Old Camera

I occasionally make videos where I discuss a new product. Unfortunately, I don’t usually have the product to test. Probably because it hasn’t been released and I haven’t applied for demo stock. My profile just isn’t big enough to have manufacturers sending over new equipment to test and review. So it’s really just thoughts about the product and the new technology that the product brings with it. How does it raise the bar and how has the technology advanced from the previous year.

In a recent video about the Panasonic GH5, I moved onto the subject of the slightly frustrating feeling of purchasing something and then have a better model released the following week.

Panasonic GH5PHS Pictures (a subscriber to the channel) added to the discussion in the comments of the video and wrote a great reply that got me thinking. How much has the camera market moved away from the creative focus and just become a chase for the latest and greatest technical specifications. The ultimate example of this in the technology market is the iPhone. Tens of thousands of sheep…sorry, I mean people, queue outside Apple stores to ensure they have the latest iPhone release. This isn’t about need. This is purely want. It’s a fashion accessory and a status symbol. Nothing more.

Now, don’t get me wrong. If you earn your money and can afford it, spend it on what the hell you like and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But it’s still an odd thing to see sometimes. A little sad, some might say.

Queue for iPhoneHere’s what PHS Pictures had to say.

“I haven’t really ‘tuned in’ to the news about the GH5 (I’m not really an interchangeable lens fan) so I’m not really well versed in all that it can do. But judging from what you’ve pointed out (in the video), the thing that strikes me is the business strategy of Panasonic and their response to the changing market dynamics. They seem to have acknowledged that there are a new group of users out there that kind of want the best of both worlds. Those worlds being, professional full form cine camera features in a small compact DSLR camera form factor.

From the time Canon introduced the concept of video on a DSLR, the market was born but never really made too much of a negative impact on the professional cine camera market. The limitations of the DSLR protected (but gave a slap in the face) to the pro market. The GH5 seems to be threatening that. I think that’s a good thing for opening up the creative space and allowing more people the opportunity to have access to features enjoyed by an elite few.

However, given what you’ve said about the video capabilities of the GH5 and Panasonic’s bringing pro features to it, I have to say that I think that is great for the target market. However, I think the question that reviewers should be asking is “Why should you buy it?”. It’s my belief that to solely focus on a camera’s capabilities is a REALLY bad basis on which to make a purchase.

In my humble opinion it’s more important to think about what you are creating that requires these capabilities before you make a purchase. A case in point is when you mentioned the feeling you had about having the DVX-200 coupled with the Atomos now that the GH5 is here. I’m sure that you are right and that a lot of people out there have had similar feelings about products they’ve bought and then realised later that perhaps their purchase was a bit overkill for their needs (not to imply that the DVX-200 is overkill for your needs but you understand what I mean). This is most likely because they have not truly known what their needs were and only bought the latest and greatest because it’s the latest and greatest (I have a friend who’s just like that and now has a bunch of expensive kit that never sees the light of day). So in closing, even though the GH5 seems to be an amazing device, I think the question interested parties should be asking themselves is “Do I Need It or Do I Just Want It?”

I think this is good food for thought for anyone. It’s arguably more relevant to camera users because the creative nature of photography often seems to starkly contrast with the consumerism and one-upmanship of the superficial and ever changing technology market. The two have to meet in order for new products to be developed. Tech is an aggressive, competitive market. That makes keeping focused on the more timid creative side difficult at times.

Watch the GH5 Video

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