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Photo industry iffy on TikTok?

As digital marketing trends move toward Chinese-owned social media platform, TikTok, in Australia only Canon and Nikon have ramped up their short-form video prowess.

The lack of ad spend on TikTok by Australian camera brands is likely welcome news for traditional photo media. Even if none will ever show ol’ Inside Imaging love with a reasonably priced display ad campaign (prove us wrong, click here!), it’s affirming the big hitters in the photo industry continue to support our colleagues and competitors mastheads and haven’t got all in on socials.

But if you’re one to believe the hype – and market departments are very much in this business – then TikTok is where the ad spend may head.

The platform offers bite-sized videos that are consumed at a rapid-fire pace. And while it’s most popular with the young Zoomer generation, TikTok has folks young and old in a trance with its infinite feed that promises to cater to all tastes.

While photo industry’s camera brands have embraced TikTok in overseas regions, the official TikTok channels in Australia  aren’t serious operations. Canon and Nikon are the only companies having a crack at it, while Sony has a completely inactive account. Fujifilm, Panasonic, Leica, and OM-D are no shows at this party.

This may be due to the TikTok short video format not being ideal for showcasing or consuming photography.And while TikTok videos run for the length of a traditional advert, the Zoomers will flick to the next video if it looks inauthentic.

That being said, let’s take a dive into what ‘slaps’, as the youth say, for the Australian camera brands on the TikTok.

Canon Australia

Canon Australia has 23,500 followers and has garnered 284,000 likes on 127 videos, which are fairly ordinary metrics in the grand scheme of things. Nevertheless, the market leader is once again outperforming Nikon, which must be settled into being second.

Canon’s videos cast a wide net, and beyond camera promo videos or ads, they post videos showing photo adventures, tips and tutorials, joke and memes content, and photo series (12 pictures in seven seconds!). The odd video leans into a TikTok trend, but it’s nothing too crazy. Overall, the content doesn’t leave that cringe-inducing taste, akin to sucking a lemon, in the mouth.

No lip syncing or choreographed dancing, shameless displays of public performance, or commentary with the energy of a rug salesperson closing their shop and ‘everything must go!’

The videos garner anywhere between a few hundreds views to hundreds of thousands. The algorithm was gamed only a handful of times, leading to view counts over a million. Strangely, it’s unclear what made the most watched videos so popular – they’re fairly basic.

@canonanz Which popular spot will you try this at? 📸 @denysblack, #EOSR6 ♬ original sound – Canon Australia & New Zealand

The most watched video was published way back in September 2021, with a video on how to ‘remove people from your scene’ by using long exposure and an ND filter. The video, watched 2.6 million times, features photographer Denys Black, who uses the Canon R6 and RF 70-200mm f2.8 lens to with a 30 second shutter speed to capture a photo of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The video features an electronic dance track that builds up and reaches its crescendo as the viewer is told to ‘wait for the magic to happen’, and the beat finally drops to reveal a day-time Sydney Harbour photo with no one in the foreground. Garnering 57,000 likes, this accounts for 20 percent of Canon’s entire like count. Magic!

@canonanz Practical posing tips for you next shoot from @tommykuo #cameratips #posing #photography #CanonAustralia #CanonPhotography #tiktokau ♬ original sound – Canon Australia & New Zealand

The next most popular video was also from September 2021, and is on portrait posing tips featuring photographer Tommy Kuo. The 15 second video has been viewed a whopping 1.5 million times.

Again, by TikTok’s standards the video is nothing special.

Kuo directs a posing model, with his tip being ‘use a story to help the model pose’. He told her to ‘hold her hands together as if she was cold’, and ‘face her body to the right as if she was waiting for someone’, and the final picture then appears. Somehow it pulled 35,000 likes, which equals to 12 percent of Canon Australia’s entire ‘likes’.

