Canon Cuts Financial Forecast as Sales of ILCs Decline for the First Time


Leading international camera maker Canon cut its annual profit forecast Thursday, revealing that sales of interchangeable-lens cameras are slowing for the first time ever.

Canon said in an announcement that it now expects to sell 8 million DSLR and mirrorless cameras in 2014, down from its previous forecast of 9 million. Its forecast for sales of compact cameras, the market segment many believe to be in real trouble, remains steady at 14 million units.

That will mean net income of 240 billion yen ($2.5 billion), down from the previously expected 260 billion.

Canon executives characterized the sales drop for ILC models as a temporary blip caused by weak overall economic conditions in Europe and Asia. Analysts weren’t so sure, however, saying recent advances in smartphone camera capability might encourage ongoing declines throughout the camera industry.


“Smartphones are creating a structural problem for camera manufacturers,” Takashi Aoki of Mizuho Asset Management told Bloomberg. Adding that the downward revision was significant enough to have a negative impact on Canon’s stock price.

Overall sales of digital cameras have been declining for several years, according to market research firm IDC, but SLR and mirrorless cameras had been immune from the drop as smartphones ate into point-and-shoot sales. Now, however, it seems the impact is beginning to spread.

“You’re talking about a 10-15% decline [in DSLR shipments] all over the world,” IDC research director Chris Chute told the Financial Post. “Which is kind of shocking because that market’s been growing double digits for almost ten years.”

(via Bloomberg and Financial Post)

Image credits: Hong Kong by Ralph Roletschek and Canon 5D Mark III by Bengt Nyman

  • Woody ONeal

    Execs at Fuji, Panasonic, and Olympus chuckle…

  • MattSteeleLA

    “Canon executives characterized the sales drop for ILC models as a temporary blip caused by weak overall economic conditions in Europe and Asia.”

    Nope. It’s because the mirrorless market is quickly catching DSLR in terms of image quality and performance most pro photographers demand — especially photographers who work in portraiture of all kinds.

  • Ian Lindo

    You do know that “ILC” simply means “interchangeable lens camera”, not D-SLR, right? Mirrorless cameras are ILC’s, too.

  • MattSteeleLA

    Yes, I’m aware of that.

    “…’You’re talking about a 10-15% decline [in DSLR shipments] all over the world,’ IDC research director Chris Chute told the Financial Post. ‘Which is kind of shocking because that market’s been growing double digits for almost ten years.'”

    Canon doesn’t build a mirrorless camera with any kind of pro potential… Therefore, Canon decline in ILCs == decline in DSLRs

  • muhendragun

    cut the price of full frame by half, then the sales will increase drastically :P

  • Shane

    Agreed. Perhaps costs is just too high. Of course the advent of mobile phone cameras are getting in the way, but camera gear prices are sky high.

  • R O

    Maybe people are catching on and don’t want to buy fat, plastic Rebelcrap cameras with 5-year-old sensors in them.

  • Carl Meyer

    Cameras are a tiny part of what Canon is, currency exchange has been more damaging for Canon.

    People don’t buy smartphones based on their cameras, instead they look for the monthly fee of the subsidized contract that allows them to have one even.

  • 3r43wr4234

    yeah because they would be happy to make a dime at all. get some infos. they are not even in the blacks.

  • Masteg

    you are aware of sh*t.
    you are obviously a mirrorless fanboy that has no clue what the real numbers are.

  • Hustler33

    kiddo… the 10 % is for al ILC´s…
    so all are affected.. is that to hard to grasp for you?
    10% at canon maybe means 10% DSLR.. but 10% for panasonic or oly means 10% of their mirrorless to ILC so what are you brabbling?
    this is NOT about DSLR´s this is about higher end ILC cameras.

