The Interchangeable-Lens Camera Market is Now Bigger Than Point-and-Shoots


It’s official — the point-and-shoot market is dying, while DSLRs and other interchangeable lens systems champion the cause for standalone cameras.

A new report from retail researchers NPD tallies U.S. sales of $2.1 billion worth of interchangeable lens cameras between June 2012 and May 2013, an increase of 5 percent over the same period a year ago. U.S. sales of compact cameras, meanwhile, plunged 26 percent, to $1.9 billion. This is the first time interchangeable lens cameras have surpassed the sleek-and-shiny segment.

Analysts say the drop is (surprise!) due to smartphones, which have been eating away at the point-and-shoot market since 2009. Manufacturers such as Olympus and Fujifilm are trimming or eliminating their compact lines to focus on higher end offerings.

dslrvsYet plenty of people still care about image quality (or at least want to look like they do), hence the proliferation of what used to be the high end of the camera market.

The upshot is if that people are going to schlep around a dedicated camera these days, they want it to be worth the trouble.

Which seems pretty obvious. Yet apparently not obvious enough to prevent speculation such as ZDNet‘s “Have smartphones killed the SLR” online debate (resounding reader answer: “No”), which posits that superphones such as the 41-megapixel Lumia 1020 are turning SLRs into a “niche” market just a notch above wet collodion process enthusiasts.

“The DSLR’s bread and butter market — the consumer, the prosumer and photography enthusiast — no longer needs or even wants to carry these beasts anymore,” asserts ZDnet.

This may have some truth to it, but it’s still a big stretch to assume those sore-necked enthusiasts are ditching everything in favor of smartphones. Anyone heard of the mirrorless segment, which continues to toy with the perfect delta between portability and image quality?

(via MarketWatch and ZDNet)

Thanks for sending in the tip, Raymond!

Image credit: D5200 is compact enough to carry everyday and everywhere by Takashi(aes256), Him: P&S, Her: DSLR by garryknight

  • gochugogi

    And many of us haven’t ditched anything and use and enjoy all categories, e.g., iPhones, P&S, M4/3 and DSLRs. Well, I recently ditched my film gear…

  • Alan Green

    is “interchangeable lens camera” synonymous with dslr? mirrorless/rangerfinder type bodies like mft and fuji x are not slrs yet do allow for interchangeable lenses. as such, it may not be correct to attribute the rise in sales to slrs.

    i would suggest the opposite is true — slrs are history, as zach arias recently said, and soon will only be used by sports shooters (until af in mirrorless bodies matches that found in slrs). at the same time, however, it does seem clear that few people still care to buy compact point and shoots.

  • Zos Xavius

    You can pry my dslr out of my cold,dead hands and I’m not the only one that feels that way!

  • Jacqui Dee

    Sort of old news to anyone who sells cameras. The market has been declining for years. The primary compact cameras that get sold these days are higher end (Canon G15, Sony RX100) or big zoom (Panasonic TZ40, Sony HX50V).
    I find it’s generally people without a smart phone, people buying a camera as a gift or the occasional poor backpacker who purchase the $200~ below cameras.
    I’ve found the time that most people upgrade from a phone is most often when they want to travel.

  • b

    Silly, silly,silly. The tools of this industry that remain will be what they be when we get there.

  • justus

    there is this stupid moderator at canon rumors “mt. moron” or so .. who thinks that DSLR will be dead by 2015… well as with many things he is wrong as it seems.

  • Beehive

    Spoken like a true fanatic (unreasoning fool).

  • Boris

    P&S camera’s market share will of course shrink as there is no need to buy one if you have a smart phone, however, there is still a need for niche P&S cameras such as:

    1 – Cameras that are water, shock and dust resistant (i.e. the Olympus Tough)

    2 – Long zooms

    3 – High IQ (RX1 & RX100)

    Companies like Olympus, Canon, Nikon should have had the good sense to move into the smart phone market rather than wait for it to come to them, it’s not like you would have to be a genius to see that the market would head that way.

    As an amateur photographer I will never get rid of my system camera as the different lens options afford much more flexibility and creative expression. It is great to have a nice little camera on me all the time but there are times when you need to do something that requires a decent piece of glass with the right characteristics to match your vision.

    Maybe technology will move to overcome this in the future but for now my MFT cam and lenses are here to stay :)

  • Beehive

    Interchangeable lens encompasses any camera that has a detachable lens so it is mirrorless, rangefinder and DSLR. For example a Leica M, an OM-D , a NEX or a D800 are all considered to be in the interchangeable lens category.

  • John Sage

    “Yet apparently not obvious enough to prevent speculation such as ZDNet‘s “Have smartphones killed the SLR” online debate …”

    Nor is it apparently not obvious that web sites contrive faux “speculation” exactly like that to drive web hits and fill comment threads.

    The question is ludicrous on its face. But ZDNet is smart enough to know that by asking it, it’ll get tons of traffic. Why look! A link to the article has even ended up here! Imagine that…

  • Sky

    yes… that’s the problem with study like that. They keep on forgetting that one person can own few different cameras.

  • Flugie

    IMO this is “country specific” i.e. opposite is true in developing/3rd world countries (like the Philippines) where the market for P&S out numbers the market for interchangeable lens cameras by a sizable margin. Reason: interchangeable lens cameras are expensive compared to P&S that can do the basic job: take a photo.

  • Attila Feher

    I switched 3 years ago to mirrorless (it was easy as I used to have Olympus gear), and except for some more or less minor inconveniences I can enjoy pretty much the same image quality as with a DSLR. Adding the really small size of some M4/3 fast prime lenses, carrying around some very capable gear is not such a big deal any more. I carry four lenses (2 fast primes, a travel zoom and an f2.8 zoom), a 7″ tablet and a 1 GB portable hard drive, plus chargers and stuff in a classical small sized “dual-zoom” DSLR bag. And the “minor” inconveniences like focusing speed or weather sealing, have been successfully addressed on some recent mirrorless cameras, but, to be honest, these are still kind of reserved to the higher end of this segment.

  • Mantis

    Cell phone photos are ok…until you try to print them.
    I sure hope you didn’t rely on it to record precious moments.

  • Genkakuzai

    I love my dSLR, and I’m unlikely to get rid of it anytime soon. Rather I’ll buy yet another FX camera in addition to the one I’m already using. That being said, I definitely wouldn’t mind a Sony RX1R as a street photography complement, not at all. As long as I get the EVF. Nor would I mind a solid rangefinder, or rangefinder-like complement. But as the number one tool for my trade, where consistency, build quality, autofocus and a solid grip is essential, the dSLR will probably be in my toolbox for many years to come, albeit with some friends.

  • JoeNoName

    there is an EVF or OVF (rangefinder type) adapter for RX1, the second one is cheaper and better.

  • Genkakuzai

    I know I know ^^ Just saying the EVF is something of a must if I’m ever so consider it. So it’s yet another investment on top of a already hefty one. Still want it though.

  • dnguyen

    The only thing that can replace my DSLR is a more affordable full frame m-mount digital rangefinder. Full frame and fast glass is very important to my personal imagery.