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SLRs dip for first time

In recent weeks both Canon and Nikon have made announcements revising down interchangeable lens camera sales.


Canon has cut its operating profit outlook for the second quarter in a row, with a warning that its digital SLR (and mirrorless interchangeable) sales will fall this year for the first time since their introduction in 2003.

It has downgraded estimates of interchangeable sales from 9.2 million (made at the start of the year) to 8 million. Last year it achieved 8.2 million interchangeable camera sales.

‘Until recently, interchangeable-lens sales’ growth was close to double figures even when the economy was bad. But now people are postponing consumption of luxury items such as cameras,’ said Canon’s chief financial officer, Toshizo Tanaka, during a briefing in Tokyo in late October, adding that consumers had become more sensitive to price.

Canon left its latest 2013 sales forecast for compact cameras unchanged at 14 million, against 18.3 million in 2012. Canon’s financial year ends in December.

The Canon stock price has fallen 6.3 percent this year, compared to a nearly 40 percent rise in the Nikkei index.

nikonD3200-686x387Nikon Corp has likewise cut its full-year unit sales forecast for interchangeables for the second quarter in a row. Nikon shares have fallen 29 percent this year.

It cut its unit sales projection for interchangeable lens cameras to 6.2 million from a previous forecast of 6.55 million. Once again, this will be the first fall in sales for Nikon digital SLRs since it entered the market.

The imaging unit’s operating profit slid 26 percent for the six months ended September, saying overseas demand for SLRs had remained depressed.

Sony also reported a fall of 6.9 percent in the dollar value of its camera business – a result which would have been worse without the benefit of a favorable exchange rate. Interestingly, Sony has identified interchangeable lens cameras as its solution to falling sales of compacts, nominating its new high-end interchangeable cameras and the QX ‘lens camera’ for smartphones as its path to recovery.

The CIPA camera shipment figures for the first three quarters of 2013 show that shipments of digital compacts are at 65 percent the volume and 64 percent the value against the same period in 2012. SLR cameras are at 83 percent of 2012 figures on both measures, while mirrorless interchangeable cameras are at 87 percent of 2012’s volumes and 95 percent of value.

Research firm IDC expects worldwide shipments of interchangeable lens cameras to fall 9.1 percent to 17.4 million units from 19.1 million units last year.

A story in the WSJ (which was somewhat spuriously trying to argue that smartphones were cutting into DSLR sales) also stated that accessory lens-maker Tamron had experienced a 22 percent drop in unit sales. However, in Tamron’s last financial report, from Jan- Sept 2013, it’s sales in dollar terms were up by over two billion yen.

CIPA figures for lens shipments from Japanese manufacturers from Jan-Sept are at 86 percent 2012 levels for the same period in unit terms, but 107 percent in monetary (yen) terms.

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