The Digital Camera Market Is In Serious Trouble
Shipment figures across all camera categories indicate a drop by over 50% in the last twelve months.
The last twelve months have seen a rush of new Mirrorless cameras from just about every camera manufacturer. From Nikon's Z6 and Z7, to Canon's EOS R series, to Sony's massive 61MP A7R IV. But with all this focus on new mirrorless designs, plus assurances that DSLRs will still be developed, sales of digital cameras worldwide remain in free fall. What can turn things around?
The statistics come from the Camera and Imaging Products Association (CIPA) and shows a disturbing downward trend, not only with DSLR shipments (which we would expect thanks to the mirrorless revolution) but it turns out that sales of all these new mirrorless cameras have dropped even more dramatically! Here's the brief breakdown:
- Shipment of digital camera dropped by 74.8% in June 2019, compared to June 2018
- There are no signs the situation may get better
- DSLR shipments have dropped by 56.8% compared to 2018
- Mirrorless camera shipments have dropped by 79.8% compared to 2018
- Lens shipment has dropped by 67.1% compared to last year
- Compact camera shipments have dropped by 88.2% compared to last year
Compact cameras have dropped by over 88 percent because of the iPhone.
That is pretty much a given. Nobody carries a pocket camera with them anymore. The ease of having a smartphone camera in your pocket has been just too compelling and convenient, even for photo philes who pride themselves on having the latest and greatest.
“In Imaging System, we expect sales and profit of interchangeable-lens cameras to decline, due to the continued impact of mainly entry-class DSLR market contraction,” said Canon’s Executive Vice President and CFO Toshizo Tanaka. “However, in the area of mirrorless cameras, where we are focusing our energy, the effects of expanding our lineup will continue to lead to sales growth.”
But then we take a closer look at DSLR shipments (down 56.8%) and a shocking 79.8% on mirrorless cameras. Even in the year of Canon's focus on mirrorless designs, and Nikon's Z series, have done nothing to reverse the downward sales trend. Even Sony has taking it on the chin with a drop in 800,000 camera units projected by the end of the year. And shooters aren't buying lenses much either, with a drop of over 67% in the last year.
Taking a close look at Canon's 2nd quarter sales figures, which were released last week, we see a significant decline, posting a 24.9% decrease in sales over the same quarter in 2018. This translates to a profit loss of over 64%. Canon attributes this loss to the prolonged US-China trade dispute, with the US imposing another 10% tariff beginning September 1st, on top of the 25% in tariffs already enacted.
This dispute is causing uncertainty in the market, which in China and Europe is currently in dealing with a volatile economic picture. It's also having an impact industry wide, and could explain the steep drop in sales. Why pay a 35 percent tax when you don't need to? As a result of the decline, Canon has revised their estimates for the fiscal year downward, but will still end up with an operating profit thanks to a robust medical Systems industry, which enjoys a 7.2 percent sales increase.
Toshizo-san thinks that Canon can turn the dismal sales outlook around by focusing on three strategies. Enhancing their lens lineup, with five new EOS-R mirrorless models, bundling cameras with accessories (like the R-EF lens adapter) to increase value and generate user interest in mirrorless cameras in the long run, and by creating opportunities for interested shooters to get hands on experience with the EOS-R system.
These strategies are also being picked up by Nikon, which is also offering their Z series lens adapter as part of a bundle, and is also offering filmmakers the opportunity to shoot with the Z6 and Z7 with a camera loan program. And with the 2020 Summer Olympics right around the corner, you can bet that we'll be seeing plenty of mirrorless cameras being shot by professionals to get the right exposure. Literally.
That's all any of the camera companies can do, until the US and China make a trade deal that relieves the pressure. But it still looks like it's going to be a long, hard trade war before that can happen.