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What Amazon’s Most Wished For Cameras Tell Us About the Industry

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There are all sorts of statistics we can look up to tell us how the photography industry is doing and whether or not smartphones really are going to steamroll the market (spoiler alert: it’s not as bad as some make it out to be). One source of information that probably doesn’t cross your mind, however, is Amazon’s Most Wished For lists.

Where statistics on cameras shipped give us an idea of what the companies want, Amazon’s list gives us a glimpse of what the customers want, which might just be a good indicator of how the big players in the industry are really doing.

This idea struck me as I was browsing Amazon’s Most Wished for Lists a few days ago and noticed that, at least where consumer cameras are concerned, the big two are struggling. To anybody familiar with the photo industry, this is common sense, but here was a source of information that tells us exactly what consumers are “wishing” for — and it clearly shows that, for once, they aren’t wishing for the newest thing.

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In fact, the number one most wished for DSLR (and camera overall for that matter) is the Canon T3i, followed in second place (and third place overall) by the T3. Nikon, likewise, made the DSLR list at number 3 (overall at number 7) with the D5100. It’s sad confirmation that the big two haven’t managed to entice consumers for two whole generations.

The T5i didn’t rank on the DSLR list until number 17, and the D5300 made the list all the way down at number 29. By comparison, in May of 2010, the then very new T2i came in at number 2. And although we couldn’t find where the D5000 ranked that year, the D3000 (which was about to be replaced in August) still ranked 3rd.

Of course, it’s not all gloom and doom. The SL1 makes the DSLR list at number 4 (14 overall) and the 70D takes number 7. But that just further proves my point: the companies do well when they innovate. The SL1′s size was a big deal when it debuted, and the 70D’s dual pixel AF made quite a stir. How much does the T5i have to recommend it over the T4i… or the T3i for that matter?

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So yes, the big two rule this list. In fact you have to go all the way back to number 27 to see another company’s DSLR on the list (the Sony A3000). But how much longer will that last? How much longer can the big two ignore the consumer market before mirrorless cameras begin to steal their thunder in earnest?

Maybe they have given up, deciding to focus on full-frame and prosumer grade APS-Cs when it comes to DSLRs — but if they haven’t, the time has come to innovate.


 
  • http://www.sin3rgy-creative.com/ David Liang

    It’s not entirely about innovation. If that were true Sony’s A7s, QX-10/QX100s etc. would be up there as well. You couldn’t find more innovative camera’s if basing on pure product differentials and features.
    Clearly consumers are wise enough to weigh cost/benefit differences between models, it’s no coincidence the cameras on both wishlists are sub $500 cameras, with exception to the mk3. Clearly price is a huge factor as well. If the T3i and the T5 were within $50 of each other in cost there no reason to believe the T5 would not be the preferred product.

    It’s not just about innovating it’s also striking a balance with pricing.

  • 5345234534

    they don´t ignore the user wishes.. you said it yourself that´s what users whish for.. it´s a “whislist”.
    stupid bloggers….. you realy get nothing right are you?.. high school dropouts all together.
    and yes im not native english speaking so what?
    grammar nazis save your breath .. i speak 4 languages.. not only one like you public school loosers.

  • Skyb

    A3000 is not a DSLR, even though Sony did everything to fool people. It’s not even using a DSLR bayonet, so you have evry limited choice of lenses. It’s an E-mount mirrorless.

    And the fact that you found it there is rather suprising considering that it’s one of Sony worst selling cameras.

  • Eli Snook

    Maybe because the T3i is pushed into the consumers faces on every black friday add. Walmart, Bestbuy, Target, etc.. all try to push that camera off, most consumers don’t know that it’s a few generations old, they just see it’s a SLR for about $400.

  • Scott B.

    It’s about price, not innovation. Plain and simple. Most of these consumers are looking to step up from their mobile phone cameras and the appeal of a DSLR is responsiveness, lens choices, and ease of operation, not necessarily image quality. That makes cameras that are a generation or two old more appealing because they meet most consumer’s needs at a lower price. Those banging the drum for more mirrorless innovation don’t seem to comprehend the desire for an OPTICAL viewfinder. Holding a smaller camera out at arms length to view the LCD just makes it a glorified point-and-shoot, no matter how great the image quality is.

