The consensus of rumors – helped with a dose of EXIF data allegedly coming from an Olympics shooter – is pointing to a coming launch of a Canon R3 camera with just 24 megapixels. Sports photographers (notably not “sports and wildlife” photographers) tend to find this perfectly adequate. But sports photographers are a diminishing market, and number only half the population of the increasing wedding photographer market.
Canon appears to have designed – if not branded – the camera for the largest and fastest growing professional market: wedding photographers. The relatively low resolution, high potential frame rate, non-fiddly, biometricly-controlled autofocus tick the wedding boxes. Now that a majority of the wedding shooters are women, the smaller gripped body size and lighter weight severely reduce the perceived negatives to adopting a gripped body. So far, women have disproportionately lagged in adoption of the 1DX series.
Before 2012, more men shot weddings. That was the year the gender ratio switched over. Since then, more women photographers have joined the industry, and women photographers are tending to stay in the industry for a longer number of years on average.
A poll by Weddingbee.com among its wedding planning users showed that most people don’t care about the gender of their wedding photographer, but a bit more than a quarter preferred a female photographer, and none preferred males. The verbatims in that poll indicated that the trope of “getting ready” pictures put male photographers at a disadvantage, with brides less comfortable with a male in the room while dressing. This was the most-cited reason for expressing a gender preference.
The significantly-more-expensive 1D series of DSLR cameras were more popular with men, where both some men and many women found the size and weight of the 1DX model to outweigh the benefits over the manufacturer’s non-gripped 5 series of cameras.
While sports photographers also share many of the desires of the wedding ‘togs, their numbers are dwindling, with the current ratio being roughly 2:1 when looking at association memberships government statistics. Sports photographers as a population are shrinking by about one half a percent per year (photo pros across all genres are growing by about the same amount), now with the plurality of them being employed by schools (about 2 out of five of them) and only about 1 out of six of them employed by a media vehicle.
The archetypal image of the male sports ‘tog employed by a photo wire service on the sidelines accounts for one in twelve of the professional sports photographer market, which itself is only some tens of thousands of people.
All of which is to say that when Canon designed the R3, it likely wanted to target the entire half of the professional market that comprises sports and wedding shooters. But, within those groups, the wedding shooters are twice as many, and the subgroup that hasn’t yet been served with an appropriately-sized body is the female segment. Design elements of the R3 appear to reflect this, but it would be unlikely to be directly marketed as a female-friendly form factor.
In advertising, there is a long tradition of female-oriented/compatible products that avoid feminine branding. The Marlboro cigarette brand was a woman’s brand before the Leo Burnett agency got a hold of the ad account a half a century ago. The brand became the world’s number one tobacco brand after that agency introduced the hyper-masculine Marlboro Man.
Similar trends remain in place in product categories such as financial services, and – most relevantly – consumer technology. Women are happy to purchase tech that appears to be designed for men, but men often show hesitancy to purchase tech apparently designed for women. This would pose a problem for a sort-of-flagship camera body that was shrunk to a size and weight only just large and heavy enough to also appeal to women. The marketing is expected to focus on manly man stuff, but the sales will likely show the R3 making more gender headway than previous gripped pro bodies.