I’m always harping on about how all the photography magazines seem to cater almost exclusively for DSLR and Compact System /EVIL (Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens) cameras, and how the manufacturers seem to be promoting these types of cameras and lenses, especially in the aforementioned magazines. It seems that not only do they want you to buy their cameras, they want to lock you into their brand in two smart ways. Firstly, they want you to buy their lenses and accessories. Now if you’ve bought a DSLR you’ll need a couple of extra lenses or more, and a flashgun, lens hood and remote to fit as well if you’re inclined. Secondly, when you decide you want to upgrade your camera body (if you can afford it after shelling out an average of £4 -£500 per lens), because you’ve already got lenses and accessories to fit you’ll stay with the same manufacturer as otherwise, to get to the same state you are currently at, you’ll have to buy all new lenses from the manufacturer you’re already with which could cost a couple of grand. It’s not as expensive for CSC users, but it’s a similar scenario.

With all this attention from the manufacturers and the lap dog photography press you’d be forgiven for thinking interchangeable lens cameras (DSLR/CSC) were the best-selling types of cameras. It’s true the media (all forms, not just photography magazines/websites) have correctly reported that   Point & Shoot models have been experiencing falling sales percentage wise, and interchangeable lens cameras have seen a rise of almost 22%, but that’s not the whole picture.

According to CIPA (Consumer Imaging Products Association) the volume of new camera shipments last year, 2011, was as follows: Built in lens camera shipments (sales) were just a fraction  under 100 million units (99.8M), whilst Interchangeable lens camera sales totalled 15.7 million units (an increase on 2010 of 21.8%). That’s interesting. The camera manufacturers are heavily promoting their ‘Proffessional’ and ‘Semi Pro’ DSLR & CSC cameras to the exclusion of others. When Digams first began to be advertised on UK TV it was the Point & Shoot models featured (then costing over £200.00). Now Canon advertises EOS DSLR & Nikon advertises it’s Nikon 1 cameras (they also advertise Point & Shoot models on TV and sponsor Hollyoaks for P&S models as well, but the bulk of Nikon’s advertising on TV is for the Nikon 1 and it’s magazine ads feature both CSC and DSLR’s).

As a percentage of total sales, Interchangeable  lens cameras account for roughly 14% of all sales in 2011. Bridge and Superzoom cameras seemed to enjoy a healthy percentage of sales growth (even though total camera sales were down from 141M to 115.5M a drop of  over 15%). Whilst many Point & Shoot users are not replacing their cameras because their smartphones now have a better megapixel count, ,when  people do upgrade, advanced compacts, superzooms and bridge cameras are what they buy. It’s a step by step process for many people (myself included) to a better camera, Not many people go from a basic Point & Shoot to a DSLR or CSC as it’s too complex  in one leap. I mean how many Point & Shoot users know what ‘Front Curtain’, ‘Rear Curtain’, TV or AV stands for? They learn to use the advanced features of an advanced compact, graduate to a bridge model, and maybe then graduate to an interchangeable lens model.

For me, a lifelong anti DSLR/CSC set my upgrade path was as follows: 0.1 MP Camera (no Screen or zoom) 1999, 0.3 MP camera (no screen or zoom) 2002 1.3 MP camera with screen but no zoom then 2 MP camera with screen but no zoom, 2004,  3.1 MP camera with Screen & 3X zoom, 2005 5 MP camera with 3X Zoom & screen, 2008 7MP camera with large screen, 2011 12 MP camera  with 3X zoom then a 14MP  entry level bridge camera (15X zoom and manual controls), 2012 16MP top of range bridge with 30X zoom and………

As you can see, I have gone through the ranks, getting better cameras and more experience along the way. And so it is with the majority of fixed lens camera buyers today. 86% of new cameras sold last year were fixed lens models, yet manufacturers (aided by the puppy dog like camera mags following their masters the DSLR manufacturers) are trying to get us all to buy an interchangeable lense camera, Whether it’s Jamie Oliver for Nikon, or Fuji pushing it’s Pro series cameras or Canon touting its EOS system, it’s as if we’re being dictated to. ‘You MUST buy an interchangeable lens camera!’ seems to be the cry, and that makes my blood boil. The people at the bottom end of the scale, or those like me who haven’t got deep enough pockets to afford a brand new DSLR and a bunch of expensive lenses simply can’t allow the manufacturers to dictate to us like that. Britain is not like America where you have to buy the best you can afford to keep up with the ‘Average’ tech savvy American.  We cannot and should not allow the manufacturers to turn us into clones of our transatlantic buddies, having to keep up with everyone else. I hope you all agree with me. I guess you could say I’m a Consumer Socialist (even though I don’t vote Labour).

10 years ago the average Point and Shoot user could pick up a virtually ANY photography mag (except Amateur Photographer who have always appeared to be very elitist) and it would be of relevance to them. The cameras that the magazines reviewed would be what your average consumer with an average income and no photography expertise could afford or find relevant to their needs or wants. Today it’s all DSLR and CSC centred, with little in the way of fixed lens cameras (most bridge cameras don’t even get a look in in the mags). To them the term ‘Beginner’ means you’ve just bought an entry level DSLR or CSC, and not that you’ve just bought your first camera. That was one of the reasons I started this site, there was no other sites for the entry level Point & Shoot user  One magazine, however, is bucking the trend. Imagine Publishing’s ‘Photography For Beginners’(PFB) is aimed at all camera beginners (cameraphones included) and is highly recommended. However, it’s my opinion (and only mine) that in order to get the cameras and accessories they need to review, they have to feature some (thankfully limited) DSLR & CSC cameras. Certainly, it seems to show in the adverts the major manufacturers place in it. And in awarding competition prizes they seem to prefer non DSLR/CSC users. Even I won one of their competitions.

But even if PFB is shunning the normal trend for photography magazines, the rest of the camera mags need to follow their lead and stop hanging on the coat tails of the manufacturers. And Canon, Fuji, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, Samsung & Sony need to join the real world and start targeting the AVERAGE camera user, not the well off DSLR/CSC set. After all, 86% of tall the cameras sold in the world last year were fixed lens models.