Mirrorless Cameras Fly Off Shelves Despite Steep Prices

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Visitors examine cameras at the CP+ 2023 camera exhibition in Yokohama in February.

Sales are growing for digital mirrorless single-lens cameras, as their advanced video recording capabilities, ideal for posting to social media sites, drive consumer interest.

However, the average unit price has risen in line with increased functionality, and it’s an open question whether their sales will stay strong.

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Expanding user base

Major manufacturers displayed cameras with video recording functions over the four days of the nation’s largest camera exhibition, CP+ 2023, in Yokohama in late February.

Canon Inc.’s EOS R6 Mark II features an enhanced subject detection function. It can quickly focus on a subject that is in motion, whether recording a video or taking a photo.

“The base of video users is expanding, and it is natural we make the camera easier to use,” said Canon Managing Executive Officer Go Tokura.

Sony Corp. offers enhanced subject recognition with artificial intelligence on its α7R V. The camera can record high-definition 8K video and capture smooth images.

Nikon Corp.’s Z30 is lightweight, coming in at around 500 grams. It is easy to carry and can shoot for up to 125 minutes at a time.

Companies are upgrading video capabilities in response to the growing number of consumers posting videos to social media who feel their smartphone cameras are insufficient for the task.

At one time, digital cameras were being abandoned for the smartphone, but as an official of the Camera & Imaging Products Association said, “As smartphones have become more popular, it has actually driven consumers who want to take better photos and videos into the digital camera market.”

Soaring prices

In the digital camera market, mirrorless single-lens cameras, which are smaller and lighter, are now playing a leading role, having dethroned the long-dominant single-lens reflex (SLR) camera.

According to the association, mirrorless single-lens cameras overtook SLRs in terms of shipment value in 2019 and shipment volume in 2020, with a 61.3% year-on-year increase in value and a 31.1% year-on-year increase in volume in 2022.

The growth in value was greater than the growth in units because the average unit price has been ticking up along with the increase in functionality.

The average unit price for mirrorless single-lens cameras, which was about ¥31,000 in 2012, surpassed that of SLR cameras at about the ¥44,600 price point in 2015. Since then, the price for such mirrorless cameras has been rising steadily, reaching about ¥128,500 in 2022.

However, with such steep growth in prices, there’s always a risk consumers will turn their attention elsewhere.

“The trend toward high-performance and high-priced mirrorless single-lens cameras will continue for some time,” predicts Ichiro Michikoshi, chief executive analyst at research firm BCN Inc. But, “If prices rise too high, inexpensive products for the general public may become more popular.”

The Yomiuri Shimbun