It’s a weird time for the camera industry.
On the one hand, DSLRs continue to get cheaper and more powerful, becoming more and more accessible to hobbyists and budding pros. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum sits the iPhone, which unexpectedly became the most popular camera on Flickr (and likely the world), thanks in no small part to its everyday ubiquity. And we haven’t even touched on all the exciting mirror-less, swappable lens stuff going on—such as with the Olympus Pen E series—which continues to convert would-be detractors every day.
But none feel the brunt of camera industry’s shifting landscape more than the point & shoot market. In an article from the New York Times last December, the once essential everyday camera saw a sharp decline of 24% in U.S. dollars since 2008, going from a $2.4 billion industry to $1.9 billion in 2010.
First in line at the funeral march? Camera-equipped smartphones, which continue to proliferate and become more capable every day.
There is, however, a silver lining: It would appear that camera manufacturers are getting more daring with their designs and willing to experiment, particularly at the higher end.
Case in point is the new X10 from Fujifilm, the second offering in the company’s X line of premium point & shoots. At 12 megapixels and a wide open aperture of F2/2.8, the X10 is hardly a slouch in terms of hardware, despite a mere 2/3-inch sensor.
But with a ruggedly beautiful magnesium alloy body that harkens back to rangefinders of old, coupled with the versatility offered by P&S cameras (like 28-112 mm, 4X zoom, which can even be used manually), and you have a potential lifeline for a dying segment of the market (yes, it handles HD video, too). The camera’s set to make its debut in November.
Pricing has yet to be set, and while it’s sure to be less expensive than its $1,400 X100 forefather, it speaks to a different slice of the market than, say, the $200 something-or-other-shot you’d get Mom for Mother’s Day.
It may not have the raw horsepower of, say, Canon’s G12, and yes, there’s something icky-feeling about lusting after a camera just because it looks pretty (especially if its pictures aren’t the prettiest).
But piling on the specs and wrapping these things in gorgeous, retrofitted bodies? It’s a trend to be optimistic about and one that potential consumers seem to actually be responding to (hint hint, camera makers). So let’s hold off on that death knell and see if these types of design choices end up going anywhere.
Pictures and full camera specs after the jump…