Good old American perceptions

I’m an unashamed camera nerd. My wife and I run a husband and wife photography team, my dad was a photo nerd, and my grandfather brought me great sadness when he informed me that the Leica outfit he used when he was a wedding photographer with four shoots a weekend had to be sold to pay for his kids’ education.
While I make no claims of being the next Joe McNally, I do know a thing or two about the photographic medium. I grew up with film, but now I shoot digital. Specifically I shoot micro 4/3 because of the compromises mentioned in the previous blog post. And really, from what I can gather from informal and unscientific observations, I don’t think I’m alone.
What I mean is that very many “photo nerds” tend to be buying into mirror less systems instead of DSLRs. We photo nerds seem to understand well that the image quality is more than enough AND we can carry half the weight. For my wife and I, a smaller lighter camera means we can shoot with less fatigue and we are less distracting for ceremonies and receptions. Candid shots are more natural when people see the photographer more than they see a giant camera.
This isn’t complicated information, but he marketing gurus at the camera companies are doing a terrible job communicating the message, at least to the American audience. Mirror less sales are probably better in Japan because ( just a hunch) the Japanese take time to understand the product before purchasing (and space matters more). The classic American mentality though is “bigger is better.” People are used to big DSLRs being the only cameras that take “good pictures,” therefore a smaller camera obviously takes worse pictures. While that is true in regards to sensor size, we still have that compromise point (see previous post). If we follow “bigger is better,” the typical market for these DSLR buyers should all be shooting hasselblads or view cameras.
The problem mirror less faces is that DSLRs are easy to sell while mirror less requires some explanation. “Bigger is better” is easy to sell, while “its just as good, just smaller” doesn’t go over as well. I really do think the average amateur photo enthusiast in America would buy into a mirror less system instead of DSLRs if they heard a proper explanation.
What do mirror less makers need to do to address the problem? First, they need to ditch the idea that most mirror less buyers are coming from point and shoots. I came from film to micro 4/3, and I don’t think that is uncommon. Fortunately photo nerds often take the time to research the benefits of a mirror less system. In America, the first choice for a step up camera is a DSLR, so the manufacturers need to woo those buyers away from DSLRs. That will take customer education. As more professional shooters use mirror less systems, I think that perceptions will gradually change. But manufacturers really need to engage their audience before or at the point of sale. Really, that probably looks like hands on events or one on one education by sales professionals.
What do you think? What would be an effective marketing tactic for mirror less system makers?


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