Smartphones are taking huge bites out of the compact camera market. A recent study by market research company NPD found that the percent of photographs taken with a smartphone has increased from 17% to 27% over the past year, while the share of photos taken with a dedicated camera has dropped from 52% to 44%. Senior imaging analyst Liz Cutting says,
There is no doubt that the smartphone is becoming ‘good enough’ much of the time; but thanks to mobile phones, more pictures are being taken than ever before. Consumers who use their mobile phones to take pictures and video were more likely to do so instead of their camera when capturing spontaneous moments, but for important events, single purpose cameras or camcorders are still largely the device of choice.
The point-and-shoot camera market is taking the brunt of the damage: during the first 11 months of 2011, the market lost 17% in units sold and 18% in revenue.
Japanese business newspaper Nikkei reported yesterday that Nikon is on the cusp of announcing its entry into the mirrorless camera market. What’s more, the paper stated that the camera would cost between ¥70,000-¥100,000 ($900-$1,300), a pretty common price point for this type of camera (though it may be somewhat high if the camera only packs a 2.7x sensor). In response, Nikon put out a strange press release titled “Comments on Media Reports about Nikon’s imaging product”:
Nikon understands that some article appeared in the media regarding Nikon’s imaging product. Please note that Nikon has made no announcement in this regards.
Nikon’s stock price has jumped roughly 6% since Wednesday. The latest word is that the camera is scheduled to be unveiled on September 21st. Unless Canon has something crazy up its sleeves, it looks like Nikon has beaten it to the mirrorless game.
Bloomberg reports that Canon and Nikon’s failure thus far to enter the mirrorless camera market has allowed Sony to eat into their combined market share — at least in Japan:
Canon and Nikon’s combined share of the Japanese market [for interchangeable lens cameras] has fallen by 35 percent, while Sony’s share has doubled
“Mirrorless cameras are a threat,” said David Rubenstein, a Tokyo-based analyst […] “If the western geographies follow the same pattern as Asia, then it will be negative for Nikon and Canon.”
“In the long run, Canon and Nikon will have to enter the market,” said Hideki Yasuda, a Tokyo-based analyst […] “Still, it won’t be too late for them to enter the market after mirrorless cameras become a global trend.”
Although mirrorless cameras are becoming all the rage in Japan, its adoption outside the country is much slower. Canon still owns a 45% share of the global SLR market, while Nikon remains at 30%. Canon also earned $1.5 billion in profit from selling SLRs last year, four times the profit generated by its compact cameras. SLR cameras and lenses were also Nikon’s biggest moneymaker.
Poke around on Craigslist, and you’ll find that it’s filled with ads selling professional services at dirt-cheap prices, including photographers offering to shoot weddings for just a few hundred dollars. Does this spell doom for the wedding photography business? Probably not.
Well yesterday [a friend] called me and I could tell he was kind of upset. I asked what was wrong and he said “Jeff, do you know what they are charging for weddings on Craigslist? How can I compete with a $300 wedding?” I told him flat out that he can’t, nor should he. It took me a few minutes to get through to him but when I did, he finally saw the light. I asked him if he thought that the people that were hiring a $300 wedding photographer would pay $2500 for the same service. Probably not. That’s means that he isn’t really competing for those customers. His customer is the one that recognizes the value of a true professional that will deliver professional results. Get that? The key word here is professional.
His point is that you shouldn’t be competing on price, but on quality. Focus on that, and you’ll be targeting a different segment of the market.
Japanese electronics giant Pioneer is dipping its toes in the digital camera industry. It has partnered with camera maker Asia Optical to make Pioneer branded cameras in Brazil to sell in the Chinese market. The company aims to have sales of half a million units by 2015. Up to this point, the company had focused on things like car audio systems, television, and DVD players. It’ll be interesting to see if Pioneer can find a foothold and steal some market share from the big players.
People seem to be having a hard time swallowing the idea that Nikon could do well if their upcoming mirrorless camera only packs a 2.7x crop sensor, but Thom Hogan argues that there’s a logical “hole” in the market that Nikon could be the first to fill:
So how much change does it take to make a real difference that gets noticed? The number 1.4 is meaningful in photography in so many ways. Turns out, that something around that number makes a lot of sense for capture size change, too. Each 1.4x change doubles the area of light captured. Hmm, that sounds an awful like a “stop.” […] So if we were to make cameras about a stop apart, what would we get: a progression close to MF, FX, DX, m4/3, and whatever Nikon calls their 2.7x product.
[…] all this discussion that a 2.7x size choice is irrational is incorrect, IMHO. Having three very different choices with clearly different and increasing performance at each size is on its face a rational decision. If Nikon can deliver a stop+ better performance than the best compact camera but keep the overall size close, that represents a gain to photographers.
Though there does appear to be a “hole” in the sensor size progression of existing cameras in the market, whether anyone actually wants a 2.7x sensor remains to be seen — especially as MFT cameras get smaller and smaller.
A study conducted by market research firm J.D. Power and Associates has found that “Nikon Pro Series” DSLRs rank highest in customer satisfaction. The company surveyed 4,500 verified online DSLR buyers to find out their satisfaction across five factors: image quality, durability, features, ease of use, and responsiveness.
The Nikon Pro Series ranks highest in online buyer satisfaction with a score of 914. The Nikon Pro Series performs particularly well in shutter speed/lag time, durability and reliability and ease of operation. The Canon Mark-Series follows in the rankings with a score of 909, and performs particularly well in performance and picture quality. The Canon D-Series and Nikon D-Series rank third in a tie, each with a score of 889.
Overall, customers were most satisfied with image quality but least satisfied with durability and responsiveness. Read more…
CNBC ran this short segment a couple days ago in which they invited CNET’s Dan Ackerman to explain the changing landscape in the digital camera industry. He thinks point-and-shoot cameras may soon become extinct due to the rise of camera-equipped phones, but also that DSLRs are the cameras here to stay. A recent study found that phones have replaced digital cameras completely for 44% of consumers, and that number seems bound to rise as the cameras on phones continue to improve.
My guess is that in five years, we’ll see digital camera users divided into three camps: mobile phone, interchangeable lens compact, and DSLR. What’s your prediction?
Needed a Polaroid picture for a project I’m working on, so I purchased a Polaroid One Step camera for $15 off a guy on Craigslist and a pack of Polaroid 600 film that expired back in 2003 for $26 with shipping from eBay. I was a bit concerned that the film wouldn’t work anymore, but found that the battery in the film pack still had some juice and that the film still developed, though the upper corners of the image are messed up.
Expired 600 film is selling for up to $50 to $60 a pack (10 photos) on eBay these days, even though new Impossible film for 600 cameras costs $24. You can also buy unexpired performance-guaranteed 600 film for about $5 a shot in bulk. Seems like a lot of Polaroid lovers are still snatching up Polaroid film while they still can.
Production issues experienced by Canon and Nikon (caused by the earthquake and tsunami) may soon allow competitors to eat into their dominant DSLR market shares and, according to a story by USA TODAY, Sony is pegged as one of the main benefactors:
Canon has 44.5% of the digital SLR market, followed by Nikon at 29.8%, Sony with 11.9% and Olympus at 5.1%, IDC says.
[…] At a time when many Canon SLRs are hard to find, due to production issues, the Sony models are not only in amply supply, but discounted to sell with special promotions.
[…] Sony has the name recognition, and ample shelf space in prominent stores.
These gains would likely be limited to first time buyers who are looking for their first DSLR — camera owners already committed to Canon or Nikon’s mounts are unlikely to switch systems just because of a temporary shortage.