Are DSLR Cameras In Trouble?

Rumors have been circulating for the past two years. Now a report in the Friday, June 20 edition of the Wall Street Journal confirms it. DSLR cameras are in trouble.

What I am referring to is a report that sales of Nikon cameras (disclosure: I am a Nikon photographer) have plummeted, 17% just last year alone. The one bright spot is that sales of mirrorless cameras rose 12%.

The report does not auger well for Nikon professional and prosumer users, in particular. Nikon lagged behind the major camera manufacturers in mirrorless cameras and is now running hard to catch-up. That has meant an overall decline of 9% in its camera division last year as savvy prosumer buyers have shifted to innovative cameras from Sony, Pentax, Olympus and others.

Part of the problem is that phone cameras have gotten so damned good. I regularly use my iPhone for images that I know I will use in my blog or for emailing friends. Recently a friend asked my advice for buying a new camera. This man is a very successful businessman, so price was no object. After assessing his needs (small, light, sharing with family online, good image quality, easy to use), I recommended he simply use his iPhone 5S and Snapseed for post-processing. He did, and has not regretted that decision.

The report, however, is even more ominous for those of us who shoot professionally. Nikon will now invest $2 billion to acquire medical device companies, a field in which it has little expertise. Where will that $2 billion come from in such a highly competitive market? From R&D in the DSLR division? From supporting pro photographers? From lens R&D?

As more and more people shun DSLRs, how will that affect the price point, quality and innovation of professional-level DSLRs? To put it mildly, I’m concerned. How about you?

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