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The Biggest Camera Flops of 2016

Michael Maher

Sometimes things don’t work out as planned, and that holds true in the video industry as well. Here are a handful of cameras that didn’t quite deliver as promised.

2016 proved to be quite the whirlwind. From the seemingly weekly passings of music celebrities (Bowie, Prince, Frey, Cohen, Phife, John Barry, and more) to Harambe’s death, from Brexit to the chaotic U.S presidential election, the world has been in a bit of a tailspin. As you’ll read below, there was plenty of chaos and controversy in the video industry as well.

Craft Convinces People to Reserve a Camera Without Seeing Specs or Test Footage.

The Biggest Camera Controversies of 2016: Craft

The first item on this list seems to be one of the biggest camera dupes in quite some time — the supposed modular Craft Camera. The camera promised to have HD and 4K elements, in addition to attachable elements for audio, power, LCD monitor, and more.

Now, the optimist in me believes that the team developing the Craft Camera had all intentions of creating and releasing a modular camera — but the pessimist in me always felt like this may be a scam. I didn’t reserve the camera, but I did fall for it enough to write about it during the announcement coinciding with this year’s NAB show. I wasn’t alone — plenty of outlets picked up the story of this amazing sounding camera: Cinema5DNo Film School, Fstoppers, and ProVideo Coalition (who called it a possible scam from the beginning).

The Biggest Camera Controversies of 2016: Craft, Continued

The Craft should have been a crowdfunded camera if they needed to secure money for development. By taking “reservations” and promising deliverables by December 2016, Craft set themselves up for disaster. Is there a potential lawsuit from those who foolishly reserved the camera? I don’t know. Possibly, but their $500 reservation never technically promised to deliver them a camera. Rather, it promised:

10% off your future Craft Camera by reserving today. Shipping Late 2016.

The reservation is simply a $500 deposit that holds your place in line. On the day we tell you it is time for you to fully purchase a Craft Camera, your deposit will be deducted from your order

The reservation is not a purchased product, rather it acts as a deposit on a future transaction and will be applied to that future transaction. As a reservation holder, you will have the opportunity to customize and build your Craft Camera when the final product is ready. At that time, your reservation deposit will be deducted from the total price when you check out.

The Biggest Camera Controversies of 2016: Craft, Modular

Now, as far those December shipments, here’s what Craft’s website says,

Yes, shipping in December. Well sort of. We will be shipping our first units in December. With that said, we cannot guarantee this for your order. A lot of factors will determine your actual ship date including but not limited to the total number of reservations placed and your number in the reservation line. Also, any unforeseen manufacturing shortages, and of course natural disasters and/or acts of God could change things.

I previously said those who reserved were foolish to do so, because they made reservations without ever seeing any test footage or reading any final specifications. In fact, Craft themselves promised to deliver full technical specs in “early summer” or 2016 — but there have been no announcements. Craft has also gone silent on social media for the past few months.

I reached out to Craft Camera for comment. I have yet to receive a response. 


The Many Missteps of GoPro and Its Bad Karma.

The Biggest Camera Controversies of 2016: GoPro Karma

GoPro is a camera company that seemingly does everything but focus on cameras anymore. The company has been struggling for a while now, even though their brand recognition is still off the charts. Just point to any action camera and you’ll probably hear someone call it a GoPro.

This year they released the Hero5 and Hero5 Session and sales have not met the company’s expectations. Outside of some voice control and the camera being waterproof without a housing, there isn’t too much more to the new Hero5. As for the Hero5 Session, it’s a follow-up to a camera that also didn’t do very well. (GoPro dropped the original Hero4 Session price by $100 two months after launch.)

The Biggest Camera Controversies of 2016: GoPro Karma in Case

Instead of focusing on the development of cameras, the company shifted into building social platforms for sharing GoPro videos, editing software and apps, the CineForm codec (which is great), VR and 360 systems. They hired a Hulu exec to start an entertainment division, made deals with the NHL, and most recently attempted to compete in the drone and stabilizer market. Most of these things went the wrong way for GoPro. They just announced another round of layoffs after another disappointing quarter.

Perhaps worst of all was the immediate recall of the GoPro Karma drone just weeks after launch. The drone was losing power in the air and falling out of the sky. Another scary note — the company had only sold 2500 units since release. It seems that DJI’s announcement of the Mavic really helped kill the Karma — though the Mavic is experiencing shipping delays due to a parts shortage and high demand.

Canon 5D Mark IV Fails to Impress.

The Biggest Camera Controversies of 2016: Canon 5D Mark IV

Great for photos and okay video. The much-anticipated successor to the beloved 5D Mark II and Mark IIIthe 5D Mark IV still leaves videographers wanting more. The 5D Mark IV was supposed to make a big splash upon its release — which looked much more like a pebble dropped in the ocean.

Since the release, I really haven’t seen too many outlets talking about the camera — photo or video related. The camera’s release was also rather lackluster, with much of the sample footage shot in controlled environments or by amateur shooters.

Canon has yet to release any sales numbers, but it can be expected that the camera did fine. I wouldn’t expect to see any outrageous figures, meaning the camera was neither a total failure or wild success. It was just another camera released to the increasingly busy market — though certainly one of the few big DSLRs released while so many consumers and shooters are switching to mirrorless cameras.

Which of 2016’s camera controversies stand out to you? Let us know in the comments below.