Chill Out, the Camera Market Might Be Down 35% But There’s a Reason

The fear mongering over the camera market is getting out of hand.

Another new week, another new report about the declining camera market and death of photography as we know it. Sheesh. Hold your horses people, and stop jumping to conclusions. If you were to look into it I am sure you could apply the same headline to any industry and it would probably match up. Join us after the break to see what the latest CIPA reports states about the supposedly imploding camera market.

A recent post on Mirrorless Rumors has a title that would make any photography fans stomach sink; ‘CIPA reports an astonishing minus 35% in system camera shipments for February 2019‘.  Yes, the headline is attention grabbing for sure, and we know that the camera market is in somewhat of a decline, but the rest of the article goes as far as to say that camera companies could drop out of the business altogether if this keeps on happening. Sigh.

camera market

The fear mongering is real here. Companies like Canon, Nikon, Fujifilm, Olympus, and Panasonic are not going to implode after a drop in sales like this, not even if a drop in sales like this were to be sustained for a while. It’s called having a business plan, and shifting priorities to make the business sustainable. These companies won’t just disappear because of a small blip, they will simply reorganize. What the article doesn’t mention is that other segments of the camera market (built-in lens cameras for example) have grown both month-on-month, and year-over-year, so it’s not all doom and gloom.

Canon has already touched on this, and they said they plan on focusing on higher end markets seeing as point and shoot sales (for them at least) are in the pan due to smartphones. Fujfilm, on the other hand, has stated that their business is going from strength to strength. I think Camera companies should hit the smartphone market head-on, and I believe they will given time, but implying that multi-billion dollar corporations will close shop is just plain crazy.

camera market

Cameras like the Fujifilm X100F are doing well according to CIPA

There are likely a few good reasons the market fell more in February 2019 than in previous months. In the USA it’s tax season which means that disposable income is low for many people in this country, especially self employed photographers (well, anyone who is self employed). There is also turmoil in the international markets right now with Brexit going on in Europe, and trade deals between powerhouse countries being under strain. There are far greater forces at play on the markets than just the rise of smartphone photography.

Now, all of these issues combined do help paint a somewhat bleak picture. But photographers and photography aren’t going anywhere. We are in one of the greatest periods ever when it comes to cameras and the technology they contain. These are exciting times, and soon the market will stabilize or potentially even grow when smartphone photographers realize that they want more from their cameras.

Smartphones are the gateway drug in the photography world. They offer a great way for people to grow an interest in the art, and from there they will graduate to either a DSLR, a Mirrorless camera, or a dedicated fixed lens camera. The camera market isn’t dying, it’s just in transition.

All businesses and industries have peaks and valleys; that’s just the way it is. Right now the ball is firmly in the court of the camera manufacturers to steer the industry where they want it to go, rather than sit back and rest on past successes (cough, cough, Canon, and Nikon, cough, cough). It’s time for camera manufacturers to embrace the challenges that are being presented to them and grow. It’s time for them to be proactive and not reactive in regards the markets, and it’s time for them to be ready for when tax seasons are over, and for when global markets stabilize; then they need to pounce. The future is bright, people.

Brett Day

Brett Day is the Gear Editor at The Phoblographer and has been a photographer for as long as he can remember. Brett has his own photography business that focuses on corporate events and portraiture. In his spare time, Brett loves to practice landscape and wildlife photography. When he's not behind a camera, he's enjoying life with his wife and two kids, or he's playing video games, drinking coffee, and eating Cheetos.