According to NPD market research, system cameras in worth of $2.1 billion were sold during the period June 2012 to May 2013 – an increase of 5% compared to the same period of time last year. The demand for compact cameras is said to have collapsed 26% and amounted to only $1.9 billion. This is the first time for system cameras to generate more revenue than compact cameras in the U.S.
Reasons for this development are manifold. According to analysts, Smartphones cannibalising the compact camera market since 2009 are the main reason. I, for my part, assume that it might be due to the immense technological progress of the last years paired with hardly increased demands. Just like 20, 30 years ago we view photos in sizes 9*13 or 10*15cm. The difference lies merely in the medium, since paper predominantly yielded to tablets and digital photo frames. Comparing the pictures of current Smartphones with those of analogue compact cameras of the 90s, you will hardly notice any qualitative difference. Pictures of the same quality as then are nowadays available on a multi-functional, much smaller device.
Furthermore, most manufacturers missed out on the arrival of Smartphones and have thus only marginally improved their compact cameras in terms of image quality and features for them to be positioned higher in the market. Only now, compact cameras slowly emerge with bigger sensors (1” will win through, in my opinion) that sufficiently satisfy demanding photographers in their quest for a compact device. I reckon that many who nowadays purchase a system camera do it solely because they need better image quality than compact cameras with 1/1.7” and 1/ 2.3” sensors can offer. And if you really do end up with an additional camera, it should at least be able to take photos that noticeably better compared to the ones that originate from Smartphones. What’s your view on that?