On Thursday Photography Blog posted a conversation they had with a number of executives from Panasonic about the newly launched G3. While the post undoubtedly only represents a small part of a longer conversation, and while the emphasis is naturally on the G3, I was a little surprised that when discussing the impact of M43 and other Compact System Cameras (CSC) on the market there was no discussion of the impact on the small sensor serious compact (hereafter SSSC to save repetition) segment of the market, not least because Panasonic has one of the best products in that market in the LX5. One of those interviewed, John Mitchell, UK Product Manager for Lumix G, did mention the LX series briefly. When discussing the G10, Panasonic's basic m43 product, he stated that the G10 would be replaced as the entry level model by the G2, suitably repriced. He went on to say, "Obviously your average compact camera in the UK is £120, but these people who are looking to progress up they're into FZ or LX product and that is £399/£449 type product." I take Mr Mitchell to mean that the prospective upgrader already has a FZ or LX type camera and it is these consumers that the G2 is aimed at; in other words these are people who are upgrading from an LX series camera. Yet it seems equally possible that some compact camera owners looking to upgrade to an LX level camera might see the G series cameras as an alternative. Seen this way the G series could potentially eat away at the market for the LX series. So where does that leave the LX5? And, thinking more broadly, where does the NX100 leave the EX1/TL500. And where does the EPL1 leave the XZ1? And where, generally, does the future lie for SSSC's as the CSC market develops. Pricing might be a significant factor here. A quick scan of current prices on Amazon places all SSSC cameras at the $400 - $500 level. Yet entry level CSC's are often only a little more expensive and, in some cases, are cheaper. While some consumers may be willing and able to buy products in both categories it seems likely - especially given the marketing resources being devoted to CSC's - that CSC's will impinge on the market for SSSC cameras to some extent. The question is, what will manufacturers of SSSC's do in light of the growth of the CSC market, whether or not they are represented in that market? The former are mostly mature products and upgrades tend for the most part to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Users of these cameras are not particularly interested in some of the more 'gimmicky' or peripheral features that appear on lower end compacts. Improvements in sensor and lens performance are much more desirable but in these areas each new generation brings only incremental changes - marginally better high ISO and DR performance from sensors and marginally faster lenses. Given this it's increasingly difficult to justify that $400-$500 price tag. Pricing is one area the manufacturers should be looking at. Incremental changes allied to price reductions would be one way to keep SSSC cameras cometitive as the the price of entry level CSC's falls. To put some numbers on it, if SSSC's retailed at $300-$350 CSC's would more clearly be seen as an upgrade rather than an alternative and those of us who own both types might be more inclined to upgrade both. Most of the existing SSSC's have been on the market for less than a year so it's unlikely that we will see any replacement models in the near future. The only exception is the Samsung TL500/EX1 which was announced in February 2010. As yet, though, I have seen no rumours of an 'EX2'. All of this is, of course, mere speculation - or to give it its real name, guesswork. But, in for a penny, in for a pound. So here is some more speculation, or guesswork, about what the future might hold for each of the SSSC cameras. Canon will continue with the G series, currently up to number 12. This is a well established, well liked mature product. And there is no Canon CSC to take sales off it. Will they also continue with the S series? Probably, though they have dropped this line before. If they were to choose to concentrate on one or the other they would keep the G series at the expense of the S series. Nikon will probably continue with their P series but only because they feel they have to to match Canon. Nikon's commitment to compact cameras in general seems very half-hearted. Again, there is no Nikon CSC offering an alternative. Panasonic will continue with the LX series even if their G series cameras do hit sales. Panasonic seem to me to be a company that takes the compact camera market seriously and I can't see them walking away from what has been a very successful product. The LX series has been successful not just in terms of sales but also in giving Panasonic a lot of credibility with photographers. Olympus, having put time and money into creating the XZ-1 will, if sales are anywhere close to their expectations, continue with at least an XZ-2. Samsung are, I think, the company most likely to drop out of this market sector. The EX1/TL500 was a very well received camera but I suspect that Samsung might decide not to replace it, putting their efforts instead into the NX series. Ricoh will continue with their GRD series. These are niche cameras with a dedicated following. In that respect I think they are less vulnerable to changes in the market than some of the bigger players. Finally, what of Sony and Pentax? Will we ever see small sensor serious compacts from either of these? No and no.