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New camera releases in decline

CIPA figures for the first two months of the year show the compact camera market continuing to drag down worldwide camera shipments overall.

Lens shipments: On a gentle rise.

Compact camera shipments are at only 60 percent of 2017 levels for Jan-Feb, while interchangeables are also down a touch on 2017 – but an improvement on the 2016 result for the same period. It’s worth noting also that although shipments of interchangeables was at just 88 percent of 2017 (Jan-Feb) in units, they were line ball in dollar terms.

Shipments of lenses paint a more positive picture – up 2 percent on 2017 levels and 4 percent compared to 2016 Jan-Feb. CIPA measures lenses as either full-frame (and above) and smaller than full-frame. While lens shipments for full-frame cameras are up 13 percent, lens shipments for APS-C and M43 cameras are actually down 10 percent.

Increasing lens sales and flat or reduced camera shipments indicates a maturing market. Photographers are consolidating their gear with accessories rather than upgrading to a new body.

The other factor here is that there simply aren’t as many new models being released. The following chart showing numbers of new product releases year on year, presented by CIPA at CP+ in January, illustrates this clearly:

New products released: New camera releases are in steady decline while lens releases are on the rise – with established specialists like Sigma and Tamron, and new competitors from Korea and China doing a lot of the running. (Source: CIPA)

CIPA also provides two charts which illustrate that there is a vast difference in lens preference when we compare the full frame market with cameras with smaller sensors. While small sensor camera owners gravitate to all-purpose zoom lenses, the full frame folk opt for prime lenses:

(Source: CIPA)
(Source: CIPA)

While new camera releases aren’t as plentiful as they used to be, and shipments for compacts have been slipping a lot and DSLRs a little, average shipping price for all manner of cameras – even compacts – has been on the rise since 2011:

(Source: CIPA)

In the five years from 2012 to last year, mirrorless cameras have steadily assumed more of the total market for interchangeables. This switch was most pronounced in 2017, when mirrorless cameras moved from roughly a quarter of shipments to a third of shipments in 12 months.

Aberration, or sign of things to come?

(Source: CIPA)

The final chart we have chosen from the CIPA set shows the history of camera sales over four decades, with the huge take-off from 1999 marking the start of the digital camera era. Specialist retailers might take heart that in a market which has been in decline since 2008, the mix of interchangeable lens cameras and lenses is now larger than it has ever been.

(Source: CIPA)

To access the CIPA presentation: CIPA CP+ Presentation

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