What Happened to the Photography Industry in 2015?

As we did for 2013 and 2014, this year we are also publishing our analysis of the statistics CIPA (the Camera & Imaging Products Association) published regarding the photography industry in the passing year (2015). After two horrible years we were anxious to know if the photo industry finally bounced back – here are the answers and our predictions for 2016.

This is our third year that we have been covering the photography industry statistics here on LensVid (we have been doing that since 2009 on our sister site Megapixel). In 2013 we have seen the biggest fall of the camera industry in recorded history (40% percent drop in a single year). 2014 was only slightly less devastating with 31% drop). Almost all sectors of the photo industry suffered through these years including DSLRs, Mirrorless cameras, lenses and of course compact cameras which look much like the dinosaurs a few years after the meteor strike.

Here is a summery of what happened in 2015 (you can click to enlarge the infographic below for the full details:

  • 2015 was the third year of double digit drops in the number of cameras manufactured globally – this is surly not sustainable for any industry.
  • Reflex cameras have more or less settled at around 10 million units a year while mirrorless cameras gained a slight momentum – it is still far below some of the earlier predictions.
  • Compact cameras are becoming an extinct “species” with 2015 having only 1/6’th or so the number of compacts sold in 2010.
  • The European market is still the largest one with over a third of the total global market, however the Asian market continues to be the largest for lenses with 30% (and almost 45% with Japan).

New data – What Happened in 2015? (click to enlarge)

Infographics-2015-1920_1080How did we fare with our predictions from last time?

  • The camera market will continue to shrink in 2015 as well (possibly below 35 million cameras) – more or less exactly what happened.
  • We do think (and hope) that both the DSLR market and the mirrorless market will see at least some slight gains in 2015 – partly happened – the DSLR market did go down but the mirrorless gained a few percentages.

Here are our new predictions for what we think will happen in 2016:

  • 2016 will be a better year for the photography market. With that said, we still expect the total number of cameras sold in 2016 to be below 30 million – or around 15% decrease compared to 2015.
  • On the other hand, we expect more DSLR sales in 2016 – with a one digit increase, and more or less the same increase in mirrorless cameras.
  • We are predicting that compact cameras will drop below 20 million and may even get close to 15 million (compared to 22 million in 2015).
  • Finally, Looking a bit ahead in the next 2 years DSLRs and mirrorless cameras will have a bigger market share than compact cameras, which we are predicting – will become a niche market before the end of this decade.

Do you have your own thoughts about what will happen in 2016? let us know in the comments below.

You can check out more LensVid exclusive articles and reviews on the following link.

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of LensVid.com. He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.


  1. Please clarify the units used in the “Camera Market Overview” box.

    For instance, that 28% for DSLRs in 2015: is that 28% of all units sold? Or 28% of all dollar-spent?


  2. And people wonder why Canon and Nikon are not bringing out new models more often, why Samsung pulled out altogether, and why Sony have gone for higher margin models!

    Here it is in black and white…

    1. Not precisely. These are manufacturing numbers not sales figures. We can of course infer sales from this, but there are more factors at play as well. For instance, manufacturing can also be down in an attempt to reduce inventories on hand while sales can be positive due to a cash-flow issue.

      This doesn’t really tell us the why of it, but it does *allude* to the what – manufacturers going after the higher-margin items (high-end fixed, DSLR, DSLM).

      1. In the photography world there is almost no difference between what is manufactured and what is sold (especially with the state of the industry in the last couple of years). Very few cameras sit in storage waiting to be sold for a long time – the industry is very fluid and in most cases you have shortages of products and not over supply so the numbers are very indicative of what people buy.

        As for the why (and maybe a more in-depth internal division between lower and cameras and higher end ones – the CIPA numbers don’t tell this story).

  3. I have trouble understanding the logic! We’re selling fewer so lets raise the price. I was looking at a new camera but for the value I’ll hang onto my 7D. Higher prices will only make me put it off longer! If your only reason for being is to maximize profits without providing a substantially better product then you won’t get my money!

  4. These figures have just the right amount of scare for industry professionals right? Well uh actually no.
    Not when you factor in what consumer photographers have “actually” been buying in the last 8 years.
    Here a little illustration from google trends…

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