Canon: Top Dog or Underdog?

Canon: Top Dog or Underdog?

Canon is king, but they sure aren’t getting that level of respect from photographers. What does this mean for their future?

The camera industry is in the middle of a huge shakeup with mirrorless being seen by some as the future of photography. From 2016 to 2017, the mirrorless market grew 29 percent while the DSLR market shrank for the fifth year in a row. Nikon, which was unseated by Sony for the number two spot in the full-frame interchangeable lens camera market last year, has taken this threat seriously and seized the opportunity by improving their product line to be highly competitive. On the other hand, reigning market champion Canon has not made the same strides in their recent product releases.

Many are reacting to this non-action with disapproval and counting Canon out. Barely anyone is taking them as a serious contender for the future, and a lot of customers I hear from seem to believe they are just riding out their camera system until the wheels fall off. Across Internet forums and blog posts, and in conversations I’ve had with other journalists, Canon is the butt of the joke right now when talking about the state of the photo industry. Canon is an underdog.

The funny thing is, Canon is number one on the leaderboard. They’ve dominated the market for the past 14 years. They could probably go on down the same path they’re on for quite some time before anyone catches up to their level. They already have the numbers, and for the time being they simply don’t need to be neck and neck competitive (as much as we would love them to be). Canon is a top dog.

What does this mean? If it plays out in Canon’s favor, this time period could actually turn out to be explosive and monumental for the company. Take a look at what Sony was able to achieve in a couple years when most people scoffed at their mirrorless product lineup. No one cared what they were doing and then they knocked Nikon (Nikon!) down a peg in full-frame marketshare. Canon has the sustainability and time allowance that no other camera company has right now, and if they come out swinging with the technology of tomorrow when the opportunity is peaking, this whirlwind combination of top dog and underdog is going to set them up to be untouchable for the next 14 years as well.

Photo by StockSnap via Pixabay.

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86 Comments

Bill Peppas's picture

DSLR sales are down because people want compact things.
People, not professionals.

Show me a photo journalist, a war/enviromental hazard/weather photoreporter using a mirrorless.
Show me a serious wedding photographer using mirrorless.
Sports photographer with mirrorless ?
Wildlife photographer with mirrorless ?
Serious Landscape photographer with mirrorless ?

As for the top dog... Canon might be the selling top dog, but please, answer the D850 ( all aroundness monster ) ( lets consider the D5 and 1D X Mark II equal )

Alex Cooke's picture

I know a ton of highly respected wedding photogs using Sony and Fuji (one of them even writes for us), the a9 infiltrated the Olympics this year, and a lot of professional landscape photogs absolutely love micro 4/3, Fuji, and Sony (we did three tutorials at Fstoppers with one of them, in fact). It’s not that cut and dry.

Johnny Rico's picture

Add commercial photographer to the list, I see absolutely no benefit. Had a pushy sales guy at Roberts camera trying to sell me on one last year. I just told him how I disliked EVF's over optical, he handed me a some kind of Sony and was telling me all the benefits about how they are better, and the technology has came a long way. I looked through it and laughed, there is no comparison, optical viewfinders are better. Also in before WYSIWYG, I strobe 95% of photography, I don't care to look through some grainy EVF with a delay. Also in before outer AF points have a bigger spread, It's called bleed and crop room. Also in before weight savings, I could careless. Also in before you can adapt any lens to it! I don't care or need this.

I shoot commercially full time and use an A7R2 with Metabones IV & V adaptors and Canon glass. Shooting tethered with Capture One the Sony is the best still life camera I have ever used. I can understand how some may find the viewfinder awkward to use but for me it's a minor issue.

Bill Peppas's picture

For your case the viewfinder isn't an obstacle to your goals. For other kinds of photography however it is.

By the way, there's an image upload feature on Fstoppers, show us your work.

Depends on how you use the camera. For landscaper shooters, using zebras and the real time preview image can make getting the exposure perfect the first time a reality. Get every last ounce of DR in difficult scenes.

Regarding the upload feature.
I'm a freelance generalist hired to cover overflow work, this needs to be shot in a house style. Consequently the copyright clauses in my contracts don't allow any reproduction or publicity. It's an established practice where there are large studios servicing retail clients. Upside, I get to shoot high end work, downside, nobody knows.

Tatsuhiko Ito's picture

Many people claimed the supeoriorities of CRTs when CRTs were giving way to LCDs.

Renato Peixoto's picture

Some people don't adapt to small cameras and EVF for many reasons (and clinical reasons, as big hands, vision deficiency, etc), I am one of them. For these people Canon will still produce excellent DSLRs for many years.

You sound very open-minded and not at all set in your ways, Johnny. Clearly, you'd be open to someone taking the time to present a rational argument which disagreed with your viewpoints.

Johnny Rico's picture

I'm not really set in my ways, I use the best tools for the job when economically viable, mirrorless not being one of them.

Smaller and lighter doesn’t apply to FF mirrorless, the weight and size is transferred to the lenses. That is why I went Fuji for my “smaller and lighter” setup, quality lenses made for it for the crop are where it’s at.

That idiotic post again... He just looks at the lenght when cameras have 3 dimensions. Also the thing is, with mirrorless you CAN go small and light with a tiny prime, but with a DSLR you always have the huge body. Not everyone is using f2.8 zooms.

"Not everyone is using f2.8 zooms." Yeah. Mostly just professionals. The fact is, mirrorless has real benefits but size and weight only apply to a segment of photographers. DSLRs have benefits to another segment. It's all good.

Applies to Sony’s FF primes too, their 85 1.4 is bigger than canons 1.2.

