The market for mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras in the UK fell for the first time in September according to research from GfK Retail and Technology. The number of units sold fell 1% while price competition saw the value of those sales reduced by 17%, compared to the same time in 2010. DSLR sales, by comparison, rose 6%, though value fell 1%. The picture across Europe was mixed, though.

In other European countries, that were slower to embrace Mirrorless cameras, the picture looks more positive. France also saw a modest decline in unit sales but Italy, Germany and Spain all saw increases in the number of cameras sold, with rises of 3.8%, 15.5% and 18.3% respectively, over the same time in 2010. Volumes for the year so far are up, compared to 2010, in all these markets, though again price competition and discounting have seen the value of these sales fall by between 11% and 26%, despite more cameras being sold.

Overall, GfK says it believes the mirrorless camera market: 'is still a huge growth area for the digital cameras market,' pointing out the 36% value growth since the start of the year, the arrival of more manufacturers (and the increased public awareness that it likely to bring), and the fact the figures compare September 2011 to a month that had seen a 314% increase.

Press Release:

UK: The Digital Cameras market doom and bloom

Photo industry market research from the UK (January 2011-September 2011 YTD) shows digital still cameras are down by 7%. September 2011 retail sales show that the overall market remained flat on last year with 0% growth. This was helped by a 6% volume increase in the digital SLR segment. Year-on-year, the compact system camera segment (CSC) dropped sales in September 2011, declining by 1%.

The overall digital camera market fell by 8% in September

Value paints a darker picture, which is indicative of intensifying price competition, with the overall market falling by 8% in September. All three main segments declined in September and the compact system camera segment experienced its worst drop in retail sales value (-17%) since significant sales began in June 2009.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom thanks to the changeable lens market. The SLR segment is proving to be very strong, with extensive sustained growth. The SLR segment has not had negative volume growth since May 2010, and year-to-date the segment is up by 9%, 10% in Q3 and 6% in September 2011. The fact that value has also grown by 3% year-to-date, shows the strength of this market. Admittedly, the SLR segment declined in value by 1% in September but this was against a 20% increase in September 2010.

The compact system camera segment is a huge growth area for the digital camera

The compact system camera segment is still a huge growth area for the digital cameras market, despite experiencing its first volume decline in September of 1%; this was against the phenomenal growth of 314% in September 2010. Year-to-date retail sales are still up, despite huge price reductions, and have grown by 36%. Pentax and Nikon have both entered the market in 2011 and Fuji announced that they too will be releasing a compact system camera early in 2012. With the CSC becoming more visible to the public through a number of campaigns and more brands entering the market growth should continue.

The real driver behind the DSC’s decline is the fixed lens, but even here there is a bright spot. The relatively new Superzoom category, compact cameras with 10x optical zoom or more, grew volumes by 61% in September 2011 and 45% so far this year.