Worldwide Camera Sales Take Another Tumble

CIPA, the Camera and Imaging Products Association, which tracks global camera and lens sales by major manufacturers, has released their report for June 2019, and it shows another significant drop in sales as compared to past years.

More specifically, the report shows that as compared to June of last year, camera and lens sales are down across the board by large amounts, with DSLRs dropping by 37% (in shipped units) and mirrorless cameras by 14%. Correspondingly, lens sales are down across the board as well. It is not particularly surprising news, as camera sales have been dropping for many years, and we have seen the point and shoot all but rendered extinct by smartphones, which are surely also cutting into the sales of some more advanced cameras, as many more casual shooters have opted for simply using their smartphones in situations where they might have purchased a lower-end DSLR a decade ago. While the lower sales certainly don't help the industry, I personally don't think they signal the death knell. I think it's likely that we'll eventually bottom out at a steady baseline, as advanced enthusiasts and professionals will always need more capable equipment.

You can read the full report here.

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49 Comments

Mike Kelley's picture

Pictures are perfectly good enough and people don't really see a need to upgrade, IMO.

Korey Napier's picture

There's likely a myriad of variables, but I do agree with that. I think we have reached a point with image quality where we see diminishing returns. Each new camera model offers very negligible differences over the previous model. From about 2000-2010, this wasn't the case as significant gains would be achieved as newer models came out (digital was still in its early stages after all).

Ed Kennedy's picture

I read on one photo forum that the Sony a6000 is an "old but usable" camera. It may not have the bells and whistles of the newer cameras in the a6xxx series but it is still a fine camera that allows you to take great pictures.

Motti Bembaron's picture

I still shoot with my Nikon D3 and like it even better than my D750. Most of my lenses were bought almost ten years ago. I reckon that my gear is for the next 5-10 years.

That's the case for many photographers, as long as it works why chuck it.

No need for more MP's or features, every half-decent camera would do the job if you know how to use it. And thanks to thousands of free tutorials, people learn how to use what they have better. In addition, since most photos will never be reproduced as hard copy, there is less need for better and newer cameras or lenses.

Cell phones cameras are getting so good it's amazing. I have been traveling with a cell phone camera for years and have a few large prints (up to 3 feet) of photos taken with a cell phone.

It's nice to read about new tech but as long as my gear works it will stay with me.

Tim Cray's picture

I definitely agree with you, Alex. I suppose it's folks like us that are 30+ that invest in serious camera equipment. Cell phone cameras are for the young pups out there that desire immediate gratification and Facebook, Instagram, etc. recognition from their followers.

stuartcarver's picture

I’ll never substitute a camera for a phone, there is way more to it than just images, the feel and control are what makes it.

Having said that I have no real plans to upgrade my camera as it produces great shots (like the post above states). I guess the kit is just going to become more specialist in future.

Daniel van Duinkerken's picture

You do realize this article isn't about mirrorless replacing dslr, but about smartphone cameras causing a decline in all camera sales (both mirrorless and dslr)?

stuartcarver's picture

Yeah but that wouldnt suit his agenda of getting a dig in about Mirrorless and how DSLR's have been so good for years, why replace them blah blah blah.

stuartcarver's picture

Your reply literally makes no sense at all?

stuartcarver's picture

I dont understand what you need me to say? who mentioned a mobile phone or not being able to see the difference between that and a camera?

You referenced not owning a mirrorless camera with some snide tone to your post and now you are talking about the difference between a phone and a camera.

please get your argument in check before you reply.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

And so not only do you hate Sony and mirrorless cameras, but you also buy craptastic Chinese phones, bravo...

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Since you're obviously on a tirade, let me just state my site link IS available, you just have to fire up those non-troll brain cells to figure out where it is...

And the fact that I try to take care about my works not being stolen, has suddenly become an attack vector against me, well then boo hoo, sorry to be as lame as you, that this is what you grasp at.

Your agenda on this site is crystal clear, and I don't need to defend myself against someone like you.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

And here I was going to complement you on your photos and the work you put into them, regardless of how much of a douche you act like, since photography is an art form that should be celebrated by all.

Instagram to me has become a bit of a cesspool that I have little interest in participating in, for the record, and I couldn't care less that I only have 9 followers, since I don't actively participate on the platform or advertise my account there.

And with that I bid you goodbye, and hope you have a rotten day, especially after acting like a total jerk.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Still being a jerk off I see... A professional photographer is NOT determined based on how many likes on a photo you have on Instagram, how many followers you have on Instagram (both points null since I don't participate in the platform, as stated), what brand of gear you use (we already know you get a hard on from bashing Sony and anyone using their gear), or how many clients I have, which BTW you do not know so making, or even insinuating, such claims makes you look and sound like a complete tool.

Prime example, Joe Edelman, one of the best portrait photographers out there, uses Olympus as his go-to camera platform. What, you going to bash him now? Call him an amateur because he has a home-based studio or doesn't use a camera from the mighty Canon or Nikon and has gone with a toy m4/3 mirrorless camera??

