skip to Main Content

Chart shows how digital cameras killed analog cameras and how the selfie culture (almost) killed digital cameras after that!

Heino Hilbig sent us that nice graph based on official CIPA data showing how the camera market changed during the last 80 years.

1) Analoge photography has been killed rapidly by the digital camera generation.

2) The Digital camera business got “almost” killed by the smartphone selfie generation :)

We don’t know yet when the digital camera market fall will stop. And it’s unclear what can save it…

PRESS TEXT from Heino:

The figures may invite for an “optimistic” view:
According to CIPA’s camera production statistics, the recession of the camera market has slowed down a little. It decreased just 32.9 % until October 2014 compared to the same period last year.
Questionably, nevertheless, is  that the decline of the margin product SLR increased it’s momentum. 25% this segment shrinked in 2014 so far – without hope that this decrease could be recovered by the sales of mirror free compact systems.
What impact this development has on the total photo market, becomes even more clear if we look to the sales ratios of the German photo market: In 2013 the share of cameras and lenses counted for not less than 85% according to European market research company GfK (sales of photo finishing products excluded) – a relation that most probably is not substantially different in other countries.
Can’t this trend be stopped?
Even if manufacturers launch success stories over and over again (e. g. , light field cameras or action cameras)– such relatively small segments do not change the overall negative picture.
Simply the dominance of smart phones is far too big.
Is it? What if that would not be the case?
What would be, if the pure existence of the Smartphones is not the real cause for the recession of the photo market? What, if there are other causes too? Causes we could counter attack?
The figures, CIPA and GfK publish, give reason to hope that we don’t have to accept the ongoing decline of the market, if we find the right strategies for manufacturers, service suppliers and photo trade.
Let us discuss about it:
In two presentations at the PMA/CES in Las Vegas we will show that pointing to smartphones or market saturation as an explanation of the shrinking camera market falls too short and we will indicate ways the industry could take to change the situation:
Monday, 5th of January, 2015, 9:00 o’clock
Photography, the Most Emotional Business of the World – Why then the Market Collapses? How can manufacturers, trade and press react to this?
Tuesday, 6th of January, 2015, 13:00 o’clock
How to Tackle the Collapsing Camera Market?
So, will we see us in Las Vegas?
Heino Hilbig
Managing Director
Mayflower Concepts
Hamburg – Germany

  • ejpb

    Is that really true? I do still a little bit of analog work and see a small, but interesting market that still exists around it. Virtually everything is still possible, from very specialized film to development and scanning. See also how lomography has become popular. I’m convinced that almost 100% of the digital market underestimates the true capabilities of chemical photography. The refinement of some of those optical & mechanical marvels like the older Nikon F’s leads to such a joy in the practical use and the final results are even with the older glass excellent. Look at the present range of Nikons, having less bright and smaller viewfinders, so bulky, with those giant lenses, living on a far too complicated firmware… what did improve? The selphie hype and 100% living in a smartphone-world fully adheres to the ego-centric culture in which we live, to me it’s really a sign of society madness. The idea that engineers and designers should solve everything with electronics and firmware is completely ridiculous. See how long it took before a company like Fuji was having the 100% electronic controlled X-series on the rails and they’re still quite some room for improvement, mostly to overcome all the electronic and software hurdles (… and limitations as well). I won’t exaggerate by saying that the total R&D turn around to develop such a range from scratch and to bring it the same level as the major DSLR-solutions will not be far from 6-10 years, while Fuji really had older and more interesting (more mechanical) 35mm and RF concepts on the shelf that could have been a true differentiator à la Leica.

    • ohm image

      Is the ‘selfy culture’ madness? Or, is it just that finally we have technology that allows people to easily take photos of themselves? Technology has changed, but we as humans haven’t. We were mad to begin with, and now we can call that madness something.

      Ronin is right: there was a boom. We are passed it. No need to fix it. Just adapt.

      • ejpb

        The selfy story is… sorry, not my thing (let’s keep it to that). Dear Ohm, wherever I read your comments, I appreciate them a lot. I indeed think indeed that Ronin is right. But there’s one more thing: those 70s cameras – and in particular the professional ones like the Nikon F/F2 – were built to serve a lifetime. A digital camera however, and even more a smartphone, is just a consumable in a premium wrapper. Nothing in it is designed to live longer than 5 years. You see it, you feel it in every thing shining in the shop’s displays. Over 5 years you won’t even be able to buy a new battery. See how fake and cripple all this fake retro stuff is when you have lived in the 60s-70s like me. Even Leica doesn’t manage to make a concept live longer than a few years (which serious photographer still buys a second hands M8? Maybe somebody liking the logo, yes). I think also this has brought quite a lot of people to a ‘saturation’ level. They just found out that spending money to both cameras and smartphones is overkill, so they just buy one thing. I really know a lot of people like that.

