DSLR Market Heads in Several Interesting Directions

Category has been enhanced with HD Video/Micro Four Thirds tech.

Perhaps no category in all of imaging has had a more interesting last year or so than the DSLR market. While HD video stole the headlines last year, the early part of 2010 has been about the continued advancements in Micro Four Thirds (MFT) technology.

The introduction of interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras from Olympus, Panasonic and, now, Samsung, has created a new category of DSLRs. Although technically, these mirrorless cameras are not DSLRs, they are aimed at consumers who want the flexibility of interchangeable lenses without the bulk and weight of a DSLR.

Add Sony’s new Exmor APS HD MOS sensor concept to the mix—a series of very compact interchangeable lens cameras that will also shoot 1080p HD video—and there is certainly a lot for consumers to try and wrap their picture-taking brains around.

While all this is generally viewed as a boon to the category, it does cast the overall DSLR market in an interesting light. What direction is the category really headed in today and how is the retailer making sure they get the right camera in the hands of their customers?

There are those that will argue that the interchangeable lens part of the equation is really reserved for the more serious shooters but the smaller form factor of the MFT system will appeal to consumers who are looking to step up from their point-and-shoots but like the “grab-and-go” appeal of a smaller form factor.

“Take a look around next time you’re in a tourist spot or at the local soccer game and you’ll see mostly sub-$1,000 DSLRs with the kit lens still on the front,” said Scott Tilman, a prosumer from Long Island, N.Y., who shoots for the local school district in his area. “Most snapshooters are interested in a camera that will take better pictures but they don’t want to deal with any kind of a learning curve at all. The retailers have to do a bit more hand-holding here.”

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