Report Claims Only Nikon, Canon and Sony Will Survive the Smartphone Revolution


The camera industry is turning into a two-tier market, with Canon, Nikon and Sony DSLRs at the top, smartphones at the bottom and nothing in the middle, according to a recent Reuters report that finds little traction for mid-tier camera makers counting on mirrorless to save the day.

Panasonic, Fujifilm and Olympus are all losing money on cameras, according to the report, and don’t have any immediate prospects of turning that around as global mirrorless sales stagnate and the market for compact camera evaporates at an alarming pace.

“If you look mid-to-long term, digital camera makers are slipping and the market is becoming an oligopoly,” Credit Suisse imaging analyst Yu Yoshida told Reuters. “Only those who have a strong brand and are competitive on price will last — and only Canon, Nikon and Sony fulfill that criteria.”

panasonicl1Some numbers:

  • Global sales of compact cameras are expected to fall 40 percent this year to 59 million units.
  • Panasonic camera sales dropped 40 percent just in the period from April to September 2013.
  • Mirrorless has only really caught on in Japan, where it accounts for 36 percent of shipments of interchangeable-lens cameras. By comparison, mirrorless market share is a paltry 10.5 and 11.2 percent in the U.S. and Europe, respectively.
  • Mirrorless sales in the U.S. dropped 20 percent during the holiday shopping season, while DSLR sales climbed 1 percent.

Analysts say Canon and Nikon can get by on advanced camera sales. Otherwise, the prize will go to the camera maker that comes up with a bridge between the image quality of advanced cameras and the connectivity (easy Instagram and Facebook uploads) of smartphones.

According to the report, Sony is the only one to make a mark there with its surprisingly in-demand line of QX lens/camera thingies.

(via Chicago Tribune/Reuters)

  • Sky

    Not gonna happens, sorry. And what you said got nothing to deal with how market shapes.

    People want DSLRs, especially people in low-end market where DSLRs give them a huge choice of cheap, used gear and lenses.

    Prepare to be suprised if mirrorless will be vanquished in ~10 years. Or at least pushed down to 4-5% niche (which is very realistic considering current speed of decrease in demand for mirrorless everywhere around the world aside from Asia).

    Be rational, stop looking through fanboy perspective, take a wide look on what’s really happening on a market.

  • Sky

    Patience of corporations to non-essential buisnesses loosing money is limited.

    Still though – fuji at least got some passionate people about photography in their company – IMHO the first one to dump their mirrorless system will be Samsung followed by Ricoh.

    Last one propably will be Panasonic unless they go bankrupt earlier than expected.

  • Sky

    Sony Imaging is loosing money for years, but that’s mostly because of huge drop in compacts where Sony was (and still is) a huge power.

    We don’t know how (and if at all) profitable their mirrorless system is – only part of Sony Imaging that does generate stable income and we know about that is their A-mount system.

    But whole of their Imaging division generates income for Sony Semiconductors – right now one of their most profitable divisions – so in the end it’s much more complex than you might think.

  • Sky

    No, Andy is just plain wrong.
    Don’t get fooled by people who can’t face reality they don’t like.

  • Oj0

    Sony Alpha 7R?

  • Sky

    1. Wrong, mirrorless sales in Europe went down ~40% year-to-year during xmas season, where they usually climb up.
    Mirrorless also never got a grip on markets in south america, africa, or australia. Article is 100% correct – mirrorless workes only in Asia (especially south korea and japan)

    2. Compact market is far from being dead. There’s more compacts sold every month than mirrorless every year. Even Sony who suffered most from decline in P&S market sells more of the RX-series compacts alone than all of the E-mount mirrorless cameras.

    3. Only mirrorless does it wrong. Their not what people want, and no amount of flashy lights and gimmicks will change that

    3(b?). This analysis is better than yours. Author never said what you imply. DSLRs already become progressively more advanced on low-end market, just look at Canon – no successor to 1100D, 70D is nearly as advanced as 7D – everything goes one step up.
    And as for QX – you call it a Joke, for Sony meanwhile it was the best release of a year, easily outmatching any mirrorless camera they pushed out, or heck – it even outsold any RX-series camera when it comes to amount of preorders and sales in the first month.
    Tbc. /s.