Anywho, I’m not knocking Sony, my DSLR was a Sony a200. I just don’t think that size and weight is a valid argument for FF, which is why I use Fuji for my size and weight camera. I like mirrorless, but I also like the ergonomics of a full body.

Well the Canon is shit wide open, so maybe that's where the size went. If you look at the 85 1.4 Sigma it's a bit better wide open than the Sony, but it's huge. It's all about compromises.

I would prefer to drive a car that gets great mileage but I'm not going to risk my life in a Smartcar and I couldn't fit my dogs in one. Size and weight are only two of many factors that a professional or serious amateur looks at when deciding on a system.
There are lots of reasons to choose mirrorless and lots of reasons to choose a DSLR. The most important reasons in either case, though, is pick whichever tool you like that happens to get the job done. That is enough reason to pick anything.

Good thing both camera types still have just enough room to fit 2 memory cards. ;)

Also, Smart Cars are trash for MPG, considering how much more you have to give up vs competing 40mpg cars.

Mr Hogwallop's picture

Show me a photo journalist, a war/enviromental hazard/weather photoreporter using a digital.
Show me a serious wedding photographer using digital.
Sports photographer with digital ?
Wildlife photographer with digital ?
Serious Landscape photographer with digital ?

or substitute 35mm, medium format, color, anything smaller than a Graflex.....times change.

Bill Peppas's picture

Problem with your way of thinking is that digital cameras were much better in every single aspect compared to the analog cameras...

Mirrorless are inferior in photography compared to a DSLR in most likely every single aspect.

Troll much? Show me a camera that even compares in every single aspect to the A7III at that pricepoint.

Bill Peppas's picture

You brought the value subject.
And that is subjective as well.

This is not a matter of cost.
Unless you are claiming that mirrorless cameras are generally, or more importantly same class to same class cheaper ( they aren't! plus the lens selection is limited and the very good glasses are also very expensive ).

I haven't delved much ( if at all ) into the A7 III, but it is relatively safe to assume that it will lose hands down in low light 3D autofocusing ( accuracy, speed and consistency ) for wildlife for example.

And where every single mirrorless sucks balls... battery life / shots per cycle.

So "every single aspect" has come down to probably low light AF-C and a bit less battery life?
Yes, the 1DXII or 5D will still be a bit better at AF and especially low light than the A7III and even slightly better than the A9, although there were tests where the A9 was slightly better.
But when it comes to other premium models I'm not so sure it's that clear and one reviewer stated the 6DII is definitely worse than the A7III. All this was unthinkable just a generation ago. So give Sony one or two years and they will surpass all DSLRs.
Oh and the battery life was more than doubled compared to the A7II and is now the best of all mirrorless in the A7III. Most people will get through the day with one charge, like with DSLRs.

Bill Peppas's picture

I wrote two points/areas where surely the DSLR exceeds the A7 III given that I haven't read anything about the A7 III.
If I was to nitpick and find a proper review of the A7 III ( and no, cameralife, fro knows shit, user reviews on fstoppers and photographylife aren't real proper reviews of cameras & lenses ) I would simply find a whole lot more areas where the A7 III isn't even remotely close to a D850 ( or even a D810 or D750 for that matter ).

a) that's all hypothetical and b) no you wouldn't. yeah, no camera is perfect, but for every DSLR you find that does one thing better than the A7III I'll guarantee you I'll find two that do it worse.

Bill Peppas's picture

What's hypothetical ? The significant difference in all areas of autofocus performance, battery life, lens selections and quality, dual card slots, much better viewfinder, etc ?

Sorry, this isn't even funny, I feel like you are asking Tim Hetherington to carry an A7 III to Iraq.
Please go ahead and ask him to ditch his heavy duty DSLRs for the A7 III :D

Sure there will for the time being DSLRs that do specific things better, partly at three times the price, like when you want to roll yourself in the sand in the desert. But apart from that the other points your mentioned are moot. PhotoRec TV shot 4000 pics on one battery over the whole day, 2000 of them as a timelapse over 2 hours with 20% battery life. So theoretically that would be 10.000 pics over 10 hours. Either number is impressive and if that's not enough for you you're just lying through your teeth.
AF speed is still to be proven, but eg. Tony Northrups says its definitely better than the 6DII, which punches in the same price class. So yeah a D5 might be slightly better, but never $4000 better.
Yeah lens selection in still less in numbers, but you get everything you could realistically want apart from lenses longer than 400mm and weirdly enough a 35mm f1.8/2 with AF.
Quality wise I'd take the GMasters any day over Canons lenses, there is no argument there.
The A7III has dual card slots, learn to read spec sheets.
And EVF vs. OVF is preference at this point.

In conclusion: since you never held the camera and apparently haven't watched that many reviews on it please educate yourself before putting out misinformation.

Bill Peppas's picture

I like the term "Slightly" better like you say it ( the D5 being slightly better than the A7 III... LOL ).

Seriously now, we got it.
You love the A7 III ( why don't you love the best Sony model equally ? :p ).

You are watching PhotoRec ( LOL ) and basing your opinion on that troll ? Really ?

Who's your idol ? Ken Rockwell ?

All your mumble means jack when you've got nothing to show for yourself.

You are spec-talking like no tomorrow.
Show us your work.
Your photos.
Your knowledge.

All you currently do is praise the A7 III like it's the best thing since sliced bread...

All I'm saying DSLRs are better in every single way couldn't be further from the truth.
And until we both held an A7III in our hands all we have are reviews and specs, which are overwhelmingly positive. So spew all the negativity and doubt you want, I'll just enjoy shooting it when I hopefully get it this week.

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