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May 12, 2012

Samsung switching Chinese factory to make mirrorless instead of P&S cameras

This was buried by the Leica announcement avalanche, but now that the snow melted away, we are finishing it off! A story at the Wall Street Journal (summary free, article behind paywall) according to Engadget says that Samsung is converting their main Chinese camera-making facility from P&S digital cameras to making mirrorless cameras.

Now before you proclaim the imminent death of P&S cameras, do keep in mind that Samsung, unlike the other P&S digital camera manufacturers, has the least to lose from shifting away from P&S cameras. Why you ask?

Because Samsung is the biggest seller of "smartphone digital cameras", with millions of Galaxy models sold world-wide. So today, more than ever, millions of people are taking pictures with Samsung imaging technology.

However, it is not a bed of roses for Samsung. Despite the fact that they were among the first three major mirrorless camera systems to come out, they have not been able to find their niche outside Korea. Their cameras lack unique features that would make them a must-buy for photographers, and their lens line-up is mostly made up of Samsung lenses, without the "blessings" of well-known lens manufacturers.

Their recent trio of 20-megapixel NX-series models focuses on Wifi, hoping that proves to be a differentiating feature for the mythical average consumer.

But what are they planning to do to win over the photographers? They lost the opportunity to grab market share in the early days, when it was just them and Sony with APS-C sensors. With so many mirrorless systems out today, and even more coming up (Leica's EVIL and eventual Canon mirrorless), the hill gets steeper, the snow deeper, the sun hotter, and the boots become worn-out flip-flops. A more difficult climb!

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