Camera Market Year-End 2016 Update

The year-end CIPA data is available and I took a little time out of my schedule today to create a short update.

The first chart shows that overall digital camera shipments in 2016 have dropped below the film camera volume level in 1999 when digital cameras were first introduced.

When we look at shipments of digital cameras only we can see that the slide in volume since 2010 has been quite dramatic.

The graphic above is quite instructive as it clearly shows that the precipitous drop in the digital camera market has really been driven by the collapse of the fixed lens camera market. While interchangeable lens camera volumes have been eroding since 2012 the decline has been quite moderate in comparison. We can see that shipment volumes of fixed lens cameras and interchangeable lens cameras weew basically equal in 2016.

Given the continued erosion of the fixed lens market it would appear that future products in this segment will need to be highly differentiated and specialized in order to survive.

We can also see that the shipments of interchangeable lenses peaked in 2012 and have been in decline since that time.

These dramatic shifts in the unit volume of various product segments has dramatically affected the revenue base of camera and lens manufacturers. As we can see in the chart above, the value of fixed lens camera shipments is now less than that of interchangeable lenses or interchangeable lens camera bodies.

Another way of looking at this is to examine the percentage of shipment volume that is being generated by these three, basic product categories. The chart above shows the huge drop in shipment value of the fixed lens (i.e. built in lens) camera market with it now only representing 17.4% of overall shipment value. This compares to almost 73% of shipment value in 2006.

As regular readers will know, I have never seen the Nikon DL product line as a replacement for the Nikon 1 system. Given the market dynamics at play that we can see in the chart above, it just doesn’t appear logical that a company like Nikon would pull an interchangeable lens camera system out of the market when the ILC segment now generates over 80% of shipment volume. There are some assumptions of course, such as the profitability of current models like the J5.

If we look at 2016 in more detail we can see that the value of DSLR shipments was 34% of total shipment value. This was followed by full frame lenses at 18.9%, fixed lens cameras at 17.5%, less than full frame lenses at 16% and non-DSLR (i.e. mirror-less) cameras at 13.7%. It is quite easy to see why various manufacturers have been concentrating on higher-end and speciality-oriented fixed lens cameras and moving away from the old ‘point-and-shoot’ type of fixed lens cameras.¬†Over 80% of shipment value is now coming from interchangeable lens cameras and lenses.

When we examine the percentage of the digital camera market by region we see that Europe is still the world’s largest unit market at 32%, followed by Asia at 26.4%, the Americas at 24.8%, and Japan at 14.6%.

As we saw in earlier charts the importance of the interchangeable lens camera (ILC) market has been growing. Asia continues to be the most important global market, now representing 35.6% of total shipments of ILC units.

The popularity of various camera configurations varies by region. In the chart above we can that all regions have seen dramatic volume declines of fixed lens cameras. Europe remains the largest global market for fixed lens cameras, followed by the Americas.

As we saw in Chart 7, DSLRs are the largest global segment in terms of shipment value. While unit shipments have been declining in all global markets, Asia remains the largest global market, followed closely by Europe and the Americas.

The uptake of non-DSLR (i.e. mirror-less) cameras has varied quite a bit by region. Asia is now the dominant market for mirror-less cameras, dwarfing all other global regions. Europe is the second most important market, followed by Japan. Mirror-less cameras appear quite weak in the Americas. When examining the chart above it is logical to assume that mirror-less camera development will be based primarily on the needs of consumers in Asia and Europe. The market for mirror-less cameras in the Americas is less than 1/3 the size of the market in Asia.

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5 thoughts on “Camera Market Year-End 2016 Update”

  1. Hi Thomas
    I think the downturn of camera sales could be down to the standard of camera now found on smartphones.
    Most people now own a smartphone and to carry a camera about to some people might seem pointless as the photographs produced can be of a decent quality.
    My phone has a 21 megapixel camera that after a wee bit of tweaking produces really good photos.
    I still use my Nikon 1 V3 and D2 most days though!!


    1. Hi David,
      I agree that the photo capability of Smartphones has improved significantly over the past number of years. Manufacturers such as Apple have been stressing photograph quality in their phones for quite a while. Many phones also provide RAW capability which has further enhanced photo quality. No doubt that the fixed lens camera market has taken a huge hit due to Smartphones.

  2. Interesting… Is there someplace in which we can get the per year shipments of specific camera systems like the Nikon 1 system? I suspect that Nikon is not letting us know about this. Thanks.

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