According to figures released by the Camera & Imaging Products Association, global camera sales peaked in 2010 at 121.5 million models shipped.
This number dropped to 115.5 million models the following year, and plunged to 35.4 million in 2015, 70% down from its peak.
In the year up to July 2016, CIPA – an international organisation of camera makers which includes the likes of Olympus, Canon, Sony and Nikon – reported just 13 million cameras.
So why are digital camera sales plunging so far, so fast? The obvious answer is the rise of camera phones. But it’s not the only answer.
When the first smartphones were introduced in 2007 and 2008, we can see from the chart below that camera sales were a healthy 119.8 million globally, only a couple million away from its peak two years later.
Of course, image quality on camera phones back then wasn’t much to speak about, and we’ve seen it vastly improve in the phones like the iPhone 7 Plus and Huawei P9.
But there are other lurking issues that the camera market must deal with…
You will find more statistics at Statista
As Mike Johnston at The Online Photographer acutely notes, other things are happening in the market that are affecting sales, namely that digital cameras are reaching a point of sufficiency.
In the first decade of this century, digital cameras were new and manufacturers were innovating at rapid pace. Every new camera launched marked a significant upgrade over its predecessor.
These days, cameras are so good and do so much that many photographers are realising that they’re actually happy with what they have. Older cameras are just as good.
And this is leading to the second major issue: new cameras are competing with their predecessors on the second-hand market. In years past camera manufacturers could charge a premium for their cameras because they featured the latest innovations.
But the latest innovations aren’t as eye-popping these days to the consumer who is inundated with innovations everywhere. So while the X-T2 might be the best camera Fuji has made (it’s very good), the X-T1 isn’t far behind in lots of ways and many photographers are OK with that. And this is because…
Photography is expensive. That £800 you shelled out for a Leica Digilux 1 back in 2002 probably leaves a hollow feeling in your stomach when you think about its image quality in comparison to today and what £800 would get you now.
No one wants to be caught out like that again.
That, and smartphones. Smartphones are really good now too.