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Thom Hogan / sansmirrror - Mirrorless take over from DSLRs in 2019?
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Thom Hogan / sansmirrror - Mirrorless take over from DSLRs in 2019?

Thom Hogan wrote an interesting article discussing when he feels mirrorless will overtake DSLRs for shipment volume, aka CIPA statistics.  He feels in 2019 we could see a shift in the market because of both Canon and Nikon releasing new mirrorless cameras.

I have a great deal of respect for Thom and what he writes, and I feel he's not far off. If Canon continued its current pace, and Nikon stayed out of the Mirrorless rat-race we would see a slower rate of adoption of mirrorless.  However, with Nikon throwing down and entering into the fray in a big manner this year (supposedly two new mirrorless camera systems and a new Z mount) the landscape gets a little trickier to imagine what will happen.

If Nikon and Canon's new mirrorless offerings are well received, we could see mirrorless and DSLR volume to flip nearly overnight.  Mathematically speaking right now it's 65% DSLR and 35% Mirrorless.  It would only take around 3 million more mirrorless cameras for both Nikon and Canon to ship to swing that in entirely new direction.  How much will they mass ship out globally thinking there is built up anticipation of these new systems?  Full frame systems normally don’t sell or ship in massive quantities, certainly not as much as the bottom end of the lineup.

One interesting thought is that Canon may be bringing the Kiss name to the mirrorless lineup.  If this happens, we can start counting the days until the EOS-M system is the new rebel lineup, and the APS-C EF mount system slowly starts to disappear down to a few camera bodies.  This shift alone would change the entire landscape and market share of mirrorless.

Canon since the start of 2016 has been bullish about mirrorless, as they have mentioned many times that they are selling, and selling lots - especially to the lucrative mirrorless market in Asia.  Here's some quotes from their speech summaries given to investors during the detailed quarterly financial reporting.

1Q 2016

by expanding our lineup of mirrorless cameras, we have succeeded in capturing new users, including women and young individuals. Together with entry-level DSLRs, we will work to stimulate market demand and expand our market share.

2Q 2016

For mirrorless cameras, we have expanded unit sales, particularly in Asia, running advertising campaigns targeting young people and females. As a result, we sold 1.5 million interchangeable lens cameras in the second quarter, representing sales that were in line with last year, which was also the case in the previous quarter.

3Q 2016 

Furthermore, for mirrorless cameras, following the EOS M3, we launched an affordably priced model, the EOS M10 last year. We continued to post strong results through carrying out focused marketing activities by strengthening online advertising and our sales network. We were successful in generating new demand among groups that have had little familiarity with inter-changeable lens cameras in the past, such as women and young generations. Enhancing our lineup in this way, we are growing our mirrorless camera market share in Europe and Americas, but especially in Asia, and this is now beginning to serve as an underpinning factor that supports our presence within the entire interchangeable-lens camera market.

Fiscal 2016 - Year End

Within this, last year, we strengthened our mirrorless lineup introducing a new high-end model. This, coupled with our tailored marketing activity allowed us to increase our market share in all regions. Mirrorless cameras are already supporting our existing interchangeable-lens cameras and we feel we can increase our share in each region.

1Q 2017 

Additionally, in Asia, where mirrorless cameras make up a large percentage of the interchangeable-lens camera market, we expanded our lineup, broadened our sales channel beyond camera specialty shops, and strengthened our advertising activity. As a result, we exceeded our unit sales and market share of last year.

2Q 2017

In this quarter as well, sales remained strong, particularly for mirrorless cameras. Within this trend, we grew sales of the EOS M6, a new mirrorless camera that has been highly rated not only for its high image quality, but also for its compact and lightweight form factor. This camera was designed to capture demand from people who, for example, are considering a step up to a camera with more features and better performance. Including this factor, first half unit sales of mirrorless camera grew more than 70% compared to the same period last year, leading to overall sales growth for interchangeable-lens cameras.

As you can see, Canon certainly has been noticing mirrorless on their bottom line.  It is also one of the reasons I suspect that we see just a jump in mirrorless last year, as Canon starts to ramp up shipping a lot more mirrorless over the course of the year.  What Canon is stating in public should worry the big traditional players of the mirrorless market.  Canon is zeroing in, and while they may not be capturing the headlines - they are doing it the way they know how.  Good marketting, good positioning and capable products that are worth more than the sum of their parts.

What does all this mean? Canon will continue to ship mirrorless and add to that mirrorless inventory, a full frame EOS system this year.  Nikon will start shipping two mirrorless systems this year and between them, the real fight for mirrorless supremacy will start.

Exciting times ahead!

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