  • Renato Murakami

    I’d advise the author and everyone who’s reading the post not to take Amazon wishlist too seriously.
    Though those are good points about the staleness of some models, price points adequate to them and the importance of innovation. And it might just be proven on other stores and websites too… would be interesting to crosscheck with B&H and Adorama sales numbers and whatnot for instance.
    But Amazon’s wishlist more often than not is a mess of random stuff. I’d consider that there are probably tons of lists there that are outdated when compared to what those people really want. It’s often used as a bookmark list of sorts, reminders, and other stuff that doesn’t always translate to “what the user is willing to buy”.
    I’d totally agree though that if Nikon and Canon keeps releasing new cameras with slight incremental upgrades, there’s a big risk in the near future of an increasing number of people going for other brands.
    Not that brand isn’t important at all, but if there’s some product line of relatively expensive price in which brand name has less value than usual, it’s electronics and gadgets.

  • Maay

    Another chart that tells me the GoPro sells really well for a rather high price. Good for GoPro to be able to make such reasonable margin on a market segment where most players are making razor thin margins.

  • Rob S

    Well my wish list has no cameras because last year I got both!!!

    Love my Pentax K-5 and K-01 so much I saw no need to put a K-3 on this year.

    :)

  • Sir Stewart Wallace

    Things I think are missing here… The fact that many people don’t update the gear on their Amazon Wishlist. Or so it would seem. I know I need to update mine. The few people I talk to that actually have an Amazon wishlist haven’t seemed to update theirs in quite a while as well. So, perhaps it’s just that many of these lists are outdated.

  • Yoda

    Maybe it’s high on the wish list because nobody can afford it at this price. Everybody wants it but it’s just too expensive…so it goes on the wish list.

  • http://islandinthenet.com/ Khürt L. Williams

    Is this US data only? Compact systems cameras (mirror-less) is more popular in Japan and I think the Amazon data must be different there.

  • Yoda

    Wait.. something’s amiss here. The author is drawing conclusions we all know are more or less true, namely the “Big two’s” unwillingness (or inability) to compete in the mirrorless category, which seems to be the future. But the data is just not backing the claims. Where are the mirrorless cameras in the wish list ? The “Big two” are dominating it. So where exactly are the conclusions coming from ?

    The problem is of course that older Canon-Nikon cameras are higher ranked than their newer ones. As others have noted, this is probably just because people aren’t using wish lists as often anymore.

  • http://islandinthenet.com/ Khürt L. Williams

    “Those banging the drum for more mirrorless innovation don’t seem to comprehend the desire for an OPTICAL viewfinder.”

    My experience says otherwise. Almost everyone I know who stepped up to a DSLR came to me to ask one question after purchase. “How do I see the picture on the backscreen while I am taking the picture.” None of them used the view finder. They use the DSLR like a very large point-n-shoot cameras.

  • http://islandinthenet.com/ Khürt L. Williams

    Wise, you are.

  • Yoda

    This is no sales or syrveyed “popularity” data. It’s just an aggregation from wish lists. Certain factors need to be accounted for here, such as price for one: A more expensive item has a higher possibility of being added on a wish list I would presume, as cheaper items can just be bought more easily (no need to add on a wish list).

  • Emma

    I think that’s a really good point, the points made in the article are only really relevant if you count on the fact that every amazon user keeps their wishlist updated regularly. Older cameras on the list have had a longer period of time for random users to add them to a wishlist and forget to update it.

  • DLCade

    Hello everybody! Since everyone has brought up such great points I thought I’d address some of the questions being brought up and chime in with my followup opinions. I’ll try and take these one at a time:

    Concerns:

    1)The Wishlists aren’t updated often:

    I don’t believe this significantly affects the data, although it might be a factor. As proof of this I offer two things: one, in May of 2010 the T2i had only been out for three months and it was already at number 2, and two, the most wished for CSC list (http://www.amazon.com/gp/most-wished-for/electronics/3109924011/ref=zg_mw_nav_e_3_281052) is topped by new and innovative products. In fact, the a7R, which was number 2 when I checked the CSC list yesterday, is already up to number one today.