  • Sky

    4. Economic crysis hit everyone, but mirrorless most, because people are unwilling to experiment with new kinds of toys when they’re looking at spending their money in most efficient way – and whatever you say: right now with these prices mirrorless are least efficient way to spend money of all out there.
    Yes, term mirrorless does apply to different kinds of cameras, but guess what? In people’s mind mirrorless is something like NEX3/5 or PEN. Nothing more. You know what was Sony’s biggest fail on mirrorless market? A3000, a mirrorless that pretended to be DSLR, only it wasn’t a DSLR nor used DSLR lenses. So calling mirrorless as something that can be shaped in any form is rather foolish

    As for the end – don’t accuse Petapixel for anti-mirrorless attitude, cause next to dPreview they’re one of most pro-mirrorless websites I know of – seeing some more realistic article about mirrorless market on Petapixel is a huge suprise for me (I don’t know – mirrorless guard went on holidays?). And this article doesn’t set the “bad mindset” – it just describes what’s going on the market and how future trends might shape based on the numbers we see.

  • Sky

    No glass for it.

  • Sky

    Semiconductors is just one branch of a huge corporation that Sony is. One of the smaller branches actually (yes – they’re THAT big). It’s not enough to compensate for all the other losses (especially: compacts and TVs).

  • Walter

    Correction: Samsung sells cheaper products that has good-enough quality. Sony products are still the premium. Most people don’t worry about that premium though unless you count the Apple peeps. Most of which appear to be more worried about the status the product affords them.

  • frod

    do these guys even register in tenths of a percentage of the market? They are basically irrelevant in the context of the article, hence why they were not discussed.

  • Oj0

    How fast do you want to go? There’s an E-mount 50mm f/1.8

  • Oj0

    The article talks about cameras in general, I’m just pointing out that there are more companies out there than just the big consumer companies, and that they will be completely unaffected by smartphones.

  • John

    The winner will be the one who’s the first starting to sell full frame cameras at consumer prices, even with stripped features, fixed lenses, mirrorless, this will be a very important step for the one who’s aiming at market domination…

  • uaio

    Though I don’t completely believe Reuters forecast, I will quote “”Only those who have a strong brand and are competitive on price will last — and only Canon, Nikon and Sony fulfill that criteria.” -So, this is about who will remain alive. These survivors could engulf all kind of camera production including mirrorless and some bridge cameras. If even only to fill the empty holes whille competing among each other.

  • David

    I work as a rep for one of the two big brands mentioned. In the location where I am deployed the other has a rep there too. In addition there is a Samsung rep there, Samsung totally dominates sales of the point and shoots and advanced point and shoots. The main reason for this is their connectivity, and one of the selling points is the whole facebook/social media bit, and to an extent brand loyalty – one customer in particular went for the whole hog – “upgraded” to a Samsung smart TV, with the works and went for the NX that is currently on offer with a Samsung Tablet. . . Shiney Kit Syndrome. . .

  • Iowill

    Some technology is transformational. But ALL technology is transitional.
    Camera bodies have always been transitional. Good glass has been a far more stable constant. “Systems” have always relied upon the “brand.” Always.

    When the “market” for images becomes democratized via access and inexpensive, transitional devices (smartphone), then R & D has to focus on serious market segments willing to underwrite anything actually better than what we have already, or the larger market for lower end has to support the more narrowcast upper market. Kodak and others showed that cheaper, accessible cameras drove the market for images everyone could create and archive or dispose.

    Compare the sales numbers of smartphones with cameras on them to any and all camera sales combined. That should suggest what is driving the larger share of ROI in the consumer market.

    How many people actually print a significant % of their images?
    How many view them on devices that have some form of camera built-in, if only useable for Skype?
    That should reveal a trend long building in this market.

    I used to work as a type setter. Then Postscript fonts, laser printers, and page lay-out software developed alongside WYSIWYG displays. And the general public thought it a lovely miracle that they could now produce something that looked better than a typed page or a mimeo machine repro, but this stuff to anyone in the trade looked like the dog’s lunch or a POS. A small market for quality typesetting and even hand-set, handpress editions exists. Same with quality “art prints” of photos. But over 90% of images are viewed on small screens at less than optimal or “real” resolution.

    Bodies come and go. Good glass lasts. The best camera is the one in your hand.
    Which of these maxims is being debunked by this report?

  • Lucas Hoffmann

    Well, glad they never mention Pentax in these articles, I’d be screwed! Haha!

  • Sterling

    The hordes of consumers that bought D3200 kits during the holiday season don’t know (and don’t care) what full frame is. Consumers will not rush out to buy a stripped FF mirrorless body as long as they can get a complete DSLR kit for less. They would more likely rush to buy a cheap D3XXX that would easily connect to Facebook.

