Mirrorless Growing Again

(news & commentary)

Doing a year-to-year comparison of the first four months of the year from CIPA numbers, we find:

  • Compacts: 58.5% compared to last year shipments (units)
  • DSLR: 83%
  • Mirrorless 112.2%
  • Lenses: 90%

In terms of value of those shipments:

  • Compacts: 70.9% compared to last year in yen-value
  • DSLR: 91.5%
  • Mirrorless: 138.6%
  • Lenses: 87.8%

Mirrorless shipment values are now about 30% of interchangeable lens camera value, up from 25%.


Before people start proclaiming that the battle is being won, it’s not quite that simple. We’ve had more new and significant mirrorless cameras launched in the period being discussed than DSLRs, for example. These things tend to go in waves. Note how DSLR volume historically peaks in summer while mirrorless tends to be flat, for example.

The interesting thing to watch is the value of those shipments: virtually every camera maker has said they’re going to move upscale, and you can see some evidence of that in the shipment value numbers. At least when you use yen. The slide of the yen versus the dollar and Euro last year unfortunately grabs some of that gain back. 

Still, the industry is still shrinking overall and word from those in the accessory business say this is the worst slump they’ve seen, too: people just aren’t buying photo gear in the quantities they used to. If things scale for the last two-thirds of the year the way they have for the first third, it means that the total number of yen the camera industry in Japan will take in for 2014 may be only 75% of that taken in during 2013. In other words, the market shrinks by a quarter in one year. I don’t think the final numbers will be that bad, partly because this is a Photokina year and we will have a lot of launches later this year, but I wouldn’t be surprised by a 10-15% shrinkage. It seems clear that the original CIPA forecast for 2014 was highly optimistic. 

And remember, the numbers shown above are shipments and the value of those shipments into distribution, not sales to actual customers. We still have a glut of inventory in dealer, big box, and online stores, at least here in the US. 

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