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Sony Overtakes #2 Position in U.S. Full-Frame Interchangeable Lens Camera Market

By Kishore Sawh on April 14th 2017

So it’s come out this morning that Sony has vaulted into the number two position in the U.S. Full-Frame interchangeable Lens Camera Market. That’s big news for Sony if ever there was some, and certainly dethroning Nikon in this market warrants a party, but I suspect the boffins over there won’t dwell too long and get back to pushing boundaries.

When we think of the cornerstone brands of photography it is still Canon and Nikon we think of, and the thought of them not being the 1-2 was alien not long ago. When the A7 arrived some 3 and a half years ago it became apparent it was a pivotal moment, and while sales and respect continued to grow most of us didn’t really know just how well they were doing in comparison to their contemporaries, but this is proof in pudding of what we’ve suspected.

The news also represents proof of a shifting dynamic to professional use of mirrorless, and much can be extrapolated from that; the argument for EVF over OVF, for one. We, the market, are the jurors of such things through our willingness to spend, and jurors go where the narrative makes sense. We certainly look forward to seeing where Sony goes from here, and also hope that this lights a fire under Nikon to become more competitive.

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You can see the full press release here:

Sony Overtakes #2 Position in U.S. Full-Frame Interchangeable Lens Camera Market

Record Sales from Sony Driving Growth in Overall Full-Frame Market

SAN DIEGO, April 14, 2017 – Sony Electronics – a worldwide leader in digital imaging and the world’s largest image sensor manufacturer, has announced today that their continued growth has vaulted them into the #2 overall position in the U.S. full-frame interchangeable lens camera market. 1

Sony’s interchangeable lens cameras and lenses have seen record sales in 2017, in particular within the U.S. full-frame camera market, where they have experienced double-digit growth (+23%) 2 compared to the same period last year.  The popularity of key models includingα7RII and α7SII has been paramount to this success.

Additionally, Sony’s rapid growth has helped to drive growth of the overall full-frame interchangeable lens camera market compared to the same period last year.  Without Sony’s contributions, the full-frame market would be facing a slight decline. 3

“Our commitment to the industry is stronger than ever,” said Neal Manowitz, VP of Digital Imaging at Sony North America. “We are always listening to our customers, combining their feedback with our intense passion for innovation to deliver products, services and support like no other.”

A variety of exclusive stories and exciting content shot Sony α products can be found at www.alphauniverse.com , Sony’s community site built to educate, inspire and showcase all fans and customers of the Sony α brand.

1The NPD Group / Retail Tracking Service, U.S., Detachable Lens Camera, Full Frame, Based on Dollars, Jan- Feb 2017

2The NPD Group / Retail Tracking Service, U.S., Detachable Lens Camera, Full Frame, Based on Dollars, Jan/Feb 2016- Jan/Feb 2017

3The NPD Group / Retail Tracking Service, U.S., Detachable Lens Camera, Full Frame, Based on Dollars, Jan/Feb 2016- Jan/Feb 2017

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About

A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Sedric Beasley

    I want buy a camera without a dual card slot but; that is for people that shoot for money.

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  2. David Hodgins

    I think Canon and Nikon are getting caught listening to the photography community, and not to their dollars.

    For example:

    Almost everyone says dual card slots are a must-have, using CF, CFast or XQD. And yet Sony is using a single SD (is Memory Stick even a thing still?)

    “Pro” bodies need to be weather sealed. Apparently not.

    “Pro” bodies need to be bullet-proof. Apparently not.

    I also think Sony has less to lose with the increased attention on IBIS. They don’t have anywhere near the product line that Canon or Nikon has, and so adopting IBIS doesn’t mean a complete restructuring and re-engineering of their entire product line. I think IBIS is a larger business decision than many people consider.

    Market forces also likely affect this. Canon 6D and 5D3 are 5 years old, Nikon D610 is 4, and D750/D810 are 3. Sony is bringing them out more recently. A7RII is slightly more than a year old from release. The folks buying or updating their old CaNikon stuff have likely done so, and now they (CaNikon) are behind the curve with new products.

    AND Sony fire-sales old products. I’d be curious to know how much of this full-frame research is bodies like the A7 prime, as opposed to A7RII.

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  3. adam sanford

    Only Jan-Feb data from this year — real sales take place in Q4 — but let’s take it at face value.  I’ve riffed a healthy list of drivers that resulted in this, but here’s a crude guess of how this may have happened:

    1) Sony is undercutting CaNikon FF camera pricing, especially on last-gen rigs getting marked down (a lot).

    2) Feature laden rigs with tech CaNikon is not offering at those price points (or at all) — IBIS, 4K, tilty-flippy, etc.

    3) Mirrorless form factor — can’t be overstated: some folks love the tiny, and they are the only autofocusing FF mirrorless ILC show in town (unless you sell weapons for a living and use the Leica SL, which is not exactly tiny or light).

    4) EXMOR sensor hotness — they generally top all the sensor tests and have for some time.

    5) This is more about Nikon failing than Sony succeeding — they’ve had some financial problems leading to restructuring, and possibly that effort took attention/energy/dollars/heads away from
    marketing and sales here in the US.

    6) The cameras were always great but now there are proper native pro-level lenses to put on them.  Between Zeiss saturation-bombing the mount with new offerings and the G Master line coming to bear, Sony folks aren’t left to settle for native f/4 zooms and f/2 primes anymore. 

    7) Stellar Sony customer serv–  LOL just kidding.

    My money’s on 2+3+4 being the biggest drivers and it’s still (principally) an enthusiast revolution rather than mass pro migration right now.  But that may change.

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    • Holger Foysi

      Personally, I find this marketing piece of Sony to be weird. They show data for two months only based on value in $ not unit sales, representing likely a local extremum and therefore only a small part of the whole picture. Then they present a graph for a whole year but presenting growth in _lenses_, implying that without Sony a decrease of the other manufacturers growth would have happened, neglecting, that many would have bought other manufacturers gear instead. The marketing department of Sony is pretty active in producing such statements (we are using Canon + Sony, just in case people put me in a certain camp). 

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