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Canon has lost it

Canon has just lost the number one position in the DSLR market to Nikon. Here’s from the article:

Nikon has announced that it is now the UK’s leading manufacturer of DSLRs.

Speaking at the UK launch of the company’s flagship D3X camera, the company boasted of a prosperous year, which has seen Nikon’s DSLR sales growth expand by 333 per cent, compared 2004/05 figures.

The official announcement is that Nikon is “number one for share by volume in the UK, Europe, USA and Japan.”

The impressive figure of 333 per cent is mainly due to Nikon in recent years getting aggressive in the DSLR market, making sure that everyone from first-time DSLR buyers to high-end professionals have the option to buy a Nikon-branded camera. This includes the recently announced D3X.

Nikon beating Canon

The fight in the DSLR market between Canon and Nikon has always been a close one, with last year’s figures suggesting that Canon won the camera war by just one per cent – taking a 41 per cent market share to Nikon’s 40 per cent.

Predicted DSLR sales for Nikon for this year are around 3.3 million. Compare this to just 2 million in 2004, and the company’s fortunes are definitely going in the right direction.

This came as no surprise to anyone who has been following what’s been going on with Canon and Nikon the last few months. Certainly if you’ve been reading my blog, this was something that you could have expected. I wrote about Canon’s DSLR division being in trouble a few months ago. It’s only the logical outcome.

Canon has been having a lot of issues lately, most of them the result of bad upper management. Here’s a listing of the stuff I wrote about:

With regard to the mediocre product releases, the G10 also got a bad review on DPReview recently mostly because of the bad image quality. It seems the G10 suffers from the same problem the EOS 50D has: Too many megapixels on a small sensor. Canon just can’t seem to understand that they can’t keep putting more pixels onto small sensors. Canon’s latest high-end cameras all had issues or have all been mediocre releases. The 1D Mark III has focus issues, the 50D has bad image quality and is a worthless upgrade compared to the 40D and both have a AI-Servo focusing mode that doesn’t work well, the G10 has worse image quality compared to the G9, the 5D Mark II got equipped with a 3 year old autofocus system and a slow shutter mechanism etc. etc.

Meanwhile, Nikon has been consistently coming with some very solid product releases, from the D90, D300, D700 and D3 to recently the D3x. So it’s absolutely no surprise that they now managed to get to the top of the DSLR market. They’ve been doing quite well and Canon has been screwing up.

And you’d think that by now, they would have gotten a clue at Canon. But apparently that’s not the case.

After Mr. Maeda blatantly lying about the autofocus system of the 5D Mark II, we now have Chuck Westfall trying to fool users into thinking the EOS 50D has better image quality compared to the EOS 40D. First, here’s part of an answer from Westfall to a question from a user:

Thanks for your message. I agree with you that the improvement of image quality is a top priority for any new EOS Digital SLR. My statement of an approximate 1 to 1.5 stop improvement in noise levels for EOS 50D vs. 40D was made on the basis of the default settings for image quality with both cameras, in other words Large/Fine JPEGs. As I stated in my answer to question 70 above:

“At default camera settings for in-camera JPEGs, and assuming equalized output sizes in order to gain the benefit of the EOS 50D’s increased resolution, there is approximately a 1 stop improvement in noise reduction for the 50D compared to the 40D. Run the comparisons and see for yourself. For RAW images, the difference in image quality between the two cameras is almost entirely dependent on the user’s choice of processing techniques.”

To summarize, the EOS 50D’s improvement in image quality compared to the EOS 40D at ISO 3200 is clear and demonstrable at each camera’s default settings for in-camera JPEGs when output size is equalized. That was the basis of my original statement when the 50D was announced, and I believe the results speak for themselves.

Westfall ofcourse doesn’t tell people that the 50D applies a lot of noise reduction to JPEG images. This makes the JPEG images from the 50D appear to have less noise compared to the 40D, but because of the heavy noise reduction, the 50D JPEG images also look washed out and less detailed compared to the 40D images. Many reviews on the Internet, including the one from DPreview have mentioned this. The 50D has a higher resolution, and you’d expect more detail in images from the 50D, but you actually get less detail, with images from the 40D looking sharper. What Westfall is doing here is very misleading.

In addition, Westfall knows that when RAW images are compared from the 50D and 40D, it will be very clear that the 50D images have a lot more noise in them. So he mentions: “For RAW images, the difference in image quality between the two cameras is almost entirely dependent on the user’s choice of processing techniques.” What he is essentially saying here is that it is up to the user to apply enough noise reduction to RAW images to make them look good enough. In other words, you can make the 50D images look like the 40D images with regard to noise, if you just process the 50D images enough. But ofcourse, this is bullshit, because one shouldn’t have to process images to make them look comparable to eachother. If the 50D had image quality as good as the 40D, then the RAW images would look about the same without ANY kind of processing required. Very misleading statements from Westfall.

Westfall also mentions that when image quality is concerned, we have to resize the 50D images which are larger, to the size of the 40D images for a fair comparison. This, again, is bullshit. Why should we make the 50D images smaller to be able to get the quality of the 40D images???? The whole fucking point of getting a 50D is because of the increased 15MP resolution, right? So why do you expect people to resize the images to something smaller, in order to get acceptable image quality? Why did you increase the resolution to 15MP on the 50D then? People can then just get a 40D instead since the extra resolution of the 50D is pointless if you have to make the images smaller to get better quality. Westfall and the rest of Canon’s management seem to think they’re talking to idiots. This is nothing more than a serious insult to our intelligence.

And then we have Canon President, Mr. Uchida, who was recently interviewed by Reuters, mentioning that the global digital camera market might shrink in 2009. Uchida was probably saying this because the knows that Canon is currently not doing very well and likely won’t be doing very well in 2009 as well. But this is not because of the economic crisis alone, but more because of all the issues I mentioned above. Canon simply does not have the products right now to excite people into buying. All of their latest products are mediocre and/or have issues. Just look at the price of the 50D. In just a month, the price went from $1400 to $1099 now and continues to drop. This is a clear indication that sales aren’t going well. But that’s no surprise, and I predicted from the moment the 50D was launched that it wouldn’t sell well and to expect major price drops. I did the same for the 5D Mark II.

Nikon certainly doesn’t seem to be having problems selling their products, even reporting a 333% increase in sales! Uchida is just trying to fool everyone into thinking that the bad results at Canon are due to the economic crisis. I hope Canon shareholders will be smart enough to see what’s really going on. The entire upper management at Canon should be fired for their incompetence.

Finally, you might also like to read Fake Chuck Westfall’s take on these issues here and here.


  1. Karel Donk » Blog Archive » Canon EOS 5D Mark II: Barely worth it! (22/12/2008)
  2. Karel Donk’s Blog » Blog Archive » Canon EOS 7D Review: Noisier than 40D (08/11/2009)


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