    2)It’s price, not innovation, that is driving the list order

    I have no doubt price plays a part, and I don’t pretend the data is a perfect indicator of my point. But I think the two go hand in hand. Yes, less expensive cameras will be more tempting for consumers to ‘wish’ for, but only because of the value they are getting for the money. If the T4i or T5i justified the price difference with great new features, I think they would be at the top of the DSLR list. Of course, as David Liang pointed out, if the the T3i and T5i were within $50 of each other the 5 would sell better… that just proves my point. $50 is about the justifiable price difference between the two cameras, NOT a couple hundred.

    Someone also mentioned that people are more likely to wish for more expensive things and just buy the cheaper ones, but I don’t think the data corroborates this (except maybe with the a7R) and it goes directly against the point made above that cheaper price drives the list order.

    3)Who is this data for exactly?

    It was my mistake not to make this clearer. This data is for Amazon.com, so mainly the US. Since Amazon has sites specific to just about every country, those lists are different (for example, here is the one for the UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/most-wished-for/electronics/560836/ref=zg_mw_nav_ce_2_560834)

    Sorry if I missed any major points, but those were the ones I noticed. Obviously this data isn’t perfect and should be taken with a grain of salt. There are other factors at play other than innovation. Although the CSC list looks very updated, you have to dive all the way down into the 60′s to find the top CSC camera on the most wished for digital cameras list, because in the US mirrorless cameras just haven’t caught on like they have in Asia.

    But I think the basic point still stands. In 2010, people were willing to go for the newest Canon and Nikon DSLRs because they had features worth going for. They’re still willing to put cameras like the D70 and SL1 nearer the top because they’ve got something to recommend them. Price plays a part, but if the price was justified, I just don’t think that the T3i and T3 would hold the number 1 and 3 spots.

    Of course, that’s just one opinion. The whole point of this article was to introduce a data set that I don’t believe is often looked at and spark some conversation about it. So please, continue the conversation and feel free to point out anything I might have missed!

    -DL Cade
    News Editor

  • Alan Klughammer

    Then that is just sad…
    I wonder if those same people are frustrated that they can’t play “Angry Birds” on the back screen…

  • gochugogi

    I love my my two ILC but they’re too small for my hands so I use my DSLRs for serious shooting. I don’t how Japanese avoid poking themselves in the eye while changing settings in the heat of shooting.

  • http://islandinthenet.com/ Khürt L. Williams

    I’m sure the Japanese photographers aren’t poking themselves in the eye. It seems that you’ve defined serious photography to mean “using large expensive camera and lenses”. I’m so sorry for you.

  • http://islandinthenet.com/ Khürt L. Williams

    ar·ro·gance noun ˈer-ə-gən(t)s, ˈa-rə-
    : an insulting way of thinking or behaving that comes from believing that you are better, smarter, or more important than other people

  • European

    Hi there.
    Nice post but I think it would be convenient to use both Canon’s model identifiers for the EOS-cameras on your blog. I’m from Europe and T2i Rebel T3i T4i T9 whatever sounds like Chinese to me.

    Like T3 (600D) or something like that.
    Never understood that difference in naming convention in the first place btw…

  • Kynikos

    Who would wish for a QX10/QX100?
    In theory, they’re barely proofs of concept.
    In practice, they’re complete pieces of crap.

  • Alan Klughammer

    One of the biggest advantages of a DSLR is the viewfinder. If someone has purchased a camera that is more expensive and more advanced than they need, then they either want to show off, or they were given bad advice. I am not saying that people can’t, or shouldn’t buy whatever camera they want, but many people purchase cameras/computers/cars that someone told them is best, only to find that it is not what they really want.
    Live view is great for many situations, but holding the camera at arms length is inherently less stable than pressing it to your eye.
    Maybe I was a bit harsh, but I stand by my statement, more with pity than arrogance.

