The Reason Camera Sales are Stagnant [Blog]

JanW

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It seems we have arrived in a new era where camera sales are limited to serious hobbyists and professionals.
I have tried to find some figures on camera sales.
First one is an article from dpreview from 2003 when digital cameras started to become useable.
Analog camera sales were quite high and digital started to grow fast.
https://www.dpreview.com/articles/5474101424/pmaresearch2003sales
Then a CIPA chart of digital camera sales from 2003 to 2018.
https://www.statista.com/chart/5782/digital-camera-shipments/
Here we see the enormous growth and demise of digital camera sales. What is interesting is that the sales of camera's with interchangeable lenses is much more stable than the compact camera sales. Growth started later because dslr's were introduced later but it seems sales are quite stable since 2014.
The compacts are almost gone because of smartphones and only serious models are sold (high end compacts and super zooms).
Manufacturers have to find a way to adapt to this: lower volumes of serious cameras. Time will tell which will stay in the business but if there is a demand there will be some manufacturers who will make cameras. As long as it takes beautiful pictures I'm not too worried about the brand name on my camera...
 
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Mack

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Micro-Tools sells a lot of helical greases: Micro-Tools Lubricants

Another brand popular with camera industry is Rocol (Kilopoise).

Big issue with some lubes is they will attack plastics over time, or vaporize in the heat and coat the glass or diaphragm balldes casuing them to stick and cause random over-expsurers. One popular camera brand that began to use a lot of plastic got into trouble with some petroleum greases where the stuff attacked the plastic rollers on the shutter curtains and you could see the cloth of the focal plane shutter warp when being wound. Coated a lot of their solenoids too causing them to stick. That got settled by switching to synthetic grease.
 

nstelemark

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The answer is actually pretty simple. Computational photography. IMO very shortly if not now, if you aren’t shooting wildlife or sports, cell phones are going to rule. Some of my favorite shots this year are with my phone.

6AB1372E-BDF8-4251-82BD-4DF9BB4E12E6.jpeg
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Aristophanes

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Current camera sales are at about the same level as they were in the mid-to-late 70s. Back then they had a lot more competitors too. It's just that manufacturers have some weird expectation that camera sales should still be at the same insane level that digital camera volumes hit over a decade ago. Once you saturate a market plus add in the vastly improved smartphone cameras, the relatively small sales volume of these days becomes pretty easy to predict.
Polaroid ran into the same market saturation (104% IIRC) issue with their instant cameras but knew what they were facing.
What leaps out of the annual reports is how the overall (gross) market increases with more middle income people having discretionary income to buy these products. This plays out alongside a boom in photographic communication. But the current optical companies of Japan Inc. make a product that is out of touch in usability, price, and network integration. They operating systems are archaic with poor UI and awkward iconography. There is considerable technical friction between the image and the viewer, particularly with software and connectivity. The fact the industry is still reliant on home PCs for much processing, and that even today they issue software of CD-ROMs, is indicative as to how far out of touch Olympus etc. are with real world consumer behaviour. Despite saturation of the compact wave and then DSLR wave, this growing consumer base is still not being reached by the products available. That the industry is highly consolidated around Japan Inc. same-same groupthink companies likely contributes to their sales problems.
 
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exakta

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I do wonder when will a single camera company figure out the most important feature to add to their camera... 4G (or 5G or LTE) and social media integration.
I'm wondering what the cost would be to add 4/5G. When buying an iPad, the premium to add cellular is $130-150, although Apple is not known for aggressive pricing. For cameras selling below $1000, adding $100 or more to the price is an issue. Making the cameras even pricier is just one more disincentive to replace the phone. It seems to me based on the current market that $500 is the sweet spot for first time buyers.

I do agree though, that social media integration is inevitable. Some mfrs have done it, including some Panasonic compacts but were limited to WiFi.
 

Mack

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I'm wondering what the cost would be to add 4/5G. When buying an iPad, the premium to add cellular is $130-150, although Apple is not known for aggressive pricing. For cameras selling below $1000, adding $100 or more to the price is an issue. Making the cameras even pricier is just one more disincentive to replace the phone. It seems to me based on the current market that $500 is the sweet spot for first time buyers.

I do agree though, that social media integration is inevitable. Some mfrs have done it, including some Panasonic compacts but were limited to WiFi.
I have a couple of iPads that have the cellular SIM cards in them. Had to add them for the drones and the GPS maps, no fly zones, area unlocks, firmware updates, etc. T-mobile adds on another $15 each per month for a 2GB monthly data limit. It can run up a bigger big bill at times if data is unknowingly exceeded running through a cell tower out in the field verses a local Wi-Fi spot.

Don't know how many camera users would think about adding on yet another monthly bill given they have a phone already that can much of that or more with the apps. Much like having a landline and a cell phone both. One usually goes (landline) when finances get tight, or a redundancy of service.

Perhaps if more people were printing large prints instead of web work, maybe camera sales would take off. But even printer sales seem lackluster given I cannot even buy photo printer paper at Costco anymore. I wouldn't be surprised if Adobe begins to see a downward trend as well if the ILC sales slump, and given their slow entry to the cell market with a lackluster LR review. Adobe has been slow too against some app makers. Some phone apps are surpassing the antiquated PS/LR software and geared more towards the millennial's social media methodology (Instagram, etc.).
 

nstelemark

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As a counterpoint to my own argument, I would not have achieved this shot with a cell phone.

PB170076.jpg
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or this one:

PB170062.jpg
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But I am sure this will be possible, this is just software.
 

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