As 2019 draws to an end, one thing is for sure – Sony’s dominance in the camera market is alive and well. Just how the camera market will break down for 2019, nobody will know for a while, but we now know who the king of the castle was in 2018. It’s no surprise that it was Sony, and there’s been nothing to suggest that will change for 2019 either. Perhaps the biggest shock is just how much they are dominating others in the market. Join us after the break to see the camera market breakdown for 2018 and to explore what we think other manufacturers need to do to catch up to the steam roller that is Sony.
A post on Fuji Rumors shows just how powerful Sony has become in the camera market. Recent numbers show that Sony took home a whopping market share of 42.5% in 2018, while Canon netted just 19.8%. Fujifilm wasn’t far behind Canon with 17.5%, but the struggle was real for Olympus, Panasonic, and Nikon in 2018, who only had market shares of 8.4%, 7%, and 4.6%, respectively. The rest of the camera makers such as Pentax, Hasselblad, Phase One, and Leica make up the remaining 0.2%. Ouch!
The research was conducted by a Japanese firm called Techno System Research and was initially posted by Toyokeizai. It’s unclear if these numbers reflect just the Japanese camera market or the global one, but the TSR website does say that it conducts global research, so take these numbers as you will. Regardless, the proof is in the numbers, and it is clear to see that all of the major players in the camera market are playing the catch-up game. While Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Fujifilm, and Panasonic have all released new cameras in 2019, one has to wonder if they have been aggressive enough in trying to claw back photographers from Sony.
Let’s take a look at the cameras Canon and Co. have released in 2019. Canon launched; the EOS RP, a bare-bones Full Frame Mirrorless camera; the M6 II, a Mirrorless camera with the largest Megapixel APS-C sensor yet but with little lens support; the 90D, an EF mount DSLR which just has sensor size going for it; and the EOS Ra, and a very niche camera aimed at astrophotographers. These hardly represent cameras that make a photographer want to rush to the local camera store. Fujifilm released; the X-A7, a camera marketed to woo smartphone users; the GFX 100, which is excellent but just for the top 1% of photographers; and the X-Pro 3, which is basically a re-hash of the X-T3 and aimed at a small percentage of photographers.
Then we have Olympus, Panasonic, and Nikon. Olympus has given us the E-M5 III. It is essentially the same as the E-M1 II, which came out in 2016, just a bit smaller and has a nicer EVF. It’s nice, but hardly awe-inspiring. Panasonic released the Micro Four Thirds G95, and the S1, S1R, and S1H Full Frame L mount cameras. The jury is still out on their Full Frame offerings. Still, given that they are quite a bit more spendy than the A7 III and even the higher Megapixel Sony A7R IV, which they compete with, they are tough sells, especially when you consider the small lens library for them. Then we have Nikon. As of right now, they have only announced the release of the APS-C Z50. It is a budget-friendly Mirrorless offering that is quite behind the specs of the similarly priced Sony a6400. Suddenly it’s clear to see how and why Sony is running laps around everyone.
Sony has been aggressive with their launches this year. We have seen the a6100, the a6400, the a6600, the a9 II, and the a7r IV: an almost complete refresh of their lineup that puts them even further ahead of the crowd. I’m going out on a limb when I say that the camera market numbers for 2019 will look just like they did in 2018. I wouldn’t be surprised if the gap between Sony and second place was even wider. Canon and Co. simply haven’t done enough in 2019 to come close to Sony.
If the other camera companies ever want to catch up to Sony, they are going to have to attack aggressively. Canon, Nikon, Fujifilm, Olympus, and the rest, you’ve done little to excite photographers. Lack of innovation, poor pricing decisions, and a lack of communication with your fans and photographers alike are making things difficult for you. 2020 is going to be a massive year for many of these companies. We’ve seen the financials they have released, and they do not make for good reading. If you don’t bring your A-game in 2020, I shudder to think what might happen.
Canon, you need a successor to the EOS R, a feature-packed Mirrorless APS-C camera, and a high Megapixel body. Fujifilm, it’s time to make good on an X-H2, and even an X-T4. Also, perhaps do a little more to differentiate between your cameras. Olympus, it’s time for the E-M1 III with a new sensor that can take advantage of your excellent IBIS and fantastic lens line up. Nikon, you’re in the same boat as Canon. You’ve got to flesh out your entire lineup. Panasonic, you’ve got to price your cameras more competitively if you want to get anywhere in the Full Frame market. Come on, guys! We’re all rooting for you. Make 2020 a year to remember and stop letting Sony bully you in the camera market. Give us some cameras that will make us rush to the store, and that will help turn those camera market numbers around.