I have been debating for quite some time to write this article. On one hand, I feel like I have an overwhelming responsibility to tell our readers the truth about the camera industry and the economics of running a website, and on the other hand, I know that such a provocative article would probably earn me plenty of hate from the publishing industry. But after seeing a few of the past events related to the launching of a few cameras, the same thoughts kept on creeping up and I finally decided to do it. I decided to write on a topic that nobody wants to talk about – how camera companies and everyone else involved in the camera industry are banking on people, AKA the consumers. I wrote this article primarily because of the sense of guilt I have had for years now and also because I do not want our readers to fall into the traps of consumerism. Grab a cup of coffee, sit back and get ready for some entertainment – I assure you that it is coming!
It is always fascinating to contemplate what is beneath the strategy of various companies as they announce new products. Nikon’s official confirmation that it is developing some new mirrorless cameras is garnering all kinds of attention. Rather than add to all of the speculation regarding potential camera specs of these new Nikon mirrorless cameras in development, my first thought was to look at camera industry statistics. A basic question popped into my head…”Was growth in the Asian market the tipping point for Nikon with this new mirrorless camera confirmation?”
While I wait until quarterly data is available from CIPA to do full camera market updates on my photography blog, I thought Photography Life readers may like to have a quick look at how 2017 is shaping up for the digital camera market. The charts in this short article are based on April YTD 2017 CIPA statistics. I’ve included YTD actuals for 2017 as well as my market estimates for 2017. These estimates were calculated after examining some basic trends that the camera market has been demonstrating for the past decade.
There have been some interesting shifts in the relative importance of various segments of the camera market over the past number of years. I thought readers may like to view a few charts based on CIPA data as they relate to the relative importance of various regional camera markets.
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’.
After a few delays, Nikon decided to officially cancel the DL Series of premium compact cameras citing profitability concerns. Sadly, despite the strong set of features these cameras offered for their prices, some of us saw this coming. And based on current market conditions and the serious losses incurred by Nikon in the past few years, the situation is not looking particularly good for the company, which has announced that it will let around 1,000 of its 25,000 workers go in order to restructure its workforce during the difficult times…
As smartphones are getting better at capturing images year after year, one might be wondering when, if at all, we will see smartphones directly competing with larger cameras. Are we at the point, or perhaps might be soon approaching one, where it won’t make any sense to buy a high-end DSLR or a mirrorless camera to capture professional-looking images? Now that smartphones like the iPhone 7 Plus are shipping with dual lenses (one standard wide-angle lens and one telephoto lens to capture portraits) and some manufacturers are even pushing larger sensors to specifically appeal the photography market, it is no wonder why some photographers might think that a smartphone is all they need to get professional results. During the past few years, I have been using a variety of different cameras with sensors ranging from tiny 1/3″ all the way to medium format, so I thought it would be a good idea to write an article about this particular topic, with some images to represent different cameras and sensor sizes.
I recently spent some time looking at CIPA data and wrote a few articles on my blog pertaining to these camera industry statistics. I thought Photography Life readers may find some of the data of interest. What follows are a few thoughts about the camera market, based on my interpretation of CIPA data. It should be noted that data is simply data and two people can look at the same information and arrive at differing interpretations. For folks who find the data of interest you can pop over to my blog to read a bit more. If you want to see the actual data reports I would encourage you to visit the CIPA website and access the data directly…then put on a pot of coffee, grab a calculator or open up Excel on your computer…and have some fun!
There have been some interesting debates lately about what’s ‘wrong’ with the digital camera market as people try to understand the rather dramatic decline in unit sales that has been happening over the past 4 or 5 years, with volumes down by half from their peak. I let my old, porous brain muse on this for a while and have some perspectives to share. One way to look at this situation is to simply accept that there is nothing fundamentally ‘wrong’ with the camera market at all in terms of sales volumes. From a macro-economic perspective we could view the digital camera market as functioning exactly as every other market has done when a breakthrough technology burst onto its stage. If we look at the history of various product markets the basic rise and fall of market volumes are predictable when they have been impacted by fundamental technological shifts – in the case of cameras it was of seismic proportions going from film to digital. When any kind of ‘game changing’ technology takes hold in any market there are initial and dramatic volume surges as consumers leave their current technology and adopt the new one. That huge upward spike in initial demand then declines quickly as soon as the initial ‘change-over’ market demand for the new technology has been met. Product life-cycle planning is based on these fundamentals.
If you haven’t noticed, camera sales are down. I mean, they’re way down. Unsurprisingly, everyone’s scrambling to find a reason why. There’s a video floating around from Mayflower Concepts that, at the very least, explains what is not the cause for the camera sales drop. If you don’t have 50 minutes to watch it for yourself, here’s the “TL;DR” version: It’s not due to the rise of phones with cameras – at least, not in the way you think. It’s not because the economy is in the tank, as most camera manufacturers claim on their financial reports. There’s simply no strong correlation between any of the global financial crises, or the simple existence of cameras on phones, to have any reason to believe either is the cause for a huge drop in sales.