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02-09-2019, 02:37 AM   #1
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Watching dinosaurs - ILC (mirrorless and DSLR) markets

I already posted this here for the full market view:



Nikon provides pretty detailed figures so their number tell a story as well:



and



With this crumbling of the market I do not believe any of them actually have a product convincing enough for customers to start a turnaround.

Probably this is why the dependend advertising platforms on youtube and amazon's tabloids reach new heights of hype every month. They fear the markets they depend on will disappear. So it is all "buy, buy, buy".

I fear we are still years away from a stabilizing market.

02-09-2019, 03:34 AM   #2
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The trend lines on the first graph look like a market settling into a steady-state condition, but the future is anyone’s guess. Nikon’s graphs suggest they continue to be in significant trouble.
02-09-2019, 06:19 AM   #3
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What's the source of your data / charts? Citation please.
02-09-2019, 07:13 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by RobA_Oz Quote
The trend lines on the first graph look like a market settling into a steady-state condition
Yes, it seems like stagnancy. But then Canon's CEO predicts further singificant declines.


QuoteOriginally posted by RobA_Oz Quote
Nikonís graphs suggest they continue to be in significant trouble.
I am surprised about it actually. They have already fired 1/7 or so of their overall employees recently if I remember correctly and that still doesnt seem to be enough.

Compared to Canon's ongoing lens fireworks they also seem to only offer lacklustre, overpriced products.

But my overall concern is that they all seem to ignore the need to nurture new customers who might buy expensive gear some years down the road. $2500-$3000 may be nice for gearheads and nerds, but certainly is nothing that will attract new photographers.

02-09-2019, 08:18 AM   #5
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I bought a Nikon p&s in 2012, just at their p&s sales peak

More seriously, if phones are now good enough for most people, ILCs are certainly more than good enough. So, for current owners of ILC, why upgrade if you don't need to? Doubt most photographers will benefit from current developments such as autofocus based on object recognition. They're great from a technical standpoint, but why spend the money, to beholder3's point above, $2500 cameras aren't bought on a whim.
I'd be curious, if such data is available, to see a chart of owners of ILC vs sales. The same way there's a huge pool of working film cameras, there's probably a pool of perfectly fine digital ILC that still work for their owners. I'm under the impression that my k3ii is considered ancient by now, and I won't mention the k10d that I bought used; yet I'm happy with both cameras and see no reason to upgrade.

Last edited by aaacb; 02-09-2019 at 08:23 AM.
02-09-2019, 08:59 AM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by aaacb Quote
I bought a Nikon p&s in 2012, just at their p&s sales peak

More seriously, if phones are now good enough for most people, ILCs are certainly more than good enough. So, for current owners of ILC, why upgrade if you don't need to? Doubt most photographers will benefit from current developments such as autofocus based on object recognition. They're great from a technical standpoint, but why spend the money, to beholder3's point above, $2500 cameras aren't bought on a whim.
I'd be curious, if such data is available, to see a chart of owners of ILC vs sales. The same way there's a huge pool of working film cameras, there's probably a pool of perfectly fine digital ILC that still work for their owners. I'm under the impression that my k3ii is considered ancient by now, and I won't mention the k10d that I bought used; yet I'm happy with both cameras and see no reason to upgrade.
For many years I've been in the upgrade trap. I have a K10D, K-01, K-S1 (used), had a K-3 and sold it, a K-1 and a KP. The K-S1 has a small fault but it sort of works. The K-10D comes out on special occasions for use of the CCD sensor. The K-01 I plan to sell - the collectible appeal has waned. The KP I use for casual shooting and low light and I love the DA Limiteds. The K-1 is my main camera, especially for use with legacy manual primes.

I did not upgrade the K-1. I don't need and won't buy the next APSc camera. I'll probably buy certain lenses as they are released, but not every one. I am an atypical buyer in that I can pretty much buy whatever I want - and even I don't see a reason to buy another camera body right now.

Last edited by monochrome; 02-09-2019 at 02:31 PM.
02-09-2019, 09:04 AM - 1 Like   #7
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Markets will soon be what they were pre-digital. Looks like mirrorless never actually caught up.

I owned 6 cameras, 3 SLRs and a 645 and a couple waterproof sealed cameras in the first 40 years of shooting. I've owned 10 in the last 10. The camera industry should never have expected this to go on for ever.
02-09-2019, 09:18 AM - 1 Like   #8
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What does it look like if people who are into photography upgrade their cameras (mirrorless or SLR) every five to six years (and those who aren't don't buy ILCs at all)? What if few of them are interested in new versions of lenses they already own? What if people really don't want 4K much less 6K video and HD is adequate?

In this scenario, companies like Nikon and Canon are going to have increasing difficulties maintaining companies that are geared towards selling numbers of cameras we probably won't see again. Even Sony may start hitting a wall one of these days. Ricoh is probably in better shape in this sort of market because they are geared towards much smaller sales and they still have plenty of room for upgrades.

02-09-2019, 10:15 AM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by aaacb Quote
I'd be curious, if such data is available, to see a chart of owners of ILC vs sales. The same way there's a huge pool of working film cameras, there's probably a pool of perfectly fine digital ILC that still work for their owners. I'm under the impression that my k3ii is considered ancient by now, and I won't mention the k10d that I bought used; yet I'm happy with both cameras and see no reason to upgrade.
Unlike automobiles, where only a tiny fraction of the total population of vehicles in working condition sits unused and unliscenced on a shelf or in a drawer, it's not possible to determine either the number of cameras sold in the past that would need to be replaced in order for their owners to take photographs with standalone cameras in the near future or the number of people who will decide to take photographs with a standalone camera in the near future.


