"The camera market has recovered" thanks to entry-level cameras (report)

Man holding an entry-level Nikon DSLR camera
(Image credit: Future)

Ever since the pandemic torpedoed the camera market we've been bombarded with headline after headline about the collapse of the industry. But what if we told you that, "in fact, the camera market has recovered"? 

That's according to a report from Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, one of Japan's leading daily business newspapers. And what's responsible for this recovery? Entry-level cameras. 

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"Sales of cameras in general have been growing since 2021, and the driving force is introductory models that even beginners can use," says the report, citing data from industry body CIPA – the Camera and Imaging Products Association.

"The shipment value of digital cameras in the January-June period increased 12.6% year-on-year to approximately 313.7 billion yen [around $2.2 billion / £1.7 billion / AU$3.4 billion]. Mirrorless cameras are steadily increasing in terms of shipment value and volume."

Clearly we're not talking about recovery to the levels of the industry's peak, in 2012, where 20.16 million cameras were sold (CIPA currently estimates that around 5.72 million cameras will be sold in 2023). However, 12.6% growth over the past year is certainly a remarkable recovery. But is it down to entry-level cameras alone?

Obviously there are other key factors. While the supply chain and manufacturing issues persist, disruptions are less severe than they were a year ago. And of course, people aren't locked in their homes hiding from the pandemic any more. So not only are they travelling again, they are also making purchases to support their travels – including camera equipment. 

A lot of people developed an interest in photography and videography during the various lockdowns, many of whom were using the smartphones they already owned, so it makes some sense that they would then 'graduate' to beginner camera systems. 

"The increase in opportunities for consumers to go out against the background of the [COVID de-escalation] is a tailwind for the camera market," continued the report. "Manufacturers have introduced models that are easy to handle even for beginners." 

However, the real boom seems to have been in vlogging and video-oriented cameras – which in many ways have become the 'entry-level cameras' of this generation.

Indeed, a CIPA representative "expects the camera for vlogging to become an introductory machine that will broaden [the market]". And Hironobu Shimoyama, of Japanese electronics giant Yodobashi Camera, concurred that "demand for video recording is increasing significantly." 

Either way, the key takeaway is that the camera industry is officially rebounding from the crippling effects of the pandemic. The question is, is this just a levelling of the market, or will this shift in what is considered an entry-level camera result in an all-new opportunity for growth? 

(Image credit: Future)

You might be interested in the best student cameras, the best budget DSLRs, and even the best drones for beginners.

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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.