    PS I do have over 20 years, on and off, of experience in photographic retail. I have talked to many people about cameras and photography. My experience is that when you show someone how to use the camera, they are very happy. Generally, the ones who ask about using the back screen to take pictures would be much better with a point and shoot.

  • gochugogi

    They’re called the “Kiss” in Japan. Should keep it simple and spread a little hot lips around the world!

  • Sky

    Mirrorless are not a future. Not with sales dropping at the current speed. They’ll remain niche cameras, pretty much like rangefinders did during a film era.

  • Dani Riot

    this list doesn’t really show the state of the industry, just a general state of photography. These statistics don’t just show what professionals are buying, but every person with a camera. You could liken the same results to the sales figures of the choices of guitars bought in the last year, there will be thousands and thousands of epiphone and squire budget end sales, made up of children, students and people who are aspiring to become rich and famous. but the gibson and fender sales, bought by the already rich and famous would be lower in numbers shipped, but higher in money gained.

    Everyone still gets hung up on the fact that photography is also a hobby to more people than the ones who can and do make a living out of it, it’s a bug bear people shout about that you don’t really see anywhere else, and it just makes us look petty.

    You don’t see Gibson and Fender complain that their budget ranges (epiphone and squire respectively) sell so well in comparison, or football teams complain about the number of footballs bought for children… and so on.

    Sure the manufacturers are going to innovate to pick up more of the amateur market because that is where a lot of the money is. The industry cannot keep up this thought that everything should be made for the professional. It is this thinking that will kill the industry.

    The money that Canon and Nikon make selling their point and shoots and rebels, is what is funding their research and development of bigger sensors and faster glass for the more elitist market.

  • http://islandinthenet.com/ Khürt L. Williams

    “.. they were given bad advice.” Most likely, yes. Usually from a photographer who thinks only DSLRs are “real cameras”.

    In my experience it’s the skill level of the photogapher that makes the difference. Not the tool being used.

    I think it’s better to embrace what’s new and discover what it can and can not do — within the limits of personal skill — than make blanket assumptions about what a “real” camera is or isn’t.

    It’s NOT about the equipment. It’s about producing art. And if a photographer’s skill level allows him/her to produce art with a non-DSLR then I’m rather appreciate the art.

    “Generally, the ones who ask about using the back screen to take pictures would be much better with a point and shoot.”

    Maybe. And maybe they just are comfortable doing it that way until they learn. If we gently encourage — instead of belittling — these people to use the viewfinder we may create a new lover of photography. I know from experience this is how my niece discovered her talent.

    I look at photographer like Trey Ratcliff producing excellent art with his Sony’s and I know that the equipment is only part of the equation.

  • http://www.SocialMore.com roxics

    Can you blame anyone? The T3i is a solid performer for both stills and video. It’s the cheapest of the bunch with a flip out screen. It’s also a Canon, so big name and lots of lens choices.

    If I only had $500-600 to spend on a brand new DSLR, that would be my choice too. But I usually buy my gear used and as a result get better gear for the same prices as something new. Most consumers seem to avoid used. Every time I tell my friends to buy a used camera, they hem and haw like I’m suggesting they buy used underwear or something.

  • Steve P.

    This provides a glimpse of what American customers may want.
    It is Amazon’s most wished for camera list – in America.
    America is not the world.

  • Marc

    I agree – the T3i is a fine camera, although I did skip that iteration. When my Canon T2i was stolen I jumped on a hot deal at B&H on the T4i, which is an improvement over the 3. I am an advanced amateur and am working my skills up to a D series, I hope. I think price drives a lot of the decision making. Name/brand and quality, too. If you are a rank amateur or professional, shoot with what you like/want. The only person you have to please is yourself.

  • adimauro

    I think David got it exactly right about pricing. After the T3i canon bumped the price up considerably. I’m still on the T2i for exactly that reason. I would much rather save up for a full frame camera than spend so much money on the T5i that has some nice features, but overall isn’t that different from the T2i/T3i, other than video and a major bump up in price.