Digital camera market shrunk 24% in 2018

Camera sales peaked in 2010, and it’s not just the smartphone’s fault

The number of cameras shipped in 2018 declined by 24% over the previous year, according to new year-end statistics.

LensVid, which publishes an annual report called What Happened to the Photography Industry, broke the sobering news in its 2018 update.

Some 19 million digital cameras were shipped in 2018, a decline from 25 million in 2017. The figure marks an even steeper decline from the market’s peak at 121 million cameras in 2010 – a nearly 85% drop to the total shipped last year.

2010 was the top year ever for the camera industry with 121 million cameras that were produced, since than we have seen a steady decline with a huge drop in 2013 to only 61 million cameras – basically half, and in 2015 we saw another cut of (almost) half to only 35 million cameras followed by another huge drop to only 23 million (35% drop – year-to-year). 2017 was the first year since 2010 where we saw an increase in the number of cameras produced to 25 million units – just over 8% increase, but this might have been just a temporary thing as the numbers for 2018 show another big drop to only 19 million – the lowest number since 2001!

When comparing the number of non-interchangeable or “compact” cameras with that of interchangeable cameras or both DSLR and mirrorless cameras, we see for the first time ever that more interchangeable lens cameras are being sold worldwide than non-interchangeable cameras. This signifies a true shift in the industry – one which is clearly the result of the smartphone camera market being as strong as it is.

When looking at the interchangeable lens camera market, we can see the continuation of a trend – DSLR sales are shrinking – in 2018 by about 12%, while mirrorless sales are growing – but very slowly or about 2% more than 2017.

Looking at the bigger picture we can see that compact cameras went down to under 50% of the total digital camera market for the first time ever while the reflex gain about 4% and the mirrorless share of the market increased by 6%.

Lenses also experienced a decline in 2018, dropping 7% to 18 million units shipped.