Japanese Camera Market: Sony Making Bank, While Canon, Nikon Grovel

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The Japanese camera market is a key indicator for worldwide trends and sales forecasting.

We have spoken about the camera market and the state it’s currently in, and while some manufacturers seem to think the camera market is doomed (looking at you, Canon), others are finding plenty of sweet, sweet fruit to collect and enjoy. A recent Japanese camera market study, which collected 13 months of data, has just been released and the numbers are incredibly interesting. Join us after the break for all the juicy details.

With all of the major camera manufacturers being located in Japan, Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm, and Olympus all take great stock in what their local market is telling them. It’s not looking good for the vast majority of the manufacturers at all; well, not when it comes to sheer profit at least. A recent report over at Mirrorless Rumors shared sales numbers collected by BCN Retail (a Japanese market analyst firm) from April 2018 through to March 2019, and the reading isn’t exactly what you would call pretty.

Camera Market

Sales graph via BCN Retail/Mirrorless Rumors

As you can see from the pie chart, Canon sold the most amount of units between April 2018 and March 2019. claiming 37.3% of all sales. Nikon fell into second place with 26.7% of sales, and Sony sits in third place with 13.1% of total sales. Olympus and Fujifilm are neck and neck with 6% and 5.8% of the market share, respectively. Things look like they are pretty rosy for Canon and Nikon right? But, while they claim the largest shares of the market, the amount of cameras sold doesn’t mean a darn thing if you aren’t increasing your profits year over year.

A quick look at the bar chart on the right of the graphic is where your attention should really lie. As you can see, the two biggest winners when it comes to changes from the previous year in terms of market share and sales amounts is Fujifilm and Sony. Fujifilm’s market share grew by 19.4% while everyone else saw negative returns year on year, with Nikon down 15%, and Olympus down 13.8%. Ouch is the word that comes to mind. Even Sony was down 6.6%. So yes, the camera market in Japan is in a decline, but the news gets better for Sony and Fujifilm at least.

Sony and Fujifilm were the only manufacturers to register a positive trend when it comes to revenue during that one year period. Sony managed to notch up a total revenue increase of 14.5%, while Fujifilm registered a much more modest 0.6% increase in revenue. Revenue for Olympus was down 21.3%, Nikon’s profit was down by 28.5%, and Canon’s revenue dropped by 11.4%, year over year. You can almost hear the screams from the board members of those companies all the way over here.

hat dWoes this tell us? Really, it shows that Sony’s gamble to sell premium Mirrorless cameras that yield a higher percentage of profit has panned out quite well for them. The same goes for Fujifilm. Their innovative cameras have been well received, and their gamble of throwing all of their ducks into the Mirrorless realm has paid off. Most of Canon’s and Nikon’s sales come from entry level DSLR’s and lower priced offerings which would explain the disparity between their market share percentage and revenue.

camera market

These charts show us that while people are surely buying cheaper cameras, there is no profit in them. This is why Canon has been crying about the camera market dying. The market isn’t dying, it’s just changing, and the likes of Nikon and Canon have been left behind due to their insistence that Mirrorless cameras would be a fad. They entered the game too late and they’re paying the price for it. As for Olympus, we will let you make up your own minds about what this means for the Micro Four Thirds format. But the numbers don’t lie.

What do you make of the latest sales data from the Japanese camera market? Has the Mirrorless boat sailed for Nikon and Canon, or can they catch up? Just what does Olympus need to do to stay afloat in the choppy photography ocean? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.