Or Nick Page, a fantastic, professional, landscape photographer, uses Sony exclusively in his workflows, going to call him an amateur too?

If your Holland saying is true, then yours must be bursting out of your trousers because of how big an ass you are!

Your arrogance and hubris is astonishing... Again, I was going to complement your photography as it's an art form that should be celebrated, but that attitude of yours prevents me from being kind to you or your work in any shape or form. You turn photography into a sport, and you bash those around you, for something as simple as having different gear than you, or not having as many f'ing Instagram followers, who gives a F?

You might be a decent photographer, but you're a deplorable human being.

Daniel van Duinkerken's picture

Haha what a lulletje you are, as we say in Holland ;) Just over 1100 followers isn't necessarily something to boast about, and not everyone uses Instagram anyway.... And there are plenty of photographers using Sony or whatever brand for that matter (what happened to 'the camera is just a tool', or 'creativity and skill is more important than the camera'?), that have way more followers. No need to go bashing people man, especially over a post you didn't seem to grasp in the first place.

Daniel van Duinkerken's picture

You are shouting the exact same thing on how Canon will make Sony disappear so not sure how that is different. You were the one who brought 'mirrorless vs dslr' into this, whereas the post has nothing to do with it. I also for the life of me don't understand what the photography or business of Edison Wrzosek would have to do with this discussion. He didn't mention his or your business. But you apparently felt the need to start this d*ck-measuring competition. In your own words: 'Come one, man'.

Daniel van Duinkerken's picture

Aaah, in another topic... and that is relevant regarding this topic, how?

Pieter Batenburg's picture

@Jan Kruize Your attitude wasn't great to begin with but now you have evolved into insulting just about everyone who doesn't agree with you. You will be be busy since more and more people see you for what you are. A frustrated and angry little man who has a huge chip on his shoulder. You have become "the Angry Photographer mk2". I wonder what happened to you. Why are you so rude?
Why can't you accept that things have changed and the brand you hate in a rather sick manner, has become bigger and bigger.

Daniel van Duinkerken's picture

You do realize Nikon and Canon have similar programs to the Sony Artisan (Canon's explores of light and Nikon ambassadors)? It's just a smart move by a brand to sponsor successful photographers that use your brand. Do a Google search and you'll find a lot of pro's who use Sony. Or Nikon. Or Canon. You seem to only want to stick to your little bubble with the one story you heard from one person on one event, in The Netherlands of all places. Come on, Jantje

Daniel van Duinkerken's picture

Well, it wasn't really the question, it was again something you yourself brought up, even though it didn't really have any bearing on this article. Some sports photographers using Sony: Yonathan Kellerman, Nick Didlick, Chad Wadsworth, David Burnett. Also, why is sports photography the only relevant field for seeing if a brand is being used? You can find plenty of other pro photographers in other genres using Sony Also, some Canon sports photographers who are sponsored by Canon (which is perfectly fine, would you turn down a sponsorship from Canon?): Simon Bruty, Peter Read Miller and Terrel Lloyd. I see see sponsorship (in this case) more as an indicator of your success as a photographer than as a reason a brand isn't relevant.

Daniel van Duinkerken's picture

Ah sorry, I didn't realize you wanted me to list tons of people as you keep bringing up a story of one person about one event in one country ;)

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Daniel, I think Jan has dug himself a big enough hole, especially since his post history here on Fstoppers is public, so I have no doubt this will come back to bite him sooner or later.

It's obvious he is just trolling anyone who isn't a Canon or Nikon shooter, and has lacklustre interpersonal skills, which doesn't bode well for him, since psychology and people skills are a necessity to be a good portrait photographer.

It amuses me in the respect that, like you said, in the world of photography, your cameras, lenses, lights, stands, all your gear, are just tools as a means to an end, which is to get the shot you are after, and make something of it. I was a Nikon shooter for 15+ years, and I still love their DSLR's, but I switched to Sony because Nikon wasn't delivering what I was looking for in a camera platform for my needs, and Sony did, in spades. My last photoshoot for an acting agency portfolio turned out like a dream, with every single shot out of 310 being tack-sharp in focus on the eye's of my subject (thank you Eye AF), and the camera literally disappeared from my mind and allowed me to totally focus on the shoot. This is something I can't say I ever experienced with my Nikon.

It's also saddening to see, that even in the world of photography, such vitriol and anger have infected this profession, much like it has in IT, from which I also have a 25+ year background in as a Sys Admin and architect.

Oh well. I think the best thing to do now is just stop engaging this troll, as he's already made himself known here for who and what he really is. If he gets out of hand, just report him to the admins, or confront him with some screenshots of his stupidity.

Have a good day Daniel!

Daniel van Duinkerken's picture

Ha yeah no worries. I had quite a bit of fun with replying .... All the best to you!

Edison Wrzosek's picture

I'm not going to hold a troll's hand to find a link that's already published on this site... If you're smart, you can find it on your own.

And as for bigmouth, look who's talking! Good god...

