The iPhone is increasingly being used to shoot feature films like Steven Soderbergh’s UNSANE (2018)
A recent report from the research firm Futuresource says that DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are poised to dominate the market. In the UK, these convergent products already account for 56% of the UK marketplace.
Professional video acquisition continues to evolve as a new generation of alternative cameras accessories and lenses come to market. One result is the growing segment of content producers who have never used high-end (and expensive) video cameras.They record video with their phones.
From iPhone-type cameras to the latest mirrorless cameras, it is less expensive and easier than ever to capture high-quality video. Futuresource calls these cameras, ‘convergent’ products.
This new market segment accounts for about 56% of the pro video camera in the UK. The market slice includes pro camcorders, but not the higher-end digital cinema cameras.
“Use of convergent products, such as DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, is severely limiting the professional camcorder market. These products are already dominating the lower end of the professional acquisition market and this will only continue,” says Ruben Baveld, Research Analyst, Futuresource. “We’re now seeing the majority of videographers shunning pro camcorders and opting for a mirrorless camera or DSLR instead.”
Democratization of Video
This is not a new trend. After the hype around the first wave of video DSLRs died down, some end users moved back to pro camcorders because of the frustrations with the convergent products’ lack of video functionality.
The second and third waves of convergent products remedied this deficiency and the segment is experiencing significant uptake once again, particularly with the new generation of video makers.
“Video is moving front and centre, playing a dominant role in our societies and cultures,” says Baveld. “A wide range of organisations are now looking to professional grade video to demonstrate the value of their offerings. Everyone from large corporates and educational establishments, to gyms, bars and sports clubs. It’s the power of social media channels. Anyone can distribute video and be heard, and that’s one of the main drivers behind all this activity.”
Ruben Baveld, Research Analyst, Futuresource
This wave of low-end technology is sometimes applied to newsroom applications. While larger-market live-shots are still generated by a team of two, a camera operator and news person, many cable and streaming channels further compact the team down to a one person-does-it-all solution.
And when it comes to recorded interviews, one person is often called upon to do it all.
The perception of convergent products’ high video quality to price ratio makes them extremely attractive to these new video professionals. These users may not be familiar with pro camcorders or traditional pro video equipment channels, but they are accustomed to stills cameras and where they can be bought.
The lowest end of camera products includes cell phones. Today’s latest Android and iPhones are equipped with high-quality cameras, allowing both video and audio to be easily captured with the every-present phone.
However, do not think that the iPhone/Android cell phones are of minimal quality. iPhone aficionados can already look to Steven Soderbergh's 2018 feature film, UNSANE, starring Claire Foy, which was shot entirely with an iPhone 7 Plus for example.
The 2017 BBC series Secrets of the Super Elements with Mark Miodownik was said to have been shot entirely with mobile phones. Click to enlarge.
Not only are parts of the pro video acquisition market transitioning over to convergent products, but in the convergent market itself DSLRs are increasingly losing out to mirrorless cameras. In the UK, mirrorless cameras shipped into pro video applications outsold DSLRs by a factor of almost nine to one.
“Most innovation is taking place in the mirrorless camera category,” says Baveld, “with smaller form factors, increasing use of full frame sensors and lower prices all putting pressure on DSLRs. However, at the same time, we’re seeing high-quality smartphones starting to eat their way into the lower end of the mirrorless camera market. Combined with market saturation, this means that sales of convergent products will peak this year before gradually declining over the coming years.”
To learn more about some of the recent mirrorless cameras and the technology, see the links highlighted below.
Additional Resource: Futuresource
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