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08-07-2014, 02:27 PM - 2 Likes   #1
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State of the camera market.....

State of the camera market.....

Well it is discussed from time to time on the forum. How is the state of the current camera market? A short view on this topic from my experience and some lurking for information. Already discussed in the meeting with two Ricoh Imaging reps I had in January but time goes on. You can find the thread with the link: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/16-pentax-news-rumors/248845-ricoh-imaging-europe-s-s-report-meeting.html

So the camera market is shrinking and does that already for a while. Thom Hogan wrote an article about it stating that already a few years ago the peak in production was reached while the shipping is declining for the past two years. With also shrinking numbers for DSLR only the market for mirrorless is still up, but that market is not matured yet. The latest CIPA figures are again pointing out that a fall of 30 % this year is to be expected. Last year’s fall was even bigger. The question is “When does it stop?”, or better at what level can camera makers expect to see a new future? The CIPA figures can be seen: http://www.cipa.jp/stats/documents/e/d-201406_e.pdf

So I went to the Zoo.
Last Sunday I visited a small local zoo near my hometown. It’s called Dierenrijk in Mierlo and it is a very young zoo that started in 2004. At first it was a zoo with only animals that lived in Europe, but that couldn’t attract enough visitors so in 2008 it was expanded. Now having tigers, lions and elephants and some other mammals and birds from all over the world. In the first years I had a membership card and visited the zoo often. Also used it for some photography practice, but haven’t been there for the past 4 years. It was nice to see the development of the park. Except for the number of visitors, the parking lot from 10 years ago is still sufficient for a Sunday in the middle of our vacation period. Visitors come from around, maybe 70 km or are on holiday in the region. I was with my brother and his family and we do that from time to time. It’s nice for his kids and we can talk about different things. The camera subject came to the table at the elephant feeding time, which was a show for grooming the large mammels. I’m on the left and my brother on the right:


Family planning and all the things you need for it.
So not too long a ago when you started a family you had some issues to solve. Is our house big enough? Is our car big enough? What do we need for the upcoming baby? Where do find the time to raise children? Can we afford a new child in our family on a financial base? How about a new camera to capture the new born in our family? Even when it was about a second or third child these question’s came to the table. But then again, things changed over time. All those questions are still being asked, but some of the answers are different. The last few years the economy is very hard on some people and new cars and new houses aren’t that hot on the list anymore. Not for everyone at least. Do we need a new camera? Well yes, but do we still buy them? At the most popular show in the zoo there where three serious camera’s, a few mirrorless camera’s, a few point & shoot camera’s and then….. smarthphones and one iPad.

The zoo…..elephants.
We only had the Olympus E-PL1 with us that my sister in law bought. I didn’t bring any gear and just used her camera. So I made a short movie clip, handheld so you can enjoy the show:
That is a show people would like to remember. That is a show people would pull out their camera’s to make images of if this was 2012 or 2010. But not in 2014! We now just take out our smartphone, take some images or a movie clip that goes directly towards some sharing site. Hi people, we are at the zoo…….. is one of the things you can read on Facebook and Twitter. So when families with children don’t even take camera’s to their outings on holiday, why would they ever again buy a new fancy camera? Some images from the crowd at the elephant show:








IPC Swimming European Championship (Paralympic sports)
This week is in Eindhoven in our National Swimming Stadium the EC for Paralympic swimmers. So I go there a few times to take images, but this time I also looked a bit around. There are still dslr’s in use with some teams (these are not professional sports teams) and some dedicated cheaper video cameras. But next to that the iPad is winning in use. Not new, but for the first time I was thinking, that is a way better working method to share and gather footage.




What are all these changes bringing us in the future?
Well when families stop investing in camera’s then the lower market is going to shrink. When there is only one serious camera in a zoo on a summer day (this was the 7D with 70-200mm lens) then the upper market for camera’s just for private use is almost gone. When sports teams are not investing in camera’s for their social media coverage then you will see that there are less camera’s and lenses needed. On the other hand maybe there will be a larger market for serious sports photography in the future, but that market is shifting towards volunteering. So I guess the market for the traditional camera makers (dslr, mirrorless and point & shoot) has not yet seen the bottom of the sales numbers. My guess is that not only this year, but also in 2015 we will see a big decline in sales of camera’s and lenses. So with the upcoming Photokina we are all looking forward to new camera’s and lenses to be presented by all brands. But in real time all these brands (including Ricoh Imaging) should be worried about their future. How can “we” survive as a camera brand in a market that will maybe just sell 25 million units a year, coming down from 120 million camera’s in 2012.

