Market Segmentation: one of the evils of the world

Today, Canon announced their two highest-end HD-capable small digicams, the SD4500 IS and the S95.

The S95 is the superior still camera of the two, with a large CCD sensor and a very fast stabilized lens (for what it is). Surely, a great buy for stills. Regarding video though, the S95 has the same capabilities as their much cheaper digicams have: 720p at 24 mbps bitrate, h.264 MOV, color control, exposure compensation, the as importantly exposure locking, and manual focus via the “wheel”. The only difference between the S95 and the other cheaper Canon HD digicams in terms of video is that the S95 does 24p instead of 30p.

And then there’s the CMOS-based SD4500 IS. The SD4500 IS has an embarrassingly small sensor for its price/range (same as in their $100 digicams), and a not-so-fast lens. But, it does 1080/24p. At 43 mbps no less. And 720/30p at 30 mbps. Plus all the other video features mentioned above.

So here we have the perfect small still digicam that leaves a lot to be desired in terms of video, and we have another small still digicam that comparatively sucks at stills, but it does video better.

Perfect market segmentation for Canon! This way they can sell both of them, to people who are mostly interested in video, or mostly interested in stills. But absolutely none of the two lives up to the expectations. This pisses me off so much.

The only hope I have right now regarding “small” digicams is for the upcoming Canon G12 to have SELECTABLE resolution AND frame rate: 1080p/720p at 30p/25p/24p each (and why not, 720p @ 50p/60p).

Because if they screw this up too, these guys don’t know what they are doing. Why not give their market what they need, instead of creating 40 products with 99% the same feature-set, confusing people? Or segmentize their products so much, so no one gets to be happy with what their bought?

I’m not asking for freaking manual control here. That would indeed be somewhat high-end at this point for the price range of these cams. I’m just asking something that is most important for video to be able to do something useful with it: frame rate selection first and foremost, and then resolution. For their higher-end digicams, these features should have been there as standard.

UPDATE: Well, I’m now even more pissed off at Canon. C|Net just leaked by accident the details of the new G12, and it also only does 720p.

Another worthless “high-end” digicam in terms of video — at a day and age when Canon has the capability of adding the resolution and frame rates needed without much trouble.

10 Comments »

Glenn Thomas wrote on August 20th, 2010 at 5:35 AM PST:

You forgot to mention the SX130 IS. Pretty standard specs too. I’ll be sticking with my Ixy 510 IS. The S95 looks nice, but doesn’t offer much more. Better low light performance would be nice, and maybe the manual focus control too.

Although for roughly the same price, Nikon are releasing the D3100. That looks like a decent camera, although I haven’t been able to find any information on what codec it uses and the bit rate. Still, what other 1080P DSLR’s retail for less than $500?


Mirko wrote on August 20th, 2010 at 10:49 AM PST:

Hi there

What about the new sony nex-vg 10 ? On the paper it seems quite interesting… not cheap but just the supplied optic is about 800$


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on August 20th, 2010 at 11:00 AM PST:

>You forgot to mention the SX130 IS

I did not forget it. As you said, it’s a standard HD digicam, just like the ones already out, absolutely nothing new about it. The G12 and S95 though are the only digicams from Canon that have larger sensors, and that’s why I’m pissed off for not having better video specs too. The article is about these larger sensor digicams, going HD, but not getting good enough to match their still picture abilities.

>Although for roughly the same price, Nikon are releasing the D3100.

It’s not the same price, because the majority of people will have to also buy lenses. It’s $700 plus lenses, or more. Not $400 or $500 overall. Plus it’s a different class of product, much bigger too.

>I haven’t been able to find any information on what codec it uses and the bit rate

It is h.264 now, 1080/24p, with continuous autofocus. Bitrate is not known so far.

>What about the new sony nex-vg 10?

What about it? This is a $2000 camcorder, nothing to do with the $400 larger-sensor digicams we discuss here. Personally, I’d stay away from such a product because I’m sure Sony found a way to cripple it anyway. Be it not full manual controls, or not enough bitrate, or not enough fps selection. I just don’t trust them.


Michael C. wrote on August 23rd, 2010 at 10:17 AM PST:

“The SD4500 IS has an embarrassingly small sensor for its price/range” – I would not call 1/2.3-inch sensor embarrassingly small.
“But, it does 1080/24p. At 43 mbps no less. And 720/30p at 30 mbps.” — It is MJPEG. The S95 does 720p24, good enough IMHO. I would not expect a digicam to resolve 1080 lines anyway.

