AP discusses the compact system camera sales crash


AP published a long article discussing the more than 30% sales plunge of mirrorless cameras in the UK and the future outlook:

More than four times as many SLRs were sold in the UK last year than CSCs which notched up sales of just 100,000 units - 46,000 fewer than the year before, according to figures released by market research firm GfK.

GfK forecasts a 5% rise in all system camera sales in the UK this year, plus a rise in interchangeable-lens camera sales worldwide if figures for North America are stripped out.

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  • Cinekpol

    As for video:

    1. The fact that Brits are “traditionalists” and/or that people stick to the “big two” explains why there is no raise in mirrorless. But it DOES NOT explain 30% DROP IN SALES.

    2. As for under-performance in Q4 due to advertisement: Just to remind you – Q3 (which is one that decides on Q4 sales) got huge bombshell releases coming out from major mirrorless manufacturers all of which got enormous amount of really good PR and some hyper-positive reviews (I would even call that: hype-positive) during both: Q3 and Q4. Phrase “replaces DSLR” still being grossly overused. It was one of the best years when it comes to advertisement of mirrorless as well as overall hype build by a reviewers (If you’ll grab something like popphoto you’ll see that mirrorless reviews are almost universally more vibrant and passionate while DSLR reviews are in most cases a checklist of upgrades). I would argue that in 2012 mirrorless got less advertisement that in 2013. What pretty much ruins the whole point guy tries to make.

    3. Price difference between entry-DSLR and entry-Mirrorless – yes it dropped to the advantage of mirrorless. But one thing that commentator is missing is a fact that at the same time we recover from economic crisis making it only less relevant than it was in 2012 during mirrorless peak.

    4. Commentator argues that the demand is higher than sales. From points 2 and 3 combined I would argue that it isn’t truth. Perhaps it’s even contrary.

    5. Supposedly mirrorless went back to growth in “early pass of 2013” – it’s really too early to say. Whatever data they had can be at best from 1 and a half month. That’s really way too little to judge anything. Let’s wait for quarterly report from CIPA, cause it might be just as well Panasonic simply trying to build a good PR after a disaster last year was.

  • Oh, hah, wow, I thought by AP you meant Associated Press and I was all “hey a reasonably legit source of info on this industry for once” but then clicked the link to discover yet-another-raggy-photo-blogazine.

    Whoopty. Let’s overanalyze for clickbait! Yay!

    • Richard Sibley

      Ok, I’ll bite.

      A 130 year old publication that has links to all of the major manufacturers and industry analysts is hardly ‘yet-another-raggy-photo-blogazine’

  • Dave VF

    for me it’s understandable the sales crash. Camera makers don’t listen to customers and don’t care what they want. Again a hint: they want a Yashica T3,T4,T5, Ricoh GR, Contax T2,T3, Olympus XA 1, Nikon 35 Ti, Leica Minilux in digital to have always with them. What do they have in common: They are small, fast, have a sharp Lens and (drum rolls…) A USABLE VIEWFINDER!!!!!!! People who take their cameras all the time with them are people who use the viewfinder. So having the basis cleared I take the “most” usable digicams that have this approach: Leica M9, M240 and Fuji X 100 S. What is the lack of them: Slow AF or no AF, Expensive(Leica) or bad handling (Fuji). It is actually very simple what needs to be done but obviously camera makers don’t want to do it because everybody would buy this camera and nothing else. For me these approach was the right one, but probably at a bad moment http://www.steves-digicams.com/camera-reviews/contax/tvs-digital/contax-tvs-digital-review.html#b
    If we see what every camera maker has at the moment you will see that most of the time the lack of viewfinder is the first problem. Then are other factors like the big screens which also make that other things have to suffer. A compact camera, with Good big bright,viewfinder, which just indicates af, and exposure, fast reaction time, good noise handling until iso 1600 at first, fas af, a fix 35 f2 or 2.8( exchangebale maybe in the future or offering several types with different lenses like Ricoh did)manual handling of f-stops and shutter speed (normal wheels, nikon has or canon), flash and also hot shoe,I’m probably not alone to say I would be willing to pay 1500-2000 EUR for such a camera.
    But sorry a camera like the canon M is just waste for our environment.
    Until now every camera maker had a good idea but it is like “It could have been THE camera”

  • Hubertus_Bigend

    “CSCs cannot compete, in price terms, against a £399 twin-lens DSLR kit” – even if they’re slowly approaching, that’s what it still is. And they still don’t offer the accessory and upgrade options the two big DSLR manufacturers do, which is a quite rational reason even if many entry-level DSLR buyers will never buy anything beyond their double-lens kit.

  • YouDidntDidYou

    Amateur Photographer use to sell a 100,000 copies a week just a few years back, now they sell about 16,000 per a week….that’s quite a plunge.

    • jmb2560

      So your point is…?

      • Global

        Why does there have to be a point? Maybe he just was presenting information, and remarking on the character of the change.

        Like, “Lucy Liu was born in 1968. She’s 45 years old now…. and still quite hot.”

