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Digital cameras shipments at 1990s levels in 2020


Andrew Reid

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cipa-1999-2020.jpg

Has the digital camera market finally bottomed out?

Or will retailers like Amazon start to turn their back on cameras altogether?

In terms of the number of units shipped each year to stores, digital cameras are now shipping in lower volumes than in the year 2000.

The chart above shows the decline until 2019 before the pandemic, reflecting the failure of management at Canon, Nikon, Sony and others.

However the latest 2020 figures show a further decrease from 14.86 million shipments to just 8.8 million which brings us under the tally for the year 2000, 20 years ago.

Much higher prices now compensate for the loss in volume (as I look into here), as we the customers and our wallets know only too well. Companies have placed their hopes in products like the Sony Alpha 1, Canon EOS R5 and the Fuji GFX series, but professional users and enthusiasts have all without many exceptions been hammered by the coronavirus pandemic. I also have somewhat of a gut feeling there is a global economic catastrophe soon and during that, sales of expensive $6000 cameras will flop.

Although the decrease in unit shipments is not the same as a decrease in profits or total sales volume, it does show the extent to which the market has had to adjust…

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1 hour ago, amsh89es335 said:

I wonder what the used market is looking like. Because someone who was a new photo enthusiast and did little research can get a used DSLR and lenses for fraction of the cost on a camera 5-8 years old and the images really hold up. Not mention people selling off gear they don't use to pay their bills while unemployed. 

Right. I would also wonder if everyone's financial situation / the lack of traveling might explain an even further drop. 

Any used 35mm or Medium Format gear right now is $$$.

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You're seeing smartphones eating shitty digital camera market. Nothing wrong with that.

Pro camera markets are fine; if anything, prices have come down: compare the prices of the Canon C300 series; the C300iii was released $4K lower compared to its predecessors. The introduction of C200, C70. Sony with their FX6. Red has trended cheaper as well, from the scarlet to the Komodo. 

For hybrids, I haven't looked into the financials, but goodness, Canon did well during a pandemic w/ the R5 and R6. 

Also, I don't think hybrid prices have necessarily risen, relatively speaking (not even accounting for inflation)

Canon 5Dii: 2699
Canon 5Diii: 3499
Canon 5DIV: 3499
Canon R5: 3999, Canon R6: 2499

Well some manufacturers have: 

Sony A7s: $2500
Sony A7s2: $3000
Sony A7s3: $3499 

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Perhaps it is time for the established camera companies to finally come up with something that resembles a 21th century camera body. One that resembles a smartphone, but with the bells and whistles of a proper camera. Sleek, pocketable, low-profile, a wide range of wireless functions like wireless charging, with new and smaller lenses.

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1 hour ago, independent said:

Also, I don't think hybrid prices have necessarily risen, relatively speaking (not even accounting for inflation)

Canon 5Dii: $2699
Canon R5: $3999

Sony A7s: $2500
Sony A7s3: $3499 

That looks like a rise to me. Did I miss something? 🙂

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6 hours ago, Marcio Kabke Pinheiro said:

Right on point. And, yes, trouble ahead for cameras.

My guess: in the future will be Leica model for all the survivors. Video will become a niche, with "cube" modular cameras being the norm.

Video will never be a niche.  The demand for video is on the rise, but never seems to get mentioned when the units shipped graphs come out each year.

It's on the rise for people shooting with smartphones, but also for people who want better than they can provide.  The professional videographers continually banging on about why the latest equipment is the absolute bare minimum and the camera from last week is trash paint a picture that there is an un-ending supply of people who want 6K advertisements for their laundromat, but the problem is that they don't want to pay enough for it.

1 hour ago, independent said:

You're seeing smartphones eating shitty digital camera market. Nothing wrong with that.

Pro camera markets are fine; if anything, prices have come down: compare the prices of the Canon C300 series; the C300iii was released $4K lower compared to its predecessors. The introduction of C200, C70. Sony with their FX6. Red has trended cheaper as well, from the scarlet to the Komodo. 

