Hands holding Canon EOS R
To Canon's president, the future isn't looking good for consumer digital cameras

While the major camera companies are constantly improving their camera technologies, Canon’s president believes the demand for them will drop very soon.

In an interview with Nikkei, Canon President Fujio Matarai said Canon’s camera sales volumes have seen a consistent decrease in the last couple of years. Now, most of that data is on DSLR cameras as mirrorless has taken over the market. Sadly, however, Canon reports the numbers haven’t improved even as they switch over to mirrorless cameras. Matarai went as far as to predict that the market for consumer digital cameras will fall from the current level of around 10 million annual units sold to about 5 to 6 million units in two years. That’s half of the demand gone, just like that.

“In our company, cameras have declined at around 10% a year (sales volume) in the past few years (combined with single lens reflex and mirrorless) The world market for interchangeable-lens cameras is around 10 million … the mirrorless product is growing, but it is a replacement [for] a single lens reflex; it is not adding to the market as a whole,” said Matarai.


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Why is the demand decreasing at such a rapid pace?

Matarai attributes the decline in demand for consumer digital camera to smartphones:

“People usually shoot with smartphones. The digital camera market will keep falling for about 2 years, but professional and high amateur (advanced) amateurs use about 5 to 6 million units. Finally, it will hit the bottom. ”

As smartphone cameras improve, more and more people interested in photography and video production will stick with their phones. While smartphone cameras may not offer the same quality as DSLR and mirrorless cameras, their cameras are often good enough for those users.

Is this future concrete?

As with everything that’s in the future, nothing is definite. We also aren’t sure if this is a sign that Canon is yielding market share here, rather than pointing to a dip in the overall demand. Plus, it would be interesting to see what other camera companies like Sony, Panasonic and Nikon predict for the future of the market.


  1. Another view not to miss: I think an important factor here is, that as customers learn how to take better and better pictures and videos with their smart phones the demand for previously paid stock images and footage is rapidly declining too; this used to be the funding mechanism for expensive DSLRs and video camcorders… as well as pro-photographers’ and video makers’ jobs… Now days many customers shoot now their own images and videos and don’t hire pros that much anymore… we can also do amazing edits on our laptops, ourselves… also, less people print anything (which is good news for the environment!) and a lot more people watch more and more images and videos (a lot more, which is good news!) on their smart phones, tablets, and other computing devices; all in digital. This means, that even a full HD image looks very good on a small screen…a 4K image looks fantastic! And industry wants to raise funding for 8K developments, but many consumers are still happy with full HD on their small screens… This is a big turbulence in the system, and the solution for camera manufacturers is to listen more to what customers want, need and desire… and expand the access range too, by supporting, educating and inviting really young people into the profession…all over the world… BTW this is also true for smart phone design and manufacturing companies… Best, Paul

  2. I use my digital cameras and camcorders for recording community events to be posted on YouTube. While I sometimes use our iPhones for such work, it is usually as a support devices with specific angles that do not require camcorder capabilities (telephoto, etc.). While I have found those phones to be perfectly acceptable for such moments, they cannot replace our camcorders, and cameras with video capability, in most instances. For still photography, I prefer digital cameras, but will use iPhones when they are not present – which is when unexpected photo-ops arise. But for us, I cannot see iOS devices becoming first-line options in our work.

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