Canon’s tepid 4000D isn’t released in this country yet, but the fact that it even exists is a sad commentary on where camera manufacturers are today.
Don’t get me wrong. At about $385 pre-tax, Canon will sell tens of thousands of these cameras. They will fly off the shelves. Many will buy in to the Canon system. Then they’ll check out of the Canon system.
Management will shrug and say, “Young people don’t care about quality, they care about convenience.” That’s not true. People care about quality, it’s just that they’re not going to get it with this.
What's Wrong with It?
For starters, the camera screams cheap. It’s the first digital model with a plastic EF mount, which is fine for a kit lens, but I’d be nervous putting my 100-400mm lens on it.
Beyond the plastic mount, the buttons themselves aren’t even labeled. The writing is imprinted onto the body, and the buttons are blank. I once bought a copy of Monopoly in Bangladesh that was clearly made on someone’s inkjet printer, and it looked better than this.
It’s got a sensor that’s almost a decade old. It’s still a good sensor, but time has marched on, and when this camera can’t even competently focus in video, an iPhone starts to look even more attractive as a camera.
Cost cutting is one thing, but first impressions are another. If this is a person’s first experience with a brand, why would they come back?
What Shooters Want
While Canon has (as have other manufacturers, to be fair) been pushing bargain-basement, touchscreen-less cameras to try and capture shooters, Apple, Google and others have been trying to win market share with actual innovation. It’s just not the kind of thing that Canon views as innovation. While Canon’s solutions are hardware-based (witness the 470 EX-AI), Apple, for instance, attacks the lighting problem through software with its lighting modes on the iPhone X. Algorithms make up for physics. Think of it as a turbocharged four-cylinder car outrunning a version with a larger V6 engine. Efficiency is key.
Many parents I know want those creamy, blurred-out backgrounds they see all over professional photos on the Internet. The fact that Canon kits its 4000D with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens handicaps its ability from the get-go to do this. So when those parents run out and buy a camera to try to take a portrait with their kit lens, they’ll probably be disappointed. Then, sooner rather than later they’ll go back to their phones and push the portrait button to get the job done.
Marketing executives can scream about larger sensors and optical zoom until their faces turn blue, but if a camera doesn’t deliver the results, consumers will move on. Nobody cares one bit what DIGIC processor you’re using or what size the sensor is. Setting this camera up to fail with a so-so lens, old sensors, and a body that looks ready to break on the first drop may result in some short-term gain in profits, but a long-term loss by degrading the image of the DSLR in the minds of customers.
What to Do?
Products like these show a fundamental misunderstanding of the camera market today. Instead of lowering the bar, why not raise it with higher quality hardware and software that can beat the smartphone and convince consumers that real cameras are worth it? It’s time to make an aspirational camera. Otherwise, Canon and other camera companies will keep getting damaging headlines like this and this and this.
What’s your take on the 4000D?