going to do. They are not going to blow up their photos large on a big computer screen or on a print.

  3. I’m wondering if some day cameras aren’t going to become obsolete. No matter where I go, I’m in the minority using a camera other than that on a smart phone.

    1. I think there will always be photographers who love to play with dedicated cameras. And, I think there is always a need to preserve memories via photographs. However, it’s hard to know what kind of tool will be used in the future to do this.

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