As a brief follow up to Nasim’s excellent post, Sony “Overtakes” Nikon in Full-Frame Sales, this brief article shares some recent CIPA statistics regarding the shipment of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. Depending on how a person interprets this data will determine whether the mirrorless interchangeable camera market is ‘growing’.
As you can see in the graph above, if we look at global unit volume of shipments of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras from 2012 through to 2016 the market has actually declined from 3.95 million units in 2012 to 3.15 million units in 2016. So, in absolute units the mirrorless market has not grown.
By comparison the unit shipments of DSLRs has declined much more rapidly than mirrorless. Since 2012 the number of DSLRs shipped has declined from 16.2 million units down to 8.45 million units in 2016.
Obviously if the mirrorless camera market has been declining at a much slower rate than the DSLR market, then the market share of mirrorless cameras has increased during this five year period. As you can see in the graph above, this has been the case with the share of mirrorless cameras going from 19.6% to 27.2% of the total interchangeable lens camera market.
Early signs with CIPA data for Jan-Feb 2017 points to an increase in the actual unit volume of the interchangeable lens camera market. However using only 2 months of data to assess a potential market trend is not a prudent thing to do as Nasim pointed out in his original article.
Article and graphs Copyright 2017 Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, adaptation or reproduction of any kind is allowed without written permission
The main issue for camera consumers is how much has the profit pool declined. If the profit pool is declining R&D budgets will follow. The decline in R&D will be faster since investments move to growth markets. If total units have declined to about half of 2012 (a very fast decline) we can expect that the profit pool is approximately half too. That may be mitigated a bit by the fact that the decline has hit low-cost low margin cameras more than high-end high margin cameras, but regardless the incentive to invest in the camera business is pretty low. We should anticipate longer product life cycles, less innovation, higher prices to get higher margins per unit, and some industry consolidation.
The concern about Nikon’s financial performance and their dependence on Sony for sensors is leading the Nikon user community to have a lot of concern that they may not survive long term. Nikon is a small company that does not have the financial strength and diverse product portfolio of Canon or Sony. But it will be much harder for Nikon to exit cameras and survive, so they may need to keep struggling to find profits in the photography business. I can imagine that the camera divisions within Canon and Sony are having a hard time justifying their R&D budgets when there are other growth business units competing for those same funds. Fuji is slowly diversifying away from the photography business but is unlikely to exit the camera business anytime soon.
It is highly unlikely all of the current competitors will be in the camera business 10 years from today. It’s going to be interesting.
Thanks for adding your perspectives to the discussion!
Here’s the bottom line for me — there are still 3M ILCs shipping per year, so it’s a good business if not a growing one (setting aside smartphones which are a good AND growing business). We’ll be able to buy good cameras and lenses at decent prices for the foreseeable future. Companies will go bankrupt, merge, etc. but there are economies of scale sufficient for innovation and manufacturing to continue.
Pricing in the camera market will certainly rise in the coming years. As unit volumes in the camera market have fallen the past few years we have already seen some somewhat aggressive price increases from camera manufacturers. Some examples would be the Panasonic GH4 vs GH5 and the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II compared to the original. This is understandable as camera makers will need to make more contribution margin per unit to cover their fixed costs. It will be interesting to see which camera brands survive over the next number of years.
Do we as customers/users need to worry about “trends” in equipment. As image makers we will make a rational (and irrational) decision about which equipment satisfies our photographic needs. Some will stick to film based tools, others will use old digital cameras whilst others will switch to the mobile phone route and of course many will use a combination of all forms of image making tools to satisfy their creative needs.
Keep on snapping :-)
I agree that people will make decisions based on what image capturing gear best meets their needs, regardless of the technology under the surface.
Great charts, great following of all the gear being made AND sold! But the pork and beans part is where we have the consumer. I live near two ports that handle cars, just for example! There is not enough space to store the new ones, and I see aerial photos from all over Europe with stacks and stacks of them and the roads are even more clogged. Back to the cameras, yes the cell phone is the needle in the balloon of the market but not being around a major camera store I go to stores that carry camera’s, it is 2017 and the first time I have seen a full frame Sony in Best Buy was this year and it was the A7rii and A7sii not the A7r or A7s of 2014 or even the new A6500 or others. But stand around and look at the buyers they are not there. I am not a Pro just like to play! People stand at Wall Mart photo center with a phone hooked to the develop booth. Another thing, if you were not a pro how many gadgets would be in your household you a phone, pad, laptop and maybe desktop, wife everything but the desktop (maybe) then the kids each phone, pad, laptop then you think camera and it is price not function! Then how many print companies are falling, everyone just wants the digital image. Look at google they just came up with a smaller jpeg WHY! the cloud is getting crowded. What I see right now is pros not selling prints but lessons, yea they do great work but are prints really selling and who is buying and for how much????
