The death of "Good" Cameras, Part II (Light L16)

Recently I wrote about the “Death of Good Cameras” where I questioned the business models of Canon and Nikon and their reliance on the DSLR model. Thehuge drops in in DLSR sales seem to be bearing that out.

Much of that article was how compute power is redefining what is possible, and that great quality optics are becoming less important where images can be manipulated in Software.

"Moore's law demonstrates that each 5 years compute becomes 10x more powerful. So in 10 years compute is 100x better, in 15 years 1000x better.
In just 30 years we have 1,000,000 times more compute power to work with"

Compute Power changes every market

The Light L16 Camera seems to be the next logical step in this transformation. It has 16 lenses of varying focal lengths built in, and depending on the zoom chosen by the user, takes 10 photographs simultaneously. Software then stitches these images together into a 52 mega pixel image.

I think it fascinating that Light, a Silicon Valley Startup has completely reimagined what a camera is and how to best capture images. At $1,700 the L16 is not an impulse buy but it points to an interesting future. As a perfect example of a market being redefined, an Excession Event, it stands out as a perfect example.

Canon, Nikon and even SONY are in trouble

Canon, Nikon and even SONY would never have invented such a device. They think along the well thought through process of improving the existing systems, making a better quality single sensor, or more camera bodies for the huge range of existing lenses. Light could think differently because they were not wedded to the Status Quo.

Will the Professionals jump?

Whether the professional market jumps to this new technology is up to debate. At this time it looks highly intriguing, but it’s not shipping and therefore the reaction somewhat unknowable as a result. What the evidence does point to is that the days of relatively dumb cameras attached to high quality glass lenses are number, and that innovative ideas in this space are beginning to take off. For another example take a look at the work Lytro is doing with their Lytro camera.

What's next?

It does seem completely reasonable to assume that the technology might well be able to be installed in smaller, cheaper devices in the future, even Smart Phones. It certainly is enabling a lot of people to reconsider what success in the camera market looks like.

The Video Conferencing world

It also has implications for the Video Conferencing and general meeting room camera world.  Low cost, high quality devices are in vogue and the costly expensive Hardware units are increasingly looking like technology of a bygone age.

I think products like the Light L16 and Smart Phones are helping redefine for users what they can expect to achieve through even modest looking devices.

The 20,000,000 room opportunity

With over 20 million meeting rooms globally still with zero Video Conferencing technologies installed, the expensive, costly “Bg Tin” solutions just aren’t going to cut it.  Ultimately ubiquity wins by empowering users to use the Software tools of their choice along with the image and audio capture devices persuasively installed into every meeting room.

“A network’s utility is grows at the square of the number of nodes in it”

Dr Bob Metcalfe

The future is all about Software based solutions coupled with low cost, high availability. That means mobile, desktop and lots and lots meeting room.

For further reading on the changing face of the market take a look at these articles.

Worldwide Enterprise Videoconferencing and Telepresence Equipment Market Showed Mixed Results in First Quarter, According to IDC

Videoconferencing Equipment Market Hits $1 Billion in the Fourth Quarter, Software Up 44 Percent

GrandView 2015-2022 Video Conferencing market predictions

About the Author: Simon Dudley

Simon is a contrarian. He makes a habit of being the guy who questions the orthodoxy, the guy who doesn’t believe it just because the good and the great said it’s true. This has not always been good for his ascent up the corporate greasy pole. However it’s been very good for his employers if they are prepared to listen.

The Book The End of Certainty "How to thrive when playing by the rules is a losing strategy" explains why groupthink and the doing what you’ve always done is no longer the right move.

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