The Internet is Fickle

(commentary)

Just a reminder: camera companies are trying to game you. All those leak campaigns we're getting now are basically attempts to generate buzz around "the latest and greatest." 

For example, less than six months ago the buzz was all about the Panasonic GX7. A month later, the Olympus OM-D E-M1. A month later, the Sony A7 and A7r. Now after a short break for Christmas-related selling, the buzz is back and centered on the Fujifilm X-T1. 

If you were to put some sort of measurement device on positive Internet messaging (rumors, posts, comments, unboxings, snap reviews, etc.), you'd find that there's an awful lot of energy being focused on hyping product launches. One reason why that is has to do with affiliate links (disclosure: this site has affiliate links for Amazon, though they're not linked by product, just a Support this Site button in the sidebar). First one to post an affiliate link for a new product tends to win the bulk of the pre-orders, and first one to post a positive review tends to win the slightly hesitant crowd's ordering.  

But that's not really what I want to write about today. Let's tackle a slightly different question. So, with the E-M1, A7, A7r, and X-T1 all taking over the buzz, is the GX7 a bad camera? Obviously, no (see my review). It's just lost its buzz. The Internet, as it shows up in top ranked searches and high volume sites and user comments, is very fickle. Only the latest need apply, and it better have something that makes it different enough to buzz about (swivel EVF, fastest AF, full frame, D800 sensor, fastest AF in the case of the cameras I'm writing about today). 

We've had other cameras launched during the GX7/EM-1/A7/A7r/X-T1 buzz sessions. The Sony A3000, NEX-5T, and A5000, Nikon AW1, and Samsung NX30, for example. Curiously, at least three of those cameras will outsell the cameras that generated all that buzz, and it's possible that all five will outsell at least one or more of the buzzed-about group. 

I have nothing against iteration and new and innovation. I actually applaud that. Despite 50+ years of development, serious cameras still have a lot of immaturities and lapses in their designs and abilities. So progress is good. But whether a camera is the right one for you is about a lot more than buzz, especially since that buzz is usually so fleeting. You should be buying on suitability to task and value more than anything else. I'd have to say that there are plenty of mirrorless cameras that probably fit those parameters for most of you reading this. 

Yes, I know that owning the latest buzz maker is appealing. If nothing else you can hang your buzz badge around your neck and claim bragging rights, which makes you feel good. In the end, however, cameras are tools, not trophies. 

It's getting more difficult to evaluate what's just buzz on the Internet in promotion of commerce versus what is useful information and reasoned analysis. I don't always manage to get the latter perfect, but that's my aspiration with this site. That often means that my reviews appear long after the buzz has settled, but I'd rather that my reviews reflect real use and longer term evaluation than just climbing on the Must Publish Now bandwagon. 

Am I excited about those recent cameras that generated so much buzz? Yes, I am. Mirrorless has moved further and faster forward in a very short time, and there's much to be impressed with in virtually all the recent introductions. Ultimately, though, the proof is in the pictures. Are these cameras allowing me to do things I couldn't do before, are they achieving new levels of performance and image quality, and are they worth the big dollars most of the buzz candidates are asking? That picture is more mixed, I think. 

That said, expect reviews of the Olympus and Sony cameras to appear soon. The buzz may have died down, but I'm still interested in them, and so should some of you be.

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