        • clifflwms

          I agree with you on your point, and also on Lucy Liu.

    • TinusVerdino

      Well that is not because of the internet, an infinite source of free information.

      • YouDidntDidYou

        Amateur Photographer was in decline before the internet became widespread, it’s been on a downward trend since the 1990’s

  • AnthonyH

    Why is this a surprise? And why is there no mention of “cell phone cameras” as a factor? I see the customers as follows:
    1) Upgraders, who are comfortable with cameras;
    2) SLR owners, who are looking for something more compact;
    3) Highly informed customers, who simply want the camera for a specific purpose (e.g. the street shooter); and
    4) Upgraders, who want something that takes better photos, but don’t want complexity. These people typically take “snapshots.”
    Let’s look at these groups one by one and see what might be driving them towards/away from a CSC purchase.
    In terms of price, there’s little difference between an entry-level digital SLR and a mirrorless CSC, yet the digital SLR offers better ergonomics, easier access to camera functions, an established array of lenses and accessories, a professional-level flash system, and a viewfinder that uses real photons not a screen or electronic viewfinder.
    For people moving up, a CSC vs. an SLR is much like the old rangefinder vs. SLR argument, and we all know how that turned out. Even with all the cons of the rangefinder eliminated by modern systems and some significant advantages, it’s hard to overtake the huge systems built around SLRs. The people moving up are more likely to put their money towards an SLR, because, well, that’s what most pros use. So this reduces the number of people in this group looking at a CSC.
    The next group of customers are people with SLRs who are looking for something smaller and lighter to carry with them. Yet, many CSC systems are not really that much smaller; certainly not the lenses. When you need a bag to carry your gear, the argument for a CSC becomes less compelling–if I have to carry a bag anyway, I’ll just carry the “good” camera (the SLR) instead of the “okay” camera (the CSC). These customers are very highly informed and know what they want and what they’re going to do with it.
    However, with the economies of the world still in bad shape, I suspect a large number of this second group is deferring a CSC purchase until their money situation gets better or there’s a super-compelling camera released. This depresses CSC sales as well. I know I would be buying a Fujifilm CSC if my own financial situation were better.
    The next group are the shooters who understand the advantages of a CSC and aren’t invested or don’t have a need for an SLR and flash system. These people understand that there’s no mirror shake, while all the advantages of seeing your framing, interchangeable lenses, short shutter lag, and compactness are present. This would be a very highly informed shooter. They have to live with some limitations compared to SLRs, in some cases (e.g. no 35mm-sized frame; choices made in menus not buttons, etc.). And it’s a very small group indeed.
    Finally, there are those people who are intimidated by an SLR, either due to cost or complexity, yet want to move beyond a point and shoot. A good percentage of these I suspect buy the camera, and end up returning it because it’s still to complex for them or because it’s not as portable as they thought. Especially for just snapshots, a CSC is really overkill over a less expensive (and smaller) point and shoot or a cell phone camera.
    So really, the CSC market isn’t that wide, not with the world’s economies being what they are. Really, the camera companies need to convince SLR owners to put their money down for a CSC, and that’s a tall order. Given a choice between a new lens for the SLR or investing in a CSC system…well, I’d go for the new lens.

    • Mardock

      You don’t know what you’re talking about.

      • AnthonyH

        Oh, okay, thanks.

      • Mr.Black

        Maybe, but he is 99% right.
        In addition to that DSLRs are much better cameras but mirrorless are more expensive. Best APS-C DSLR is significantly cheaper than best mirrorless camera. That’s nonsense.

    • Mike D

      Anthony (in support of your post above), everybody knows DSLRs can be technical to use but mirrorless cameras are even worse. Accidentally press the wrong button and you could be spending 15 minutes trying to fix the problem you just accidentally made. Buttons that serve many functions based on how you press them are the greatest problem. In my case, my Sony RX100-2 is very guilty. It makes my Nikon D7100 seem simplistic to use. What happens in a test lab is a lot different than what happens in the field when your hands are cold, the wind is blowing, and you accidentally press the wrong button the wrong way. Disaster. I had a chance last week to shoot a bobcat hunting for gophers in the field next to Yosemite Falls and it was hilarious at all the people having problems with their mirrorless cameras. Of course, the people with the smart phones had a lot more success. In short, the bloated features crammed into mirrorless cameras are part of their problem, among other issues.

      • AnthonyH

        Yes, the ergonomics aren’t up to SLR standards. A cell phone basically has one button or one tap. A CSC is much harder than that! With an SLR, the buttons and dials are pretty much dedicated, so using an SLR is much easier, although I think CSCs are improving. Hope you got some good bobcat shots!

  • Bruce_K

    If the summary on Photorumors accurately reflects the AP report, AP have missed out some essential data and the reasons for the drop in sales.

    There were two main factors influencing the drop in UK sales in 2013. One was economic austerity, which has really begun to bite in the UK. Three years of declining real incomes and steeply rising prices of essentials such as housing, energy and food, have hit spending power hard; disposable income has been significantly reduced.

