Sony Has Overtaken Nikon in the U.S. Full-Frame Camera Market

Sony Has Overtaken Nikon in the U.S. Full-Frame Camera Market

"CaNikon," the colloquial term used to describe the market dominance of Canon and Nikon, is going to have be changed. Sony has just overtaken Nikon in the full-frame interchangeable lens camera market in the U.S.

The wildly popular a7 series has been a hit that continues to grow as Sony has divided the series into specialty versions that have mostly received great reviews from photographers and videographers. In fact, the company's interchangeable lens camera and lenses are on a record sales pace this year, having grown 23 percent from the same period in 2016. Due to this, Sony now finds itself in the number two market position for full-frame interchangeable lens cameras in the U.S., ahead of Nikon and behind only Canon. 

 (PRNewsfoto/Sony Electronics)

As can be seen above, Sony analysts also determined that the five-percent growth of the overall market was largely attributable to Sony's contribution, as that growth would have been a two-percent decline without their presence. Whether it's a sign of the continuing mirrorless revolution or more a sign of Nikon's woes remains to be seen, but either way, the professional camera landscape is changing in a major way. It's an exciting time to be a photographer!

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19 Comments

IMO Sony deserve their success. The A7 series brings a lot of goodness to the market.

Adrian Pocea's picture

It is about January to February sales,and only at full frame ( let's not forget that Nikon sells very well the D500 and D7200, not to mention their lower end D3000 series, no 1 in Amazon sales rank) but nevertheless, Sony is doing great, thanks also to the big push from the social media, youtubers, Casey Neistat, with his 2.5 million subscribers, comes to mind. The conclusion is that social media has more impact on sales than any advertising on tv or through retailers.

Tomash Masojc's picture

It would be interesting to analyze that are the most popular cameras on fstoppers.

Jonathan Brady's picture

I'm not sure the headline of this article is correct. It may be, but I'm not sure the data presented are the proper support.
First off, a source link would be awesome! Second, that chart says "based on dollars" which means revenue is up 23%. It would not be surprising to know that Nikon's revenue has fallen lately as the entire Nikon lineup of FF cameras, save for the D5, is older and the higher volume of sales is gone and the prices are being lowered. So yeah, fewer sales X lower sales price = decline in revenue. As far as I can tell (with no source link), this isn't a chart showing that Sony has taken 2nd place in market share from Nikon.
Perhaps I'm reading it all wrong...?

Anonymous's picture

Of course, according to your source, it is correct but I'm not sure a two month period warrants such an article but I think it probably is going to continue to trend that way, mostly due to mirrorless vs DSLR more than anything else Sony brings to the table.

Jonathan Brady's picture

Thanks! The rest of my post stands though. This is looking at revenue, not unit sales. And the revenue from 3-4 year old cameras at the end (or nearing it) of their sales-shelf-life AND discounted is not what you want to use to gain an accurate understanding of the market. What would be more telling is total unit volume over a longer period of time. But Sony knows this, and chose to cherry-pick this data instead. I wonder why....

Alex Cooke's picture

That's not necessarily true. First, Nikon has one FX camera that is a year old (D5) and two that are about 2.5 years old (D750 and D810), which certainly isn't new, but it's not ancient by upgrade cycle standards. While they're not pushing out cameras at the breakneck pace Sony is, at that level of professional body, I would also argue that photographers tend to care a bit less about the latest and greatest and will buy whatever is appropriate for them at the time it's needed, unless a new model truly is right around the corner. On the same token, you're looking at it from a photographer's perspective, which while valid, is not the only perspective. At the end of the day, Sony and Nikon care less about total units and more about the total money coming into the company. Either way, whether you invest a little more or a little less in the analysis, it's a telling sign that Sony is gaining ground.