  • Lola

    well the 6D sells very good.
    it´s just that the market is saturated at one point, you can´t expect double digit increases for another decade.
    this is no suprise for someone who has a clue about economics.
    most peopel who own a 5D MK3 or D800 these days will never use it´s full potential. why should they buy another camera? i don´t speak about the gear freaks who buy anything.
    i speak about people like my father or my uncle who are still VERY happy with their 4 year old canon and nikon gear.

  • 09l

    as if you would make better pictures with a better sensor.
    your images look like sh i t and no sensor will change that.

  • r5434q34

    i buy sony.. the company who makes most of it´s money from insurance becaue nobody wants there electronics.

  • Scott M.

    My Canon friends are angry because their camera company has stopped coming up with good sensors for their DSLRs. They are overdue for something really good in this area.

  • ccccc

    the fall begin… SOny will lead all :-D a7!!!

  • MattSteeleLA

    Nope, not a fan boy… and also, not a kid.

    I’ve probably been shooting SLRs longer than either of you have been alive; Many of those years as a paid pro. My last bodies were a 1Dmk4 with a 5D backup.

    I just happen think that the next wave in professional rigs will be mirrorless. And I’ll even go a step further… I think the next wave will be video-captured stills like the EW cover shoot with Tina Fey done on a RED.

    I also believe that the EOS M was an attempt to stab at what Canon thought was a prosumer-targeted niche like what the NEX aimed at. I think they were short-sighted regarding the eventual domination mirrorless rigs will going to enjoy in about 3-7 years.

    Fuji and Sony, on the other hand, are positioned well to cash in.

    And finally, I really wish the level of discussion that used to be enjoyed on this blog will one day drag itself out of the gutter.

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  • anon

    Hahahaha… to early to speculate man.

  • Click_Mk2

    “..temporary blip caused by weak overall economic conditions..” More like a constant drip. There’s plenty of new technology coming from Sony and others. The market is changing. The high price gear monopoly is dying. In 2003, when I dropped film, my first Canon 1Ds mark I set me back $7000, replaced by a 5D at $3200, and then a 7D at $1800. All gains in performance at half price points. Today I see the mobs of young pros armed with their $600 T3i’s. We’ve hit the wall of diminishing returns.

    Second, and I’m surprised there’s not much talk of this, but I feel that DSLR sensor technology has hit the rendering limits of current lenses. While vendors are just catching on, the solutions of Mk II lenses aren’t cheap. Lenses are what keep pros in good company, and facing a need to upgrade entire makes alternatives from competitors attractive.

    Third. Supply and demand. I’m certain that there isn’t enough need for heavy hitters whom require the big guns. For the last 15 years I’ve been very lucky to have enjoyed the dream job that help me support five kids and pay the bills. Tomorrow, I’m going to my indoctrination meeting for a new job as a security guard.

  • not a tool bag

    i believe that you are a tool bag

  • fact_checker

    Well I think you need to check your ‘info’s’ – Olympus ran a profit in 2013 even with the payouts for the accounting scandal. So that would be in the ‘blacks’ as you put it. Seeing as that ‘infos’ you have provided is wrong, the rest of what you have said is tainted. You are a wrong individual!

  • Jeff

    Fucken just release a weather sealed version of the 35mm L and 135mm L, and a new 50mm L and they got my money!!

  • FUCanon

    Simply stated… “For whom the bell tolls.” Bye, bye Canon. You’ve been dying for years.

  • Jeff

    There should be a rule. If you file a patent and refuse to mass produce that lens, you lose rights to it in one year. :)

  • Chung DHa

    Well its their own fault! Its cause they are slacking it with releasing camera with high end features. I jump over to Panasonic just cause I can film Full HD 50P with it and it already have focus peaking, live audiomonitor, zebra already in the camera and able use all my canon lenses, but have to say if its was not for the lenses I would had gone to Nikon cause they already can do full HD slomo. Cause at the moment they are lacking the full HD slomo while everyone else is doing it. Also they need to stop limiting the writing speeds to memory cards as Magic Lantern found out allot of the camera can’t even use the full potential of new high speed cards and most likely its possible the camera should easily do full hd 50p and possibly full HD raw DNG outputs. If Canon is smart they would release something like a Canon 5Dc that has all the features that the Magic Lantern guys came up with and be first DSLR that is able to film full HD RAW and do Full HD 50/60p normal. And they after that add those features to the rebel series slowly. Cause right now for photography all the camera’s are pretty equal only difference be how they can handle High ISO and how the noise performance are, but the bigger market right now are the videographers and even the photographers will look at the tons of video functions too.

