Mirrorless Camera Sales Are Booming as Global Tourism Recovers

traveling photographer

Shipments of interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras are breaking records and sales are booming according to Japan’s Camera and Imaging Products Association (CIPA), an upswing that is being directly tied to an uptick in global tourism.

Nikkei Asia reports that global camera shipments show that mirrorless cameras saw a year-over-year increase of $17 billion in the first half of 2023, a 20% increase. That is a record high for the third straight year. This is fantastic news for the industry which went through one of the worst sales periods that the camera industry has ever encountered in 2020.

The main driver of this increase appears to be from China which saw a massive 44% increase in sales by itself. Japan was right behind with a 30% jump. Europe saw a 9% sales increase. The United States and Canada were not specifically mentioned. China continues to be a huge market for camera manufacturers that cannot be ignored.

Nikkei Asia links the increase to a report from the United Nations World Tourism Organization which notes that international travelers in the first quarter of 2023 more than doubled compared to the previous year to approximately 235 million people, about 80% of the total number of travelers in the same period in 2019 before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

CIPA Sales numbers

It appears that as these tourists decide to leave their home countries, they are doing so armed with a brand-new mirrorless camera. On a related note, it doesn’t seem like the average consumer is satisfied with their smartphone cameras right now. As the number of standalone camera sales increase, smartphone sales are slumping and sales are down 11% in the fist half of the year, which is the second consecutive year of decline.

The Japanese publication cites greatly improving features in cameras that are not being mimicked in the smartphone market. On a related note, Samsung’s big 2023 launch included two new folding smartphones, but neither of them did much to improve the camera systems. Consumers are arguably noticing and reaching for standalone cameras that are becoming easier to operate and the difference in quality is becoming noticeable to consumers.

While these are strong numbers, the market has yet to fully recover from the pandemic. Historical shipping data shows that in the spring of 2019, manufacturers shipped up to almost a quarter of a million more units per month worldwide. Still, year over year recovery is a strong sign for camera makers.

Interchangeable lens cameras continue to drive the entire camera market. While they continue to rise in sales, the shipment of fixed-lens cameras continues to dip for the third consecutive year. If camera manufacturers want to move products, more evidence shows that cameras with a fixed lens — like Sony’s ZV-1 Mark II — are, for the most part, not what consumers want anymore.

Image credits: Header photo by NEOM.