Believe It or Not, the Camera Industry Experienced Growth in 2017

For the better part of a decade, we've been hearing doom and gloom analyses about the death of the camera market at the hands of the camera phone and the like. This has been reflected by a steady decline in sales, but for the first time in years, 2017 experienced an overall growth.

Lens Vid took a look at the Camera and Imaging Products Association analysis of the global camera market for 2017, and for once, the figures show some promise, as the number of shipped cameras increased by 8 percent in 2017, while shipped lenses increased 2 percent. While those are admittedly modest rates of increase, when taken in context of the overall trend of the last decade or so, they're huge news, as many have been sounding the death knell of the industry for years. I personally think such predictions are a little dramatic; it's my belief that there will always be such a market; we're simply seeing it dwindle as those for whom a dedicated camera is less a necessity and more a luxury opt for a camera phone. I fully expect the numbers to stabilize at the baseline of the professional and semi-professional market and possibly rebound (as we might be seeing) as consumers' demand for better imagery continues to increase. If you want to learn more after watching the video, you can read the full analysis at Lens Vid.

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11 Comments

Adrian Pocea's picture

And why do you put a Sony on display as the header of the article? You are talking about camera industry, since when Sony is the most iconic name associated with cameras?

Alex Cooke's picture

Watch the video and you'll notice DSLRs shrunk 9 percent last year and mirrorless grew a whopping 32 percent, so yes, a mirrorless camera is symbolic of this new growth.

Adrian Pocea's picture

I don't think Sony is responsible for that, as in Japan is not even no 2, but no 3 , after Olympus and Canon.

Pieter Batenburg's picture

Adrian Pocea Alex didn't write it was due to Sony.

Adrian Pocea's picture

No, but he heads the article with a big, badass, clear picture of a Sony camera. How is that called other than advertising?

Kawika Lopez's picture

Sheesh. How does every article somehow manage to offend someone on the basis of a camera brand. (Face Palm)

Insert Michael Scott "THANK YOU!" gif...

Sean Gibson's picture

Because the world is full of douchebags.

That being the case, is the camera industry experiencing growth or shift? From a long-term perspective, I think they are different. I can't imagine a lot of people will be shifting back to mirrors or some new alternative, often enough to sustain this "growth".

Kawika Lopez's picture

Wow. That’s super interesting.

First off, I just need to say, that was the highest amount of listening fatigue I’ve experienced in a while. That guys vocal inflections are extremely difficult to listen to.

But more on topic, there’s a couple things that pop into my head when I see these statistics. I’m not sure this can wholy account for the increase in sales, but it’s just what comes to mind.

I think we are living in a time when there is a huge shift in the way the marketing industry perceived value. More and more were seeing “influencers” being utilized as a business model, and If you’re an influencer, chances are you are using some sort of interchangeable lens camera.

The other thing is millennials. It’s just this huge fraction of the population that has self-employment ranked as one of the highest sought after career pathways. With the growth of social media as a dominant marketing platform, you end up with massive amounts of tech-oriented millienial who are pursuing the whole “influencer” idea.

As a millennial myself, I am a self-employed filmmaker. Part of what I do is create content on YouTube which serves as a reliable source of income. I realize that being in the industry might give me more exposure to this, but I can’t count the number of friends and fellow millenials who have full time jobs and at the same time are trying to build some sort of influencer presence. They all have at least one thing uncommon. An interchangeable lens camera.

Right now, a huge number of millennials are populating the “up and coming professionals” category where they are earning decent money and trying to find their way. I feel like buying a camera and trying to become someone of influence is a dominant mentality and we all want to at least give it a try.

Pieter Batenburg's picture

The future of the camera market is not in the hands of aging and greying (I'm getting old but bald instead) professionals who have a hard time adjusting to newer technology.

The same whining was going on with the introduction of the digital camera as nowadays with mirrorless.
We don't ride trains powered by steam engines anymore and in ten-twenty years time, all cars will have electric propulsion. Times change. Some people on the other hand have a hard time changing.

The future (of the camera market) is in the hands of the younger people.
The camera manufacturers need to adapt to what the younger generation wants and needs.

I can shoot pictures and video on my smartphone, make a movie out of them on my smartphone and publish them within a quarter of an hour. Even in bright sunlight the screen of my smartphone is perfectly visible.
I can edit raw pictures taken with my smartphone on my smartphone, convert them to jpeg and share them online. All my pictures are geotagged and the menu is easy to use because of the touchscreen.

Now the world of the d-slr and mirrorless. I can take great and far better pictures and videos, the screen however is most of the time far inferior to that of a smartphone. Certainly smaller and of a lower quality. Most cameras can't geotag pictures (with exceptions), most cameras don't have any software on board to quickly edit a video or edit raw pictures (with exceptions). Most cameras don't have a great touchscreen (although some have). And most cameras can't publish directly on the internet.

The camera manufacturers need to employ staff from the smartphone industry and let them loose on the design and interface of cameras. That will get more young people interested and give them what they want.

Lots of young people think cameras are old-fashioned and stupid because you can't do what they want to do.