        • ohm image

          I should have been clearer. The ‘Just adapt’ message was to camera makers, who for so long, have flooded the market with crap just because they see market gains. They didn’t see that customers were longing for basically a do-all device like a smartphone, so they plugged short-sighted goals.

          And, like you said, they built stuff that is made to be replaced, so that they can continue with market. I think that a lot of younger people see this as a problem. People in their late 20’s and afterward may not see this as a problem as they are used to the foisting on by companies and think that’s the way things are done.

          It _has been_ the way things were done.

          I think that both you, and I, hope that that changes.

          Personally, I’m glad that there are smartphones that take the place of cameras. More smartphones are returned to shops for cashback or sold, or given away than are cameras, which are still thrown away, and fill the earth and leak into the rivers. All of our beloved Japanese companies are 100% guilty of destroying our earth based on assumptions about the market.

          What sort of product do you think would work in today’s market? I think camera companies need to look toward enthusiastic camera consumers, not the general market. And, if I understand you correctly, they need to build toward a long-term market, toward long-term customers. I agree wholeheartedly with this.

          • ejpb

            I think the answer is ‘think longer term’. Why do all these manufacturers feel the need to re-invent their lens mount for mirrorless while they were able in the 60-70s to make lenses that were smaller than the current APS/C lenses? Again, market creation in the most horizontal sense, just like in the car industry. Why not make upgradable sensors in cameras? LCDs? Reinvent the Nikon Photomic in a digital way?

        • ohm image
  • ronin

    ” the recession of the camera market has slowed down a little. It decreased just 32.9 %”
    Yes, thank God last year our sales only collapsed by one third. Wshew, dodged that bullet.

    Brings up a couple points: As I’ve long said, this total collapse is not so much an anomaly as it is a reversion to mean. The temporary upswing 5-10 years ago led camera companies to make the conclusion that the bubble would last forever. Instead, Peak Digital Camera occurred five years ago.

    Camera companies love to blame smartphones, because it takes the heat off their executives. But before there were ever smartphones, everybody had little cameras- from the original Kodak of the 19th century, through various brownies and hawkeyes and 126 and 110 iterations, and even the best selling camera of all-time, the Kodak Instamatic.

    Instead, camera companies need to look to themselves. Ridiculous over-pricing of their product, and constant product churn with only minor feature changes that caused that large hunk of ‘investment’ the consumer made last year to have zero residual value. Promising the photos would be better and better with each generation, but no one can tell any difference.

    Consumers have enough of the artificial marketing price model, and are staying out. They will keep their current camera for years and years, just like they did before the digital camera bubble. Manufacturing product marketing who brought this on themselves by their short term outlook will continue to blame everyone else but themselves.

  • Jan-Peter Wahlmann

    Are the number on the y-axis correct? About 120,000 unit maximum?

  • Mike

    The problem with this type of sensationalist graphs is that it mixes the professional (and advanced amateur) market with the snapshooter market.

    Obviously the latter is a huge group of people that want to spend as little money as possible on whatever device will take their snaps. This market has been entirely eaten by smart phones.

    However, the professional and advanced amateur market is a very solid and stable market of people that spend a lot of money on equipment. The number of units might be marginal compared to the snapshooters, but the amount spent on bodies and lenses might be 10x.

  • Christopher Mark Perez

    So… whatever happened to that mirrorless market penetration hockey-stick sales projection?

Back To Top

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

What are Cookies?
A cookie is a small file of letters and numbers that is stored in a temporary location on your computer to allow our website to distinguish you from other users of the website. If you don't want to accept cookies, you'll still be able to browse the site and use it for research purposes. Most web browsers have cookies enabled, but at the bottom of this page you can see how to disable cookies. Please note that cookies can't harm your computer. We don't store personally identifiable information in the cookies, but we do use encrypted information gathered from them to help provide you with a good experience when you browse our website and also allow us to improve our site. You can watch a simple video from Google to find more information about cookies.

Cookies used by our Website
The Mirrorlessrumors website,, uses the following cookies for the collection of website usage statistics and to ensure that we can . These are anonymous and temporary. By using our website, you agree that we may place these types of cookies on your device.
Read how Google uses data when you use our partners' sites or apps:
Google Analytics Cookie Usage on Websites: Addthis cookies:
Disqus cookies:
Vimeo cookies:
Youtube cookies:

Disabling/Enabling Cookies
You have the ability to accept or decline cookies by modifying the settings in your browser. Please note however that by deleting our cookies or disabling future cookies you may not be able to access certain areas or features of our site. For information about how to disable cookies in your browser please visit the About Cookies website.