Yes, I know you can find all kinds of deeply discounted refurbished or previous generation cameras on sale at bargain prices these days. But for the Japanese companies, those ships have already sailed. The ships sailing today (literally, with supplies of the latest and newest cameras) are a different story.
I’ve dissected CIPA numbers in different ways in the past, but here’s a new one for you to look at: shipments versus net proceeds compared year to year. We now have seven months of CIPA data for 2014, so let’s compare them against the first seven months of 2013.
- Compact Shipments: 61.4% of last year
- DSLR Shipments: 75.8% of last year
- Mirrorless Shipments: 113.2% of last year
- FX lens Shipments: 91.8% of last year
- Crop lens Shipments: 84.9% of last year
Sales are down, right? Yes, but look at what happens to those numbers when you compare prices:
- Compact Sales: 71.6% of last year
- DSLR Sales: 83% of last year
- Mirrorless Sales: 141.3% of last year
- Lens Sales: 86.5% of last year
With the exception of lenses, the money taken in by the camera companies on those lower sales volumes is significantly higher. That means that we’re seeing the industry shifting to higher priced products as volume declines. Nikon owners, for example, are lamenting the lack of a D7100 or D300 update, yet seeing the D600, D610, Df, D800, D800E, and D810 all appear. All higher-priced products. It’s not a coincidence.
Even at the compact camera end of the market you can see that there’s a heavy upscale push already in place, but the surprisingly big push upward is in mirrorless cameras. The Sony A7 series, the Olympus E-M1, the Fujifilm X-T1, and other mirrorless products are all examples of upscale push in mirrorless, and it clearly shows in the numbers.
Put simply: if the camera makers are going to sell fewer things, they want to sell you more expensive things. At least for now. Once older inventory fully burns off I suspect we’ll see someone take the plunge at price cutting to gain market share. For the time being, older inventory is the only price cutting you’re likely to see.