11.13.2015

State of the Industry. Are the new "super" cameras enough to save camera makers?

Photographers looking into the mirror.

It's easier than ever to make a photograph these days. It's easy enough to send them as well. And pretty much anything you screw up can be fixed, to a certain extent, in post. So is there anything left to the industry of taking photographs for money? And what is going on in the enthusiast's space?

I just read some numbers from the video/cinema world (Futuresource), the sales of DSLRs into that world (video) fell over 40% in 2014 in Europe with steeper declines expected this year. At its height adaptation of DSLRs for professional video projects comprised about 31% of their total market. Now the rate is closer to 3%. According to the study (http://www.iptv-news.com/2015/06/futuresource-predicts-decline-of-dslrs-for-pro-video/) the reason for the decline is a retrenching back toward traditional camcorders (with XLR connectors, long run times, built-in NDs etc.) or in the other direction toward mirrorless compact system cameras like the Samsung NX1, Panasonic GH4 and Olympus OM5.2. The introduction of less expensive 4K cameras like the Panasonic G7 will accelerate this trend.

In the world of still imaging the numbers, world-wide, are equally bleak. And this in the face of a huge economic recovery in the U.S.A.

My sense is that photography as a 21st century hobby is in major decline. At the recent math conference I attended there wasn't a traditional camera in sight (except for mine). If someone made a photograph of a newly made friend, or to document a demonstration, the whole adventure was done with a cellphone. When I attended the Freescale FTF show it was pretty much the same story. Now, these shows were never overwhelmed by photographers but there were always a contingent with Canon Rebels or Nikon Something DSLRs who were making their own documentations, playing with the camera gear as a "side bar" to the main convention function. Not so anymore.

I've also noticed that among my friends, the ones I would call "committed photographers"; both professional and amateur, have largely stopped carrying their cameras around with them when we meet at restaurants, coffee shops and other routine places. It's only big events where the shooting is easy and the risk of seeming to be an outsider is low where I routinely see any remotely interesting cameras anymore. It seems more of a psychological burden to introduce your conventional camera into regular society now. People are used to, conditioned to, being randomly photographed by camera phones but being photographed by someone with a conventional camera has quickly fallen from the mainstream and become---less usual. More suspect.

But will this change toward fewer public cameras, and fewer hard core pro cameras continue given the introduction of a new generation of "Super Cameras" like the Sony A7r2, the new, beefier Canon 5d's, and the older timer of the group, the Nikon D810? Will the new capabilities of these high performance cameras cause  renewed excitement and bring a wave of new professionals into the fold?

I wouldn't bet on it. While I have no first hand information (having severed my ties with Samsung and their public relations agency over a year ago) I'm inclined to believe the recent rumors swirling about the web-o-sphere that Samsung is withdrawing from the consumer camera space in Europe and north America. After making enormous investments into the NX-1 it seems that they've done new market research that tells them that the overall decline of the camera market coupled with their inability to get any traction at all in these markets with their "ditch the DSLR" campaign, have led them to the conclusion that it's better to exit a dying (or downward trending) market rather than continue to lose money and reputation trying to buy acceptance and market share.

And that's too bad because the NX-1 was actually a good camera: at least after it received numerous firmware updates....

I am paying attention to sales numbers out of idle curiosity but I find it interesting that most of the innovation is coming from the mirrorless space. The exceptions are the cameras from Sony but even there I'm not sure they are gaining new customers to the industry but instead are just capturing Nikon and Canon customers who crave better video, the ability to use a wider selections (and mixed brand selection) of lenses while taking advantage of the always on, live view nature of electronic viewfinders. The CIPA numbers and other measures say the overall market for the "Super Cameras" is still on the definite decline but that Sony's entries are helping only to rearrange the deck chairs on the decks of the Titanic.

There will always be the stalwarts of the industry who will embrace the highest and best of the camera breeds and create an (almost delusional) rationale for the features and benefits of the "best" cameras and lenses on the market but I think the rest of the enthusiasts --- the ones more interested in making photographs rather than comparing test charts --- have come to understand that sufficiency  or good enough is just fine for huge swaths of the profession and general requirements for our hobby.

I think there is still a place for top end equipment if you are willing to leverage the benefits of the gear into your work, and if the work requires that level of quality to be successful aesthetically. Examples would be people who print large or people who require a noiseless final image. Landscape photographers, product photographers, and portrait photographers who want smooth skin tones without having to selectively blur the crap out of their images in post processing.  But things like sharpness and resolution are largely available, across formats and brands, in enough capacity and capability to provide a professional image for most uses, and especially almost any use on the web.

