No Bottom Hit in Cameras Yet

(news & commentary)

There’s been a lot of discussion on photography sites lately about how various camera companies are doing, but little about how the industry is doing. Wait, hold that, just before I published this article, we had a bunch of Web sites posting things like “the fall is over”.  Wrong. We now have the CIPA numbers through the first three quarters of the year, so where do we actually stand year-to-year?

  • Compacts — -21% unit volume, -7% sales value
  • DSLRs — -5% unit volume, -7% sales value
  • Mirrorless — same unit volume, +8% sales value
  • Lenses — -4% unit volume, +3% sales value

Overall, DSLR cameras still outsell mirrorless cameras 3 to 1. Also, both Nikon and Canon reported numbers for their most current quarter that were in most cases worse than the above, which is a troubling thing.

All these numbers are for January to September 2015 (and all comparisons are against the same period in 2014). All numbers have been rounded to the nearest percent.

With the exception of DSLRs, it can be seen that the average selling price per unit must have gone up, as sales values aren’t decreasing at the same rate unit shipments are. One very curious thing about where the Japanese camera makers think the market is shows up in the CIPA shipment numbers by region. When you examine the unit volume by region for year-to-year, you get this:

  • Japan Compact — down 16%
  • Europe Compact — down 10%
  • Americas Compact — down 25%
  • Asia Compact — down 34%
  • Other Compact — down 42% 


  • Japan DSLR — down 9%
  • Europe DSLR — down 7%
  • Americas DSLR — up 3%
  • Asia DSLR — down 8%
  • Other DSLR — down 7%


  • Japan mirrorless — down 11%
  • Europe mirrorless — up 2%
  • Americas mirrorless — up 12%
  • Asia mirrorless — up 1%
  • Other mirrorless — down  3%

When you look at it by product value instead of unit volume, you see a couple of interesting things: the Americas and Other have very high shifts in price (up 19%, 26%, 25%, and 24% for DSLRs and mirrorless in those regions). Congratulations US and Canada: you’ve been targeted to buy more expensive cameras. 

Of course, it’s also possible that those same cameras will get deep discounts in the US over the holidays, as the yen/dollar relationship encourages that. That should show up as additional SG&A expense if those discounts get too big. 

The bottom line is still the bottom line: the weakness in the camera industry continues in 2015, though the decline is smaller this year than last. The bright spots are few and modest. The bottom has not been hit yet.


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