So Why's it So Quiet?

Well, for me, I've got 20 lenses sitting in the office needing testing. There's a ton of work to be done there, so if the industry is quiet, I'm going to be a bit quiet as I stare at test charts. 

So why's the industry quiet?

bythom cipa product intros

The above is the chart of new product introductions that CIPA shared at the beginning of CP+ earlier this month. Compact cameras? Yeah, less than a quarter the peak. DSLR and mirrorless cameras? Despite all the Internet frenzy over each new mirrorless camera intro, we're down to about half the introductions we saw at peak. 

Lenses, though, are headed up a bit, as the change in mount positions is keeping the glass blowers busy. 

bythom cipa lenses

Note that the "SLR" category really is mostly about lenses for the Canon EF and Nikon F mount. The "Non-Reflex" category is lenses for Canon EF-M, Fujifilm, m4/3, and Sony FE mounts. I would interpret the increased activity in mirrorless lenses as proof that a lot of the mirrorless camera sampling is turning into long-term users. 

How are the camera companies staying solvent? 

bythom cipa averageprice

By making fewer cameras, but more expensive ones, basically. The overall market value of cameras and lenses sold from Japan in 2017 increased over 2016. But certainly there are players that are hurting more than others. Nikon, for instance, has been swinging and missing with new initiatives lately, and I'm hearing that the write-downs are going to be bigger than previously suggested (they might not all occur in the current fiscal quarter, either). 

The world economy, which had looked like it was finally starting to coalesce around market growth everywhere, now has a tariff fight brewing. Just to be clear: tariffs are effectively a tax on the customers in the country imposing the tariff, and those "taxes" subsidize companies, not individuals. Taxes generally tend to increase wage demand, higher wage demand that is acted on increases inflation, more inflation lowers sales of disposable goods like cameras. And the Japanese camera companies are already trying to sell you higher-priced product. [One reader pointed out that I was oversimplifying; inflation isn't a given as the consumer might just go without discretionary items. True in all points. For a photography blog, I have to oversimplify macro and microeconomics, unfortunately.]

This is a Photokina year, which usually means lots of new product activity. But I think when we look back at the year, the number of new cameras introduced will once again have dropped from the previous year. And DSLRs will be one of the biggest categories in terms of drops. 

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