But here's the deal: My observations (anecdotal and statistical) aren't meant as a rending of cloth, a cry of anguish or a note of bitter despair. Far from it. As photography shifts and swirls around from popular to diluted and ubiquitous (but lesser quality) there are fewer and fewer people doing the kind of work I do with the cameras I like to use, and it's clearing out what was once thought to be an infinitely expanding pool of images and distilling new work into a more manageable collection of  high quality content.

There are more and more phone images. More and more manipulated phone images, but fewer and fewer large, printed images. Fewer instances of great lighting design and control. Fewer constructed photographs and more "caught moments of generic exchange." Fewer images that are directly competitive; especially in the professional space. It's almost as if the age of: "I only shoot available light..." photography is coming to an end of sorts, as a viable, full time, commercial venture. Replaced by a return to discipline and control.

The same things are happening in video. There's a movement toward shooting everything with iPhones or their competitors. At the same time the higher end practitioners are moving from the lower budget options of hybrid still/video tools back into video cameras made to work in the traditions of the industry (pro audio inputs, long run times, higher quality codecs, higher bit rates, etc.). It's a shift that's leaving the vast mid-section of the market behind.

All I really know is this: As camera sales have declined my business has returned on almost the same tragectory (but in an opposite direction). We're up in terms of sales and profit per engagement in an almost direct inverse of equipment sales by manufacturers. I can only conjecture that a great number of (talented) amateurs, and in-house enthusiasts at corporate offices,have moved on to other pursuits or have gotten too busy in their core jobs to volunteer to make the critical photographs that move enterprise forward. That's fine with me. I'm happy to be welcomed back.


31 comments:

Hugh said...

Interesting point - and I think you may be the first to make it.

It may be good for "quality photography" if full frame DSLRs become rarer - like medium format used to be. Giving someone a few good prints gets a grateful reaction now that they are conditioned to expect "Facebook Images".

Anonymous said...

"... this in the face of a huge economic recovery."

Really?

Kirk Tuck said...

Pretty much. At least here in the U.S. Billings up. Rates up. Income up. What's not to like?

Anonymous said...

Hey Anonymous -- What else would you call 5% unemployment, a Dow Jones average of nearly 18,000 and a recovered real estate market?

Kirk Tuck said...

Just a few facts about the market here in Austin: Average household income = $63,700, For college grad. families it's $103,900. Home values rose last year by 9.8%. The unemployment in the Austin area is now 3.5%. How is this NOT a "huge recovery"?

William Beebe said...

The use of DSLRs for video was a faddish trend at best. Although Nikon was the first (between Nikon and Canon) to introduce a high-end DSLR with video capabilities, the D90 in 2008, it was Canon's 5D Mk II later in 2008 that really kicked off this particular fad. In the early days hip video producers couldn't move fast enough to buy the 5D Mk II with all its lenses and then use them. It all peaked, as it were, with the sixth season finale in 2010 of 'House' (Help Me, E22). That entire episode was shot with 5D Mk IIs. There were other examples to be sure, but this was the most loudly touted.

The only problem with pressing DSLRs such as the Canons and Nikons into service for video is that ergonomically and engineering-wise they aren't suitable. Which is why such a large cottage industry sprang up to sell all the ancillary gear required to actually do something significant with the core camera equipment (such as cages, batteries, focus pullers, view panels, recorders, etc). The cost of all this extra gear pushed the initial cost up to the point where you could have purchased a "real" video camera for about the same amount of money, and picked up a better-use video camera. And "real" video cameras, such as RED, were introduced with lens mounts that allowed the use of different mounts, such as Canon and Nikon. Even Canon figured out that it needed a better video solution than the DSLR when it introduced the mirrorless (yes, mirrorless) EOS Cinema Line with the C300 in late 2011. The success of the EOS Cinema line is another story, however...

And folks have learned, once again, why composition and story are far more important than shallow depth of field bokeh in video (which, strangely enough, are pretty much the same for stills...). It's far more important to have your story subject in focus to help move the story along than any special effects of features.

Michael Matthews said...

My inclination is to agree with William Beebe. Or at least it was, when I first asked about all the interest in earlier Sony DSLRs for video production. I thought the entire concept of repurposing a still camera to serve as a video camera was nuts. Now that the capabilities of the cameras have evolved, maybe not so much.