I think we all know that we lost the "Bieber Fever" generation to smartphones. The sad news in this article is that we also lost the young family's to all those wonderfull new smartphones that are expensive, but also can make descent images. Looking at the just new Lenovo Vibe Z2 one starts to think, why not....if it is just for family use....

Ron Hendriks


Last edited by RonHendriks1966; 08-07-2014 at 02:37 PM.
08-07-2014, 02:48 PM - 1 Like   #2
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The DSLR marked is saturated; anyone who wants one have one. The technology has improved so that people don't feel the need to upgrade as often as before.
It is the P&S marked that really suffers. However, the more people who are using phones and other causual cameras, the more people are going to be interested in photography and ultimately want a real camera. Hence, there will be a healthy market for real photographic tools like the DSLR...
08-07-2014, 03:10 PM   #3
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See right here for a nice graph of DSLR and mirrorless sales from 2012 to 2014 based on CIPA data. Basic gist is mirrorless is flat, DSLR trending heavily down...
08-07-2014, 03:29 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Doundounba Quote
See right here for a nice graph of DSLR and mirrorless sales from 2012 to 2014 based on CIPA data. Basic gist is mirrorless is flat, DSLR trending heavily down...
DSLR marked is saturated. That Mirrorless doesn't increase in volume. That DSLR sales are far more variable and that the latest down is equal do the low Feb 13 volume and jan 12.
Mirrorless volume now is the same as Mars 12; there has been no increase in the mirrorless market.
The guy who wrote that piece is very selective in which intervals he is looking at. DSLR sales have increased from january to June 2014. The peaks on the mirrorless graph are shipment for christmas sales. The DSLR variation is probably very dependent on model releases. This tells a lot about whos buying what.


Last edited by Pål Jensen; 08-07-2014 at 03:45 PM.
08-07-2014, 03:45 PM - 2 Likes   #5
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DSLRs aren't going away, and I don't really care what other people use or what they consider "good enough". I see lots of people who expensive equipment taking very boring pictures. I see people who use $300 bodies and $200 lenses doing really creative work.

I'm quite happy that most people don't want to invest in higher end equipment. This means that when people need real professional grade work done, there will be fewer people with the capability of producing it.
08-07-2014, 03:53 PM   #6
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I think the CIPA results have some value, but there are some things to near in mind when looking at them.
- I think they are units shipped to retail, not units sold to end customers. So it's possible that a sudden drop in one segment could be a deliberate response to oversupply.
- This data shows the number of cameras, not the value. I think all the camera makers have accepted that they will seek fewer cameras but plan to make up for it by selling more high-end cameras. I saw some other figures from CIPA a while back showing that the value of all cameras sold was pretty much stable despite the fewer units sold, indicating that they are having some success in doing this.
- This information does not include sales of lenses and other accessories. That has to be some of the most profitable stuff the camera makers sell.

My own anecdotal experience from the last few days is that I went for a short break in the country - not so many tourists. I saw: one point and shoot; a number of mirrorless cameras (all Olympus or Panasonic); two DSLRs (both Pentax!); more people than all of those combined using smartphones.

Last edited by JPT; 08-07-2014 at 03:58 PM.
08-07-2014, 04:03 PM   #7
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First half of 2014 compared to first half of 2013.

- DSLRs: minus 22% in volume (number of cameras shipped) and minus 16% in turnover;
- mirrorless cameras: plus 13% in volume and plus 40% in turnover.

(source: CIPA data)
08-07-2014, 04:17 PM - 1 Like   #8
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I can't find the article I referred to in my previous post, but this is quite a good one. It also describes the market in decline, but takes more measurements into consideration and also shows a trend towards more expensive models.

Camera Market Returns from Four-Year Ride Bruised, but Wiser |

Another thing to consider is how much the Japanese makers will lose from pulling out of point and shoot cameras. They outsourced that business a long time ago, so they can pull out the minute they cease to make money on it with minimal impact. The fact that they stay in the business at all indicates that they are still making some money.

08-07-2014, 04:28 PM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pål Jensen Quote
DSLR sales have increased from january to June 2014.
There are trends that repeat more or less similarly every year, so what you have to do is compare the same month, or the same group of months, from year to year. It's pretty clear that for DSLRs, 2014 looks much worse than 2013, which was worse than 2012. As others have pointed out, there are other metrics we don't have (total value of shipments, shipped units to retailers vrs end-user sales, and so on). This is just one datum, but it supports the OP's anecdotal evidence that, to put it simply, phones are taking over. This is probably everyone's anecdotal evidence too.

