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After years of decline, camera sales are showing small signs of growth

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A small blip of hope has appeared on the photography industry’s radar — after five years of decline, the numbers for 2017 have seen slight improvements over the same time last year.

Total camera shipments worldwide increased by 7.1 percent in February and 2.7 percent in March, with only a slight 1.7 percent decline in January. Even with January’s numbers, the data shows nearly 150,000 more cameras have already shipped this year compared to the same period last year.

The statistics come from CIPA, the Camera Imaging Products Association, an organization that routinely tracks camera sales data. Excluding December, CIPA’s 2015 data for camera shipments overall shows declines over 2014 sales every month.


Interchangeable lens cameras, meanwhile, have returned to or surpassed the sales levels from 2015, following trends in previous years where DSLRs and mirrorless have seen less drastic drops as the smartphone replaces the point and shoot but their big-sensored, swappable lens siblings are less affected.

For interchangeable lens cameras, January saw a 5.9 percent increase and February a 17.3 percent jump. March saw a slight decline of 2.1 percent, but sales still remain higher than the 2015 shipment numbers.

Cameras with built-in lenses fell in both January and February by 7.1 and 0.3 percent, while March saw a 7 percent increase.

The increases are small, but could be indicating the downfall the industry has been facing for the past several years is finding a bottom. Increasing sales might not be the only reason for the jump, however. Last year, camera manufacturers faced shortages after an earthquake hit a major camera manufacturing region in Japan. That natural disaster likely pushed the shipping numbers lower, though there’s no data to indicate just how much the data was affected. The increase so far in 2017 could be due, in part, to the manufacturing centers returning to full capacity after the shortage.

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