Looking at the prices, it might be smarter to get an HF100/10/11 from eBay for around $300. This would be a real camcorder with better controls, with audio input, with a shoe, with filter thread, resolving up to 800 lines strong, with 60i, 30p and 24p (yeah, with pulldown). It is not much larger that these digicams and can shoot stills too.

After all, the digicams are made for those who only OCCASIONALLY shoot videos.


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on August 23rd, 2010 at 11:09 AM PST:

>I would not call 1/2.3-inch sensor embarrassingly small.

It is small, compared to other digicams. Usually, from the big manufacturers, 1/2.3″ is the smallest they get. And that’s a pretty expensive cam, not a $100 one.

>It is MJPEG.

No, it is h.264. Canon hasn’t used MJPEG for HD for 2 years now!

>I would not expect a digicam to resolve 1080 lines anyway.

It’d still be better than 720p.

>it might be smarter to get an HF100/10/11 from eBay for around $300

Second-hand and no warranty? I don’t think this is smarter. Plus, people would buy a digicam for video because they’d want convergence with still pictures too. A single device to take with them for trips. The markets are different.


Michael C. wrote on August 23rd, 2010 at 12:56 PM PST:

\No, it is h.264.\

http://usa.canon.com/cusa/consumer/products/cameras/digital_cameras/powershot_sd4500_is#Specifications

JPEG Compression Mode: Still Image: Exif 2.3 (JPEG) Video: MOV (Image: Motion JPEG; Audio: Linear PCM (Stereo))

The page does not contain \264\ or \AVC\ tokens.

As for warranty, who needs it for a $300 item?


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on August 23rd, 2010 at 2:45 PM PST:

That can only be a typo. DPReview, which has MORE specs than the Canon page, says that it’s h.264. Canon does not use MJPEG for HD.

Yes, Canon still uses MJPEG, but ONLY for the VGA resolution. For anything above that, they use h.264. So it’s very possible that whoever wrote that Canon specs webpage, he used only half the information available to him/her. My money is on the fact that it’s a typo, or misunderstanding of how things are.

>As for warranty, who needs it for a $300 item?

I would. Money doesn’t grow on trees.


Glenn Thomas wrote on August 24th, 2010 at 5:50 PM PST:

The Nikon D3100 with a stock lens would only be about $100 to $150 more than the S95. Of course it wouldn’t fit in your pocket like the S95, but the G12 wouldn’t either for that matter, unless you had a big pocket. But when it comes to value for money, you would be getting a lot more features including 1080P and better image quality with that D3100. Apparently they’re quite small for a DSLR too.

How much better are the sensors in the S95/G12 than cheaper range of small Canon cameras? From I have read, I can imagine the difference would only be two or three f-stops? Plus, if there are still vertical streaks in the footage from the CCD sensor, as is the case with footage I’ve seen from Panasonic’s new LX4 which is a bit more expensive, then I couldn’t see the point in paying any more than $300 if you’re using one of these cameras for video. The cheaper models like mine, and even your SX200 still do a great job.

PS.. Sorry, forgot that html again by the look of it.. I always forget that due to a Firefox extension I use that converts url’s to clickable links.


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on August 24th, 2010 at 7:36 PM PST:

>you would be getting a lot more features

How sure are we that the D3100 supports exposure compensation AND locking, and contrast/saturation/sharpness for videos too? Also, what’s the bitrate? These are factors.

>How much better are the sensors in the S95/G12 than cheaper range of small Canon cameras?

A lot better. They’re 1/1.7″ instead of 1/2.3″. They also have better lenses.


Glenn Thomas wrote on August 24th, 2010 at 8:59 PM PST:

No idea, but the footage looks good.

The S95 on the other hand… I’ve watched around 15 clips on YouTube and have not yet found anything that looks better than clips I’ve shot on my Ixy 510 in the past. Clearly people who don’t know what they’re doing posting these clips, but you would expect to find at least one that looks half decent.


Comments are closed as this blog post is now archived.

Lines, paragraphs break automatically. HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

The URI to TrackBack this blog entry is this. And here is the RSS 2.0 for comments on this post.