  • Sky

    FYI: Mirrorless market declines everywhere but Asia (including Japan). In Europe sales of mirrorless cameras dropped by 40(!!!!) percent in 2012. Only almost noone speaks of that because of fanboys like you, who believe that mirrorless is be-all-end-all of photography and attack everyone who thinks differently.
    Sorry, but the fact right now is that high-end compacts (like RX100) are eating sales of mirrorless. That’s one of the reasons why Sony doesn’t have APS-C compact – to ensure NEX survives the onslaught.

  • Leif Sikorski

    Here in Germany the sales of mirrorless cameras are growing. In the first quarter of 2013 they went up by 42% – it’s not just Asia.

  • Chillywilson

    Here is an idea! Cut the BS about sensor costs and add the 20mm to the silicon.
    Move all crop to mirror less, make full sensors the cost of crop and add medium format the cost of your top full frame. Sit back and watch the buying frenzy. If not I can see up and coming companies do this with in 3 years, because of how low the cost of chip production is now a days. Imagine if RED decided to make a still only camera at quarter the cost of a H4D.

  • SaltyTiger

    I fully agree on your last TWO sentences !! Thanks

  • Captain Kimo

    Why is smart phone a factor in the decline? I find this statement absurd. Basically they are saying people are not buying a DSLR because their cell phone does everything they need. I think the decline has more to do with the over saturation of cameras. I also think digital photography in general is a trend that has finally hit it’s peak.

  • Ioannis Serafidis

    it is normal. too many new models in a short period and too many mobile phones with advanced camera,to many compact advanced cameras

  • Ioannis Serafidis

    also mirrorless – which is more portable and easy…i don t like compacts,gsm even mirrorless… i use only dslr

  • wilmark johnatty

    This is complete nonsense. What do these analysts know about dslr photography – smart phone taking DSLR market??? What a joke. Just because these dweebs like their Iphones and galaxy phones. I personally know of NO one who has substituted a camera phone for his DSLR. The size and inconvenience of the DSLR is a necessary inconvenience that cannot be replaced by ANY phone camera. I know as far as canon goes – canon made Major announcements in 2011 and 2012 that spurred sales. Their mirrorless has not taken off and there is supposed to be new announcements in 2014. So there is Nothing to spur sales in 2014. The 5DM4, 40+ MP body announcements will be made in 2014 for either release in late 2014 or 2015. I am a cannon buyer and I made purchases in 2011/12 but nothing 2013 and unlikely nothing in 2014 so i makes sense to me. So until canon makes ready new technology sales will be down, besides there are millions of 5D3s/1Dxs recently purchased and that camera will taper off as Raw video becomes a norm for that body and maximize revenues for canon. Photogs have the gear they need for now. To the dumb analysts – bicycle sales wont have an impact on 18 wheeler trucks.

  • markz

    I’m kind of inclined to see it as both market saturation and a fully mature market.

    almost everyone who wants a DSLR has already got one, very few new DSLR’s coming out are significantly better than what they already have and with model to model price drops a thing of the past people who were inclined to buy the latest are seeing less value in doing so.

    The improvements in the last few years have been modest and small compared to the first decade. The absolute overwhelming majority of buyers, maybe 9999 in 10 thousand, are not pros (and probably not even truly “enthusiasts”) so once you’ve gone past 6400ISO 12MP 7fps etc you’re so far out of their “needs” you’re in la la land and even they start to wonder if they need this sales man ju ju pitch.

