Predictions Suggest Mirrorless Sales Will Soon Surpass DSLR Sales

Thom Hogan predicts mirrorless sales are to surpass DSLR sales and not just match them, as he first thought.

| Mirrorless Cameras

Predictions Suggest Mirrorless Sales Will Soon Surpass DSLR Sales:


Thom Hogan, who runs the popular website, started a rather big debate last week when he said mirrorless sales would equal DSLR sales in 2020. However, photographers are about to get more argumentative as Thom says that actually, figures show that mirrorless camera releases will surpass DSLR unit volume a year earlier. 

"Realistically, if Canon and Nikon introduce new mirrorless systems this year that are competent, the more likely date where mirrorless unit volume will surpass DSLR unit volume is 2019," says Thom. 

According to a graph on his website, Thom said that there was a 10% drop in DSLR volume a year compared with a 10% gain in mirrorless unit volume. As a result, we thought we'd take a look at the number of digital cameras released per year, based on our own stats (see chart above), and we can see a slight decline in DSLR releases and a steady growth in the number of mirrorless and action cameras joining the market. The biggest decline comes in the compact market but with the popularity of smartphones, most expected this. 

"We're nearing that critical point where the future of ILC is mirrorless. We're not there yet. But we're closing in on it fast," says Thom. 

However, not everyone believes photographers are packing their DSLRs away in favour of smaller cameras as Flickr's 2017 'top device' round-up showed that those who uploaded images captured with a DSLR to the photo-sharing platform has grown from 25% in 2016 to 33% in 2017. Our own member data also shows that, currently,  the majority of members shared images they captured on DSLRs, with mirrorless cameras taking the runner-up spot. Fewer people are using compact cameras (probably in favour of using smartphones and the fact that fewer compacts have being released) and Flickr's figures also saw this with uploads from point-and-shoot cameras sitting at 12%, which is down from 21% in 2016.

You'll also notice that the chart shows an overall decline in the total number of cameras released over the last few years but as the industry has been hit by sensor delays due to earthquakes and floods, plus companies are steering away from compact camera production (cameras which were ten to the dozen at one point), it's easy to see why this particular line dips. Plus, you can think of it as 'quality over quantity' and the chart doesn't mean less is been bought anyway. In fact, if you look at our forum discussions, members are always asking for advice on what camera or lens to purchase next.  

It'll be interesting to see what camera releases 2018 brings so when we come back to this topic at the end of the year, we can see in much more detail how the Mirrorless Vs DSLR discussion is continuing. 

Please do add your thoughts to the debate in the comments below. 

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cfreeman Avatar
cfreeman 19 1.3k United Kingdom
23 Jan 2018 9:51PM
I am not surprised because mirrorless have been pushing the technology envelope with new and exciting innovations and DSLR manufactures have been slow to react and have been caught napping.

Mirrorless in the last few years have introduced touch screen focus, built in wifi, 4K photo, in camera focus stacking, selective post focus, fully articulated touch screens and much more.

Most of these new features are available on even the base entry models in mirrorless cameras, where as you have to buy the expensive higher end DSLR models to get what I would consider even the basic features on mirrorless models.

For example a Nikon D5200 can't do high speed sync flash but even the basic entry models of Panasonic can.

When DSLR catch up with the new features and be a little less "this feature reserved for high end models only" the trend may well reverse.

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