What does a new camera cost then a year or two latter? I can find a T5i at a garage sale sometimes for $100 and why??? Lack of interest and gotta have new stuff but still good and cost less!!!
Bottom line there are just so many Pros and they hang onto what they know, just watch a camera store instructional video by a pro! And most people are working two to three jobs with wife (working also) and kids (when old enough working) because so much to pay for just to enjoy a day!! Lastly what is selling out of stores and on line the data is somewhere. I bought my Sony A7s with credit card point cash cards (did not know I had them) and the way I buy most of my gear, save and pray! But the Sony store closed!!!
Lastly one funny thing how many lawn care people are hauling their goods with a Dodge Hemi getting 6-7 mpg when Dodge has a new 6 cylinder diesel getting 32 mpg and is stronger??? Now think a Pro Photographer ask have you heard of Sony lately!!!???? No mirror!! You can use your old great glass!!! Even without IS…. and 42.2MP all just +/- 3K oh! 4K video also or will he wait for 100MP and 8K video???? Maybe just a wait and see game!!!! The fast and furious……….. of camera making!!! and selling……
Nah…You have that all wrong. Pro’s will use what is best for their business, no matter what brand or type. Just ask Thomas…he switched from FX Nikon to mirrorless because it was best for his business. Pro’s don’t care about brand loyalty, they care about their companies bottom line.
MC, that’s absolutely correct. Pros don’t give a darn about brands or loyalty. We use what works for us.
At the same time, I believe Edwin is trying to say something different in his message, especially when it comes to fast camera refresh cycles consumers are getting used to. If Apple makes a new iPhone each year, others think that they need to follow. This is bad for everyone, including manufacturers. How can you remain profitable if you are going to be cranking out new cameras each year with more expected functionality? I think cameras should be released once every 3-4 years at the minimum, even entry-level models. We don’t need another Canon Digital Rebel or another D5600 that is no different from its predecessor.
You are both right. I got a T2i in 2011 (still great to use) but by the T4i 2012 Canon no longer supported it by updates to firmware so I studied all the others but when I heard you could use old great glass from Canon Film FD lenses and my EF-S lenses with adapters and full frame even though they had no real lenses to start with and the price of two rebels and I was looking for my last camera (I am a little older). The other point I was into HDR and was following Trey Ratcliff who went from Nikon to Sony and the A7s did something the A7r did not 5 frames at +/- 3ev for my HDRI hobby. But I do feel I should have waited for the mark 2’s just for the use of non IS lens use but I did not see it on rumor sites. But with dynamic range I do not do much HDR anymore and a year later I ran across Lonelyspeck and learned of the A7s night astro and a whole new door opened.
I see the price of the mark 2’s coming down and maybe a mark 3 in the wind of a 70 or 100MP and a A7s more sensitive sensor. A A7sii and a A7rii would be my last, I got the lenses (10mm to 600mm) now and my old stuff, and I still do film (hard to believe). And I follow Photography Life for the real word of the latest and greatest on all cameras, but the makers and programmers I thank everyday, just wish they would get rid of the 30 second wall…
I do like to stand and watch those making that first buy walking to a fro but to follow on line the searches the comparing and now the online buying. Lastly when out on a walkabout and I am able to help someone get that shot with their new rig and give them praise for whatever they have and that smile is worth it (they ask because I have a tripod and think I know something), but I say Photography Life the place to learn your gear no matter the gear!
You are correct…we’ll use the gear that helps us be the most profitable with our businesses. For me it was being 30% more time efficient onsite when shooting client videos.
One of the things that I’ve noticed is that many consumers and enthusiast photographers change their gear much more frequently than do many pros. For example the wedding photographer that did my daughter’s wedding in the fall of 2015 shot with an older Canon 5D, a Canon 5D Mark ii, and a Nikon D300. Her work was exquisite and my daughter and her husband were thrilled.
No doubt things in the photographic world have been changing at lightning speed! It wasn’t that many years ago that a lot of pro shooters made a very good living marketing their work through services like Getty Images and others. The market is so saturated with digital images now that many of those pros have taken a big hit with their incomes.
Cell phones do meet the photographic needs of many consumers, especially when it comes to posting images on social media. A factor that is seldom discussed when it comes to cell phones, is that in many age/income segments cell phones are status symbols, and using a phone that is two generations out of date means a significant loss of status in particular social circles.
As far as pros trying to make a good income today, its tough and getting tougher all the time. I think a lot of it really comes down to specialization and differentiation. For example, the video work I do would never be called ‘sexy’…far from it. I only work with industrial clients and produce mainly safety videos as well as some video-based training materials for them. I offer my clients a ‘one-stop shop’ service…all the way from training their staff on how to create a storyboard, script writing when needed, onsite video shooting, video editing and assembly, as well as me personally doing the voice overs for their projects. All of my gear has been selected specifically around the work that I do. I’ve also made sure that all of my related gear (slider, jib, etc) is small and light so I can get in and out quickly without the need for any crew. I’m not equipped to do more elaborate video productions and when a project like that happens my way I turn the work away. It’s all about knowing your niche.