Jonathan Brady's picture

Yeah, I was a little on the early side with my memory of announcements of the cameras. The point is still valid though; the Nikon bodies, on the average, are older.
Ironically, both company's current lineups include models which were essentially hardware fixes (Nikon 2 and Sony 3) for cameras which were widely criticized for numerous issues. Yes, other features were added but they HAVE to do that to save face (at least a little).
And I agree that each company cares more about profit, but we have no way of knowing which company's camera line is more profitable.
Ultimately, this is a single data point and as is often the case, a single data point needs context to frame it properly, and Sony knows this - yet chose not to provide any for us. That's telling, IMO.
Edit: I didn't even consider the D5 or A99II in this. They basically cancel each other out.

Pretty crazy. I certainly doubted them but they are doing amazing stuff with their cameras

I'm very glad for what Sony is doing. I love my travel A6500. I'm sticking hard to Nikon for my work cameras. Hoping they will add move video capability. Lee's move to Lumix to have one set of lenses for vid and photo is very attractive. I could do that with the A7 series, but I much prefer Nikon as for April 2017.

Alex Cooke's picture

1. I never said it wasn't.
2. That observation is made in tandem with my professional experience and talking with colleagues on a daily basis and I stand by it. Considering Sony's full frame line is mirrorless, it says a lot about photography.
3. The piece is not an advertisement and thus, there's no issue of "honesty." And of course a press release from a company about their success is going to read positively.

Thanks for reading.

Adrian Pocea's picture

We all know, Alex, that this is NOT related to photography( i couldn't care less about parts here, i am a Canon shooter). but to videography. The Sony sales are only in a minor way reflected in professional, photo journalistic, sports, wildlife, wedding photography, and most likely in vlogging and minor videography(not trying to be mean, but i have YET to see a great short or long movie done with a Sony A series, versus the huge nr of cool movies done a decade ago with 5dii).,due to the following created on youtube by a specific number of people, with huge following on their channels(hats off to them). You and most other photographers, regardless of how good we feel about the advance of the mirorrless system in the imaging world, KNOW that for serious, fast, snappy, abusive work, Sony are not yet there, and if they will be trying to be, they have to give up on the same premises that made them cool and accessible to people(especially size). In my opinion it is not about DSLR vs mirorrless, it is about the two of them merging together(a little bit like the A99ii) and making the perfect camera for everybody. Let's not forget that the cell phones were initially huge, and that wasn't cool, then they became smaller and smaller , and that was cool, and now they become bigger and bigger again, with a combination of the size and wit of both worlds. Mirrorless, if they want professional embrace, they need to become bigger, heftier, with a better battery life, with dual card slots(Gh5 comes to mind). Dslrs , if they want to resist on the market, they need to put electronics and cool features in their bodies(5div's live view is as good if not better than any evf and it's ovf has information in it, and things can be pushed even further)

Tomash Masojc's picture

And if i remember well, Nikon for the first time used in their pro dslr (D5) Sony sensor, always used their own. And D500 Sony sensor. Now when Sony won't sell their best sensors, interesting that Nikon will do. Btw i'm Nikon user and fan, no hate.

Ben Perrin's picture

Sony is far from perfect but they deserve success for shaking up the market and innovating. Fortune favours the bold!

Reza Masoudi Nejad's picture

Sony did a great job and mirror-less camera market is certainly raising; but comparing DSLR full-frame with mirror-less full frame market is not a right comparison.

I think this article plays pretty much into Sony's marketing department. You cite numbers of an extremely short time span related to dollars not unit sales, reflecting the US only. Why was this particular time frame chosen? Should Canon use the time after introducing the 6dii or having introduced the 5div to make a press release about significant growth in sales? I don't rule out the possibility of Sony increasing to be successful, but that should be judged based on a larger dataset. What is the impact, too, of a possible recovering or bouncing back after Kumamoto and second-placed Nikon not having released any high-end cameras recently?
Then Sony claims to be the main reason for the overall growth, since without them the market would have decreased. That is a logical fallacy, as without Sony, it is possible too that people would have bought other brands which could have led to a possibly small but still positive growth. We can't rule that out.

For youngsters, 2 months is a lifetime! Success is determined by how the market views you THIS WEEK.