Yesterday Sony Alpha Rumors reported Sony had fulfilled one of their long held ambitions and managed to pip past Canon in sales figures, well only in Korea but it’s a start. This could be seen as an validation in the strategic value of mirrorless cameras especially in the fight back against smart phones, and yet as far back as August mirrorless cameras were responsible for gloomy news over at Nikon when the company was forced to cut profit forecasts after under performance by their mirrorless section.Since then there have been comments from both Nikon and Canon execs building to a small crescendo in recent months that indicate a scaling back of development of new mirrorless cameras. Canon and Nikon’s actions had lead to recent industry speculation on blogs like DP Review that mirrorless was dead in the water as a technology. Yet exactly a year ago females were responsible for 70% of mirrorless sales while men were responsible for the same percentage in DSLR sales. Mirrorless cameras therefore give a company penetration into a less developed area of the market as the percentage of women involved in photography continues to lag behind men, but this gender imbalance is beginning to re-address itself as a consumer army known as ‘camera girls’ has built up in Japan. It seems Nikon and Canon are dismissing the stronger performance of the mirrorless market and focusing on the lack of sales in Europe and the US although it would be worthwhile for them to remember that the West’s fashion industry does much of its trend casting in Korea, no doubt for good reason.
Industry watchers the Wall Street Journal released a video debating mirrorless and DSLRs, with one speaker suggesting that mirrorless is the closest thing to a savior the camera industry has at the moment. In their video debate it was also argued whether DSLR was on its way to extinction, and although said out loud it sounds a melodramatic thing to say dropping the words video, or cassette into conversation shows how technology is capable of mind bending advances . So whether Canon and Nikon will reconsider their scaling back of mirrorless operations and look at launching a more sophisticated marketing campaign for mirrorless cameras, making bodies that are compatible with existing DSLR lenses for instance, is a question worth asking. Not only by shareholders but should also be asked by photographers because it will determine what sort of innovations we’ll see over the rest of the decade. Likewise strong compact growth may have been responsible for surging leaps in the development of expensive high end technology so combating the decline of overall camera sales should be paramount if the current fast pace of technological advancement is to be kept up. Fittingly it is best then to end this post with this quote from the previously mentioned Sony Alpha Post.
In Q4 of 2013 the mirrorless sales in Korea climbed up to 58% of the system camera market (DSLR drops to 42%).
Will this market trend ever occur in Western markets? Do you agree with the Wall Street Journal Video? (Watch it here)