Edison Wrzosek's picture

I would pay no attention to this clown, he's proven himself a prolific troll who jumps into any article that even mentions the word mirrorless or Sony, and goes on tirades.

You'd almost think a mirrorless camera fell off the roof a building and hit him on the head!

Edison Wrzosek's picture

And here you go, jumping into an article that basically just mentioned mirrorless, and you come in to troll... You're pathetic.

Reginald Walton's picture

I mean, but how many cameras do people need? At some point people have to be satisfied with the gear they have and not buy the latest thing out each time, especially with how good the cameras are today.

Chris Warner-Carey's picture

Higher-end camera gear is expensive, and plenty of folks who would love to step up to something more sophisticated than a smartphone simply don't have the funds. I try to steer younger photographers to consider used gear. One of the upsides to the growing mirrorless market is the glut of DSLR's that people are unloading. There is a large assortment of very excellent used gear, much of it only a few years old, available on Craigslist and other sites. For the more adventurous, there's amazing 35mm and medium-format film equipment on the market. I just bought a Mamiya RB67 with three lenses and two film backs, and a Nikon F2A at a garage sale-all for $200.00 A quick clean up and calibration, and I'm already shooting and developing at home...It's not for everyone, but it's fun and far less expensive than a new Sony set-up.

Ed Sanford's picture

The real point among the comments that is being missed is that consumer interest in cameras has waned tremendously. Professionals and advanced amateurs are not the key buying group that is influencing the downturn. Soccer moms, dads, and grads are not buying cameras. We are talking about the run of the mill point and shoot and low end DSLRs. This group has been driving sales all the way back to the film days. Mobile phones encroached on basic photography, and there is no real need for the everyday person to purchase cameras in large quantities as they once did. Another key point is that people, by and large, don't make prints anymore. They use their mobile phones to record and show pictures of the kids and grand kids. Sharing is done via social media or email. This hits the sweet spot for mobile technology. Even the days of the heirloom wedding album to be passed down through generations are gone. We are seeing a fundamental societal shift that is causing a downturn in photography sales.

Robert Nurse's picture

I wonder if this downturn is causing the industry (some of its members anyway) to rethink putting too much effort (a.k.a. $$$) into developing that next great camera/lens that wows the pros and serious amateurs.

Ed Sanford's picture

Robert, I think that you are right on... Why would you expend millions to develop a product that may not sell enough units to cover the cost of development. Like everything else, digital may be so well developed that photographers will ask "how much more do I need?" I watch the pros shooting sports, news events and other public coverage. They are using the big heavy DSLRs like they've always used. Plus, their shots will go to Getty and other agencies who will use them for web content. You know sRGB. You don't need a lot of megapixels for that. Plus, in order to make a profit, they want to keep their costs low. That translates into less sales for the manufacturers.

Deleted Account's picture

Markets change. "Professional photography" kit is going to end up being for professionals once more.

Entry-level kit won't be required (anyone who needs something cheap will just hit up the huge secondhand market for now).

But everyone and his dog will still own a smartphone camera.

This isn't a bad thing. It's just change.

There will always be enough people out there buying camera kit that there will be plenty of options for it.

It would be nice to see some of the camera manufacturers follow Leica's lead and start thinking about software now. As there is huge potential for new applications for high-end photography.

Pieter Batenburg's picture

Most young people really don't see the need to buy a camera. Most of them really think dragging along heavy stuff is bonkers. And let's be honest, if you aren't really into photography, and happy with just taking snaps, why would they?

tony cao's picture

go to any event, let it be kids dancing on stage, junior level sports. nature hikes, 6/10 of the cameras you'll see are either point & shoot or smartphones. 3/10 will be a mirrorless/DSLR with the $50 kit lens, and 1/10 will be a DSLR/Mirrorless with a proper lens.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

I think another point missed in this article, is that, for many photographers, there just hasn't enough of an incentive in the way of technological advancements, to upgrade their gear as frequently as may be needed by the industry to prop up sales.

Let's face it, with the exception of some advancements in megapixel counts, and some auto-focus engine changes, a DSLR / MILC from even 5-6 years ago can still keep up with current-generation camera bodies and glass, and still produce magnificent looking photographs.

My last DSLR lasted me 10 years before I finally upgraded and took the plunge into mirrorless, and I expect my current investments in mirrorless to last me for at least that long, if not longer, so I can be counted as one of the consumers contributing to the fall of camera gear sales.

Oliver Neumann's picture

Is anybody really missing the entry level point & shoot cameras that lots of people used to buy some 10 years ago ? Enthusiast cameras that are sold today (and even some yearw ago) are already "good enough" for most of us. The only real progress that we currently see, is adding AI to cameras; and some enthusiasts go bigger, as this becomes more affordable.

Smart phones are also beyond their sales peak : almost everybody has one and almost nobody really needs a new one. The phone camera has been a welcome marketing tool to attract consumer interest. I wonder what they will come up with to keep people wanting new phones in the upcoming years.