  • Samsung makes an amazing CSC

    I’ve owned multiple DSLRs and just recently bought a Samsung NX300….hands down best CSC in the world right now.

  • svarduhl

    And what’s the solution? Both Canon & Nikon don’t make smartphones. Perhaps Apple will soon come with a new DSLR.

  • ripley

    So I guess my Pentax DSLR will become an awesome retro collectable in a few years time.

  • John Foote

    And from your double post and personal attack, I’d say your opinion is not very credible.

  • John Foote

    Ricoh has purchased them

  • Sky

    Yea, that doesn’t qualify for “ultra fast glass” in any possible way.

  • sirmo

    “People want DSLRs, especially people in low-end market where DSLRs give them a huge choice of cheap, used gear and lenses.”

    You do realize that you can use way more legacy lenses on mirrorless systems like m4/3. Due to short flange distance between the optics and the sensor in the design of m4/3 you can mount old Nikon, or Olympus lenses on the cameras.

  • Fed Up with weirdos like you

    i didn’t double post
    ..the website did…thank you very much

  • Fed Up with weirdos like you

    well…like most psychopaths….i have a very high IQ…and…can hold my own against someone like you for …forever. But seriously….I AM very passionate about photography..believe it.

  • Fed Up with weirdos like you

    sooo….I am ‘anonymous’….i don’t see YOUR name/address/email/phone number listed above… :-)

  • Fed Up with weirdos like you

    Olympus is not going anywhere….this article seems to have been influenced by any number of sources. Think of them as the “Chrysler” of the camera world….FIAT will but them and continue production….or…maybe Nabisco…but not to worry.

  • Fed Up with weirdos like you

    Olympus has always done small cameras very well. A vintage XA is still a marvel to use.

  • Fed Up with weirdos like you

    and Jimmy…you may need to change your ‘handle’…’tonyl’…whoever or whatever that is ..wants everyone to stop hiding behind assumed names. HAH

  • Lucas Hoffmann

    Yes, I know that, yet they also do not mention Ricoh in this article. It was a joke.

  • John Foote

    OK, so the double post doesn’t count. But the personal attack doesn’t gain you credibility. Fake Name? -1

  • DutchS

    Give me a digital camera with a true infinity setting, and zero wait time to take the picture. I like my electronics stupid. Once I focus, I expect the camera to use that setting, not say “oops, I think I can do better,” which often happens. I’m tired of trying to guess what brand of idiot the manufacturer is catering to, where I have to guess where some feature is located instead of where it should logically be located.

  • Guest

    >Nikon have started to diversify in to industrial imaging.
    If by started you mean “several decades ago.” They’re one of the largest suppliers of steppers for the semiconductor industry and have have been making industrial inspection and medical optics for years and years.

  • Oj0

    Again, define ultra fast. When people refer to f/2.8 and f/3.5 as fast, I’d say a full stop or more faster is ultra fast.

  • deadlock

    I don’t think the doom predictions were realistic or even necessary but as a new generation of people comes in they will gradually choose the more modern mirrorless concept over DSLR. The question is, as you point out – will the companies survive in the meantime?

  • photographer 1234567890

    The E mount 50 f/1.8 is not a full frame lens. All Sony E mount lenses are specifically designed for APSc only. To have the image circle fill the 2.25X larger sensor area of a full frame a7/r you need to use an FE mount lens. Currently there are only a few slow zooms and two primes available that are FE: The 35 f/2.8 and the 55 f/1.8. None have a stabilizer (except the slow zooms).

    Most people are using other full frame lenses on the Sony a7/r with adapters as fully manual lenses. With focus peaking to aid in manual focus.

  • photographer 1234567890

    As an Apple lover I firmly stand to correct your misunderstood notion: I love Apple because it does what I want it to do with the minimum of fuss. That is their market; people who like easy and fun to use products, that just works!

  • photographer 1234567890

    Just because sales dipped in the mirrorless does not mean it will not rebound! If Sony smartened up and came out with lots of lenses, or Canon or Nikon came out with a full frame mirrorless that used all their lenses it could easily bounce back. One thing is for sure: These companies are in it for the long haul and do not base their long term planning on the fickleness of the trends. They set trends! They are just a bit slow in responding, that is all.