I agree.  Smartphones are eating the market for cameras that will take less than 10,000 images before being left in a drawer.  

Prices might not have come down in an absolute sense, but what you get for your money is growing steadily - likely in rough alignment with Moores Law.

If the obsession with 4K and 6K and 8K and 12K calmed even slightly then people would realise that the price of a camera that can deliver an image of X quality is dropping steadily.

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Sad to think I got into filmmaking basically at the very PEAK of camera sales, and now it is so so much less. 

@ntblowz, you could just about almost see me! If only the building at 2 Emily Place etc wasn't in the way.

 

16 hours ago, amsh89es335 said:

I wonder what the used market is looking like. Because someone who was a new photo enthusiast and did little research can get a used DSLR and lenses for fraction of the cost on a camera 5-8 years old and the images really hold up. Not mention people selling off gear they don't use to pay their bills while unemployed. 


It's baaaaad news for the used market if you like picking up bargains. If for instance a future Nikon D500S gets released, you'll never ever see so many of those popping up on eBay a few years later, like you can find a Nikon D300S for ease dirt cheap.

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Most of the younger generation are really into 3D and game engine now, it seems. I guess it's quite a bit more accessible too in some ways, with lots of free software and the limit being imagination, you don't have to use real lights and so on. It's also a far bigger industry in money terms and userbase than film and TV, so I think keeping new generations interested will also be a challenge if the prices keep rising.

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19 hours ago, jgharding said:

Most of the younger generation are really into 3D and game engine now, it seems. I guess it's quite a bit more accessible too in some ways, with lots of free software and the limit being imagination, you don't have to use real lights and so on. It's also a far bigger industry in money terms and userbase than film and TV, so I think keeping new generations interested will also be a challenge if the prices keep rising.

True, and I have that background myself having founded and run a games studio for over 13 years. 

However, filmmaking’s strengths (to me) are about human connection, either fiction or documentary. You have to spend a lot of money to copy that when working in real time engines, which are in return obviously great at interaction and non-linearity.

To me both can be placed on a Venn diagram where the overlap is cinematography and storytelling, but outside that overlap have clear strengths.  

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On 2/4/2021 at 3:17 AM, amsh89es335 said:

I wonder what the used market is looking like.

Recently I thought about picking up a DSLR just for stills, as I've got plenty of EF lenses already. I do have an a6400 purely for use in a surf housing with the kit lens, but I don't like the idea of investing in a whole new set of lenses just for the occasional times I want to take some photos.

I had a look at what used DSLR's were around, and was astounded to see that Canon 60D's are going for more now than when I sold mine about 6-7 years ago.

As for cinema cameras, the current used market makes a pretty good case for not buying a Red. All those folks who dropped $60-80K+ on a Red, thinking they would be rental cash cows that they could then sell without much depreciation, can't even sell them for peanuts now. Pretty funny, seeing as this is the company who's slogan was "Making obsolescense obsolete".

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1 hour ago, barefoot_dp said:

Recently I thought about picking up a DSLR just for stills, as I've got plenty of EF lenses already. I do have an a6400 purely for use in a surf housing with the kit lens, but I don't like the idea of investing in a whole new set of lenses just for the occasional times I want to take some photos.

I had a look at what used DSLR's were around, and was astounded to see that Canon 60D's are going for more now than when I sold mine about 6-7 years ago.

As for cinema cameras, the current used market makes a pretty good case for not buying a Red. All those folks who dropped $60-80K+ on a Red, thinking they would be rental cash cows that they could then sell without much depreciation, can't even sell them for peanuts now. Pretty funny, seeing as this is the company who's slogan was "Making obsolescense obsolete".

Too bad RED media still costs a mint. Older Nikon DSLR's can be fantastic deals for the image.

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Both Sony and LG are now producing wall sized commercial microLED displays. Its still overpriced for consumers, but the price decline has been dramatic. If you want to provide content for that massive sized medium, you definitely need a pro gear, and 8k is bare minimum. But camera makers completely ignored this emerging technology that gonna change interior architecture of our buildings forever. 

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