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Tony Northrup: Are DSLR's Dead - Canon, Nikon Panasonic mirrorless cameras are flops

In an interesting article Tony and Chelsea discuss the mirrorless versus DSLR saga and break down where they feel that Canon, Nikon and Panasonic are as far as their full frame mirrorless camera systems.

A few notables from the video;

  • Tony discusses the massive existing user bases of Canon and Nikon DSLR's and how that equates to various other industries, such as the battle between CD's.
  • Tony used Amazon USA as the basis of analysis and conclusions.
  • Tony suggested that CIPA publishes the sales data for Japan.
  • Tony predicts marketshares for full frame mirrorless;
    • 28.8% Canon
    • 12.4% Nikon
  • Tony suggests that in 2022 Canon and Nikon will have approximately 12, 8% respectively of their entire user base moved over to mirrorless.
  • Tony suggests that Canon and Nikon mirrrorless systems are flopping based upon current USA sales figures and the limited data from BCN Japan.
  • Tony predicts that the Z mount may die out as well as the L-mount since the L-mount has basically no sales (according to Amazon USA)

There’s a lot to unpack about this.

I'm not going to nitpick over a few problems we found in the video, but try to touch on the overall opinion and where we think it's different than what Tony is trying to suggest here.   As we have mentioned before; doing any predictions based upon entirely new systems and the sales of these systems after 2 or 9 months in the market is extremely premature.  It's for certain that there is a certain amount of hesitancy in the market, shown by the sales disruption after the release the of the RF, Z and L mounts.

Also using Amazon USA, when the USA is certainly not a good indicator of the mirrorless market at a whole throws the entire analysis out the window.  We won't even get into how Amazon even calculated sales ranking which is a mystery all in its own.  We must be careful even when using BCN data because that data is based upon such a small percentage over the overall market.  Right now Americas falls slightly above China in terms of mirrorless shipments this year, but far under Europe and Asia.  Since the America segment includes Canada, Mexico and 20 other countries in Central and South America.  You could argue looking at the USA mirrorless is probably the smallest major market behind China, Europe and Asia based upon the number of countries alone in the Americas segment.  The Americas segment would have had to ship only 15,200 mirrorless cameras to other countries to make that statement fact.

In a recent discussion I had, concerning this report, a more detailed analysis of the Japanese market for instance, shows that there is a dynamic that is happening for Canon and Nikon.  Where Sony is not losing a considerable amount of sales, what is happening is that Canon and Nikon are creating a much bigger full frame mirrorless market than what has existed in the past.

According to BCN in the 7 months, since Canon and Nikon released their mounts, the size of the overall full frame market grew by 165% in Japan, Sony's marketshare went from 100% down to around 56% in that timeframe, meaning their actual net sales dropped around 9%. While that's acceptable right now, it's certainly a trend that Sony would not want to happen over the long run, as it would quickly relegate them to a marginal marketshare in the next 2 years.  Yes, that quickly.

So why are Canon and Nikon having a slow rate of adaptation as Tony suggests?  Changing mounts is a BIG thing.  Nikon has never done it, and Canon has done it once with the FD to EF mount. Their user bases are not going to immediately move to an immature mount and ecosystem for several reasons;

  1. they already have all their lenses and cameras in the legacy DLSR mounts that they need
  2. the new mounts don't offer them anything that they don't already have or feel they need
  3. their current equipment is more than good enough for what they use it for
  4. the new equipment is too expensive right now, waiting for prices to come down

So, when they will move to mirrorless is really governed by;

  1. their DSLR breaks, has an accident, or was stolen
  2. the new mirrorless system has a lens or a camera that is an important upgrade from what they have now
  3. GAS - (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) The desire to have the new systems now and get on board with mirrorless.

That's not an easy sell in the first 8 months that these mounts have lived.  This is basically what we've been calling the last camera syndrome. Canon and Nikon have the best ecosystems on the planet in the EF and F mount.  It's going to be a long hard process to move users from these mounts to the new ones.  Their success in making excellent DSLR's have made it nearly impossible to migrate users off their DSLR systems.

One could make a very good argument that Canon and Nikon waited too late to release their full frame camera systems, but not for the usual reason given.  Usually, people are suggesting that they waited too late because of competition against Sony.  In reality, the problem is moving their user bases over from DSLR’s and growing the full frame mirrorless market quickly.  They waited too late because they now have to compete against excellent DSLR’s with very little in the way of flaws and are combatting against the last camera syndrome.  A good example – if Nikon didn’t do the D8xx series cameras, and instead of releasing the D600 and D800 released instead of the new Z mount, they wouldn’t be competing against what are now excellent DSLR system cameras.  The Z mount cameras would be compelling upgrades from the D700 camera that existed before. The adaptation of the Z mount would be far greater than what we are seeing today.  The lack of sales of the Z mount is most likely directly related to how good people are perceiving their full-frame DSLR lineup today.

Tony touches on the resistance of the user bases to change but he doesn't circle back when it comes to the fact that they are flops.  I’d argue that it’s at least 1 to 2 years premature to determine if they are flops as far as new systems given the fact that the current breed of DSLR’s from Canon and Nikon are excellent.  That gives both Canon and Nikon to get their immediate ecosystem sorted out in terms of lenses, cameras, and accessories, and most likely they are already starting to think or release version 2 of their camera bodies.  Like Sony, at the beginning, they may iterate quickly on cameras as they catch up on technology.

It's an interesting video, covering topics that we've certainly talked about over the past few months with the plethora of BCN trend reports being released this year; but like this analysis by Tony and what BCN is doing, I'd like to see this data expanded to include the overall full frame market.  What is happening to Canon and Nikon's full frame market on a whole. are they net positive, or because of market disruption are they quickly reeling and sliding into net negative after the new mounts were released.

For that, only Canon and Nikon and the big sales aggregate companies have enough data, and no one is sharing it.  But that's really the important question to ask right now, how are Canon and Nikon navigating the turn to mirrorless.


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