Olympus has made all that outboard stabilizer gear virtually unnecessary. The OMD series still provides video of inadequate specs, but that will change. Panasonic, a maker of professional video equipment for as long as I care to remember, has nudged the technical performance to where it needs to be. At some point (maybe it's already happened) the two parameters will merge in one handful of consumer-affordable hardware.

For the hobbyist/enthusiast -- hooray!

For the professional, the end use will determine what's appropriate and if one can't afford to buy all that stuff, rent it and pass along the cost.

To each, his or her own.

Dave said...

Back in 2003-ish digital fell to a price spec that made them seem like a miracle on wheels. Wannabes (like myself) were empoered to produce digital images in close to realtime. It seemed like a miracle and there was a gold rush of sorts as we invaded the sacred space of dark wizards. The value of an "image" became watered down but the hardware makers ramped up to market demand.

Now the casual image taker has moved on to their phone, for which they probably pay more and get less from an image standpoint. But it's convenient. Some will bleed over to better gear to get more quality but most are happy enough.

In my opinion this bodes well for the more serious photographer and videographer but not for the manufacturers who may never seen the sales numbers of a couple years ago. If Samsung gives up then I wonder how easy they really thought it would be. That's a shame because they were innovating which is something Nikon has failed to do.

Kirk Tuck said...

Dave, I agree with most of your comment except for the idea that Nikon (and by extension, Canon) are not innovating or that innovation is even necessary. To professional users the form factor of the D2xs was pretty much perfect and from that point onward it was only the imaging quality and pipeline that required improvement. Better sensors, lower noise, more resolution, etc. By all those measures the D750 and D810 are as close to state of the art as one could want, at this stage of the game. If by innovation most users/buyers are talking about making stuff smaller and lighter then I think they misunderstand what professional shooters wanted all along. It was never the wiz-bang stuff or the shrinkage of hand holdable space; all they wanted was better focusing (check), better imaging (check) and better battery life. By some measures all of the mirrorless cameras are steps backwards. Specifically battery life and ultimate image quality.

And then there is the basic idea that we want innovation. I think most people have been more than happy from the point at which we settled on 24 megapixel APS-C and full frame sensors with wide DR from Sony four or five years ago. Everything since then is either cosmetic or a market churn.

The one innovation that I would welcome at Nikon is the integration of an EVF. That's it. That's the only thing on my list.

Carlo Santin said...

The smart phone is the thing. For most, from the social snapper posting on twitter and instagram to perhaps the more interested photographer, the phone works well enough. Regular folks just don't make prints, which is where the real differences start to become noticeable. Pics from phones look as good as the medium format Leicas on the web, especially when viewed on smaller screens.

The other thing is that these manufacturers pumped out way to many cameras way too quickly, mirrorless cameras especially. If you are shooting micro 4/3 it seems that every couple of months there is new product from Olympus and Panasonic. It's just too much for the average consumer to keep up with. I can buy one of those cameras today and before I even know how to properly use the camera and feel comfortable with it, another hits the market with various "upgrades"...better ISO, more DR, better autofocus. It tends to cheapen the product line. Was the Oly OMD em5 so poor that it needed the em5II to replace it? I don't think so, yet the marketing departments would like you to believe that you are missing out on something. Basic marketing manipulation of the consumer. People are saying screw it, I don't need to keep trading in my camera for the new one.

For myself, I bought a Nikon D300 last month. I'm sorry I didn't pick one up sooner. 12mp is more than enough. The camera just works and works well. It's more than enough camera for me and I'm a pretty dedicated amateur. I will shoot with it until it dies. I have zero interest in a 36mp camera. If I were a working pro my answer would be different, but for personal use the D300 suits me to a tee. I'm always looking for cool lenses...lenses are a different discussion altogether. My interest in new camera bodies is absolutely and utterly dead...no exaggeration here, I just don't care for what the new cameras are offering and I think a lot of people are feeling that to some degree. It's also hard to justify 1k or more for a new body when the car needs to be fixed, or the visa needs to be paid down, or some home repairs need to be done, or the kids need braces or are starting college...you get the idea...and now we are back to the smart phone, it works well enough for most regular folk.

I don't feel bad for these camera companies. They rode the wave and assumed the good times would keep on rolling. They didn't, too bad for them.

Anonymous said...

