Global Digital Camera Market Report October 2016

This months review of the CIPA Japanese Digital Still Camera statistics takes into account that the shortfall in production and shipment due to external factors, ie. earthquakes, means that a full year-on-year analysis is not appropriate. Still it would be useful to see a clear indication that things are getting back to normal and see what the new levels of camera shipments are likely to be. Again, for a more in-depth analysis then look back at Global Digital Camera Market Report June 2016.


October is usually the peak month of the year for camera shipments. A month where cameras have to be supplied for the high spending season through Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas and New Year celebrations. We need to see strong figures if this season is not to be a flop. There is little or no chance of making a full recovery but at least we should see good progress.

Digital Camera Production

During the summer months production of cameras overall was flat. September saw the first real rise in units produced and that improvement has continued into October. The overall production of digital cameras improve by +22% compared to September. That is still down -31.9% on the same month a year ago. The holiday season is nearly upon us and many digital cameras are still in short supply.

The camera production figures for the year 2016 so far are still down -37.4% by units. This is way down on the relatively small downward forecast of about -9% made at the beginning of the year.

Looking at the different camera types. Compact cameras are up +45.1%, Mirrorless up +7.9% and DSLRs up +2.5% month-on-month. Over the full year so far, this leaves Compact cameras down -49.2%, Mirrorless down -12.7% and DSLRs down -18.4% from the previous year covering the same period. Just 2 months to go to prevent what would be a very bad year for the digital camera industry and photography in general.

Global Digital Camera Production Units (K) by Type - 2014 to 2016

The chart above shows the seasonal nature of camera production but also the continuing year-on-year decline. Compact cameras have made a big monthly improvement.

Global Camera Shipments

Turning attention to actual camera shipments in October 2016, the figures show only a slight improvement in overall cameras shipped in comparison with the previous month. However, that still means camera shipments are still way down on the same month the previous year. Shipments to all areas of digital still cameras are down -34% on the same month a year ago, a +2% improvement on the same figure the previous month.

Global Digital Camera Units Shipped Year on Year Change 2016

From a total value viewpoint, there has been a reversal in the improvements made in previous months. We will see the reasons for this in the following sections.

Global Digital Camera Total Value Shipped Year on Year Change 2016

Global Camera Shipments by Geographical Zone

Year on Year Change by Month

Digital Camera Unit Shipments - % Change on Previous Year 2016

Other areas of the world lose out and again relegated to last place in the shipment of digital cameras with just 40.8% of the previous years shipments. Europe also loses ground with poor shipment figures down -44.4% of the previous year, a real body blow to the European camera market in what should be their best time of year. Other areas are still down but not by as much.

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

Total value is down in all geographical areas. Very similar pattern to camera shipment numbers.

Global Camera Shipments by Camera Type

Year on Year Change by Month for Camera Type

Digital Camera Unit Shipments - % Change on Previous Year 2016

Year-on-year comparison for Oct 2016 shows a continuing improvement, but with Mirrorless being pegged back to 0% year-on-year. Compact cameras are still down by -49.2% and DSLRs by -7.2% from the same month a year ago. So no growth but some improvement will have to suffice.

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

Compact cameras continue to increase in average value whilst Mirrorless and DSRLs dip a little. No great shakes.


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

global digital camera unit shipment trends to oct 2016

If you were to look at the digital camera market as an investment such as a stock, commodity or currency, you would want to see in a falling market where the support level lay. Here we have an industry heading south with little or no indication of where the support level is. It’s just down for the main.

Looking closer we can see that the main issue lies with compact cameras. They are being pummeled by the smart phone, and that shows no signs of abating any time soon. Mirrorless have found a base level, of sorts, whilst DSLRs continue to fall slowly. So we are still no wiser as to where the digital camera market will come to rest. It is quite obvious that growth is far off.

High end cameras are the target of companies but the limits the overall market size. Companies are choosing to give up on low cost unprofitable cameras even though they are quarter of the market.

What production is made seems to be shipped to Asian markets in preference to Europe especially causing issues within the European retail sector that may well damage future business.

The big issue with the digital camera is that if it wants to keep itself as a unique sales channel, with dedicated camera outlets, then it needs to maintain a certain size. If not, it will revert to just another box shifter tech market where its sold as just another product with no advocacy by specialists that can advise at point-of-sale. When that happens, smart phones will really be king. Until then, camera companies fight or sink, your choice.

DSLR vs Mirrorless

Mirrorless cameras are doing a little better than DSLRs in terms of sales and value. This is to be expected as technology improves but it still not clear if they will ever out do DSLRs. Progress is so slow in a weak market, that may never happen.

Shipments of DSLRs now stand at 2.5 per Mirrorless camera, down from 2.8 last month.

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