Kodak Cameras With Decade-Old Tech are Outselling All Others in Japan

A black Kodak digital camera with a 5x wide-angle aspheric zoom lens. The camera has a flash above the lens, an SD card slot, and a full HD label. The brand logo is on the left side of the front.

Younger photographers continue to be attracted to older point and shoot cameras and, in absence of their general availability, appear to be turning to very affordable alternatives such as the Kodak PixPro FZ55 — a camera very few enthusiasts have likely even heard of.

According to sales data published by BCN+R, one of the largest camera sellers in Japan that is akin to Best Buy in the United States, three Kodak-branded compact cameras topped sales charts in April, overtaking Canon, Sony, and Fujifilm to reach 22.5% total market share. That’s a massive gain from 2021 when Kodak-branded digital cameras only made up 5% total market share.

The Kodak PixPro FZ55, FZ45, and WPZ2 took the first, third, and fifth place spots on BCN+R’s top ten sales chart in April with the FZ55 showing the largest demand with a whopping 10% market share of all cameras by itself.

This graph shows market share trends for digital camera brands (Kodak, Canon, Sony, and another brand) from April 2021 to April 2024. The x-axis represents time, and the y-axis represents market share percentage. Each brand is represented by a different colored line.
BCN Ranking sales charts of compact cameras in Japan. Orange is Kodak, red is Canon, black/white is Sony, black/red is Fujifilm, and blue is Kenko Tokina. Image by BCN+R.

It should be noted that Eastman Kodak, the company that is known mostly for film manufacturing, is not involved with the production and sales of these digital cameras. One aspect of Kodak’s business is to license its brand name out to a wide variety of companies who then use it to sell products of varying quality. The three cameras that all topped BCN+R’s list were actually managed by JK Imaging LTD, which has a global licensing agreement with Kodak to sell Kodak PixPro branded digital imaging products similar to how Retopro sells Kodak-branded film canisters or how C&A IP Holdings, LLC sells the Kodak-branded Smile instant cameras.

The FZ55 is a blast from the past. It features a small 16-megapixel sensor and a five-times zoom lens that is 28mm at its widest. Small and compact, it is reminiscent of the point and shoot camereas from the mid-2000s through the early 2010s — and it very well could be. It looks remarkably similar to multiple Sony CyberShot cameras from the early 2010s, including the Cyber-Shot W650, although the case is slightly different as are the internals (it might be using the sensor from the inside of an old Minolta). The retail price of this and the other two cameras that lead sales charts can best be described as “dirt cheap,” so the actual components inside have to be very old.

That might be the selling point, however. The idea is that it replicates the experience and the photos taken with cameras from a bygone era. That is the explanation BCN+R has for its rising popularity, too.

“Major camera companies have shifted their focus to expensive mirrorless cameras, and have reduced the handling of inexpensive compact digital cameras or withdrawn from the market. On the other hand, the demand for easy-to-use compact digital cameras remains,” the retailer says. There is evidence that social media (namely TikTok), are responsible for the boom in success for this camera which lines up with BCN+R’s sales data.

“Furthermore, due to the influence of the retro boom in recent years, inexpensive compact digital cameras have become a hot topic on social media, and their popularity has increased, especially among young people. Kodak has made great strides by tapping into such niche needs.”

That is effectively the same reason the Fujifilm X100VI and Ricoh GR III are so popular. At least in this case, the barrier to entry is significantly lower and these Kodak-branded point-and-shoots are readily available.