" I find it interesting that most of the innovation is coming from the mirrorless space. The exceptions are the cameras from Sony but even there I'm not sure they are gaining new customers to the industry but instead are just capturing Nikon and Canon customers who crave better video, the ability to use a wider selections (and mixed brand selection) of lenses while taking advantage of the always on, live view nature of electronic viewfinders. The CIPA numbers and other measures say the overall market for the "Super Cameras" is still on the definite decline but that Sony's entries are helping only to rearrange the deck chairs on the decks of the Titanic."

I am confused - the new "Super Cameras" from Sony (A7 series) are mirrorless ...

Kirk Tuck said...

Yes, Anonymous, you can be a super camera and be mirrorless. Amazing.

Anonymous said...

just that "the innovation is coming from the mirrorless space. The exceptions are the cameras from Sony " makes it sound like the Sonys are not mirrorless (when of course they are).

Kirk Tuck said...

Ah! Thanks for the clarification. I could have been clearer...

Dave Jenkins said...

The economic recovery is HUGE in Texas, but not in most of the United States, and it's huge in Texas mostly because of the state's economic policies, policies which, if I correctly understand hints you've dropped over the years, you are not fully in agreement with. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I would have considered your economic views to be more closely aligned with those of the government of California, a place companies are leaving in droves to enjoy the low-tax, free market environment of Texas.

Kirk Tuck said...

Hi Dave, The economic recovery is affecting mostly areas that have industries concentrated in high tech and finance. These include areas like Charlotte and Raleigh, Boston, NYC, San Jose, Seattle, Denver, Boulder, Portland and a number of others outside of Texas. The overall economy is currently showing unemployment rates around 5%, nationally, which is better than any time since 2006. Rural markets will be the last to recover, I would think. I'm not a fan of the way Texas uses property tax to fund education: I think it should be a combination of property tax and income tax but Texas has long resisted any income tax on the state. I am also opposed to the way we offer so many very wealthy corporations subsidies to move their businesses here even when it damages pre-existing businesses. Finally, I am not happy at all with the governor's rejection of medicare and medicaide expansion here to provide more people with health insurance. There's plenty wrong in Texas but my investigation into the U.S. economics shows many other areas which are recovering well.

Kirk Tuck said...

Should have typed, "effecting" in the first sentence above. Sorry for the zany typing...

Robert said...

Many talk about how the camera industry is collapsing. I don't think it's collapsing, per se, I think it's contracting.

The early evolution of digital were heady days for Nikon and Canon in particular, with record profits and growth, following a similar stagnation that was seen in the late '90s with film cameras [recall that APS was introduced to try and reinvigorate the industry]. When digital arrived, they sort of got to start all over again. By the time the Nikon D3s arrived, we sort of peaked, with sufficiency setting in for most serious photographers, and smartphones gobbling up the consumer market that had once been the province of point & shoots.

Personally, it wouldn't surprise me to see companies like Nikon forced to shrink to a size more reminiscent of where they were in the mid-1980s. They don't need 17+ DSLR variants in their inventory; they probably only need about 6 DSLR models, realistically [and a solid mirrorless system contender].

Dave Lemieux said...

Kirk, the 5% unemployment rate you reference is the U3 calculation, which doesn't reflect reality. The U6 rate is 10% and the labor participation rate is the lowest it's been in close to 40 years. If you examine the numbers closely it's easy to compare our current situation to the Great Depression. We are in trouble.
Love your blog and have been lurking for several years.

Kirk Tuck said...

Dave, Even using U6 numbers there's been a decline from 17.4 to 9.8 from the worst of the recession to now. We are already under U6 rates we saw in part of the 1990's and the trend is toward a consistent lowering. Taking U5 we dropped from 11.1 to 6.2. A very good trend line. The U3 numbers in the great depression were at least double during the worst years and this also discounts the unemployment, food stamp, welfare and public housing subsidies that did not exist during the great depression. Oh, and social security and medicare.

Not quite as bleak if one digs into the numbers. And if one is in the top quadrant of the wealth distribution the net gains in equities actually makes the last three years a bonanza.

Sadly, few working photographers qualify to run with that pack....

But I will re-iterate, my clients from NY, NJ, Chicago and other parts of the U.S. are spending. My Texas clients have been on a roll for years now. It's the best of times, it's the worst of times....

Mark Davidson said...

With respect to the economy, I have to agree it is a fairly strong one.

In my Southern California area we have very robust growth in all areas. My business has grown very vigorously in this supposedly anti-business state. I do not pretend that it is my skill but rather the very real fact that a rising tide raises all boats.

