Will vlogging change your next camera?
|They may not necessarily be aimed at you (except as demonstrated here), but the recently released vlogging cameras from Panasonic and Sony could yet have an impact on your next camera.|
The past two months have seen both Panasonic and Sony introduce cameras explicitly aimed at vloggers. This may seem to have come from nowhere, but if two large companies independently decide there’s a market there, it’s a pretty sure sign that there’s demand for devices tailored to self-videoing. The question now is: what, if anything, does it mean for your next camera?
The answer might be “nothing”: we’ve seen niche camera types such as Flip pocket video cameras come and go, and fads such as 3D fizzle when the public’s interest didn’t come close to matching the manufacturers’ enthusiasm.
Vlogging cameras are likely to prove a little more durable though, partly because the demand is consumer-led: Chris and Jordan of DPRTV constantly tell us how often they encountered customers asking for cameras that were good for vlogging, back when they worked in retail. Enough years have now passed since that point for manufacturers to have developed these specific vlogging cameras (rather than simply adding vlogging-friendly features, such as video streaming, to their existing models).
|Canon’s most recent G7 X model had some features added to make it more vlogging friendly, but it was an adaptation of an existing model, rather than being redesigned primarily with vlogging in mind.|
The source of that demand is also likely to be long-lived, since any fall in interest in YouTube is only likely to come from the rise in popularity of other video-based platforms, whether that be TikTok or something we’ve not yet heard of. The big question is probably whether a dedicated camera turns out to be the best tool for the job. Or, perhaps, so much better that it overcomes the immediate convenience of a smartphone.
Only the beginning
In terms of the models we’ve seen so far, they’re just the beginning. There’s every chance we’ll see others, if Sony and Panasonic both concluded there’s a need for them, but what we’ve seen of this first generation seems a little cautious.
Both the ZV-1 and G100 are recognizable adaptations of existing technology. Sony appears to have spotted the market need and recognized that its very good face/eye detection technology would be a powerful proposition for those users. It’s a company with a solid history in audio technology, which might explain the three capsule mic setup but beyond this, the ZV-1 is essentially a modified RX100 VII.
|The G100 contains some interesting new ideas but it’s primarily made from familiar components.|
It looks like a similar story with the G100: Panasonic knows how to make very good video cameras and how to make very small cameras, and it presumably saw Nokia’s OZO directional sound technology as an effective way to stand out to vloggers. Again, beyond the flip-out screen and the more sophisticated mic setup, the G100 is broadly made from a series of familiar components. All of which gives the feel of toes being dipped in the water.
Stand out or blend in
At which point, this could go either way: they could evolve into a completely different devices or their features could simply be adopted across to more models.
For instance, there’s no reason a vlogging camera has to even resemble a traditional camera, if it’s primarily (or even regularly) used at arms length, pointing back at the user. Why should hand grips and control points resemble conventional cameras, if they’re awkward to reach, from the bright side of the lens? This could lead to the diverging from the recognizable camera form altogether.
|Could we see some sort of strange, convergent evolution, with vlogging cameras coming to resemble early, innovative digital cameras, but with differing motivations?|
The alternative is that features such as sophisticated mics and selfie-focused focusing could become so popular that they become standard features across much of the industry.
This second option may sound horrifying if you want a camera whose sensor is the only thing separating it from mechanical SLRs. But for most people, some vlogging features could probably be introduced without detracting too much from the everyday experience. And, once you’ve become accustomed to the idea, would improved audio capture be a bad thing?
Beyond this, many of the underlying capabilities that would make a good vlogging camera – fast, quiet and reliable face detection, decent battery life and attractive output – are things that are desirable on any type of camera.
Either way, it’s extremely unlikely that the ZV-1 and G100 are the last vlogging cameras we’ll see. And my money would be on there being at least some crossover into your camera bag in the future. Perhaps it’s a point I can make more convincingly if I try to show you the things I’m talking about, over on YouTube.