It was about this time last year that Nikon announced a major change of direction, dropping a new line of premium DL compacts, announcing a loss of several hundred million dollars and introducing a voluntary redundancy plan.
This followed a period when some of its high end DSLRs were subject to product advisories and even recalls due to faulty shutters and related problems. So it’s no surprise that Nikon in the US has made much of its NPD-derived #1 ranking in the full-frame camera market – DSLRs and mirrorless – for December, 2017. Although ‘one swallow does not make a summer’ – it’s only one month, after all – it’s indicative of a remarkable recovery in less than 12 months.
‘December is a significant month for sales because of the large volume of units sold during the holidays,’ stated the Nikon press release. ‘Industry-wide, DCIL full-frame unit sales for the month of December 2017 were almost equal to unit sales from January through March of 2017.’
The NDP figures see the 45-megapixel D850 and the three-year old D750 as the #1 and #2 top-selling full-frame cameras in the US market.
According to The NPD Group, Nikon achieved double-digit unit and dollar sales growth within the full frame camera segment in December 2017 vs. December 2016.
‘Nikon has returned to an emphasis on high-end products for advanced and professional users. These users appreciate Nikon’s full frame offerings because of their amazing image quality, reliability, low-light capability and high-speed performance,’ said Bo Kajiwara, president and CEO, Nikon Inc. ‘Nikon is an innovative, diversified company with a clear, long-term strategy to thrive into 2018 and beyond.’
It’s particularly piquant for the Nikon team, as last year Sony was crowing about overtaking Nikon to take #2 spot behind Canon in the full frame interchangeable category for January and February 2017.
But the market for full-frame cameras is buoyant overall in the US: full frame camera sales were 69 percent higher in units and 59 higher in dollars in December 2017 than they were in December 2016. Nikon’s units were up 81 percent and dollars 88 percent.
The Nikon result is all the more remarkable as DSLRs are the weakest of the three categories measured by CIPA, the association representing Japanese camera manufacturers. While full year shipment figures are yet to be released, the stellar performers for Jan-November are mirrorless interchangeables – up 35 percent in volume and 57 percent in yen terms, and fixed lens compacts – up 12 percent in volume and 19 percent in yen.
DSLRs, as we have reported through the year, are the only category of camera for which sales are falling – down almost 10 percent for the first 11 months of the year, with shipments to the American markets only a couple of percent better.