The third most watched video runs 12 seconds, featuring user @rarepenguin, who is doing some ‘ethereal light painting at home’ with long exposure using an $8.50 multi colour shimmer lamp. The lamp – a child’s toy – actually produces fun results. Perhaps light painting extraordinaire, Peter Solness, might have a few of these in his collection.

@canonanz Ethereal light painting at home with @rarepenguin on his #EOSR5 ♬ The View – Marshall Magic

Nikon Australia

Nikon Australia’s TikTok account has 1334 followers, and has garnered 5578 likes from 21 videos.

A congratulations to Nikon Australia. It has finally been given a ‘blue tick’ from TikTok’s administrative overlords. The company celebrated by posting a screen shot of it’s profile, with actor Pedro Pascal dancing over the top to Tom Tom Club’s 1981 hit song, Genius Of Love. We would have preferred a version showing Nikon’s marketing team bustin’ a few choreographed moves, but it is what it is.

Nikon’s videos are much more intense than Canon’s. More ‘TikTok’, with fast video cuts designed to inspire, excite, or laugh. Although it’s hard to keep up with the, um, story lines. Look who’s joined TikTok! (it’s us, hi 👋) – There’s no better way to debut Nikon Down Under than some beachside content from Western Australia’s @liamfawell doing what he does best. 🌴 #fyp #nikon #nikonaustralia #niktok #photography #beach #australia #westernaustralia #pov #travel #ocean ♬ original sound – liamfawell

Nikon’s first video shows Perth-based photographer and videographer, Liam Fawell, and friends, gallivanting on the white sand and blue water’s of WA’s ridiculously pretty coastline. There are maybe 30 short video edits jammed into 11 seconds of video. Running arms outspread, back flips, peace signs, jumping and fist pumping in the shallows, jet skiing, surfing, taking a photo. Living their best lives with no down-time in sight. It’s the kind of feel good content that reminds you of what you’re missing out on. @Alex Kydd and his gorgeous models 🐟🐠🐡 Captured on the Nikon Z 7II #fyp #nikonaustralia #niktok #photography #uw #wildlife #australia #underwaterphotography #pov #ocean #greatbarrierreef #nikonz7ii #z7ii ♬ original sound – Justin wyss

Nikon’s most popular video, watched 234,000 times, is by WA-based underwater photographer, Alex Kydd. It shows various tropical fish, with a raspy-voiced commentator describing them as his ‘ladies’ and running through their names. It’s kind of funny because the fish are not, in fact, models or ‘ladies’, but are reef dwelling fish.

The remaining videos are ‘day in the life’ or ‘travel vlogs’ that aim to promote products and with varying degrees of success. For instance a 13-second video on photographing wild dingos has been watched 311 times and liked 34 times. A 39-second ‘day in the life’ video follows ‘digital creator’, @aichark. Spending the day with @aichark and the Nikon Z 30 – the content creator’s best friend 💅📸 #fyp #nikonaustralia #niktok #photography #australia #dayinthelife #ditl #vlogging #Z30 ♬ original sound – Nikon Australia

She visits a cafe to buy a coffee and a bakery for a vegan croissant (Vegan croissant? sacre bleu!). She then goes to the beach and marvels at a full raindow, ‘I have never seen a full rainbow at the beach,’ she exclaims. They then took some snaps – the Z 30, which she twirls around in circles with. Then they go clothes shopping, Aicha tries on some dresses but doesn’t buy any, and later she goes out for dinner with her mum.

The video serves as an ad for the aforementioned businesses Aicha visits. It’s impressive how much information is packed into a short video, which pulled in just 29 likes from the video that was watched 14,000 times.

Canon and Nikon are leading the charge on TikTok. As market leaders, they may be getting a good head start on the other brands, or are testing the waters with the platform. And who knows if the juice is worth the squeeze. It’s unknown if TikTok will become a commercial advert platform for the local photo industry, or will remain something considered a bit childish for serious camera companies.

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