Figures from Bloomberg indicate that Sony, Panasonic and Samsung may be scoring market share gains from Canon and Nikon with their mirrorless camera models. The trend is most obvious in Japan where Canon and Nikon’s combined share of that market has fallen an eye-popping 35%.
The losses for Canon and Nikon have been a boom for Sony, as their market share has doubled. Panasonic and Samsung also scored gains, but not as significant.
Mirrorless cameras have a smaller physical frame and lower weight, while keeping the larger sensor sizes and interchangeable lenses. The big chips behind good glass are getting results comparable to larger DSLRs at closer to half the weight of their bigger DSLR cousins.
If you’re tempted to dismiss the trend as one confined to Japan, keep in mind that the smart phone and tablet trend also started there before spreading to more distant shores.
No surprise that rumors have surfaced that Canon is coming out with mirrorless models in 2012, it’s not much of a stretch to think Nikon is engaged in similar efforts.
It’s my opinion that Panasonic and Olympus stumbled with the 4/3 sensor format. I just don’t see professionals investing in that format when full size and APS-C sensors are superior and proven technologies. For consumer cams, it’s less of an issue because the average buyer doesn’t really understand the difference in chip sizes.
As the trend in SLRs moves to mirrorless, expect Canon and Nikon to claw back some of the market share lost to Sony. But I don’t expect to see any significant growth from Panasonic or Olympus until they abandon 4/3.