Sony Just Muscled Its Way to Top Spot for Full-Frame Camera Sales

Sony Just Muscled Its Way to Top Spot for Full-Frame Camera Sales

Latest figures of year-on-year sales released by Japanese website BCN show that for the first time, Sony is the market share leader in Japan when it comes to full-frame cameras, knocking Canon from the top spot.

As reported by Canon Watch, the figures show that based on sales between November 2018 and October 2019, Sony has improved its share of the market from 31.6% to 38%. This pushes Canon into second place, down to 36% from 37.8% the previous year. 

While this is certainly a significant development and keeps Sony on track for its goal of dominating the camera industry by 2021, it’s worth noting that full-frame unit sales are only a small percentage when looking at all full-frame and APS-C DSLR and mirrorless camera sales — just over 10%.

These figures come at a time when Canon and Nikon’s first forays into mirrorless cameras are barely a year old, and truly flagship models are yet to appear. One might expect these figures to change considerably in a year’s time when more firmware updates have been delivered, making Canon and Nikon more appealing, and new models have been brought to market.

Many photographers moved from Canon to Sony because of the potential to adapt lenses, but while this was to Sony’s advantage, it might also mean that customers can switch back just as readily.

What are your thoughts? Will Sony's position continue to expand or will Canon and Nikon stage a comeback over the next 12 months? Leave a comment below.

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56 Comments

Previous comments
Der Wotan's picture

Hassle-blah? Exactly... Then again, stills are so boring - I stick with my Alexa LF.

This definitely means I won't buy Sony.
When I bought my first camera 6 years ago, I didn't pick Canon simply because they are the number 1 brand. I know it sounds dumb, but I tend favor the "underdogs", those ranked second or third. Same thing with cars, Toyotas are not even an option for me because it's too common.

Rk K's picture

So you're just a hipster then?

Who cares? Just use what you have and buy what you like. If I like to drive Peugeot than why should I care that Volkswagen has a bigger market share?

Rob Mitchell's picture

It seems the thing to do, I don't know where it came from or why.
I follow a few EV forums and it's just the same there, constant updates on who's the market leader, bashing of any brand that's not number one. Why is it? Personal insecurity? The odd 'need to be a winner' all the time? It's like a peer justification but on a bigger scale.

charlie sanders's picture

Market share in Japan , not worldwide

Over a few years tech will even off as it hits a plateau.these ups and downs are the market trends.its not as if any company will lose,but..whether it is sustainable...smartphone technology is increasing.

David Love's picture

If smartphones are so amazing, why are my camera lens so big? I know that peephole camera on your phone has software to fake a blurred background and other neat tricks but they will never be more than a cheaper point and click camera.

Reginald Walton's picture

Wait! Why does it matter? Oh and I just read an article two days ago on PetaPixel's site that said Canon was still #1 and Sony was #2. I guess things change really fast in the camera world. LOL

For me it's all popcorn time. I use aps-c and MF and so majority of these reports are irrelevant. Fuji's strategy to skip FF makes sens now huh?

Stuart Carver's picture

Haha, im going to go as far as saying Fujifilm's number one strategy was to avoid their users having to be involved in boring arguments on the internet.

What market are they talking about, Japan? World?

Only Japan and only 35mm sensors.

Kim Ginnerup's picture

I am pretty sure that whatever camera you have it will work for a long time, no matter who is number 1, 2 or 3.
I have lenses that are more 30 years old. They Produce softer images compared todays lenses but they are still fun to use. If some brands will be no longer there. You will still be able to buy second hand and maybe even to a lower price. You do not always need the latest and “greatest”, to make great photos. I agree that the camera business needs to wake up and learn a couple of things from the mobile industry. Canikon have to run really fast because they forgot to start running when the mirrorless race started. In a game you often win by your opponents mistakes. Sony saw it and acted on it. It was the same with Apple vs. Microsoft. Microsoft didn’t get out of business they changed management. Maybe that is what is needed in the camera business as well.

lots of butthurt in the comments..."so what?" and "that doesn't mean they're better" all over the place. it's just news, folks. no statements or implications as to the quality of the products were made, yet here you are acting all defensive...

At one time Minolta sat atop the leader board as most cameras sold. Position change. No manufacturer makes the best choice for every style or situation . Just like each format is not great for every situation . Whether they stay or go will depend on how well the companies are diversified and how deep the pockets are.

so if i understand correctly, when i fill the buffer of my sony camera i cant do anything, not even enter the menu until the buffer clears,. so much LOL. and the Z series is hot on the heels of the Sony's and doesnt have this issue and has a mount that has a bigger future.not to mention the menu system and Nikon is 1 generation behind Sony. having said that i might opt for Nikon Z6 because of my lenses and color rendition. and a A7-4 if it comes out early 2020 for video, if they include the crazy eye AF for video. for photography i stick to my D850 and i might get A7r-4 but im not convinced about that camera, maybe the Nikon version of that one. sony still missing a feature that i need, focus stacking.

