Olympus still hopeful. Is MILC a serious alternative for DSLR?

Started Jan 11, 2014 | Discussions thread
Tim Devine
Tim Devine Senior Member • Posts: 1,261
Re: Is MILC a serious alternative for DSLR?

You've obviously put a lot of analysis into this, so who am I to argue? I've been using DLSRs since 2003 (10D, 20D, 5D, 5D II) and I picked up a Sony a7R last month. Absolutely love it...bought the 35 FE and 55FE, also pre-ordered the 24-70 FE.

Even if it's a slow migration, I think at some point momentum will increase. As the cameras advance, and more people buy the cameras, word of mouth will have an impact.

Towards the end of your analysis it seems like emotion is creeping in. Were you wronged by a mirrorless camera as a child?

In any case I think both will continue to survive, but I have no idea what the ultimate ratio will be in terms of sales.

HappyVan wrote:

Is MILC a serious alternative for DSLR?

MILC (mirrorless) fans have been trying to get DSLR owners to switch. What does the global sales data tell us.

At present (CIPA January to November 2013), MILC has about 19% of ILC (interchangeable lens camera) unit shipments and about 17% of shipment value.


Compact camera shipments 43.1 million units. MILC shipments 3 million units. DSLR shipments 12.8 million units.

Disappointing! A detailed analysis would suggest that the amount of DSLR defection is very much lower.

There are two major pools of potential MILC buyers. Upgraders from compact cameras and DSLR owners downsizing.

Let's make simplifying assumptions. That upgraders buy MILC without VF because they are familiar with the form factor. That DSLR downsizers would prefer a MILC with VF because they are familiar with that functionality.

Looking at the Japanese BCN sales numbers, none of the top ten models have built-in EVF. Though Oly and NEX have optional EVF.


Let's use a 20% rule. Assume that MILC with EVF represent 20% of total sales. That would imply that MILC globally sold 2.4 million without EVF and 600,000 with EVF.

Bottom line: MILC upgraders were only 5.6% of compact sales (2.4m versus 43.1m). Despite low-end MILC selling at $200-$400.

DSLR downsizers represented only 4.6% of DSLR sales (600k versus 12.8m).

In the past, MILC has been compared in its entirety to DSLR sales. But, most of MILC sales are at the $200-$400 price points which is below DSLR price points. Therefore, most of the low end buyers WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DSLR BUYERS.

Conclusion: That MILC under-performs as an upgrade to compact cameras. Despite better IQ and a competitive price, buyers still think that compact cameras represent better value. That MILC is not a significant alternative to DSLR. With a sales ratio to DSLR (with OVF) of 1/22, MILC today is not a threat to DSLR. Not even close.

Much has been made about the better functionality, lower weight, and smaller size of MILC. Particularly, on sites like DPR where it seems that MILC is the Next Big Thing. But, that is far from the truth. THE AMOUNT OF DEFECTIONS FROM DSLR IS TRIVIAL.

As a confirmation, look at the response of Canikon to MILC. Slow to enter the game. Nikon One has several innovations but uses a small sensor. EOS-M is built from the DSLR parts bin.

Canikon is not worried about their DSLR sales. Bear in mind that Canikon are the only mass market brands that are making money. Perhaps, their understanding of the market is superior to the MILC fans?

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