Which camera makers will survive in the long term?

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
Iuvenis Senior Member • Posts: 1,322
Re: Ignore the Current Position

There's no point looking at sales numbers now, as many manufacturers sell across different lens mounts. Canon and Nikon sell more products for DSLRs than they do for their new mirrorless systems.

However,  both Canon and Nikon have specifically said their future is mirrorless, and that their future success will depend on the success of their mirrorless mounts. Given they're the big DSLR manufacturers, that's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

For that reason alone, success in ten years time doesn't depend on how many products are being shifted now. In ten years' time, the market will be 95% or more mirrorless, and success will depend on each manufacturer either a) holding enough market share to generate economies of scale, even though the market as a whole will be much smaller or b) finding a niche in which their system/s can be profitable.

Having a big market share doesn't even help right now - Canon aren't doing any better than the smaller players. It may mean they have more cash to invest and make big bets, but that also depends on corporate decision making and the overall position of the manufacturer, including in other sectors. Sony and Fuji have been investing in growth strategies in recent years, despite having a lowly market share,  Nikon had the second largest market share but have been retrenching.

So where does that leave the different mounts?


1. Sony E. It's not because they're better, it's just because they're the de facto standard in mirrorless. Tons of third party manufacturers now make products for E mount, which means Sony's own support is almost irrelevant. Sony's video investments also make it hard to see them withdrawing entirely.

2. Canon R. Despite the points above, I believe this is safe. Canon seem not only big but also aggressive, and the fact this is likely to be the best way to adapt E mount lenses going forward will help market adoption.

3. Fuji GFX and X. Fuji have also been relatively aggressive in recent years, especially by prioritising video. X system is unchallenged as an APSC system, and now seems likely to be the leading small camera system. APSC sales still dwarf FF sales, and while that trend will change, there's still a long way to go. Also, they also have several unique features (the controls, the OVF in some models) that mean they don't have to compete simply on price. Meanwhile, GFX has cleaned up the larger than FF market, and that is still an island of growth in the camera market.

4. L mount. This is a hard one. However, Leica aren't going anywhere, so it will surely survive. Likewise, Sigma have a vested interest in keeping it alive, and they're also having a 'good war' so far. Panasonic have great video features, and other video interests outside the sector they can use to share tech.

Not Safe:

5. Z mount. Nikon has some great products, but they always did. The problem is two-fold. First, I'm not sure they have the cash or aggression to fight for market share. They've been losing market share steadily for some time, and have been through several rounds of costs-cutting already. Second, they've not really got a unique niche. What makes the Z cameras different?

6. M43. This depends on the details of the Olympus sale - m43 is essentially their tech. However, one issue for Olympus and Panasonic was their duplication of effort in the space, and that's likely to be a thing of the past. Panasonic's video investments in m43 are alone likely to keep them active, but it's still a dangerous situation.

7. Leica M. Tiny sales are enough, and they integrate relatively well with the SL products. However, it's hard to see any growth. Leica has to be about great IQ, and rangefinder focusing just doesn't cut it with modern pixel-dense sensors.


8. Hasselblad mirrorless. Too much competition in their market, low sales, no sign of real investment going forward, but still dependent on significant sales (unlike Phase and specialist manufacturers)

9. Canon M. Yes, I know this is controversial. However, there are two problems. First, Canon don't even think they'll be as big in the future as they are now. Managing two incompatible mirrorless mounts will be a cost burden. Second, Canon are cannibalising by introducing small, low cost bodies and lenses in R mount. That suggests they don't see it as having a long term future.

10. DSLR mounts. There may be a few legacy products still on sale, but essentially these will all be dead. The world will be awash with perfectly good used DSLRs, and that will kill the prices and hence profit margins.

 Iuvenis's gear list:Iuvenis's gear list
Fujifilm X100V Fujifilm X-T3 Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R Fujifilm XF 56mm F1.2 R Fujifilm XF 16mm F1.4 R WR +4 more
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