Despite the rising competition from high-calibre cameras built into smartphones, the dedicated digital camera market is still doing just fine. According to the latest report from the Canadian Imaging and Trade Association (CITA), digital camera shipments have remained steady.
The CITA report finds that 569,000 units were shipped to Canadian retailers in 2017, compared to 586,000 in 2016, marking a slight decrease of 3%.
The Point & Shoot category decreased by 5% in 2017 to 306,000 units. Most of that decline was posted in the below $200 segment, and suggests that customers are stepping up when it comes to Point & Shoot Cameras and spending more
money on premium features that they can't get in smartphones, such as larger sensors, built-in stabilization, higher ISO, and long zoom.
Digital cameras with Wi-Fi built-in continues to gain share of the overall market. In 2017, an impressive 78% of cameras shipped in Canada included this feature. This is up 53% from 2016. Wi-Fi allows users to easily back up and share images immediately after taking them, just as they can do with smartphones.
In 2017, the Interchangeable Lens Camera (ILC) market, which includes both DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, reached levels of 263,000, posting very moderate growth of 0.4%. The ILC market now represents almost half of all cameras shipped in Canada (49%).
Within the ILC market, 2017 shipments of DSLR were down 11% over 2016 levels, to 185,000 units. On the flipside, mirrorless cameras continue to increase in demand, now accounting for 30% of the overall interchangeable lens market. Shipments increased a significant 45% over previous year levels to 78,000 units.
Consumers are willing to pay more for premium features such as body stabilization, fast burst modes, touch screen, WiFi, 4K video, and more.
While the CITA is forecasting a decrease of 5% for digital camera shipments in 2018 to 543,000 units, with Point & Shoot camera shipments expected to decline a further 10% to 274,000 in 2018, the Interchangeable Lens Camera category is expected to increase by 2% to 269,000 units. Within that ILC category, Mirrorless Camera shipments are the reason behind the growth, with an expected increase of 22% to 95,000 units.
The overall camera market is still in decline, but there are positive indications that the decline is now levelling off, and with increases in average selling prices for cameras, the market is showing greater overall stability. This helps to substantiate the point that camera manufacturers have been responsive to threats posed by mobile phone photography, by developing products and technologies to further differentiate their advantages, ultimately improving the ease of sharing photos through Wi-Fi and various digital applications.
"Social media sites such as Instagram and YouTube have confirmed that Canadians are in love with photos and video in greater numbers than ever before," says CITA. "This surge of popularity ensures that the Digital Imaging industry is still relevant in the marketplace today and in the foreseeable future."
Ironically, however, with Mobile World Congress taking place right now in Barcelona, and several smartphones makers touting new devices that boast better cameras with additional features, it will be interesting to see how the pendulum swings. Travel may be one area that convinces customers to stick with dedicated cameras: while a smartphone can often take wonderful photos, and the latest are even water-resistant, sometimes it's nice just to disconnect, leave the phone back at the hotel room, and enjoy a relaxing day poolside or at the beach. And this is where a camera fits perfectly.
Photo by John Thomson