DSLRs are back! Sales increase 132%, while mirrorless cameras decline 57%

DSLR vs mirrorless
(Image credit: Fujifilm)

In a startling turn of events, DSLRs – which had previously seen shipments slump in favor of their mirrorless counterparts – have had a 131.8% increase in sales while mirrorless cameras have received a 57.1% decrease in the United States year on year.

The pattern of digital SLR cameras outselling mirrorless models is similar, albeit not nearly as pronounced, in the rest of the world. Globally, DSLRs only achieved 80.5% of their sales figures from the same period last year but mirrorless cameras slumped to 70.7%. 

So, with the DSLR vs mirrorless cameras war largely thought to have been won by mirrorless, the question is… what the heck is going on here? Well, while it's tempting to start playing LL Cool J and proclaim that DSLRs are making a comeback, there's a little more going on here than meets the eye. 

The principal reason for the shift in sales – provided by industry body CIPA (with a tip of the hat to Digital Camera Watch) isn't necessarily that the appetite for DSLRs is suddenly greater than that for mirrorless cameras; rather, that DSLRs are actually still available where their counterparts are largely missing in action due to the component crisis. 

Where mirrorless cameras, with a lot of cutting-edge technology (and also by virtue of simply being newer to market), are struggling to stay in production, DSLRs didn't really suffer shortages in the same way. So if you want a brand new camera and there's only DSLRs available, your choices are limited.

It's also possible that there are a lot more beginners starting out in photography (something that we've witnessed in terms of reader behavior on this website), where the best cameras for beginners tend to be cheap and abundantly available DSLRs.  

Either way, with the shortages and supply chain issues showing little sign of abating, this resurgence of DSLR sales may continue for some time.

Read more: 

Best DSLRs
Best mirrorless cameras
Best cameras for photography

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a 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 like 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, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. 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.