    The other factor was the bankruptcy and closure of the photo store chains Jessops and jacobs. Because Jessops had the only national chain of photo stores, availability of product was hit hard and it took many months for other retailers to take up the slack. In fact other retailers didn’t do a particularly good job and their caution meant many lost opportunities to replace the market share that Jessops had.

    The summary on Photorumors also omits any data about DSLR sales, which were also steeply down in the UK. So it would be both premature and highly misleading to announce the demise of the mirrorless sector of the interchangeable lens market.

    Another possible factor is that new product announcements in 2013 were pretty thin on the ground, a hangover from the Japanese tsunami and Thailand floods of 2011. Right up to the end of 2012, investments in new product were put on hold as Japanese manufacturers used that money to rebuild their manufacturing capacity after those devastating natural disasters.

    So let’s not over-analyse these figures, eh? Yes, AnthonyH, that comment is aimed at you. 🙂

    • Sky

      1. Real income in UK in 2013 was nearly identical to 2012 – actually it was little bit higher. UK is slowly emerging from the economic crisis, not going deeper into it.

      2. Closure of the photo store chains is affecting everyone in a same way. Not just mirrorless. Besides – photo stores are less and less relevant to the sales.

      3. As for drop of DSLR sales – yea, it does happen, but is much slower then in mirrorless.

      4. “new product announcements in 2013 were pretty thin on the ground” ? Must have seen different 2013. Last year was by far the best year for mirrorless when it comes to big product releases. That’s when AF issues were mostly eliminated, that’s when FF mirrorless came out on a market, that’s when DSLR-alike mirrorless become popular, that’s when mirrorless lineup slowly become competitive, that’s when we’ve seen tons of new accessories for mirrorless, etc. etc.

      “So let’s not over-analyse these figures, eh?” – yea, let’s not.

  • Global

    Its cellphones — period. Its cellphones.

    The last 2 generations of cellphone cameras have been amazing. The cellphone IS the compact camera. Everything else is a BRICK with detachable BRICKS resulting in 99% of the exact same Facebook photos as any cellphone, but with less convenience (because the phone easily sends and uploads to Apps).

    How many sane people will spend $3000 on a Fujifilm X-T1 & 2 lenses when they could just use a cellphone and get 99% of the same Facebook pictures and have their hands free the entire trip?

    For the world of “compact cameras”… unless you are a pro that sells art… or a moneyed enthusiast.. then…

    Its cellphones.

    • photdog

      Hi Global
      so we are talking in fact about a decline in user interest in serious photograpy?
      You are right, a modern top-end cell is fully suficient for this baby-boy and me-in-front-of shots for facebook and the like. For that purpose its simply a waste to invest into CSC or DSLRs.

      But fortunately there is still a remnant of people who want to do more. However IMHO, 90% of the existing CSC models are not for them as the makers did not sufficiently reaserch what this group really wants. My guess is, the major reason for these people to want a CSC past or next to their DSLR is, going lighter and easier but retaining qualit and usability.
      Again IMHO there are basically few choices left: Olympus (OM-D E M1), Panasonic, Fuji and perhaps Ricoh GR. The Oly E M1 e.g. isn’t that much smaler than the D7100 but double the price. Thus one have to dish out a lot of money to set up a new system with quality glass.
      And in my opinion the E M1 is not easier to understand than the D7100.

      A part of the past sales in larger quantities was probaly the hype of getting something new. But when this group realized, that they sticked with fully automatic anyway, and consequently didn’t get a better output in facebook Co., as they consider printouts as outdated and don’t want to really learn photography, they can’t see much advantage of an extra investion and extra bulk over their cells.
      The few, who bought CSL eg. Nikon 1, to start learning photgraphy reached their borders quickly and became frustrated of deep menus and limited possibilities.

      The whole issue became an issue because the makers were just out to hunt revenues instead of deveoping a thoughtthrough concept first. Now they are standing there like a cow on a meadowbeing confused where all the grass has gone. It’s eaten up.
      Still, Nikon, according to the last interview is rather ready to mucle into the cellphone-cameras rather than dedicating themselves into the DSLR market which they have much competencies in.

      Apparently the majority have reverted back to the old photo album style – only that it is digital today. And this intention doesn’t generate customers for expensive gear.

  • YouDidntDidYou



    The first nine months of 2013 were tough for the photo sector. This was then exacerbated by an even more negative Q4, where there was a 29% decline in value compared to Q4 2012.

    Superzoom cameras (fixed lens cameras) with more that 10x optical zoom) and bridge cameras declined by 45% and 38% respectively in value year on year.

    As for changeable lens, CSC (compact system cameras) fell by an unprecedented 35% in value, whereas SLR (Single Lens Reflex cameras) managed to outperform standard point and shoot cameras, declining by only 28% in value compared to Q4 2013.”

  • YouDidntDidYou

    from the UK Actual Report:

    so DSLRs fell by 28% in value
    and CSCs fell by 35% in value
    and bridge cameras fell by 38% in value
    and superzoom compacts fell by 45% in value
    mind you I did by a brand new Nikon 1 at 90% discount for £40 in Q4 of 2013

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