I think in the end this demonstrates that convenience trumps quality. We saw this with MP3s (and often even very low bitrate files!) overtaking CDs. It's seen every day in the computer security world, where it's very hard to get people to pick good passwords over convenient (and easily guessable) passwords. As smartphone photos have reached a "good enough" point for simple documentation purposes, the convenience of using the camera in your phone - and *every one* has a phone - trumps (for most people) the quality you get by having to lug around a second, much bigger and heavier piece of electronic equipment...

Of course, this doesn't mean DSLRs are disappearing. Just that the market for them, at least in number of units sold per year, is shrinking significantly.
08-07-2014, 04:50 PM   #10
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Nikon published lowered forecasts today, in fact undershooting by quite a lot.
08-07-2014, 05:21 PM   #11
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DSLR/MILC together isn't going away completely, there will always be needs for it in commercial space while personal usage space will continue to decline for a while. I think the number of consumer camera makers will shrink/consolidate further.
08-07-2014, 05:53 PM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Doundounba Quote

Of course, this doesn't mean DSLRs are disappearing. Just that the market for them, at least in number of units sold per year, is shrinking significantly.
This is a classic mis-read of the state of things.

The "market" is NOT shrinking.

Sales volumes are declining, but the overall number of DSLR and mirrorless cameras in active use by the consumer market is still growing.

What has happened is the market has matured and consumer turnover of equipment has hit the point where people no longer need to buy up. Auto sales have been like this for a long time as well with people holding onto their cars much longer than 20 years ago due to substantially increased durability, functionality, and resale value.

Personally I think the reason the market is flattening has a lot to do with the hesitation of the Japanese manufacturers to embrace wireless and mobile OS and cross-platform technologies. I still lots of DSLRs used actively but the main talk is about the pain of PP and lack of connectivity. Solve that affordably and soon and people will recycle their purchasing again.

Smartphone cameras have eclipsed dedicated P&S cameras but cannot eclipse or even approach performance cameras, which is still a vast hobby market.
08-07-2014, 06:16 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by ruggiex Quote
I think the number of consumer camera makers will shrink/consolidate further.
You're probably right, even in the auto industry some of the US based manufacturers consolidated lines in the last several years, like Oldsmobile, Mercury, and Saturn. I would only see camera manufacturers merging if they could reduce manufacturing facilities or combine distribution channels. More likely some companies could consolidate by dropping product lines. We've already seen Ricoh/Pentax drop the cheap point and shoots. Olympus and Panasonic are out of the DSLR market, Fuji smartly left the DSLR market long ago, not owning their own mount. Looking at the Ricoh financials (linked from another thread), sales are down but not that much, in fact they look pretty good in Japan. I could be wrong (and probably am) but even with the drop in sales they may have an increase in market share, at least in some markets, simply because other makers have dropped more.

It's interesting as camera sales have declined over the last few years that the mirrorless market appeared, and probably the fastest growing segment (other than phone cameras) has been the action camera, mostly by GoPro, a non traditional camera maker.
08-07-2014, 07:32 PM   #14
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KUDOs to Ron, this is the kind of topic i find fascinating.

You can't eat cameras, they don't provide shelter in a storm like a house, they don't even provide transportation. In short, for most owners, cameras are a luxury item. And luxury items are often subject to cultural changes.

I just recently upgraded from a fee for service cell phone to a smart phone, based on an offer from Verizon to save me money - yeah right :-)

Only had my smart phone for about 1 month, but i am impressed with how it nicely provides information and services to people on the go. If its a choice between having a smart phone and a DSLR, then i now understand the market difficulties of camera makers.

I think the DSLR market is permanently damaged, and will never recover the numbers it once had. Where the numbers will level off, i have no idea.
08-07-2014, 07:51 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
Sales volumes are declining, but the overall number of DSLR and mirrorless cameras in active use by the consumer market is still growing.
It doesn't matter to camera manufacturers that everyone on earth have a camera if no one is actually buying cameras. If no one's is buying cameras, there is no market. The "market" is the number of units you can sell per year, not the size of the deployed user base (unless that user base is paying you some kind of rent, like a maintenance contract or some such).
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