On Cameras, Primates and Names

Here is some potentially scientific research on the naming of cameras. You know, Nikon has a D5, Canon a 5D. A Canon Rebel camera in the U.S. is a Kiss camera in Japan. And an IXUS PowerShot camera in the U.S. is an IXY in Japan, and for the rest of the planet a 1300D. So what’s the logic behind giving cameras such fuzzy names? Marketing? Branding?! Gregor Brdnik over at Digital Camera Database explored the bottom of the mystery, and came to the conclusion that, in fact, camera naming “doesn’t make any sense.”

Why does a same thing have different names? | digicamdb.com
Why does a same thing have different names? | digicamdb.com

Sure, there is continuity reflected in increased numbers, meaning a newer model with a higher product name number most likely offers more bang for the buck and improved performance.

And then there are cameras with more than one name. There’s no plausible explanation why some manufacturers use different model names for different countries. Because the Japanese can’t pronounce “Rebel”? A Rebel would become a Lebel?!

What about other Asians?

There you go, it’s quite a task to make sense of the naming of cameras.

Gregor says there is no story. And he must know, since his website is based on camera names. 32% of Canon and 20% of Panasonic cameras in his database have multiple names.

And if multiple names are such a brilliant idea, why not use it for ALL of their cameras?


Who knows what camera names mean. To me it looks like most of the time the names are just a random collection of letters and numbers maybe picked by a primate other than human. It rarely makes sense. And why they sometimes use different names for different countries, it’s a mystery and again it doesn’t make any sense to me. I’ve never heard any reasonable explanation.

Anyone has an explanation?

Gregor calls it the “confuse a cat principle” — see the video.

Scientifically tested and proven.

Clever marketing people just replaced cat with consumer, which makes total sense since both words start with the letter c. And there you have it. Mystery solved!

(via digicamdb.com)

  • right_writes

    What does that say about the Brits Dan… ?

    The Canon camera mentioned here was marketed as the 300D and so on. No names, no pack-drill.

    Unimaginative primates perhaps… :)

  • Hail these words! Albeit, these days we can’t just call a cat a cat. Reason comes apart at the seams. Just look at the U.S. presidential election. And European politicians’ welcoming of millions of paperless whereas Europe’s own citizen are big brothered, squeezed and increasingly neglected. So why have camera names that make sense, or any name for that that makes sense? The Pythonic, as you name it, is in fact so much more reasonable than it seems. As the great Nietzsche said, “Nothing is true, everything is permitted.”

  • GnarlyDog

    I have a different theory to the naming.
    I assume (and data supports it) that most buyers of the camera mentioned are males (but less so in Japan).
    Would it be that the naming reflects the personality (gross generalization) of the way a man wants to be perceived by society?
    Can you see an honest macho wannabe in USA toting a “Kiss” around his neck? hell no! the same reason such man prefers big things (big car, big camera) possibly compensating for something that he perceives he lacks? therefore also small mirrorless cameras are not so popular in US and A as much as Japan…
    So, a Rebel camera reinforces what American society is accustomed to value (?): individualism, strength, non conformist?
    Exactly the opposite of what Japanese culture embraces.
    So, naming a camera Kiss suits the Asian market better?

  • Good points. Am not a macho and would not buy a Kiss, the name destroys the product. Maybe aimed at female Japanese photography lovers?

    An observation from here in Asia: women like good cameras, many carrying latest Fujifilm, Olympus and Sony system cameras, also as a kind of fashion accessories.

    In the end looks also pay, not names…