The news that Sony had taken the number two spot from Nikon was announced last week. Sony put out a press release saying that they had passed Nikon to take the number two spot for full frame interchangeable lens cameras in the United Sates. As the press release states:
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%) compared to the same period last year. The popularity of key models including α7RII 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.
It’s important to note that this was a press release from Sony, so you have to, of course, take that into consideration. The figures that they are basing this on are from the NPD group which have a fairly good reputation so I doubt that they are made up. It’s also a very specific market segment. But it’s still significant in my opinion. Needless to say that some Nikon users weren’t happy with these figures and took issue with the data.
Nasim Mansurov over at Photography Life really wasn’t happy with the headlines. His arguments that this isn’t actually true are that:
- This was only for the first two months of the year
- Who buys a camera in January or February
- Nikon hasn’t released a full frame camera recently, so its not fair.
I have to say, I kind of rolled my eyes when I read this. I like Nasim, and I’ve been reading his website for a long time, but, it’s just a bit much to try and twist this in such a way. His points are valid in one sense, and in the broader terms that may prove to be right, but that doesn’t undermine the fact that Sony did overtake Nikon for this period, and that hasn’t happened before.
Sure, you can argue that people don’t buy as many cameras during this period, but that applies equally across the board. If people don’t buy as many cameras during this period, they equally don’t buy all brands, so if one brand suddenly has a significant uptick, that’s not nothing. Secondly, the fact that Nikon hasn’t recently released a new full frame camera is probably part of the reason for their decline, not a reason to discount it.
He also makes a few comments about the NPD group, and because he’s never heard of them, he seems to imply there’s something shady about these statistics. But, I’ve heard of them, and they’ve been around for a long time. As a long time follower of the wider tech industry and Apple, they regularly report on consumer statistics in the US. They are widely known and well respected (except when people don’t like what they have to say).
Will Sony maintain the lead long term? It’s hard to say, but people aren’t happy with Nikon and the company is clearly struggling, so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility. I think it’s a shame Nikon fans reacted the way they did though. They are directing their displeasure at the wrong culprit. They should be venting at Nikon who has been floundering to a degree lately. There is no doubt that the market is changing, and Sony has been pretty aggressive in its releases, while Nikon hasn’t really been doing very much. Maybe that’s where the source of the frustration really lies.