As for companies leaving California in droves, that is incorrect. We have had a net influx of businesses for many years which continues to increase. Moreover, if the everyone is leaving CA, why are the property values going up and housing inventories shrinking? That myth has been perpetuated by the cheerleaders of some states looking to subsidize their way to prosperity.
I would note that a quick look at Texas' property values and property taxes shows surprising similarity to CAs.

Rufus said...

I think you have hit on something when you referred to the relative rarity of seeing people with "proper cameras' as much as we used to..

I have noticed that there is some new sense of "awkwardness" in social situations if I have a 5D3 on my arm, when it is clear that absolutely no-one else has even thought of carrying something similar. Even if people are snapping away on their phones, the "camera guy" with the DSLR really sticks out..

Do it on the street in any non-tourist town and you stand out a mile. Security people wander up and ask you what you are doing...

The times are a changing... I can't say I like it.

Anonymous said...

Photography as a hobby fading:
It's not just photography. All hobbies are fading, from coin and stamp collecting to ham radio to car tinkering to audiophiles... The demo is older and older for those that remain.

Economy:
The labor participation rate is at an all time low. The Fed is keeping the interest rate at the temporary emergency panic rate of 0% year after year. Debt is so cheap that corporations are borrowing to the hilt for ready cash, and also buying back their own stock at an unprecedented rate, which props up their share price, executive bonuses, and wall street as a whole.

A third leg affecting current camera sales, but one not often talked about: Price:
Camera prices, even adjusting for inflation, are at an all time high. Compare the top end model in manufacturers lines, then and now:
Nikon F2 Photomic (top of the line pro model), New York discounted US model prices:
1977: $335
2015 adj for inflation price: $1315 (CPI inflation calculator)
D4s today: $6000

Leica M6 body, US discounted price:
1990: $1900
2015 adj: $3500
Leica M240: $6400

We can dispute features then and now, but cameras were not exactly easy to manufacture then, with clockwork shutters, mechanical linkages, film transport mechanism, exchangeable finders...
Even so. Even if today's cameras are superior in every way, household income hasn't kept up, hence the cameras are just not as affordable today, hence people find them harder to purchase.

John Camp said...

What's happening with your business is a reflection of the fact that people are learning that possession of a camera and a little familiarity with Lightroom don't qualify you as a professional photographer. Had some friends recently who were fairly disappointed with a "really good" photographer who volunteered to take photos of their wedding. He *was* a pretty good photographer in a general sense, but not a pro, and not a wedding photographer, so the photos just weren't quite there. The same thing is happening in other areas initially affected by the Internet -- people are finding out that news blogs aren't professionally reported newspapers, that "reviewers" are not necessarily capable, that Internet musicians aren't necessarily the best, that you have to be careful when using Craigslist, and so on.

On camera sales, I personally wouldn't be surprised to see three or four survivors of the camera shake-out -- Nikon, Canon, maybe Olympus, maybe Panasonic, maybe Sony. (Sony has a long history of making fast starts with products, then dropping the ball.)

I think your view of the economy is way too optimistic. But you could be right. The situation is so tangled that it's hard to tell, but Austin is hardly typical. I don't think the unemployment rate (any of the measures) are as important as the participation rate.

Art in LA said...

Yeah, I've got old school pastimes because I'm old ... photography and tennis.

I've been off the upgrade treadmill for a while now (my NEX-6 was my last "big" purchase a couple of years ago). For me, my dream camera would be a Sony A99 Mark II. I'd love to have an A99ii (if they ever launch such a beast), an A7ii and my A6000 in my bag. Maybe I can save Sony!

Regarding the economy, I still feel like it hasn't popped back from the 2008 lows. Companies may start-up here in California (a fantastic thing), but I don't think large companies move their headquarters here. Unfortunately/fortunately(?) Toyota, Kubota Tractor and Farmer Brothers Coffee are examples of companies who are moving/have moved their HQ's from southern California to Texas recently. Knowledge and capital know no borders.

Regarding home prices (one of the reasons why companies move, I think) ... a friend who moved from Dallas to LA told me that you can buy triple the house for 1/3 the price in Texas. I'm not sure what is keeping home prices propped up ... with luck, it's not another giant bubble.

Mark Davidson said...