What is missed by all of these “analysts” is the fact that DSLR’s have reached a point where there is not a lot more that can be done to improve them. Once the market is saturated and there is no reason to upgrade then of course the sales are going to decline. I am sure Nikon and Canon know this.
People are holding on to D800 series for example because they a incredible cameras. The same for the Canon Mk5 series. Not to mention Nikon and Canon’s flagships that are simply outstanding. I own a D4 and do not need to upgrade to the D5 or even D6 or D7 when they are released, the camera is that good.
When Mirrorless reach that point their numbers will also fall dramatically, right now they are in the same phase of development that the DSLR was in 2012 and were selling off the shelves. Remember is was just a few years ago that mirrorless were not considered a serious camera, I have a box of them in my closet :), once they develop to the point where they can fully compete with a FX DSLR and the next version is just a very small upgrade from the previous like the state the DSLR is at now we will see my comment prove to be true.
These numbers are accountants and statisticians gobbledygook that mean nothing except to people pushing one agenda or the other.
Of course I do not have charts and graphs of worldwide sales to prove this and is only my opinion, I am sure my layman’s analysis can be picked apart by ‘experts’ but it seems obvious to me what is going on.
Nasim wrote a recent article about ‘last camera syndrome’ which had many of the same points as your comment. One of the reasons that the camera market is contracting is because of some of the points you raise.
Why would I buy a DSLR, when most of the work that’s done with them is boring and/or doesn’t relate to my life or my aspirations as a person or as an artist – check any big DSLR group on Flickr. Phones are a lot closer to my life and allow me to capture it without carrying a big honking pretentious machine around. That said, I use a Canon 6D because it is the right tool for me at this time – I can’t do school, intentional community, music, portrait, meditation, or yoga pics on an iPhone as well I can on the 6D with two glorious lenses, the 24-105 and 135 with and w/o a 1.4x extender. For most people the phone is a magnificent tool for their needs, it’s a fact.
There’s no doubt that the photographic needs of many, many people are met quite well by their cell phones. My daughter and her husband went on quite a fascinating trip to South America recently and took all of their photographs with their cell phones. It was ideal for their needs.
I don’t think I could have gotten about 2/3s of the images I’ve shot with a phone or a mirrorless. Every pretentious tool has its pretentious place with we pretend photographers.
At the end of the day every photographer needs to choose the best camera for their specific needs. I’ve shot with full frame and cropped sensor DSLRs, had a brief flirtation with M4/3, and finally ended up shooting with Nikon 1 exclusively. Every piece of camera gear has trade-offs. As long as the gear you have is doing the job for you – then its the right gear!
Thank you for your analysis. I think the following two Wikipedia articles are highly relevant to you final paragraph: “However using only 2 months of data to assess a potential market trend is not a prudent thing to do as Nasim pointed out in his original article.”
Cherry picking, suppressing evidence, or the fallacy of incomplete evidence is the act of pointing to individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position, while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that may contradict that position. It is a kind of fallacy of selective attention, the most common example of which is the confirmation bias. Cherry picking may be committed intentionally or unintentionally. This fallacy is a major problem in public debate.
Cherry picking has a negative connotation as it directly suppresses evidence that could lead to a more complete picture.
END of QUOTE
Pseudoscience consists of claims, beliefs, or practices presented as being plausible scientifically, but which are not justifiable by the scientific method.[Note 1]
END of QUOTE
It wasn’t much of an analysis…just a few slides…but thanks for your comment and also for adding to the discussion!
Someone is using Wikipedia as a credible source?
What a joke.
I agree with the writer above. Camera conversations are getting to be a lot like the political ones in the wider world. Contentious and polarized (pun not intended). I wonder how many readers remember when the early digital cameras came out; small and cute with their little electronic viewfinders and fixed lenses that could do some zoom along with the wider angle. It could not have been just me praying for a digital SLR with a TTL viewfinder to appear, and feeling the joy when one did. It is easy for a company to take the basic technology already developed and then jump ahead to create new innovations. It is much harder to lead from the front and be the one to develop all the technology required to make fine cameras like the ones we have now, which is what Nikon did. No company has unlimited resources to devote to R&D. If Nikon chooses to stay with DSLR over mirrorless, who can blame them? And personally, I think it is the right choice. Even if Fuji and co. eventually get mirrorless bodies right, their smaller lenses may never be as good as DSLR lenses. Mirrorless may come and go when people get tired of poorer image quality just to have lighter weight in their backpacks. I think that DSLR is here to stay, and as for developing greater muscle mass through lifting heavier gear, I say bring it on. Go Nikon!
