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Thread: Camera Sales and Market Share

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    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Camera Sales and Market Share

    As it has come up in recent discussions, I thought I would look into it a bit more and also start a new thread.

    I went back to the CIPA data and looked at Interchangeable Lens Cameras (ILCs) only from 2010 until present. As 2021 is not yet complete, here are the production (vs shipped) totals for each year through 2020 broken down by ILC totals, DSLRs, and mirrorless.

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    This graph represents a total of 141M ILCs produced from 2010-2020.

    As for 2021, through October there have been 4.4M ILCs produced, 1.8M DSLRs and 2.4M Mirrorless. In general, 2021 is tracking to be about the same ILCs produced as 2020, unless something changes dramatically in Nov-Dec.

    What strikes me most is that Mirrorless sales are not really increasing. Rather, they have been remarkably steady since first tracked in 2012. DSLRs peaked in 2012 and ILC production numbers have been following DSLRs down since.

    Next, over in the R3 thread, we started talking about brands with some discussion regarding which brand was shifting faster, etc.

    First, most of the articles I found reporting the Nikkei market assessment focused on total "digital camera" sales, which would be ILCs + fixed lens cameras. I mostly found data from 2018 through 2020 for digital cameras and used that data to generate:

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    I did find an article from 2018 breaking it down by ILC, which reported Canon 49.1% of the ILC market, Sony 24.9% and Nikon at 13%. Using the total ILCs produced as reported by CIPA in 2018, this is equivalent to 5.35M ILCs produced by Canon in 2018, 2.7M by Sony, and 1.45M by Nikon. Compare this to the results reported by DPR for 2020 of 2.76M ILCs by Canon, and 1.15M for both Sony and Nikon and we can start to answer the question from HDNitehawk in that Canon ILCs produced decreased from 2018 to 2020 by 48.5%, Sony by 57.7%, and Nikon by 20.8% while the number of ILCs produced overall decreased by 51.8%.

    This is mostly just information for those of us that are curious about the market. Volume does not make the best camera. But, I will say I am happy to be invested in a brand that is, comparatively, doing well.

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    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    BTW....not sure why, but I was having trouble inserting some links into that post. For the data I used to generate the second graph, digital camera sales from 2018, 2019, and 2020. ILC data from 2018.

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    Senior Member neuroanatomist's Avatar
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    Thanks, Brant. Great analysis!

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    We know that the point and shoot camera sales were devastated to people moving to their cell phone. I wonder if the same thing is happening to a lesser extent with the low end DsLR's.

    In the Sony vs Canon debate, Sony is dominating the cell phone sensor market.
    That is one reason I have trouble buying in to the doom and gloom for Sony. In many respects they are more of a sensor company making camera bodies as a sideline. You can tell this in their reports, they brag on their sensors and say little about selling cameras.

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    Senior Member neuroanatomist's Avatar
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    Sony is a large conglomerate, of the world stopped buying ILCs tomorrow they’d be fine. I’m not sure if it’s still true, but in the recent past most of the revenue came from their financial services division, not from selling electronics. However, they do have a history of cutting or cutting back unprofitable product lines (Vaio computers, mobile phones which are now sold only in Europe and a few Asian countries). Cameras are in a different business unit than sensors.

    I do think that smart phones are eroding the DSLR market, and are also responsible for the flat sales of MILCs. Consider that an iPhone 13 Pro is like having an MILC in your pocket with 13mm, 26mm and 77mm lenses (except they’re not really interchangeable lenses, so yay for Sony who gets to sell Apple three image sensors per iPhone).

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    Market saturation could be a partial explanation ... ILCs can last a long time when properly cared for and I suspect most customers are not that keen on staying at the cutting edge of technology if their "old" camera works well and provides them with adequate images. Also I suspect one camera is good enough for many families. People like us, here on this forum, are actually a tiny fraction of the market.

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    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Joel Eade View Post
    Market saturation could be a partial explanation ... ILCs can last a long time when properly cared for and I suspect most customers are not that keen on staying at the cutting edge of technology if their "old" camera works well and provides them with adequate images. Also I suspect one camera is good enough for many families. People like us, here on this forum, are actually a tiny fraction of the market.
    Yep. I am wondering where the bottom is (as I am sure are the manufacturers). But where is the long term demand for ILCs? I find it interesting that 2020 and 2021 are likely to be very similar, perhaps even an increase in 2021 ILCs produced. Granted...pandemic. But, is 5M units/yr the long term demand? Are there enough enthusiasts/pros to support that level?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kayaker72 View Post
    Yep. I am wondering where the bottom is (as I am sure are the manufacturers). But where is the long term demand for ILCs? I find it interesting that 2020 and 2021 are likely to be very similar, perhaps even an increase in 2021 ILCs produced. Granted...pandemic. But, is 5M units/yr the long term demand? Are there enough enthusiasts/pros to support that level?
    There was a large surge in sales as Digital replaced Film. I believe it was fueled by economically priced DsLR's and there was no cost in processing film. Many who never had a film camera bought in and it created the spike. Over the years the fall off is reflected in this forum. Back in the day this was a busy place, there are just a few regulars left.

    In your graph though we should see an uptick in mirrorless when DsLR's are no more. I would have thought it would have been noticeable already.

    Phones are getting better. I shot the X-mas present opening this year with my new iPad rather than the R5. Results were fine for what I was doing.
    Possibly only people using ILC's in a few years will be those of us who use it as a specialty item rather than a tool to shoot family events.

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    Senior Member neuroanatomist's Avatar
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    Film to digital was a paradigm shift. A MILC is not really that different from a DLSR.

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    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HDNitehawk View Post
    In your graph though we should see an uptick in mirrorless when DsLR's are no more. I would have thought it would have been noticeable already.

    Phones are getting better. I shot the X-mas present opening this year with my new iPad rather than the R5. Results were fine for what I was doing.
    Possibly only people using ILC's in a few years will be those of us who use it as a specialty item rather than a tool to shoot family events.
    I was surprised both by how high numbers were at in 2012 and that there had not been an uptick in 2020. But, thinking back to 2012 there were a good number out at the time (Sony, Oly, Samsung, and even the Canon EOS M). Many of them inexpensive and likely sold in good volumes.

    What also interested me was the 141M number. I assume some ILCs met some sort of untimely demise and that a number of users have multiple bodies. But, assuming 100M ILC users, say the average user refreshes their camera every 15 years, that is 6.6M ILCs/yr. This doesn't include new users...and, of course, doesn't include attrition. But I have never had a problem selling a used lens: 7D, 5DIII, M, and M3 were all sold quickly (whereas some lenses haven't sold when I tried). I really do wonder if the 5M ILCs/year is the floor/long term sustained market. Trying to bracket the average ILC cost, assuming it is somewhere between $750 to $1,500, would be a $3.75B to $7.5B annual market, not including lenses.

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