For the last few decades, Nikon and Canon have sewn up the sports photography market. Especially Canon with its long prime lens collection and its professional service network. Sony has coveted this position for a long time but has had to wait for the technological advantage to grow before really challenging. Well here it is, the real challenger has appeared in the guise of the Mirrorless Sony Alpha A9 camera.
Panasonic has revealed the latest version of its superzoom compact cameras the TZ90 (UK) or ZS70 (US). This will be added to the existing TZ60/70/80 or ZS40/50/60 lineup that has been popular for travel and general point-and-shoot photography with the advantage of a 30x zoom lens and small electronic viewfinder.
The rise of the digital camera in the 21st century has been a remarkable success. However, as with virtually all technology, something comes along to cause a reversal back towards either the norm or a complete failure. Of course, we are talking about the stand-alone digital camera. The cause of the failure in this regard is the advent of the Smartphone, not photography. Today, something approaching 98% of all photographs taken are not with a stand-alone cameras but by another device, smartphone or tablet. So little wonder we see the chart below of annual digital camera production from the main Japanese companies as collated by CIPA Japan.
DSLR cameras (Digital Single Lens Reflex) have been the main tool of the professional and enthusiast photographer in the digital age, and before that the recent film era too (SLR). Over the last few years, a new style of camera the Mirrorless CSC (Compact System Camera) has made in-roads into the traditional DSLR market. Headlines such as ‘The Death of the DSLR’ have been seen in the photographic press for some years now. Many proclaim the Mirrorless is superior and the one you should buy. So we have some questions to answer.
- What is the difference?
- Which is better?
- Which type is winning the market share battle?
Nikon Corp. Q3 FY2017 Headlines (Oct 1, 2016, to Dec 31, 2016)
- Overall company Operating Income up +83%
- Overall company Net Sales up +2%
- Imaging Products segment Net Sales fall -23%
- Imaging Products segment Operating Income falls -51%
- Restructuring takes its toll with expenses up to ¥53B
- Troubled and delayed DL range of Digital Cameras - scrapped
Overall Company Results
NIKON Corp. released their Q3 FY2017 results after giving notice of ‘extraordinary loss’ and voluntary redundancy for 1000 older workers. Restructuring the business as outlined in the previous results has come at a cost and the pain is not over yet.
Restructuring is fine if there is a clear plan as to the future direction of the business. With the digital camera market still in free-fall, investors will want to know how the company will maintain its market. The complete abandoning of a segment of cameras that is thought to be one of the more profitable, premium compacts, with the scrapping of the ill-fated DL range will leave people ‘scratching their heads’.
Investors were not impressed and shares fell 15% losing most of the gains made in the last 3 months due to an improving ¥en exchange rate.
Looking at the overall business of Nikon we see a company with rising Net Sales by +2% and improving Operating Income by +83%. This income represents 8.5% of Net Sales and that is a big improvement on the previous year where it was just 4.7%.
Let’s take a look at the overall business structure to see the losses and gains in each sector.