Sunday, April 1, 2007

What cameras are the most popular?


By David Gewirtz

"What camera should I buy?"

It's perhaps the most common question we get asked -- and one we hate answering. With a big pile of new cameras coming out each week, it's almost impossible to keep track of which is which. Of course, if a photo magazine like Connected Photographer can't keep track of all the new cameras, who can?

Well, the fact is, there are a ton of Web sites who make it their business to do nothing besides writing about cameras. Sites like DPReview and Steve's Digicams are excellent and always have the latest cameras listed and reviewed. If you're looking for detailed camera reviews, these are two great sites to visit.

Another great way to choose a camera is to pick the cameras other people seem to use. And for this, we've found a very interesting resource buried within the Flickr Web site. Flickr recently introduced a feature called the Camera Finder, which is designed to let you see pictures taken with specific cameras.

But what's also interesting is the usage stats for the different cameras. As Figure A shows, Flickr tracks what cameras are most popular among their users.


Canon sure seems to be popular. (click for larger image)

Looking at these graphs can give you some important information. For example, while the Digital Rebel XT is clearly the leading camera (and the one I shoot with), it's now beginning to decline, while the XTi is on a fast track upward.

Similarly, you can see that SD400 is in decline, while the S3 IS is growing in popularity. And, you can see that without a doubt, Flickr users tend to use Canon cameras.

You can also see how a particular camera you're considering is trending. For example, if you're looking at the Nikon Coolpix 2500, Figure B shows the usage is declining, but not completely.


This fine, old camera seems to be getting less use these days. (click for larger image)

What makes all this particularly interesting is that the data is derived from actual photos uploaded to Flickr by highly connected photographers. As such, you're getting a good indication of what people who are most connected and most using their cameras are using, which is far more interesting and relevant than, say, industry sales reports.

The Flickr charts represent actual use, where sales reports don't give any indication whether or not the products sold are gathering dust. It's reasonable to assume that the most used cameras are likely to be the ones people most enjoy using.