Dan S's picture

I started with Canon with the 5dii upon release, switched to Nikon with the D3s upon release due to job requirment's. I love Nikon body's and ergonomics. I unwillingly just sold it all to move to Sony. Why,

1. Tired of Nikon and Canons nonsense, they are constantly trying to hold back on their technology, saving it for the "next" camera 5 years down the road. Sony is KILLING it, putting everything they have into their current cameras and will most likely keep doing so. Nikon took 5 years after Canon to put radio in their speedlight flashes which drove me nuts. This is something Nikon could have easily released and would have been essential, especially for wedding photographers. But decided to hold back. Nikon and Canon both make you buy there new VR lenses to have VR, and make you replace all your old ones. Sony has the great idea, Just put it in the body stupid. The others can, but wont.

2. I don't like mirrorless, Im very comfortable looking through the viewfinder at the actual scene and not a digital reproduction. Unfortunately it is the way of the future and there is some benefits to it. Saying that, I think mirrorless is a death blow to the traditional DSLR, and at some point, MAYBE as crazy as it sounds, DSLR will get dropped by Nikon and Canon for mirrorless as their new flagships. I'm sure traditional DSLR will be supported. But when Nikon and Canon finally try to compete with a real mirrorless option, the lens mounts will be different obsoleting lots of DSLR equipment with will flood eBay and make it of almost no value. This is the real reason for my recent switch. I watched my NIkon D800E body barley sell for 500. which i paid almost 4000. upon release and Just sold a D850 I bought last year and paid 3500 for that. Just sold it for 2k. I was at the photoexpo in NYC a few months back and saw a line of people at Keh and Usedphotopro selling off their Nikon and Canon equipment to switch to Sony. I was shocked. I realized it was time to cut my loses and sell and switch before my stuff has no value.

3. Ultimately, I really wanted to sell and get the Fuji GFX 50S. Always dreamed of medium format. Used, they are within reach now and was dead set on getting one, not Sony. I downloaded raw files from the Fuji GFX, Sony a7r iv, and the Nikon D850. I figured, the Sony would not compete with my beloved D850. It was the same scene, same model, same lense settings. Again shocked. The Nikon was not even in the same ballpark as far as resolution. And to my dismay because I really wanted to justify buying the Fuji, the Fuji and Sony images were pretty much indistinguishable. I am a pixel peeper and zooming way way in, on the Sony you could very clearly the pours of her skin, fine hairs and even skin color. And the Sony was not even in pixel shift mode, which in a studio environment will be even more resolution than the FUJI.

Like I said, I love and miss my Nikon's. Selling them on eBay recently felt like putting my kids up for adoption. But Sony is killing it, going all in on their technology and I believe are going to keep doing so. Nikon and Canons first attempts did not even come close. Their first attempts were like sticking their toes in the water to see if they want to jump in. Reminded me of when Nikon only made crop sensor cameras in the beginning and said a full frame was nonsense and not necessary. Canon seized the moment and took control of the industry and all the videographer's went full bore Canon with the release of the 5D. Nikon did come back, kind of, but unfortunately for them, with most becoming very invested in Canon, they were not switching back. Well, its happening again

Forgive me, I don't like long posts and normally don't read them myself. Frustration with Nikon and Canon has been bottled up for a long time

Nikon just made far too many mistakes in the past. They are pretty much done I think. Arrogance in incompetence did them in:

- failed Nikon 1 line ("don't cannibalize DSLR sales" lol)

- failed in compact market (DL line)

- ridiculous effort in action camera market that failed

- only one card slot in Z6/7. Pissed of professionals and amateurs alike (who had to buy new expensive cards)

- not sharing lens protocol

- disrespect and neglect of APS-C (in 18 years only 4 DX primes, two of them macro and one fisheye). Just pathetic.

- good ol' regular crippling of cameras (one example: d3300 -> d3400 -> d3500, also d7500 etc.)

They deserve what's coming to them.

Black Rock's picture

I feel you 100%.

When I hold D300 or even D5200, it pains me to see how far Nikon has fallen.

The D850 was & is still the best all around *DSLR*, bar none; however Nikon shoulda/coulda prepared a equivalent mirrorless body at the same time.

When I saw the half baked Z7 with 1 card slot, the haphazard AF, I was dismayed. Come on, Nikon, you expect the Pros to pick up that camera for the livelihood ? Geez...

John Kim's picture

The new 800 lb gorilla in sales ..... only if they can get the service/repair part right, they will be unbeatable .....

reason for me to stick with Nikon over here. they have a great service department. as i understand Sony doesnt have a Pro service like canon or Nikon. and sony doesnt feel like it could survive a drop or sneezing on the camera. nikon can, yeah i dropped my D850 more than once.

Anthony Cayetano's picture

Hopefully this fierce competition reduces the stupid “filler camera” offering by Canon and Nikon— last-gen cameras with a new feature or two and rebranded as a new model. And Epstein didn’t commit suicide.

Great lens. Overall the bodies give great choice but wish Canon wouldnt keep blackmailing customers i to mirrorless and look to crazy pricing of aging models like the 5D mk4.... and near 3k gbp when importers sell for 1.6 !!!!!