CIPA has started publishing sales and shipment figures for mirrorless cameras, giving a clear picture for their take-up around the world. The Japanese trade body will issue separate figures for 'Non-reflex' cameras and Single Lens Reflex cameras, rather than a combined 'interchangeable lens camera' category. The first batch of figures show mirrorless cameras are becoming increasingly popular in all major markets.

Unsurprisingly, Japan leads the world in embracing mirrorless cameras, with over half the interchangeable lens cameras shipped between October and December 2011 being of the non-reflex variety. Asia (excluding Japan) is in second place, with 30% of ILCs being mirrorless, with Europe and the Americas sitting around 21%. The interesting thing to note is that mirrorless continues to grow, proportionally, almost everywhere in the world.

These four regions saw the mirrorless proportion of ILC shipments increase at least 20% in the last three months of the year. For instance, the proportion of mirrorless cameras sold in the Americas region jumped from 12.5% to 22.1% between the third and fourth quarter of the year, a 76% increase. Sadly it's unlikely that we'll ever be told explicitly how much of that is a result of Nikon's marketing campaign for its 1 System - which is likely have helped raise awareness of the sector as a whole, as well as those specific models.

The proportion of interchangeable lens camera sales made up by SLRs (light blue) and non-reflex cameras (dark blue).

November's flooding in Thailand will have had some impact on the figures, since it resulted in a dramatic drop in DSLR production (which would boost the mirrorless proportion). However, it also hit production of Sony's NEX-7 and NEX-5N mirrorless models so the skewing effect isn't totally one-sided. The bigger picture will become clearer once figures for the first quarter of 2012 become available.

Ultimately, though, a big factor in mirrorless sales is that the technology is maturing and most of the big players have products available.

If you're not up-to-date with the state of the market, click here to read our updated Mirrorless camera roundup.