Anonymous said "A third leg affecting current camera sales, but one not often talked about: Price:
Camera prices, even adjusting for inflation, are at an all time high. Compare the top end model in manufacturers lines, then and now:
Nikon F2 Photomic (top of the line pro model), New York discounted US model prices:
1977: $335
2015 adj for inflation price: $1315 (CPI inflation calculator)
D4s today: $6000

Leica M6 body, US discounted price:
1990: $1900
2015 adj: $3500
Leica M240: $6400

We can dispute features then and now, but cameras were not exactly easy to manufacture then, with clockwork shutters, mechanical linkages, film transport mechanism, exchangeable finders...
Even so. Even if today's cameras are superior in every way, household income hasn't kept up, hence the cameras are just not as affordable today, hence people find them harder to purchase.
"
One thing you are not addressing is that the total number of cameras sold is many times that of what was being sold in the 70's and 80's. Moreover, they are (as you note) being sold at much higher prices. Thus I would suggest that today's hobbyist is far more common than in those days where the commitment to processing and printing made trivial the initial cost of the camera. And they can justify the outlay as being the (fingers crossed) last outlay.

Labor participation is a contentious issue that has been difficult to analyze. Though I feel many are not participating in the traditional job market that can be quantified this does not mean they are not working. The underground economy may be a lot larger than many will admit.

Anonymous said...

No "Butter Burger" or Culver's custard for CA anytime soon if ever. That from Craig Culver himself last Thur. on his opinion on doing business in CA.

Anonymous said...

I have used Canon DLSR's for the past 10 years. I am waiting for the Canon 5D4 and the Fiji X-T2 to come to market in 2016 and then I will make a decision to stay with Canon or dump it for Fuji.

And my main reason is I see a higher percentage of in focus keepers using mirrorless vs. dlsr's, due to, I believe, the shorter distance from the back of the lens to the sensor on the mirrorless bodies vs dlsr's. Yes I know about micro-adjusting the lens to the body in my dlsr and I am up on all the proper camera handling and post processing techniques for proper focused and sharp shots.

On top of focus, I can now add weight, size, exposure linked to AF point (without having to spend $6000US, etc, in my thoughts of moving from Canon to Fuji.

And, I want to be able to shoot stills and video with the same camera.

Jon M said...

I certainly feel a little self-conscious if I ever take my DSLR around to places where you wouldn't normally see a lot of tourists. I feel fine in a museum with it, but around town where nobody is normally shooting, I would feel a little out of place these days since most people only expect to see a smartphone snapping photos in non-tourist areas. I guess they'd be suspicious about me ;-) More and more, I too only see smartphones in use for photos except for well known photography areas like national parks and so on.

tom rose said...

Why is it a surprise that sales of digital cameras are falling. Image quality from DSLRs that are 10 or more years old is wonderful. As the market becomes saturated sales will fall. Not everyone rushes out to get the latest upgraded camera or innovative technology any more than they rush to replace their 180 mph sports car with one that will do 200+

I bought a Canon 1Ds mark ii a year ago for less than 5% of what it cost new. It is still incredibly tough, has fantastic AF, well placed and well thought out controls, a 100% viewfinder, excellent metering and captures enough detail to print to at last A2. There is no noise at 100 ASA and very little at 400-800 ASA. And I get 300 shots on a 64GB card and 1500+ from one charged battery.

It does everything I want. I don't need to shoot at crazy high ISO settings, I don't need 14 frames per second, or video recording, or live view, or inbuilt WiFi or EVF. There is no incentive whatsoever to spend a significant sum on a 5DS, or a 1Dx and even less to switch to a mirrorless system.

The health of photography as an activityand the health of the camera and lens making companies as money-making concerns are not the same thing and should not be conflated.

tom rose said...

Why is it a surprise that sales of digital cameras are falling. Image quality from DSLRs that are 10 or more years old is wonderful. As the market becomes saturated sales will fall. Not everyone rushes out to get the latest upgraded camera or innovative technology any more than they rush to replace their 180 mph sports car with one that will do 200+

I bought a Canon 1Ds mark ii a year ago for less than 5% of what it cost new. It is still incredibly tough, has fantastic AF, well placed and well thought out controls, a 100% viewfinder, excellent metering and captures enough detail to print to at last A2. There is no noise at 100 ASA and very little at 400-800 ASA. And I get 3000 shots on a 64GB card and 1500+ from one charged battery.

It does everything I want. I don't need to shoot at crazy high ISO settings, I don't need 14 frames per second, or video recording, or live view, or inbuilt WiFi or EVF. There is no incentive whatsoever to spend a significant sum on a 5DS, or a 1Dx and even less to switch to a mirrorless system.

The health of photography as an activity and the health of the camera and lens making companies as money-making concerns are not the same thing and should not be conflated.