Global Digital Camera Market Report March 2016


Last month, Feb 2016, bucked the normal camera shipment pattern and we had significant falls in shipments from the previous month. Would this fall continue or would we see a recovery to make up ground on poor February shipments. March is usually a steady month before the major push for summer sales starts in April.

I expect that the Compact fixed lens cameras to continue slowing down but the average unit cost to rise as more expensive models take over. Mirrorless cameras should show signs of an increase in both unit sales and average unit cost as they too go upmarket. DSLR's will slow down in the number of units shipped and the average unit cost will deteriorate as more base models are sold.

We will take a look at the market as usual by camera type and geographical zone to get the bigger picture. The DSLRs vs Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras (MILCs) battle will also be addressed as well as the average price for each camera type and zone. Firstly, the overall global picture for March 2016 as reported by the industry body CIPA Japan.

Global Camera Shipments

Global Digital Camera Units Shipped Year on Year Change 2016

Overall global unit shipments of all types to all zones were down -14.3% when compared to the same month the previous year. The improvement in shipments, or the reduced fall in shipments, can be attributed to a sharp rise in the shipments of Interchangeable Lens Cameras (ILC's'). This appears to be a redress of the shipments to the Americas that had seen a hit in the previous months.

Global Digital Camera Total Value Shipped Year on Year Change 2016

The total value of shipments of all types to all zones was up 0.9% in Yen when compared to the same month the previous year. In terms of geographical zones Japan saw the biggest year on year fall, falling -11.2% by total value. The Americas and Other Areas had the biggest rises of +23.9% and +16.7%.

Global Camera Shipments by Geographical Zone

Percentage Split of Market between Regions

Digital Camera Shipments % Units by Geo Zone - 2013 on

Europe maintained its position as the biggest market by geographical zone in terms of units shipped with 34.4% of the market over the last year. Asia and Americas are nearly equal at 24%/25% with the Japanese market about half their size at 14% and Others at just 2.5%. Looking at the last 6 months up to March 2016 we can see a weakening in the Americas market to just 24.2%. Japan has strengthened to 14.3% whilst Asia and Others have made small gains.

Digital Camera Shipments % Total Value by Geo Zone - 2013 on

In terms of Total Value of all cameras shipped, Asia is the largest market with 33.3% of the last 12 months. Whilst over the last 6 months, we have seen an improvement in the Asian and European markets, a stable Japanese market and a small fall in the Americas market.

Year on Year Change by Month

Digital Camera Unit Shipments - % Change on Previous Year 2016

Comparing the units shipped to each region, the overall fall of -14.3% reflects the correction in the Americas market to a fall of just -4.4%. All other regions had a year-on-year fall of between -16.1% and -23.8%. Such a large overall fall is still disconcerting for the camera industry as there is no sign of a levelling off let alone an upturn.

Digital Camera Total Value Shipments - % Change on Previous Year 2016

The total value of all digital cameras shipped rose 0.9%, a rare beacon of light in these figures. This was again due to the correction in the Americas market and assisted by a rise in the Others area. Japan saw the biggest fall at -11.2% and Asia also down -6.5%.

Digital Camera Shipments - Average Unit Costs - % year on year change 2016

Average unit cost has improved in all areas. We will see where this improvement comes from later in the camera type analysis.

Trends in the Market by Regions from 2014

Global Unit (K) Shipment Trends by Zone - 2014 to 2016

Looking more closely at the unit shipment trends since 2014 across the regions all are lower and still falling. As smartphones and other devices continue to get improved cameras the need for a dedicated camera gets less and less. The market continues its downward trend with more trouble to come in April and May given recent news events.

Global Total Value (¥K) Shipment Trends by Zone - 2013 to 2016

March 2016 saw a rise in the overall value of cameras shipped. This is due to specific rises in Europe, Americas and Other Areas. However, rather than an upturn in sales this appears largely to be a consequence of a major movement in the value of the Yen against the Dollar and Euro. The Yen appreciated in value around 10% making the Yen value higher but this will not help Japanese Exports in the long run as prices in Europe and America rise or margins get squeezed.