    The drop in prices as new models come out has levelled out (If you want I can sell you my 2002 EOS D30 … for $3000 … no? my D60 for $2000? no? my 20D for $1500 my 40D for $1300… you get the idea, each has been cheaper but not so much cheaper, and now each new equivalent model is… well … not cheaper than the one before or is de-featured (think the 60D compared to the 40D, no longer a “true” amateur enthusiast camera, more the advanced beginners mode in the line up)

    so I’m seeing a _lot_ of people in that 99.99% of non pro users who are holding on to their units rather than upgrading for specs they don’t need (mine’s almost 5 years old, still does me good) and only replacing when things go wrong.

    and I’m seeing a lot of people enter in to DSLR ownership with hand me downs and second hand units.

    Pro’s will always replace and upgrade regularly for reliability and features, they always have before even in the film days (the companies I worked for in the 80’s & 90’s regularly cycled through Nikon the bullet proof F3’s and F4’s every 3 or 4 years simply to keep them reliable and under warranty/service contract) but the low hanging fruit of the last decade’s new market of amateur/prosumer buyers is basically evolved in to a mature market.

  • herb derbderb

    I came here to say exactly this. Where is the originality Canon??

    Their sales have fallen behind because everyone is seeing the innovation from other manufacturers and waiting for the right specs/price to come along so they can get a new camera that will actually last a while and work for them

  • markz

    you do know that financial analyst reports that are issued as press releases are dumbed down for financial news journalists who then dumb it down for readers – some of whom are journalist or bloggers out side of the financial who then dumb it down for their “not financial news readers”

    so the closest quoted article to the original source Bloomberg gives a multitude of reasons for the drop in canon’s profit expectations, of which the shift from all types of cameras in general towards phones is just one factor (and anyway these are drops in projected increases in sales, they will still make more profit than last year just not as much more as they had hoped)

    as the news came down through all these filters, finally through to a photography blog, any such subtleties have long since departed.

    the second article (the financial post one) comes in closer to your opinion. And in my view comes across as a financial analyst speaking way way out side his field of expertise.
    Straight from line one he puts his foot in his mouth and just keeps shoving it down further and further. Very few camera companies even closely match what he’s talking about, Nikon, Leica, and blad to name the most obvious ducks in that small pond, the rest have not been “camera companies” for years or decades, rather they are diverse manufactures who kind of, sort of just happen to be making cameras some where out on their corporate peripherals (leica camera co. being ironic as they spun off from their diversified corporation in to a purely camera co. at probably just the wrong time).
    Sony, Canon, Olympus, Panasonic, etc ARE software companies that make the hardware it runs on (some of which is cameras) the same sort of companies (Apple, Samsung, HTC etc) he claims are going to kill off camera manufacturers.
    Sadly that’s all to often the kind of Financial news that hits headlines rather than the more considered stuff such as what was in the Bloomberg article

  • think, boy

    not the camera unit. olympus is a big company and cameras are failing for them

  • Lucas

    Most of these produce many things beyond cameras… and gee, do you see that income? It’s reeeeeaaaaaally high, no need for fanboying here…

  • Tagnal

    I agree, if anything, smart phones are introducing photography to tons more people who would have never even thought about trying it. I would think, it has been part of the reason why DSLRs were still growing the last few years.

  • WilbertH

    No surprise to me that smartphones start disrupting camera sales. But in my humble opinion such disruption would start at the lower end of the camera range, not. the higher end (ILC and DSL-R).

  • Daniel Hughes

    if canon introduced 120fps or higher into a new DSLR. sales would increase 10-15 percent instead of decline. but i dont see canon being the first one to do it. :(

  • Pennypincher

    I’m still using my 2009 T1i. It ain’t broke, so I ain’t fixin it.

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