Camera markets to change shape – bargins available

Changes coming in the global camera market

The intense competition in the general photographic market has lead to casualties. High profile losers like Kodak show us a harsh market. The camera market is about to change again.

Global decline

The camera market has showed extraordinary growth over most of the last decade. Now it seems to be crashing. Japan’s ‘Camera and Imaging Products Association’ is quoting a fall in shipments of digital cameras of 42% over the year Sept. 2011/2012 according to Phys.org. Significantly, compact cameras were a huge 48% of that fall. It appears that Smartphones are crushing the point-and-shoot camera market. Smartphones have long been breaking ground on the compact camera markets.

DSLRs have become relatively differentiated with technological improvements in recent years. The cameras remain expensive and the market is limited and the focus of camera manufacturers has been broad. While not buoyant the upper-range market appears to have fallen only around 7%. That itself may be indistinguishable from the global economic conditions. More interesting is the the report on “Canon Rumors” that Canon are considering cutting their wide ASP-C range of cropped sensor cameras… “It was also noted that the 1100D and 60D would quietly be discontinued in the first part of 2013 with no replacements being imminent”. Nevertheless Canon are obviously firming up their commitment to the range with other projected releases on the way.

I guess that the loss of the Canon 1100D would be no surprise. It would be weak link in the market as the lower end DSLR market has turned out to be an opportunity that never realised its potential. It seems logical for Canon to fight the advance of the smartphone at the lower end by the consolidation of the mid-range of DSLRs where they really hold a great strength.

Consumers are more savvy than sometimes recognised. People who invest in “half-way-house” technologies are seen as off-trend. Expensive point-and-shoot cameras, bridge cameras and the lower end of the DSLR market are in a weak position. They exhibit insufficient differentiation. Consumers will go for the smarter or more flexible options. Under attack by Smartphones, these camera groups do not fit into either the convenience market or the technologists group. The global economic situation, and perhaps market saturation, is putting a pressure on the camera market toward consolidation. The weakest link is the one where there is insufficient differentiation between convenience and technology a recurrent theme in the history of technology. So it is no surprise that low end DSLRs and bridge cameras are on their way out. In addition manufacturers will want to focus their efforts where there are greater margins. The mid-high end of the DSLR market would be a good place to start.

This all bodes well for some great bargains next year. The point-and-shoots and bridge cameras markets will be in opens season as camera manufacturers recognise their short-sightedness. It also suggests that structural changes in the manufacturing ranks may be coming as camera manufacturers need to look to their margins when the belts tighten.

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training courses ing digital photography.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

2 responses to “Camera markets to change shape – bargins available

  1. Damon (Editor)

    Hi Dan,
    Nice reply. I think you are right. I believe that the DSLR market is safe as long as the DSLR format is not changed by new technology. True mirrorless cameras could assault that market. I believe that there is potential for expanding the mirrorless concept too. However, the screen-on-the-back concept doesn’t do it for me. The stability and resolution of the mirror/viewer combination will have to be met before I would buy a mirrorless camera. A camera held with two hands is much more suseptible to movement than one that is also pressed to the face. Also screens are too low-res to make quality decisions about you picture. The mirror gives a great representation of the scene, camera screens do not (yet?).

    However the point stands. The lower end market is under assault by cost and smartphone. I think there is a place for small cameras with high quality output. So I think a market restructuring will be interesting. In the meantime I too will be sticking with my DSLR.

    Thanks for your reply.

  2. Good article. I see non-enthusiast point and shoot users giving up their low end cameras for smartphones. This does not bode well for the lower end of the camera market. However, enthusiasts will not abandon good cameras for the convenience of a smartphone. I do not like taking photographs with my iphone and only use it as a last resort. I’d much rather use my APS-C DSLR as it gives me the creative control I want (and significantly better images). In circumstances where I need a smaller camera, I have two high end compacts that also give me far better creative control (and results) than a smartphone. In the future, I can see myself purchasing both a a mirrorless camera system and an FX sensor DSLR system. I have no intentions of giving up my cameras for a smartphone.