If DSLRs are working for you…then keep using ’em!
Camera conversations have been contentious and polarized ever since I first saw comments at dpreview. Nikon vs. Canon for a long time, then Sony vs. everyone else, and so on. The basic problem is as with any market where you have to make an expensive choice that locks you in. You get Stockholm Syndrome. Chevy vs. Ford. Apple vs. Microsoft.
I suspect this is why I don’t see Olympus and Panasonic folks getting into stupid fights — they don’t see it as either/or. Panasonic releases an awesome new lens — that’s just great for everyone.
The arguing has nothing to do with cameras, cars, or computers. It is because whenever you have people, you have so many with pride. They think they know everything about everything, and have the best of everything. They think they have the best solution, and if you chose a different one you’re an idiot. Many would buy the very equipment they argue against if they could afford it. How many times have you read about someone claiming that camera x they chose is “just as good” as camera y which costs 5 times more? We all know it is nowhere near as good, but that doesn’t mean it is the right choice for you, your needs and your budget. It’s OK that someone else spends more on their gear than you do.
When I am set up on a tripod shooting at something with my favourite long lens, I sometimes get a guy come over with his P&S, take a snapshot and tell me they used to own the exact gear I am using – LOL – but they sold it all and get just as good shots with their P&S they insist on showing me. I always give them my card with my website on it and ask them to send me one of the shots they took, and offer to post it next to mine with credits to them on it. I’m still waiting for one of those to arrive. It’s like going up to someone with a Dodge Demon and telling them your Honda Civic is faster.
After seeing some of Thomas’ work, I am tempted to try the Nikon 1 gear … as a travel light solution, but for now enjoying the adventures with what I have. Every outing I learn something new … and for me it is about getting the most out of the gear I have, and enjoying the process. Knowing I will get most, if not all of my investment in lenses back if I decide to sell them is just a bonus…
“Getting the most out of the gear I have” is the best thing for each of us to do! Every piece of camera gear comes with some kind of trade-off. The most important thing is for everyone to find the gear that best meets their needs. Having shot with Nikon full frame and cropped sensor DSLRs in the past I would never argue the fact that larger sensor cameras produce better overall image quality in terms of dynamic range, colour depth and low light performance. Larger sensors are simply better than smaller ones in gathering light.
I regularly tell folks that, while I shoot with Nikon 1 exclusively now, it may not be the best system for their specific needs. I do know that I’ve captured images with my Nikon 1 gear that I would not have been able to take with my previous DSLRs due to the AF-C frame rate of Nikon bodies, or because the small size of Nikon 1 has allowed me to get the camera into tight spots where my DSLRs simply would not have fit. The absolute image quality of those photographs would not have equalled DSLR quality of course, but at least I could get the shot.
The market is shrinking and quite likely the completion is getting more stiff – maybe it is just a coincidence, but not long ago we saw a comment of one of the Sony’s managers that they keep the latest generation of sensors for themself, while everyone else gets access to older generations.
This was mostly addressed at Nikon (thus far Fuji shared the same sensor with A6500). Now, Sony makes another statement and they specifically target Nikon again.
Camera world is getting less peaceful…
As volumes in the camera market continue to erode I think we’ll see more aggressive competition as the various companies attempt to create some kind of product differentiation.
I can say this. Me personally and some of my friend converted to Sony at the end of 2016 and February/March 2017. On my last trip to Costa Rica my Nikon equipment was taking a resting easy at home and I must say it came in my mind once or twice (mostly for BIF) while I was shooting with Sony/Minolta combination and A6500/Tamron 150-600mm G2. Over all I am glad that I switched. That’s what I had with me instead:
I swiched my D810/24-70mm with Sony A7RII and Minolta 28-75mm f2.8 (There are may be 3-5 other Sony/Tamron/Sigma combinations that would work even better)
My D500 and D7200 with one A6500 and I took A77II as a backup (Wanted to get A99II, but it wasn’t available at that time otherwise I would sell A77II and A7RII)
My Nikon AF 600mm F4 VR I switched with my Minolta AF 400mm F4.5G HS and Tamron 150-600mm G2 on Sigma MC-11 (Both handholdble)
Nikon 100mm Macro for Minolta Macro lens 100mm with LEA4
I packed it all in two bags, including the rest of my stuff and I was on my way.
If I would take Nikon I would end up also with 2 Cases and the box for 600mm lens. From the sales of my 600mm f4 I paid for my trip and lenses I took with me for my vacation and I had left over. Thinking getting A99II soon for my Yellow Stone trip that will be paid by D810 and D500.
Thanks for sharing your experience with camera gear! It certainly sounds like the changes you have made have been beneficial for you.