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‘Green shoots’ after grim year?

Two thousand and sixteen will rank as camera manufacturers’ ‘annus horribilus’, with plummeting shipments partially attributable to an inability to get cameras into the hands of consumers, rather than pure lack of demand.

‘Green shoots’? Shipments for November and December defied the six-year trend of steadily falling demand for interchangeable lens cameras.

According to Japan’s CIPA (Camera & Imaging Products Association) total shipments of digital cameras fell 32 percent to 24.2 million units. (‘Peak Camera’ was in 2010, when 122 million units were shipped.)

Shipments of digital compacts declined 44 percent, while shipments of interchangeable lens models fell 11 percent in units. 

PhotoCounter readers responding to our current survey have identified lack of camera supply as a real problem through 2016.

The six-month interruption to image sensor supply following massive damage to Sony’s sensor factory from the Kumamoto earthquake in April defines 2016 as an unusual year. It’s probably impossible to know what portion of the negative result is due to a fall in demand and what is due to inability to supply stemming from the earthquake. CIPA describes the impact of the Kumamoto earthquake as ‘not minor’. A lack of demand is a challenge to which an industry can respond. A lack of supply to fulfill existing demand is something else again.  

It’s useful to note that sales of Canon interchangeable lens cameras actually increased 2 percent in 2016. Canon interchangeables don’t use Sony sensors, so maintained consistent supply. Canon compacts, which do use Sony sensors, fell 38 percent by unit.  

Shipments of lenses for interchangeable lens cameras fell 11.4 percent, roughly in line with the fall in camera shipments, and maintaining a 1.65:1 ratio of lenses to cameras. 

While the annual figures make grim reading, there was a promising increase in shipments following the resumption of full supply from Sony Kumamoto. In fact, for the month of December shipments of interchangeable cameras beat December 2015 by over a quarter, and even surpassed December 2014 by around 100,000 units! 

CIPA predicts that shipments of interchangeable lens cameras will decline by a relatively modest 6 percent in 2017. Let’s hope that turns out to be hopelessly pessimistic, and that 2017 is a photo industry annus mirabilis!

CIPA 2016 graph
CIPA STATS Dec-Jan 2016




One Comment

  1. Nicholas TELEHUS Nicholas TELEHUS February 8, 2017

    I refuse to believe the camera industry is so naïve as to blame everything but the cause – themselves! A couple of years ago I kitted myself out with a Nikon D800E, two of Nikon’s best zoom lenses and additional batteries etc. No change from $12k. Almost immediately the D800E was out-dated (by the D810?) and a short time later the lenses were virtually worthless – Nikon released both lenses with VR. I tried to trade -up my lenses but no dealer was interested. There were vultures on e-Bay prepared to pay around 7% of the original purchase price but I wasn’t going to let that happen. My lenses now play a secondary role as paperweights. Nikon, Canon, Fuji and the likes take note: this is one bunny who will not be buying another camera or lens for at least 20 years – all because you are disgustingly greedy, releasing “new” models every year. You deserve everything decreasing sales brings to you – poverty then insolvency.

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