Have smartphones finally killed off the point-and-shoot compact camera? A recent article by Nikkei reports both Japanese-based Panasonic AND Nikon are now suspending the development of new entry-level compact cameras. Instead, both companies are said to be focusing on the expansion and development of their mirrorless products.
If this IS the case, who can blame them for this decision? After all, most of us now carry around far more convenient (and maybe even better resolution) smartphones in our bags and back pockets. Just this week, OnePlus announced the launch of the OnePlus 10T – a triple lens smartphone with a whopping 50 megapixel IMX766 1/1.56-inch sensor and an ultra wide angle lens, offering a 120 degree angle of view – features you’d be hard pushed to find on a compact matching its £629/£729 RRP.
Who still makes compact cameras?
According to Nikkei, global shipment of compact digital cameras has fallen 97% from 2008, to just 3.01 million units in 2021.
Looking through the current offerings, Panasonic Holdings has not released any new product priced below 50,000 yen (approximately £305/$370 at time of writing) since 2019. A Panasonic spokesperson explained the company’s position:
“Photo/video shooting has become very popular due to the growth of social media, and camera requirements are becoming more diverse.
We will continue to study market trends and customer needs, developing new products not only by category (like compact or mirrorless) but with a focus on delivering the performance that smartphones cannot achieve. In line with this, for compact digital cameras, we continue to sell premium models with high image quality and high magnification but have temporarily stopped developing new products for models that can be replaced with smartphones.”
Meanwhile, Nikon currently only offers two models with high-powered lenses, though has reiterated it will be “closely monitoring market trends” before making any decision on future development. A spokeperson commented, “based on the market situation and needs, we are currently focusing on the development of mirrorless camera. Nikon is continuing the production of compact digital cameras.”
This follows in the footsteps of Fujifilm who discontinued its FinePix range and offers the premium X100V as the only “compact camera” in the range.
Canon doesn’t seem to have completely written off compact cameras with plenty of PowerShot models still available. The company confirmed its “entry-level models continue to enjoy persistent support, so we’ll continue development and production as long as there is demand.”
For Sony, the Cyber-shot brand hasn’t had a new addition since 2019. A spokeperson for the company has commented: “it’s not that we’ll stop developing new products”. Even as far back as 2012, it reported a significant fall in compact camera sales it believed “was due to a significant increase in the sales of interchangeable single lens cameras”.
Compacts are also an endangered species for Olympus, with just one, lonely Tough TG-6.
It’s not a complete compact drought, though. For Ricoh, the compact market would appear to be still going strong. In comparison, it still has plenty of wholesome offerings to choose from, particularly with its GR range (the likes of the Ricoh GR IIIX recently kept us impressed).
The future of compact cameras
For now, only time will tell how things will pan out for compact enthusiasts. Certainly, a fragile global market and photography equipment shortages will be having an influence on camera production and development. Maybe this just isn’t a good time for brands to take risks if they’ve convinced themselves the demand isn’t there?
We’ve contacted Sony for comment and will update when we get a reply.
Featured image: Tim Coleman
Updated: 10th August 2022
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The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of Amateur Photographer magazine or Kelsey Media Limited. If you have an opinion you’d like to share on this topic, or any other photography related subject, email: firstname.lastname@example.org