The key driver in forecasting demand for standalone cameras is not price, but the number of people willing to invest their time in taking photographs with a standalone camera. Even someone with a big investment in camera equipment that sits on shelves, only buys brand new equipment if he or she intends to use it. There is also a threshold in time invested below which there is little incentive to buy brand new, because sufficient satisfaction is obtained by using what we already have. Those are the people who have little reason to upgrade and if what they already have becomes obsolete or quits working, they are unlikely to make a bigger time investment to bring them over the buy new threshold, they are more likely to quit investing time in taking photographs with standalone cameras altogether.


QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
Markets will soon be what they were pre-digital.
That depends on how wide your view of the market is. Pre-digital, add-on cameras (added to your telephone, calculator or display device) didn't exist, so many people bought standalone cameras even if they hardly ever used them. On the other hand, the number of people in the world with enough disposable income to buy a standalone camera is a lot higher now than in the pre-digital age. If satisfying this market required a $300 camera body, someone would be manufacturing and selling such a thing. Maybe a global market of 10-11 million ILCs per year (2018 levels) is where it will stabilize or maybe the curious Canon executive is right and that market is only 5-6 million ILCs. Either way, that is enough of a market to justify a small number of companies continuing to manufacture ILCs, especially when they don't have to invest much in new technology.
02-09-2019, 10:31 AM   #10
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Not as easy to make since direct data is missing, but Smart Vision with Pentax has about the same curve going down steadily.
02-09-2019, 11:52 AM - 1 Like   #11
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KniPPsen: Japanese SLR production numbers. Part 3: (Asahi) Pentax

Here’s an interesting study of Pentax and other film camera production from the beginning through the end of manual focus camera bodies. The other major camera brands are estimated in May and June 2014 blog posts. Scroll down in the right pane.

The poster asserts by the early 80’s Pentax was no longer a market leader. Canon, Nikon and Minolta had gatherered market share at the expense of Pentax, Nikon and Minolta peaking around 1.000.000 units and Canon 1.800,000 units in 1983 or 1984. Essentially, the AE-1 and AE-1 Program especially - 9,730,000 Units, 1976-1984 - changed the industry just as the dSLR did. It would be interesting to know whether Pentax’s diversification into other, higher ROI products such as medical equipment and eyeglasses starved cameras and lenses of capital and attention just when most needed.

The website is a treasure trove of data and info on the early camera industry. Click statistik on the left. Much translates into English, but not all..

Last edited by monochrome; 02-09-2019 at 02:37 PM.
02-09-2019, 01:09 PM   #12
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I believe we will continue to see a drop in sales. I've gone from a K10D - K20D - K5 - K3 - K-1 - KP. Most of those purchases were business driven for me but the image quality from any of them was always good enough. With the K-1 and KP now, I really don't see a big need to purchase another camera anytime soon. (maybe if they come out with a KP type camera with GPS). Lenses I buy as I see a need for them. And I am also an atypical purchaser with the means to buy new equipment.

I always wondered how long the sales volume would continue, now it's who is in a position to survive a drop.
02-09-2019, 01:20 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by beholder3 Quote
With this crumbling of the market I do not believe any of them actually have a product convincing enough for customers to start a turnaround.
You are absolutely correct. After all, how many FF 24, 36 and 46MP cameras or systems do we need? Or MF, APSc and M43 for that matter. I think we are hitting a saturation point. In practical terms we have all the MP we need to produce the most demanding work.

I think at this point it is becoming a marketing game. Try to sell people on the idea that they need more megapixels and video beyond 4K. As we know there is 8K in the wings and who knows what is next...16K, 24K, 48K! To spoil the party for everyone, there is the ever present and looming smartphones.

I am curious about Pentax's big surprise for their centennial year. 645D and Z and K1 were surprises in their respective spaces that put the Pentax name back on the map with some short term benefits. But I am not sure how much long term monetary benefit they got from it. With just about all the angles covered by other makers, I would love to see Pentax's masterpiece surprise.

A mirrorless 6x7 (150-200MP) with three starter essential lenses (21, 35 and 85mm FF equiv.) would do it for me and be the surprise no one expected. Beyond that, it might just be a me too surprise!!
02-09-2019, 01:44 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by twilhelm Quote
I always wondered how long the sales volume would continue, now it's who is in a position to survive a drop.
Canon, Fuji and Sony have cash flow from related businesses to sustain themselves forever so long as management chooses to allocate the money. Nikon not so much, but has Mitsubishi Bank and the other Mitsubishi companies to call on for support. Who knows about Panasonic and Olympus - especially Olympus. Theyíre nearly a division of Sony as it is.

The imaging machine market being what it is* Ricoh Imaging is not in so fortunate a position, but neither does Ricoh Imaging have nearly as much capital at risk. Being tiny has some benefits. The risk is they gradually dry up and blow away in the breeze.

The next global recession will be quite revealing. We should know in a couple years.

*My company buys or leases roughly 25,000 printers, copier/scanners and MFPís a year, most of them Ricoh products.
02-09-2019, 02:04 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
The risk is they gradually dry up and blow away in the breeze.
Well put. Small may be helpful and good for survival but the flip side is what you said.

QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
The next global recession will be quite revealing. We should know in a couple years.
I guess we have all heard about the looming storm. Luxury goods and stuff that could be updated at a later time are the first casualties of a downturn. Pentax was ok as long as Ricoh sold enough copiers. If that well dries up, then Pentax might be the child that goes hungry!
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