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Canon and Sony made FOUR TIMES as many mirrorless cameras as Nikon in 2020

Sony vs Canon vs Nikon
(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

Fascinating new data reveals that Canon and Sony both produced over four times as many mirrorless cameras than Nikon last year, adding some context to the true scale of each of the "big three" camera manufacturers. 

Sony led the way in producing 1.15 million mirrorless cameras, with Canon closely behind at 1.05 million, while Nikon made just 250,000 mirrorless bodies.

• Read more: Best mirrorless cameras (opens in new tab)

That accounts for 2.45 million of the 3.26 million total mirrorless cameras manufactured in 2020 – so the remaining 810,000, divided between Olympus, Fujifilm and Panasonic, shines in intriguing light on the footprint of the secondary camera brands. 

Of course, Canon and Nikon don't just produce mirrorless cameras; their bread and butter is still in DSLRs. However, while Canon is gearing down its production in favor of mirrorless, Nikon's output is still very lopsided towards DSLRs – which analysts, and Nikon itself, attribute to the company's recent struggles.

In total there were 2.39 million DSLRs made in 2020, with 1.71 million of those coming from Canon and 650,000 from Nikon. That would leave approximately 30,000 DSLRs produced by Pentax, which again is an eyebrow-raising insight.

The figures come courtesy of Japanese data firm Techno System Research, as reported by SankeiBiz (opens in new tab) of Japan's Sankei Shimbun press group (by way of (opens in new tab) Nikon Rumors). 

Clearly there is still a market for DSLRs, but there has been an obvious shift in the market and consumer demand – and Nikon is falling far short of meeting it. 

The manufacturer has made strides in redeploying its resources towards mirrorless cameras, with the recent launches of the Nikon Z6 II (opens in new tab) and Nikon Z7 II (opens in new tab), and the announcement of its first ever mirrorless flagship, the Nikon Z9 (opens in new tab). With Sony and Canon having established such a lead, though, has the "big three" become the "big two… and a distant third"? 

Read more: 

Best Sony cameras
(opens in new tab)Best Canon cameras
(opens in new tab)Best Nikon cameras
(opens in new tab)Best Olympus cameras
(opens in new tab)Best Fujifilm cameras
(opens in new tab)Best Panasonic cameras (opens in new tab)

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The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab)Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show (opens in new tab). An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.