According to first quarter 2019 CIPA data (shipments), the camera market has started the year under pressure… which is a bad sign for the industry.
Let’s have a quick look at various segments of the camera market during the first quarter of 2019. All “% down” numbers are compared to the same quarter in 2018.
3,074,104… down 25.8%
Full frame and larger lenses
1,122,052… down 10.6%
Less than full frame size lenses
1,952,062… down 32.4%
Estimated size of interchangeable lens market in 2019 if the current trend continues: 13,373,592.
This would make the 2019 interchangeable lens market less than 1/2 of the size of the 2012 market when the shipments of interchangeable lenses peaked at about 30 million units.
3,198,421… down 26.4%
Built-in lens cameras
1,471,442… down 23.1%
Interchangeable lens cameras
1,726,979… down 29.4%
972,015… down 39.4%
754,964… down 10.2%
2019 Camera Market Size Estimates
Estimated size of the digital camera market if the current first quarter 2019 trend continues:
Total digital market: 14,256,754.
This is about the same level as 1979-1980 film camera market, and about the same size as the digital camera market in 2001. It should be noted that in 2001 film camera shipments were about three times larger than digital cameras.
Here are some estimates of the size of the 2019 camera market by segment, assuming that the current shipment trends continue:
Built-in lens cameras: 6,662,288
Interchangeable lens cameras: 7,596,417
Based on the current downward trends of various camera segments during the first quarter 2019 it appears likely that the shipments of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras could overtake DSLRs in 2020.
As we all know there are significant changes currently happening with many manufacturers putting an emphasis on full frame mirrorless cameras. This is causing a lot of uncertainty in the marketplace. It is understandable that many buyers may be taking a wait and see attitude.
As the digital camera market continues to be squeezed on the bottom end by cellphones we will likely see continued erosion of digital camera volumes. It is not too difficult to envision many entry level cameras being discontinued, including lower end DSLRs.
I also think it is very likely that we will see ongoing per unit price hikes on digital cameras. Manufacturers will have little choice but to attempt to get larger per unit margins as they sell fewer units, in order to remain profitable.
It is also likely that we will see fewer models offered, and the time frame between model introductions increase. Manufacturers will not have the volumes and profits needed to sustain current research and development budgets.
For many photographers some tough decisions may lay ahead in terms of how long to keep their current gear, and if they do buy new gear, where to put their money.
It’s may view that there isn’t much point investing in equipment that only offers incremental increases in specifications without any real expansion in functionality. I’d suggest examining your photography needs carefully, then investing in new equipment that allows you to shoot in different ways than you have in the past. This expanded functionality can add new tools to your creative expression.
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