So, everyone is freaking out about Canon’s latest quarterly sales figures because they’re really, really low. Add to it the fact that Canon recently predicted ILC camera sales to drop dramatically in the near future. Perhaps this is more of a self-fulfilling prophecy and here’s what I believe is why.
It’s their lineup, stupid.
Ignore the EOS RP since it’s introduction was too late in the quarterly cycle to make any sales impact. Now, consider the EOS R. It’s a camera made for nobody; there’s nothing there for pros, even less for the enthusiasts, and it’s too expensive for entry level buyers. Add to it the lenses being designed for a camera body that’s far better than what’s available.
Now look at their dSLRs. The 5D Mk IV and 6D Mk II were both letdowns when released and obviously haven’t aged like wine. Those who’ve bought in, have, and those who haven’t are waiting for the next iterations in hopes of real innovation and advancement. Even the 1DX Mk II is nearing a refresh, stymieing potential upgrades and forcing everyone to pause. But let’s be real, the 1DX is not their top seller by any means although it’s current place in the refresh cycle only furthers my point.
Add both the EOS R and the dSLR lineup together and you get a mixed message to buyers: mirrorless is the future but ours currently suck so don’t bother, all our newest lenses won’t work on our dSLRs so don’t bother. What all current Canon owners are waiting for is either a 5D and/or EOS R that competes with the Nikon D850 and Sony A7R III that benefits from the RF lenses they’ve so far released. Once that arrives, Canon will see a surge if they’re not too late. If they take too long, all of those potential upgraders and first time buyers will go elsewhere. Even for a lot of professionals, a camera body two generations behind at this level is just a little too much to keep going with.
Regarding first time buyers, ILCs are clearly a luxury in this age of smartphones. As such, the vast majority buying in can afford to splash out on a $2000 camera if it’s good. It’s why the Sony A7 III is selling so well as it’s attracting a lot of first time buyers, not so much just Canon converts. I know this because the details are in the quarterly sales report; the words and sentences outside of the charts and graphs that were circulated provide context. Someone who can afford $2000-3000 for a first camera and cares more about bullet points than the exposure triangle is not going to spend $1000 on a dead-end dSLR like the 6D or an EOS R that’s built with yesterday’s components.
The TL;DR version: Canon has nothing to offer for either the Canon faithful or the Canon newbie right now.
Nikon had no huge drop and Sony grew. It’s not because the market as a whole is crashing. While the market has contracted a bit, if Canon owners aren’t upgrading and owners are pushing others away from the lineup due to their own frustrations, of course total sales across the industry would contract a bit, especially since Canon owns such a large percentage of the market. Add to it that Nikon, and especially Sony, are starting to eat Canon’s lunch a bit, you then get a result from Canon that looks every bit as prophetic as their previous statement on the state of camera sales, despite it being mostly untrue.
Canon is trying to sell us cameras from 2016 for 2019 money and when the public isn’t being fooled, suddenly it looks like the sky is falling. Wrong.