This blog is a user's perspective on the Micro Four Thirds camera system. Read more ...

Lens Buyer's Guide. Panasonic GH4 review.

My lens reviews: Olympus 9mm f/8 fisheye, Lumix G 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6, Leica 25mm f/1.4, Lumix X 12-35mm f/2.8, Lumix X 35-100mm f/2.8, Sigma 30mm f/2.8, Sigma 19mm f/2.8, Lumix X PZ 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6, Lumix X PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6, Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, Panasonic Lumix G 100-300mm f/4-5.6, Panasonic Leica Lumix DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8 1:1 Macro, Panasonic Lumix G 45-200mm f/4-5.6, Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 pancake, Panasonic Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 pancake, Panasonic Lumix G HD 14-140mm f/4-5.8, Panasonic Lumix G HD 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6, Panasonic Lumix G 8mm f/3.5 fisheye, Lumix G 7-14mm f/4, Samyang 7.5mm f/3.5 fisheye, Tokina 300mm f/6.3 mirror reflex tele, Lensbaby 5.8mm f/3.5 circular fisheye lens
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Wednesday 1 January 2014

Mirrorless camera sales statistics from Japan

BCN Ranking in Japan publish annual sales statistics. The two last years, they have split the system camera category into DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. In each category, they list the 20 most selling camera models. To better interpret the results, I have categorized the 20 cameras by system:

First of all, note that these statistics are not complete. They are only based on the 20 most selling camera models. They do provide some more information, though, for example that the total market share of Micro Four Thirds cameras in 2013 was 43.8%, i.e., M4/3 cameras beyond the 20 most selling, amount for an additional 7%.

Also, even if the new Sony full frame mirrorless cameras made it into the list of the 20 most selling models, BCN report that full frame mirrorless cameras amount for 0.5% of the total market. Since the Sony A7 and A7r are the only full frame mirrorless cameras, we can conclude that they are amounting for 0.5% of the total market so far, which is not bad. After all, the cameras are quite expensive.

Micro Four Thirds is seeing more competition, and the total market share is shrinking from 50% to 37% (top 20 camera models only). Still, Micro Four Thirds still amount for the largest market share, and the largest number of cameras on the top 20 list (nine).

Among Micro Four Thirds, Olympus is selling twice as many camera units as Panasonic, and it is the E-PL series which is the most popular. With Panasonic, the GF series sells the most in Japan. Even if it has gone under the radar for most people, I think the Lumix GF6 is a brilliant camera. Except for the missing flash shoe mount, it is quite enthusiast friendly, small, ergonomic, and includes a very useful tilting LCD viewfinder.

The Sony NEX system is one of the successful systems competing against Micro Four Thirds. They have the Sony NEX-3N with a 16-50mm power zoom, collapsible lens priced very competitively. In my review, I found the camera to be quite capable, and the lens compares well against the similar lens from Micro Four Thirds. At the same time, the "NEX" name disappears, and Sony's mirrorless cameras are now simply called "Alpha".

The big surprise is that the Canon EOS M camera is selling so well. In my opinion, the camera has nothing to offer: It only has the fixed LCD as the viewing option, no EVF. And the autofocus is horribly slow. Further, there are next to no lenses available. The reason why the camera is still selling well is probably that the Canon brand name has a big value, and that the Canon EOS M has been selling at deep discounts. I think that when Canon can get their new 70D sensor with PDAF into their mirrorless camera, then it might be worth looking at.

The Nikon 1 system is not doing well. I find that a bit strange: I think Nikon has done well with their mirrorless system. They have made an electronic shutter with a fast readout rate, usable also for flash photography. This is much better than the Panasonic cameras, which have a horribly slow E-shutter. And the Nikon 1 cameras use PDAF for very accurate autofocus, also with moving subjects. Further, the cameras can take bursts of pictures at 60fps at full image quality, very impressive.

Another surprise is that Fujifilm X is not represented at all among the 20 most selling camera units. This is probably due to having a fairly wide portfolio of cameras, and not one single of them selling enough to make it to the list. The Fujifilm X are characterized by an odd combination of nostalgia and innovation. The cameras and lenses are designed to look traditional, while employing cutting edge technology like a hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder (Fujifilm X-Pro 1), and pioneering the use of on-sensor PDAF for better AF. They also have more basic cameras like the Fujifilm X-A1 which are priced more competitively.

What's not surprising, though, is that we don't find Samsung NX on the list. The Japanese camera market tends to be somewhat nationalistic, and with Samsung NX being produced in South Korea, it does not have much of a chance in Japan. In my opinion, the Samsung NX system is not so interesting. I think the system is characterized by gimmicky features (a 45mm 3D lens, smart phone interface on a camera), and lenses which are very large in size.

Samsung is still flexing its muscles, and just launched their GH3-killer, the NX30. With it, they also launched a 16-50mm f/2-2.8 premium standard zoom lens. This lens is unique in the mirrorless world. With an equivalent focal range of 24-75mm, there are no other lenses with better aperture specifications for mirrorless cameras. So even if Samsung have not made a huge impression on the market so far, they still have far from given up.

In the future, for the 2014 list, I would expect to find the Lumix GM1 high on the list. It appears to have everything the Japan camera market wants: Sleek design, compact size:

On the other hand, one could explain the top selling cameras in Japan in another way: They are the cheapest models. And the Lumix GM1 is not a cheap camera, and will probably not be sold at a significant discount during 2014, meaning that it will not get high on this list. In this perspective, the most selling non-cheap camera model is the Sony NEX-5R at the first place with a whopping 12% market share. It is very well done that Sony are able to sell so much of a middle range camera model. Further down the list, we also find the Sony NEX-7 and Olympus E-M5, which are both still sold at a premium price point.

For the sake of completeness, I also include the pre-2012 statistics from BCN Ranking, which pools DSLR and mirrorless cameras together:


  1. Please, do we have any statistics of total market share of DSLR versus CSC versus point-and-shoot-compacts? Or full-format versus APS versus u4/3?
    JJ, Czech

      (good luck)

    2. BCN generally publish only percentages, not absolute numbers. So it is hard/impossible to derive the mirrorless market share from the BCN statistics. They probably do this to retain the advantage: Knowledge is power, as the cliche goes.

  2. Samsung NX is NOT sold in Japan (by Samnung's decision). if you want to buy it, you must buy it online from overseas, that means it is not counted by BCN.

  3. Pentax Q is doing rather well, Nikon 1 is too bulky given its sensor size and RX100 is killing it.