Average Unit Value Trend (¥) - 2014 to 2016

The average unit price in Yen continues to trend up in all geo-zones. Europe is still buying more low cost cameras where Asia is buying more expensive models.

Average Unit Value Trend for Zones - Exchange Rate Adjusted - 2014 to 2016

Despite the drop in unit sales and revenues, the average unit cost is still trending up. This trend has taken a leap upwards with the value of the Yen appreciating this month.

Global Camera Shipments by Camera Type

Percentage Split of Market between Camera Types

Global Camera Market % Share of Unit Shipments by Camera Type

The market continues to move away from Compact (FLCs) with little sign of that changing. DSLRs share shows an increase of 0.7% in the last 6 months with Compacts down 1.7%. Mirrorless (MILC) cameras have seen an acceleration in market share over the last 6 months with a rise of 1% in unit terms.

Global Camera Market % Share of Total Value of Shipments by Camera Type

From a Total Value viewpoint, Compacts are continuing to decline losing another 1% in the last 6 months. DSLR's are also losing their share of overall value, down 0.9% in the last 6 months. Meanwhile, Mirrorless have jumped 2.2% in value share over the last 3 months as more expensive models come online.

Year on Year Change by Month for Camera Type

Digital Camera Unit Shipments - % Change on Previous Year 2016

Year on year comparison for March 2016 shows a -30.9% decline in units shipped for Compact cameras. DSLRs see a reversal and make a17.9% rise. Mirrorless is also moving ahead with a 10.8% rise in units shipped. It will be interesting to see if this rise in MILCs continues into Spring.

Digital Camera Total Value Shipments - % Change on Previous Year 2016

In total value terms, Compacts dropped by -29.9%. DSLRs rose by 12% whilst Mirrorless rose by a huge 45% in YEN revenue. The next figure on average unit costs should spread some light on why.

Digital Camera Ave Unit Cost - % Change on Previous Year 2016

Compact cameras have shown a small rise of 1.4% in average unit cost. DSLRs have dropped again with a fall of 5% in average unit cost. Mirrorless have shown a healthy rise in unit sales, total value and a 30.9% rise in average unit cost. So a ray of sunshine on an otherwise dull report. Just remember Mirrorless account for just 11.1% of the overall market in terms of units and 20.8% of total value.

Trends in the Market by Camera Type from 2014

Global Digital Camera Unit Trend (K) by Type - 2014 to 2016

The ongoing trend for unit shipments confirms Compacts are still falling whilst DSLRs and Mirrorless both show a slight upturn. The rate at which Compacts are falling has accelerated over the last few months.

Global Digital Camera Total Value Trend (¥K) - 2014 to 2016

Overall revenues have improved this month with DSLRs and Mirrorless making progress. Compact cameras continue to sink.

Global Digital Camera Average Unit Value Trend (¥) by Type - 2014 to 2016

Average unit values have been rising over this period but with Mirrorless continuing to power ahead. DSLRs and Compact cameras are slipping in unit value.


From a global perspective, the market for Still Digital Cameras continues to shrink in unit terms. Whereas, the total value has shown a slight rise this month. This month shows a correction from some low figures in Feb 2016.

The largest geographical zone for units shipped is Europe but by Total Value it is Asia, taking Japan as a separate zone. Shipments to the Americas have seen a correction from previous months. Shipments to Other Areas have again seen significant growth in value in March 2016.

Trends are generally down or static apart from the average unit values that seem to keep rising, perhaps due to people buying more expensive cameras that can outperform their Smartphones.

March has seen a recovery to shipments to the Americas and a stabilizing of Total Market Value. Unit value has seen a rise again but the rising value of the Yen can be seen as a factor in these figures.

DSLR vs Mirrorless

Over the last 6 months, Mirrorless cameras have started to eat into the market share enjoyed by DSLRs. DSLRs however, still outsell them by 2.6 to 1. March was another good month for Mirrorless with an increase in shipments and higher value models being sent out. DSLRs reversed the previous months trend and improved shipments year-on-year although with lower cost units.

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