Another day, another headline-grabbing click-bait title we see surfacing all over the Internet on photography blogs and forums. Apparently, Sony overtook Nikon and came second in full-frame sales. And the source of all these titles is none other than Sony itself, who used data from a company called “NPD Group”, which researched the months of January and February to come up with the stats. The company was quick to issue a press release (you can see it below) and as expected, these news were picked up very quickly by many websites. Let’s take a look at these so called “news” and analyze the information in a little more detail.
We know that the mirrorless market is growing – it is a fact. However, boldly stating that Sony overtook Nikon for the #2 position in the full-frame market in the US based on the first two months of a year is just ridiculous. Not only because it is practically impossible to find the original data the research is based on and its research methodology, but also because data from the first two months of a year mean nothing in camera sales.
When was the last time you bought a camera in the first two months of a year? As a business owner and a professional photographer, my camera purchases are all made at the end of the year. Not just because of better camera deals and incentives, but also because of other reasons such as tax write-offs. Another period of the year when manufacturers offer various incentives is right after the tax season in April of each year and that one is targeted at the mass market, mostly non-professionals, who might be spending their tax refunds on cameras. Obviously, none of this is reflected in the published news.
In addition, Nikon has not announced any full-frame cameras for a while now and those who wanted to purchase full-frame cameras have already done so. Even if Sony was able to surpass Nikon in full-frame sales in those two months, there is no correlation of the data whatsoever to Nikon’s overall market share at the moment.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not writing this to defend Nikon in any way. We know that Nikon is suffering and it is losing its market share year after year. But the mirrorless market is far from being able to take over DSLR sales – it will take years for it to actually happen.
However, this does not mean that we should completely ignore this press release. As I have stated back in 2013 in my article “The potential impact of Sony’s full-frame mirrorless system on DSLRs“, I expected Sony to grow its market share and have an immediate impact on DSLR sales. As predicted, both Nikon and Canon have definitely lost a portion of their market shares to Sony’s full-frame cameras. Nikon knows this and as we have seen from previous statements from the company’s management, Nikon is planning to compete in the mirrorless market with more serious offers. Canon is already doing this with their M-series mirrorless cameras, but limited to APS-C only. I don’t know what Nikon has in the works, but it had better be at least an APS-C mirrorless system. To be honest though, I would rather see a full-frame DSLR/mirrorless hybrid first as stated in my DSLR vs Mirrorless article. In my opinion, it is a bit too late for Nikon to start a completely new mirrorless mount…
Below is the press release from Sony:
Sony Overtakes #2 Position in U.S. Full-Frame Interchangeable Lens Camera Market
Record Sales from Sony Driving Growth in Overall Full-Frame Market
SAN DIEGO, April 14, 2017 – Sony Electronics – a worldwide leader in digital imaging and the world’s largest image sensor manufacturer, has announced today that their continued growth has vaulted them into the #2 overall position in the U.S. full-frame interchangeable lens camera market.1
Sony’s interchangeable lens cameras and lenses have seen record sales in 2017, in particular within the U.S. full-frame camera market, where they have experienced double-digit growth (+23%)2 compared to the same period last year. The popularity of key models including α7RII and α7SII has been paramount to this success.
Additionally, Sony’s rapid growth has helped to drive growth of the overall full-frame interchangeable lens camera market compared to the same period last year. Without Sony’s contributions, the full-frame market would be facing a slight decline.3
“Our commitment to the industry is stronger than ever,” said Neal Manowitz, VP of Digital Imaging at Sony North America. “We are always listening to our customers, combining their feedback with our intense passion for innovation to deliver products, services and support like no other.”
A variety of exclusive stories and exciting content shot Sony α products can be found at www.alphauniverse.com, Sony’s community site built to educate, inspire and showcase all fans and customers of the Sony α brand.
1The NPD Group / Retail Tracking Service, U.S., Detachable Lens Camera, Full Frame, Based on Dollars, Jan – Feb 2017.
2The NPD Group / Retail Tracking Service, U.S., Detachable Lens Camera, Full Frame, Based on Dollars, Jan/Feb 2016 – Jan/Feb 2017
3The NPD Group / Retail Tracking Service, U.S., Detachable Lens Camera, Full Frame, Based on Dollars, Jan/Feb 2016 – Jan/Feb 2017
SOURCE Sony Electronics