What Happened to the Photography Industry in 2014?

2013 was the worst year for the photography industry in a long long time. A few days ago CIPA (the Camera & Imaging Products Association) published the official numbers of the photography industry for 2014. So did the industry bounce back or did the fall continue downhill, and what does it all mean for us as consumers?

Last year we published an article, video and an infographic showing some of the more interesting numbers which tells the real story behind the big fall of the camera industry market in 2013. The story went viral and was picked up by most of the major photography websites around the world.

Today we are continuing the tradition and looking at the data from 2014 with an updated  infographic (below) and a new video. As you can see almost all the numbers are down. Here are a few key points:

  • Camera manufacturing/sales (all types) went down in 2014 by 31% (in 2013 we looked at close to a 40% drop).
  • Lenses manufacturing/sales (for DSLR/mirrorless cameras) went down in 2014  by 12% (in 2013 it went down by %20).
  • Japan is still a huge photography market (13% of all cameras and 14% of all lenses sell in Japan which has less than 2% of the world’s population), however the rest of Asia is the only place which seems to gain any momentum in 2014.
  • Mirrorless cameras (despite all the hype) are still just 7% of the entire camera market (up from a mere 5% in 2013).
  • Compact cameras are a dying breed – going down from a 108 million units in 2010 to only 29 million in 2014 (and this number is likely to go down even further in 2015).
  • Predicting the future of the camera market proved challenging in the past – IDC (the American market research, analysis and advisory firm) failed to predict what will happen to the mirrorless camera market. In 2012 they concluded that in 2014 we will see no less than 13 million mirrorless cameras sold worldwide. Only 3 million mirrorless cameras were actually sold…

New data – What Happened to the Photography Industry in 2014?Infographics 2014-01-2

Just like last year – the main reasons for the continued fall of the camera market seems to be the prevalence of advanced camera phones and the general economic crisis (but we are always open to more speculation on the subject).

So what is next for the photography industry? well, the way we see things – the camera market will continue to shrink in 2015 as well (possibly below 35 million cameras). We do think (and hope) that both the DSLR market and the mirrorless market will see at least some slight gains in 2015 (Canon was very passive in 2014 which might have contributed to the low general sales especially of DSLRs – something which is about to change in 2015 – possibly very very soon).

What do you think will happen in 2015? let us know in the comments below!

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33 comments

  1. IDC’s record is not much better in other areas. For instance, two or three years ago they confidently predicted that by 2015 Windows phones would have secured about 20% of the global market.

    1. I agree with this statement. As a Windows Phone user myself, and happy I might add, I can tell you that IDC has a lot of BS spewing in their analysis.
      They can predict all they want, but so can anyone else.
      As for the camera market, I think it’s a combination of many factors, not just the smartphone invasion. Sure, it makes it easy to blame a singular industry foe the erosion of another, but that would be oversimplifying.
      My guess, it’s smartphones, but also market stagnation. There hasn’t been incredible innovation to drive interest back to dedicated cameras. Smartphones can do plenty, specially considering the app ecosystem that is highly competitive. Second, it’s the lack of social integration via networks. Again, smartphones allows instant gratification in this department. Camera manufacturers don’t make it easy to communicate with these social networks from the camera. Sony started to do this by allowing communication between camera and phone, but their mobile business is practically belly up.
      Third, prices aren’t dropping fast enough, and the reliance of full frame as the “savior” of the next generation is misguided. It will only be a savior if they manage to manufacture a sub $1000 full frame camera. Otherwise, they are pricing themselves out of a big market. The first company that can produce an affordable full frame and still make money from it will be the true winner in any recovery.

  2. Well, the introduction of high quality video in DSLR cameras caused a rush of videographers and filmmakers buying them up. The image they produced was far more pleasing than video cameras of the time. These cameras offered for the first time interchangeable lenses for video for cheap. Now, video cameras offer the same interchangeable lenses and sensors in a real video camera body. All these videographers & filmmakers no longer need these DSLRs. I’d like to see the figures on DSLRs before video was introduced.

      1. It’s the entry level, formally the best sellers in DSLR’s, that is taking the biggest hit because people bought then thinking they would automatically make them better photographers. When they found out that wasn’t true it was off to the cell phone. Low end P&S cameras are also taking a huge hit. There will always be a market for enthusiast and better cameras.

  3. If smart phones killed the compact market, I would expect to see the same happen to GPS, low end camcorders, and possibly the handheld gaming devices. Anyone know what’s happening with these companies, product lines, or sales? I haven’t bought a DSLR in years since what I have does the job just fine. Won’t buy a compact due to my iPhone 6. Might buy a mirrorless just to try it out, but no real need for one.

  4. That’s fine. Let it drop. It will mean more camera phone pictures and instagram filters and the cream will rise to the top.

  5. “Just like last year – the main reasons for the continued fall of the camera market seems to be the prevalence of advanced camera phones and the general economic crisis (but we are always open to more speculation on the subject).”

    Here’s some speculation:

    Compacts:
    Camera phones get better and better with every new phone. Features, megapixels, IS, image quality. We get these cameras for free effectively. We always have them with us. There’s no reason to buy and bring a compact with us unless we are looking for a long zoom lens or weather/waterproofness. Compacts technology is matured and stagnant. The only way to compete with other compacts is on price. Remember when the high end Nikon Coolpix A was $1100 when introduced? You could by them last month for $299 refurbished. This camera segment is effectively dead. Yes. Dead. If your kid wants a camera and doesn’t have a smart phone, you’ll just give them your iPhone 6 when you upgrade to the iPhone 7. After shooting with that iPhone 6, he or she will never ask you for a “better” point and shoot. Expect the 40+ compact models that Canon and Nikon each offer to dwindle to 30, 20, then 10 within five years. Check the line in 2020 and see how many compacts they sell.

    DSLRs:
    Yes, DSLR sales are down, though not due to cell phones but mature technology. I don’t need to upgrade to a 5DMIV or an 80D or 6DMII because I have plenty of FPS, AF points, and Megapixels. More does not equal better pictures. I blew up a 20MP shot to 20×30 and it’s super sharp, better than 35mm film. I’ve never missed a shot because the AF technology in my camera was not adequate. I haven’t missed a shot because I didn’t have enough Frames Per Second. DSLRs are so good, we don’t really need to buy a new one anymore. Consumers have figured this out. In the old days, those of us who had the money would upgrade every 2-3 years by default since technology was quickly evolving from 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 18, 24 megapixels, more and more AF points, and more FPS. But upgrading for more megapixels is over. Upgrading for more AF points is done. Upgrading for more FPS was usually not a driving reason and with the 7DMII and its 10FPS! that’s over too.
    That’s why sales are down and will stay down until some new feature comes along like Video that will make us want to buy your DSLR. For me it was the Canon t2i in 2010 and its Full HD video capability that no Nikon at the time had. It opened up a new world to me, videography that I never really thought about. I’m still having fun shooting videos. What new feature is on the horizon?

    As consumers, we should be happy we have such capable DSLRs to shoot with. There is enormous pressure on prices and large discounts are always available, just check eBay, Nikon Rumors, Canon Rumors or Canon Watch and see how incredible deals pop up all the time. I bought a $3499 5D3 for $2800 refurbished from Canon in 2013 and thought I got a good deal. I just sold it for $1900 after shooting about 1000 shots through it. This sales slump is great for buyers, not so much for sellers and manufacturers.

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