There’s Been a Big Decline in DSLR Sales During the Pandemic

While Mirrorless camera sales have suffered, but DSLR sales have dropped off so much that the end for them might be close.

Let’s not beat around the bush here. The DSLR is dying. It pains me to say that because I’m a huge DSLR fan. I will, of course, still be able to use my DSLRs for many years. Still, recent sales figures show that the platform is dying a quick death. The pandemic has ravaged the camera industry, and there have been huge drops in sales across the board, but just wait until you see the DSLR sales numbers. After the break, we’ll discuss the latest numbers from CIPA, and we’ll ready ourselves to say farewell to DSLRs.

The Camera Imaging Products Association recently published their camera market findings for 2020. It should come as no surprise that camera sales were down across the board. COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on markets far and wide. The camera market is no exception.

Looking at the numbers, we can see that Mirrorless camera sales were down by roughly 24 percent. When it comes to DSLR shipments, well, they were down by close to 48 percent! That’s a huge, huge drop-off. Mirrorless camera shipments were, for the first time, higher than DSLR shipments too. The writing is on the wall, as they say.

The Death of the DSLR

Now, when we say the death of the DSLR, we know that DSLRs will still be around. There are millions of them out there in the wild being used by photographers every day. (I’m one of them.) I’m still not 100% convinced by Mirrorless, even though I use them in my professional life too. For me, DSLRs are still more reliable. They’re built better and have better battery life. An optical viewfinder is still hard to beat as well. After these recent findings, it’s likely only going to be Pentax producing DSLRs. All other camera manufacturers will likely kill off the DSLR after seeing sales of them tank.

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Again, this should come as no surprise. The rate at which Mirrorless cameras have improved is staggering. Many photographers have made the switch to take advantage of better AI, faster-autofocusing systems, and lighter weights. Cameras like the Canon EOS R5 and R6. The Sony a7r IV, a9 II, and the newly announced Sony a1 are winning over even the toughest of skeptics. Consumers who used to buy DSLR staples like Canon Rebels and Nikon D3XXX and D5XXX series cameras are now opting to just use their phones. If they want a dedicated camera, options like the Sony a6000 are cheap enough to win them over.

So, it’s time to ready our farewells for DSLR cameras. The pandemic has moved this almost total transition to Mirrorless along faster. It was always going to happen. I’m still looking forward to buying the K3 III from Pentax, and I’m excited they will keep DSLR cameras alive. Still, with sales numbers for DSLRs generally down the pan, I think we can kiss any more new DSLR releases Canon and Nikon after this year goodbye.

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.