  • photographer 1234567890

    In the past there has been way too much arrogance with these Japanese companies who have a monopoly in the camera field. The market is and will continue to drop, and hopefully they will streamline their products and come out with more affordable options. Business adapt.

    All of these companies have to stop being so greedy if they want to sell cameras. Which means to provide the options people want, and not scaled down versions, hoping to sell you more later. Kudos to Apple for the great cameras in their iphones. Samsung too.

    Canon’s ads last holiday season that addressed the issue of showing others with cell phones and then asked: “Why bother with a Canon SLR?” And then answered their question with: “Because it matters”! To whom does it matter and why? This just shows how out of touch and dated their marketing is!

    The other thing that is hurting their sales (aside from the fact that a decent cell phone now takes a decent picture) is the practise of selling cameras with crapy kit lenses and assuming that if you were not happy with the pictures you’d complain to your local camera store who would then sell you another lens. These days if the camera does not take a good picture people return the camera and stick with their phones. Game over.

    Olympus is a good example of this. They have lots of excellent primes, and now an excellent 12-40 (24-80 equivalent) f/2.8 zoom, but they sell their cameras with the super crapy 14-42 f/3.5-5.6, or the average 12-50 f/3.5-6.3 kit lenses. People see boring IQ and are turned off. Game over.

    Back in the day all cameras where sold either body only or with a decent 50mm fast prime lens. That way people were happy with the IQ, and bought more lenses for versatility. The policy of selling the camera (and in many cases there is no body only option) with crapy kit lenses is simply greed from a long go era of excesses. When these companies start kiting their cameras with decent lenses; perhaps two options for similar prices, one with a decent prime and one with a decent zoom, they can get back into the game.

    Only by offering good value and not holding back on features (so you do not need multiple camera bodies to get all the features you need – which people are not willing to go for) will these camera companies survive. It will happen, the market will cause them to rethink their strategy. It may take a lot more loss of revenue until they smarten up, but in time the market will dictate and the companies will respond. It might take a few more years of plunging sales, along with better and better cameras in cell phones and tablets for them to respond, but they will. That is one of the strengths of the free market system!

  • Walter

    I won’t deny that Apple products has a certain stability that isn’t easily matched by other manufacturers, but the cost seems to be a very limited scope that they allow a user to play with. I do appreciate the premium look and feel of the Apple products, but I can’t help but be extremely irritated by the restrictive nature of their software. I was generalising when I made my “status statement”, but it would be naive to think that a lot of Apple users don’t primarily buy Apple products because of the implied status that it symbolises.

  • photographer 1234567890

    I have spent enough time around other Apple people and the Apple store in the mall, therefore from experience and observation I can say that people who buy Apple generally could not care one hoot about “status”, they buy it for the features, easy of use, quality of the product, stability of the OS and the excellent customer service.

    This is one area that Sony and Panasonic could learn from. The consumer today demands good customer service, and without that they do not have confidence to buy the product; regardless of the “name” or “brand recognition” behind it. Since the big economic slow down the landscape of the market has changed and the big electronics companies haven’t got it yet. This is partially why Canon and Nikon will continue to dominate the market; they have the best (not perfect, but the best that is available) customer service!

    Also re Apple: If you look at how much included software comes with it (a huge amount), it is not that much more money than a PC that comes with no software!

  • photographer 1234567890

    It is “hands down best CSC” in your world right now!

    Any new camera will far exceed any camera from a few years ago. Digital technology has improved a lot in the last few years. So yes you are happy, good for you. Until a person compares, in their own hands, all the current models, there is no way to honestly know what is the “best” at anything!

  • photographer 1234567890

    Currently all the camera companies are Japanese. They have a collective monopoly. That is why you cannot get any one camera to have all the features, as if to force you to buy multiple cameras. Many people just stick with their cell phones because of this segmentation.

    There has been rumours for some time that Samsung and Samyang (both Korean companies) will team up, Samsung’s biggest weakness is lack of lenses. Samyang make great (but heavy) manual focus lenses. Put them together, with lighter weight materials and dedicated AF lenses, and finally we will have some non-Japanese competition! Plus Apple could jump in too, (and hopefully made in USA or Canada / USA partnership – Leica use to make lenses in Canada – ) then we’d really see some competition!

  • Walter

    Having used a few Apple products myself, I agree that some things work without fuss, anybody that has ever tried using an mp3 as a custom ringtone on one of their phones will tell you though, a lot of the silly limitations they put on their products cause more fuss than with any other brand.